I spent the ferry trip from Tanjung api-api to Muntok with people who were interested in the story of my journey. Time went by fast and without me realizing, we were already in Muntok port. Some of the bolts on my bike were still broken from the last stretch of bad road but the ferry crew helped me fix everything! Some of the biker community had been waiting for me at Muntok but, due to the extra time I spent on the boat fixing my bike, the bikers had already left and we missed each other. It was 5:10pm when I resumed my journey to Pangkal Pinang, the capital of Bangka Belitung Island. On the way, I was joined by two bikers. Later that night, I was invited to meet with other bikers and then spent the evening in one of the original biker’s homes.
The next day, I was invited to enjoy the specialties of Bangka in one of the biker’s houses. After this, they accompanied me to my next ferry. I was impressed with the biker community. They were very friendly and helped me a lot. Thank you, Bangka biker community! There is not much else that I can tell you about Bangka because I did not stay long. My ferry to Belitung was scheduled to depart at 13.00 but it left at 15:00 pm. I arrived in Tanjung Ru, Belitung, at 2 am. I drove to town because the harbor was too quiet and there was no one around to keep it safe. On the way, I was struck by how many vehicles and bicycles were parked outside of the houses with the keys still in the ignition. Later, I found out that the crime rate in Belitung is very low so people never worry about robbery. From Tanjung Ru port to Tanjung Pandan, the largest town on Belitung, was approximately one hour. Another hour after that, I finally arrived in Belitung.
In Belitung, I stopped at the police station to ask them to sign my logbook (in order to prove my trip to the Indonesian Record Museum, I need to collect stamps and signatures from officials twice a day). As I entered, my attention was distracted by the chicken porridge a.k.a “Bubur ayam” beside the entrance to the police station. Living in Bandung for twelve years gave me very many sweet memories of this food but, unfortunately, most places outside of Bandung do not have the taste. Here, the chicken porridge was almost authentic, so I recommended you try. They are open from around 6 am to 9 am, so you have to get up early to try it.
From the Police station at Tanjung Pandan, I headed back to the port of Tanjung Batu. My next destination was Pontianak, the closest point of entry into Kalimantan. Pelni, the ferry that goes to Pontianak, was scheduled to leave at 9:00 pm. I set off extra early and arrived at 7:30 pm. Tanjung Batu Port was recently constructed but had never been used, so many weeds were growing and the building had fallen into neglect. Seeing it made me feel sad.
At 9 am, I was informed that the ferry would be late and would arrive at 12.00. The head of the police station told me to meet first meet the regent and promised to call me if the ferry arrived. At first, I didn’t want to meet the regent because I was worried I would miss the ferry. It is only scheduled to depart once every two weeks so I really did not want to be stuck on the island until the next one. Nevertheless, the head of the police station insisted and I went back to Tanjung Pandan, an hour’s drive from the port.
I went to the regent’s office but the bureaucracy was overwhelming and it was not as easy to meet the regent as the head policeman had told me. So I ended up spending a long time at the regent’s office, but I wasn’t able to meet him.
When I returned to the port, the ferry had already left to Pontianak. The head of the police station told me that this ferry was a passenger ship that could not bring my vehicle so he had let the ferry go. Instead, he had arranged my trip to Jakarta and from Jakarta to Pontianak. Unfortunately, I had to wait three days for this ferry, because this ferry also does not run every day.
Many bikers in Belitung heard of my presence and offered to host me. On the way to one of the biker’s houses, there was a forest fire. When I asked one of the police why they let forests burn, he said “here is just a small scale fire so it’s okay to leave it alone. If the citizens are not able to extinguish the fire they can ask for help from the fire department”. It was sad for me to hear that comment because I think any form of forest fires is prohibited and air pollution is a big problem in Indonesia.
The second day in Belitung, I decided to drive around the island from the West to the East, which is famous for 1001 coffee shops and Rainbow Troops (the movie and the novel). I like the town so ended up staying in a motel there.
On the way back, my bike started having problems again, because the bolts that held my bike together had worked loose and fallen out somewhere along the road. Luckily, I found a garage not far from where I discovered the problem.
Finally, the expected day came and the ferry that took me to Jakarta had arrived at the Port of Tanjung Ru Belitung. I was so excited to be able to continue my journey.
The majority of passengers bound for Jakarta were truck drivers whose trucks carried an assortment of cargo. I was happy to meet with the drivers because we could exchange experiences. We had to wait for hours in the boat before high tide arrived, but the drivers were experienced and were already preparing activities that would fill their boredom. Some were fishing and some were busy playing cards. Together with all of these drivers, the twenty-hour ferry ride to Jakarta was very pleasant.