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Malaysia - Melaka (Ferry to Dumai) to Pekanbaru PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Monday, 20 April 2009 19:22
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Day 62: Wednesday 22nd November Melaka (Ferry to Dumai) to Pekanbaru
 

The drive from the Hotel (Wisma Indah) to the ferry port took only a few minutes and so it was hard to know why we'd had another reasonably early start when the ferry departure time was 10.30pm. The ferry journey to Somatra was two and half hours long and I was looking forward to lounging on the deck taking in the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the Islands. My first impression of the ferry was that we were entering a catamaran but as we were helped over a short gap with the sea below us I deduced there were two boats and very narrow ones at that. Once inside the choice of seats was limited; down in the bowels, at water level or up one deck. Just by chance we found ourselves in the upper seating area along with a hundred or so others. This boat was as basic as the toilets in this area and whilst on the subject it did have one which consisted of a hole in one corner and what we now call a mandip beside it. A mandip is a trough of water with a bucket type ladle. The idea is to use the water from the trough to either wash or shower yourself with or in this instance to flush what ever needs removing.

The passengers consisted of mainly families etc but besides these there were some seriously shifty looking characters who seemed to be on excellent terms with the captain and his crew. I have to say they didn't look like sharholders of the ferry line which I think was Seatran. John and myself had decided after watching all the characters going in and out of the cockpit that it must either be a tardis or else it was a larger area than the passenger area. After thorough investigation I had established there was only one way out of this sardine tin and that was by the emergency exit which seemed to be being used by the shifty characters who were now openly carrying large bundles of money. We were heading into the Adaman Sea a notorious stretch of water for pirates. The only possible explanation as far as we could see was that these wee money carrying accomplaces just waiting to give the signal once they'd established there were rich pickings aboad. Furthermore in the central isle one to every two rows were very big black buckets which must be used by the pirates to speed up the process of collecting everyones valuables. To make things even more suspicious we suddenly stopped after only a few minutes of traveling for a family to be brought aboad. Very strange.

We were suddenly distracted by the video movie which began with a loud explosion as a suicide bomber blew himself up along with the tuck tuck carrying him and a street full of people. The whole plot from there on seemed to centre around an elderly man who had lost three members of his family, seen bent praying at the graves, and arguing with tuc tuc drivers. We couldn't decide why he hated or distrusted tuck tuck drivers and concluded that he like the one in Bangkok who refused to take us where we asked had driven them to somewhere else instead of a military target killing innocent people and hopefully himself. A tuck tuck carrying a suicide bomber is a scary thought indeed similar to a cruise misile that has gone astray. The journey was less than that stated and we were disembarking when we should have been watching the conclusion to the film.

We passed through Customs and Immigration without hinderance once we'd paid our 25 dollors a piece for a visa. Indeed I have to say the officials were very friendly, welcoming and helpful which is more than you can say for British customs and within half an hour we were on the next bus with our new guide Anton.

The hotel Wisma Indah deserves acknowledgement as one of the worst hotels of the trip. It was dark, dirty and seedy, no air con, shower, wash bason or roof fan. The walls in the so called bathroom were dirty and covered in damp mould with a large a hole leading to the outside and big enough to let rats in. The place was an haven for mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches and was on a par with the other dump in Calcutta.

We arrived quite late and decided to find a bar and hope the room would look better later. It was just our luck to find a five star hotel down the road a short way. It had a very large outdoor swimming pool, a welcoming bar if not a little expensive (£3 a small can of local Bitang) and two rooms vacant out of a total of 150. One of the rooms a penthouse suite was £80 an night whilst a standard one was a mere £30. How much Ozbus was paid for the shit hole up the road is anyones guess. Mark, Mac, Sue and Mary booked the two rooms whilst we went back to confirm that our ours was as bad after beer. It was.



Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2009 19:29