Who Says The Best Trip Is An Unplanned Trip?

Tya Ulfah

© Copyright 2021 by Tya Ulfah

Photo owned by the author.
                                                          Photo by the author.

At exactly 01.00 pm ACST, I stepped out of the bus. Today was the deadline for the Finance and Accounting group task. The course that had been running since last month was the toughest course I have ever taken in my life. How not, this was a foreign major for me. Luckily, I received an Australian Awards scholarship, but the program that I followed was a double degree with a predetermined major. Like it or not, I had to finish what I started. The winter that I had experienced for the first time in my life gave me a bad impression, but it wasn't bad either. It's just that, I still wanted to stay at home under an electric blanket. They told me that electric blankets were used as bedding. However, some say that it is a blanket, so wear it like a blanket. Thinking about the cost of electricity alone adds to the complications of my headache.

Fortunately the campus has been operating as usual after months of being shut down due to covid-19. So I could feel the free heater service without worrying about overbills later. I took my id card and tapped on automatic lock or whatever it is. The door automatically opened after identifying the owner id. The building which is separated from the main campus is a special building for the professional faculty. It is located not far, just opposite the main campus. The building, which is named Nexus, does not have a garden like the main campus, but there is a small cafeteria on the inside with all glass walls. So, people who passed by this building can see inside the café. The building, which is about 20 floors high, really suited me very well. Small areas allowed the student not to spend excessive time and energy to reach other places. There is a pantry, prayer room, study room, seminar room, incubation room which is usually used by those who are planning a start-up and also lots of computers. Those are the rooms that I usually met on the basement floor to the 2nd floor. The lecturers’ room is on the 11th and 12th floors. I've entered it when I had a tutorial appointment with an accounting lecturer before, even though I studied entrepreneurship.

This time my luck was not very good. This group should consist of 5 people. However, 1 person who is a Chinese cannot attend face-to-face due to travel restrictions. While the other two I think they are irresponsible students. That's just my personal judgment of them. Entering the study room, I walked quietly so as not to disturb those who were focusing. My teammate, Nam, looked very serious with her laptop. I approached Nam and then discussed while continuing to finish our group assignment. Overall, we had succeeded in compiling 70%. The rest, just tidied up and described the calculation results. We spent more than 3 hours in doing those. I asked Nam's permission to pray. Nam agreed, she also wanted some coffee at the vending machine.

When I came back from praying, I saw Nam seemed to be with someone. That's Jay, my classmate who last trimester had a group with Nam on a Venture Planning course.

'Hey, what are you guys talking about? It looks really fun!' I said suddenly interrupting their excitement.

'We're planning a vacation, it's almost the end of our college.' Jay said with a smile.

'The vacation we talked about earlier, to the Great Barrier Reef.' continued Nam giving a code of agreement through his eyes.

'Oh yes, has the cost been calculated. I have to plan my budget so I can save too.' I said.

'Oh yeah, by the way, let's just talk outside and don't disturb other people.' I continued while tidying up my things, putting them in my bag.

We headed out together. And there was another one who had been waiting for us. He is Korn. His name reminded me of a member of the Black Organization in the Detective Conan anime franchise, where the names of the members are coded for alcohols around the world.

We gathered at a rectangular table with high chairs like in a bar. Beside us, there is a piano that students usually play when they are resting. The piano is now bordered by a ribbon just like a police line, instructing students not to touch it during this pandemic.

Korn turned out to be very professional and this surprised me. We all know that Korn's hobby is traveling. However, unexpectedly as soon as we gathered, he immediately took out a piece of paper containing a list of the places we were going to visit. The plan was to visit the Great Barrier Reefs. However, the list of places to visit in Brisbane, Queensland, is neatly written, followed by a tour in Cairns where we will travel by cruise to the main destination from there.

Not only tourist attractions, he even wrote down strategic but economical options hotels for us students.

Me, Nam, and Jay just looked at the list while opening google maps and google earth to check these places. After finishing with the checking, we started discussing transportation issues. Turned out it took 3 flights for this one trip, Adelaide-Brisbane, Brisbane-Cairns, and Cairns-Adelaide. I started to make an expression to cover my panic because it turned out that the budget for air transportation is quite expensive. After Jay and Korn calculated the total cost, it was Nam's turn to take on the role of booking rooms at the hotels we would stay in later. I was still silent. Conflict broke out inside me.

It turned out that Jay was very considerate. He was able to notice that I had not responded to our plan. Jay started to move his facial muscles giving a confused expression.

'Aya, is something wrong? Are you okay?' Jay asked.

'I'm a little confused, this trip costs quite a bit,' I tell them.

The three of them showed confused expressions and looked at each other.

