A lady in front of me. She had massive boobs and fake nails. She was on her way to Bali. “Did you hear that our flight was delayed by 4 hours?” No I didn’t. Apparently in Denpasar the tarmac was being repaired periodically throughout the day. An announcement over the Perth airport waves said an AIr Asia plane was being repaired and the passengers could get the next flight. At 8 pm, the time I was leaving.
I’d lost my cigarettes earlier on in the day. The guy at the entrance of departure. didn’t like the look of me. I didn’t like the look of him. Stamped out of Australia. X ray next. No, back through immigration. Left my bag underneath “fill out the departure card” counter. He still didn’t like the look of me. Ditto. Into the office, playing Metallica. Wayne needs some cheering up. I do that by playing an assortment of music.
Out of his office. Today is the last day to vote for who controls the senate. Western Australia is voting. I’m not on the electoral roll. The elderly man at the airport voting booth at the airport gave me an odd look. “That isn’t a camera is it?” Yes, just taking “selfies.” The younger polling volunteer smirks. It’s a smug kind of smirk. He asked me if I lived in Northbridge. Why? They just want to see if I exist. I do, and didn’t vote last election. “What, you weren’t fined.” “Not yet. And not now. I’m out of here.” The older man thinks I’m pulling “a funny one”. What do you mean by that – “a funny one”? He gives a demonic smile. He’s under the pump. I had enough of this foolery all week long I told them.
Anne was tracking the plane in real time. My dongle worked, picture of the take-off coming through, about 500 meters in the sky. A couple sitting next to me. She was pregnant and dad was feeding his son a bottle of milk. She wanted another seat. “I’m three months pregnant and there isn’t enough room for us all.” I liked where she was going with this. “Do you have a certificate to prove this,” asked the Air Hostess. I moved to the Red Hot seats. A lady moved in front of me. “Just say you are pregnant. It worked for me,” I told her. The female flight attendant laughed. They didn’t have food. Delays. We got a free pack of chips and a mineral water.
The young lady was going to meet her mother in Bali. Same as another young girl I met on another plane. Seems to be a trend with Australian mothers: go to Bali, and have their family members meet them there. Young, Australian, and quite pretty, the woman said she just got out of hospital. “They couldn’t find what it was. First it was blood cancer. Secondly, the doctors thought I had blood clots in the brain.” She said it was easy to get into hospital, hard to get out. “It’s pretty bad that they diagnose me with all these death sentences when really they haven’t got a clue what is wrong with me.” I said that a head band of flowers would protect her from the seizures. Medication she was taking controlled them.
I had hummed and haaed about going. “Oh my neck hurts. Oh, I’ve found a good back packer. Oh, work won’t be happy with me leaving with such short notice.” Piss poor stuff. I nearly paid for another week at the back packers and forfeited the ticket to Bali.
A plane had an emergency landing at Perth airport the other day. And the disappearance of the Malaysian airline has been constantly discussed on the news. “Get a grip. You can do it.” I caught a bus to the airport.
We started late. We made quick time, a pimple crossing Australia’s nose. Still two hours late. They didn’t hand out any arrival forms. I helped carry the bag off the racks for the young girl who was going to see her mother. The leopard pattern of her trolley bag matched her slippers. I noticed, as we were being ferried by the shuttle to the airport to get stamped in. All good until I went to the squeaky clean toilets. They don’t have fish tanks with tropical fish in them like the old airport.
First fail for the new airport, but it makes up for it in other ways. I looked for my wallet. Still there. I got my iPad. The iPhone was in the same seat pouch. Too busy getting my luggage and other girl’s – I forgot the trusty iPhone. That’s three iPhones now. In my haste, looking for the iPhone, in the toilet, rummaging through my stuff, all flustered and tired, I realised I had lost my passport. Fuck, Im going to be stranded in the airport, living for the next month in Bali in the airport like that guy in the movie The Terminal.
Informed security. Another one comes. I go through my bag. He finds a passport. No it’s the old one, it’s been cut. It’s a new one I’ve lost . Five minutes later an Air Asia staffer comes up. He’s on a walkie talkie. He has my passport in his hand. Sigh, big sigh, of relief. The passport was discovered while I was in the toilet smoking. I’d found a book abandoned at the Perth airport. I left that on the bench in the toilet. The cleaner calls me, holding the book. “Is that yours?” I tell him he can have it. Now we are looking for the phone. I tell Agus, the lovely Air Asia staffer, that I was sitting in seat 7 B. No phone, he was told. Oh, i changed to the Red Hot seats. Still nothing. I had already forgotten my bag in Australia.
I forgot to fill out the customs declaration A happy ending I told the Balinese customs lady, showing her my passport. She agreed, we both didn’t like dramas. The first security guy, he had reason to give me a funny look. He was on the ball. “Is that your bag?” I paid for my visa. Then I had to fill out an arrival form. The green texta colour wasn’t going to cut the grade. I asked one of the immigration officers if I could borrow his pen. Still daze and confused, I hear a loud and almost rude comment. “Hurry up.” It was the immigration officer. He wasn’t concerned if I signed my name Micky Mouse. How is Johnson, I ask. He’s around and why do you ask. I said I know him from checking in another time. Johnson was understanding when my sponsor had cancelled my social visa.
All good. I”m following the Air Asia staff. We need to make a report. Not sure if Sana is floating around. It’s nearly 2.30 am and I have no phone to call him. Even if I did, I couldn’t afford the roaming charges, I’ve given up on Corporate Australia. On one trip to Bali I used up $100 of Telstra credit in five minutes on the internet. Never again. I hand in my passport. As it is photocopied I see Sana. He has a friend with him. Sana forgot his key. He left it on the bench. He goes back to get it. I get my passport back. I put it somewhere. Then I go back to the office to ask Agus for my passport. “You have it,” he says. “I gave it to you. Please check again.” I find it. He asks me for a lighter. He then hands me a menthol Dunhill cigarette. It really does taste good. I remind myself to buy a packet later.
Traveling is hard business. You need to be organised. Going through the authority rinse can be daunting, even for a seasoned traveler. It’s work getting out of that bed and breaking the rut, rules and regulations. I had pushed the envelope of my boring existence and made it out of the habitual into richer terrain. Habit had been broken.
Me and Sana’s friend followed Sana to the car park. I spot a Circle K from the third floor of the car park. I’m going to buy a beer. I survived a flight to Bali with a bad ear. Nothing popped. That bad neck didn’t get any worse. No, I wasn’t dying. We are at the beach. The waves are lapping. Sana’s friend is massaging me in all the right places. A fee is paid. She has cash and I’m relieved of aches and pains.
The night has cooled. Sana found ten empty beer bottles at the beach and brought them home. He’ll sell the glass. He tells Wayan I drank them. Feels like it. Sana and his wife are making handicrafts to sell. All good in Ubud, my sane base in Bali.
I’m back in the office. I caught Dengue Fever here three month ago. I’m back for more. My resistance is up. I’ve had malaria and got my gadgets. In Perth, I bought a cheap Canon camera and a mini iPad. Have camera, will travel. Maybe that Iphone with its cracked screen was supposed to separate from me on a plane. We had parted ways on good terms, everything, including me, in the clouds, ready to download at a press of a button.It’s raining now, no mosquitoes.
Bali embraces me. Hot and muggy, and things done totally differently.