The journey to New Guinea

When we arrived on Ternate we were told that the ferry to Sorong in New Guinea had left that morning and there wouldn’t be another one for two weeks. We rushed down to the docks to try and suss out our options. There we found that there was in fact a Pelni ship (a state run ferry that operated all round Indonesia) leaving in 2 days. Oh and there were no cabins, and only the lowest form of economy class left. We went home to ponder and do a little bit of research. We soon discovered that the journey from Ternate to Sorong on a Pelni ship would consist of a lot of fighting, an occasional drowning, lots of vomit, blood, crap and pickpocketing.* We looked at each other – we really weren’t cut out for this.


We decided to go for the flight option. What we didn’t realise was that we would be flying on a propeller plane – a Fokker Friendship – on Wings, an airline that was rated 1 out of 7 for safety. Everything went surprisingly smoothly – until it came to landing. We circled over 20 times before our landing was aborted due to ‘ugly weather’. We ended up at a different airport and by some miracle, and by shouldering our way through security, we managed to make our connecting flight – with our bags!


Three hours later I was sitting in a hotel room in Sorong, alone, worried sick. Dad had popped out to change some money just opposite the hotel, and 45 minutes later there was no sign of him. I was frantically texting my mum asking what I should do when he rolled in, rambling on about a fat man that he had met in a bar. Apparently he had had some ‘crucial’ information about our next port of call…


*For those of you with an appetite for this kind of thing, look up “On a slow boat to Papua” on

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