Bagusbabe's Reflections

Day 12: Farewell Bali, hello queues

Well, I slept like a baby. One that wakes up at 5am & wants to be fed, but must be patient until 7am when the kitchen is open at my hotel.  Dammit, I should have bought take-away dessert last night – I could be tucking into some sweet deliciousness right now! So I have 2 hours to kill.
Hello bath. Have we met? You’re looking mighty fine this morning! May I partake? Thank you kindly.
In I climb & relax into the three or so bubbles the hotel bath foam managed to generate for my bathing pleasure. Mmmm….time for that special skin wrinkling time.
I rang for breakfast at 7:02am – purely for appearances sake. The male voice who answered asked my room number & asked me to please hold. Which I did, but the hold music sounded suspiciously like the engaged signal. Do I hang on or hang up? Hang up & he can ring me back if the need arises. Besides, when breakfast comes I should be dressed, so choose what I’ll wear on the plane.
Breakfast came quickly – again I chose the Good Morning breakfast, hold the bacon. All but inhaled my omelette. It was looking a little overcast this morning. My last morning in Ubud. In Bali. Should the clouds weep for me, it would be only fitting.
With breakfast demolished in indigestion-worthy time, I turn my attention to packing. All my belongings made their way into my suitcase & cabin bag. Hot work though. I only had to re-open my combination lock again once on the suitcase, twice in my cabin bag.  I left them standing to attention like good suitcase soldiers in the hallway while I left the room, locking the door.
I made my way to reception. Different faces this morning, both smiling. I’m checking out today. My room has been paid – please check if there is anything outstanding. There isn’t. I advise that I am expecting a driver to take me to the airport at 11am. I’m ducking out to get a few things but I’ll be back. Ok.
First stop is the ATM. A successful transaction, no prayers required. I go up the road to a small mini mart to get supplies for the plane home. When I booked my flights, it said there was no meal supplied on the return journey. This mini mart is also a money changer and there is a queue. However it is a furnace in the shop, despite the squeaky ceiling fan doing its best. I eventually get served & pay for my sweets.
Back out on the street I can feel sweat trickling off my forehead & down the side of my face. A quick tissue blot is required. It’s so humid today – just like the wet season.
I cross the busy road which is a little easier due to the time of day. I pop back into Koko’s – the shop that sells colourful batik products & make a couple of last minute purchases. Even in the A/C I’m dripping.
I make my way back to my hotel, squishy thighs, sweat trickling down my back. Hooley Dooley I’d love to jump in the pool right now. Fully clothed, I don’t care.
At reception I hand in my room key & ask them to collect my luggage, patiently waiting in the hallway of my room. I remind them about my driver – I’ll be sitting on my favourite easy chair on the patio overlooking the pool waiting, hoping for a breeze.
A couple of minutes after I sat down, a waiter asked me if I’d like a cup of tea or coffee while I wait – they keep both on the hob for guests to help themselves in the restaurant. A cup of tea please. It will be hot, granted, but I need some replacement fluids I think. Then the penny dropped. I was wearing a sleeveless long empire-line dress I’d brought from home but not yet worn. I thought it was a great choice as it will allow free movement on the plane & keep my legs warm in a Melbourne chilly night. But the dress doesn’t breathe! I’m wearing a personal portable sauna! Why didn’t I have this revelation in my room? I could have changed! Damn!
And then my driver arrives, 2 minutes after my aha moment and 15 minutes early. It’s too late. Mental wail noted.
My driver takes my suitcase & the porter takes my cabin bag. I thank the staff that have gathered to say goodbye then I have to hurry to keep up with them.  Slow as I am and now hampered with an evil suffocating dress (that will never leave the country ever again, note to self). I’m a bit puffed by the time we reach the car. Into the front seat I crawl, hop would imply vigour that doesn’t exist at this moment. We’re off. Into crawling traffic.
I propose to my driver that we stop at Bread Life in the main road (spotted on my way to yesterday’s massage) just past the market so I can buy myself something a bit more substantial to eat on the plane. No problem, providing there is parking.
As we near it, someone pulls out directly in front of us, so we parked in their space, about half the car width overhanging into the road. If I had opened my door it would have been ripped off its hinges by the passing one-way traffic. My driver got out & came around to open the door for me to prevent damage to his car & my demise.
In the bread shop they had a display case similar to Bread Talk at home. A shop assistant in an unfortunate uniform came over to help. I bought a couple of long rolls with cheese melted on top & a couple of sugar rolled donut twists. I managed to get back in the car a whisker before a motorcyclist travelling in the wrong direction could take me out.
I said to the driver I’ve bought one for him, does he want sweet or savoury. Sweet. Donut it is. I ate my donut too. They were scrumptious. Our slow to moderate progress down Jl Hanoman allowed me to see the changes that time had wrought. So many new shops & buildings, especially down near Tegal Sari Hotel, where I have stayed a couple of times in the past. Once we had passed the turn off to Nyuh Kuning our pace picked up to an impressive 50kph.
