The most irritating thing in the world – aside from Russell Brand – is when your infernal debit card gets declined at a foreign ATM because the bank assumes it’s been stolen. Still waiting for my HSBC card to arrive c/o the delectable Anna (whom we shall be meeting in Bali), I had no choice but to call Barclays and ask them why the hell do they pull this kind of nonsense when a simple phone call to my dad (the joint account holder) could have informed them that yes I was on holiday in Jakarta and yes money would be nice THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
After leaving me on hold for TEN MINUTES (yeah, calling from abroad is yer? Well, just hang on at one pound a minute) it took a further twenty to jump through all the mental hooperage designed to weed out the fraudsters intent on stealing my wonga. Anything else I can help you with sir? Yes – DON’T DO IT AGAIN. And I hang up.
Surveying the current situation, things did not look good. For some unfathomable reason I hadn’t crawled out of bed until well after 1pm and after walking for OVER AN HOUR to find a goddamn money changer to convert my emergency US dollarage into Indonesian Rupiah, and after wasting half an hour Skyping the sausage knotters at Barclays Fraud Department, it was now 3.30pm.
The ship was due to sail at 5pm. It didn’t give me a lot of time, but it gave me enough. I clambered into a taxi and barked instructions for the driver to take me port-wards. Then I took out my ticket and double checked the time.
And the ship was due to leave at 4pm. I looked at my watch. 3.35pm.
Usually, this would not be a bother, ships rarely (if ever) run to schedule, but after the boat from Pulau Batam left just a few minutes after it was meant to, I was beginning to worry. With no air-con in the cab and sweat literally dripping from under my hat, my driver plodded along like it was a Sunday promenade in the park.
Why is it that when I’m in a hurry I get some idiotic slowpoke driving me and when I’m not in any particular rush I get Ayrton Senna?
Anyway, this guy seemed to take some kind of sick delight in watching me squirm. It was bad enough that he joined the longest queue whenever there was a choice, it was bad enough that he kept stopping on yellow lights, but when he drove IN A CIRCLE FOR TWENTY MINUTES I completely lost my rag, which, as anybody who has been to South-East Asia will tell you, is 100% counter-productive.
We reached the port at 4.55pm. It would have been quicker to walk.
Then he couldn’t even find the goddamn terminal building. He – I swear I’m not making this up – asked FOUR DIFFERENT PORT WORKERS where to go and STILL couldn’t find it. In the end I demanded he stop the car, flung the fare in his general direction and stormed out of the cab so highly agitated I felt an overwhelming urge to throw my hat on the floor and jump up and down on it a la Yosemite Sam.
I quickly located the terminal building (by asking someone) and ran as fast as I could in the sweltering heat with a backpack and a couple of bags dangling from my shoulders on a 500m dash from hell. Maybe the boarding was delayed, maybe… By now the sweat streaming from my forehead was stinging my eyes and making it hard to see. Flustered, out of breath and cursing the world, I waved my ticket at the first uniformed person I saw.
In the end, the damn thing didn’t leave until 9pm.