The longest day
Saturday. Fabien has a flight at 9AM, back to France. On my side, I have a flight around 7PM, to Bali. I’ll have to change planes twice, in Dacca – Bangladesh – and Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia – before landing in Denpasar – Bali – on Sunday lunchtime. I’ve decided I’ll go to the airport with Fabien and wait all day at the airport. I will watch movies, read e-books; it should be OK.
I follow Fabien, he enters the airport after showing his passport and printed e-ticket; I don’t have a printed e-ticket. The security guard doesn’t let me in. I switch on my phone to access my e-ticket. Unfortunately, i have forgotten to download it yesterday and I have no connection here. I don’t remember my flight number, I don’t remember the Airlines company, on don’t remember the exact timing of my departure. I am stuck at the door and i don’t see Fabien anymore.
I insist and he finally let me see the list of passengers of the day, so that I can pick my name. I don’t find him.
He tells me to go to the Air India booth, in the other terminal. I do. They don’t want to check for me, as i tell them I am probably not flying with them.
One clerk tells me to go to the Internet café, in the domestic terminal. Sub-level 2.
I find the elevator. I go to sub-level 2. The guard doesn’t let me in. I don’t have a domestic flight to take; I cannot access the Internet café. Though, the Airport Manager could grant me an authorization.
I go back to my terminal, search for the manager office. But he doesn’t grant me authorization to go to the Internet café; he writes an authorization for me to access my terminal.
But I don’t care, what I want is to access my e-mails, to know my flight details.
Anyway. I go back to the guard. He is quite skeptical when I show him the authorization. He tells me to come back with my ticket when I have it.
I am in.
In between, Fabien has been trying to pay to get a Wi-Fi connection but it doesn’t accept foreign credit cards.
I catch a guy with a 3G stick; he lets me use it to access my Gmail account. I write down the flight details, I go to the Air India booth (the first connection was, in fact, Air India), he prints my ticket, I show him to the security guard, everyone is happy. Ouf.
I spend the day at the airport, sit on my trolley so that I can connect my devices to a plug. I ask air India if I can take my helmet with me in the plane. I can. When the check-in time comes, I first put my big suitcase on the conveyor belt. When the suitcase is gone the employee tells me I cannot keep my helmet. It’s going to be in the plane trunk, only protected by a thin bag. Fuck.
What I don’t know is that the worst part of day is still ahead of me.
I land in Dacca, Bangladesh, around 10PM.
I don’t know for you, but for me the only image I visualize about Bangladesh is this one, a permanent typhoon.
But that’s not the point. I am not going to face a typhoon.
I need to take my luggage on the conveyor belt, and then proceed to check in again, with Malaysia Airlines (even though this is a transit flight, as I have bought my tickets at once).
Problem : the conveyor belt is after the immigration door. But, of course, I don’t have a Bangladesh visa so I cannot take my luggage.
A guy tells me I should search for the Transit Bureau.
I go to the Transit Bureau, I explain my problem to one guy, then to another one, then to another one, who leaves with my passport without a word.
He comes back five very long minutes afterwards.
Him : “Malaysia Airlines doesn’t want to print your boarding card because you don’t have a returning ticket from Bali. Why don’t you have a ticket back ?”
Me: “I am doing a world tour, I don’t book my tickets in advance”.
Him: But this is the law, you have to”
Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know”
Him: “How could you not know ?”
Me: “Well, I’m sorry, how can we fix that? Can I buy a ticket right now (I have my laptop in and)?”
Of course, I try to find a wifi network but it doesn’t work, so I call my brother in Paris for him to book the ticket. He doesn’t answer the phone. The guy is watching me. I call my mum’s cell phone. No answer. Fuck, where are they all? I call again. It rings. She answers. She books a ticket, whatever the price is. Though I don’t get the confirmation e-mail. So I call again. She gives me the flight details. Which I give to the guy. He leaves with my passport again. He comes back fives minutes later with the fucking boarding pass.
Now comes the problem of my luggage – suitcase plus helmet.
He sends me to another guy: “Salam Aleykoum”. “Aleykoum Salam”.
Him : “We couldn’t find your suitcase”
Me : “May be I can I help you ?” – I’m almost crying. He finally brings me to the immigration guys. they let me in. We don’t find the suitcase. Another guy says it’s OK. They have found it, it is in my plane. How could I believe him ? I’m sure I’ll never see my luggage again.
I queue to board. A guy comes to me to make me get in the plane first.
After a moment, I realize this is because I am a woman. Here, women enter first. He are three…
In the plane, I’m seating next to a very nice Bangladeshi, he is curious about life in Europe. Unfortunately for him, I am so chocked that I barely say a word.
When I land in Kuala Lumpur, lights are on, shops are open, there are as many men as women among the tourists. I’ve never been so happy to see a Sephora perfume shop and a Starbucks Coffee.
It is Sunday, 5AM. My last flight is at 7AM, landing in Denpasar – Bali, at noon.
And yes, my luggage are here, in Bali, waiting for me on the conveyor belt number 4. The taxi will be easy to catch, the hotel easy to find, the wifi easy to connect. My Pop Hotel (that’s his name) is shinny. Life is easy.