77: A Change of Plan

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.

*****

Now I did feel like a fool. It turned out that Simon was right and that Evi had just “done what my husband ask me”.

I ended up telling Evi that her husband was a real arsehole and that I didn’t want him to contact me anymore. I doubt she passed all of my message on.

I sincerely apologised to Simon and made some of that jovial small talk that I had avoided earlier. I felt so bad that I tried to deflect some of my guilt with a lame attempt at eliciting sympathy; I told him how much I hated Jakarta and how it was stressing me out. I told him about all the issues I had been trying to sort out back home and how that was adding to my frustrations. He was very understanding and reassured me that it would get easier.

Maybe I was wrong about Simon. Maybe I needed to lighten up on the guy and give him a chance. One thing was for sure, this was not the night I had wanted to have before going away.

I eventually finished packing just after 11pm and didn’t get to sleep until around midnight. It was a typically broken sleep, as expected, and when my alarm sounded at 6.30 I was already awake.

I got up, had a shower, ate my fruit salad, took the lift down to the reception and ordered a taxi.

As I sat in my taxi en route to Soekarna-Hatta International Airport to catch my flight to Kalimantan, there were no thoughts in my head of Simon or Jeff, nor of sleepless nights with that noisy fan in my bedroom, or the cacophonous call to prayer every morning. No work, no students, just two days and two nights on a boat on the Kapuas River floating through the Borneo jungle looking at monkeys. You don’t get to do that at the weekend when you live in Manchester.

The taxi took a different route to the airport this time, passing through a toll on the way. The new route cost an extra 30,000 or so, but didn’t get me there any quicker.

I arrived at the airport in about half an hour with well over two hours to spare, but I was still hungry. I messaged Claire to see if she and her friends had eaten. They had; so before I checked in, I went into the KFC outside the airport for some coffee and pancakes and a piece of fried chicken. It was damn good and I was ready for my second Indonesian getaway.

Simon once told me that 80% of flights in Indonesia were delayed. He may have been joking, but so far two of the four flights I had booked here had been delayed, which makes 50%. When I consider the years of travelling I’ve done, including the year I spent working as a rep for a holiday company when I took over a dozen flights in a year, I had experienced maybe three or four flight delays. By the time I met up with Claire and her group, Indonesia was getting closer to Simon’s percentage rate of failure.

When I got to the waiting area to go to the gate for our flight, I saw Claire sat with her friends and was a little surprised. I had assumed that they would all be thirtysomethings like Claire, but she was probably the youngest out of the lot of us. Not that this was a problem, it just changed my expected dynamic of the holiday.

As I walked up to introduce myself, I could tell by the body language that there was a problem. Claire got up to greet me and introduce me to her group of friends before giving me the news that our flight to Kalimantan was delayed by two hours. Two hours isn’t the worst amount of time for a flight to be delayed, but this was only a short break and the delay meant that our early morning boat trip was screwed (by this time I had still not heard anything from the useless agent at Dwidaya Travel). The plan had been to arrive in the morning, meet with the guides and then head straight up the river to an orang-utan feeding station in the early afternoon. The delay meant that we would miss the orang-utans and only really have one day on the river before an early morning start the following morning.

Out of Claire’s party of six, four were teachers at the international school where she worked, but it was a half term so they were in no rush to get back. The other two in the party were expat wives of well-paid businessmen. That meant that it was only me who had any work commitments. They were also all on pretty good money, so it wasn’t too much of a big deal for them to stay an extra day to get the most out of the trip. I of course had a dilemma because I was expected to be in class at 1pm on the Wednesday. Plus, I hadn’t budgeted for the extra million or so IDR that this was going to cost. However, I didn’t really have much of a choice. I could have left on the morning of the third day, but getting taxied from the river to the port in a speedboat would have cost me more or less the same as staying on. So it was agreed that we would reschedule our flights and Claire would lend me the extra money. Her work colleagues agreed to cover any story I told my bosses at EF.

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