'Aya, this is only once. Trust me, we all need refreshment. Not necessarily in the future we can return to Australia for sightseeing.' Nam tried to reassure me.

'Hey, I know you might be feeling heavy on this trip. But, come on…. It will be an unforgettable trip. We don't know when we will meet again. We'd struggled together to be good students.' Jay continued to persuade me.

'Yeah, but I couldn't believe it would be this expensive.' I started to suppress my words trying to show that I was serious.

'Aya, having the opportunity to see the beauty of the world is not something that will come twice. After all, we're going to the Great Barrier Reefs. Not just a metropolitan that can be found everywhere. Even if they are both metropolitan, the atmosphere will definitely be different because the people who live in it are different.' Jay didn't give up.

'Aya, come on let's engrave memories and enjoy this short vacation. You're going home at the end of the year anyway. There's not even time to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Australia.' Nam tried hard to convince me.

'Hmmm….' I tried to think for a moment, looking at the two of them. My gaze shifted to Korn. He's been silent ever since. However, I saw his eyes give a hint of invitation.

Still I was reluctant to go but the small desire to spend time with them prompted me to be silent.

Seeing me just silent and not refusing, Jay gestured to Nam to book hotels and he paid the full cost of the plane tickets. I couldn't help but be expressionless but glaring a little at not expecting the two of them to be so proactive.

'Oh shittt….' I said in my mind.

'All right,' Korn said, 'Planning is complete. Don't forget to bring your passport and id card. Also my reimbursement tickets cost'

'Do we need to have a health check like a covid-19 test?' Nam asked us.

'I think we just need to fill out the police form on this website,' answered Jay while sending a link to a whatsapp group consisting of us only.

'It seems that because there had only been around 3 cases in Adelaide since the last few months, it's safer for us to travel outside. Compared to those from Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland to enter Adelaide.' Jay added.

'Okay, let's fill out this form,' I said, who had given up, limp.

I really felt trapped. Looked like the savings I've accumulated with great struggle would run out in an instant. Plus a souvenir for the folks back home.

We separated and walked out. Jay walked to the main campus, Korn walked to Rundle Mall, and Nam walked to a different bus stop from me. I walked to the nearest bus stop, about 20-30 steps from the exit. I walk like a limp but be careful. Did not want to be a victim of criminal acts that usually occured unexpectedly. Although more often safe and sound.

The bus could be seen from behind the corner and slowed down as it got closer to the bus stop. I took out the metro card to tap on the bus entrance. AUD 1.87 was deducted from my card balance. I chose a seat a bit back. Since the pandemic and many are working and studying from home, buses were not as crowded as before. One row of benches is usually only occupied by one person. Even I once experienced alone with only the driver on the bus. It was like a private bus. Fun, not overcrowded. The journey from campus to where I live is about 40 minutes on average. Sometimes it can take an hour if it's stuck and only takes about 30 minutes if it's loose. To reach home, I need two buses on the way. Transit in Arndale, not Arendale in Frozen movie, waiting for the bus on the route home.

Entering the room, I opened the closet looking at the clothes I would bring later. Some are still dirty. There are two days. I could wash and iron it. I was trying to remember where I put my passport. Since arriving in Adelaide and getting a student id, I'd never used a passport again. I started to dismantle the possible places. Finally, found it. I put my passport along with my wallet and other things in one part of the bag that I will take with me on the trip later. I opened an account to transfer money from my savings account. I transferred the lodging fee to Nam and the flight fee to Jay. Waiting for the day of departure with uncertain feeling.

That day we planned to gather on campus. However, since Korn lives close to the airport, he decides to go alone. Jay suddenly called me telling me to go straight to the airport myself. Jay had apparently arrived at the airport. Likewise with Nam.

'They really are outrageous,' I said indignantly.

I took a bus from home to Arndale and from there I took a bus that would stop close to the bus stop going to the airport in the CBD later. What really nice is that there are so many bus stops in the CBD as it is a hub in all directions in South Australia. 3 buses managed to get me to the airport in time. However, I forgot the way to this check point and drop my baggage. I took my cell phone, I called Jay, in times of crisis Jay is the most reliable person. Finally with the help of Jay's navigation over the phone, I managed to get in. As it turned out, Jay and Nam were waiting for Korn and me.

'Hasn't Korn arrived, his house is near?' I asked cluelessly.

'Korn just came home because his luggage was very heavy. We only paid for the free baggage provided from the tickets we bought.' Jay explained.

'All right,' my curt response.

While waiting, we looked around. It took Korn about half an hour to return to the airport. Finally we stepped into the self-check-in machine. Then weigh the luggage for the cabin later. After that, we headed to the waiting room for boarding.

