There is a small row of items sitting on top of my packed & locked suitcase waiting to be popped in after they were remembered in the middle of the night. I didn’t finish ironing & packing until 2am. I was determined to finish as I have a bad habit of leaving packing until the last minute, to my detriment. I got up twice from bed when a missing item nudged my nearly asleep memory. Oi! Did you pack mosquito repellent? No (sigh). Found it & put it on top of my suitcase. Nearly asleep again & Oi! Did you pack your sunscreen? Yes. You did not! I think I did. Think again! Sigh…No I didn’t. Up I get again.
After getting up at 5:30 am, I was on the road just after 6:30 am. It started raining just before I packed the car, but it stopped again once I was on the freeway. I got excited for the 10 mins I was allowed to travel at 100km/hr on the freeway. Roadworks & more roadworks. My God! So many cars on the road near the airport. Hey people, it’s early Sunday morning! What are you doing up?
Delightful – it’s raining again, more heavily now. I’m trolling the long term carpark for a park near the bus pick-up terminal. Finally found one a row away from a terminal but got wet in the few minutes it took to unload & leave. Fortunately I didn’t straighten my hair this morning so I was not concerned about a light drenching. Unbelievable that I feel cold when the mean temp the past few days has been in the 30s.
Not long to wait – a bus pulls up & makes me walk to the front door beside the driver when the doors in the middle didn’t open. It takes off before I can stow my suitcase which sails down the aisle to collide with a standing passenger. Oops, smiling apology as I stumble after it.
Huge queue of cars lined up to get to the airport proper. The bus driver did assist me with my luggage to disembark, which was appreciated.
Jetstar had self check in. I scanned my booking & my passport. Computer says no. My booking rejects because I didn’t use my middle name. A roving staff member helped me, logged me on manually & opened a cordoned off aisle so my suitcase could go straight through. Service with a smile & so quick! No queuing. Excellent!
I snaffoo a departure card & find a vacant seat after a long hunt, to fill it in. This departure is the antithesis of my last. It is not busy through the international departures gate. I am not singled out for a pat down, traces of bomb residue or an intense baggage check. The cattle corrals are vacant & the X-ray scanners have a queue only 2 people deep. Through in a flash! The same for the passport scanner. Yet again mine would not scan – my photo is so unlike me in real life (my preferred theory) so I’m directed to the customs counter & a new queue opens up with a queue of one – me! Winning! I can’t believe how quick & uncomplicated that whole process was. It’s like I’m in an alternate universe. This never happens. In fact I think I must have said that out loud as I got a few peculiar looks from nearby punters.
Then comes the crunch. It’s bone on bone crunch as I have to walk MILES to the departure gate. Bloody knees! Jetstar’s departure lounge is at the end of the earth. Why am I being punished for flying to Indonesia? Why can’t JAL park their planes down the end of the terminal instead of getting prime airline real estate at gate 1? Unfair, I say! Even Garuda had to park at the ends of the airport earth.
I had to have a brief pit stop at gate 11 to regroup the knees. Thank God my 4-wheeled cabin bag can double as a support when I walk. It is NOT a wheelie walker. I walk. It has wheels. There lies the only similarity! Where’s a travelator when you need one? They should design a train for ferrying passengers, like sushi trains. Have it run around the edge of the shops to departure lounges and passengers can get on & off as they please. Brilliant!
They call passengers aboard in groups depending on row numbers. I’m in the middle group. When I get to my row, a man sits down next to my seat. Up you get young fellow! I heft my cabin bag into the overhead locker & take my window seat. I’m on the left side of the plane – an anomaly for me. Seat belt not too small. Tick. Another man takes the aisle seat. I’m thankful for being short as the seat in front of me reclines back into my lap. My new J-neck pillow is comfy & I can lean against the window for a snooze. A brief one. A power nap. I have some tv shows & movies loaded onto my iPad & happily while away the 5 hour & 10 mins flight. My meal was less than ordinary, otherwise I have no complaints about the flight or service. The crew were Asian and attentive when summoned.
As we started our descent from the heavens, the clouds reminded me of dense bubble bath foam. We are the rubber ducky. Gradually the clouds become whispier & greyer. Blue sky can be seen above the layer of cloud. What I thought were islands in the distance are actually grey cloud banks. I expected turbulence as we immersed the plane in them but we were spared. The south coast of Bali was shrouded in a grey mist as we touched down & it was raining lightly.
We taxied for quite a few minutes to what I’m guessing is the the last international berth before the domestic terminal. We are spitting distance from an airline catering building. It was a long walk to customs. Long. At least there were a few travelators along the way.
