The last 10 days in Bali had been amazing. But, like any travel, the time always comes when you have to pack up your bags and move on, whether you want to or not. For me, that meant returning to work in Australia for a couple months to fund the next leg of my journey, hopefully, one where I continue indefinitely. But before I contemplate returning to work….. sigh, I still had one day left in Bali because we were not leaving until 1 am the next morning.
Determined to ensure that our final 24 hours would not go to waste, we decided to get up early and visit the Tanah Lot temple to watch the sunrise. It is constantly raved about as one of the top places to watch the sun rise or set in Bali. We were not going to miss it. It seemed as though we had picked a good day to leave. The coming days were expecting heavy rain, but they had been saying that since we got here despite the rain never being able to pierce the thick vale of clouds. This trend, dim and cloudy skies, continued on our final day. It sucked because all the images of the temple were dark and a bit average.
We persevered, determined not to let this setback ruin the rest of our day. Our return trip to Denpasar was accompanied by the usual stampede of road users all eager to get to their respective destination, but quickly turning the streets into kilometers of gridlock. This wasn’t too bad on a scooter. Weaving our way through motionless cars, the gridlock barely phased us. We had decided to head back to Denpasar to do some gift shopping for the family, but not before an early lunch at the Peloton Super Shop. The food was amazing and we ran into some popular instagrammers – Doyoutravel, gypsea_lust and several others. I don’t know the name of my food, only the description; a murky-green concoction of fruits and vege’s accompanied by a vege-burger with a bright green bun. It was unique, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not diminishing the value of the food, just the way it looked. I still give it a 5 out of 5; an amazing café with an incredible aesthetic.
Moving on once again, we found our way to a long stretch of street shops by early-afternoon. This market had everything. Clothes, bags, food, jewelry and so much more! There was so many options we didn’t know what to buy. Although, after the first two hours I was struggling to retain my enthusiasm for the area, but Wanida was going strong. Somehow she convinced me to stay and shop with her and remarkably we were there until dinner, which gave me the perfect excuse to leave.
For dinner we stopped in at a restaurant called Lemongrass, which we had been eating at for the last few nights. We were only just beginning to realize that we had spent our entire day out in Denpasar and we had done no packing. And what’s worse, we now had several bags of gifts to fit in our single rucksack that could not way more than 20kg otherwise we would have to pay the steep costs they charge at the airport. (On the way over our bag already weighed 18kg). This sent us into a bit of a panic, exacerbated by reading multiple online stories of airline operators essentially forcing people to pay ridiculous fees. We contemplated taking some things out and sending them through the post and giving away some of the things that we didn’t need. We spent so much time procrastinating on what to do that the decision was pretty much made for us – we got a call telling us that our taxi was waiting downstairs to take us to the airport.
En route to the airportwe made the assumption that due to our flight being so late there would be few people flying. This was completely incorrect and it actually seemed far busier. There were lines, with what seemed like a hundred people, coming from every airline desk. In the distance behind the heads of thousands of people, we saw our airline service desk. Even our relatively small airline had an enormous queue interwoven with the hundreds of other people checking into their respective airline. People were going this way and that way. Voices were being played could over the loudspeaker constantly. The information desk was just as busy as the airlines. It was organized chaos.
We hesitantly joined the queue knowing full-well that there wasn’t anything that could be done to speed up the process. And so, we waited. And waited. And waited. And after hours of waiting, we waited some more. The whole time thinking about how much we would be charged for our baggage. We eventually reached the checkout desk. With lingering eyes and a blank face, the operator waved us over. Without any words, he indicated he wanted our passports and pointed in the direction of the baggage area. Supposedly, we were to know instinctively to place them there, upon a slight wave of the hand. The scale was indicating 22.4kg – 2.4kg over our allowed baggage weight. The operator looked at us. Wanida and I both braced for what was to come. With a quick movement of his hand, he waved us on. And that was it. No fees. No long-winded wait for him to check us in. The whole ‘ordeal’ was over in less than 2 minutes. All the preparations and time spent stressing over the baggage, was pointless. We were through. Momentarily, the day, or what was left of it, seemed to be on the up.
This momentary high began to fade quickly when we began to board our plane. After some brief browsing in the airport’s kiosks, we headed to our gate and began the walk to our plane. A very long walk. We walked down several flights of stairs, through a door leading outside the terminal and then we had to catch a bus over to our plane. I didn’t know if this was odd, but it was a first time for me.
It quickly became apparent that the budget airline we had booked our return flight with are a budget airline for a reason. They cut many of the luxuries out of the plane that I had come to take for granted. In-flight movies, dinner service and an up-to-date screen on how far along your flight was and, most importantly, they significantly reduced the size of their seats to cram as many people on, in as small a plane as possible. The total flight time of 5 and half hours was spent with my knees jammed into the seat in front of me, shoulder-to-shoulder with the passengers on either side of me and one of the most uncomfortable chairs positioned in, what felt like, an incredibly awkward angle that made sleep impossible. I realized that my deeply laid plans from earlier on that day in regards to getting enough sleep, crumbled away. After a brief layover in Darwin, where our flight was late and we had to run to our next gate to make it in time – Wanida got pulled aside, again, for a “randomly” selected full body scan that seems to occur at every TSA station – we reached Adelaide at 10:30 a.m. and I was never so I happy to hear the pilot declare we had landed.
A lesson to be learned. If you’re going to book a flight that is well below the average price, it’s best to get into the habit of assuming that there’s a reason for it being so cheap. I’m unsure if my experience was isolated or a common standard on these kinds of budget airlines, so I’m interested to know if you’ve had a similar, better or maybe even worse experience on budget airlines?