The Philippines was still reeling from the effects of Tropical Storm Trami and up to the last minute, I wasn’t sure if I should push through with my “going solo in Indonesia” trip. Lots of flights were being cancelled because of some serious flooding in the airport areas. But still, I pushed on with my the trip. The queues in the airport where I chose to line up were all so long and slow. Our flight was an hour delayed. The plane ride was really bumpy. But deep in my heart I knew I would make it safely and get back unscathed from this adventure. That painless immigration procedure proved to be a very good omen.
Arriving in Jakarta at almost midnight (Jakarta is one hour behind Manila), I walked very fast towards the immigration queues, trying to look nonchalant, like I knew what I’m doing and where I’m going. Getting past the immigration officers took forever because there was no sign pointing to any counter that says “foreign passport”. Almost all the counters were labeled “Indonesian Passport” so lots of people lined up at only one counter. It was all very confusing. Good thing there was this man who announced that all the counters were the same and we were free to line up anywhere. Despite the confusion, I was glad that I was able to kill time. My AirAsia flight to Bali was still six hours away and I was happy for the activity.
After the immigration and fetching my luggage, I exchanged some USD to IDR at the money changer. It was a really wrong move on my part to have exchanged two-thirds of my money at the airport. The rate was 1 USD = 10,200 IDR. I exited the airport looking for a Blue Bird taksi to take me to Terminal 3 where my AirAsia flights would be. All my friends who’ve been in Indonesia recommended that taxi company because of their tried and tested trustworthiness. True enough, despite the numerous taksis already available at the arrival area, people still lined up patiently for the Blue Bird. Meanwhile, a driver of a van-for-rent told me that if I was going to Terminal 3, I should just wait for the free shuttle going there. Unfortunately, this shuttle leaves at 5 o’clock and I was anxious to get to the other airport already. A Blue Bird taksi became available but it was at the departure area. The guy who assisted passengers was very kind as he accompanied me up to the departure area.
Travel between the two airports was really short. The flag down rate was 6000 IDR and the final amount shown on the meter was 9300 IDR. But, I was also supposed to pay for this “parking fee” of 5000 IDR. And when I got to the airport, I was very surprised to find out that it was closed! I never thought that airports also close! Apparently they open again by 3:00am. Because of that, I saw various people waiting for the opening of the departure area. Some people were sitting on the floor, eating at Burger King (the only establishment available to us), standing around with their trolleys and some were even sleeping.
They started letting people in by around 2:50 am. I immediately went to the restroom to change my clothes from the day before when I rendered overtime at the office. I was very surprised and afraid and confused when I heard a very masculine voice speaking in the cubicle next to mine. I took a really long time in changing and peeing, mustering up the courage to open the door and go out. I was thinking that I went inside the wrong restroom but as it turned out, the janitor was a real janitor – tall, dark and but not so handsome. I was so pissed that I immediately went out without washing my hands (good thing I brought my alcohol from the office).
The counters started opening an hour later and again, it was all very confusing. Everyone sort of camped out behind the first counter but this counter did not open and it turned out that all the other AirAsia counters would service all the flights. When I finally got to check in, I found out that a terminal fee of 40,000 IDR was to be paid at the check in counter. Then I headed to the boarding area to wait for my flight.
One other unconventional phenomenon that I encountered at the airport was the first boarding announcement of. A guy was just shouting out the announcement, walking up and down the boarding area and calling out the flight number. The French guy sitting beside me couldn’t believe it either. Thankfully, the next boarding announcements were made over a speaker.
Aboard the plane, it was announced that travel time was 1 hour and 50 minutes. I was already drowsy by this time that I fell asleep even before the plane took off. I just jerked awake when I felt the flight attendants looking for me. They were about to give me the breakfast I ordered together with my plane ticket.
I chose the three-piece pancake in flight breakfast which cost me an additional 24727.27 IDR. I was supposed to get pancakes, butter and maple syrup. I didn’t get any syrup and there was some kind of commotion when I requested for it. It was like the flight attendants had never heard of the words “maple syrup” before. My pancakes were starting to get cold by the time I got it.
Nothing much occurred at the arrival part of the airport in Bali. The most notable thing was that the exchange rate was better at 1 USD = 10,500 IDR. I was feeling a bit bummed about the money I should’ve gotten. I was able to recover quickly, though, but the knowledge that dollar was cheaper in Bali than Jakarta would haunt me for the rest of my trip.
Watch out for the next instalment of my Going Solo in Indonesia series.
Read the next part here.
August 21-22, 2013
***photos were taken using an iPhone 5