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PP11 - Taking Sharon for a ride

After our little break in Singapore (lots of food and wine and sleep), we were ready to take our truck Sharon home to Penida. It was a bit of a mission…

Day 1: we are ready to go and pick her up at the dealer after paying the remaining of the bill the day before. Except that when we arrive, the guy tells us he never received our money. Turns out he gave us the wrong bank details, but obviously he doesn’t want to let us go without the money so we drive up to the bank, take out a couple of bricks of cash and after settling it out we are ready to go!

I drive Sharon straight away to the service place where we had booked a slot. Already, I can feel the strange looks when I park and get out of the truck. This isn’t going to be the last strange looks I get when getting off it…The service guy is super nice and within a few hours Sharon is almost good to go. Next stop, the tyre guy so she can get new tyres. Finally, we take her back to Julia where we have gathered most of the things that need to go over this week.

Thanks to a couple of friends, we start by loading a scooter onto it and then a shitload of gear and other stuff, and within an hour the truck is full. Of course once that is done I cannot see anything through the rear…and we have to drive all the way to Padang Bai to the ferry which is a good hour away.

Day 2: One of our friends has arranged the ferry ride, because the “normal” process is that you show up in the harbour with your truck and if there is space, good for you, if not you can wait until the next day and sleep in your truck and try your luck again. Obviously we have zero intention of doing that, so after a couple of calls I have instructions to call a certain guy when we arrive so we can get onto the ferry that same day. Just like anything in this country, there is a way around the rules.

So bright and early the next day, here we go with a truck full of stuff and we hit the road. Overall, it goes fine, as in I don’t hit anything or anyone and nothing falls off the truck. When we get to the harbour, the first thing we do is get through the police check. We show the vehicle papers and my (expired) driving licence and that goes well until the guy asks for the technical inspection papers…which we left in the safe, safely, back in Sanur. Of course we know how this goes so we sit down, we have a smoke, we give him a bribe and off we go.

Once that is done, we call the ferry guy who appears on a scooter and gets us through inspection with no one inspecting our load (I will learn later that we should have paid extra for the scooter but hey, we just had to bribe the cops so I guess that makes us even).

We park close to the ferry and appears another guy that gives us a bill for the crossing but our new friend instructs me to give him a little bit more, so we do that and then we are asked to wait until the boat is ready to go. We have over an hour to kill so while Julia goes on the hunt for a rice brekkie I start making friends with the guys sitting there and waiting with their trucks. After they get over the initial shock of seeing two white chicks with a truck, they are very friendly (one even offers to “steal my heart”, I quote) and so I learn a lot about ferry crossing, the price of building materials in Penida, who runs the harbour and so on.

I have to say that in the last 6 months I gave myself a mental pat on the back countless amount of times for making the effort of learning and managing now to speak half decent Indonesian, because if I hadn’t, life would be quite a bit harder right now.

After some rice eating and coffee drinking and sharing smokes and chatting, the moment arrives when I have to get Sharon onto the ferry. I start sweating a little when I realise I have to drive backwards to get it in, so I get in line and some nice ferry man guides me down the ramp because thanks to the load I see nothing. Of course today of all days the swell is huge and when I get to the ferry entrance the metal bridge from the ferry is jumping up and down the ramp thanks to the swell and I am the last truck in the line and there is about 10 cm on each side to get in. So I probably look petrified at that point, but my new friend Ketut who I spent an hour chatting with just got his truck on the ferry and like a star he gets off it, walks up to mine and asks if he should do it and I am like YES THANK YOU. Got to love how nice people are in this country, over 6 years in and it still amazes me once in a while.

So Sharon gets onto the ferry. Then we walk up to the deck where there are a few benches. We are the only women and the only white people on board and we get a lot of attention and questions. I snooze a bit, read my book, etc. It takes ages and then when we are close by Nusa Penida it takes another hour while they wait for another ferry to get out, manoeuvre in, anchor, etc. But finally, we are there, I get Sharon out of the boat all by myself and drive her up to the house half an hour away. Again, no one died, score!

Now, our house…

Our house is along a road that is pretty steep, where a lot of driving goes by because it’s right next to the main harbour. So we get to the house and I stop on the side of the road because I have to back the truck inside in between the gate walls. That’s already a bit tight and as said I can’t see a thing behind, so I get started while Julia blocks the traffic and helps me get in there and that was some very long minutes while I get the back on the truck in and see all the traffic waiting for me to park Sharon.

Note how the wall is still standing because I have not reversed into it with the truck

Finally, we start unloading everything until there is only the scooter left…and then of course there is no chance in hell we can unload that scooter in between the two of us. So Julia stands on the side of the road, stops two guys on a bike and they laugh and agree to help and within a couple of minutes the scooter is down.

At that stage It is 5pm and we have been on the move since 7am, we were going to go pick up our tanks but we decide to call it a day instead and leave the tanks for the next day. But that part will be for the next post when I tell you about our first days of diving. More entertainment to come, you won’t be disappointed....

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