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Airport arrivals? They're a nightmare!

Author: John M. (More Trip Reviews by John M.)
Date of Trip: April 2007

“What do you have to declare,” he rasped authoritatively.

Well hell, I’d never flown internationally before, was exceedingly green and had no idea what I was to declare.

“That I’m from Australia?” I declared hopefully.

He glared at me and told me not to be funny - then proceeded to spend almost an hour going through all my bags with all the fervor and enthusiasm of a latter day Sherlock Holmes about to crack open a big crime.

By the time I wandered into the arrival lounge, my girl friend, who was living in London, had given up all hope of seeing me. She was about to leave, figuring because the date was April 1, it was all a joke, and I was not coming after all.

As I recalled the London incident, I realized nothing had really changed since Heathrow. I remained a walking disaster in airports, where my middle names become “Dazed and Confused”.

My 1990 my arrival at Bali’s Denpasar Airport was a nightmare.

Not having read my travel documents properly (typical of me) I handed the taxi driver the first voucher I located in my travel wallet. Unfortunately the driver read no English and happily took the hotel voucher in place of the transfer voucher which I should have given him.

Luckily, the people at the hotel desk were more astute when I innocently handed them what I thought was the accommodation voucher.

“This is your airport transfer voucher, sir,” one explained, as another raced out to the taxi see if I had accidentally given him the hotel voucher – which of course I had.

Everything sorted itself out in the end, although the rest of the family stared at me as if I was totally mad.

Things never really improved during three additional trips to Bali.

In Kuala Lumpur in 2006 I was traveling solo – so at least I had no-one to embarrass apart than myself. After exiting immigration and customs I made my way a desk marked “Transport” and handed over my transfer voucher for the overnight stopover hotel (I was continuing my journey to Saigon early the next morning).

I showed the man behind the counter my transfer voucher, and asked where I would find my transport.

“Downstairs on the ground level sir, take the elevator,” he said, helpfully pointing to a bank of lifts.

I followed his advice. But how was I to know the elevator had back and front doors, and that when the damn thing stopped only the back doors opened and I found myself in a dark corridor with no sign of any transport.

It took me two elevator trips before I managed to get into an elevator with only front doors – and which opened on the right side where I discovered my minibus.

But my discomfort continued. I handed my transport voucher to the mini bus driver and chatted with the only other passenger – another Australian.

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