First 24 hours on pelni boat

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Indonesia  , Central Sulawesi,
Friday, March 12, 2010

Next morning as soon as we woke, Julianus told us to go get our breakfast as it stops serving at 0700. You get three meals a day included in the fare which, which ever way you look at it is a good thing. We went to get it and handed our ticket over, it got a stamp and we were handed a polystyrene box that felt warm. We got back to our bed to eat it, once opened our thoughts of bacon and eggs were shattered. In the box was plain rice......that's it. After tucking in to a few delicious mouthfuls we found a small slice of some weird rice cake thing, looked like omelette but it defiantly was not egg. It was pretty uninspiring but we had no other food, so we ate it. As we looked around other people were looking in their boxes and turning their noses up, nice to see its not just us that was disappointed.

As you can imagine there is not a lot to do on the boat, so we went back to sleep till about 0900. As we woke a man was coming round with drinks we grabbed a strawberry thing and a coffee for Leah. After this we read our books for a while, chatted to some more people that walked by and stopped, before we knew it they had been here for 20 minutes. Its amazing how people that speak no English, none at all will come and sit and try to talk. Julianus would do some translating and so would the lady next to Brad, people are so friendly to us and one another. People behind us had two very sweet little girls who kept saying hello. As we looked over to reply the mother offered us 6 Swiss rolls, we said no but then saw how good they looked, thanked her and ate a couple.

Later that day we went out on deck and posed for a few pictures for some families. Its funny being back in this situation but again its very humbling and we loved every minute of it. We took a look around 3rd class. It was very nice and the rooms looked great, not to far of European ferry standards but by this time we were more than happy in our Eko class with our new friends. There is even a cinema on the boat, one thing we were joking about whilst waiting. Every couple of hours the attendant would come on the ships PA and describe the movie. He would start by saying 'Filem, filem, filem’ then he would blurt away in Indonesian and we would just here the odd word like ‘Pamela Anderson’ no idea what film they were playing but it made us laugh, like the harry field (or was it the fast show) sketch with the Italian football news presenter. Later the guy would come down, see us and come sit on our bed telling us about the ‘filem’ in Indo. We had no clue what he was saying but everyone round us found it amusing, but not in a nasty way. From then on in, every time he came down he would come speak to us personally, it became quite a funny joke. When we heard him we would duck away but he’d still come over and pester us with his big grin.

The only downside with Eko is that there is no way to sit on you bed, sure if you are Asian your used to sitting cross legged on a flat surface for hours. Our western legs are used to sofas and chairs so don’t fold in quite the same way, resulting in some discomfort. Its easily relieved by just laying down, which we spent a lot of time doing.

Before we knew it, it was lunch time. Again we got a stamp on our book and were handed another polystyrene box. Getting back to our bunk we were not really looking forward to it but as we opened the box we were delighted to see fish, well fish head anyway. We joked that the tail went to third class, the body to second and first got the entire thing. With lots of rice and a few vegetables it was a lot better than breakfast. Julianus came over and offered us some chilli shrimp sauce that livened things up a little. As we watched it seems that a lot of the passengers had brought some sauce or chicken, veg etc with them and just used the warm rice as a staple ingredient, adding their own flavours to it.

We spent the rest of the day just reading, napping and entertaining lots of kids and even a few gown-ups.

1900 the boat made its first arrival, Pantoloan in Sulawesi. We were hoping that the same vendor rush would storm our boat and we would be able to purchase some snacks to tie us over between meals. We stood out on deck as the boat came in and saw that there was no vendors on the quay, so maybe we wont be getting any nibbles. We returned to our bunk to safe guard it as we know what its like when the mayhem starts. Julianus said he was going ashore to get some food and did we want to come. One of us had to stay and watch the bags so Leah sent Brad.

I followed Julianus through the torrent of people and luggage to the exit, there were girls behind me measuring them selfs against my back, I could feel there hand tapping on my lower spine, which is where their head was, as I looked round they all smiled and laughed. As we exit the boat there are people everywhere. With the lights on the boat illuminating the quayside and people with baggage trolleys, boxes, food, and motorbikes everywhere it looked like something from a movie set. We made our way down to the gate and out of the dock area. So many people were shouting ‘Hello Mister’ and waving, it was quite overwhelming again but I was safe with Julianus. There are no shops here, sust hawker stands. We went to a few and got some snacks. I got some rice wrapped in banana leaf, no idea what was in it but it is almost always nice. Five of these cost 5,000rp (35p) two bottles of water for 10,000rp, a bag full of deep fried bananas for 5,000 and a whole mackerel or some sort of small tuna, not sure. But it cost 10,000 and was pretty big, the lady covered it in fresh chilli sauce and wrapped it in a banana leaf. This would liven up the plain old rice a little bit.

We made our way through the crowds and showed our tickets to get back aboard, it just as hard to get on the boat as off, more pushing and rushing. The place was still going nuts with staff and passengers all over the place. Finally we got back to our bunks, Julianus did a great job of looking after me, id never have dreamt of going it alone.

We sat down and started to tuck in to our fish that was just amazing, more tuna than mackerel once we looked inside, it had been cooked over and open fire and with the chilli sauce made the best meal we have had in a long time. Cant help thinking how much this would costs in Europe. A fish this size in Greece would be 15 euro in a restaurant. Ok we were not in a restaurant and we had no veg or side dishes but for 70p id rather have 21 of these.

The lady next to us handed us a big bag of exotic fruit that we had not seen before. We took a few and tried them. They look like elongated apricots in shape but you peel them like a lychee. Inside there are 6 segments in an orange style arrangement. The flavour is like grapefruit and the texture like a soft  lychee. They were absolutely delicious, expect from when you hit a pip, which is simply the most bitter thing we have even eaten. It turns your face inside out its so bad, you don’t really know if there is a pip there so we started to exercise extreme caution but it was still worth it. As we handed the bag back to the lady she insisted we keep it, she showed us that her and her partner had a new bag of about 3kg and we could keep these. We offered a fried banana and they each took one. This is how it works in Indonesia, people are very giving and they share everything. We noticed a lady sat opposite took a young boy, who’s father was sleeping and sat him with her family. She gave him some food and fruit, with out even thinking about it. Indonesians so far seem the friendliest and most caring people we have met, sure we have been here only three days but in the environment we are in we have probably seen and had more local interaction than any other country. After dinner a guy was selling a packet of 48 chocolate wafer fingers from Malaysia for 20,000. Perfect for a little pick me up. We offered these to the kids that were sleeping in the same area as us, they were very pleased.

After a great feast we cleaned our bed and sat down to read. Julianus came over for a chat and we got out the cards. It didn't take long for him to grasp the rules to ‘Black Jack’ and it took even less time for about 20 people of all ages to be huddles round us watching, calling out and oooing and ahhhhing. We have no idea if they know the rules but they were all very interested. We then switched up to ‘Rummy’ which a few of them knew, but called by another name. The three of us sat there playing away as different people stood and watched, then left. The ladies husband behind Brad that didn't speak any English was sat with him as a double act, he knew the game alright as Brad managed to win 4 games in a row and we all know how terrible he is at rummy.
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