There were, as far as I could tell, two good ways to get from Yogyakarta to Bali on Tuesday. One could suffer the inflated holiday prices and pay $65 for a plane ticket and arrive in Bali on Tuesday night, or one could pay $18 and take a bus, supposedly arriving in Bali on Tuesday morning. Since first, I am a cheapskate, if not miser, and second, I wanted to get to Bali as soon as possible, I opted for the bus.
That was the wrong choice. I did not get the smooth 2 PM departure from Yogyakarta and 9 AM arrival in Denpasar I was promised. I got, instead, Indonesia:
1.50 PM: Arrive at travel office.
2.00 PM: Car departs to take waiting passengers to the bus station. Nearly die of shock because something happened on time in Indonesia. Think hopeful thoughts about this trip.
3.00 PM: Scheduled departure of the bus. Still no sign of it.
3.30 PM: All the other buses except mine have left. Lose solitaire nine times in a row. Worry that might be a sign.
3.45 PM: Check with the front desk employees that the bus has not left without me. Play another six hands of solitaire. Lose.
4.15 PM: Bus finally departs. Settle into reclining seat, adjust AC, sigh happily.
4.30 PM: Pick up passengers, including a 20-something hipster who sits next to me and stares.
4.45 PM: More passengers.
5.00 PM: More passengers.
5.15 PM: On the road! Finally!
5.15 PM-6.15 PM: Stare out the window at Mount Merapi. It's definitely a volcano. It's definitely belching smoke. Worry, momentarily, about the impending doom of Yogyakarta.
6.15 PM-8.15 PM: Read Clifford Geertz. Listen to Okkervil River. Wish seatmate would stop staring.
8.15 PM: Stop for dinner. Get a wolf whistle from the restaurant employees.
9.15 PM-10.15 PM: Watch, out the window, an amazing lightning storm. Beautiful!
10.15 PM-11.00 PM: Try to sleep. Avoid tossing and turning because Mr. Hipster is still staring.
11.00 PM: Remember the Valium my mother gave me over Christmas. Desparately rifle through purse. Success!
7.00 AM: Wake up. Understand why people develop Valium addictions. Realize the bus has stopped to wait in line for the ferry. Bali, here I come!
9.00 AM: Still in line for the ferry. Get off the bus to jalan-jalan, or wander around.
9.15 AM: Hear from the other passengers that our bus's turn will come about three o'clock. Decide to abandon the bus.
9.30 AM: Use my fascinating womanhood to sweet-talk the ferry official into letting me board by myself, for free.
9.45 AM-10.45 AM: Sit on the ferry listening to a salesman trying to sell small flotation devices by claiming they can double as a raft if the ferry sinks. Hear the sweet strains of Amr Diab from the back of the ferry. Dance to the beat, to the rhythm of the Nile.
10.45 AM: Bali, here I am!
11.00 AM-3.00 PM: Sit on un-airconditioned public bus. Rest my chin on the pile of bags balanaced precariously on my lap. Try not to wake up the Indonesian woman sleeping on my right shoulder. Try to nod along with the Indonesian woman on my left as she happily chats at me. Wish she would take her hand off my knee.
3.00 PM-3.30 PM: Arrive at one of Denpasar's bus terminals. Climb on a public minibus to be taken to the other bus station, to catch a bus to Kuta. Sweat profusely.
3.30 PM: Still sitting on the minibus, waiting for more passengers before departing. Think, what the hell am I doing here? A taxi costs $6!
3.30-4.15 PM: Enjoy an air-conditioned $6 taxi.
4.15 PM-4.30 PM: Arrive in Kuta. Search for a cheap hotel. Put my bags down. Walk to the beach.
4.30 PM-?: Enjoy paradise.
At least I'm here now. And, let me tell you, forget aviation disasters and inflated prices: I'm flying home.