I was up and away nice and early ready to cycle 40km to Padang Bai to get the ferry to Lombok. It was all going smoothly until I stopped to buy some water. Afterwards I shoved my wallet in my bum bag at the front of my bike (not where I normally keep it) and I forgot to zip it up when I rode away. I gained a bit of speed on the downhill and I thought I had ridden over a bit of plastic or something when I felt something touch my foot.
About two minutes later I stopped to make an adjustment and I noticed the bag was open. I don’t really know what made me check inside but I quickly realised that my wallet was missing. It dawned on me that is what I must have felt hit my foot and I turned around and retraced my tracks, cycling against the flow of traffic but not caring.
I went up and down that bit of road so many times, scanning every inch of the road. I asked loads of people, I looked in rubbish piles to see if someone had taken the cash but discarded the cards (I wish they had taken the cash and discarded the cards) but I had nothing.
In anger and desperation I cried and this Indonesian man told me I should tell the police. I really didn’t know what good that would have done, and I couldn’t find the police station anyway.
I tried calling home but as it was 2am my parents were asleep. So the only thing I thought I could do was cycle back to Seminyak and hope that Hans would help me out by letting me stay even though I didn’t have any money, and maybe give me something to eat.
So I went all the way back to where I came from only 2 days ago. Hans wasn’t there, he was playing golf, but the nice girl that works there said not to worry and I could have a bed. I set about making all the calls to cancel cards and organise replacements. Travelex are sending a card directly to Indonesia. HSBC however are not being quite as helpful. They will only send a replacement card to the branch where my account was first set up, so the cards are going to Salisbury which will take up to 6 business days. Then I have to call Salisbury branch and ask them to redirect (and by redirect they mean they will put them in standard post) to Indonesia. Crazy.
The guy who cancelled my cards then told me that I could just go into any HSBC branch, with my passport, and they would give me cash from my account. I was sceptical about this and I questioned him several times on it, but he assured me I could do it. So I thought rather than bother my parents with making a western union transfer I could just sort out some cash myself.
I googled the address and set off on my naked bike for Denpasar which was about 6km away. The traffic got worse and worse as I got nearer the city and when I got to the address there was no HSBC. I found someone to ask and they laughed and said that the GPS is no good here, it is always wrong. But actually it is the address that’s wrong because when I looked up the brach address on the HSBC website it gave me a totally different location. So eventually I found the bank and after waiting in a queue of only me for half an hour I got to the desk only to be told no, I can’t get money out here.
By this time I was stressed, tired and hungry (now 2pm and the included breakfast in my hostel was not included), so I cried at the counter of the bank. The lady was so nice to me, she explained that I could get emergency cash but they first had to call Jakarta, who then had to call the UK, and all of this was done on a phone that kept cutting off if the cord was wiggled in the wrong way. She said the process may take 2 hours. When she asked me if I wanted any water she gave me her own bottle and made me keep it. Many phone calls later I got to speak to a particularly unpleasant Welsh man who said there was nothing I could do because I wasn’t a premier account customer. So I asked him if he was just going to let one of his customers be left stranded in a foreign country with no money to even buy water and he parroted that I wasn’t a premier account customer. Real ‘computer says no stuff.
When I told them what he said my fiery little Indonesian lady was not happy and she was back on the phone explaining that she has done this before many times for people with accounts the same as mine. Eventually I spoke to a lovely Scottish lady who, despite not working in that department, didn’t want to see me stranded without any money so made sure it was possible for me to get emergency cash. They were prepared to give my up to $500, but the problems come where Stirling gets converted to USD then to Rupiah so there is a double conversion hit, plus a big fee for the privilege of this service. She advised me that a Western Union transfer may be a better option for me if I had someone at home who would be prepared to do that.
She also advised me that the man who cancelled and organised replacement cards had been really lazy and not bothered putting any notes to inform Salisbury of the redirect, so she got all that sorted to. She was so nice to me and I cried a lot on the phone to her, the lovely Indonesian lady had given me some tissue but it was nowhere near enough for the amount of fluid I was producing so I was using my cycle gloves to wipe my face. They should be declared a health hazard so it probably wasn’t the smartest move, and now my face is red and sore and blotchy.
I told her I would organise a Western Union transfer and she was so concerned that I didn’t have any money for food that she tried to give me some, but I couldn’t take her money! Besides the transfers are available in minutes.
I cycled the gauntlet back to the hostel and a Spanish girl, Patricia , asked me for help because she was having problems booking her flights. She was using a tablet and all her cards were being rejected so she was basically thinking she was going to be stuck in Indonesia forever. I lent her my laptop and she was able to book her flights successfully. Her relief was a joy. We got chatting and she lent me some money to go and get some food as it was now 6pm and I hadn’t eaten thing all day. She even offered to go to the ATM and get a large sum of money out for me and as she was leaving tomorrow she would leave me her bank details so I could repay her. How incredibly generous and trusting of her.
My parents were having a nightmare over on the other side of the world trying to arrange the transfer. Not only did I freak them out when they woke up to several missed calls from the middle of the night, but the easy three step process turned out to not be so easy. After many phone calls and several visits to the Western Union branch in Lanzarote, my wonderful parents had me sorted out with a transfer. Unfortunately, because of the time difference, the Western Union here was closed so I will have to wait and collect the money tomorrow.
I went out to get some food and the very last thing I wanted was Indonesian food so I opted for pizza! The melted cheesiness was so good. In the 850 meters I walked to the restaurant I got asked if I wanted a taxi 18 times and a massage 8 times. At one point I lost it. After crying all afternoon I looked pretty awful and when a man asked me if I was ok I stopped to speak to him and his question was followed up by asking if I wanted a taxi. “No I don’t want a fucking taxi” was my response. Hanger is real.
The thing that really gets to me in this country is that no one says hello in a friendly way. It is always, hello taxi, hello massage, hello you look in my shop, hello you eat here. It gets so draining.
In the meantime Hans had returned from his golfing trip and when I got back I downloaded the days events on to him and his Dutch friend. I was feeling considerably better now I had eaten something and Hans was even nicer than I was hoping he would be. He offered several options, to transfer money into his account, to give me money and go off and do what I wanted to do and repay hime when I get back, I am having my new bank cards delivered to him, so he knows I have to come back! And even though I didn’t need to take him up on his offers, I feel so lucky to have met him, he feels like a genuine friend in this country of people who just want something from you all the time.
He said I deserved a drink after today and poured me a vodka and orange, something I haven’t drink since I was violently sick after the first time I got drunk! We sat and talked and talked and talked. Hans friend is one of the most well travelled people I have ever met. I tried to get Hans to pay Patricia back but she wouldn’t accept it.
A pretty shitty start to the day ended with a bunch of wonderful humans.
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