Traveling isn’t always easy and my journey to Bali proved that point. It was at a six hour layover at the Jakarta domestic airport where I was left with nothing to do and no one to talk to. It was a painful wait but writing this entry helped me survive that dreadful stop. I am posting this as proof of what I had to endure.
I arrived at the Jakarta international airport close to midnight. For the first time in a long while, I felt scared to be in a foreign country. Perhaps it was from the anticipation of my long layover, but I just didn’t feel welcome. Mike warned me about the wait and told me to spend as much time at the international airport as possible, but by the time I had retrieved my luggage, all the shops had closed. I had no choice but to head out to the warm streets of Jakarta by myself. I thought my Asian features could keep me in disguise and not give my touristy worries away, but the taxi drivers knew better. They immediately came and touted their services. I begged to be left alone but they were relentless. I was eventually bullied into a car and was driven to the domestic airport in 5 minutes and was charged 40,000 IDR. I felt violated.
I tried to enter the domestic airport’s gate but the lady stopped me and asked where I was headed. “Denpasar,” I said. She shook her head and told me in her Indonesian accent, “Gate still closed. Come black at 4am. ” I wanted to cry. My frugal self started to consider the option of checking into an airport hotel, but the thought of dealing with a language barrier turned me off the idea. I decided to wait. I often use my marathon experiences as a benchmark for pain and thought, “You’ve endured five hours of pain. What’s four hours of sitting?” That reflection temporarily appeased my mind and I found my self a seat amongst the number of warm bodies, and prepared myself for a long and lingering night.
The air was thick and humid. The body heat coming from all the passengers wasn’t helping. I was surrounded by smokers, boisterous families and taxi operators who kept speaking to me in Bahasa. It was pretty bleak. I tried distracting myself by playing a game of Scrabble against my iPad when, out of nowhere, the little girl right beside me let out a hurl that would have put Linda Blair to shame. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to turn to her left ( I was to her right) and directed her apparently undesirable meal towards her younger brother. Either that or I lucked out, big time! I looked away and tried to focus on my game but the rest of my senses failed to ignore the incident. I walked away and lost the best seat outside of the airport.
It’s now 3: 38am and I’m here sitting on the floor, inside the Jakarta domestic airport. I managed to get myself in the airport after I begged the lady guard to let me in. My flight to Denpasar is at 6:20am so I have a good two hours of being bored out of my wits. All the counters are closed and it’s generally quiet, except for a few moments where ground staff come and go. Otherwise, it’s just me, a bald man 3 meters to my left, and a man with who looks like his grand daughter, sleeping on the only seat, 4 meters to my right.
Thank God, I have my iPad.