Welcome to the third instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first two, you can start reading here. The series is about my efforts to unite both mind and body to inspire my writing.
I’m currently in Bali, Indonesia. Travel is a passion for me, and I haven’t been to Asia since 1988. It was time to return.
For this post, I’ll highlight a few things that have changed since my last trip.
My flights to Bali were without incident … but for one issue—I’ll get to that in a minute. I originally booked to fly to Denpasar via Beijing and Singapore. With connection times, it would’ve taken me over 33 hours. I found a better route a few days before the trip. It cut my travel time to less than 29 hours, flying Toronto—Houston—Taipei—Denpasar.
I never fly Air Canada because it’s too expensive, but I was traveling on points and it was worth making the change. Air Canada would fly me to Houston and EVA Airways (the Hello Kitty airline based in Taiwan) would take me to Taipei and my final destination.
The AC flight was uneventful, and I slept part of the way. When I got off the plane to catch my connecting flight, I thought I heard my name over the intercom. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Houston is an enormous airport with multiple terminals. I only had 75 minutes to catch the next flight. As I waited for the airport train to take me from Terminal A to D, my name sounded over the speaker again.
I couldn’t catch the garbled message. A slight panic set in. Who was calling me and why?
At that moment, the airport train arrived. There was nothing I could do but go forward.
When I arrived at Terminal D, I immediately went to the EVA Airways counter and asked if they had paged me. The attendant confirmed she had. The reason? She wanted to give me EVA’s official boarding passes and vouchers for the lounge.
I didn’t even know I had the privilege of a lounge. Bonus … and relief!
It was past midnight, and there was a giant buffet in the lounge. People were piling food on their plates, but I couldn’t eat. I watched CNN’s ongoing recap of the last Presidential debate. An announcement for pre-boarding sounded shortly thereafter. I was anxious to board the 16-hour flight to Taipei.
Queued up for the gate, I felt pretty good until the attendant scanned my boarding pass and asked me to step aside.
Another attendant’s worried look told me it was not good news. She asked me to sign a form absolving EVA Airways of any fault. Apparently, they could not find my one piece of checked luggage. It was supposed to be delivered to them by Air Canada, but they never received it.
I would have to fly to Bali without it.
There was no time to think, even less time to be upset. While in the air, I tried not to fret, but I did use the plane’s WIFI to send a note to a friend. Perhaps he could do some investigative work for me before I landed.
Long story short, my luggage never made it out of Toronto. I thought it was misplaced in the transfer, but Air Canada had not even loaded it on to the their own plane! Several e-mail exchanges with my friend revealed my suitcase was en route to Houston. It was leaving 24 hours after I did.
In the two years I traveled around Asia back in 1988, no airline ever lost my luggage, and I took a lot of flights back then.
Time has not improved the transport of luggage.
I’m a millionaire here in Indonesia!
Back in 1988, the exchange rate was 1 USD = 1,665 Rupiahs.
Today, 1 USD is approximately 13,000 Rupiahs. it means $500 US equals $6,507,493 Rupiahs. That’s a lot of zeros.
The currency has devalued over the years, with the 100,000 note now worth about $8 USD or $10 Canadian dollars.
An interesting note: I was told that Indonesia changes its money every five years. That could mean a change in denominations, removing old notes, adding new ones, or other changes.
Recording my trip
It’s hard to believe I carried around 50 rolls of film and a camera the size of a small appliance when I was last in Bali. I still have my old 35mm Minolta with its zoom lens.
The camera served me well and took some great pictures, but it weighed a ton. I was self-conscious of its size in countries where photography was not consistently welcome. The Balinese are a modest people and do not always want their picture snapped.
Today, convenience is key. I take pictures with both my phone and a small digital camera.
It’s a Walkman, akin to today’s MP3 players such as iPods, except that it plays cassettes.
Today, I don’t travel with an MP3 player. I no longer consider it a necessity to be constantly plugged in. I listen to music on my laptop when I’m working (not writing).
I haven’t thrown away my Walkman. Maybe I should donate it to a museum, along with all my cassettes?
I love books and that goes for travel books too. One of the great pleasures for me was always in the planning of the trip. Travel books were excellent guides to help with the process. Well … no more.
Now, with the Internet, I can book a hotel online and research anything I care to know about a destination before I get there. For instance, I’m staying at a terrific hotel called Gana Restaurant and Villa, which I found on AirBnB.
Since the Internet allows for so much available information, I am able to customize my searches and create the holiday I want. No longer is it necessary to carry maps and books to locate landmarks and other places of interest, though I still keep a blank notebook for recording interesting facts.
Thank you for reading. I hope you will join me for Part 2 of this Time Travel instalment for Mind Body Series. I’ll be writing it this coming week.