Travelling along the heavy traffic on the Bypass, we stop at a red traffic light. The light turns green but the traffic ahead doesn’t move. Why aren’t we moving? My driver said that a VIP might be driving through. Once the traffic started moving again I could see soldiers walking away from the intersection. I wonder who it was?
My driver asked if I wanted to take the tollway. Ok, I’ve never seen it let alone travelled on it. We turned off & climbed. We had a terrific view of the sea & Nusa Dua in the distance. I was told the view is even better when there is more water in the area, which I assume is either when the tide is in or during the wet season.  The tollway must save a lot of time for those staying down that way. However traffic was very light in both directions.
We arrive at the tollgate & it’s time to pay the piper – 10,000Rp.
Then we rejoin the chaos that is the roads around the airport. Another ticket booth to traverse, this time at the entrance to the airport. Time to guess which line will move the fastest.
Outside the international terminal we double park. Cash is exchanged, a handshake shared with thanks for the cultural exchange during our drive here. The porters hovering in the area with luggage trolleys leave me alone as I deftly wheel both my cases into the main walkway. I could see the arrivals area on the floor below, with all the hotel drivers standing at the exit holding up signs hopeful to catch the attention of their prepaid passengers.
Before entering the airport departures, passengers must present their ticket & passport to gain admission. I am relieved that my luggage doesn’t have to be xrayed like last time. A porter points me in the right direction to the Jetstar check-in counter, far  far away in the distance.
There is a huge queue of people and luggage. I can’t even see the check-in counter I’m that far back. Am I in the right queue? I think so, but I ask just in case.  Progress is slow. Whilst waiting in the queue, an airport official with a Michael Jackson lookalike glove pats down the handles & tops of my cases as if removing dust. Does the glove change colour in the presence of contraband, drugs or explosives? I couldn’t see how it might work, though it would add credence to a moon walk.
The queue moves slowly slowly. Only 2 counters open for cattle class, 2 for business class with no customers. That’d be right. It was another half hour of waiting before the bored business class staff started processing us too – the riffraff. When I finally went up to the counter I’d been queuing for 50 minutes. At least they allocated me the seat I had chosen when booking my flight.
I dragged my weary semi-sweaty person over to the departure tax counter to double check that it was included in my ticket price. Staff checked my boarding pass – it had a red stamp on it, indicating that it had been paid.
Next process is to have my carry on luggage scanned, after I proved my worthiness to enter this cordoned off section by showing my stamped boarding pass.
The near to full 125ml bottle of Orange Power air freshener went through without remark. I’ve come armed against the aircraft toilets. I didn’t beep as I walked through the metal detector either.
Next is a cattle maze to go through customs. Go left or right? Right. Good choice. There are more open counters to the right. More passengers with children to the left.
I pass through customs without comment too. Must be my angelic face! *wink*
Free at last from formalities for the time being, my donut seems but a fond memory of hours past. I’m on a mission to find food. I need to stock my stomach in readiness. First I must traverse the many duty free shops. What? I gasp! Things have changed for the better. This part of the airport must have still been in the making when I was last here. A lovely row of exclusive shops opening up to an eating area. Woohoo. I head straight to a tray & pick up an iced tea nestled in ice & order a toasted chicken panini. There are only intermittent racks along the counter to rest a tray, thus holding it one handed whilst the other wheeled my hand luggage was quite the balancing act. I then had to pay, go over to a waiting area for my order to be brought out. Once received, my heavier tray was even trickier to manage. I moved quickly to
the nearest table to unload my burden. For airport food, my panini was quite tasty. I’m supposed be at the departure lounge 40 minutes before take off. What are the odds my departure gate is close by? Slim to none? Yep. Gate 9. Miles away. I round the corner turning left & see there are quite a few more eating establishments along this corridor, also new to me, including The Hard Rock Cafe. I start my epic journey in my sauna dress, the further I walk the less effective the A/C. A toilet pit stop along the way. Abort! Abort ! Yuk. I’ll wait. A couple of short moving walkways. Hooray. A minute’s respite. My knees protest, my pores weep (not my bladder) as I waddle along. My massage yesterday has helped but was no miracle. Next toilet stop is satisfactory. My reflection in the mirror confirms my expectation. A chubby red face, damp fringe with rivulets of sweat trickling away down my face. I blot as best I can with a few tissues.
Only 2 more gates to go.
At gate 9 there is a queue to get through the door. Airport security is checking hand & patting people down.  My hand luggage lid is opened then closed, nothing touched. Damn, I should have hidden a bottle of water in there! I’m frisked & declared harmless & allowed to enter the inner sanctum that is departure gate 9. I look for a spare seat & sit, time to blot. Yes blot. I’m roasting.
