miércoles, 2 de octubre de 2013


Nos hubiera gustado conocer más de la isla de Sulawesi, pero para llegar a nuestro siguiente destino, la isla de Flores, necesitábamos coger un Pelni. El Pelni es el ferry más económico, y por consiguiente, más lento de Indonesia. Su frecuencia es muy limitada, así que cuando nos enteramos que el próximo Pelni partía a los 4 días, teniendo en cuenta que moverse por Sulawesi es extremadamente complicado y lento, tuvimos que sacrificar ciertas zonas de esta isla que nos hubiera encantado visitar. Así es, todo no se puede hacer.

We would have loved to have visited more of Sulawesi, but to get to our next destination, Flores, we had to take a Pelni Ferry. Pelni ferries are the most economic way to travel. On the down side, it's also the slowest way to move. Apart from being slow, these ships aren't very frequent either. So when we discovered we had 4 days to catch our boat to Labuanbajo in Flores, we were forced to travel back south as near to Makassar as possible. Let's face it, It takes a lot of time to move around Sulawesi in public transport which also meant we had to leave out a lot of things that we wanted to visit in the island. As we have discovered on our creative journey, you can't always see and do what you want.

Decidimos ir a Pantai Bira, ya que 4 días para matar en Makassar era demasiado. Una playa preciosa, sin mucho turismo y con un snorkeling excelente. Hace unos años, el gobierno ordenó pagar una tasa de entrada a todo aquel que visitara la zona, con el objetivo de mantener limpia la playa y los alrededores. Desafortunadamente, la playa está llena de basura y el dinero no sabemos donde irá a parar. Volvimos a Makassar en transporte privado, ya que íbamos mal de tiempo y necesitábamos un transporte rápido, y descubrimos que la tarifa de este transporte era más barata que la que habíamos pagado para ir en sentido contrario en transporte público. Vaya, una timada en toda regla. Cuando estuvimos negociando el precio en Makassar, nos pareció caro con respecto a lo que habíamos pagado para ir a Tana Toraja, pero pensamos que quizás era un viaje más complicado o el autobús sería un poco mejor. En aquel momento, insistimos en que nos hicieran un descuento, les dijimos que el precio era muy elevado, y finalmente, tuvimos que callar y tragar. Cuando posteriormente nos dimos cuenta de la gran colada que nos habían hecho, nos dimos cuenta que todavía no sabíamos nada de aquel país.

We decided to kill some time in Pantai Bira (Bira beach), a tranquil place without much tourism and amazing snorkeling. A few years ago the government set up an entrance/fee that seems to double year after year. This fee at first had its good intention as the money collected would be injected back into the community to help pick up garbage from the beach and keep the area attractive for everyone. Unfortunately, we don't know where the money was going as the beach itself seemed to accumulate more and more garbage year after year. To our surprise, our guesthouse owner nicknamed the beach: pantai plastic. After a few days in Bira, we zoomed back to Makassar to catch our famous Pelni boat. We took a shared "taxi" that was surprisingly cheaper than the local bus that took us to Bira a few days before. To put it plain and simple, the bus service ripped us off, big time. It was clear that we had no idea how this country really worked, so to defend ourselves, we were forced to sharpen up our bahasa and come up with our own techniques and strategies. 

Una vez en Makassar, preparamos los víveres para el viaje en Pelni, que duraría aproximadamente 35 horas. Habíamos escuchado todo tipo de comentarios respecto a este ferry, y todos ellos eran sorprendentes. El barco en cuestión va totalmente sobrecargado de gente. El sistema informático de venta de billetes no funciona como debería, y cada encargado vende tantos billetes como puede. Para viajar en primera clase no hay problema, uno tiene su camarote reservado, limpio y con baño privado, pero la clase económica… eso es otra historia.

By the time we made it back to Makassar, we bought basic necessities for the boat trip as we knew that it would take us approximately 38 hours to get to our destination. By then, we had heard crazy stories about the ferry line. It seems to be that traveling by boat would be a culture shock and an authentic/interesting experience. What we had heard was that the boats are overloaded with people as the ticket sales system was never under control. There also seemed to be clean and pricey first and second class cabins fitting a maximum of six people with private bathroom and somewhat better food service included. But economy class seemed to be another story on its own.

