PHOTOS: A Tranquil Ferry Between Indonesian Islands
The slow ferry churns over the waves between Bali and Lombok, two islands of the 17,000 or so that make up Indonesia. The public ferries of Indonesia are part of the connective tissue that keeps this diverse country together. Religious and ethnic tensions have no place here.
"I serve all the people. It doesn't matter if they come from another religion or another tribe, we serve all the people. It's equal," says ferry Capt. Mulyono, steering the Jemla ferry from majority-Hindu Bali to majority-Muslim Lombok.
The journey of almost 50 miles costs $3.40 and takes about four hours, sometimes longer. Tourists favor the more expensive fast boat that takes less than half the time, but the passengers on this vessel are almost all local — doing business, visiting relatives, going on vacation.
Between the islands, with little to no cellphone reception, people put aside their regular lives and spend the ride at ease, dozing or gazing into the deep blue water of the Bali Sea. Conversation is minimal.
At the front of the boat, next to the captain's quarters, hang a slew of ornate bird cages. Gentle chirps weave their way into the web of sounds. Waves slap the hull rhythmically, and the engine drones, loudly.
The repetition of noise dulls the senses and some passengers drift toward sleep, arranged in a jumble of limbs, napping on the boat's hard plastic benches. Others drink heavily sugared coffee, slurp cups of instant noodles, and smoke through packs of clove cigarettes.
Juraidah, a 27-year-old migrant worker from Lombok who lives in Taiwan, is on her way to visit her family. "My father passed away," she says. "It's only my mother, and that's why I have to earn money for my big family." Taking this ferry for the last leg of her journey helps her save money. She hasn't been home in three years. Her father died while she was gone.
As the ferry pulls in to dock in the south of the island of Lombok, Juraidah and the other passengers gather their belongings, and prepare to go their separate ways.
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