On a ferry named PELNI – Leaving Singapore!

Boat resting by palm trees in Indonesia in beautiful clear, blue water.

In the niche world of 'cycling around the world', and overland travel in general, legend tells of a boat from Singapore to Australia, which ferries travellers from one continent to the next. The thing is, beyond speculation or rumour, no-one knows anything about this boat, or anyone who took it. There is certainly no passenger ferry, which leaves three option;

  1. I could try to hitch-hike with a cargo ship, although they are reluctant to do this as it affects their insurance. I contacted a few without success.

  2. I spoke with a few sailors in Singapore to see if they were headed to Australia. None were, but one captain offered me passage on a yacht to South Africa working as a deckhand. I was VERY tempted. I pictured the conversation with my mum; 'Hi Jo.' 'Hi Mum.' 'How's Australia?' 'Uhm.. Australia? I'm actually in Cape Town.' 'CAPE TOWN?! WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING IN CAPE TOWN?!'
    But ultimately I decided I was too close to Australia not to finish what I had started.

  3. So, this only left option 3; the quickest, cheapest and most logical; To fly from Singapore to Australia.

But that's boring; if I had wanted the easy, quick way to reach Australia, I wouldn't have cycled in the first place...

Standing in the sea holding my bike at the southernmost point of continental asia in Singapore.
The end of the road. The Southernmost Point of Continental Asia.

And so I chose option 4.

By the time you read this, I will be on a small boat somewhere in the Java Sea, heading for Indonesia. With no direct options from Singapore to Australia, I have decided to spend two months hopping through the Indonesian islands, a mix of cycling and boating, until I reach East Timor, which is about as close as it is possible to get to Australia, without y'know, actually being in Australia!

I'm excited about Indonesia because I have no idea what to expect. Unlike previous countries, where I had a little background knowledge, I know nothing about Indonesia. I just discovered it had over 400 active volcanoes spread over its 17,000 islands – how awesome is that?! Did you also know it has the world's 4th largest population? A collossal 260 million people! I can't wait to discover more!

Map plan of journey through the Indonesian islands by bicycle.
My route might look something like this... Or it might look entirely different altogether!

Before closing this post, I'd like to briefly mention the ferry I am currently stuck on for the next 30 hours. 'DON'T TAKE PELNI FERRIES' advised one traveller on the internet, 'they normally sink!' he concluded. I wondered if he might be prone to exaggeration. 'Pelni ferries are only okay if you're local and don't mind sharing a bed with cockroaches,' said another, on TripAdvisor.

To make things more interesting, I will be travelling in Class F. Have any of you heard of a Class F or 6th class anywhere before? My ticket price for this 30 hour, 1000km voyage costs only £18 ($24), so I imagine I'll play an integral part in the running of the ship. Maybe I'll be stuck in an engine room shovelling coal.


I hope to see you on the other side, and continue to share my adventures with you! Enter your email address to subscribe, or like my Facebook page for regular updates!

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Keep me on the road... with the gift of noodles! 😀

2 Replies to “On a ferry named PELNI – Leaving Singapore!”

  1. Good Luck to Indonesia and Australia. Keep inspiring people that you will meet. Thanks for coming to me and inspired me to travel

  2. Good luck 🍀 on your voyage! I’m sure the next 30hrs will be fun in the office, Mum with no sleep equals lots of laughter and silliness!! 😂
    I’ve sent you some “noodles”, enjoy xx

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