Although I’ve only been travelling for a few short weeks so far, I’ve had a lot of comments from friends, such as ‘wow, looks amazing’ ‘you look like you’re having the time of your life’.
Yes, it is amazing and yes I am having the time of my life, but … travel isn’t all Rainbows and Sparkles. Shit things happen, just like they do when you aren’t travelling.
This is my brief tale about how I got most of my clothes stolen at a Laundry service in Bali …
When left Christchurch, New Zealand, my bags weighed 11.6kg, better than I thought for a four month trip, though I was aiming for 10kg, so I knew I’d have to get rid of some things, like my old conserve shoes which are almost falling apart, or a few tops I’ve had for years.
At the time of thinking that, I had no idea that after just one week of travelling, I’d be missing about half of what I packed.
I arrived in Ubud, and had a fair amount of dirty washing, mainly due to getting quite sweaty, and after I climbed Mount Batur, and got quite dirty, I decided I needed to do a load of washing.
Not wanting to do it myself, I wandered across to the local laundry service, handed in my belongings – 3kg worth, was told it would cost 60,000 Rupiah ($6), not bad I thought, as they wash, dry and iron your clothes. I was given a receipt, which was a carbon copy, and had my signature, the date and price of my laundry. I wasn’t asked for contact details, just told to come back at 6pm.
What I didn’t realise was, it would be the last time I’d see those clothes**
So off I went, exploring the Cultural delights of Ubud. I returned just before 6pm, handed my receipt into the young Indonesian girl at the counter. She then handed me a package, which had the original receipt with my signature on it, but none of the clothes were mine! Horrified, I said “these aren’t my clothes!”
The girl called over, what looked to be her mother, and they searched though all the packages, which were see though. I immediately knew that they had gone. I had an awful feeling at the pit of my stomach, I knew something dodgy had gone on. I got quite shitty with the lady, asking what the heck she did with my clothes. Her English was poor, but from what I gathered, some ‘big man’ came in without a receipt, said he was picking up 3kg of clothes, signed a piece of paper which apparently matched my signature, and was given my clothes!
What the heck? Surely you’d notice in a see through package that the clothes in there belonged to you or not!
So after a while, they said “oh but the man stay in bungalow near here, we go find your clothes.” I let them know that I was leaving town at 7am, and I needed them back tonight. I went back and forth a few times, but they said they couldn’t be tracked down, so off I marched into town to find the nearest Police officer. Tearful, I explained my situation, and off we rode on the back of his scooter to the Laundry place. I felt a wee bit bad, as the lady looked really scared that the Police had showed up.
There were a lot of raised voices between them for a while. A local boy, whose English was the best translated. He apologised and said “this is not your fault, it’s ours, and we don’t want bad business, so we will try to find the man and return your clothes.” They told me to wait until 10pm. I waited a the guesthouse, where I had a wine, checked my travel insurance to see if I was covered (I was!) and also found out that I had more clothes left than I thought, including, two pairs of pants, a dress, 4 tops, a pair of shorts, 2 pairs of socks and 5 pairs of underwear. Substantially less than what I arrived with.
At 10pm, they arrived at my hostel, with no news .. they gave me a towel (my good travel towel was among my missing items), a t-shirt and pair of hippy pants, as compensation. The local boy asked me what I wanted –i.e. money. He said once found, they could mail my clothes to me. However, I then said I’d be returning briefly to Ubud in 4 day’s time, so that gave them time to find my clothes. We exchanged email addresses, but as yet I’ve heard nothing, and I’m doubting I will.
I guess I’m learning how to truly travel light … although some of the items I’ve lost don’t cost a lot (but some do), they have sentimental value. Maybe I should be less attached to things, and be less materialistic. As long as I gain a Police report, I can have a big shopping spree when I get back to the UK, and claim it on insurance.
**Edited to add … I returned to Ubud, and was reunited with my clothes. I only paid half of what I should have. Although I had been getting used to the less weight in my rucksack.
Lesson in materialism, learnt.