I sit for about 15 minutes before boarding starts. Business class first. Then the elderly & passengers with small children are called – there were an alarming number of those! Then the rest of us. I chose the queue on the right, it seemed shorter. There’s a reason for that, you idiot – I saw the stairs leading downwards versus the escalator on the left after it was too late. I get lapped on the stairs by several people.  Another queue in the tunnel. It moves sporadically & now I’m trapped with mass humanity with no A/C. I’m melting! I’d say it took 10 minutes to actually set foot on the plane. 34J is found. Someone is sitting in the aisle seat. I throw my cabin bag in the overhead locker & take possession of my window seat. Damn. On the wing again! I chat to the lady in the aisle seat – do you think the middle seat will stay free? Yes? Yes? No. A tall thin girl lays claim to it a few minutes before they close the hatch. Oh well. The plane is full as a goog. At least the A/C is working – I have the vent open to full & blowing on me. We are taxiing. I’ve been coming to Bali since 1986 & never departed in daylight hours. The runway is in the sea. Literally. It is built in the sea. I can see the sea. So cool! I take a couple of pics with my phone & video our take off. 1min 13 secs to get from terra firma to flying above the clouds. Flying is pretty amazing when you think about it. I still find it and the airport at both ends the least enjoyable part of my holiday though.
We take off 20 minutes late. The announcements are a complete waste of time. There are too many crying children aboard to hear. I turn the monitor on the back of the seat in front of me to watch the flight details. I swap out my SIM card with my one from home & change my wrist watch to Melbourne time. My poor watch has suffered in the last few days. There is a small circle of condensation under the centre of the glass. I will try reviving it in a bag of rice when I get home.
I plug my phone recharger into the USB socket & commence watching a film. I watched ‘That Sugar Film’ which I found both horrifying & inspiring. From tomorrow I am giving up sugar, I vow, sucking a lolly.
A tap on the shoulder, there was a air host asking me my name & would I like beef or chicken for my meal. Ah, chicken? That was a pleasant surprise. My meal arrives a few minutes later. I devour the tiny 120ml container of water. I’m so thirsty. I don’t know why the airline thinks it’s ok to dehydrate their passengers. They know we can’t bring water onto the plane. The pay-for-everything trolley didn’t come around for another hour. So people who have no meal have to wait ages for their first drink. I get a cup of tea for free and buy a can of sprite to hold me over.
They should have an esky at the front hatch & hand a bottle of water to every passenger as they  board. The skies don’t have to fly with us. Not rocket science & the cost would be minimal.
During the flight I ate my 2 cheesy rolls. They were light textured, reminiscent of croissants & sweet despite the cheese. I could feel my arteries hardening with each delicious bite.
We make up the 20 minutes we lost so on landing, our flight time was just over 5 hours. The tarmac at the airport is dripping wet. It’s been raining. I turn my phone on and 2 seconds later I receive a text from my personal trainer confirming our 7:15am session in the morning. Joy! No sleep in for me!
Although I was prepared to wait until last, someone let me in the queue to disembark. In the terminal I find the nearest seat and change my thongs for Skechers & remove my wind cheater to wear. Our gate number must be in the double digits, we are miles away again. By the time I get in the queue for customs I’m hot again so jacket removed.  I don’t know how the e-passport system works or if my old passport is eligible. The queue is very long & slow. There are only 2 counters open for Australians, 4 for foreign passports. As the foreign crowd dwindles, some of us are redirected to that side, including me. It is quicker than the other queue, but still had to wait & wait. The customs offer said that e-passport route was the quickest. Thanks for the info Captain Obvious. Down to baggage claim. My suitcase is on the carousel. Now off to declare the bag of Mr P honey peanuts I bought but didn’t eat on the plane. There is another long queue to get out. I’m very mindful that my car parking expires at 11:30pm.
They don’t care about my peanuts and I’m out. I head to another seat to retrieve my car keys from my cabin bag and put my jacket back on. Nearer to the exit doors I can feel the cold from outside. I’m out! Brrrrrr!
I go to the end of the queue to catch the long term parking bus, & I’m the last passenger accepted to board. A man helps me with my luggage. A pram is in front of me so I stand up for the short trip. My car is parked at the second stop & is exactly where I thought it would be (not always the case with me!). Suitcases in the boot and I’m off. Windscreen is putrid. I pass another airport bus as I drive to the exit. Credit card in, boom gate up with 15mins to spare! Yes! Mental fist pump.
The drive home took less than an hour. Suitcases brought in, not even opened. Loo & drink and then fall in to bed. Unpacking tomorrow. Collect my dogs tomorrow. I have PT early tomorrow. Now is for sleep. This diva is dead.  Hello bed. I’ve missed you. You’re so warm & comfy. Let me snuggle up in you. Good night, sweet dreams.
Until next time……

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