Spent a Week That Night

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
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Trip End May 08, 2007


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Saturday, April 7, 2007

I had read that the only way to get from Singapore to Sumatra by ferry (and do it all in one day) would be to catch the very first boat at 7:30 in the morning. But Desmond had already offered to drive me to the ferry terminal and this way I'd get breakfast with Sarah and get to say goodbye to her. Plus I figured that another night on a ferry might be nice. I wasn't in such a rush that I had to be there the same day. Desmond and I picked Sarah up and had a nice last meal. Then we went to a grocery store so I could buy supplies for the trip over. This would prove to be a very smart move.
I said goodbye to Sarah and Desmond drove me to the ferry terminal. But let's not forget I'm in Singapore. The ferry terminal was part of a shopping mall.
I bought my ticket and then Desmond and I wandered around the mall, waiting for Christie and Andre to show up to see me off. Luckily they made it in time. I found it insanely difficult to walk away from them. They'd made me feel so at home, and as soon as I boarded the ferry, I'd truely, finally be traveling solo. My sense of adventure pushed me forward as I waved goodbye to them for the 50th time. I was alone.
The trip to Pulau Batam was only about 45 minutes and rather uneventful. All I remember was that the boat didn't have a bathroom and I desperately needed one.
Customs and immigration were a easy to get through. As usual, I looked at the stamp in my passport as soon as they handed it back to me. It hit me that this was my last country. The next time I come in through immigration, I'll be home.
I walked across the parking lot to a big blue building that I read was the domestic ferry terminal. I went to every window there and they all told me the same thing: no ferries to Sumatra until tomorrow morning. Shit. I'd have to spend the night in Batam. I bought a ticket to a city called Pekanbaru for the next morning and pulled out the Lonely Planet that Jon had left with me. It only had one suggestion for where to stay and a warning that most places were whorehouses. A quick taxi ride revealed that the LP's only suggestion had gone out of business. My driver took me to several options that were way overpiced. Eventually he brought me to a decently-priced place and I took a room. Before my driver left, I arranged with him to pick me up early the next morning and drive me to the ferry. Then I went upstairs to unpack.
This was the most luxurious hotel room I've been in the whole trip. I had a queen bed with clean sheets, A/C, satellite TV, a hot shower, a towel, and a complementary breakfast. They let me have the breakfast that night since I'd be gone by the time it was served the next morning. It turned out to be a piece of toast with either tea or coffee. I ate it and set out to find my first Indonesian street food. No such luck on Batam. The entire island is nothing more than an oversized Indonesian truck stop. My dinner ended up being an assortment of snacks that I'd bought that morning with Sarah and Desmond. I watched some F1 racing as it was the only channel in English, read my book, wrote in my journal, and went to sleep.
My phone rang. (That's right, my room also had a phone). I mumbled a hello. Or maybe it was a "What?"
Sir. Your taxi 6:30?
"Yes I have a taxi coming at 6:30." I fumbled for my watch whose 5:45 alarm still hadn't sounded.
Yes, sir. Your taxi 6:30.
I quit the search for my watch. "Do you mean it's 6:30 now?"
Yes sir. Your taxi.
"I'll be right down."
I'm not sure how, but I managed to dress, fully pack, and get downstairs in less than 4 minutes. I know that because I did find my watch. My crappy, near-useless, Bangkok-bought fake Casio with the broken band. The watch that apparently has the world's quietest alarm.
I sat in the backseat of the taxi, willing it to go faster with all my being. I couldn't believe I'd overslept. I never oversleep. Despite the posh room I'd had, I feared another night in Batam. One night was already two too many, and I was itching to get to Sumatra.
I happened to have found another saintly cabbie. He broke every law he could and abused the hell out of his old Corolla to get me there on time. I tipped him an extra 10,000 Rp. (which is about one dollar) and made it onto my boat. Goodbye Batam.
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