Luckily we were the only plane to land at this particular time so going through customs was only a 10 minute wait in the corrals. By the time I got to the luggage carousel, I spied my suitcase going past & elbowed my way through the crowd of eager luggage spotters to grab it, to the envy of those waiting. There’s another first. My luggage usually comes last. I wheeled it over to the counter to hand in my customs declaration & was was waved to the left by an official – away from the queue on the right waiting at the luggage scanner! No one checked my luggage. Another first. I feel a bit like a VIP!
A brief turn around the corner & I was out! The usual cacophony of sounds greeted my exit. The noisy taxi counter, money exchange, SIM card stand & of course the fenced off three-deep row of drivers waiting to pick up passengers, holding up hotel signs with their names written on them.
I saw my transport company logo & introduced myself. I then went to the information desk to ask them to page the company bringing me my SIM card, which I paid for online a few days ago. A youth with a backpack came up & handed me an envelope with my name on it, waited until I opened it to see a nano SIM card in there & blended back into the crowd like he was never there, like a stereotypical spy movie. The ‘drop’ had been made.
My driver took charge of my suitcase & a porter grabbed my cabin bag. I was so taken aback with the SIM card delivery I didn’t realise he was a porter & not with my driver. Unlike hotel transport, I wasn’t left at a waiting point while the driver retrieved his car. No, lets go in a cramped unairconditioned lift up to the next floor & walk half a mile to his car instead. My Fitbit will be rejoicing, legs not so much. The porter flashed a $20 Australian note at me from his pocket, which was when I finally twigged he was a porter. I gave him a 10,000Rp note, which was the only thing under 50,000 I had, to his disappointment. This is only $1, he said. Yes it is, I replied as I got into the car. Sorry mate. Dream on if you think you’re getting 200,000! And we took off.
It was the usual bottle neck of cars leaving the airport, merging with traffic to get onto the main road. I never could figure out who has right of way. It seems like every man for himself. It was raining lightly & I could see evidence of heavier rain in the puddles on the side of the road. My driver was not chatty, which suited me. I watched for landmarks & about 20 minutes later we were turning into the road to Sanur. I had a good idea where my hotel was, although I had not stayed there before. I thought my driver was reading a text, but in fact he was using Google Maps & found my hotel with GPS. Ah, technology…!
My hotel is tiny. A small restaurant facing the street with a checkered driveway down the side, reception, pool & two storeys of rooms at the back. About 16 rooms. Quiet & quaint. Just what the doctor ordered. I was given my requested room – a ground floor one with a queen size bed. The hotel emailed me last week to say they couldn’t guarantee my request. I replied that they had my booking for 2 months & they were telling me this now? And expect me to climb stairs with my arthritic knees & sleep in a single bed like a child? I did lay it on a bit thick, but there is no way I’m repeating Everest. Their response was to put me at the top of the request list. So I’m on the ground floor, with a patio facing a small gardened quadrangle, a queen sized bed, a walk in dressing room with closet, no bath in the bathroom unfortunately & a very low toilet. I’m short, so for me to find this toilet low must mean it’s been recycled from a kindergarten. A kindy-loo. And the cistern/toilet sits out from the wall about 1/2 a foot. A bid odd. And it wobbles a bit. I suspect it may drift even more from its moorings by the time I depart! There is no sitting down gracefully here. The room is quite nice, comfy mattress & pillows & a quiet working AC. It will do nicely for the next 2 weeks.
I’m exhausted though. I unpack. Lots of cupboard space. I can’t see that I’ve forgotten anything. That would be another first. I lie down for a quick nap but only manage 20 minutes & have a headache on waking. I’m going to have an early dinner and go to bed early.
Out on the street I am delighted by how close some of my fave restaurants are. I decide on the 3 Monkeys. I go for my favourite pizza – spicy chicken with young green mango. It’s beyond delicious. It’s hard to describe the young green mango – it looks like onion in both texture & appearance but tastes tangy. Unusual but yummy. Also on top of my pizza are halved cherry tomatoes and red & yellow capsicum. The base is thin and crispy. I passed on my favourite Summer Berry granita and drank water instead.
Whilst devouring/inhaling/demolishing (insert gluttonous adjective here) my pizza, l saw a group of 9-10 year old boys on the opposite footpath. They were traditionally dressed, playing drums & cymbals whilst their friend dressed as some type of animal ran along behind. A mini procession. Band practice? Because I was watching the band, a street hawker thought I was watching her & offered fans & paintings for sale. No thanks, love.
I had just enough rupiah left to settle my bill. I contemplated walking up to the money changer near Hardy’s supermarket, but with a full belly & sleep deprivation nagging at me, I elected to return to my hotel instead.
It was 7pm Bali time, 10pm EST. Totally stuffed, I snuggled into bed & was out like a light. I woke up about midnight to the sound of heavy rain. It was teeming down! I envisioned a lake below my patio by morning. A quick trip to kindy-loo & then back to the luxury of sleep without setting an alarm. Bliss!
Ciao for now,