Nos recomendaron que fuéramos unas 3 ó 4 horas antes, ya que la cantidad de gente que lucha por subir al barco, y sobre todo, por encontrar una cama, puede llegar a ser de 10.000 personas. Pero, aunque solo fuera por esta vez, el ramadán ayudó a que la experiencia fuera bastante más light (lo que tampoco quiere decir fácil). No había mucha gente esperando en el puerto y el barco era bastante más pequeño que los que usan normalmente. La persona que nos atendió al llegar se quedó sorprendida cuando se enteró de que viajábamos en clase económica, y probablemente pensara "estos van a flipar…". Pues bueno, había basura que debía llevar allí desde hacia siglos, y que lógicamente, cuando el barco zarpó, fue en aumento. Entendimos que el problema no era únicamente la carencia de un servicio de limpieza eficaz, sino los propios viajeros. Que la botella de agua se me acaba, pues la tiro al suelo; que tengo un catarro del quince, me sueno los mocos cada dos por tres y tengo que escupir flemas, pues todo al suelo; que he acabado los noodles y no se que hacer con el envase, pues… ¡al suelo! Vamos, un barco de mierda extrema en toda regla. Mierda y más mierda que se iba acumulando, y las bolsas de basura, que había pocas pero haber las había, seguían medio vacías. Por otra parte, la gente que dormía fuera porque no había encontrado cama libre, contaba con poco espacio para tirar su basura, por lo que la solución era el mar.

We were told to be at least 3 or 4 hours in advance due to the fact that boarding the boat can be a total nightmare. Just imagine 10000 people trying to rush on a boat that can barely fit 5000. Luckily ramadan was on our side this time, as we had been informed that less people traveled on these dates. Still this wouldn't make the experience much easier. We did notice the shocked face of the the port official as he raised his eyebrows when he heard that we were traveling in economy class. However, we didn't understand why as on our arrival to the port there weren't too many people boarding our boat.  We managed to be the first passengers on this huge ferry boat, giving us enough time to look for a good bed near a door facing the exterior. Despite the fact that we had a "good bed" we started noticing what economy class was all about and as the boat got fuller and fuller we fully understood the stories surrounding these vessels. 

Pero eso, desgraciadamente, no era todo. Ahí vamos con los baños, si es que se les podía llamar así. Eso si que era MIERDA. El de hombres no contaba con baño, sino con duchas, por lo que los chorongos comenzaron a aparecer en ellas flotando en los 4 dedos de agua estancada. El de mujeres contaba con un baño que estaba a rebosar, así que… de nuevo a las duchas. El olor que emanaba de ellos cada vez que alguien abría la puerta, era para morir de un infarto. Entendimos por qué la comida que dan y que va incluida en el pasaje, consistía en poco más que arroz blanco. Regla fundamental: aguanta y haz un tapón. 

Como "plus", la niña pequeña que dormía a nuestro lado, echó las papas encima de la cama de Miguel. Claro, a esas alturas eso ya era lo de menos. 

The boat was completely full of trash, even when the boat was empty. Adding more people just meant more trash. People seemed to not pay attention to any of the trash bags on the boat. Let's just say, when someone finished their cup of instant noodles, the cup would end up on the floor as would cigarette buts, fruit peelings and even the occasional spit filled mucous due to someone's cold. Slowly the boat would just get fuller and fuller of SHIT. That wasn't all. Considering there wasn't enough space on the boat for everyone, people would sleep outside. Here the same rule applied. When someone was finished with whatever they were consuming, it would either end up on the floor, or worse, in the sea. to make things worse, the bathrooms were something else. The mens room was absent of a toilet. Yes, that's right, no place for a good "number one and two". The solution was to use the showers (which the boat did have) as an improvised toilet. It didn't take much time until these showers were clogged up and the human submarines were floating in four fingers of putrid dark brown water. One can imagine every time the bathroom doors were opened, the stench of feces and ammonia that filled the air. Luckily we can say that the ferry's tactic was a good one, feed everyone a lot of plain rice. This helped us and other passengers not use the toilet too often. We miraculously managed to hold everything in for the entire 38 hours.

De esta forma llegamos a Labuanbajo, en Flores. La verdad es que los precios han subido considerablemente en esta isla, y acabamos durmiendo en un antro con ratas y cucarachas incluidas por 9€ la noche (lo que antes debía haber sido 4€).

And there we were, 38 hours later, in our destination in Flores. Where prices were higher than we had expected. We managed to find a "cheap" hostel, 9€ a night. With rats, all types of bugs, cockroaches and mosquitos include for free. 