We chose a bench that is quite far from people to avoid crowds while waiting boarding time. Finally we take pictures and immortalize them on social media accounts. Korn suddenly took out meal from his bag. Then offer it to us.

'You haven't had lunch yet?' I asked.

This is my dinner.’ Korn replied casually.

'Hah? Dinner?’ we were shocked at the same time.

'It's still 5pm?' Jay said.

'Yes I know. It's my dinner time.’ Korn responded.

Thinking for a while then we looked for something at the airport to eat. Jay went to the cafeteria and bought lunch. Nam and I went to the vending machine and I just bought drinks and chocolate bars. I have a history of motion sickness on both land and air travel. And later I will take a cruise, of course I have to prepare myself.

The whole way I fell asleep. I woke up when the plane was right over the Brisbane CBD. The light from the buildings below was amazing. It was like a giant conection of nerves on the earth. Without wasting time I took pictures from a height. The details weren't caught on camera, but with the specs of the camera I have on my phone, the image quality is very good. Moreover, the reliability of shooting at night supports bright image quality even in low light conditions.

At 6pm we boarded and at 8pm we arrived in Brisbane. Korn was right, we didn't have time to look for dinner again. Tired is the only thing that comes to mind and I felt like I wanted to arrive at the hotel immediately to lie down the achy body from sleeping in a sitting position on the plane. We ordered an uber car to the hotel.

Upon arrival at the hotel, it turned out that there were only two rooms left and they were located differently. One on the 6th floor and another on the 10th floor. Because we were too tired to complain, we finally took the room. It was also impossible to find other lodging because it was already night. After getting our respective rooms, we prepare the needs for tomorrow's agenda. There will be many places that Korn has laid out and I can't wait to visit them. My frustration turned into excitement.

This morning destination is the Gold Coast. Anxiety comes erratically. In this place, Covid-19 cases fluctuated. So we have to be careful and really stay away from the crowd. Out of the hotel we headed towards the train station to buy a prepaid transportation card. Since we couldn't access the bus with cash, we walked to the station. Korn has everything arranged. Me, Nam, and Jay just followed along. After buying a prepaid card, we all headed to the departure platform. Actually seeing trains with many carriages was common when I was in Indonesia. However, in Adelaide, the train only has about 4 carriages. So, sometimes I found it difficult to tell the difference between a train and a tram (light trail). When we arrived at the platform to the Gold Coast, we noticed a very long train with maybe 10 carriages.

'You see, if in Adelaide we have trains, then here we have traiiiinnnnns,' Jay started joking.

'Yes that's right. I can't understand why the train in Adelaide is so short.' I responded.

Jokes after jokes accompanied by laughter adorned the moment we waited for the train at the station.

Entering the train, it turns out that the atmosphere inside looks more special for traveling long distances compared to interconnected trains in general.

Jay even looked for a toilet in the train. I said that there are no toilets usually on trains. However, Jay managed to find him.

The both sides around is just a forest filled with wild plants, savanna and steppes. This trip is quite time consuming. We were in the train for about an hour until we transited at the Gold Coast station to change the light trail directly to the Gold Coast beach. Of course under the guidance of Korn, our trip organizer. When we left the hotel, the weather was very sunny. However, when we arrived at the beach, the clouds slowly gathered as if to welcome us. Little by little lumps and thickens. Clouds also covered the coast to the middle of the sea. Truly an unexpected sight, leaving an unpleasant impression.

Took a walk by the beach and took pictures. That's all we could do. Couldn't swim because the waves are very big due to storm in this cloudy weather. Look around, that's what we do all the time. Because the weather seemed reluctant to change, we decided to go back to look at other places around. There is a tall building that we want to climb as well as feel the sensation of being at an altitude without a glass seeing the surrounding scenery directly.

We were in line planning to buy admission tickets. It turned out that after asking the price of the individual ticket, which was even more expensive than the cost of staying at the hotel overnight, we finally canceled the good intention.

From there we visited the mall, looked around, compared things with Adelaide, commented on everything that caught our eyes and not forget to take pictures to keep the memory.

The sun continued to move until it was noon. We walked around looking for food, it was very difficult to put the taste of our food together. I am Muslim who have special dietary requirements, such as not eating pork and avoiding containers used for pork. So, I had to look for food from a Turkish or Pakistani restaurant. Of course, there are no Indonesian restaurants here. How awful. Jay, Nam, and Korn have agreed to eat at a Thai restaurant. I excused myself for a second to buy take away and eat with them. Of course, with my clothes, people can easily identify my need for food. A person of Arab nationality invited me to chat while I ordered Turkish food such as satay but I forgot the name. That man and I really enjoyed our chat until my order came. The person said terima kasih which means thanks and 'Assalamualaikum'. I felt like home for a moment. Smiling, I returned the greeting and rushed off to my friends' place. We eat together. Coincidentally, their order also just arrived.

