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April 21, 2010

Travel Snafus

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – I did it again. I misread the airplane ticket and we missed the flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur. We had a connection to Banda Aceh and there was another flight in a few minutes, but I knew we have to run to make it.


I sat down and talked to my beloved new bride. I told her we had to send back the suitcase because we could not wait for the luggage to show up on the carousel. Luckily, most of our stuff was in our backpacks and only the items that were not allowed in the cabin were stored in the suitcase. We figured we could purchase small replacement items at our destination.


While I purchased new tickets, she ran the bag out to a taxi, informed the driver to take it back to the condo and give it to the gate guard for safe keeping. The driver could not fathom why we were sending only the bag. An explanation ensued as I began to lose patience.


We dashed through passport control, security and made it to the plane. I informed the stewardess we had a close connection for out next flight and she let us off first. Of course, our gate was at one end and the airport entrance at the other. I sprinted to the check-in counter, got out tickets and preceded to immigration where we were stopped cold.


A few days earlier, I had gone to the Indonesian Consulate near my home in Kuching and requested a visa for Banda Aceh. The lady had assured me, several times, no visa was necessary for Americans and there was “Visa on Arrival.” I kept asking her again and again if she was sure. Finally, she showed me the directive from the capitol in Jakarta which stated “Visa on Arrival” at the airport in Banda Aceh was available beginning in early January. I reluctantly said okay as the savings would be considerable.


Showing my passport, the lady asked for my visa. I told her it was not needed. She got somebody else who told me there was no visa on arrival. We had a heated discussion and they got somebody else. I was not allowed to board the Air Asia flight. That was four burned airline tickets in one morning.


Dejected because we both wanted to do pristine snorkeling, we went back to the airport and gazed at the departure board. There was flight to Phnom Penh and we both agreed to go because we wanted to visit Angkor Wat. I thought some more and realized our relaxing dream vacation would be a hassle because we did not know the Cambodian language and the experience in a tourist hub would not be the experience we both wanted.


Besides, I suddenly remembered, rightly or wrongly, Angkor Wat was closer to Siem Reap, a good distance from the Cambodian capitol over questionable roads. Besides, I WANTED TO GO SNORKELING!


We looked at the departure board, changed our minds, decided to fly to Bandung, Java. I had always wanted to go there but couldn’t remember why. We boarded without incident with me still wondering why the hell I wanted to visit the place.


To be continued next week is good



[Editor’s Note: Tom is now on Facebook with photos and other fun stuff. Check it out!]


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