About 7 years ago, Dan got an American visa stapled into his passport. When leaving, the American customs guy ripped it out, and tore a tiny piece off the page corner. Usually this has warranted no more than glare and a few questions at passport control but Medan airport in Sumatra, Indonesia was a little different.
The passport control man stared at the passport for about a minute, then marched purposefully over to someone else, who pulled Dan into a room for questioning. I was left standing, bemusedly, at the desk. The guy who had completely screwed Dan over grinned at me and said, 'Looks like your boyfriend's in trouble', before stamping my own passport and sending me on my way. I waited for fifteen minutes, unsure if Dan was on a plane back to Kuala Lumpur when eventually he emerged, looking pale and wan. The official had flipped through his passport several times, and told him that he couldn't let him in, he had turned away people for less than this a week ago. Dan, with nothing else to do, continually said sorry and insisted there was nothing on the page corner. I'm not sure why he let him in if it was apparently such a big deal but we weren't going to question it any further.
After that we paid $50 in airport tax to some guy at a desk, for reasons we still don't understand. All this took so long that when we arrived at the baggage carousel, it had stopped and the remaining bags were in a pile at the wall. I say bags, I meant 'bag'. Because only mine arrived. Dan's was still sitting, presumably, in KL. The Air Asia staff cheerfully explained that they couldn't deliver our bags to Bukit Lawang because it was too far away. The alternative was that we just wait in the airport until they arrive. This did not suit very well, as our Expedition Jungle driver was waiting at arrivals. We waited for Anna and James to arrive on the following flight, while deciding what to do. They were late, and eventually showed up displaying signs of distress. What ails you, we asked. Their bags were in KL.
The staff eventually agreed to send the bags, but we weren't feeling very reassured. All we could do was wait and see.
Andre was our guide for the whole Sumatra trip. We had booked an Expedition Jungle adventure online, which included Andre picking us up, bringing us to see elephants, showing us where to eat, teaching us useful Indonesian phrases, and generally being an all-round fantastic guide. The trip to Tangkahan village, where we would see the elephants, took five hours on mostly dirt roads with the consistency of a particularly crater-filled part of the moon. We drove through lots of little villages, with houses and stalls mostly made from wood, though many had a brand new expensive looking mosque. This made me sad, and I hate to think that's what the government channels money into.
Tangkahan was breathtakingly beautiful. It's a village in the jungle across a huge river. You had to take a rather treacherous looking rope bridge to get to the other side, but I'm sure no one ever falls in. We had two rooms with a shared balcony. The cold-only shower (hose) and non-flushing toilet (you just pour water down it) took a bit of getting used to (I didn't get used to it) but the room was large and comfy and the view from our balcony was spectacular. Just down from our cabin was the bar. They served cheese toasties. I no longer cared even slightly about the shower.