We boarded last night at 7pm. The ship is the Labobar and is absolutely enormous, 9 decks!!
We climbed up the stairs from the dock and Ichal led the way to where we would be based. I was expecting mats on the floor and instead I discovered we each got a raised single bed with a very comfy mattress!
Under each bed is a drawer for our life jackets although Ichal tells me the drawers used to be for our baggage. Now all baggage is stored on the beds and some people have brought so much baggage that it is stacked beside their bed as well.
We put our backpacks on our beds and then went outside to wave goodbye to Bu Esty, Bapak, Ichal’s Mum, Un (Bu Esty’s oldest son) and Vozzer (Bu Esty’s youngest son). They stood on the dock for quite a while waving goodbye with Ichal calling to Vozzer encouraging him to come up the stairs and join us! When ever he could, Vozzer would make a dash to the stairs but at the last minute a family member would grab him and hold him tightly! He would then wave to us and blow kisses; it was so cute. They shouted their goodbyes after about an hour and we headed inside to check that our bags were safe. Just as well they didn’t hang around till we left because the ship didn’t set sail until about 10pm!!
Our beds are in the economy class and in our section the floor is arranged in a ‘H’ with 60 beds on each side and in the middle connecting each side are 24 beds, so altogether in our ‘cabin’ there are 144 beds. My bed is right up against the wall with a porthole above it. Here is Ichal standing on the deck outside the porthole.
For all these people there is 1 male toilet with 2 toilets and 2 showers and one female toilet with 1 shower and 3 toilets. Surprisingly there isn’t as much of a queue in the toilet as I expected! Our row of beds are opposite the mens toilet and they don’t smell at all!
I lay down to read for a while as the internet was so slow. I tried uploading a photo of Ichal lying on his bed to Facebook to let my friends and family know we were heading off to West Papua but unfortunately the internet connection dropped out. Ichal went to sleep very easily as did the family sleeping opposite us although their young grandson woke off and on during the night. He doesn’t sound too well, poor thing.
Next to Ichal are 3 young men and they lay for quite a while listening to music on one of their mobile phones. They weren’t the only ones either and this is very typical of Indonesians. Not only do they love music, they can sleep through anything! With the music playing, people chatting and the cabin lights which stayed on all night, people slept regardless. I could not imagine this happening at home. Whereas for westerners, we feel more comfortable and would sleep better in a quiet, dark, private room, Indonesians sleep best when sharing a bedroom with friends/family, with the light on and with background noise. It must be perplexing for Indonesians new to the hospitality industry when western tourists ask for a quiet room and then for outside lights to be switched off!
I turned off my iPad just after 10pm, arranged my bag as a pillow and then opened up my sarong and covered my face with it to block out the light. I can sleep through noise but for some reason I need to block out the light to get to sleep. It took me a while to get comfortable and adjust even though the mattress was very comfortable. I think it was mainly because I knew that once I fell asleep I would sleep so deeply that I wouldn’t notice if someone opened my backpack. I was able to relax once I used my pack as a guling and slept really well until about 6:30am.
Ichal & I went for a walk on the deck soon after waking to stretch our legs and it was lovely and breezy out there. We walked to the back of the ship and admired the strength of the engine plowing the ship through the water. Ichal told me that the ship that usually does this run ran aground yesterday on some coral which for us apparently is a blessing because the Labobar is much faster. The speed difference is approximately between 9 knots and 15 knots. So instead of 24 hours on the KRI Makassar, our journey will only be 12 hours.
While enjoying a morning coffee on the deck, we heard an announcement calling economy passengers to breakfast. We went down to the deck below and walked through a large economy section following a line of people with the same intention. I was so glad that we were on the deck above as the toilets here absolutely stunk and the crowning joy was a huge tv in the corner! Thank goodness I only had to listen to music last night!! We also passed by the doorway leading to the lesser economy class.
The beds there were all bunks, 2 beds high with the bottom bed almost level with the floor. The beds were the same size as ours however the mattresses looked half the thickness. Out in the foyer set up on the floor were people selling food and drinks, their wares set out on a mat. We next passed the huge kitchen where all the staff seemed to be male and then we queued for our breakfast. After showing our tickets, we were given a polystyrene container with rice and omelet.
We carried it back to our beds and ate it topped with the yummy sambal ikan tore. Delicious breakfast. I ate mine with my trusty traveling spoon whereas Ichal ‘pakai tangan’ (Ichal used his fingers).
It is now nearly 9am and most people are like us, lying on their beds either sleeping or just lying there chatting. Even the children! Earlier, 2 of the young men next to Ichal were lying singing along to their music. It was such a typical picture of Indonesian friends. One lay on his back with his mobile phone on his tummy and his friend lay with his head also resting on his friends tummy.
You would rarely see this in Australia or other western countries, however same gender friends here in Indonesia often touch, whether it be like this, lying on each other, or walking along holding hands. It is purely an expression of friendship, nothing more. It is only with young children that affection towards the opposite gender can be given in public.
In our cabin, there are only 4 power points, so the one in the wall near our bed is constantly being used to charge a phone. How clever is this:
The beauty of putting your phone in a bag is that no one knows if the phone in the bag is actually a phone (could be an iPad) and if it is phone, whether it is a good one or an older model. Out of sight is certainly out of mind!
After lunch (rice, cabbage & fish)
a Belgium traveller wandered past. Ichal recognised him and called him over to say hello. He sat and chatted with us for a moment and we learned a little of his travels. This visit to Indonesia is for 6 weeks and he is spending the whole time in the Maluku Islands. How amazing is that! He too is off to Raja Ampat and was delighted to hear that there will be a cultural festival while he is there. No doubt we will bump into him again.
He left to look at the nearby islands which we are currently passing, so I too went out to see them and they are very close and covered in vegetation. More interesting though were the large numbers of passengers all standing out there enjoying the view and the opportunity to stretch their legs in the fresh air.
The latest ETA is 2pm.
Where’s Sorong do I hear you asking?