Bourne again Skipping town

My 6am alarm did not wake me up on Saturday, but for good reason: I was already awake. Spent a bunch of time chatting with Helen, mostly trying to calm down her vast vast rage fit because she was absolutely mortified that Qantas served me a pie with ketchup of all things. The horror!

That discussion almost made me late for my appointment: I had a run to get to. I chose to stay in the Middle Park Hotel for 2 reasons - one, it's in St Kilda (it isn't, I was wrong); and two, it's next to a parkrun. This bit I got right.

Albert parkrun's website and race reports are very strict about the instruction to turn up at 0745 for a briefing, which is 300 metres away from the start point. I had it all sorted on a map and it seemed to be just about a mile away, so I set off to buy a diet coke only to instantly change my mind - I'll hydrate after the run, not before. So over the road and into the park and walk/jog/walk and oh, I'm early and there's barely anyone around.

It's nice though. There are decent views of the Melbourne skyline and the sun is just coming up. The big lake looks nice. Then the second sun comes up. Wait, what?

It's cold. I spot something that looks touristy - it's an aquatics centre with outdoor-ish pool and loads of seating. Looks good, and gives me an opportunity to warm up a bit by jogging over there and back. By 0745 there are quite a lot of people around, and the briefing starts. There's no megaphones or other amplification, just a woman standing on a table in a picnic area.

First, she gives thanks to the aboriginal people whose land this historically was. Nice start. Then she asks for raised hands if there are domestic tourists from other Australian parkruns. There's a few. Then, any international tourists. A man shouts out he's from Ireland, another from Scotland, and I shout "Bushy". This gets a similar reaction from some members of the crowd to at Curl Curl, and the woman giving the briefing bows in my direction and refers to me loudly as royalty. This is a bit embarrassing!

There's a second briefing just for first timers on this course, which really is unnecessary - it couldn't be an easier route. Join everyone at the start line, run anti-clockwise around the lake. There, done. The water is never further than 6 feet away to the left and that's it. It's flatter even than the Bushy course and I pull a sub-28 minute time, which I'm totally pleased with. My 162nd parkrun overall at my 15th different event. Hurrah for parkrun!

No time to be sociable on the way out, I make my way through the park towards the F1 GP area. The roads through this park are the course and I'm hoping the buildings are impressive; they are not, and the lighting is awful. Oh well. En route another parkrunner asks me why exactly I'm a celebrity, which is hard to answer.

This whole area is so damn sporty. Formula 1, tennis, speed walking, tennis courts, bowling, parkrun, sailing, swimming and other aquatics, cycling, and past me go a fleet of speed rollerbladers. Back past the tram stop and at the hotel, I go ... past it. The sea looks like it's just down there. Is that the sea?

Oh, yeah, it's the sea. St Kilda is over there on the left, Melbourne on the right. It's pretty. But I'm in a hurry, so time to buy a Diet Coke then get back to my room.

I don't fancy the bus, nor a tram bus combo. 3 bags. Ah screw it, I'll just get an uber. It's easy to hail, though the driver doesn't even think of opening the boot for my suitcase so I bundle myself into the back seats. He asks if I have a preferred route to the airport or should he just use GPS? Now is not the time for me to make something up, so GPS it is.

It's a pretty quick and silent ride under bleak grey skies. I get to the airport at ~1045, two and a quarter hours before the flight. Things are going well so far, but, uh-oh - those queues for the Garuda check-in are enormous.

The business class queues aren't quite so long, but far from empty and everyone in front of me seems to be carting all their worldly possessions on this trip. I'm in the queue for over half a bloody hour, trapped mostly behind a family grouping of 8 or so people, with thousands of bags, several of which are overweight. The elderly man who seems to be the patriarch at one point grabs the plastic laminated "these are the rules" sheet and waves them angrily while shouting at the woman behind the desk.

