Tuesday 9 February 2010
The alarm was set for 6am but Shanna was up before then. Too many things were running through her head.
We finished packing our bags, loaded them onto the bikes, had some food and said goodbye to the girls. It was time to go to the airport!
We had decided to take the train to the airport. So we squeezed onto a train at Barunda, and changed at South Bank for the airport line. Sam almost didn't change though because Shanna hadn't told him to get off at South Bank and we'd had to get on the train via different doors, because it was so full. Shanna managed to run down the platform in time to tell Sam to get off though.
At the airport we got off at the international terminal and set up outside the doors where we had plenty of room to disassemble the bikes. Sam went to Virgin to buy bike boxes (Jetstar don't sell them) and then the task began. Sam did most of the disassembling while Shanna taped over the big Virgin logos on the boxes - we didn't want to risk the bikes ending up on the wrong plane! We did yet more rearranging of our things to condense the bags, and we were ready to check in.
When we went into the terminal though we couldn't see a Jetstar counter, despite the fact that outside the doors the Jetstar logo had been with the other airlines. Shanna asked at the Qantas desk and was told that only one Jetstar flight was leaving from the international terminal that day, and it had left earlier that morning. It turns out our flight was going via Darwin, although in all our correspondence from Jetstar that had never been mentioned.
So we had to get to the domestic terminal. And now our bikes were packed so we couldn't wheel them. And we had to move them and all eight of our bags.
At some airports (like Melbourne) it is a very short walk between domestic and international terminals, but in Brisbane it is a LONG way (a few kilometers). We figured the best thing to do would be is to wheel the gear on trolleys to the bus to the domestic terminal. The bus cost us an extra $10 (annoying since we could have caught the train to domestic in the first place!) but got us there just after check in opened.
We didn't have to wait long in line and it looked like we'd be checked in with plenty of time to buy some food and relax before the flight. We'd just spent two hours taking apart bikes and rushing to the other terminal, so a rest and food would be great!
But when we got to the checkin desk they asked for the itinerary of our flight out of Indonesia. We explained ourselves and that we didn't actually have a flight booked, but we had visas for Thailand and China in our passports so surely that was proof enough we were leaving. It wasn't. They were adamant they wouldn't let us on the flight without a booking, because it was a requirement of Indonesian customs.
By now there was only 30 minutes until the checkin closed, so Sam rushed off to work something out. He booked a cheap flight out of the country and we were ok to go. While checking in our things we tried to keep all the heavy bags with us, but we were still almost 20kg over our limit! For an international flight it was $20/kg! Luckily the girl only charged us for 10kg extra, and she mistakingly charged us the domestic rate of $10/kg. (Thank goodness we were stopping in Darwin first!) So we only paid $100 instead of $400! Our lesson from this is that next time we need to check which airline lets you carry more luggage, and book with them even if the ticket costs more.
We finished checking in with 5 minutes to spare before it closed.
It took about 15 minutes to take our bikes to the oversize baggage desk and then pay the overweight fee (they tried to challenge it because it was an international flight), then we got stopped at the scanners because we'd forgot to remove a set of allen keys from our carry-on bags (so we lost that one) and by then our plane was already boarding. We ran through the terminal and were amongst the last to board.
We survived the flight to Darwin with our ipods and noise-cancelling head-phones, and landed in the airport with about 3hrs to kill before the flight to Bali. When we walked through the scanners in Darwin they picked up a bike chain in our bags and were adamant it was a dangerous item and we couldn't take it on board. So we posted it home.
On the plane to Bali we were sitting in front of the same family with young, noisy children we'd been sitting in front of on the flight to Darwin. Luckily there were some empty seats at the back and we were able to move.
We landed in Bali and all the sterotypes were evident immediately. The friendly smiles greeted us as soon as we disembarked from the plane, and the many polite requests for 'money change' as we left the terminal. However, it took us around ten minutes to find our bags, as the porters had collected all the bags off the conveyer belt and formed a circle around them to try and make sure they carried them for you. Even when we found our driver, two porters took over pushing the bike trolley from Sam and we couldn't really stop them. Despite our email warning them that we had two big bikes boxes, the driver's car was not equipped for it. He and the porters spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get the bikes in the car. The end result was that Shanna had to sit on Sam's lap in the front seat.
This felt wrong, weren't we braking the law... but no-one gave us a second glance. As soon as we drove out of the airport we saw a scooter with four young children on it - the oldest about 14. At the traffic lights a four year old girl walked through the traffic to beg from the passengers in the taxi in front of us. We had arrived in Indonesia!
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia