Bali here I come! Or maybe not…

It’s 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and I’m woken up by a text message: “Urgent! Due to Mount Raung activity your flight has been cancelled. Please check your email for more details.”

A volcanic eruption; that’s a great start to my long anticipated (actually booked last week) trip to Indonesia. Dutifully I check my emails and indeed AirAsia has sent me an email letting me know that we are not flying today as the airport is closed. A quick Google search produces some pictures of an ash-covered Denpasar airport. It reminds me of some winter wonderland, except that this is tropical Indonesia. I guess I can see why it might be hard to land on that…

The email advises me to contact AirAsia if I wish to reschedule my flight. This will then be done on a ‘first come, first serve base’. You can guess what that means: The call centre is impossible to reach, even the online chat is so busy that it takes me until 4 p.m to finally have a chat, only to be disconnected after five minutes. This is not working.

Then the phone beeps again.  “Your flight has been rescheduled to tomorrow.” Great! and I didn’t even do anything.

Many flights got cancelled...

Many flight cancelled…

It’s chaos at the airport with lots of cancelled flights and long lines of tired, confused and angry passengers. Some who have already spent a night at the airport. But we did not come in vain and after a mere 13 hours delay it looks like we are finally going to take off.

I hop on board with the load of Australians who are eager to arrive at the Island of the Gods, just so they can sit on a beach in Kuta, drink cheap Bintang and party at the nightclubs. I am hoping to see another side of Bali. Maybe that makes me a travel snob…

Finally, about 48 hours behind schedule, we arrive at Denpasar airport. First things first, I need my caffeine fix. In search of coffee we have somehow wandered into a square filled with over-enthusiastic passenger-hungry touts pushing their driving services: “Transport Boss? Cheap. Yes? Transport?” Hmm, cheap is good, but they bring up a valid point: we don’t have any money. So the first stop is an ATM. Indonesia’s currency, the Rupiah, is not very strong and the conversion is confusing. A 100.000 should do it for now we reckon. At the cafe we discover that a 100.000 is barely enough money to buy us two cups of coffee…

So now all we need is a second trip to the ATM. This time taking out a couple of million, I feel so rich! Then we are off in search of a taxi. There are plenty of touts hanging around the airport, but my theory is that we can find a cheaper ride once we are outside the airport. So we kindly turn down the numerous offers and warnings that “there are no taxis outside the airport.” We walk down the parking lot. “Where are you going?”, asks the armed security guard. “we’re getting a taxi.” He nods and lets us pass. I take that as a sign that we are heading in the right direction. After some wandering we finally manage to flag down a cab. As it turns out our little detour got us absolutely nowhere since the price is exactly the same. I suspect this is not a coincidence… It doesn’t matter, we are on our way to the beach and on my first day I am sort of expecting to be ripped off a bit. Besides, I’m a millionaire now.

 

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