A concern came with the alertness of the Air Asia AK 39 cabin crew who were busy checking all passengers as a sign that the plane would soon be landed on the Cochin International Airport runway.
Air Asia’s six wheels even hit the ground before one o’clock in the morning, while my head was still full of questions.
“Will there be a passenger waiting room at the airport after the immigration counter?”
“If there is no such facility, is it true that I have to wait outside the airport building until the sun rises in Kerala?”
“Or do I have to carry out Plan B where I will sleep while sitting in a restaurant outside the airport terminal building?”….Yes, that was my final plan if there wasn’t a waiting room at the airport after completing immigration matters.
Never mind, I’ve prepared myself for all possibilities….
The beautiful Indian flight attendant smiled while signaling that it was safe for passengers to leave the cabin. I stepped along the aisle of the cabin confidently.
Took a Look at the Arrival Hall
Walking through the non-glass aerobridge made me unable to enjoy the situation around the apron. Because usually I would stand on the side of the aerobridge and take some pictures of the unloading activity around the plane. But I was still lucky because I was directed through the arrival hall corridor with glass walls, I thought the windows were wide enough and allowed me to enjoy the airport view facing the runway.
I stared at the eight-filled arrival card that the flight attendant gave me a moment before landing while continuing to rush along the floor without a carpet until I arrived at the immigration counter.
“Stupid….”, I cursed myself that apparently had lost the only pen to fill out the arrival card. At the tables where foreign passengers filled out the sheets, there wasn’t even a pen that could be used.
As a result, I had to go around borrowing pens from passengers who had finished filling out the arrival cards. Without hesitation, several passengers seemed to ignore me and chose to refuse on the grounds of being in a hurry.
But an unexpected incident came….The male passenger who sat next to me on the whole flight came over….
“For you….Just keep it”, with an Indian accent, he smiled.
“Thank you, Sir…”, I said
“Happy traveling….”, he smiled and walked away leaving me to immediately join the group of worshipers from the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple who seemed to be pushing towards the immigration desk.
Yups, this is the most unique immigration counter I’ve ever encountered.
At Cochin International Airport, the immigration counter is not in the form of standing counters, but a counter that is set very similar to an interview table. Every foreigner will be seated in front of the immigration officer and interrogated with several questions. It’s tense, but for me, the excitement side stands out more.
I took out my passport, eVisa, and Hotel Booking Confirmation while waiting for a European woman to be interrogated at the immigration desk. After that, I was asked to sit down and the officers began to interrogate me.
Two attendants stood by to question me at the counter, one sitting facing the laptop and one standing.
As soon as I handed in the documents, an officer sitting in front of a laptop immediately started looking for information about me in their immigration database.
Immigration officer: “Mr. Donny Suryanto? If yes, you’ve visited India once, haven’t you?”
Me: “Yes, Sir. New Delhi and Agra. Beautiful cities in your country”.
Immigration Officer: “How long will you visit Kochi?”
Me: “Two days”.
Immigration officer: “Oh, just two days. Why?”
Me: “This is just a transit trip to get a cheap flight to Dubai, Sir. Cause I’m a backpacker, Sir”
Immigration officer: “Clever…No matter for a very short vacation. Happy traveling, Mr. Donny”
Me: “Thank you, Sir”.
I very quickly and easily went through the interrogation stages at the Cochin International Airport immigration counter. Now I hurry and swing through customs and easily arrived at the exit door.
I was so happy when in front there was a small row of seats.
“Yeaaa….I’ll wait for the morning in that row of chairs”, my worries have vanished.
This was the waiting chair.
It was on my right-hand side that was where I exchange Dollars.
But before actually sitting down, I started hunting for Rupees for purposes while exploring Kochi. I approached the foreign currency exchange counter owned by Thomas Cook Change Currency.
Me: “How much is the minimum Dollar which can be exchanged here, Sir?”
Counter clerk: “100 Dollars, Sir”
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, I just need to change a few dollars into Rupees”
Counter clerk: “No problem, Sir”
I left the counter to go to another counter that can serve exchanges under 100 US Dollars. Finally I was able to exchange 5 US Dollars and 5 Malaysian Ringgits to get 320 Rupees at the Weizmann Forex Money Exchange. That much rupees would even be left over for my two day adventure in Kochi. Very cheap right?…..
Meanwhile, for communication access, I decided to use an Airtel 4G SIM card. Because I bought it after exchanging US Dollars, I bought the SIM card with a 3GB quota using a 5 US Dollar bill.
“It takes four hours to activate your card”, said the seller to me as soon as I left the telecommunications counter.
Although in the end, I would never be able to activate the SIM card that I bought during my adventure exploring Kochi….Damn.
Several Rupees were in hand and communication access was in hand, now I could sit in a row of empty seats at the last end of the arrival hall. India was known for its cold air in January, so I feel grateful to be able to wait for the morning to come inside the airport.
It was still half past three in the morning when I sat on one of the benches…..
For more than five hours of waiting time, I could only witness the discipline of a soldier guarding the entrance gate to the area inside the airport. The soldier was never tired of combining sitting and standing movements for hours to check the traffic of airport staff, airline ground staff, and other officers when going in and out of the area inside the airport building.
Or witness the typical ritual when some guests pickers place their palms on the feet of the person being picked up as a form of respect. The rest I could never completely close my eyes in that waiting chair.
And so on, until exactly eight in the morning, I decided to leave the waiting room to go to the Royal Wings Hotel which was located 1.3 kilometers in the west of airport.
As usual, before I left the airport area, I took the time to explore all sides outside the airport building. Here were some spots in Cochin International Airport that I could show to you.
Did you want to know the Departure Hall of Cochin International Airport?…I would show you later….Be patient.
Came on, explore!….
What’s in Kochi?….