Botched Beginnings

In the stifling, muggy smoke permeating the overnight train from  Jakarta to Yogjakarta the vendors are selling a variety of wares from the usual snacks, newspapers, and fans to more creative items like  reading glasses, caged birds and rubik’s cubes.  Is this entrepreneurship what they meant by “business class?”

In the tropical heat, I couldn’t fathom  why so many passengers were renting big woolly blankets, until I realized that before long half the carriage had laid the blankets out on the floor for a railroad slumber party.  Between the coffee  vendors clanging away all night long, disturbing invasive stares, and stomach cramps that told me I ate some nasty nasi goreng, I knew I was in for a long night.

And so it is that I begin my new seven month adventure and once again find myself the rambling ragamuffin.   But I am not supposed to be here.  Nepal and “India ” not “Indonesia!”  I-N-D-I-A.  Is my  subconcious hard of hearing?  According to my itinerary  I should be in Kathmandu right now, but I have taken an unexpected detour.  As one friend put it, I royally “screwed the pooch” at my pathetic attempts to play travel agent.

Before leaving Japan I spent many frustrating hours talking to inept operators of  airlines, embassies and customs.    By “talking” I mean asking  the question  “Do I need a transit visa for India if I don’t leave the airport?”  To which they would  reply with a completely unrelated answer and promptly hang up.  However,  between the screaming phone calls and useless web searches,  I understood that I was going to be able to avoid  the cost and hassle of the Indian transit visa and apply for my coveted 6 month tourist Indian visa once in Nepal.

I guess the one man I neglected to check with was the Air Asia manager  who wouldn’t let me on the  plane in Kuala Lumpur.

There were no palms  to grease, and nothing to be done  but smile and ask for help from a notoriously unhelpful airline.  Lucky me, they were kind enough to offer me a trip to Bali instead.  Hmm… beaches, my dive gear  and my  boyfriend are all waiting for me there.  It was a no-brainer.    Back to Indonesia I go!

Two roving nomads briefly cross paths.

So a week in a Lombok beach villa catching up with Mathieu was my first order of business   before it was  off to that wretched smoke-hole  of Jakarta to apply  for my Indian visa.  On day 1 at the embassy they told me to come back with  proof of my airline tickets and hotel bookings.  I  purchased the needed air tickets and hotel bookings only to be  informed on my second trip to the embassy   that I would only be able to get a 3 month visa.

Now I hadn’t made any plans for the next seven months, but being able to stay in India for six months was a rather crucial part of my travel.

I know India is supposed to drive you mad… but I’m not even there yet!

So it’s a week until I get my insufficient visa in my grubby little hands.  In the meantime I am making the best of my situation.  Turns out that a six day strike by the Maoists  in Kathmandu would have hampered my Nepalese travels anyway!  And now I am killing time in Java by seeing some of the sights and brushing up on  my Bahasa.    And thus begins the saga to come.  I got off to a rough start, but if travel was always easy, then it wouldn’t be worth writing about!  It’s all par for the course in the life of a perpetual  drifter.

2 Responses to “Botched Beginnings”
  1. Bino says:

    Sounds like the best kind of adventure- journey into the unknown! Good luck Jen, you’ll get there eventually- you always do 🙂

  2. karey says:

    will be tracking you girl!!! lots of love xoxo

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