Palu – Nunukan

The van from Tentena took all day to reach our next destination. The ride was disgustingly hot, even with my shirt off. We had some iced tea with lunch, and kept pouring water on our heads and necks to fight the heat. Nothing much happened apart from us sweating our assess off… We arrived at our hotel after dusk, and discovered it was quite decent for its price (10NZD for the room)… It was quite clean, came with towels and a fan, but it did not have a shower, so we were back to the bucket. We dropped our stuff and headed towards the best lit direction up from the corner we were standing at, to search for something edible and to get some cash out (as we had failed to do so in Tentena and had not much $$ left at all)

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We found an AC shopping mall with a KFC and some Arcade machines, some street vendors, and a bunch of restaurants. We finally settled for the cheapest we found (about 1NZD a meal) and enjoyed tempe, tofu, rice and fresh made sambal, that was not too spicy and delicious. We called it a night rather early, as the bumpy ride had left us with no more energy to spare. Not much happened in the next few days, we explored town and got our shit together for the upcoming trip… While investigating transport option to the Pantaloan port, some locals waved at us to go take pictures with a man suffering from dwarfism. They seemed proud to show us the shortest person in Palu, though he did not seem awfully pleased.

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The coast line was quite pretty, with a good looking food market by the water. I sat on the wall that separates the sidewalk from the rocky coast for quite a while, admiring the view and thinking of all the other masses of water, connecting me to my loved ones far away, looking at some other waters that in the end are one and all the same… (todos los fuegos, el fuego; todas las aguas, el agua)

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The concrete wall facing the water was full of colourful graffiti that we admired and captured with our camera.

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Later that afternoon, waiting for the sun to come down, we enjoyed observing the kites flying about in the wind and skipped some rocks alongside some locals. When the time came, the whole sky turned bright red, creating a rather stunning panorama.

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The day for us to board Pelni once again arrived, so we grabbed our stuff, got into a Bemo and headed towards the port. The trip was easy, and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. The port police station men called us to join them, so we chilled out in there waiting for the time to board. We were gifted some delicious ice tea to fight the heat, and as usual, pictures of us were taken and uploaded to some random Facebook… I used the time to write and practice singing Two Headed Boy by Neutral Milk Hotel and Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead. We have been trying to learn some songs, as people keep asking Tim for songs when they see his guitar, not knowing he doesn’t know any songs with lyrics 😛

Lambelu finally arrived, and we boarded the huge ship. Luckily for us, it was the same one that had taken us from Maumere to Makassar weeks before, and we were promptly taken to the next cabin. This time around, they even provided us with double mattresses to lay on, which meant we were even more comfortable. The heat was really bad though, so we had to take cold showers every few hours to prevent fainting. It was still over before we knew it, and we arrived in Nunukan a day later without any inconveniences.

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Upon arriving at the port, we found some people that spoke a little bit of English, and pointed us towards a hotel. We went into the first one we spotted, who had a room for 10NZ$. It was a tiny room with two mattresses on the floor, and a shared Indonesian toilet. We could not even fully close the door cause the inside knob was melted down… So if the door had shut, we would have been trapped, unable to open from the inside. At night, while reading/playing Epic Fantasy Battle 4, a huge cockroach dropped loudly inside, making me panic. Tim tried to kill it following my frightened wishes, but he failed and it hid who knows where. Promptly, we decided to explore the town and try to find a better place to stay for the following night. We walked for quite a while, getting dinner at a local joint, but unable to find another hotel within our price range.

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Eventually we gave up and were returning to our rugged one, when I spotted exactly what we had been searching for… right across the street from our current shit-hole! Full of hope, we went in, and asked to see a room. These were 14NZ$, though the room came with towel, private western toilet, a desk, wi-fi in the lobby…  luxury in comparison. It had an amazing view to the local dumpster, where I later on saw a monitor lizard crawling through the rubbish. The receptionist spoke 0 English, so I used all my Indonesian and told her we would come back “Besok pagi” hoping she would get it. She certainly did, as the keys were waiting for us early next morning, when we made our quick escape from the terrible place we had originally chosen. In comparison, this next place was perfect and made our stay in Nunukan very comfortable.

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We purchased the tickets to Malaysia and got ready to cross the border. Immigration “queue” was long. Calling it a queue is quite a stretch, as it was more like a bunch of people pushing a shoving. Again, our size was a great advantage, as they couldn’t really move either of us if we wanted to stand our ground, which meant we made it through rather quickly. The clerk was excited I was Argentinian (as usual, the words Messi and Maradona were spoken with a big grin on his face) and made Tim skip his queue and join me…

The ride was nice, on a speed boat with a big cabin with AC. I left that place and went to sit at the top of the boat, where I shared a conversation with some of the boat workers.. One of them spoke a little bit of English, enough so that we could mostly understand each other and laugh at random stuff. They seemed happy to share the roof with me regardless, and I stayed with them until we arrived in Tawau…

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