Now I understand. We are in an adventure game. A very dear friend wrote a few days ago: “When I do read your story, it’s a bit like being in a computer game where you always have to find a treasure and then communicate with people to get ahead.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

So we arrive in Indonesia

We get on a ferry in Singapore. Everything is still quite simple. They take care of our bicycles and luggage and then we disembark on Batam Island and enter Indonesia. Chaos. Everything has to go through a scanner, there is no order in a line, we don’t know where the bicycles are. Okay, there we have skipped a step. Before we go to the scanner we should have gotten the bicycles. So back again with all the luggage, pick up the bicycles, put the luggage on and go to the scanner again. Bags down on the belt again and on the other side everything comes back out. Bags back on the bicycles and puhhhh, done. A few questions from the officials before we get the stamp of Indonesia in our passport, something like, where are you going, where are you from, do you have an exit ticket. We don’t have the ticket, but a fake flight reservation, which is enough. So we tell them that we want to go to Jakarta by boat, then travel by bicycle to Bali and then fly back to Singapore from there on November 3 (that’s what the flight reservation says).

Complete fib, but that’s the common procedure. That’s how everyone does it and how it works. Now we have 60 days for Indonesia.

A little lost on the island

10min later we are not in our accommodation, but cycle behind a young lady on a scooter. She has picked us up on the streets and when she called other cyclists when and where the ship to Jakarta leaves comes the surprising move: there is no ship anymore, the ship is in dry dock for one to two months. There we stand now helplessly around and she recommends us to fly. Another friend has a bicycle store and he could take care of the packing.

Flying? That gives point deductions. An alternative would be to go to Sumatra by ferry and cycle from there. But then we will not make it in 60 days. So flying after all.

And then the news: there is a ship from a neighboring island. But then it would be two nights instead of only one night. The decision is made quickly.

So we take a ferry to the neighboring island and sit 2 days later on the ship, which should bring us to Jakarta.

An adventure

Once again. This ship brings me to my limits. Besides all the normal dirt on such a ship, there are lots of small creepy crawlies living there, feeding on the food leftovers. The human filth is unbearable. And we have to stay cool. The smell of rotten, fermented food, the filth in and around the kitchen. I will spare you more descriptions of these conditions, but now I understand better why we were sustainably urged to fly by our new bicycle friends.

We stand the days through, even if the nausea sometimes, not only because of the swell, is hard to hold back.

Besides all this, people sing, dance, do a little gymnastics together. The other passengers are simply less “impressed” by the circumstances.

The best coffee Shop

Finally – Jakarta

And then, after 46 hours we reach Jakarta, Indonesia. An impressive skyline 🙂

Skyline Jakarta

Again, everything has to go through a scanner, just like before we went on the ship and then it is finally done. We spent a few more credits for the hotel.

Dirt, long black hair, dirty trash cans, non-functioning smelly sinks, I’ve had enough of that too. And so we are up to a clean hotel, in that the disgust factor has no place and we feel really comfortable. Extra credits we even spent on breakfast. Times not eat on the street, but serve themselves at a buffet, sit at clean tables and simply relaxed enjoy.

Now first quite a few credits are used up and we will soon inhabit our tent again on the way to Bali. We take the roads on the north coast of Java. So at least the plan. Maybe these will be rather unexciting moves until we finally reach Bali.

Credits for Indonesia are already used

All the credits we probably got because we actually managed to get to Jakarta by ship. It’s not only that there was no information about the failed ship, also the ports often don’t have the names of the cities they are leaving from or where they are going to. Therefore it is quite hard to find the right connections.

Without the help of the great people at Batam, we would have been completely lost. But we sat it out, waited, asked for help, waited and sat again, kept in touch later and then the plan of how to make it work was perfect at some point.

The question of “why”, why do you do this to yourselves, has come up quite often among our friends and of course we ask it too and in fact I find the answer in computer games.

Traveling = Gaming ?

When does a game work? Why do we play computer games? Games have to be fun but they also could not be fun. It’s only about diving into other worlds and experiencing something that you don’t experience in everyday life. Or it’s about experiencing exactly what you experience in everyday life. In games, you don’t just passively consume content, you actively experience it. You act as if and have the opportunity to try out things in a kind of protected space that you would not (want to) experience in real life. Or that you simply wouldn’t dare to try out in reality. 

Coin Laundry

A game has to be fun! 

Somehow that what it should be. But somehow not, at least not in such a general way. There are so many games where you get moments of hate if you don’t master a challenge right away. It’s an absolute myth that games always have to be fun. And so our way of traveling doesn’t always have to be fun either. But, what we experience has to touch us somehow. For a game to work, it has to appeal to players emotionally somehow, captivate them, touch them. In short: It has to do something with them! And exactly that’s what our journey does with us.

The processes in games have to work

The player has to do what the game wants – the player has to do what he wants to do.

One of the big challenges in games is that players ideally have to do certain tasks in a certain order. Have to? Yes, have to. Because otherwise a game doesn’t really work. Sometimes you have to perform absurdly complicated and long sequences of activities in order to progress in the game. It can happen that the player, for example, has to organize a reservation for an unbooked flight a long time in advance before going to the border crossing to enter the next country.  

Now we have two challenges with this: first, of course, it’s actually no fun to just work through task after task, one after the other. And secondly, the player, i.e. we, must somehow find out in advance that we have to do this. Even if it might seem illogical at first to buy a fake reservation (available online for $10), we have to realize that this is what we want. We want to enter Indonesia. So we play the game.

All this so that in due course players seem to think to themselves something like: “Oh, it might be a really good idea to buy such a fake return ticket reservation. Who knows what we could use it for?”

The difficulty level of a game must work

Last but not least: a game must not be too difficult. Games must be easy – games must be hard.

It’s probably quite obvious at first that games must not be too hard. But, they must not be too boring either. Being frustrated and having no power to move the pedals or being bored and having no power to move the pedals, the result is the same. We will not move forward.

This was too much

I was overwhelmed with the ship to Jakarta. That was my limit. I know that now. During our trip there were always these limits and then it was a matter of finding a way to an easier travel level.

To make it short: Games are definitely allowed to be too hard sometimes. And games can definitely be too easy sometimes. We look for the challenge in games and in our journey! A characteristic of games is that tasks are not seen as problems but as challenges. And so the challenge is definitely allowed to be overwhelming at times! Nothing, really nothing, triggers such a triumph in a player as when he finally masters a seemingly unmanageable task after many, many, many attempts! And that’s how we felt when we finally sat on the ship to Jakarta.

At the same time, it is allowed to be too easy sometimes on our journey. That means occasionally a kind of relaxation. The right balance of frustration, flow and triumph. That’s the challenge, the challenge of making our trip like this.

People, like our new friends from Batam, places, like on the small island of Bintang and hotels with a certain luxury factor in Jakarta, these are the credits that keep us going. And now we take off to explore more of Indonesia, we will cycle Java.

Impressive, how creative people can be by reaching their goals. Look at this self-made basket :-), Indonesia

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