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Java to Bali by ferry – How not to do it

Travelling from Ketapang in Java to the port of Gilimanuk in Bali by ferry is incredibly easy, very cheap and quick. However after travelling for two days in a minivan from Yogyakarta, and being exhausted from getting up at 4am on both of those days and trekking up two volcanos, meant we were perhaps a little too tired to realise just how simple it actually was.

The reality is, that you can walk into the harbour, buy your ticket from the office for around 6,000 Rupiah ($0.60, £0.40, €0.48), find the ferry, wait for it to leave and by the time you’ve ordered and finished your cup of tea, you’re there. It takes around 20 minutes. That’s it. Then get off, walk a little to the bus stop and get a bus to Denpasar. Easy – yes. For us – no.

Gilimanuk. The port in Bali
Gilimanuk. The port in Bali

We had somehow acquired the knowledge that the journey took around 40 minutes (nope) and that it cost around 30,000 Rupiah, so there was no way that a 6000 Rupiah ticket would be any quicker than 40 minutes (how wrong).

So when the ferry docked at its first port, we simply sat staring into thin air sipping our super sweet tea – this stuff was keeping us awake – as every other passenger except us disembarked, we watched the cars, buses trucks and bikes roll off and roll on and casually asked the young girl who was selling the tea if this was Bali. She said no. (WRONG!!).

Jess, the sweet little girl selling tea on the ferry who possibly mis-understood our question
Jess, the sweet little girl selling tea on the ferry who possibly mis-understood our question

The ferry then moved off and appeared to go north, back towards the island we’d just come from, how strange we thought.

More tea please.

One hour later, we did indeed dock again on the island we’d just come from but much further north. The ferry crew came over to us signalling we had to get off, surely if we hadn’t got off in Bali, we must be wanting to get off here. “Bali, Bali, Gilimanuk” we insisted pointing to the island in the distance – that had to be Bali right? They looked at us with puzzled expressions.

Another port. We still don’t know where this is
Another port. We still don’t know where this is

The boat turned around. But now it appeared to be heading south. We were going back the way we just came!

We began to realise what was happening. We’d missed that first stop, which was Bali.

As we approached the harbour we checked our camera pictures against the landscape – our hearts sank. What should have been a journey of just 20 minutes, we’d turned into around 3 hours. We tried to make light of it, “a cheap cruise” but we were exhausted and still had a long way to go. It wasn’t funny.

The white sculpture in the distance made us realise we’d made the mistake
The white sculpture in the distance made us realise we’d made the mistake

We trudged down into the belly of the boat as the motorbikes, cars trucks and buses turned on their engines and filled the air with thick black smoke – just what we needed.

But hold on a minute – buses! We banged on the door of an executive looking coach the sign said (Jakarta – Denpasar). Without question, they opened the doors, happily accepted our 50,000 Rupiah each, and for the next few hours we sank into the comfortable chairs on an almost empty bus into Bali’s capital. No tickets issued of course – this is Indonesia.

Comments

Co de Rood
Reply

Hahaha how funny! Nice to read 🙂

Ann-Charlotte
Reply

This was really helpful. Thank you for sharing! We are in Indonesia/java right now and will continue to Bali shortly. We are travelling nonstop for three years and Indonesia is our first stop.

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