Footsteps in…Bali: The journey there…

Bali. Lush green rice paddy fields. White sandy beaches. Palm trees. Art. Temples. Balinese dancers. Serenity.

What should have started off as a serene holiday, was anything but perfect. We had chosen Bangkok as our entry and exit point for the entire circuit (Nairobi-Bangkok-Cambodia-Vietnam-Bangkok-Bali-Bangkok-Nairobi) but what seemed like a perfectly planned route fell short in one aspect: we had underestimated the number of entries we needed in Bangkok, purely because the second stop would be a transit stop and in our minds, we didn’t need to exit the airport so we didn’t need another entry. The Royal Thai Embassy in Nairobi confirmed that we didn’t need an entry for a transit stop and so off we flew, with two entries into Thailand.

You know that little voice in your head that you sometimes ignore? Well I have learnt not to ignore this little voice, which kept telling me to get just one more entry when applying for the Thai visa. How I wish I had listened to it.

We flew from Hanoi on Qatar Airways into Bangkok, and from Bangkok to Bali on AirAsia. In Hanoi, we had a bit of a ‘brainwave’ – thinking we would ask Qatar Airways to transfer our bags to the AirAsia transfer desk in Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok in an attempt to save our second entry. At first, the manager at Qatar said it was possible. Then, just as we were boarding the aircraft en route to Bangkok, she came and told us that as AirAsia was a “budget” airline, they didn’t have a transfer desk in Bangkok and therefore we would have to exit the airport in order to collect our bags. My heart sank. This meant visa issues once we got to Bali, re-applying for an entry into Thailand to take our flight back to Kenya.

Drat. We land in Bangkok and sure enough, have to get through immigration in order to collect our bags, using up our second entry. The search to get a visa extension is on, what a bother! The AirAsia desk doesn’t open for another 4 hours so we cant even go through immigration to re-apply for an extension in the departure zone, which is where we find out the extension desk is situated. We sit around the airport, feeling like crap instead of feeling elated. What a dilemma.

When we finally check in and make our way through immigration, we find that the extension desk can issue us a re-entry BUT it opens at 6 am, and our flight leaves at 6 am. Dead end. So the only thing we can do is get to Denpasar and apply for a visa there. Sod’s law says anything that can go wrong, will and that was so true for us.

AirAsia got delayed, we got to Denpasar and rushed through immigration, running to get into our hotel transfer, barely noticing that our hotel, Kajane Yangloni had sent an air conditioned van with cold towels and cold water for us. How nice of them and if only I had taken a minute to enjoy my first footstep in Bali….

M was on the phone with an official at the Thai Embassy who told him they were closing at noon and if we didn’t get there by then he couldn’t help us. Sod made sure that the traffic was heavy enough for us not to get to the Thai Embassy in time. We got there a few minutes past noon, to find the place deserted, and a huge notice saying they would re-open on the 5th of January 2012 – the exact day we were meant to leave Bali for Bangkok.

When the universe screws you over – it really screws you over. What do we do now? We have no choice but to head to Ubud, and rethink our travel plans. Again, consumed with stress I barely notice the drive to Ubud from Denpasar, my brain churning with what would happen next. Damn the Thai Embassy in Nairobi for giving us the wrong information, and damn that little voice in my head incessantly chanting “I told you so, I told you so….!”

We drive into Kajane Yangloni, and instead of checking in to our beautiful villa in the Balinese Rice Paddy Fields of Ubud, we are sitting in the business centre and googling all sorts of options back to Kenya – do we DHL our luggage to Nairobi and fly to Bangkok and not exit the airport and get our KQ flight home, or do we extend our visa in Bali, or do we beg the Thai Embassy in Nairobi to help…arrrggghhhh it is so damn frustrating to be in a beautiful country and not to be able to appreciate this footstep because of a technicality. Arrrgggh, arrrgggh, arrrgh.

In the end, M decides there is nothing we can do but extend our time in Bali, forget about the KQ flight and pit stop in Bangkok, and rebook a one way flight from Bali to Nairobi and then forget about everything and focus on enjoying our time in Bali.

I think that the person sticking pins in her voodoo dolls of us must have been elated that we had landed in paradise and were unable to enjoy it. Anyway, the idea for this blog was born at Kajane Yangloni, in Ubud. I figured I had a lot to rant and rave about, but if other travellers could learn from my mistakes, then perhaps some of these mistakes had happened for a reason…??

Drama resolved, new airline ticket booked and minds made up to have a great time, we finally checked into our beautiful villa. Wow. Our villa was perched on stilts, amidst a rice paddy field, over a pond with huge goldfish in it, and the best bit of all – it had an outdoor bathroom with a flintstonian looking bathtub filled with rose petals. So very “Eat, Pray, Love” like, and as cliché as it sounds, absolutely perfect.

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