Why I'm not getting any better at this travel thing

So there I am, standing at the check-in counter in the departure lounge of Terminal 1, twiddling my thumbs with glee that Bali is just a few hours away, when the service staff behind the counter says, "Your passport expires on May 4 next year."

"Uh-huh." Still gleeful, still twiddling. Or rather, still chattering to Ondine, who won the free hotel stay in Bali and graciously invited me to go along.

"You need six months' validity on your passport," says the service staff.

"Uh-huh." I nod, I smile, I bob --- and then I think, today is November 4, so ... SHIT.

The service staff is counting off the months on her fingers. December-January-February-March-April-May. Six marks the spot, six marks the fact that my passport would expire six months from my date of departure from Singapore.

"How long are you staying in Bali?" she asks.

"Two days only." I believe I was starting to whine.

Nevertheles, next came the "please wait by the side, ma'am" request while one of her colleagues made a few phone calls. It must have taken less than ten minutes to sort it all out, but it felt like much longer and I felt like the biggest dolt for checking everything, including our dates of departure and return (this has previously been an issue), except the requirement that I know well enough to recite backwards in my sleep in Latin: six months' validity.

"I hope they let me go," I whined some more while Ondine and Packrat, to their credit, did not panic or chastise me.

Then I had a happy thumbs-up signal from the service staff, who said they'd spoken to Indonesian immigration, who'd given the go-ahead. We checked in, we had a quick dinner, we caught our plane --- we were on our way!

Except that at the immigration airport at the Denpasar airport, the immigration officer gave me the old stink-eye. "You need six months' validity."

"I know," I said in what I hoped sounded like a quiet, contrite tone.

He counted off dates on his fingers too. Then he repeated his point in his best officialese tone.

"In Singapore, they called Indonesia to ask if it was okay," I ventured. It was the only card I had to play, other than the US$10 bill in my wallet.

"They called who?" he wanted to know. So young, yet so determined.

"They called Indonesian immigration and they said it was okay," I said haplessly.

He said something in Bahasa to his colleague at the next counter and did some mulling on his own. I quavered where I was standing and wondered what exactly is involved when one is turned back by a country's immigration services.

Maybe I showed enough fear, contrition, general guilelessness or combination of all three, but he said, "You leaving when?"

"In two days," was my prompt response. Did I need to show him my air ticket to prove it?

He flipped open the passport to some random page and proceeded with his stamp-and-scribble routine. "Okay, this time I let you. Next time, six month's validity."

"Yesthankyouokaythankyouthankyou." I took the passport and stepped quickly towards Ondine before he could change his mind.

Ondine's assessment of the affair: "Your mother sure scold you."


Too lazy to go out

Fortunately, I didn't need my passport for anything else during our two-day stay except to get out of the country, so my little gaffe didn't get in the way of our sunbathing, lolling about, and consumption of Greek food, room service and Khong Guan or Marks & Spencer biscuits. The hotel staff were very nice to us even though we were, essentially, freeloaders, and there were a surprising number of cute, cherubic babies around the swimming pool.

Alas, no good male eye candy, and I didn't get as much of a tan as I wanted. For future reference, I'll try to make beach vacations at least a three-day affair.

Thank you, Ondine!


Related posts: More sleep, less blogging, Getting better at this travel thing

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At 11/08/2007 6:05 am , Blogger Jess said...

ok i'm reading this in office and now i am panicking and will continue to panic till i get back and check my passport


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