White Knuckle Ride


I am absolutely terrified of heights. I may even have vertigo of sorts. Living on the 5th floor of our apartment in Jakarta is frankly 4 floors too many off the ground for me. There is no way that I can stand on our balcony or dare to even open the windows, tempting though it may be. They are the classically designed windows which shout ‘jump to your death’ as they open up at crotch height and then straight out, just begging for my inner demon to say ‘JUMP’. One Bintang too many and I could, at any given time, plunge straight to my death. Dear reader, I don’t want to plunge to my death, it’s the last thing I want to do, but if you suffer from this desperate irrational fear of heights that I have, it’s simply the scariest thing in the world to be even just a few inches off the ground. Worse still there is no way to lock these windows so every night I pray that I don’t sleep walk…………

Pedro and I were up early this morning to catch our flight to Bali. It was pouring with rain as we drove to the airport but we were excited and didn’t care in the least.
Because it was a domestic flight, we found ourselves for the first time at Terminal 3 at Soukarno Hatta airport. Bright, modern and airy, it is a far cry from the main International flights terminal that we have grown used to. With Air con throughout and clean as a whistle, I even managed to use the ‘High Pressure Hose’ in the ‘Ladies’ without causing myself any blushes.
We boarded our flight to Bali and settled into our seats in Row 4 (E,F) I was just perusing the ‘in flight’ menu when the stewardess came and asked to see our boarding cards. Pedro delved into his jacket and handed them over. ‘Oh, I am so sorry Sir, you have wrong seat’ you go to 14 E,F’ – Shucks we thought, as we took our bags, camera’s and roll of drawing paper out of the overhead locker.

Settled now in Row 14 E,F the first thing that I noticed was the wonderful ‘leg room’ that had suddenly become available. ‘Wow Pedro! Look! we can stretch our legs!’ ‘It’s amazing!’. It was amazing! It was absolutely amazing until the moment when it suddenly dawned on me that we were right by the Emergency Exit. The plane was now full and I was stuck right by the EMERGENCY EXIT. You may laugh and you may smile, but for me that was the worst seat on the entire plane. Pedro seeing the blood draining from my face and feeling my sweaty palms suggested that we immediately swop places. I had a dilemma though, do I dare to fight my demons for the sake of a ‘window seat’ and take some photos, or, do I chicken out there and then, and swop with him? I decided to fight my demons.
We went through the usual safety procedures and then horror upon horror the stewardess made a beeline for me. ‘Madam, you are sitting by Emergency Exit. Please make sure that you DO NOT TRY TO OPEN THIS DOOR, unless we ask you to’ – Fabulous. I was now fully responsible for the entire safety of a packed Boeing 737 plus my own welfare of course.

(I eyeballed the door and then eyeballed the clear and simple instructions on how to release the door to my right. The feeling was a bit like being a kid, and your Mum saying ‘Don’t touch that, it’s hot’ and? well most of us know what then happens…..)

I sat for the first half of the journey with white knuckles, trying desperately not to read the signs that instructed me on how easy it was to open the Emergency Door. Just one small careless slip of my hand and the entire contents of the plane could be sucked out into space. The responsibility was enormous and all the time that dark, satanic, vertigo demon was saying ‘Jump, Jump! Go on, open the door, you know you want to’ Frankly I would rather have gone into the cockpit and flown the bloody plane, rather than be sat by THAT door. I tried very hard to count all the Volcanoes that we flew over (and there were quite a few) and make polite conversation to the lovely Indonesian lady, Rini, who was sat on Pedro’s left but, at the end of the day, there’s only so much white knuckling I can do so I chickened out and swopped places with Pedro. I was however, still only inches from that door handle ………………………

We are now safely in Bali (as are the other passengers of flight 72207). It has been worth a lifetimes wait to be here and I can’t wait to show you some lovely photo’s and share our adventures with you all.

6 thoughts on “White Knuckle Ride

  1. I don’t mind heights Lottie, but I have an irrational fear of flying. Irrational not because I fear the plane crashing and my meeting an untimely death but because my fear is of a mid-air collision in which I survive the initial impact only to be sucked out of what remains of the plane and plummet to earth, not like a speeding bullet but slow enough for me to fret about my forthcoming judgement day. The fact that outside temperatures at 33,000 feet are likely to be around minus 50 degrees i.e. unsurvivable is neither here nor there. To end on a positive note, my fear of flying has subsided a little bit over the past 5 or 6 years due mainly to more frequent flying funnily enough.

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  2. Oh Eamon – I absolutely am with you on that one. I used to hate flying, really hate it, but now I just get on with it. Except of course when I’m sat with my elbow resting on the handle of the Emergency Exit!
    It’s pathetic I know! but I thought I’d share my madness with the world and tomorrow get cracking with the real stuff – Bali! Even in the space of 3 hours we are both besotted with the place!

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  3. I am not good with heights myself and I know what you you mean about “Only open this door in an an emergency” It’s like the devil in your head saying go on you know you want to open it!

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