Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I wouldn't expect it any other way

I've said before that my life may be a lot of things, but it's rarely boring.  Not boring can be a good thing, it can also be a stressful, chaotic thing.  Today it was the latter.

If you follow this blog you'll know I am on a big month long journey.  I left Jakarta on Monday. I jumped into a taxi about 17:20.  It took roughly an hour and a half to get to the airport but I was still there in enough time to have dinner of Nasi Gudeg Komplit before I checked in closed at 19:30.  I was there with lots of time, no rushing around, no problems.  I got out to the gate before it was open.  The flight was an hour late leaving (left at 21:30 instead of 20:30) but I wasn't bothered since I had a seven hour layover on the floor of the KL (Kuala Lumpur) airport to look forward to.

I got through customs and got my bag, then picked a nice spot on the hard floor for a snooze. ok, so far so good.  I woke up about 4:30 to check in for my 6:30 flight.  The check-in clerk asked for my Visa for Vietnam. I told her I was planning on doing Visa on arrival. Apparently that's not as clear as the name implies.  In Indonesia a visa on arrival means you show up, pay your $25 and they slap a page sized sticker in your passport. Done.  I had read about preprocessing of visa's for Vietnam but thought it was just an option.  It's not.
They couldn't let me on the plane without the visa.  I had to pay $8.78 for an hour of internet at the airport lounge, $40 for the visa with rush processing and then wait.  The turn around was supposed to be four hours, which is twas.  I then had to print out the letter to rebook my flight.  Of course by then the printer in the lounge was on the fritz.  I found this out after I paid for a ten-hour day pass. The front desk clerk was wonderful.  I politely stressed that I had to have this paperwork printed so I could leave KL.  She had someone bring another printer in and got me the print outs. I then went back to the AirAsia customer service woman who had helped me this morning.  I paid the 473 MYR (malaysian ringgits = $160) for flight change fee and the difference in fare. There were two women who, seperately, were having a go at the staff.  I couldn't figure out what the problem was but they were loud about being unhappy about it.  I admitted that it was my mistake than thanked her for her help.  She seems relieve and broke into a big smile.  A "have a good day" and I was back to the lounge with my confirmation.  It's the same flight number, time, everything as the one I was supposed to be on today, just tomorrow.
Hopefully the part in my passport will look like this when I get there and pay another $25, bringing the total for the visa to $65. Ouch!
The mistake has been an expensive one, about $270 for the ticket, the visa, the lounge and internet fees. I was able to move my hostel booking without issue but the lounge alone has been over $60 but I think I would have gone mad otherwise.  I'll be showering and having dinner in the next two hours as my time runs out. I arrived in KL at 00:30 and have been here twenty hours now.  It's another seven before check in opens and then three more until the flight at 06:30.  I hope I can sleep a bit on the floor to pass the time.  I have slept maybe six or seven hours today but never more than an hour and a half at a time. 
I swear this is Sea-Tac Airport.  I wish the chairs were like this.  The ones here have a fixed armrest between each chair!! Hence, I end up like the guy on the floor.
I am proud to be wearing my veteran traveler badge with pride today.  If this had happened a couple years ago I'd have burst into tears and called my mom in a panic.  Today I didn't cry, I didn't get upset, I just dealt with it. I've been through enough last minute traveling crisis now to know better. Do I wish I didn't have to spend the extra time and money? Yes, but it could have been worse and it's been sorted out now. Money is just money as long as you have enough to get by.  I will have another month of pay coming to me over the holidays but I'm not sure if I can access it from Vietnam in my Indonesian account.

* Update:  Hello from Hanoi! I've arrived in one pieces though exhausted.  I'm very happy to be out of the KL airport.  Just  heading out to check out the city now.

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