Published: November 15th 2010November 15th 2010
I’m a little undecided between Singapore and NZ Airlines, on the one hand Singapore Airlines do give you a lovely little silk pillow, a wash bag and a menu (which I think you have to be in business class of NZ to receive) but then NZ have never made me stand in a queue for 1hour and 40mins to check in.
That was a long queue, which moved all of about 2m in the first 40mins as they had decided to only open one check in desk in an attempt to point out that you can check in online. Yes you can check in online, but for those of us travelling nomads and the 50 or so families apparently moving to Asia (I don’t know where they stowed all the luggage) it would still be nice to be able to do it at the airport.
Cue mad dash run through Sydney airport (which looks lovely - lots of nice shops and cafes past me in a blur) to get to the flight before the gate closed; only to sit there for 40mins while they loaded the luggage.
Did I mention that there was a lot of luggage? That would be because
coz some things are made to share!
there were a lot of children. Like the 15month old who sat next to me and screamed for about 75% of the flight, spending the other 25% of the time ‘rearranging’ the in-flight magazines. In all fairness he was a cute kid, and his parents were lovely- though they did look to be at the end of their tether - and with a connecting flight to Chennai to look forward I did feel sorry for them.
The check in fiasco resulted in us landing an hour late - which gave me 6 mins to run the 3/4mile between gates at Singapore airport. To then sit on the runway (inside the plane) for 45mins. Welcome to Bali time I guess. Sadly the baggage handlers had not shared my need for speed and thus I arrived in Bali but my bag did not.
WELCOME TO BALI - HA!
By the time I had filed a report with baggage claim (not a good job, the fact that they gave me 300,000Rp ‘compensation’ suggests this happens a lot) it was closing on midnight, so 3am Sydney time.
At the time I was taking a very philosophical view about how getting frustrated/upset/peeved off at this lack of organisation wouldn’t get my bag back and I trotted off outside to join the taxi rank. There I met a very tall Belgium boy, Wimh, who was also looking for somewhere to sleep in Kuta for the night before going onto Lonbok mountain climbing, would I like to share a taxi? Yes I would.
At this point the heavens opened, warm rain washing away the heavy 80% humidity of the night. The taxi took us to Kuta which, please excuse my crudeness, is the shit hole of the equator. It is filled with drunk Australian chavs (an Aussy Costa del Sol if you will), MacDonald’s, and hell-hole’s of hotels.
In the aforementioned downpour me and Whim were shown around a number of these delights before giving up the ghost of finding anything more palatable than a (hopefully) clean bed. After a lot of confusion with the owner about the fact that we wanted two rooms (travelling around Bali as the single white female is not easy) I lay my head down at approximately 1.30am (4.30am my time).
Not having a bag means not having pyjamas, insect repellent, towel, soap. The lack of the first two items means that a mosquito has happily gone to town on my left arm, including my little finger (what sort of retarded mosquito really thinks that out of the whole arm the little finger will be the most thirst quenching) which now seems to be infected (see pic). Thankfully I did take my toothbrush and some baby wipes on the plane so I could at least brush my teeth (with bottled water) and wipe at the layers of sweat. Before landing in Bali I didn’t really know what sweating was. Imagine doing a spin class in a sauna and you that’ll get you close. By the morning I was minging.
I had gotten maybe 4hours fitful sleep (a little worried as the door didn’t lock properly so slept clutching my passport and wallet and woke early with a desperate need to pee. A desperate need to pee in a different loo to the Trainspotting-esq one in my room. I packed up my (very few) possessions, got into my (very gross) clothes and left in search of (I’m ashamed to admit) MacDonalds. For loo purposes only. Which is actually just taking money off them. So not only am I attempting to not buy any MacDonalds on my trip, I am also secretly plotting to bring down their empire by stealing loo roll and soap. Genius!
I then got lost. As no roads have street names, all are covered in stalls and there are no tall buildings to navigate by this is very easily done. And I was unprepared for what Kuta was going to throw at me; if I had thought it was dirty and loud the previous night what greeted me that morning was a full frontal assault on all my senses. Every person you walk past is trying to sell you something - ‘you want taxi miss’, ‘you buy this?’, ‘you want hat?’, ‘you want bike?’, ‘you want dress, very pretty dress, suit you good’, ‘you want wallet? Jacket? Shoe? Lift? Hotel? My first born child?’. On and on and on, and they’re so polite while they’re doing it so you feel so rude, they can smell western guilt and they prey on it. ARGH!
After two hours of desperate wandering it was pushing 33degrees and rivers of sweat were running down me, I was tired, dirty and acutely aware of how burnt my shoulders were feeling. I caved, I bought some new pants and a top that covered my shoulders for what was probably an extortionate price as my haggling was very half hearted. I didn’t care. I found the nearest fast food joint and went and changed. Then I went outside, immediately sweated over my new clothes and nearly had a mini breakdown as I realised that I still had at least 3hours to wander through this vestibule of hell before my bag was due to arrive. To be honest, if someone had given me a plane ticket home I’d have kissed them at that point and I’d be telling you all this around a pub table somewhere in England.
In the end I got into a taxi to the airport, reasoning that at least they had air con there. And less touts.
At the airport I show the security man my lost baggage form and he pushes me through security to the baggage claim department. If only terrorists knew it was as easy as this! The man in the baggage office sadly shakes his head when I ask about my bag - 1 hour he says. Oh. Ok. I sit down against the wall and get out my book. Thirty seconds later the baggage claim man appears in front of me. ’You like coffee?’. Yeah, I like coffee. ‘You come with me now, come come’. Which is how I come to be sitting in the back of the baggage claim office with a cup of very strong, very sweet Balinese coffee, being taught about how to let the positive energy from the sun cleanse my aura. My stress must have shown. I tell him about my getting lost and desperate need for a shower and my hatred of Kuta and he tells me to just get in a taxi to Ubud and go and relax. Eventually my bag shows up. I write a short letter to Singapore Airlines at Anom’s request, saying how he helped me find my bag and then I follow his advice and go and get a taxi. This probably results in paying twice as much it would have if I went back to Kuta and caught a bus but I don’t care. I wouldn’t go back to Kuta for all the tea in China.