After eating, we went to the station to return to the city. The next trip we were heading to the Queen St Mall in the middle of the city. The classic but unique buildings really caught our attention as photo spots. We planned to ride the Fairy's wheel which is located across the river. Walking, crossing the bridge that covered the view of the wheel and tall skyscrapers. There are about four giant birds that are mounted on buildings that are rather high. Maybe a specific building, we didn't know. However, when we arrived at the giant wheel, it turned out to be very quiet. Is it because covid-19 caused the game to be closed? We continued to South Bank then Kangaroo point. It's been a tiring journey. However, there are many good spots that are suitable for capturing the moment through the camera.

Spending a very long time at Kangaroo Cliff, Korn got very satisfying scenery photos even though the weather was a bit cloudy. It was getting dark and we watched the building's lights came one by one. We looked for a bus and headed back to Queen St Mall to buy some food. Really a tiring day. We planned to visit Jay’sfriend the next day and proceeded to the airport to catch a plane to Cairns. At the inn in Cairns we ended up staying together unlike in a hotel where we stayed on different floors. The weather was cool but not cold. We rented a simple apartment which is usually reserved for tourists. We packed up our luggage for the next day to get ready for the Great Barrier Reefs.

I glanced at the Great Barrier Reefs promotional flyer. Exquisite. Nonetheless, the innkeeper said that many coral reefs have been damaged over the last 20 years and hoped that we would not be disappointed.

That morning, the weather was cloudy and the wind was very strong. I feel a bit cold, but compared to the topless Jay and the sexy Nam, I still feel better. The journey from the port of Cairns to the Great Barrier Reefs takes about an hour by boat. The waves are very strong because the weather is cloudy. However, right on the Great Barrier Reefs, the weather was very clear. We are very happy. Together with the crew and other tourists, we went out to take safety equipment such as fins, snorkel, mask and so on. I can't swim so I had to wait for the guide to avoid disaster. Korn and Jay had jumped into the sea. Nam goes into the sea but seems to be a bit shocked and returns to the ship with the help of the crew. Not long after the guide came, I entered holding onto the buoy pulled by the guide. On his instructions, we moved away from the ship and looked at the bottom of the sea. Amazing view. If we dive in coastal areas, it will be very rare to find marine animals. However, now I see fish, turtles and seahorses swimming at the bottom. Unfortunately, the coral reefs are dying. The colors of the coral reefs are gone. There is only white dead coral whose surface has hardened.

It is a pity that the waves are so strong. Sea water enters the snorkel. I found it difficult to breathe and signaled the guide to return. The guide took me back to the ship. Although it is very short, but I am very satisfied. I really feel lucky to have had this valuable experience.

This visit took a very long time. Maybe 4 to 5 hours. On the way home, I felt very dizzy and nauseous. Unable to hold it in, I ended up draining my bowels in the toilet. The shaking of the ship also shook my stomach, which had only been breakfast brownies. After 3 times of vomiting, I changed clothes and felt very weak. The three of them offered me hot drinks, sweet drinks, and snacks. However, my helplessness had taken away my appetite. I tried to rest on the way home. Arriving at the dock, I felt a little relieved. We continued to visit souvenirs. However, nothing caught my attention. Finally we walked along the beach. Watching people play volleyball, swimming and sightseeing.

I had an argument with Nam when we were about to wait for the bus. However, Nam walks without knowing where the bus stop sign is.

Where are you guys going?’ Korn asked Nam and Jay who seemed to continue walking.

I laughed and it sparked Nam's emotions.

'Aya, can you stop laughing when other people make mistakes.' Nam said curtly.

'Why? I just find it funny.' I asked still laughing.

'I don't know why I feel uncomfortable when people laugh at me.' Nam's expression is annoyed.

'Okay.' I said smiling but feeling guilty.

The next day, we returned to Adelaide together and prepared ourselves for the new trimester.

My name is Tya Ulfah (pronounce as Tia) from Indonesia. I live in a state called Aceh located at the top of Sumatera Island. This area was attacked by Tsunami in the end of 2004. Since I was young, I invested quite a long time for writing. I wrote various types of stories including daily journal. It was about 3 to 4 hours after coming back from school. I stopped writing when I entered middle school due to being representative at Olympiad and other competitions related school. I have just started to write again in January this year. My dream is to publish my own non-fiction books. Many stories and experience that I want to share the readers about. I decided to write even though I am looking for job at the same time. However, if I am acknowledged, I’d like to commit in writing full-time. I found myself enjoy a quiet workplace.

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