The first day of travel.
And what a long day of travel: – 3 flights – 4 airports – 17 hours of sitting around
Before I had even set off, a week ago I had my first set back. A flight cancellation for my second flight of the day.
As a result, I am unable to catch my third flight either. So…..rebooking new flights.
What a waste of money.
Lucky there is a another company who also fly the same route and I can still arrive in Manado today, as planned.
So now I have my fingers crossed that I would have no delays and no more problems. Including my ridiculous amount baggage – weighing 24kg and two of the flights only accepting 15kg!!!
I finished off my stay in Malaysia with my favourite local food – roti pisang (banana crispy pancake type thing) and milo (very sweet hot chocolate) for breakfast and bought some nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf ready for lunch (rice with dried anchovies and anchovy sambal – sounds so bad but tastes so good!).
After waving goodbye to all my friends on the boats headed back to my home (Mabul), I left Semporna, with (a lot of) tear(s) in my eye, for the very last time.
The taxi took the usual hour to the airport and after no queue to drop my heavy – but accepted with no extra fee bags – I now had a sad wait to leave Malaysia.
My flight to Tarakan left on time at midday for the 40 minute hop over the border to Indonesian Borneo.
In total contrast to the palm oil plantations of Tawau, Tarakan is surrounded by squares of flooded farmland.
Tarakan is not a tourist visa on arrival port.
This means you must arrange a visa in advance. And I can see why they don’t bother issuing arrival visas here – I was the only non Malay/Indonesian person on the flight who would have needed one. Luckily getting a visa isn’t too difficult as there is a consulate in Tawau. Two weeks ago, I caught an early minivan from Semporna – usually the journey takes no more than 90 minutes. I don’t know what we were doing today that it took over 2 hours!! Even still, by 9.15am I was first in line at the consulate. I filled out a one-page form, provided flight printouts, a photo, a letter stating my itinerary and 170MR and was asked to wait for 2-3 hours. I was expecting more a 5 hour wait! There were toilets, a cafe and plenty of seating area, so I made myself comfy! After just one hour, my name was being called and I had a shiny new sticker in my passport! Easy! That sticker was now being stamped.
Country number 15: Indonesia
I have nearly a 5 hour wait before my next flight to Balikpapan. There’s not a lot here – not even a seat. So I made myself comfy on the floor!
Whether I looked a bit odd piled up on the floor, or they just fancied a chat, I don’t know – but several security men made it their job to keep coming over and talking to me every now and then.
When check in time finally rolled around, it was the usual Asian airport chaos. No queuing system and every person with a huge stack of boxes or 20 weirdly shaped sellotaped items to check in each.
I had also forgotten that Indonesian airports like to charge a fee just for being here. Here, it is 30,000 rupiah (£2). That’s 30,000 more rupiah than I am in possession of.
After much discussion, they let me pay in Malaysian ringgit. How kind of them.
We left on time for the short 50 minute hop further down the coast to Balikpapan. I still have no money. That was my first task. However, I have ended up in a transit area with one coffee shop and some toilets. Not helpful. After asking the security guards if I could leave in order to find some money, they let me escape!
Finally I located an ATM, thank god!
Ideally I wanted a money changer, but they don’t seem to exist.
Just as I was starting to think how well the day was going – no extra baggage fees and no delays, they started to hand out food (rice, fried prawns and vegetables) to those of us in the waiting room.
Oh no. A 2 hour delay! So not flying until gone 11pm!!! 😦 I’m tired.
My two flights so far have just hopped further down the Bornean coast. But now, it’s time to fly away, off to a new island – Sulawesi.
So many goodbyes in one day!
So finally at 11.30pm, off on my final flight of the day, to Manado. We landed just after 1am. Over 2 hours late. I have been incredibly bored (and sad) today, a lot of waiting around. That is evident in the length of what I have written about today, especially given I have done nothing. 2am.
Bed time. Exhausted.