Friday, 30 January 2015

A confession to TC!

Thankfully 3am came around with no more outbursts from either flying insects or screaming roommates and you may be surprised to know that neither TC or myself had any problems leaping out of our respective beds and hurrying out of the room when my alarm sounded that morning!

It was so early that no one was at reception so I just dropped my key off behind the counter and jumped into the waiting jeep outside.

It was raining! We were off to see one of the most amazing sunrises at the top of The Tengger Mountain range and it was bloody well raining, with a thick murky grey cloud formation filling the sky above!

To top it all, as I sat in the back of the jeep, being jostled around while it bounced along the rocky road,  it suddenly dawned on me that the Reception area where I had left our room key - the room where TC's and my passports, credit cards and money were locked away in her suitcase - was not in fact The Reception, but The Bar!

I felt sick as I realised what an absolute idiot I had been! And images of us returning to the room later that day to find either TC's suitcase missing or ripped open and our valuables gone just raced through my mind. I was feeling sicker as I remembered the double doors at the front of the hotel that lead directly to the dining area AND the bar, were wide opened as we drove away. The open double doors to the hotel outside of which we had left a group of young Indonesian boys who had been trying to sell us wooley hats and gloves for our climb.

The pit of my stomach churned as my mind played out the scenario of me ruining the last few days of everyone's tour because I had been so stupid and left our door keys at the hotel bar and was now going to have to be driven to the nearest airport to fly up to Jakarta (or maybe it was only reachable by car) to go to the British embassy (I assume that's where it is?) and try to get TC and me new passports with no money or credit cards, before she was due to fly home in three days. After which I would have to explain to my friends in Perth that not only had I lost my passport, credit cards and extra money, but my Australian visitors visa too and therefore wouldn't be able to visit.

I looked at TC and managed a smile to cover up the nausea that was rising. How was I going to tell her that there was a possibility that we may have a slight problem without her freaking out and assuming our details were going to be sold on to some ring leader in the sex trade, drugs cartel, arms dealer ... OMG the list will go on and on ...

The fact is it may be ok? Maybe no one will notice the key sitting there? The key with the huge number nine emblazoned on the key ring, which may as well also have a tag hanging from it saying: "Hello, I am out for the morning climbing Mount Bromo with all the other tourists staying here, so while I'm gone, why not let yourself into my room and help yourself to whatever you want. Obviously the fact that one of the suitcases is locked will indicate there is something valuable inside, so feel free to take it. Oh and while you're at it, could you get rid of any large beetles or cockroaches you may find, we hate them. Thanks a lot, have a good day and don't forget to close the door behind you". 

I needed to take Sally aside and talk to her, see if she could phone the hotel and find out if the receptionist could grab the keys before anyone else did.  But I didn't want to announce what I had done in front of everyone and the journey was going to take the best part of an hour, which gave me plenty of time to go through each awful scenario over and over again in my head, causing me to feel sicker and sicker.

Finally we reached our destination, I threw the back doors open and sprung out of the jeep, looking around frantically in the dimly lit area for Sally.

TC walked over to me and asked if I was ok. I didn't lie, I couldn't lie, I told her I felt sick. Luckily she thought I meant car sick and nodded sympathetically as she walked over to the others.

I managed to get Sally over to one side and explained to her what I had done. She calmly reassured me that all should be fine, that as long as the keys were out of sight they would be safe. She called reception anyway, but it was too early in the morning for them to be up (well it was 'stupid o'clock'). Sally told me not to worry, that she felt confident all would be ok, the hotel was safe and secure. Then I suggested that it was probably in everyone's best interest not to let TC know just yet. She agreed and no more was said.

My mind was now slightly more at ease, there was nothing more I could do ... except pray and hope for the best and try not to look too distracted.

I pulled up the hood of my fleece, donned my pac-a-mac, wrapped my scarf round my neck and set off up to the observation point, where I worked out that if I stood with my back to the horizon whilst wearing my day pack on my back, it acted as a great wind cheater and kept me slightly warmer! (this was not the Indoensain weather I had signed up for!)

