How I Survived Carmageddon
I'm not sure what it feels like to have a heart attack but last Friday was a close call.
A brash, frantic and bold 48-hour business trip to Jakarta had slid off the rails directly into the headlights of the speeding traffic in the other direction.
Is this the end? A jackrabbit pulse, profuse sweating and nervous twitch all came up into one neat package. Though in retrospect the six coffees I waded through before noon might have accounted for some of the adrenaline.
As we in Phuket have 'the fear' put into us by a inkling of high season chaos, life in Jakarta is one solid sit on your ass daily nightmare of transport hell.
Taxi drivers who can't find well-known hotels, which are ten minutes away and lead in trips to nowhere. Three-hour gridlock. During my visit I realize I've spent double the time sitting in cars as I did sleeping or even doing any business.
Indonesia is booming and Jakarta has a huge buzz on.
Somehow I manage to wind up back at my hotel the Pan Pacific at 3:08 , not having packed yet and having a ticket on a low-cost airline to Phuket at 5:20.
It's Friday, raining and the hotel staff say sir "it's not possible to make your flight".
Yet I dash, throw my belongings together and in a true miracle fashion arrive at the airport at 4:56. Relieved I hit the check in only to be told the airplane is an hour late.
I'm on big red, AirAsia, but it's the Indonesian one. Long lines of many other flights are also stacked up, with all the eating outlets full, food running out and the mood is nasty.
Than things turn from bad to worse, one hour turns to two. Two to three. Various explanations from a plane is broken to other promised departure times.
AirAsia Indoneisa has to be one of worst carriers available in the region. No announcements, no clarity, no boards showing timing. Whole groups of travelers, families etc. are camping out on the terminal's carpet, setting in.
Slowly the departures start and in the end, nearly five hours late we hit the air. My visit to carmageddon was just a bad memory and yes there was hope- getting into Phuket at 1:30 in the morning would at least be quick through immigration.
As we exited the plane, and dashed downstairs, all hope was lost, as two wide body charter flights had arrived from China and Europe.
The journey that wouldn't end, just kept going. As for Jakarta, traffic is indeed an added stress but or those who look to visit our island airport this high season be prepared to wait. And wait some more.