After two nights on the Pelni ship Kelud I arrived in Jakarta last night. It meant that I sailed across the equator; ideally I would have crossed by land but that meant a series of around three bus rides over 12 hours long to get south through Sumatra. Before that I spent two more days in Medan and can confirm that not only is it dirty & chaotic, it may also be the most boring place I’ve been. The signs on boarding the Kelud were good, I had a nice little cabin with a toilet & shower and it didn’t look like I’d have to share. As a whole the ship looked fairly modern, clean and tidy but gradually I realised Pelni wasn’t the most customer focussed operation, though the efforts to track down a timetable and tickets should have alerted me. The ticket said 2pm, but I was advised to be there early and was at the ferry terminal for 1pm. Just after 1 o’clock we were allowed on the ship and in half an hour everyone was on board and the dockside was deserted. Then, for some reason, the ship doesn’t depart until 6pm!!! I have no idea why the ship hangs around with everyone on board for over 4 hours and couldn’t find anyone who spoke enough English to tell me.
In those 4 hours I explored the ship and came to two frightening conclusions…. (1) there was nothing much to do on this boat and (2) that this boredom had to be suffered sober as there was no booze on board. Not a single beer!!! With Medan not having any English or second hand bookshops I also had read every book I had. Luckily I had bought a small Nintendo handheld game in KL along with a cartridge containing over 200 games. I’d hardly used it up until now and was wondering if I’d wasted my money. On the Kelud it kept me sane along with my gradually diminishing music collection.
I brought with me 10 CDROMs each containing around 7 CDs worth of MP3 music files. Something in the journey / my bag / ??? has been causing them to deteriorate and lose data. Worst affected were 2 of the 3 CDs that Seth burnt for me in California to replace ones already faulty by then. I have no idea what’s causing the problem but I wonder if I’ll have any music left in a few months. Jakarta is meant to be a good place to buy cheap CDs so maybe I’ll replace a few before I move on.
The idea for the next few days is to plan what I want to see in Java and how to get round them.