Friday, December 5, 2008

Miserable is an understatement

The journey home from Mataram is by far the most unpleasant part of the whole trip. It began in the morning with a queasy feeling from the thought that my holidays are over, the thought of having to haul a heavy backpack, along with the thought that my luggage has somewhat grown several kilos. around 8, I realized that I hadn't retrieved the feedback envelope from the Education Officer, and that the form detailing the NTB representatives for ISDC were still incomplete.

Yet I survived. although the half kilometer or so walk in search of tukang pulsa to load my cell pre-paid credit was note-worthy. 2 shops unable to give service, 3 others were suspiciously still closed at 9.30 am. also getting laughed at by the SPG in an XL-only shop (eh, it was worth a shot), and I finally able to reload my cellphone credit in a shady store, similar to those dreadful, soul-sucking girlie shop like you saw under the name of "Stroberi" or "Bunga" in Bandung/Jakarta/Jogja malls. Only less pretentious (it was named "Girlie", displays racks full of women underpants and bras (of various color and size) but has a strangely punk-like design for its banners). Surely double-take was the only appropriate reaction, and I did precisely just that. Waiting for a full two minutes before the shop attendant showed up just didn't help. At all.

And at precisely 10.02 I checked out of my room, went out in search of a decent taxi from the pool some 20-meters away and found none. Law of Murphy in work, Ladies and Gentlemen! Out of vanity from taking ojeg offers I then walked some 400-meters (remember the backpack!) and just right to after that I slipped and hurt my ankle. Right in front of hordes of motorcycles waiting for the red light to get green. Embarassment? Checked.

But I finally got a taxi and after a short drive (only IDR10K away), I found myself idly waiting for the check-in counter to open (5 minutes), then proceed to the deserted waiting room, where all the souvenir shop attendants were gathering and watching the cables from the public TV available. because I foolishly did not take out my Altered Carbon from the backpack checked in as luggage, then aloneness, and awkwardness ensued.

Only after an hour or so did the waiting room get crowded, a third of the people waiting are tanned caucasians, in various length of waist line. But the flight went just fine from Selaparang Mataram to Juanda Surabaya.

Precisely after landing did it get to the most miserable part: I am hungry, and I see no western fast-food franchise in sight. I am craving for MSG. I don't dare enter to one of the restaurant, knowing whatever I would have bought there wont sate my need. thankfully the Alfamart there provided Cheetos, and my 20K there was well-spent. Too bad there's no Kusuka available.

around 2 pm, I checked in at the Merpati counter, this time remember to pull the book out of luggage, I head to the waiting room, which in 10minutes was completely deserted as all Air Asia passengers to Cengkareng went aboard.

And that is NOT the scariest part. because after I boarded the plane to Husein Bandung, I noticed that:
1. the plane looks old.
2. It seems that there are more people on this plane than on my previous flights.
3. the wings is visibly battered. some screws seems to be missing (but I might be wrong)
4. it CREAKS! the seat right in front of me creaks! the seat right next to the emergency exit creaks and squeaks!

The fact that halfway on the fight the plane was visibly shaking also did not help. I can sleep just fine on the reportedly superultrabumpy Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Cengkareng, but my heart clearly pounded extra hard on SBY-BDG flight.

Then we landed. on the pitiful Hussein Sastranegara airport, which in contrast to Juanda, did not host a colorful range of aircraft with various airlines logo on their tails, but an even more battered-looking Batavia craft, and two intimidating planes with TNI-AU writing in it.

But fine, it only has one baggage carousel and the sugarcoating did not help much (two girls greets us in the arrival gate). The manner is typically indonesian while waiting for the luggages. Rude line cutting, carefree smoking, well, I can say no more.

Though even more pathetic was its airport taxi fleet. Old. With fleas in side. Ridiculously expensive (40K for airport-tamansari?). and the driver uses the safety belt on his side to prevent the seemingly inevitable collapse of his chair to the backseat area. and tying it up on the handbrake lever on to his gearstick.

If anything, the only improvement is the long-overdue repair of the trafficlight in the Tamansari intersection. and the comfort of getting to someplace I can call my room to write this. hopefully more on the next writing.

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