Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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The flight to Denpasar was also good. Took about three hours this time with very basic services on the plane, but that didn't matter cos' I was yapping to Keryn & Coco the whole time. They were two Malaysians who were going to Bali for a couple of days work with a day of relaxation thrown in. It was Keryn who did most of the talking, she was older - mid forties, Coco was in her twenties and was the trainee. They were tour guides/planners for a Malaysian travel guide company. They were very, very passionate about Malaysia and what a fantastic place it was to live. I shared similar stories of England.
Now this is where the airport antics become different. This time I no longer had a boarding card for my next flight so had to go through immigration to get one. I said goodbye to Keryn & Coco as they went straight through the green door - I had to go through a completely different 'yellow' section full of different aisles with different overhead signs on such as:- 'Foreigner Visa holder', 'Foreigner Visa no holder', 'Foreigner no visa holder, company VST', 'Foreigner no visa VST 2 (onwards) holder' and so on. It was a nightmare. The problem was there were so many people of intensely varied cultures standing in every single one of the many queues looking particularly serious and specific as to which one they were stood in. There were red & white signs everywhere saying something along the lines of 'Warning, we strictly impose the death penalty for any kind of drug trafficking'. This was a completely different kettle of fish to KL airport, but like everything else - another hurdle.
I stood in the aisle of (what I thought) the most appropriate to my circumstances and after a while approached the very dark faced moustached chap at the desk. I explained that I was passing on transit straight through to Auckland in four hours and needed to get to the Malaysian Airlines transit desk to be issued a boarding card as I never received one in London. Cutting a long story short, the guy was actually quite helpful. He was a giggly sort of chap and between us we managed to outline a little 'plan of action' that would enable me to get past his desk. Apparently , I still had to procure a VISA to allow any kind of entry into Indonesia. They are $25USD and enable you to stay for thirty days. 'Even though I was only staying in departures for 4 hours?!' 'Yes. Just pay over at that counter and please enjoy your stay in Bali, you have happy time'. He was so jolly.
I walked over to the immigration visa purchases counter and started to get my dollars ready. As I counted them out I glanced the sign on the window that said '30-day visa $25USD, 3-day visa $10USD. I walked back over to the giggler and presented him my shiny 3-day $10 visa all printed, stamped and signed. He was still as enthusiastic and helpful and as he shoved some tourist brochures into my hand he seemed surprised that I only wanted to stay in beautiful Bali for only three days when I could so easily stay for thirty. I couldn't tell him I was in transit and 'only staying for four hours in departures' again.
So I walked through. Finding 'International Departures' was even more fun - the third person I asked gave me the same blank look as the other two and it was the fifth person that finally pointed me in the right direction after the fourth had sent me to the opposite end of the airport. It meant that I had to walk right out of the airport and in to a separate building to get to international departures.
Well, the giggler was right when he said 'beautiful Bali' - not that I saw anything of it really other than the aerial views when coming in to land and a glimpse of the airport grounds. Just the short walk from arrivals to departures was more than enough to secure a return visit - for at least thirty days!
The feeling of the place was just incredible. If you were to stand where I had stood and close your eyes you would instinctively know you were in some kind of tropical paradise. And how hot was it?!! In less than the three minute walk it took me to get to departures, I was wet through. There was so much moisture in the air. It was like walking through a giant undercover steam room. I can't wait to go back there.
So, after an hour or so wait for the appropriate check in desk to be designated (I was over four hours early), I also found out at this point that I would be flying to Brisbane, Australia before flying on to Auckland. On approaching the desk, I was then questioned about my intentions in New Zealand by the check-in guy. He was looking very puzzled at my visa and wanted to know if I'd been there before and how long I was intending to stay. After a few minutes, he made his apologies and told me not to worry and to just 'wait there, no worry'. I watched him walk over to two other officials who proceeded to flick through my passport, flipping it over to look at the covers a few times in between glancing up at me and seeing my utter confusion. After a couple of minutes he came running back over and said 'no worry, no worry, you go New Zealand on work in twelve month?', 'Yes, never been before, heard weather was good, is everything okay?'. He started typing up and printing my boarding card whilst simultaneously nodding and laughing his head off! Another chuckler, this was turning out to be quite a day.
So I walked upstairs with my boarding card to chill out before the flight only to be faced with yet another desk. At this one I was required to hand over 100,000 rupiah's (approx $10USD) in general passenger tax. Fair enough - handed it over, he smiled at my passport photo and I walked through.
So I'd got three odd hours to chill out before the flight to Brisbane. I passed through one final passport control desk at which (I'm not joking) sat another giggler. I entered departures and had a gentle walk round. I was absolutely knackered. I still didn't feel any better either and was checking my watch every few minutes to see when I was allowed another double-dose of painkillers.
The departures in Denpasar Airport was surreal. It was laid out in such a way that you thought you were walking round a City Centre. There were hundreds of brightly lit gift/craft shops, food vendors, bars, jewellery shops, souvenir shops. It was fascinating. I carried on walking and then I saw a dimly lit hand carved archway at the end of one of the walkways. There was a Balinese man & woman standing at the archway besides a sign on an easel illustrating some kind of price list. They were offering reflexology, foot massages, neck & shoulder massages for a matter of pence. I looked past them and saw a very comfortable looking chair and foot stool. The man explained how reflexology was very affective and relaxing and offered to seat me through the archway. I said I would have a think and come back later.
If you knew how tired and jet lagged I already was and how I was feeling, bearing in mind that in just under four days I'd hardly had any sleep, you'd appreciate how the idea of a proper massage was very appealing. Besides, I'd even got three hours to kill.
I continued to walk round 'airport city' pondering the massage. While I was walking it suddenly became apparent how eerie and haunting the background music was. Hard to explain really, but if you imagine someone who's about to make a speech at a wedding where they rapidly tap a spoon on to a glass to get everyone's attention - well it was exactly like that, just.....continuous. Three hours continuous. Joss sticks were burning everywhere and the whole atmosphere was very odd. After half an hour or so I walked past another massage hut and out of the corner of my eye I spotted someone receiving a neck & shoulder massage. Well, under normal circumstances, this would have been heaven. But if you could have seen how the poor girl's neck was being contorted with these two very powerful thumbs and they way her eyeballs were intermittently protruding from their sockets every 360 degrees of the thumb turn, then consider how delicate the right side of my face and neck was at the time - it would have been a very, very bad move. I could just see it now when the swelling got struck:- 'Aaaargghh!!!! get your hands off me you ******!!!', 'but Sir you pay me for massage......you pay me!!'. No. It was best left well alone.
Instead I went and sat, half asleep, waiting to board for Brisbane.