Ujung Pandan

The sign on the way into the transit lounge at the airport said, “Inconvenience regretted,” and I instantly understood the reason the sign was in place. I was in a small airport in a topical location away from the major air transit routes. The heat was overpowering, and beat all of the passengers into lethargic submission causing us to head purposefully in the direction of the waiting lounge beyond work in process. Sitting on the floor pounding imaginary bumps with hammers was the floor repair crew. They seemed to become more energetic whenever an announcement was made making it impossible to hear what the announcement was all about. I passed the time of day with one of the passengers in the transit lounge. They recalled passing through this same airport a week earlier, and was convinced the repair team were still working on exactly the same spot.

A bemused German couple struggling with Basic English stood under PA system speakers trying to make sense of the announcements. Whenever an announcement was made they’d rush with the crowd toward the departure gate along with passengers trying to board their plane. They’d been turned away several times during my transit time, and were visibly distressed. There were other tourists suffering with the same complaint. Airport authorities had good reasons to put up their sign, “inconvenience regretted” that day.

Eventually the German couple gave up trying, and I noticed them nodding off to sleep after some time had elapsed. I took up vantage point next to the coupon collector at the door, and read printed destinations on the ticket stubs he collected over his shoulder. In spite of the floor repair crew, and garbled announcements, I was out the door as soon as I recognized a distinctive sign of my destination printed on tickets then being collected. I hoped the German couple had awakened in time to catch their plane.

There was free seating on that flight so it was a grand race across the tarmac to our aircraft dragging carry-on luggage behind. The noise of racing carry-on luggage wheels on tarmac hung in the thick topical air causing flocks of itinerating birds to rise in startled surprise. I was glad we were not scheduled to travel by jet from that airport as I imagined meeting a flock of birds with a prop aircraft a little safer than a jet We were racing for the prized seats on that plane and it was survival of the fittest.

As I eased into the captured seat on that plane my conscience began to bother me. It would have taken a massive effort to fight my way back to the German couple through advancing pushing crowd of boarding passengers to find out if this was their destination departure gate. Should I have made the attempt? I tried to console myself that they should have persevered and watched for the signs, even if the sounds were confusing.

Then looking to the back in that crowded aircraft I saw looks of dismay and resignation on faces of those contemplating those uncomfortable seats. Conscience or not, I’d probably made the most sensible choice and congratulated myself for being up with the front runners in the race to the aircraft.

I’d soon be on my way to Singapore and home.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2015 All rights reserved”


  1. Tough choice. Your reflection shows your humanity.

    Being stranded in a foreign city where the language is also foreign is tough. I think the onus was on the couple to also approach fellow travelers for help. I’ve had foreigners with very limited local language skills ask for help. On occasion I’ve also interrupted the conversation of English-speaking passengers to offer them a helpful translation of an announcement in Dutch.

    We do what we can. Hope the rest of your flight was pleasant?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sweet Ian since it was all for themselves I too believe you made the right decision. Reading about all of your flight adventures makes me glad I never had to fly more than the four times that I did. From stories I have heard I think flying is the most difficult way to travel and now days it is such a hassle and expensive too. Hope you and your sweet Georgine are making it okay. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes flying is a hassle. With all the concerns about terror these days inspections and body searches are frequent and thorough. It sure slows down the boarding process. Then there is such a limitation on what you can take aboard. All of these things are good in that they give you some comfort that you are likely to be safe but there is always that doubt as you board isn’t there?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, there is doubt and at my age I just hope to never have to fly again. We are never guaranteed to be safe any time we travel but even so I will take the more time consuming way and stay on the ground if at all possible. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Ami that is so generous and kind of you. Unfortunately I have very limited time for blogging and that is why I have to limit to my weekly blog so I won’t be able to handle a photoblogging challenge. So sorry. Please excuse me.


  3. You captured these moments well. Judging from the ensuing commentary many can say ‘Been there, done that.” I do question what is about travel which so often makes us forget chivalry and turns us into animals with a ‘me first’ attitude. I have certainly succumbed, and like you, entertained an ensuing twinge of conscience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t always been lucky. In spite of reserving seats and reconfirming the day before I’ve found my name strangely absent from the list of intended boarders. Sometimes you have to go to the supervisor’s back room and “encourage” them to put you back on the list again. 🙂


    1. Looks like we would both be up front and choosing our seats before the others reached the steps up. lol. I learned how to negotiate the press at immigration by watching Iranian students elbowing their way to the front. Very clever technique. lol.


  4. that conjured up memories of flying out of Norfolk Island many moons ago. I could feel the tension of your race into that prized seat, that momentary prick of conscience and was relieved that you didn’t get up! excellent article.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One time on our way to Guatemala we saw an elderly couple from Guatemala on their way home confused. It was confusing for us also because we had to take a train from domestic flight to international. Fortunately we could speak Spanish and told them to follow us. The stuck to us like glue until we boarded the plan to Guatemala.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess that’s the key, understanding the language. How many times in my travels I wished I had multiple languages under my belt to sort out some of those problems both for me, and for some of those who are confused in their travels. You were very kind. 🙂


  6. I agree with the person before me – this was so visual, so vivid! I find the waiting time at airports the dullest EVER. Usually I’m just tapping my feet, or flipping half-heartedly through my book (can’t afford to get too engrossed or I’ll miss the announcements), or looking every now & then at the ‘Now boarding’ digital display. But you managed to write such an engaging piece on this waiting time! I don’t get no-seats-allotted flights. Seriously, everyone runs to the plane? What about the old or the physically challenged or someone with a kid or two to lug around?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well hopefully in today’s world the physically challenged will have a pre-boarding, and as I recall the same applied to families with children though I can remember people trying to bluff their way in under one of those categories even though they were obviously fit and single. lol. I guess I learned quickly to look after myself. It doesn’t pay though to lose your temper as the ground crew will make sure you are at the end of the line. I have some other funny air travel experiences too.


      1. They’ve already been blogged some time ago Ami. Summer will be well on the way there in Delhi. I can remember taking a bus to Agra when it was so hot that the air-conditioner couldn’t handle it and shut down.


  7. this was very vivid Ian – it reminded me of my first time in Rome, when a bus was boarded by about 30 little old Italian ladies -all in black elbowing and pushing everyone out of their way. I was dumbfounded, but when it Rome…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such visual writing. I am there in the airport, tarmac and plane with you. I actually have been in such airports, but even if I hadn’t, I could see what it looked like. Good job. The descriptions of the Germans was hilarious.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can relate to the Germans. There are times in my many travels where I was so frustrated not knowing the local language I was tempted to give up and just snooze away in the tropical heat. 🙂


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