I would have left for the first stop on my itinerary on the Saturday night before my vacation officially began on Sunday but as I said before, I couldn’t change my ticket without incurring a significant cost. I had booked that ticket from Jakarta to Singapore thinking that I would be leaving from Aceh and would therefore need to give myself time to fly from Aceh to Jakarta that Sunday morning. So the flight I had booked didn’t actually leave Jakarta until mid-Sunday afternoon.
That didn’t stop me from leaving the centre before 10 am that Sunday morning.
I barely slept the night before. I had moved to a shared bedroom but I was thankfully alone that night. I fell asleep at about 10 pm on Saturday night and woke up at 1 am. I couldn’t sleep so I spent over 3 hours listening to podcasts and playing solitaire on my iPad; I finally dropped off again at 4:30 am and awoke at 6 am. Clearly, I was eager to get gone. I did my devotions, had a quick shower and breakfast, briefly encountered the Big Boss (I was in bed when she arrived the night before and I didn’t linger to meet or talk to her that morning so there’s nothing significant to report about that), then settled down out front to wait an hour for my cab, which I had ordered the night before. It thankfully arrived about 20 minutes early and I was outta there like a shot.
At the airport, I checked in and headed to my gate. Just the previous evening, I had been musing about the things I miss in my everyday life, buying books being 1 of them. So when I saw an airport shop selling books that weren’t individually sealed in plastic wrap, I headed inside for a browse and ended up buying one. It was a total impulse buy and I’m sure I paid too much for it by Indonesian standards, but I figured I needed something to read over the next 2 weeks while I waited in various airports. As I walked out of the store, I felt the usual little burst of happiness that I get when I buy a new book. I contentedly continued towards my gate.
When I got to security, they unexpectedly relieved me of my lotion, astringent, sunscreen and water bottle, all of which were small, in my opinion, and all of which I had travelled with to and from Jogja and Lombok; apparently domestic air safety isn’t as important as international air safety when travelling from Jakarta. Still, I didn’t complain or argue too much, mainly because it’s never a good idea to be too lippy with airport security, but also because I didn’t really like that lotion or astringent anyway and I had paid basically cents for them at Indomaret. Other than the tube of sunscreen, which I had bought in Tanzania and to which I had a sentimental attachment, it wasn’t much of a loss. (By the way, months before, I had travelled from Banda Aceh to Malaysia – international travel – with that tube of sunscreen so I was a little bitter to have to give it up.)
Of course, I was the first to arrive at my gate seeing as it was still 3 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave. I was there for a whole hour and a half by myself before other passengers finally started trickling in. I spent that time eating my mie aceh that I had brought with me, Whatsapping with A (my only friend who was awake at that time), and getting started on my brand new book.
When I finally boarded the Singapore Air flight, I almost cried in relief at the feeling of civility I got from seeing the wide-bodied aircraft with working video screens in the headrests, the free Singapore newspaper, and the little pillow on every seat. There’s just something world-traveller-feeling about this type of aircraft. For me on that day, that plane represented 2 weeks of relative luxury.
I sighed in contentment as I settled into my seat, even as I pushed to the back of my mind a vague anxiety about how I would return to my less than stellar Jakarta living situation after 2 weeks of civilised living.
Still, I couldn’t help myself. I broke out into a big grin as the plane’s wheels left Indonesian soil. Two weeks of bliss, coming right up.