When Tessa and I went to Tokyo we spent the first day at Disneyland. We slept at a Disney themed hotel with a family of slippers hiding in the cupboard and a wedding chapel in the lobby and when we awoke we dragged our suitcases the short distance to the enchanting theme park and shoved them in lockers.
When the day was over we bundled into a taxi, giddy with excitement and exhaustion and handed the booking reference for our hostel to the driver.
He looked at the paper for far too long, turned to us and spoke, loud and panicked and in Japanese.
“Sorry, we dont understand.”
He spoke again. Louder and faster but still without a word of English.
He got out of the taxi and we watched as he took our booking details to the taxi behind us and showed it to the other driver who shook his head and shrugged.
He took the paper to a traffic officer at the bus stop. They talked for a long time. The driver stared at the paper as he walked back to our cab and got in the drivers seat.
At this point I could feel my heart rising up in my throat, choking me. I felt like i could vomit, or cry, or curl into a ball and rock. This manifested itself as a bemused smirk which I can only hope Tessa found reassuring rather than infuriating.
We began driving in silence until we reached what I would come to recognise as Asakusa. This familiarity started building that night as I started recognising some of the landmarks we passed, not because I had seen them in photos, I had seen them already from this car – we were driving around in circles.
Eventually the driver pulled over (without indicating) and got out his phone. He dialed the number on our booking reference and spoke to the hostel. He drove one handed and really slowly, swerving across lanes without warning.
We drove around the block again. This time when he pulled over the front door opened and a Japanese lady got in. I assumed she was from the hostel, here to show us how to get there. I later found out Tessa had absolutely no idea who this woman was or why she was getting in our taxi.
Fortuately, I was right, the lady was from the hostel and we did eventually make it, even if the meter ran a little high. Unfortunately this experience has not made me any less calm when it comes to unforseen circumstances arising during travel. I have a more “what can go wrong will go wrong” attitude.
The taxi thing in Tokyo really isn’t that bad, especially when compared to all the things that could go wrong in my imagination.
On my way to Ngurah Rai airport, scenarios that crossed my mind as possible occurrences during my trip included:
• Hannah missing her flight leading to me having to spend some or all of my holiday alone
• The boat shuttle forgetting to pick us up at the hotel
• The boat sinking on the way to Gili Air
• Having my bag/money/passport stolen
• Losing my glasses and having to spend the rest of the trip half blind with a strong migraine
• Getting an incurable tropical fungus disease
• Catching Malaria
• Catching Ebola, which has of course made its way to the Gili Islands
• Getting murdered
• Being arrested at the airport for looking suspicious while waiting for Hannah
• Someone planting drugs on me leading to life imprisonment in a Balinese prison.
• Someone planting drugs on me leading to my execution
• Someone planting drugs on Hannah leading to either of the above
I am pleased to report that none of the above has ocurred (so far) and I am writing this from a beach sipping coffee having spent my first night under a princess mosquito net tent in a cute little bungalow.
It never hurts to be prepared but it never helps to stress about things either. Chill out, Sophie. What could go wrong?