Published: August 9th 2009August 9th 2009
Satan's Little Yelper
This is a random kid I found on the internet. Any resemblance to the actual screaming kid is totally coincidental.
It took four hours until the screaming started. Surprising really. I thought it would start before then.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me fill you in on the hours before my head started to hurt.
Brisbane International Airport, Monday 3rd August 8:45 pm. I get out of the car and say goodbye to Mum and Dad. Their friend Janet has given us a lift as her husband Daryl is catching a flight 30 minutes after me.
Going to an airport is a changeable experience. It’s hello or goodbye. Staying or leaving. Happy or sad. Tonight I am leaving for South East Asia to work for nine months and I am happy. My house is rented out, my cat is at Mum and Dad’s place (and probably peeing on the bed) and in the last few weeks and months I have cancelled, suspended, changed, redirected, photocopied cleaned, thrown away, given away, stored and signed my skinny white arse off.
I wonder over to the Malaysian Airlines counter to check in. I wheel a medium and a large bag up to the counter and place the medium bag on the scales. The young man
Hotel Room View
North across the Kuching River. Note the smoke haze.
there gives me a strange look. He takes off the medium bag and I put on the large bag.
"You know you only have a baggage allowance of 20 kilo’s?", he asks.
"Mmm...yes", I reply, feeling somewhat nervous.
"Your first bag weighs 20 kilos", he announces.
"Your second bag weighs 25 kilos", I think he’s enjoying this. "You will have to pay for excess baggage".
"Errr...how much will that be?", I stammered.
He picks up a calculator and starts pushing buttons. Oh dear. It’s not good when they pick up a calculator and start pushing buttons.
"That’s $24 per kilo for 25 kilo’s which comes to $600", he says.
HOLY SMACKIN’ DUCKSHIT!!!
I didn’t really think through that whole excess baggage thing. I just got two bags and filled them up. I figured that any excess would be covered by my company. Didn’t think it would be $600. Don’t know if they are gonna like that number.
My first instinct was to panic. So was my second instinct. So much for my instincts.
I started to formulate a plan in my head. I could open the bags and start
putting on clothing. Layers and layers of it. Socks, jocks, shorts, longs, shirts as much as I could.
25 Kilo’s worth of clothes.
I had a vision of me waddling up to security, arms and legs fat and stretched wide like the Michelin Man. My face red and sweaty as I inched sideways through the scanner. The security staff would stare at me unsure what to do. I’d stare back at them with a resigned expression hoping they would not strip search me. Getting in and out of the clothes would take so long, I would probably miss the bloody plane.
Ok, that plan ain’t gonna work.
Next I take a more practical tack and ask how much it would be to upgrade to Business Class. I figured if it was less than $600 I could then get an increased baggage allowance.
No good, it was full.
My next plan was ingenious yet simple. Unfortunately, it also cost me $600. I paid up and hoped for a reimbursement.
Meanwhile...back to the screaming
So, as I said, the screaming started. The plane was dimly lit. Everyone had been fed and was trying to sleep.
The toddler in the row opposite me had a say in that.
He screamed and he cried and he screamed again and then he cried some more. Bloody little bastard had a hell of a set of lungs on him.
Have you ever been in a situation like this where something annoying is happening and you have absolutely no control over it? When it happens to me I generally I got through some scenarios (often completely illogical) in my head to that will fix the situation.
So, I’m thinking I’d like to eject the wailing infant from the plane. I had a vision of him zooming out into the night, creams ever decreasing.
Then I thought that is a little mean. So I gave him a parachute made of a blanket and seat belts. He gets to float gently to earth, unharmed.
Then I glance at the screen in front of me and see the plane’s current location. We were right over the centre of the Northern Territory. Mmmmm.....dingoes.
So I gave the kid a can of dog food to appease the wild dogs till he get’s recued.
But then of course I have to give him a can opener. But he’s only a little kid and he’s not going to be able to use it. So I make it an electric can opener.
