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16 November 2011 / leggypeggy

On plans—expect the unexpected

A small slice of Singapore's skyline complete with ferries and cable cars.

Just when you think everything is going according to plan, something unthinkable happens and it’s time for a complete rethink.

That happened today—big time.

We left Singapore this morning, heading to a ferry that would take us to Indonesia. It was a short run—only an hour—to the island of Batam, where we would spend the night before boarding another, longer ferry to Jakarta. When I say longer, it was supposed to be a lot longer—30 hours to be exact.

But ‘supposed to be’ is the operative phrase here. Soon after we arrived in Batam, our tour leader, Lu, went off to buy tickets for the next leg. Quite a while later she returned looking rather shell-shocked. Turns out the ferry—the only ferry—is ‘broken’ and won’t run again for two weeks. Lu spoke to them only last week and everything was fine then. Of course, two weeks is an outrageous and impossible delay for us. This surprises the Indonesians who are, I suspect, used to life moving slowly and erratically.

So the question is, what next? Batam is in the extreme west of Indonesia. It’s large but remote, and there are limited options for ‘escape’. This is an overland trip, so flying is out—well not out, but definitely a last resort.

Our fall-back plan is to take a six-hour ferry tomorrow to Sumatra, and then a 36-hour bus across that island, so we can travel on to Jakarta’s island of Java. Lu says we won’t do the 36 hours in one hit, but now we’ll be figuring out things as we go.

Poor John and I have no problem with this change of plan. We’re not thrilled about 36 hours of bus, but we weren’t thrilled with 30 hours of ferry either. But Sumatra is a bonus. Last year, we spent five weeks in Indonesia and never got to Sumatra. So we’ll make the best of a hiccup.

It’s late now. I need sleep. Wish I could find a way to turn off the hotel’s karaoke bar that’s going full-tilt just outside our room. That, or if they’d let me pick the songs.

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