On the move
Trip Start Jun 02, 2006
7Trip End Jun 27, 2006
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Except it isn't. It's Saturday. At least it is for me. For you it might still be Friday. If you aren't in Thailand. Which I am, or will be when my plane lands.
Apologies and a warning in advance - I'm in stream of consciousness mode. I'd attribute it to jet lag, but I don't have it yet. Tuesday (really) is when I can blame it on that. Others travel much more extensively than I, and have to deal with more travel trauma than I do, so I probably shouldn't make a big deal out of this. But, hey, this is my story and I'm sticking to it.
The Denpasar airport is filled with surfers and their boards. I feel out of place without one. I thought I might learn to surf this trip, but, among other things, cut my leg boarding the second day out here and in three weeks it still hasn't healed
There's a nice VIP lounge for Thai Air upstairs, with a patio that overlooks my plane and has a nice view of the rocky beach at the end of the runway. It is a good surfing spot, but I don't see anyone out there now. I'm catching some final Bali rays before departing. Didn't get much chance to work on a tan the wole trip due to almost constant cloud cover. Very unusual weather. It should be two months into the dry season, yet it's been cloudy and intermittently raining. Is this what global warming portends for Bali's future?
We are flying west paralleling the north coast of Java, and all of it is passing by outside my window. The island is covered in a skin of clouds, with volcano acne. I count a dozen of them rising through the clouds. None of them have popped this time (I watched Merapi erupting on the way down from Bangkok weeks ago). Change imagery. The Thai flight crew is passing out orchids to the female passengers. Nice touch. They also serve Bombay Saphire gin, my favorite, another nice touch.
The Bangkok airport baggage claim and exit area is crawling with taxi touts, offering rides for a fixed price. As I discovered my first time here, you end up paying about double when using them. The drivers in line for the official taxi stand outside try to give those waiting in line one more hustle before they have to take what they are given. The difference? Like the touts inside, they are off the meter, which lets them jack up the price on unsuspecting tourists.
Another curious thing about the taxi drivers is that they don't think you want them to spend the 20 baht (50 cents) to take the toll way. Instead, they'll slog through Bangkok's notorious (deservedly so) traffic jams, saving 20 baht and wasting an hour of time. I don't think it is any extra money from meter time they are after, since the fixed price drivers do the same. Just a different perspective on time than westerners have.
Indonesians share the same outlook. "Jam kerat" - rubber time. Travelling without a set schedule fits right in. You go with the flow. Flying from Lombok to Bali last week, I arrived early at the airport. Good thing, because my 6:50 flight left at 6:15!
Reminds me of a warning I was given when in Papua New Guinea: wait in the gate area, and when the other passengers head for the plane, it's time to go. Even if it doesn't agree with the schedule. The smaller the airport, the more true that is.
Speaking of flow, my Bali host, Jeff, described the driving style of Indonesia as one of flow rather than strict adherance to rules. It takes some getting used to, unless you are a former motorcycle racer, which he is. Of course, except for a demolition derby, even racers don't have drivers coming right at them. It's a hazard for pedestrians, too. I frequently saw motorcycles riding on sidewalks, and the other night we managed to drive a car all the way up a popular one way street - the wrong way. But what I never got used to was seeing full families on a cycle, especially the little todlers standing on the seat between parents, sometimes with one of the parents also holding a baby in their arms. As a card carrying overly-protective father, it still makes me cringe.
Great, it's raining in Bangkok. Guess I'm not going to get much sun here, either.