What do you do when your working holiday visa for New Zealand gets cancelled while you are already on the way there? You fly to Indonesia instead! That’s right. Of course my visa had to have some issues and of course I had to be notified about that during my stopover in Dubai and get stuck there with no clue of what to do! But let’s put things in order.
When I decided to go to New Zealand on a working holiday visa, I knew that my application had to be processed as a special case and, for some specific circumstances, I wasn’t sure that I would get one. After a month and a couple of emails with the immigration officer, my visa was finally approved. This happened while I was stil traveling in Asia but I decided to go back to Europe for a while to start planning my next move to New Zealand from there.
In the meantime, my boyfriend was back in Melbourne for work and the plan was to meet in the land of the Kiwi, so we went ahead to book tickets and accommodation and organize what we needed for the first couple of weeks. I started imagining myself in Wellington while walking along the harbor, climbing up Mt. Victoria and having brunch in ‘the coolest little capital in the world’—as has been defined by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel (2011). After following step by step any suggestions and trovers from Young Adventuress, who is definitely THE expert in NZ, I was ready to go.
It’s time for the goodbyes and, with a few jumpers and winter clothes in my luggage, here I am at the Venice airport, ready to board my first flight to Dubai. I have 9 hours in Dubai before my next flight and it’s night time, so I find a decent spot and kill my time reading and napping. Finally it is time for my next flight but, when I go to the gate, something is wrong. My ticket beeps loudly under the scanner and another member of security needs to check some of my documents. He asks to see my return ticket and my visa, which I show him, but apparently there is a note on their system that says to call immigration and he doesn’t understand why.
Another nice lady from Emirates arrives and she doesn’t understand what’s wrong either so they try to call immigration, but the number that they have is wrong and no one is picking up. Another check of my documents, my return ticket is there and they can see it in system, my visa is approved so they are not sure what to do. Eventually they manage to get ahold of someone at immigration in New Zealand and apparently some information was missing from my application, so they cancelled my visa. The lady is shocked and very sorry but she can’t let me on the plane. She let me speak with the officer and there is no way for me to fly there without doing the application process again.
How wonderful! Okay, there is no time to panic, what’s next?
My boyfriend is heading to the airport in Melbourne so I have to reach him as soon as possible! The staff from Emirates, whom were joking around to make me feel better, let me use a phone: “Jarel, I’m in Dubai. My Visa got cancelled. No New Zealand. What do we do?”
After a couple minutes we are already planning our trip in Indonesia. Jakarta is half way and the cheaper option for the both of us—perfect.
Emirates staff is showing me where to go to change the ticket, telling me what to do, which flight is better and making fun of my love story. They really made everything easier and helped me a lot.
I have another 12 hours before my next flight, many things to organize and people to warn but have no internet connection. You can pay to have it in Dubai but it wasn’t working for some reason and the airport help desk couldn’t figure it out. At this point a guy from the helpdesk let me use his personal hotspot to make a couple of skype calls! Seriously, how nice is that?
I am really starting to feel like I am in the movie ‘The Terminal’ and Dubai airport is becoming my new home, but it’s time to leave for Jakarta. The flight goes smoothly and I check in at the Fave hotel where I collapse in my pink decorated room while waiting for Jarel.
Jakarta wasn’t exactly the place to be, at least not for us, so we went to Bali. And, yes, the trip was totally unplanned and my luggage heavy with winter clothes. We didn’t have a clue of where to go and with a bit more planning I would have seen other parts of the island, but I still managed to fall in love with Ubud.
This very long story is to say that, when you travel, sometimes unexpected things happen and they can still bring some really good things, but at one condition: you can’t let them bring you down. Think fast, find a solution, and go!