A Floating City – Part 1: A Harlot Inside
I started the journey with an old watercraft with 1000 passengers capacity, KM Leuser, to Pontianak. The machine of this boat was impaired on the way back and has to be repaired and refueled in the coastal area of Tanjung Pandan, Belitung – after a long delay, finally it tardily docked at 20.30 on Tanjung Priok Port.
The Economy Class, which I took, was the cheapest (and the most crowded as well as exasperatingly difficult to be handled) with IDR 260,000 per person tariff. Indonesia, a country with nearly infinite informality, provided an alternative to this condition. Just about I finished the long queue, a crew with blue uniform quickly approached me and offered a ‘room’ that demanded an additional scratch. “A room for a couple, sir?”, maybe he mistakenly thought that my wife and me were a desperate aroused couple looking for a room for private sex activity. After a tight price bargaining session, he then guided me to the second deck that apparently dedicated for low level crewmen although the room that he lent was not an ordinary crewman cabin. A sensual woman poster greeted me on the wall of a bunk bed and, in front of it, an Oil Technician with his lovers schmoozed softly. She came from Batam island, the neighbor of Singapore, this afternoon and specially went to this cabin to meet him. A bottle full of natural honey – a substance that was perceived as virility ingredient – accompanied our conversation. “My boyfriend did not permit me to go to night club and suggested me to find a wealthier friend”, she explained to me. The difference between a normal partnership and harlotry was in the economic transaction in which a harlot offered sexual intercourse for pay. Considering the majority of ship crewmen were male, it was not something surprising that such pleasure services existed inside. Tedious work, limited inland time, and social isolation of ship crewmen, moreover, sustained the portability of titillation – someone did not need to come to a pimp only for prostitution, as a matter of fact, the harlotry discovered and tried to establish the existence of the clients.