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How Not to Start a Backpacking Trip

how not to start a backpacking trip

 

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.

Glenelg each The Traveloguer

Goodbye Glorious Glenelg!

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.

Malarone malaria tablets -the traveloguer

Annoying malaria medication

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.

Bali Beach the traveloguer

The adventure starts here!

 

What about you guys? Do you attract little travel disasters wherever you go?

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    June 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    ahh if only flights were cheaper I would have seen the whole world already! 😉
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted…This is India! (three)My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 24, 2014 at 3:56 am

      Aw, I know, if only airlines understood how much they interfere with our travel plans! 🙂

  • Reply
    Samuel Jeffery
    June 22, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Sometimes I think the more I travel the less I’m able to avoid disasters 😉
    Samuel Jeffery recently posted…Coney Island Mermaid ParadeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 24, 2014 at 3:57 am

      That is so true! I don’t think I could avoid any travel disasters that have happened to me. Thanks for stopping by Samuel! 🙂

  • Reply
    Paul Graham
    June 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Hi Christine, I agree that many of the surprises turn into enjoyable adventures or distractions, while those involving bureaucracy are more often simply obstacles with no redeeming qualities. You are right to take it in your stride, write it off as simply a false start and enjoy your new beginning !
    Paul Graham recently posted…Lost for Words ?My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 26, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Yes, exactly Paul. No matter how many stressful moments travel entails, the good always outweighs the bad and it is always worth the trouble! Thanks for your comment 🙂
      Christine recently posted…Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort, BaliMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie)
    June 24, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Ha! Back when I was traveling constantly, I would always say “people who love to travel, don’t do it!” I love being different places…I just hate getting there:) But how wise to take it in stride and not let it ruin the time you spend there.
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Flirt… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Good one Jacqueline! I know, the journey to the destination can often be really, really stressful, but it is all part of the adventure! Thanks for stopping by!
      Christine recently posted…Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort, BaliMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lenie
    June 25, 2014 at 12:38 am

    So glad you made it to Bali – it looks beautiful but what a hassle you went through – but you took it all in stride, good for you. I’m going to be looking forward to the rest of this adventure.
    Lenie

  • Reply
    Michele Harvey
    June 25, 2014 at 3:09 am

    I was on the edge of my seat in suspense while reading this. Funny, I once booked a one-way ticket to Chile and was told by someone else who had done the same thing before, that at the airport, I would have to book a return flight in order to get on the plane. Once at the airport however, I was not asked to book a return which was a relief to me. I laughed when you mentioned several pharmacies on one block. Santiago, Chile also has three pharmacies per block. I’m glad you made it to Bali as planned.

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Michelle. That’s great you didn’t have to book a return flight. Those rules can really mess with your plans, or lack of a plan! I would love to go to Chile 🙂 Thanks for your comment.
      Christine recently posted…Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort, BaliMy Profile

  • Reply
    Tim
    June 25, 2014 at 3:10 am

    The mishaps, mistakes, and annoyances are often where the true stories come to life. Taking it in stride is the only way to go and you handled it perfectly. All the best on the start of your new journey through Asia.
    Tim recently posted…Bollywood SoundtrackMy Profile

  • Reply
    Heidi Lane
    June 25, 2014 at 3:51 am

    I have had a some small travel disasters. A couple of years ago when we went to Thailand we spent a day in downtown Phuket. We were optimistic and had a list of things we wanted to see. A taxi? Nah, we could walk to everything. That’s what we thought until we got lost and realized things were a bit more spread out than we had anticipated. Getting lost in hot, humid weather when you are hungry makes everything worse. A taxi driver approached us when we were desperate and we worked out a fare. He took us to get food and to see some of the places we wanted to see. He also took us to a few places we didn’t want to go, but it seemed to be a business worked out between certain taxi drivers and the businesses (like a tailor, a soap shop, a souvenir type shop). Once he dropped us off at our final destination he asked for twice as much money as what we had agreed upon. Thankfully we ended up only paying 50 baht more than the original agreed upon fare without him getting too angry or violent. In the end it was a memorable and fun day despite the hiccups!

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Poor you; heat, humidity and hunger are a bad combination, I would be extremely cranky in that situation! Those taxi journeys can be annoying with all the stops, but at least you managed not to get ripped off and still had a good day in the end. 🙂
      Christine recently posted…Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort, BaliMy Profile

  • Reply
    Christina
    June 25, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Glad you made it to you destination despite the “hiccups” and headaches. Let the fun begin!

  • Reply
    maxwell ivey
    June 25, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Hi christine; thanks for sharing. It sounds like this time it was more to do with permanently leaving australia than any bad luck. you just didn’t have enough time to take care of all the arrangements. I am wondering about the malaria meds as you were still two boxes short at last count. I plan to travel more soon. as a blind person I will need a good companion and guide. hope i can find one. thanks again, max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…Think I’m ready to be an inspirationMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      June 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Yeah it was certainly a busy few weeks before we left, plus I am not the most organised person in the world!
      Well I didn’t get malaria, which was a relief, but our itinerary changed a bit, so I didn’t need as many as I thought, and only took them in the most high risk areas. I also forgot a few times too. The same thing happened last time I was on them, my friend and I just stopped taking them towards the end of our trip and we were okay.
      I hope you find a travel companion soon. 🙂
      Christine recently posted…Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort, BaliMy Profile

  • Reply
    Carl
    June 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Wow, this sounds crazy! There have been a few mishaps on my part with one involving me thinking I’d forgotten my passport while on the 5 hour train to the airport. That’s a laugher nowadays but it took some time to get to that.

    I’m shocked to see Air Asia’s prices for food. Must depend on the country because going to Malaysia, the prices for food weren’t so bad. Interesting.

  • Reply
    Mina Joshi
    June 27, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Glad that you made to Bali after all the mishaps.
    Mina Joshi recently posted…Cherry JamMy Profile

  • Reply
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    Tim
    March 19, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    I just finished reading your post on Nyepi (comments section was not on); I had no idea. I have been to Bali many times but I guess I must have always missed it. Thanks for the heads up regarding this 6 day celebration and I will make a point of trying to be there, prepared, on my next visit.
    Tim recently posted…A Double Decker LifeMy Profile

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      March 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Thanks for letting me know Tim! I had to repost it and then erase the old one, weird.
      I hope you get to see it next time 🙂

  • Reply
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