The island of Bintan - Sam and Shanna's world adventures

February 22-24

We are now on the ferry to Kiraji (I think). We are hoping to get from Kiraji by boat to either Batam en route to Singapore, or if possible direct to Singapore. We will find out when we arrive at a speculative (no-body really knows) time of 5am tomorrow morning.

Tuesday morning and we set off for the Sinbad water/theme park. We could find no information online other than some photo’s and brief FAQ’s by which we were able to establish that the theme park does actually exist. So, we asked the staff at the backpacker hotel we are staying at when we arrived (23 February) and they informed us very confidently that it opened at 10am and closed at 4pm. Bummer we thought, it’s 2pm now, but maybe we can catch it for a few hours the following day before our train leaves at 6:30pm.

At 10am we flagged down a taxi and off we went. Half an hour and 65,000 Rupee later and we were excited to go to our first theme park overseas together and the first for our trip. Anticipication building we ran the 100m from the street to the entrance… were we where met with laughter. We were far too early, the park did not open until 2pm (closing at 8pm rather than 4). If we were to wait 3 hours for the park to open we would be able to enter for 5 minutes, and then we would have to leave. 

Dejectedly we realized that we wouldn’t be sliding down any water slides today and began to walk towards the road. Half an hour and several futile attempts to get a taxi home (20kms) we started walking. An hour and a half after this and we were back. We packed our things, carried our bicycles down the stairs, and rode around 10k’s to through a chaotic mess of traffic and one way streets to the station, very early but safe in the knowledge we wheren’t going to miss the train, put our bikes in a place we could keep an eye on them and waited for our train to arrive, all the while questioning inquisitive eyes staring at us, refusing to move, sometimes trying to talk to us in Indonesian, ‘hello Mr’s’, ‘wer you from sir’s’, staring and watching, disbelieving. 

The train arrived, or at least it was now time for our train and we hoped that this one was ours, so on we got, directed to an empty, dark carriage we locked our bikes to the wall, found our seats in the next carriage, and exhausted, collapsed into our seats. The train left the station with a great roar and almost instantly the other people in our carriage (Indonesian men) all fell asleep. We tried, but couldn’t, we were too excited. The train began to pick up speed and wobble from side to side and amidst the noise and the excitement, somewhere between Surabaya and Jakarta, we fell asleep.

Awakening with a jolt, I opened my eyes, 2am and bloody freezing. Not for the first time in this country the air-con was at full freeze and everyone in the carriage was covered in blankets, some even had them over there heads and faces. Deciding I had better check on the bikes and find a toilet, I got up. I found the bikes, to my relief still OK, but now there was 4 unconscious Indonesian men surrounding them, laying on the ground in the carriage. I observed there faces, and I wasn’t sure what to make of it so I took photos of them all, not sure exactly why but I figured if stuff went missing then maybe I might have a clue what to look for.

On the way back I find the toilet. It's a smelly affair, but it does the job. I go to pour some water down the hole (how you are meant to flush) and through the darkness and the noise of the train I make out a muffled splatter; it seems as though nothing is stopping the water, the usual resistance just isn't there... Maybe the hole just goes onto the tracks I speculate... In the morning when it is light I look again and realise that it is true, the toilet goes straight onto the tracks... What makes this even worse is that when we are coming into Jakarta there are shanties along the rail way lines for more than 100kms!

Seven in the morning, we unlock our bikes while the train is still moving, and just before the train takes off from the station manage to pull our bikes from the carriage. We are in Jakarta, and there are people everywhere. An hour or so later and we have found a hotel, it is nice, and cheap, and we are exhausted. We have a shower, locate some breakfast down a laneway and set about finding out about ferries to get to Bitan- from where we will find another ferry to Singapore. But there are none, apparently, at least until Friday next week, nine days away. We don’t want to be here for nine more days, and rack our brains trying to figure out how we can get off Java.

We try a different travel office, but they say the same thing, but we still can’t fathom there being no way of getting to Batam for nine days so we decide to head down to the Ferry dock (20km’s) ourselves. When we get there we manage to work out that there is a ferry that goes to an island somewhere near Batam, an island off the coast of Singapore. But, it leaves at 5pm. Bummer, it’s now 4pm and there is no way we can get back to our room and get our things in time to make it. We sit there ruing our luck when suddenly a taxi driver walks up to us. ‘Hello Mr’ he says. ‘Hello’ we answer back. ‘No taxi thank you’ we say. ‘You go Batam’ he says, ‘ferry not leave 5, leave 7, maybe 8,’ ‘Are you sure’ we reply. ‘Yes, I here many year, you trust me…’


We scream back to our hotel, give our room to a Russian lady who has just arrived, find a taxi, shove our bags and Shanna’s bike in the taxi and while I ride behind, head back to the port. The evening storm has arrived, the rain is pouring, the traffic is chaotic and while I’m waiting behind the taxi at a set of traffic lights a beautiful girl walks up to me. ‘No thank you’ I say (this area is known for prostitutes, we saw them on the street when we came the other way), when a manly voice counters with ‘soma soma (no worries) sexy boy.’ I squirm, but then laugh at myself.


Finally we make it back to the ferry and realize we are 50,000 rupiah short. So Shanna goes off looking for an ATM while I stay with the bikes… An hour later and I’m starting to freak out, it’s getting dark and still no sign of Shanna. Frantically I look through the bags for a lock and a knife, and when I look up I see Shanna in the distance, searching the crowd for me. Phew, relieved I run over and ask what happened…


Three hours later at 11pm the ferry finally leaves, we are excited but we soon drift off into a peaceful sleep, on our way to an island we still don’t know the name of.


9/26/2012 15:12:11

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