Sailing Asia? or what to do about the possibility of Pirates

by Anna Blanch on November 12, 2011

When I started planning this Overland to Oz project I really wanted to go the whole way using trains and ships/ferries/boats from St Andrews to Tamworth. The only real sticking point was the sector from Asia to Australia.

Mainly because the prospect of considering the difficulties of trying to find a sailboat travelling that way seemed too difficult and too risky given the pirates in that region. Equally, there is very little information about passenger carrying freighters. There’s only one cruise ship that I could find that does this route remotely around the time of year i’m looking at is prohibitively expensive. Besides all that, I’d be glossing over things if i didn’t mention that this was the only part my mum (a quite reasonable and chilled out person) baulked at.

I have to admit that I swallowed my pride and decided on the grounds of safety that I needed to consider flying to Cairns from Singapore or further down in Indonesia.

But it hasn’t been sitting right with me…

So, I’ve continued my search.

But suggesting i continue my #overlandtooz journey by train & ferry from Surabaya to Bali was a step too far for my usually chill mum! I don’t blame her. The stories coming out of Indonesia to Australia involving drugs – planted on tourists or otherwise – and stolen belongings and other such things have been kind of scary.

I found the account of Danielle and Andy who did a similar trip from London to Brisbane without taking a flight in 2007. They did that last sector from Singapore to Brisbane in 9 days on the MV Baltrum Trader but it appears that this vessel has now changed its name and operates around South America.

Freighter Travel has been particularly helpful in my search for information. I found two other cargo vessels that take passengers into the region – the Hanjin praetoria  which travels from Korea to China to Australia and the Tasman Campaigner which runs from Singapore to New Zealand.

I have to decide how committed I am to my original vision of trains and boats. I’m not willing to risk my safety, but i don’t want to give up my vision without a fight. I have to acknowledge too that should i find a cargo passenger ship that will take me from asia to Australasia I may have to postpone beyond summer 2012 because I don’t currently have the funding necessary for the additional costs associated with that sector.

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do, hence the work in progress post.

Have you taken a trip like this or know someone who has? Is there a resource you know about that would help me with planning this trip?


Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Traveller. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher. Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Overland to Oz is a crazy adventure marked with photos and word and inspired by the incredible women in Anna’s family, especially her late grandmother, whom she knew as Nan-Nan.


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