Pelni boat from hell
Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
227Trip End Jul 15, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Jan. 24, 2007 Wednesday
First thing on our agenda today is to find the Pelni Ship Lines office to find out when they leave for the island of Flores. We want to take the first boat out. Then we need to get to a bank to exchange dollars for rupiahs. Finally, we want to check our e-mail. The Pelni ticket office is too far away to walk so we took a taxi. We had wanted to take the boat to Ende on Flores for the expedient reason that on the map it looked to be the closest port. But the Pelni people tell us that there are no boats to Ende. We later are told by locals that the port is closed because two Pelni boats sunk in the harbor. We heard various versions of this so there might be some truth to it. The Pelni office tells us that there is, however, a boat to Maumere on the northeast coast of Flores. It is leaving this evening at 8 PM. Or, we can wait two weeks for the next boat
To meet the 8 PM boat we are supposed to be at the dock by 6 PM, which we do. We sat in the large station for two hours, and then moved out to the sheltered area towards the dock where people were gathering. Still there's no ferry in sight. We had no idea what the program was and being our first day in Indonesia we only knew a couple words of the language. We remember someone telling us to get to the front of the crowd to get a good spot on ekonomic class. Finally, the Pelni boat, Awu, arrives. It is way bigger than we had imagined. It was about 9:30 when the gates to the dock were unlocked. The crowd surged through the narrow gate carrying us with them. When we got to the top of the gang plank we could see we were not going to be sleeping on the deck as there was little of that
Ekonomic class on the Awu is about 2 or three decks deep. The deeper you go the more stifling and hot it gets. The third deck is not far above the engines. When we stepped out from the stairwell we saw a large open room which seemed to run nearly the length of the ship. In this space were rows of low wooden platforms about 16 inches off the floor maybe 7 feet wide and 16 feet long. There were six numbered spaces for people to lay down on each platform. There are roaches crawling everywhere you look. We were warned about the roaches so Irina had sprayed our bags with insecticide, inside and out, before leaving the hotel. We dragged our bags to an empty platform in the back of the boat, which turned out to be a good choice, if there are good choices in hell, because the engines are under the platforms in the center of the boat making that area even hotter.
Irina sprayed our area of the platform which had the effect of marking our territory from the roaches, but little else. We don't even want to tell you about the bathroom because the very memory still makes us queasy. Vendors were passing among the passengers selling food, water, and thin woven mats. We bought two mats and spray them also. Then we lay down to sweat and flick roaches. We waited to feel the boat moving. There were announcements over the PA which we can't understand. The vendors leave. We wait and wait. Still the boat doesn't seem to be moving. Either this is a very smooth ride or we're still at the dock. The sooner we leave the sooner this night in hell will be over.
The AWU, which we had to be at the pier by 6 PM to board, doesn't move until after midnight