Day 1: And so we begin …

After months of planning and packing and panicking we were finally at the end of waiting for the day to come and at the start of our new adventure.

We had survived packing the last of our belongings into boxes during a week-long heatwave that made people sweat by merely existing. The day we were to fly out of Sydney was the hottest day that week, culminating in a sizzling 38C with 60% humidity.

We said goodbye to our house – where we’d lived since Elina was born – and hoped our new tenants would take good care of it. As we headed off to the airport at about 3pm, we noticed that grey clouds had rolled in. It was to be an ominous sign of things to come.

When we got to our departure gate, a huge electrical storm had set in and grounded all the planes at Sydney Airport. Including ours. The scheduled 5.45pm departure to Bali didn’t depart until 9.30pm.

I tried to inform both the taxi we’d booked from the airport to Ubud and our accommodation there of the delay but couldn’t reach them. We were supposed to arrive at 9pm local time. Instead we arrived in Denpasar Airport at about 11.30pm – that’s 2.30am Sydney time. We were pretty darn tired at this point and Ubud was another hour to hour and a half away.

The queue for immigration snaked around several rows and it was about 30 minutes before we got to the front of the queue – at which point the immigration officer told as we needed to pay for a visa as we were going to stay in Indonesia for more than a month. (Australians automatically get a free 30-day visa when lading in Indonesia.) So we were taken out of the queue and led to the visa payment desk. It cost us AU$42 each. Ouch. And then we’d have to renew again 7 days before our visa expired and pay for another 30-day visa. Double ouch. It seemed unfair when everyone else got the first 30 days gratis!

When we finally got through immigration, it was 12.30am local time (3.30am Sydney time). We were exhausted. We didn’t think our taxi would be there waiting but there he was, holding a sign with my name on it. He had been waiting for about three and half hours! We were incredibly relieved and thankful. Elina fell asleep under the cool air-con of the car. I tried not to fall asleep because the last time I did that in Bali, in 1999, our driver also fell asleep and we rolled off a steep driveway and crashed into a banana tree. Luckily the car didn’t roll as there were no seatbelts in the car. We walked away with only a few scratches and bruises.

When we reached Ubud, our friendly driver Ketut helped us with our stupidly heavy bags and found and woke up the hotel’s owner. She sleepily lead us to our room – our second thankful moment as we didn’t know whether we’d still have a hotel room to check into seeing as it was now 1.30am local time (4.30am Sydney time).  We had been awake for 21 hours.

What an endurance test straight off the bat! We were so proud of Elina – she never complained and just went with the flow. We fell asleep quickly and hoped the coming days would be sunnier and storm-free.