Complete chaos. That’s the best way to describe boarding procedures on the slow boat to Sulawesi.
Passengers debarking in Nunukan stumbled down a steep, metal plank while porters loaded down with goods simultaneously attempted to squeeze and shove their way onto the ship. Unsurprising result: a big bottleneck and nobody moved.
It was one of those shake-your-head-in-utter-dismay moments.
Alright, I know it’s uncharitable to pass judgment (especially on the absurdly friendly Indonesians). But couldn’t they bring in the Swiss for a little logistical training?
Even a simple step like allocating one door for entry and another for exit would work wonders. Moveable steps rather than a precarious contraption with ropes to pull yourself on board would be a major improvement.
But no. Husbands swung pregnant wives on their backs and hauled them aboard. The old and disabled were carried like small, sleeping children and gently placed on deck. And the two foreign cyclists with over-loaded bikes were helped aboard by a small posse of do-gooders and a military man with a bull horn charged with keeping back the masses.
This being our tenth Indonesian ferry, we knew pretty much what to expect. Smelly toilets, smokey, clove-scented cabins and sleeping bodies EVERYWHERE!
Lucky for us, the indulgent first officer (we’ve yet to meet an unkind Indonesian) let us squat outside the officer’s cabins. A clean, pleasant smoke-free environment with high-powered air-con. Sure, you couldn’t switch off the lights in the corridor, but when compared to conditions outside in economy class, we were living the high life. Not exactly the Love Boat, but the 40 hours on board were more than bearable.
These photos will give you a better idea of reality on the slow boat to Sulawesi.