Back on June 12th, The Office deployed two teams of two to do security audits on Bank of Indonesia’s National Clearing System (Sistem Kliring Nasional; SKN for short). One team was sent to Tarakan, while Icha and myself got Metro, Lampung as a destination. A security audit on The Company’s role on the two locations as local clearinghouses (in the stead of the central bank) is mandated by our central bank, Bank of Indonesia.
At first, Icha and I hesitated about our means of transportation. The Company would only approve the use of land transportation to reach Metro. A big bummer, since it would take a painstaking ten hours of minibus – naik travel as it is known in our lingo – ride. We finally opted for the plane instead. It costs more than twice of our travel allowance but we saved many hours of cramped legs and overheated bottoms. Luckily, our boss granted a subsidy scheme for me and Icha. Thanks, boss!
The plane ride took about 40 minutes, which puts my one and a half hour of waiting at the airport in contrast. Darn. I was nearly asleep when the flight attendant half-shouted, “Dear passengers, we’re about to land in Radin Inten II, the airport of Tanjung Karang.” Radin Inten II??!?! That’s not what the branch office people told me! They told me that I’d be landing on Branti Airport!!! Gulp. The prospect of waiting for the driver to come to the right airport did not interest me. The uncertainty that shrouded me during the approach and landing finally lifted when I see a marble panel on the airport building’s wall: Branti Airport. Apparently, the local government had moved the airport to a new location and renamed it. Phew. What a relief! The driver who picked us up later told me that the old Branti Airport was abandoned after an airplane accident occured there, only to be replaced by a new airport at a new site which after some time was abandoned again due to another airplane accident. *grin*
As Icha and I wore plain clothes, the driver had some difficulty recognizing us, and vice versa. Anyway, we finally identified him: a man in blue, the corporate color. After quick greetings, we went straight to our hotel in the city of Metro. The drive took about 40 minutes – should be 25 had it not been for the darn potholes on the road, making us had to zigzag about half of the way. The city itself is a quiet, clean, small town, a melting pot of Indonesian cultures. Many of the places there are named after locations in Central and East Java, while its citizenship consists mainly of Javanese, Padangese, and many others. The native Lampungese are a minority there, though.
While I was on the bus on the way to Soekarno-Hatta Airport that morning, I had a smalltalk with the guy sitting beside. He asked me, “Where will you stay in Metro? Sheraton?” My heart blossomed, “Sheraton?! Whoa! Cool!” I simply said, “I don’t know, I had the branch office arrange it for me.” I blame the guy for giving me false hopes. Our hotel turned out to be Hotel Nuban – don’t ask about the name, I couldn’t care less –, a typical run-of-the-mill small city hotel. We checked in, brought our baggages in, and thanked and dismissed the driver. It turned out that the Sheraton is located in Bandar Lampung, a good an hour and a half drive from Metro.
The four days and four nights stay wasn’t a pleasurable experience. My hotel room’s windows couldn’t be closed. The hinges were rusted beyond any possible movement. The result was a really unpleasant sleep with mosquitos having a feast on my skin and car engine smoke blowing into my room every morning. I even had it with the mosquito bites and bought a mosquito repellent lotion. I didn’t have the nerve of asking for another room, for our two rooms are the only most expensive rooms there. I didn’t dare to see how the cheaper rooms fared. The TV showed only four TV channels – not the hotel’s fault, BTW; it’s the city’s location – and there’s no hot showers. The breakfast menu offered absolutely nothing inspiring: a daily palate of cream bread and a DIY cup of coffee or tea. I must spare the hotel, though. I’ve been around the town and I must confess it’s the best hotel there is. The other ones were drab and cheap looking ones with a lot of trucks parked in front, showing the nature of their clientéle.
The audit itself went smooth. Our hosts were hospitable and friendly. The everyday Padang lunches were also okay, they were very delicious. As it was only a three days site visit, mainly we only did data gathering for the audit. More extensive tests and analysis would be done back at The Office afterwards. The semi-exit conference was a bit hard though. There were some resistence, of course, but we managed to get an understanding. But not before I felt the usual guilty feeling for the auditee, as if I was rubbing their mistakes all over their own face. *sigh*
We left the hotel on Saturday, June 16th. The branch head, who was attending a training in Jakarta all the while we’re there, was scheduled to return at 8 o’clock. Our flight was scheduled on 10.05, so for the sake of efficiency, we relented when our host asked us if they can pick us up to go to the airport at 7 o’clock so they can go back to the city with the branch head in the car. So there we were, waiting for about two and a half hours at the airport.
The flight back to Soekarno-Hatta took longer, about 45 minutes. Perhaps the approach to the busier airport took longer, but overall it was a nice flight. I took the airport bus to Blok M, got dropped off near the Senayan flyover, and took a cab back home.