Phone calls are made and supervisors are called and "what are we supposed to do, throw stuff away?" is shouted when they're told at least one of their giant bags is 5kg over the limit. After so so so so much grief I eventually get to the front: my single 9kg bag is checked in all the way through to London, much to my surprise, and I'm issued two boarding passes.

It's about 1120 by the time I'm done. There are still tons of people with shitloads of bags in all the queues, and check-in closes at midday. Surely this flight is going to be delayed? It looks impossible to me. And another thing, it seems to me that business class is going to be full of bloody children. Grargh!

My mood isn't helped by the fact I've not had any calories yet. Much like Moscow 2014, I've done the parkrun-and-no-food-until-the-lounge routine which has had a significant effect on my blood sugar levels and therefore mood. Actually that's overdoing it a bit, I found the delays at the desk pretty funny but I am bloody ravenous. So, let's find the Qantas lounge and grab summat to eat.

Departures security is mostly empty, and I'm singled out for a random "have you been near explosives" swab. There's a hell of a walk through corridors of building works and duty free shops before the lounge, at the desk of which is a fierce woman. Inside I dump my bag and OH FOR FUCKS SAKE THERE'S NO FUCKING FOOD.

Sigh. They are between shifts: breakfast has been cleared away, lunch is yet to come out. Well at least I can get a drink right? No. I could, if the area by the booze wasn't being mopped and the staff refusing to let anyone near the fridges at that time. This is hilariously aggravating. Time to stretch my legs, take a couple of pics, and calm down.

Sit down eating area not much use when there's no food.

A few minutes later and the lunch buffet is out, plus the fridges are now reachable. Good. I'll have a beer and a plate full of mostly tasteless savoury nonsense please.

The sweet stuff is better. I get a big slab of chocolate cake and now my mood is improved. No announcements have been made about the flight and I'm still convinced it'll leave late. Lots of other flights are being delayed so maybe weather will get in the way too. More importantly I realise I wasn't handed a receipt for my bag so I have no way to even prove I checked it in, which adds to my nervousness about it successfully reaching London when I do.

At 1220 they announce "first and final" call for my flight. The gate is nearby, though I make a pigs ear of finding it by going down the wrong escalator first. At the gate there are way too many kiddie strollers for my liking. Please let me be sitting next to an adult...

When I get onboard, the cabin is empty. Surely it's not going to stay that way? Last I checked it was meant to be full. A pre-flight champagne arrives and I'm enjoying my seat, a window on the right in the third row. It seems better than the one on the overnight the previous week, perhaps because that was a bulkhead? I dunno. Anyway I'm comfortable and it's nice. Eventually someone pitches up in the seat next to me, but they're a short-sighted adult rather than an obnoxious child so it's OK. Let's leave Australia. This is the skip of my hop, skip, jump back to England.

As with the first two Garuda flights, they come round and take orders for food very quickly indeed. The menu looks appetising, liquids and solids.

I start a movie: Hacksaw Ridge. A true story. Some bits quite hackneyed but mostly pretty decent. We end up leaving the gate early, which I'm gobsmacked about. With all those people and all those bags how on earth have we got away early?

The sun is out, so once airborne I close all the blinds except the one behind my right shoulder. Can't see anything on the screen otherwise. Yet again there's turbulence, though it goes away by the time the amuse bouche arrives. Dunno what it is and it's barely half a mouthful. Then a bowl of nuts before the real food arrives.

Oxtail soup to starts. It's amazing. Like, so nice. Presented beautifully of course.

For main course, the barramundi. This is ridiculous: it's possibly the best food I've ever had on a plane, above that first class stuff from last week and elsewhere. I'm almost giggling with each mouthful because it's so delicious.

Tough for a cheese plate to go wrong. I pause midway through this to order some port, which when it arrives has turned into dessert wine. Whatever, it'll do.

Hacksaw Ridge over, it's time to watch another film.

