We had the idea of hopping the islands south of Bali and going from Timor to Australia. We hadn’t planned beyond that. There was a big problem with Australia letting us in. The country wasn’t open to us. For us to comply would’ve been a huge hassle. It may have been impossible. By that time we had been in six different countries, some of them more than once, Laos nine times, so what they wanted indeed seemed impossible. I wanted to ignore the stereotypical image I had of Australians: loud, brash, and bullying. I tried not to be intimidated. I held my cool, so to speak. There wasn’t much we could do to change the situation or soften the blow. We went back to the Australian Embassy in Djakarta a second time, hardly believing what they told us the first time. They first looked at us: an American couple with a gibbon. (I suppress the idea that we were being profiled.) Their requirement was very straightforward. They wanted us to secure police clearance from every country to which we’d been. But couldn’t they see we hadn’t been in any trouble? The idea! Police clearance from how many countries?
We hadn’t done Java yet; we wanted to see Bali. And then we’d have to backtrack, which at that stage didn’t seem that bad because that meant we’d do the East Coast of Java. But we wouldn’t get to see Australia, and we were left with the question of where we would go from there.
Traveling the distance between Indonesia and India required more than a visa; the situation in Burma complicated the matter. (One day in Southern Thailand we had accidentally almost ended up in Burma.) And by then we’d had had our fill of the Indian Ocean. But by the time we had negotiated our way back to Djakarta, our visas were about to expire. That meant the decision was made for us. No, we wouldn’t start again in Singapore.
Nothing, then, rescued us. We spent the money. We bought the cheapest airline tickets we could and understood that we had totally altered our itinerary. We flew to Bombay, a very big jump for us, way before we dreamed of going there; it actually made more sense than our original plan of touring Australia. Fate played a big part in our decision making and gave us the Sub-continent and a chance meeting of a close friend under the Gate of India. It also allowed us to take in the countries between there and Europe, and that wasn’t as hard in those days to do as it would be today. We were able then to do a lot more with our money than if we had ended up in Australia.