We stood semi huddled together and waited ... And waited ... And waited ... Then when we realised that it had gone 6am and that the sun had more or less arisen but the grey clouds were so thick we hadn't noticed! The best option was for the five of us to pop down to the cafe for a hot drink!

Sally tried the hotel again, still no reply! Again she assured me all would be fine. TC saw me looking a bit uneasy and hurried over to ask if I was ok. I told her I had a tummy ache, which wasn't necessarily a lie, plus a good way to change the subject and get into a conversation about bowel movements when travelling through Asia.

The rain had stopped and the clouds were slowly dispersing so we all returned to the observation point and managed a few photos of the peeks of Mount Bromo and Mount Batok.

After about twenty minutes and a game of 'count the number of selfie sticks', we were back in the jeep and on our way to Mount Bromo, where I was preparing myself for the 250 steps I was going to have to climb to get to the top!

Sally had pre-warned us about 'The Horse Mafia' that would greet us as soon as we pulled up in the jeep. They were a group (large group) of men who offer a ride on the back of their horse for 20,000 Rupiahs (£1) along the approximate half mile walk through volcanic sand towards the steps leading up the side of the volcanic mountain.

To be honest, I was tempted, I thought it may just give me a few more minutes to conserve the energy I was going to need to climb the steps, but apart from the fact that no one else was doing it, I am actually afraid of horses ...

Sure enough, bang on cue, the jeep came to a halt and within a nano second there were about ten men and horses stood by the back doors, looking eagerly in at us. It was as scary as arriving to set up a stall at a car boot sale, with all the professional buyers leaping on you before you even have time to pull up the hand brake!

I let the others go ahead of me whilst I struggled far behind, allowing myself a break after every twenty steps to catch my breath - which wasn't necessarily such a good thing as the closer one gets to the crater, the greater the smell of the sulphur being omitted from it! Thank heavens for Sally who had bought us masks at the beginning of the tour as a welcome gift and in preparation. But believe you me, nothing can prepare you for that!

Eventually I reached the top where nothing can prepare you for the magnificent sight of this huge volcanic crater, spewing out billows of sulphurific smoke. (Just don't breath in too deeply!) it truly is magnificent and boy did I feel a sense of achievement for having managed it and not giving up!

Soon after I reached the top, it was time to come down; besides the smell, there were hoards of tourists visiting, so you wouldn't want to stay for too long and I was quite happy to get back to the hotel and check that mine and TC's identity hadn't been taken over by a couple of armed robbers?!

The journey home seemed much faster than the one out, I was practically hanging out the back door before we even arrived. The jeep came to a halt outside the double doors of the hotel - which were still open - and I tried to leap out in a casual manner (!?) and belted up the steps over to the bar ... No one was around and nor was our room key!

I hurried around to the reception area which was in a little extension at the side of the building, passing by TC who was now looking at me suspiciously. The receptionist smiled back at me as I amost collided with the desk. "Can I have the key to room 9 please?" I smiled back nervously, my stomach churning and sweat starting to bubble up on my upper lip.

She rummaged around the desk.

I could feel TC stood right behind me: "Is everything Ok?" She enquired of me.

The receptionist continued to rummage around the desk. By now my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to jump out of my chest and land on the counter top!

I spun round, "Yes everything is fine!" I guiltily snapped back at my innocent friend, "I'm just getting the room key back, ok!!" 

I turned back to the receptionist who was now smiling back at me dangling the key to Room 9 from her middle finger (the right hand obviously).

I almost cried out "Thank f*^k for that!" But luckily I managed to compose myself, retrieved the key from the smiling receptionist, turned to Sally, we exchanged a knowing look, then confidentially lead TC out and back over to our room where everything was exactly as we had left it ... including the acrid smell!

After a quick change and a very quick lunch - I was now coming down off my adrenaline rush and was quite hungry - we headed off to the station to catch a train to Kalibaru.

Before I sign off from this posting, I should point out that I never told TC about 'The Key Incident' and so I now await the appropriate reprimand that I probably deserve for being so stupid ....

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