Asia fatigue

Never ones to make our lives easier, we headed out of Bali on our way to KL but with a 3hr layover in Jakarta. Things inevitably did not go smoothly.

The Balinese airport staff seem to have announcement/update phobia; with no notice that our plane was running late we nearly boarded a plane to Lombok! When our plane was finally ready, no one mentioned it would be from a different gate; queue a scramble across the terminal to get on in time.

After manhandling D for the two hour flight we arrived refreshed at Jakarta airport. On arrival we realised a planning error: booking an internal followed by an international flight - we were in the wrong terminal! After some panicked questioning we boarded a transfer bus where we got some weird looks from the other passengers as we sat together, turns out it was male/female segregated and I'd sat in the ladies section (shrug).

We then had to go through the whole security and border security procession for the second time today. Jakarta airport is one to miss: an absolute dump, completely disorganised, nothing is well indicated and while staff are plentiful they don't seem to be doing anything meaningful.

While we were pulling our hair out in the pointless queues and inefficiencies, some enterprising baggage staff were in the process of ransacking one of our bags. Thankfully nothing of easy resale value was there so nothing appears to have been taken, but they did all this in a massive downpour, it looked like someone had poured a bucket of water on the contents. Now I understand why Asian travellers cling film their bags on their travels (weather and theft proof) - layover bags must be a particularly tempting target.

Having at last negotiated our way through security, we gobbled down some dinner. Ali by this point was losing the plot so bought herself a calming cup of tea. Unfortunately the idea of sipping away happily at her tea was snatched away since this is one of the Asian airports where you have a double security screening, hot tea and all our water had to be disposed of. We were through and at the right gate but with no liquids, Ali went and enquired and discovered the local thirsty tourist tax, the only bottles available cost a bomb and were only two inches tall (we bought a lot).

At last we were on the plane, the flight went fine until the pilot tried to land, in all my years of flying I've never experienced such a rough landing, sounded like the landing gear had got crushed into the runway, I was clinging on to the seat in front of me in a panic. Thankfully the shock absorbers must have done their job and we got to the gate safely - I'm not flying lion air again in a hurry.

KL airport was a haven of calm and efficiency compared  to Jakarta (despite Kim Jung Un's brother being assassinated there the day before) which eased some of our stress. I won't be moaning about first class infrastructure in developing countries again! The only issue were a bunch of old Indonesians on a package holiday who thought it was OK to poke and prod F, then laugh at him when he screamed at them to stop - he has had enough of having his personal space invaded. I would too if I was given as much attention as our three get. We've stuck to the cities/touristy/cosmopolitan areas I don't want to think what it would be like in more remote places.

After a short cab ride, we were all tucked up in bed by 2am in our airport hotel.

While everyone else had a good night's sleep I'd been given a parting Indonesian gift of Bali belly (or the Jakarta equivalent) and was up for a good part of the night in the bathroom. As I write this now the cramps have still not eased and I'm not straying too far from decent toilets. Malaysian toilets are notorious, they even put old French ones to shame; squatting but with the added fun of toilet paper being replaced by a shower hose which the locals seem to use for a full body wash. While I've not made a detailed study of it, since the women squat more than men it's probably the only country in the world where the ladies toilets are more flooded and more smelly than the men's.

With lack of sleep affecting all of us, me feeling dreadful and after yet another tough Asian travel experience we had had enough. Yesterday we tried to bring forward our flight back to the UK. Unfortunately our carrier wouldn't discount and we really don't have the cash for new flights. We're going to stick it out but a new plan is needed.