For the first time since I left the UK behind I find I am hitting a few road bumps in life. Sure, life in Myanmar was difficult, but I felt like those bumps were an integral part of the journey away from the UK and into International living.
Now I am living in Indonesia I am finding new frustrations that are not simply to be written off as a result of a new culture. In fact, several bumps seem to stem from UK sources and long term issues rather than being new things I can blame on a different culture. As I head towards my first trip home after 18 months I find myself excited at the prospect of achieving a little ‘normality’ for a while, something I didn’t expect to feel.
My biggest frustration is getting out of Surabaya. I have been thwarted a few times by delayed flights and ticket malfunctions and I’m beginning to imagine it as a black hole that is sucking me in. I don’t hate the place. I’m happier here than I was in Yangon but I do need to get away from its bubble and touch base with other places. I don’t consider it comfortable enough to be my home. Yet despite the best laid plans I’m finding it hard to leave. This has never happened to me before so I am bemused by it and mildly anxious too. Am I getting lazy in my travel planning? Is travel here really that much more difficult? Or has my luck just run out?
Other stresses include a lingering ear infection that I simply can’t shift. Aggressive ear syringing, a range of antibiotics and anti histamine and an allergic reaction to prescribed pain killers have not removed the problem, and being half deaf but not sick enough to stay off work is very tiring when teaching. Especially when, ironically, I am teaching listening skills!
Additionally, trying to resolve UK banking issues when you’re half way round the world is also a mission, especially when your Internet is more unreliable than it was in technologically challenged Myanmar. Despite paying a fortune for premium service I am having a running battle to get any connectivity at all most evenings and several service visits from the provider have done little except prove that doing the same thing over and over again is not going to solve the problem!
Anyway, sometime last year Internet Banking regulations changed, and I missed it. I’d turned paper communications off, or so I thought, and my UK address certainly didn’t get any post regarding the matter and I didn’t receive any emails about it either. So when I tried to log in to transfer money to my friend after our epic Australian adventure I discovered I couldn’t access my own money. Which was weird, because I’d logged in before Christmas with no trouble.
Apparently the bank needs proof of who I am, despite the fact that I’d gone through all the security questions when I rang them to query the situation. Suddenly, I discover I have very few ways of proving who I am. Passport? Yes. Utility bill. No, that’s all managed by my employer in their name. Driving license. Not registered at the UK address I’d provided for my mail. I moved twice in the last four months before I left the UK and it wasn’t a priority to update it in the grander scheme of packing up my life and leaving the country. Stupid? Possibly, and I’d advise anyone preparing to leave the UK for a while to make sure all your documentation matches before you go. I hadn’t realised they didn’t, or that it mattered, but then I was setting out on my own without a clue as to what I was doing!
The solution? A Skype interview where they see me, my passport and a letter from work confirming who I am and where I live which will be photographed during the appointment. (They rejected my offer to scan and send these details, even though that is essentially what they’ll be doing live anyway.) When? February 25th, six weeks after the problem was found. I was advised that I’d get temporary access to my account in between times. I haven’t, and I’ve been too deaf and fed up to try and sort it out. So I’m currently hoping that my hearing clears enough for me to phone and the Internet issues are resolved in time for me to attend the appointment, although I’m not holding my breath for either.
These bumps are a test of my patience; not my courage or skills, and I’m finding it quite wearing. Having done all I can for the time being, I have to put these issues into the lap of the Gods and it seems to me, for the first time in 18 months, that they have deserted me.
Of course, another explanation is that adventure mode is finally being replaced by normal life mode and I am starting to tune into a more settled life style with all its regular, everyday problems.
And that, truthfully, is probably a good sign that I’m on the right road.