05/07/2014 – 307 days/26632 miles

The final piece of business in Penang was getting the bike loaded on a boat to Indonesia. My buddy Ben, who I’ve been traveling on and off with through Malaysia, and I planned to use the same boat, which goes from Penang, Malaysia to Belawan, Indonesia, which is not far from Medan, on the island of Sumatra. The boat is not your typical roll on/roll off ferry, or a large cargo vessel. It’s a wooden boat, about 30m long, that hauls vegetables from Belawan to Penang. So on the return trip to Belawan, there’s plenty of extra space for random cargo, like a couple motorcycles.
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In the morning, we met with Mr. Lim, our shipping agent, and headed towards the docks. We had to take a brief ferry ride, amongst a few cars and a load of small bikes, taking people to work
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Once at the docks, we first had to take care of our paperwork…or rather, Mr. Lim took care of our paperwork. We got approval for our bikes to leave Malaysia via the vegetable boat, and got the necessary stamp in our carnets. Now, off to the docks, where the boat had arrived from Indonesia and was being unloaded.
Ben and I had to wait around a few hours before loading the bikes, so we explored around the docks a bit. Both of us were really surprised with how casual everyone was and that we had the freedom to go anywhere.
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The only place we wanted to go and were turned away from was on board a tanker carrying 13,000 metric tons of palm oil from Penang to New York…I guess they had to draw the line somewhere…and I guess we had to find where that line was.
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This is the palm oil storage and loading area of the docks
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When we stopped by the huge tanker to take some photos, we noticed a worker approaching us on a scooter. Immediately I figured that he was coming over to tell us we shouldn’t be there, or at least should not be taking photos. Turns out he just wanted to get a few pictures taken with us.
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We arrived just in time to see a couple tug boats drag this beast away from the dock and get it turned around and ready to head for open waters
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Further down the dock, we found a barge filled with scrap metal that had arrived from Indonesia
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Back to the vegetable boat, to see the unloading process
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Once it was empty, and we were ready to get the bikes hoisted onto the boat, it started to rain…perfect timing.
Ben went first
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Then I got to have my own shit-my-pants moment as my beloved F800GS was lifted into the air with a pair of old, frayed, not-at-all confidence inspiring ropes
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Coming in for the landing
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On the deck, getting tied up
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Both our bikes, secured and ready for the trip to Belawan
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Now it’s the end of the day, and we’re motorcycle-less, so we make the long walk from the docks back to town (with a ferry ride along the way)
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Tomorrow morning, I take a flight to Singapore. I’ll spend a few days there while my bike is in transit, then head to Indonesia to pick it up.

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