Bugger, now he needs a portable generator to power the electric can opener. But, there’s no way that little blanket parachute I gave him is going to be able to carry all that.
I was just deciding whether to give him a bigger parachute or replace the generator and electric can opener with a battery operated one, when Satan’s Little Yelper went silent.
Maybe he got tired. Or maybe another passenger got to him.
Either way it’s a good thing really, cause it’s hot down there in Northern Territory and I hadn’t given him any water.
Dirty Disease Carrying Swine Flu Aussies
Malaysians call in Influenza A (H1N1). Most of us know it as swine flu. It is a requirement before entering Malaysia that you have to complete a “Health Declaration Form”. It is an offense if you do not declare truthfully on the form and you can go to jail for up to 2 years. Yep, that would make you feel better for sure.
So I fill in the card and lie.
The form asked you declare any symptoms like coughing that you have had in the last seven days. I have had a bit of a cough in the last week or so, but it was getting better. I had seen my doctor and he assured me I was clean of the swine flu.
So we land at Kuala Lumpur Airport and I disembark and head to immigration. There is a small desk with a cardboard sign that says “Health Check” on it. A bored lady wearing a mask sits there and checks our cards. I try very, very hard not to cough. She looks at my card and then hands me a “Health Alert Card”. This little yellow piece of paper tells me I must present this card to a doctor if I exhibit any swine flu related symptoms. There is a note on the back “To the Doctor” stating if the person has any of these symptoms then get them to a hospital and throw away the key for a week or two.
Fortunately, I managed to make it through the whole immigration process with not so much as a splutter.
It’s big. Really, really big
KL Airport has been voted the world’s best in each of the last three years. I go through security and wonder around it. It’s 5:15 am and the place is virtually deserted. I have a domestic flight at 8:15 am, so I have time to kill.
So I get lost (it’s something that I do regularly).
I found myself in an area that I shouldn’t be and a security guard tells me off.
I wander some more and somehow end up going through security again before entering the area for domestic departures. I am sure I was there a little while ago and cannot work out how I managed to go through security twice without actually exiting the departure area.
I blame it on the size of the airport. This is a big, big place.
I’ll show you how big this place is.
Now I want you to think of something big. I mean really, really big. Seriously, something gigantic.
KL Airport is bigger than that!
Told you it was big.
A place in the sun
An uneventful two hours comes to an end, as we circle the city in preparation for landing. I had managed to find and board the right flight back in KL.
As requested, I filled in another “Health Declaration Form” and lied again.
I look out the window.
Buildings, some small some large....check.
Yep, that’s Kuching City alright, my home for the next nine months.
Wonder if they sell vegemite?
Kuching City, nicknamed the Cat City (Kuching means cat in Malay), is the capital of the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. The island comprises three separate countries with the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the northern side of the island along with the small country of Brunei. The larger southern part of the island is Indonesian.
The greater Kuching metropolitan area has a population of 980,000 people comprising Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic groups.
My first impression as I ride the taxi into town (I made it through immigration despite being a yellow card carrying potential swine flu carrier), is a clean, sprawling city with a fair mixture of newer and older buildings.
It’s hot and humid and there is a haze over the city. I find out later that it is hotter than normal for this time of year and the haze is due to forest fires inland towards Indonesia. This is the time of year that the farmers burn the jungle to clear areas for Palm oil cultivation.
The traffic is somewhat typical of other South East Asian cities I have visited. Though the roads are a little less congested and the drivers seem to obey the road rules occasionally.
I arrive safely at my hotel and book in. My room is on the 7th floor overlooking the Kuching River. It’s a great view. I can see the impressive new state legislative building to my right which was officially opened only last week.
It’s 11 am and I haven’t slept in 27 hours. I decide to have a nap.
Later I will meet up with Mark who is the Project Manager for the job I shall be working on.
Tomorrow I start work.