Thursday, July 9, 2015. I had been waiting for that day for what seemed like an eternity. We would begin our long journey that day, the ninth. But, no vacation would be complete without a little stress to make you remember why it is you need one to begin with.
And this type of stress is all part of the whole experience, the whole package.
Wednesday, I got an SMS from the bank about “prohibited” countries. My first thought was, “What the heck does that mean?” I continued reading the message which stated that, “If you plan to travel to Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Macao, your ATM card will not work.” It then said something about contacting the bank to activate your card so that you can use it in previously mentioned countries. I looked at the message again and again. Why on earth would a bank block your ATM card? Who cares where you travel? It’s your money! And then I had a flashback. When I was in Thailand a couple years back, my ATM didn’t work. I had no idea why and I was fortunate enough to have some other currency I could exchange. The bank wasn’t so “courteous” at that time, so I didn’t receive the nice SMS.
I called the bank. I was told my card would be activated. I called the next day to make sure. I didn’t trust the situation, so I withdrew cash and exchanged money in the airport. And it’s a good thing I did because when I tried to use my ATM in the airport in Kuala Lumpur, it didn’t work. When I read, “Declined for insufficient funds” I nearly had a heart attack. What kind of trip was it going to be?
We hopped on a plane to Langkawi. An hour later we were getting our bags and looking for our transport service to the villa. I tried the ATM machine. And guess what? My card didn’t work. I was slowly coming to a boil. Not only did I have to worry about being able to access cash, I also had to make an international call while roaming. It was Friday night which meant I would have to wait until Sunday to call the bank.
Sunday morning, KSA time, I started my the phone call game. I must’ve made about 10 to 15 calls that day. Not only did I have to navigate through the silly phone menus to speak to a human, but I also had the misfortune of my calls being dropped or the person on the other end couldn’t hear me. I did finally get through and I was told that it would be working in 24 hours. And of course, I had my doubts.
Twenty-four hours later, we went to town with a driver and stopped to use an ATM. I tried one machine but it apparently hadn’t yet awakened from its slumber. It must’ve been a rough night for that machine. A bank worker then directed us to a different machine. I waited patiently for the card not to work. I told myself that if it didn’t work, the first thing I’d do one back in KSA would be to change banks. Thankfully it did work and we both breathed a sigh of relief. For one, we knew we could get cash if we needed it and two I wouldn’t have to endure the pain of trying to close my bank account. If I ever do, one post won’t be enough to tell the story.