Tuesday, August 28, 2012


What a farce this has been. The last 36 hours have reminded me with full, gory detail of all the things I can't stand about Indonesia.

The HR people at Globe Towers get me my passport at 4 p.m. the day before I leave -- too late to do anything like mail boxes of books or close a bank account. That night, the refrigerator conks out. This morning, the air conditioning unit in the bedroom springs a mighty leak, and on top of that my phone ceases to function. Not a great start but, to quote Brendon Burns, it gets so much worse.

Armed with my last paycheck (converted to rupiah without even asking me) and a passport featuring a snazzy new exit-only permit, I go to HSBC the next morning to close my bank account and transfer that money back to an account in the US. You'd think I asked them to sing the entire score of "H.M.S. Pinafore." What I thought would take an hour or 90 minutes at the most ended up taking five hours (11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) -- so long that the doors were shut and the office boys going home before I actually got my passport back and the account closed. Five hours, 14 different documents to be signed and an innumerable amount of "sorry Meesters" and sheepish grins. "Sorry Meester, but your signature is not an exact match to your passport." "Sorry Meester, but you need to sign a statement document in case any payments you make get returned and you complain about the money." "Sorry Meester, but the Transactions Department has not processed your requests so we cannot close your account yet." In my four years in Jakarta, dealing with that was the closest I'd ever come to truly Getting White and doing something awful.

Needless to say, this took what semblance of a plan I had for my last day in Jakarta and obliterated it. I didn't even get back to the apartment until 5 p.m. and had what I thought was a 10 p.m. flight bearing down on me. Some sweeping and mopping here, a frantic round of packing there and I'm out the door at 6:45 p.m. After dropping off the keys to the next tenant, I make for Soekarno-Hatta and get there with 90 minutes to spare.

How am I posting, then? Funny you should ask. After anticipating a 10:05 p.m. takeoff, we're told that the Korean Airlines jet is delayed in Incheon because of stormy weather and will now take off from Jakarta at 1:05 a.m. This handy bit of information landed in my inbox at 11 p.m. -- thanks, Korean Air. Come midnight, though, we get word that the plane won't get here until 5:30 a.m., and now that's been pushed back to 7:30 a.m. Assuming the jet actually gets here and isn't crippled by this apparent Storm of the Century, we should get to Incheon at about 4:30 p.m. local time -- ample cushion to make my 8:50 p.m. connection to Las Vegas. So much for that ginormous 13-hour layover and getting to chill in the Korean Airlines suite.

What burns me most is dashing off in such a hurry for no reason. All my books save three are still at the apartment, as are my collection of press passes (which I should really toss out anyway) and half a box of Pop Tarts (which leaving unfinished is tantamount to renouncing one's American citizenship). I have arrangements in place for the books to be shipped; the Pop Tarts, notsomuch. And on top of all this, I have assignments in my new college courses that are due today. What fun.

One of these days I'll figure out how to pack up, move and travel without having to leave behind large swathes of my possessions or driving myself bug-nutty. And on that day, Tatooine will freeze over.

UPDATE: Yeah. We left Jakarta at 7:20 a.m. on Wednesday (nine hours later than planned) and pulled into Incheon at about 4:30 p.m. local time. Grab dinner and hop on the plan to Vegas, right? Not with the way this trip is going. Almost every other Korean Airlines flight today was pushed back multiple hours, so my 8:50 p.m. flight is now a 2 a.m. redeye. That will put me in Las Vegas at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the earliest -- just enough time to catch a cab, pour myself into bed and be up for the final leg on Southwest the following afternoon. Fortunately, being a Las Vegas institution, the South Point lets you check in as late as 1 a.m.

Oh, and I haven't slept more than five or six hours total since Monday. It's a good thing I don't have to do anything important at my brother's wedding on Sunday as the lack of sleep and jet lag are going to leave me utterly useless.

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