The plane will come eventually, right?
I love travelling solo, I’ve done lots of it, and there is something very rewarding in seeing just how far you can push yourself, the things you can manage on your own, the places you visit. One thing I hate more than anything travelling solo is being in transit. It’s like you’ve suddenly found a way to make being in transit even more boring. There is no one to talk to and no one to watch your stuff so you can just pass out on the floor. Which right now, is all I really want to do. But instead, I’m sitting in the ‘executive lounge’ at the Bandung airport. Which is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. It’s sparse with stale snacks and sugary juice. But it’s air conditioned and after the bus ride this morning. I could really use some quiet time. But not this much quiet time. I am supposed to be boarding a plane to Bali as we speak (well I probably won’t post this online for at least 24 hours… but you get my meaning)… but I stood to go to my gate and they told me that no, unfortunately the plane has been delayed. We won’t be boarding for one hour. Ugh. So I’ve switched on the lap top so I can take a little time to write about the adventures of the past 24 hours before it all seeps out of my exhausted brain.
Yesterday was my last day in BK for a couple of weeks… Sara and I decided that instead of doing the drive to Pangandaran at 5am this morning that we would do the drive last night instead and just find a cheap room to sleep in, in town. Seemed simple enough. So once work was finished I downed a couple of Bintang’s with Nicki and Paul and their friend Travis (another Aussie who can’t seem to tear himself from Indonesia) and a pizza with Sara, I said my goodbyes and we loaded everything onto the motorbike and did the night time drive through the little villages.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with Asian motorbikes and their use as a family wagon, you won’t seem to surprised. For others of you, this might be news. Indonesian families use their motorbikes as the equivalent to our mini vans or wagons back home. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have. You can fit them all on. So… we decided that we would be fine driving on our motorbike to Pangandaran (namely Sara would drive…) with my big backpack, my computer and camera bag and Sara’s overnight bag. We figured, that was really only about two kids, and other families do it with kids and fruit and an animal or two… Sara got the balance down and with a little help from Rudi our night guard, we were on our way.
It’s funny, the town we live in shuts down when the sun goes down, which is around 6.45pm here. Once its dark there is little to no traffic on the roads. No noise. No people. It’s bizarre. But as soon as we got over the bamboo bridge (which had no lights last night and was eerily dark and silent) and hit Cijulang people where still bustling about and shops were still open – it was only 7.30pm after all.
We made it to Pangandaran without any real issues, except that the big bag across the front of the bike kept turning the headlights off… which were a little dangerous. But we got there – all in one piece, nothing fell in the water. Nothing fell off the bike, and besides some stiff joints, we made it to Pangandaran and Komodo Guest House safely.
We rented a very basic little room for more than we really wanted to spend (which was the equivalent to about $10AUS) and we sat with the staff and drank hot tea and ate sweet little bananas and played with the most beautiful little black kitten. She is so tiny, no bigger than 6 weeks old I would have guessed, and I think there is a very strong possibility that she will end up at our house in the next couple of weeks. No mum, poor little kitten, so the staff at the hotel feed her and her siblings and try to take care of them. Which is much better treatment than many of the domestic animals get around here… This hotel takes care of their dogs too, which was very nice to see.
A sleep, interrupted only by the familiar buzzing sounds of the mosquitoes and a hot sweat broken by the old fan when it hits my skin. But as always the alarm went off too early, at 5.15am. It was time to get up, say goodbye to the kitten, get showered, get packed up, get on the bike, and go to the bus station. As we rode through Pangandaran the sun was shooting reds and pinks across the already light blue sky. The colours like a rainbow behind a landscape of palms. The air was that morning fresh, when it smells brand new and tastes clean in your mouth. The streets quiet, like the world is all yours for the taking.
Bus station at 5.45am and goodbye to Sara as she did the ride back to BK to start work at 7am. I waited for the bus… hoping it would come on time so I could make my connection here in Bandung (all seems a little futile now really…) and when it did show up it wasn’t quite the comfortable bus that people had been telling me. But it was the only one that came for the 6am departure, so I boarded it to take me to Bandung.
I’d been told that the busses are comfortable, air conditioned and spacious. I think I got on the wrong bus. It was fine getting out of Pangandaran, I had three small seats to myself for my bags and I paid my fare ($3.50AUS) drifted off to sleep.
As we bumped along the little roads through villages I opened my eyes to take in the glassy still rivers and the long stretches of green. An hour and a half in we stopped at a little town and more people got on board including two boys with some bongos and a guitar who then sang for the next ten minutes before collecting change from everyone and disembarking. We weaved slowly up and down hills, through expanses of rice fields, past thousands of children on their way to school, past people opening up their businesses… We stopped regularly and more and more people got on. After about two hours I was squished into one seat with both my bags, and the other seats next to me were filled with a mum, her two young ones and their bags. It was more than a little squishy… And to top it off it was hot (and not air conditioned) and people all started smoking… and I thought, well at least there isn’t any livestock! I gave the kids some happy panda chocolates which they took happily, as I watched their mum teaching them only to accept with their right hands – which is customary in Indonesia. Both kids where wrapped up as if they were going to the snow… which made no sense to me, but I did notice that the little boy was wearing a little white hoody which had written in diamontes ‘princess in training’ on the back… I guess it’s ok if they don’t know what it means… or I guess if he really does want to be a princess.
We stopped again, sweat dripping down my face. Kids asleep on my arms, I couldn’t get up even if I wanted to. And then we were blessed (?) by an impromptu prayer session from a man who got on board and led everyone in prayer – giving everyone on board a little white envelope – I’m not sure what the deal was with this… but then he left. And a blind man got on, and did the same thing… I don’t know what was happening, but they were then followed by more boys with guitars, a man who made me eat snake fruit (which FYI, is not very good)… and hordes of people selling tofu, grapes, cigarettes, snacks… pretty much anything that you could want. And because I was the only white person, the only foreigner of any kind on board. Everyone expected me to buy. I didn’t. I’d planned ahead and brought water and snacks with me.
Anyway, after a very long bus ride (7 hours) I finally made it to Bandung, got in a dodgy cab because I was in a rush and couldn’t find the equivalent to a taxi rank… and crossed my fingers and hoped I made it to the airport in one piece. I did. And to the smallest most depressing airport in the world where you could get all you can eat in the executive lounge for $3.50 AUS – but the food is bad, the drinks are warm… and the wait is long.
So I sit. And I wait. The plane will arrive… eventually… Right?