With some help from my Indonesian friend Nassran, I ended up in Jakarta at the start of my second visa. Things got off to a shaky start as a communication misunderstanding meant that I lingered in the paradise that is Lake Toba, in the false belief that my flight was not due until later. As it turned out, Nassran who had kindly organized everything, had sent me the wrong information via text. This was a genuine error and I have absolutely no beef with him about it. It did mean that I arrived rather stressed back on the mainland and made a rush to Medan airport.
Saying goodbye to my host’s wife and children who had been so kind as to host me, I rushed into the street. While I normally avoided becaks due to their tendency to try and rip me off, this time I had no choice. Every minute of travel seemed to last for hours and I feared I would lose the flight. In this hectic state of mind, I wasn’t thinking clearly or logically, and unscrupulous people took advantage of that. The becak driver dropped me off at the airport entrance and rattled off something in bahasa(Indonesian) to a motorbike taxi driver. I paid the becak driver and rode for literally less than a minute. It turns out that the two had conspired to wring out as many rupiahs as possible by making me take a second, utterly useless taxi. All that mattered now though was getting this damn flight.
Fortunately in Indonesia, connections matter big time. Nassran is a respected member of the community, and he’d arranged to have my flights changed for a relatively low fee. As the plane overcame gravity and we soared into the air, I was grateful to be finally heading off to Java, even if this meant leaving Sumatra behind. The flight was short as one would expect, but the night was to be a long one.
In the chaos of the whole operation, I hadn’t had time or internet access to sort things out properly. As a result, I ended up in a colossal airport with no clue in the world where to go. As it was some ungodly hour in the morning, I didn’t want to wake Nassran up. To compound matters further, Jakarta is a metropolis and not the safest one in the world. I had no choice but to try to while away the wee hours of the morning, awaiting sunrise in order to go hunting for a hostel. I tried juggling, meditating, exercising, reading and other activities until finally, the body clock decided it was time to sleep. Beep! Wrong decision bro! Airport staff shuffled everyone out. I couldn’t understand how a massive airport like that one would seemingly close at night but there you have it. I was out on the streets.
It had been a long day and yet, I couldn’t risk falling asleep outside the airport among all the people there. It was too easy for someone to just go through my belongings. All around me, sitting and lying on the floor were tired people who like me had been kicked out of the airport. I wrestled with the desire to sleep and finally succumbed. To ensure security, I tied my backpacks tight to my limbs so that anyone trying to do a runner with them would encounter an irate Mediterranean man with murderous intentions. I also slept against a wall to minimize the number of angles that a thief could use.
It was thus that I slept for a few hours and woke up surprisingly refreshed in spite of having slept literally on the pavement. All my belongings were safe and sound and the warmth of the sun lifted my spirits. I was in Jakarta and could finally find a place to sleep properly. As things turned out, sleeping on the pavement outside the airport would in hindsight not be such a bad thing after all given the harrowing experience which I was to endure the next time I tried to sleep in Indonesia.
Lake Toba – I left here to go to Jakarta. Why!!???!? In the name of moving on