Monday, 2 August 2010

"Ferry Ferry Quite Contrary - Day 1 of 'The Family Road Trip From H___!"

You know how on the ill-fated Titanic, there were insufficient lifeboats for passengers?  Well the seat to person ratio was somewhat reminiscent of that on our 4.5 hour ferry crossing from Bali to Lombok.

In retrospect, we were idiots for faffing about downstairs on the vehicle level after driving onboard... getting snacks for the ride, searching for Eggie's perpetually lost flip-flops, etc.  Turns out our time would have been far better spent up on the passenger deck procuring seats for the long outward journey.

For upon entry to the passenger level we found, much to our dismay, that every seat had been taken.  For starters, whoever designed this boat must have figured on a ratio of one seat for every two people.  This discrepency in itself could have been borne if not for the fact that a most distressing 'greedy guts' mentality seemed to be in effect.

Passengers lucky enough to have secured a seat didn't just leave it at that.  Most snagged an extra one or two for good measure, ensuring that their accoutrements (helmets, bags, jackets, etc.) could spend the journey in relative comfort...propped up jauntily on large padded seats beside them.

I could feel the husbands' eyes on me, wondering how close I was to full-on silent tantrum mode.  Pretty damn close as it turns out.

Standing there furiously clutching my bags and two children in a vice grip, I did what any self-respecting parent would do.  I marched them up and down the aisles, staring pointedly at the locals, daring them not to move their belongings aside and make room for one of the little ones to sit.

No one so much as looked down in shame.  Instead, meeting our beseeching eyes with impassive stares of their own, they let us wander up and down the aisles like a sorry band of vagrants, confounding any sense of decency.

By the time we made it to the rear of the seating area, where cushy padded chairs had been replaced by long wooden benches, I was nearly apoplectic with rage as I scanned row upon row of solitary snoozers who had unashamedly commandeered whole rows meant for five or six persons, and had stretched out proprietorily and already fallen asleep.

In panic, we grabbed the only seats going...the only seats left...the ones clearly nobody wanted  A tiny little wooden table boasting four tiny little seats stood empty.  I'm sure its proximity to the noisy snack bar and toilets couldn't have helped much, but then again it could have been the huge gathering of loud, chattering chain-smoking old men and guitar playing teenagers in the vicinity that had put people off.

To make matters worse, the husband didn't seem too bothered.  (Men listen up:  When your partner is PISSED OFF, even if you can't help the situation, any wise mate will realise that appeasement is the way forward.  At your peril should you take the side of a stroppy flight attendant, rude check-in staff, or an arrogant rail employee over that of your significant other.  If left unchecked, the continuation of this sort of behaviour will likely lead to divorce, or at the very least a very, very unhappy wife...which will lead to a very, very unhappy life...and in severe cases - physical harm to the hapless spouse.  But I digress..)

This was, after all, only the stage where the boat was pulling out of the dock.  Not enough time had elapsed for the husbands bottom to fall asleep, his legs to get pins and needles, and his back to start aching from being held so erectly upright against a painful steel bar...all this was to come.  Instead, with a pleasant enough grin, his Nikon flung casually over one shoulder and the monsters in tow, he took off for a wander upstairs to snap some pictures.  I stayed right where I was, glaring at the rude man across from me - staring pointedly at his extra seat with slowly mounting fury.

I have simply never seen anything like it.  There were children and women milling around with nowhere to sit but on the hard floor - and grown men, lounging on their string of 2, 3, or 4 seats, taking their shoes off, stretching out their legs, and settling in with a smoke and a burp for the long journey.

I briefly entertained thoughts of a freak-out, imagining the thrill of racing through the cabin hurling jackets and bags off seats whilst triumphantly giving the liberated seats to those unfortunates like myself, like some sort of manic Robin Hood, simultaneously forcing all the rude men to spend the journey cleaning out the toilets. That's when I knew I had to remove myself from the scene before I either exploded with a coronary brought on by uncontrollable rage, or began hurling helmets overboard.

So I stomped off upstairs to the top deck, where all the clove cigarette smoking male crew were huddled, bracing themselves against the strong wind.  I plopped myself down on the edge of a hard wooden bench, flicked on my ipod and stared resolutely ahead as Sigur Ros played mournfully into my ears, trying to pretend there weren't still four hours to go.

But all (good and bad) things must come to an end, and we finally pulled in to Lombok several hours later.  For the duration of the boat journey I stayed upstairs in the chilly wind, stubbornly refusing to move, despite being eventually wee'ed on by a sleeping Dumps, who not only soaked my only pair of trousers but my treasured All Saint's cardigan as well.

As we drove off the ferry, equilibrium descended and I glanced over to the husband.

"That really pissed me off."

"Uh.  Yeah.  I know.  I think the entire ferry knew"

"Nevermind," i thought to myself as we began winding around picturesque roads and unspoiled scenery..."It's all uphill from here".

How wrong I was.

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