We board the infamous and slightly mystical Pelni boat from Batam to Jakarta. It is a 29 hour fairly chaotic ride over the Java Sea – and – for the first time, we cross the equator and enter the Southern Hemisphere!
Welcome to our economy class bedroom – surely the most populated place we would ever (try to) sleep!
At least we have a bed. There are people literally sleeping anywhere and everywhere – fire escapes, corridors, cafe tables, out on deck…
The sea and sky are glorious.
We make friends quickly…
… and make more friends…
… until people start queuing to have their photos taken!
Jakarta in sight. The port looks a scary place as we prepare for the regular taxi battle.
For the people who actually want to take this boat, here is some information below:
A few tips for the journey:
From Singapore to Batam
This is an easy journey from Singapore from the Harbourfront. Our only advice is to have the correct visa money before getting on the boat (from Singapore to Batam) – ideally in US dollars ($25 at the time of writing). Even officials working the Indonesian immigration desk may try and rip you off given the opportunity.
From Batam to Jakarta
The hard part is finding the Pelni office and finding something to do whilst you are here.
To find the Pelni Office see photos below. Essentially it is a 10-ish minute walk from the ferry terminal to the Pelni office and there won’t be signs and or road names on Google Maps.We would suggest walking is bets otherwise you can easily be swallowed up by touts.
So – come out of the ferry terminal, out of the car park in front of you, turn right and walk along that road until another main road (not little rough track) heads off to the left and uphill slightly. Walk up there and after 5 minutes the Pelni office will be just on the right of another road on your left.
The timetable at the time of writing was once a week, leaving on Wednesday afternoon, taking 29 hours and arriving on Thursday evening in Jakarta. From our short experience we would recommend spending as little time as possible in Batam and therefore arrive at the ferry terminal from Singapore either on the same day or the day before. Getting tickets should not be a problem.
For the boat itself
Keep hold of your ship ticket for free issue food from the “pantry” – bring your own seasoning for the otherwise bland food!
If you don’t have bedding then bring insect repellant and sanitiser.
Flip flops are a must as the toilet area seemed to get very very wet…
Toilet paper is a luxury – bring your own!
Buy food and water from sellers before you board or after you board when the sellers are allowed on the boat before it departs – this is better value and choice that buying from the shop – and – make sure you barter!
Ear plugs are helpful if you cant sleep in a room with hundreds of other people!
Make friends with people around you as soon as you board – this is possibly the most important tip we can give.
Consider not getting anything valuable out of your bag until the second day so that you can sleep at night.
If you are in a mixed gender group this usually means you must take economy class, unless you are happy to be in separated sleeping zones. We are unsure if or how this is enforced in reality.
CLASS 1a = Rp. 999,000
CLASS 1b = Rp. 817,000
CLASS 2a = Rp.561,000
CLASS 2b = Rp.517,000
CLASS economy = Rp.263,000
Expect to pay 20% more if booking through an agent. From our experience as a mixed gender couple we had to travel in economy class to be able to stay together.
See photos below (and hover mouse over for caption)!