I've long thought that Point Break is an absolutely terrible movie with no redeeming features. I thought I'd give it another go so I could report back to Kevin, who loves it, and also I thought my reduced capacity for cynicism in the air might help things along. Much to my surprise, the first scene features some guy talking about YouTube and stuff. Hang on, have they remade Point Break? Jesus, they have.

I had no idea. I want to get on wifi so I can tell Kevin what I'm up to, but it turns out this plane has no wifi. Oh. Well never mind. I settle into the movie while champagne keeps being topped up and holy fucking shit this is one of the worst films I've ever seen. Way, way worse than the original Point Break. I'm spluttering audibly throughout at each line of terrible dialogue.

Ideas can be powerful... but not as powerful as a whaling ship.

Half a page of my notebook is made up me scribbling down how laughably fantastically phenomenally terrible it is. I'm loving it. The only things which distract me from the full horror is noticing that we're about to fly over Ayers Rock, on our right. Will I get to see it? Time to sneak some pics from an awkward window.

Is that it? (No, that's not it; we eventually go the wrong side of it, by a whisker)

Some cool formations though. Salt flats?

There are 13 minutes of credits to Point Break, which I choose not to watch. In northern Australia we enter a very long period of really quite unpleasant turbulence, requiring a few "sit down!" announcements. When it's a little calmer, loads of people get up and about ignoring the seatbelt signs and I'm really annoyed by all of them, and the crew for doing nothing.

I'm also a bit annoyed by the documentary called Marathon Man. It's about a really uncharismatic Belgian (go figure) who ran 365 marathons in 365 days and, as far as I can tell, achieved virtually no fame for doing so. On day 272 he's in New York and no-one on the street has heard of him. I don't find his story or personality inspiring whatsoever. He really doesn't make me want to run more.

It's beer time. Can't check it in on Untappd because of the location. Nige comes up with the excellent comment "Mile High Pub" later in the day about it. I'm listening to podcasts and writing the blog post about Friday when I get interrupted by more food. Oh, go on then, surprise me. I mean that literally, since I have no idea what a "crostarde" is. Turns out it means quiche.

Of course it's lovely. A bag of nuts that taste a bit like fish also arrive, as does more beer and then to finish I'll have a whisky on the rocks, why not. I start watching Hollow Point on my iPad but don't get far, and I start to cough when the guy next to me sprays himself with some fragrance I'm allergic to.

(It's a while until the next photo)

We land a little late, around 7 hours after we took off I think. Most of the gates at Jakarta terminal 3 look empty but even so we park up across the way, by a load of buses. Ah damn it. This prompts a brief conversation between me and 8J. Neither of us like this new terminal much, in fact he's fucking scathing about it (he lives in Jakarta). Full of praise for Qatar Airways though. Spoke like a FlyerTalker.

Down the steps, there are two types of bus. Special business class minibus you say? Go on then. It's not that fancy mind, and gets crowded with one of those giant family groups. The terminal is very empty, there are oyster-style border gates but they don't seem to be working. Everyone else queues up at the diplomatic/crew/etc line, bizarrely, while I stroll up to my choice of 3 empty FOREIGNER desks. Unlike last time there's no requirement for a visa on arrival, in fact the desk is shut so anyone from a country that does need one is out of luck.

I'm asked how long I'm staying. One night, of course. Don't you know who I am? Around the corner I hand over my customs declaration and then I'm out, in the arrivals area of this brand new terminal. I need the free shuttle bus to terminal 2, which I'd been informed would be a simple task to find.

There's a lot of signs, all pointing the same direction. Loos, prayer room, exit, buses, taxis. I need a bus. Good. First thing I see is a crew shuttle bus, then masses of cab ranks. I don't want a cab, I'm not using a machine to get a number for the queue like Argos. This goes on for a while, with a fair few cabbies shouting at me too - there are way more cars than passengers and plenty of them feel no shame trying to jump the queue and pick up from the back.

