Oh, the dilemma. When planning a trip, should you book everything ahead of time, or just do it as you travel, allowing yourself to be spontaneous and to go with the flow. I am a planner. When I travel for short time periods, I usually book everything in advance and know where I will be on a certain day. However, at the moment, since I am traveling for three months, I decided to do something different and be spontaneous. After all, I have plenty of time, and it’s OK, if I’m not in a certain place on a certain day. However, not planning ahead of time can have it’s drawbacks and you can find yourself like I did yesterday, hoping on a wing and a prayer, that you will actually not be stranded forever.
My original plan was to stay on the Kei Islands for six nights. However, after about three nights, and the last night being spent being the only guest at the hotel, I knew it was time to go. I needed activity and to be around other people. So I took the hour-long bemo ride to the airport, to be greeted with looks of unbelief from the workers at the airport. “You mean you don’t have a ticket?” they asked. “Well, no, I figured I could get one here.”, I replied. Now to make things doubly hard the workers there really didn’t speak much English, so it was very hard to communicate that, yes, I wanted to buy a ticket for one of their planes and, yes, I really did want to leave their beautiful island. Simple, right? Well, not exactly. I had arrived four hours before my flight was due to leave and no one seemed to know what to do with me. One guy who spoke some English (not much, but some) called a relative who was a travel agent. He told me all the planes were booked, and I wouldn’t be leaving. But, he also said to wait around, and maybe something would change. Well, that’s what everyone seemed to be doing, so I just did the same. I really had no choice as there were no other hotels that I knew of on the island. I felt very stuck. However, not as stuck as if I had been forced to stay for six nights. Meanwhile, I realized this was the most careless airport that I’ve ever been to. Metal detectors weren’t on. The only things the X-ray scanners were being used for were for the worker’s kids to play on. Same with the baggage carts.
Meanwhile, I wandered throughout the small airport at leisure, and even managed to reset the entire internet system without anyone knowing. They told me they had WiFi, but when I tried to connect, it wasn’t working. I asked about the other connection I saw and was told it was for their radios. So, I saw the modem high up on a shelf and went and unplugged it, plugged it in. Still nothing happened. So I flicked a switch, which caused a light to come on. Went back to my computer, and oops. No sign of any connections. I had just shut down everything. Oops.
Finally, around noon, a representative from Lion Air arrived at the airport, and they told me that I could buy a ticket, but it wound up costing $50 more than it would have if I had booked it ahead of time. I was just relieved to be allowed to leave. My advice when planning a trip? If you are going somewhere remote where there will be no travel agency around, buy a round trip ticket to and from your destination. You can always fly standby and leave earlier, if you need to. In the end, you will pay less. If you are going somewhere where lots of flights arrive daily, then you can be more flexible and just wing it.
Advice specifically for travel to and from the Kei Island: Use the PT Daya Patal travel agency in Ambon to book your tickets. I was in there when someone asked what to do if they didn’t know when they would leave the Kei’s. The woman there said that you could just call her from the Kei’s and she could get you a ticket back for the day you wished once you are already there. I couldn’t help but interrupt and asked, but how will you get the ticket to them if they are on the Kei’s. Her reply? “I have a relative there.” Oh, yes, but of course. You can reach them at (0911) 353344. The address is Jl. Said Perintah 53 Ambon.