It just wouldn’t be travel without a few disasters along the way, or is that just me? All I know is I can’t seem to execute a single trip without something unexpected happening, which, at the time seems like a nightmare, but I always comfort myself with the fact that it could end up being a funny story, or even just a story. So, of course, it came as no surprise that my long awaited return to Asia started with a few less than ideal moments, all before we even reached Bali.
Because we were moving out of our apartment, and leaving Australia for good, things were a little hectic in the days before we left. So much so that I ended up putting off getting my malaria medication until the day we were leaving. It would be no problem, I thought. All I had to do was head to the Discount Chemist and pick them up. I had envisioned spending our last day in Glenelg really appreciating its beauty and our time there, maybe going for a final dip in the sea, or treating ourselves to a fancy coffee from Pure. Instead, it turned out to be a stressful whirl of last minute cleaning and running around.
In the first chemist I visited, they said they only had two boxes of Malarone. Not a problem, I thought, as I ran down to the next pharmacy while they got my order ready. Luckily, Glenelg has about five chemists on the one street, maybe because there are so many retirees living there. They said they didn’t have any, so I carried on to the next one, where they said they would have some in on Monday, and then looked horrified when I said I was actually leaving in an hour.
The next pharmacy had one box. I ran back to the first place, picked up my order, then brought the prescription back to the last place and was told it would be half an hour. So I sat outside and fidgeted uncontrollably as I tried not to freak out about the fact that we had to leave for the airport. When I collected the prescription, I had no time to go anywhere else. I was still two boxes short, but I had to power walk home and get ready to leave.
At the airport, another mishap was waiting for us. The woman who was checking us in at the Virgin desk said that we had to show a return ticket to prove that we were going to leave Bali. We explained that we were backpacking and didn’t have an onward ticket, but she said we would have to book something right then before she would check us in. She wasn’t being very clear about whether we needed to prove that we were leaving Bali or Indonesia, or whether it had to be a plane ticket or would some sort of bus booking do, just that we weren’t getting on the plane unless we showed her something.
Under pressure, we decided to book a flight from Bali to Surabaya, as we thought we might end up there on the way to see the orangutans. I really hate booking things like that in advance, especially as we wanted to just go with the flow when it came to Indonesia. We didn’t even know when we would be leaving Bali, so we tried to work out a rough date, and then searched flights on our phones. Of course, the internet in the airport was maddeningly slow. The pages were taking an age to load. Just as Sean was trying to confirm payment on a flight, it stopped loading altogether. Tensions were building as we glared at the screen, but it wouldn’t work.
Eventually, when the page did change, it said that the payment had failed. So, he started again. Meanwhile, I went on to Air Asia and entered our details for another flight. Sean’s still wasn’t working, so in the end we decided to go ahead with the Air Asia flight. We rushed back up to the check in desk and went through security. We still had time for a quick bite and I reluctantly handed over $7.50 for a croissant and cheese, and cringed at the $12.90 Sean paid for his roll, but at the same time it was such a relief to know it was the last time we would be seeing Australia’s shockingly expensive prices!
We boarded our near empty plane and we were finally Bali-bound.
When we landed, I tried to direct us to the Bluebird taxis that I remembered were cheaper, but I couldn’t remember where they were, only that I had gotten one near a Starbucks last time. But as I led Sean through the sea of blue-shirted taxi men all asking us where we were going, I couldn’t see any sign of a Starbucks. I asked someone to point us in the right direction, but we ended up walking into an even bigger swarm of taxi men, and there was no Starbucks to be seen. At this stage I was feeling like an idiot, but I definitely didn’t want to whip out the Lonely Planet, a shining beacon of a clueless tourist alert, so in the end I had to admit defeat, and haggle with one of the over-priced airport taxi drivers. As we took off through the familiar streets, with Balinese music playing and the smell of incense and clove cigarettes in the air, I felt like crying and laughing at the same time. I was finally back in Asia. I felt like I could breathe easy again.
Of course, when we made it to our hotel and checked our emails, we learned that the flight Sean had tried to book had gone though. So now we had two separate flights booked to go to a place we didn’t want to go to, and on a date that we hadn’t thought through. Oh, and we had blown over $200 each on these flights. And $200 goes an awful long way in Asia, especially when you’re on as much of a tight budget as me. But I couldn’t let it bother me. Not when I was finally back in Asia, and in deliciously familiar Bali, where my last Asian trip had ended, and where this one was just beginning.
What about you guys? Do you attract little travel disasters wherever you go?