Anyway, no good for me. I'm a bit hot. The air smells of that Asian air, it's 25 celsius and I'm carrying two bags and wearing my thick Wrestlemania hoody. It's the easiest way to carry it and I'd thought I'd be on a bus by now. I'm not, I'm lost. Helen's looking things up on the internet for me but only finding lies, references to the old terminal 3 and other statements I can prove are true because I'm right here.

Beyond the cabs there are buses! But they're to Jakarta city, or various hotels or resorts. This is bullshit. Where's the inter-terminal shuttle bus? I go back inside to look for an information desk and there isn't one. Back kind-of-outside into the heat and along next to the unfinished SkyTrain monorail which would be REALLY FUCKING USEFUL RIGHT NOW. There are lots of unfinished bits of this terminal and it feels so weird. Brand new building, terrible signage. Mobile data for free, but misleading information at best available online. So many contradictions. Well, two at least.

As well as hot, I'm now feeling very white and western. I go the full length of the terminal again, finding nothing useful. Back in where I originally came, no luck. Round to where the crew shuttle bus stays, which happens to be next to a smoking area so loitering is kind of acceptable. Internet is not helping Helen or me and if I wasn't so half drunk and enjoying the schadenforeman I'd probably be upset. I am a bit pissed off though, I really do want to find my hotel.

So, with a deep breath I set off again. As I get near a cab rank one of the women marshalling the non-existent queues asks if I need a taxi and I say no, but where can I get a shuttle bus to T2? Ah, they're upstairs at departures she says. Go all the way along the terminal again, then up the lift.

She's right 'n all. As soon as I emerge 2 levels up there's a sign saying DOMESTIC and next to it a sign saying SHUTTLE BUS, and a bunch of people waiting for it. Thank goodness for that. 10 more sweltering minutes later a small bus appears and I pile inside, just about finding a seat amongst the existing passengers. All the seats face inwards, like it's military or something.

The bus fills up to the point of feeling dangerously overcrowded, and soon we're careening around the busy airport roads to T1A. We in fact stop at T1A, T1B and T1C - at each point, some other unobservant westerners shouting IS THIS T2?? at the driver. No, T2 is another 10 minute drive. This whole experience is pretty hilarious and would be more so if I weren't so fucking dehydrated by now.

At T2D I get off. Dunno if it's the right place but it'll do, all I know is I want T2. Originally I was meant to be flying into and out of this terminal so did the eminently sensible thing of booking a room at the hotel that's in the building. Not feeling so smug now, but at least I've finally found the place and there's a bar with views of the runway and etc.

Before I'm allowed in, though, security. They put the bags through a machine and you walk through an x-ray just to get into the hotel here. Then reception, where a very friendly man gives me a warm greeting, finds my booking, hands me the key for room 51 and takes over a million rupiah for the privilege. The exchange rate in Indonesia is crazy: £1 = 17276 rupiah. Try keeping that in your head.

Along the corridor and into the room and I'm on the wifi, posting the blog entry I wrote on the plane and engaging in lots and lots and lots of househunting talk with Helen. There are plug sockets for several of the world's different mains systems. Why don't more hotels do this rather than require adapters?

So sensible!

I put the TV on and there's a documentary about the Panama Canal as well as Suemonlinna, where I visited last October. Neat. There's free water, which is exceptionally welcome, and once Helen arranges a ton of viewings I get my leave to go to the bar.

The cockpit restaurant, open until 11pm, is not open. The jet bar, open until 11pm, is not open. For fucks sake! But at reception there's a locked fridge. I delay a woman and her child from checking in by getting a guy to sell me 3 cans of Bintang, which cannot be charged to my room so I have to pay there and then.

These beers are unpleasant. Jason Bourne is on TV though, which is good. I carry on talking to Helen until she finally has to get up and do chores, and just before I want to go to bed a family walks very slowly down the corridor outside my room, with their two kids screaming their heads off.

Y'know, if it weren't for parkrun, the plane ride, and my sunny disposition, that could almost have been a bad day. Fingers crossed for Sunday, starting with those two alarms I've set for 0415 and 0445. Better safe than sorry.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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