We were soon to be off! Off for the megamoon of our lives, exploring Bali, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma. We may even manage a cheeky stop in Philippines if we played our cards right.
But there were three things that made the lead-up to our megamoon departure hectic. The first two were at home, in Highbear Mansions. The third, we’d discover later.
After doing much research on travelling as is only expected of Tom (we take quite different approaches to future plans. He plans, I just see what happens. As a result, and to give birthday meals as an example, he takes me to gorgeous restaurants where the service and quality are infallible. I once latched onto the fact that Tom like garlic and as a result we ended up celebrating his birthday at an establishment that seemed to have been designed solely for German heavy metal fans and only served garlic shots and bad food) he decided that we must brace the nomadic lifestyle and travel light. By this he meant, carry-on only. He’d even persuaded his parents to buy me a rucksack the previous Christmas solely for this purpose. It was small.
Like writing, it’s hardest when you have a word limit. What about all the words and sentences that are justified as the ‘just in case’s’, or the ‘I’ve used a big word and I want to keep it in’ or the ‘just because I like it’ but have to be left out because they just don’t fit. And so it went with packing. You’d think it was easier to pack a small bag. It’s not. It’s much much harder. The fact you have so little space and an armful more of stuff that you also want to take results in hand-wringing, conversations with yourself and discussions with your loved one. And let’s start with shoes. I need shoes to climb mountains with, trainers to run in, flip flops for the beach, smart shoes for all the nice dinners we are going to go out for, comfy every day ‘out and about’ shoes and also that other pair of shoes that I bought recently which are summer shoes so if I don’t take them with me who knows when I’ll ever get to wear them. As you can see, there’s a lot to think about and that’s just for shoes! In the end, I packed obstacle course shoes, figuring I could use them for running if I must but since I don’t really like running anyway, not having them is a good excuse not to go running, Havaianas, cheap pink ballet shoes from New Look for everyday travelling and a pair of smartish flats: who am I kidding, I can’t walk in heels at the best of times and I only get them out for weddings. Now imagine this scenario for tops, jumpers, trousers, shorts and all the rest. And don’t get me started on skincare…
I’d like to point out that Tom also suffered the same crippling indecision that I did. Although he got over his faster than I.
Secondly, having just gotten married and having harried our photographer to get at least a couple photos sent over so we could make thank you cards, we hadn’t anticipated just how long they take to write. I am imagining all you smug married couples who have written your thank you cards rolling your eyes at each other over our ignorance. In the end, we posted off all the ones to close family and took the rest with us.
Packed and smugly carrying our crammed rucksacks we left the house with plenty of time to spare. The journey there was uneventful. We got to the airport several hours early in anticipation of a relaxed pre-flight meal, maybe whilst finishing off our wedding cards. There would also be some last-minute supply shopping for things like a toothbrush and Immodium.
Our happy little fantasy abruptly ended when the check-in man asked what flight we had out of Bali. We looked at him blankly then explained, smiling and excited, ‘We only booked our flight out. We have a return flight but that’s not until December and it leaves from Thailand. We’re on our megamoon, you see and are going to travel around in between. We’re free spirits so we have no idea exactly how long we’re going to spend in these countries.’
As it turns out, Bali won’t let you in unless they know you’ve got a flight out. Whilst this was confirmed, firstly by phone, secondly by another representative of Quantas, the queue behind us had turned into a sea of people all wanting to check in extraordinarily huge bags. Some had three. These bags were lapping at my feet and it felt like we were landlocked at the check-in desk. I demonstrated my British outrage at their rudeness and turned around and frowned vaguely at the bags.
To rectify our situation we had to buy a ticket out of Bali. Sad and unsure, we headed to the Quantas ticket desk to see if we could buy anything. They couldn’t help. Thank goodness for smartphones though! And free airport wifi. Through this we picked a date (4th October) and found a relatively cheap flight from Bali to Singapore. Tom, on the verge of having a meltdown, was reneged of his duties as flightbooker and I took over instead. [What I love about our relationship is when one of us is about to break, the other steps in to take over whatever we were doing, this saving both of us from meltdown. Goodness knows what would happen if both of us lost it at the same time.]
Finally, me clutching a screenshot of our booking confirmation firmly on my phone we ducked to the front of the queue, checked-in and made it to departures with just enough time to grab the necessities – a pre-flight snack. The cards and the rest of it could wait but our stomachs were a different matter.