Seven HUNDRED days on the road!! Bloomin’ eck.
The boat to Sumbawa didn’t leave until 10am, so I kicked myself for not having a lie-in and a coffee. Onboard I met a girl called Charlie. She’s from Bristol and is a health-care professional, working and travelling all over the world. We swapped stories of the crazy stuff that happens on the road and soon the conversation turned to Papua New Guinea – my next-but-one destination.
Seriously. Be careful.
I didn’t like where this conversation was going, but forewarned is forearmed, so here goes… Charlie had lived in PNG for a few months. Being a wishy-washy liberal (as all good backpackers are) she hated to use this term, but the word she used was ‘savage’.
Images ran through my head of me spending Christmas day in a big cooking pot while scantily-clad men with bones through their noses danced around me making UNGA-BUNGA noises. Is it really that bad?
Charlie explained PNG justice: if somebody wrongs you, you either take all their money or kill them. Or both. Simple. Charlie and her then-boyfriend were involved in an incident which meant an entire village was gunning for their blood. They ended up grabbing everything they could carry and running for their lives. When they jumped on the motorboat out of there, they found it was filled with rocks.
“What are the rocks for?”
“To throw at them” said the captain, pointing at the irate villagers rapidly approaching the vessel.
They made it out by the skin of their teeth. And I’m going to be attempting to cross the interior during the wet season. I guess Indonesia is the calm before the storm.
Once back on terra firma, in this case the island of Sumbawa, I teamed up with a trio of North Americans (two from Vancouver, one from California). They had bought ‘thru’ tickets to Denpasar in Bali. After being ripped off on the way to Labuanbajo last week, I was in no mood for a repetition of that event, so I had vowed to buy each bus and ferry ticket separately. They paid 315,000 Rupiah each for their tickets. I reckoned I could do better than that.
The ferry to Sumbawa was 40,000. The minibus to Bima (which was ace, by the way) was 15,000 and the overnight ticket to Poto Tano on the other side of the Sumbawa was 100,000. So far, 155,000 – just over a tenner. I was doing well.
The overnight bus was good because it wasn’t full and the seats went all the way back. It was bad because the driver (sod’s law) was a maniac.
You know, I’m going to keep banging on about this, because I don’t see what gives anyone the right to put my life, the other passenger’s lives, the lives of other motorists and the lives of pedestrians in danger in that way. If there is a ministry of transportation in Indonesia, its members deserve a slap.
John (the guy from California) and I chatted into the night. It’s now December. I’ve been travelling now for over 23 months. That’s 100 weeks or 700 days. I wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I had an end date. I wish I had made some money from the frickin’ TV series. I wish a lot of things, but most of all, I wish I had seen Mandy for more than a week in the last two years.