Como no, buceamos en el Parque Nacional de Komodo, unas de las inmersiones más espectaculares que hemos hecho. La visibilidad es increíble, hay coral a raudales y fauna a punta pala. Tiburones de punta blanca, barracudas, peces escorpión, nudibranquios, tortugas, trevallies, morenas gigantes… ¡uno no sabe donde mirar! La oportunidad de bucear con mantas rayas gigantes fue una experiencia increíble, y que incluso te pasen por encima a tan solo 1 metro de distancia, es algo emocionante. Eso si, las corrientes de por aquí son muy fuertes. Las inmersiones no son en absoluto relajadas, sino todo lo contrario. En ocasiones, debes echar mano a las rocas o incluso llevar algún amarré para sujetarte a ellas, siempre siendo consciente de que hay corrientes terriblemente peligrosas donde uno no puede lanzarse a la aventura.

Luckily we didn't spend too much time in our room as we had come here to dive Komodo, the national and marine park that is near Labuanbajo. Here we can happily say that the boat trip was worth every minute, as being able to dive here is a top experience. Komodo has offered us one of the best dives ever. Great visibility, healthy coral in abundance and amazing underwater creatures. White tipped sharks, nudibranches, giant travail, giant sweetlips, giant morays and it's all famous manta rays. However we must add that the concept of fun dives can't be completely applied to these dive sites. Let's face it, Komodo is famous for its crazy and dangerous currents. Up currents, down currents, washing machine currents… It's more of a challenging dive that a fun dive as you always have to be aware of many things that surround you, apart form the flora and fauna.

Lógicamente, fuimos a ver los famosos dragones de Komodo en la Isla de Rinca. Son los mayores depredadores del lugar. Jabalís, búfalos… no hay nada que pueda con ellos. La verdad es que no vimos muchos… De hecho, los tres que llegamos a ver se encontraban alrededor de la cocina del campamento base, aunque según dicen, no les alimentan…

We also had time to visit the Komdo dragons with a quick hike through Rinca Island (pronounced Reencha). These giant lizards are the largest predators on the island. They'll eat anything, from mouse deer to water buffalo. It only takes them one diseased, bacteria filled bite to infect its prey, who will die in a matter of days due to the infection it contracts throughout the bite. Unfortunately,  on our walk we only saw one, and it was small. But, we also did see three huge ones who always seems to be parked by the camp kitchen for some reason. The rangers assured us they were never fed… we still have our doubts.

Aunque en un principio pensemos que esta parte del mundo está repleta de jungla tropical, cuando llegamos a la Isla de Flores nos llevamos una gran sorpresa. ¡Flores es un auténtico secarral! Pero eso si, el paisaje sigue siendo precioso y sus playas tremendas joyas paradisiacas. Visitamos la Isla de Kanawa, una pequeño diamante en bruto. Agua azul turquesa, un snorkeling excelente a pocos metros de la costa y poca gente, dado que es propiedad de un "resort" y el alojamiento es limitado (eso si, para todo tipo de bolsillos).

One of the big shocks about this part of Indonesia was how we had a completely different idea about the landscape. We had always imagined it as tropical and full of jungle. To our surprise it looked more like the mediterranean, dry and arid, but this still makes it a beautiful place to visit. We managed to escape two days to a small island just off the national park called Kanawa. It had been recommended to us by a lot of friends and we can say thank you to all those people. The place was completely worth it. A small paradise with amazing snorkeling just off the beach and a great vibe. despite referring itself as a "resort", the place is still basic with limited fresh water and accommodation for all types of budgets. This place is a must see even if it is just for 2 or three days. If you are on a tight budget, instant noodles and snacks will be your best friend as food is very expensive.

El siguiente Pelni salía a los pocos días y, como ya nos pasó en Sulawesi, no podíamos perderlo. La siguiente aventura de mierda extrema nos esperaba. Crucemos los dedos… ¿Cómo sería esta vez?

Our next Pelni ship awaited us after Kanawa. This time we would go to Lombok. What magic would this boat hide? Could it get any better? We would just have to wait and see.

3 comentarios:

  1. Brutal. Que envidia mas malísima! (Salvo por los chorongos).
    ¿que cámara usáis en inmersión?

  2. nice place to visit but condition of the ship make me want to vomit..hehe very disgusting ... but anyways you guys hv a good experience there ...chip

  3. ¡Qué contraste tan brutal! Va del asco a la emoción del mar maravilloso.¿Cómo ifue el regreso? :Os tendríamos que invitar entre los disfrutamos leyendas un camarote limpio.Animo y a seguir mandando capítulos de lo que tendría que ser un libro en el futuro