England vs USA and double misery

June 14th 2010
Published: June 17th 2010
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So I’ve finally left Australia, I was there so long I was beginning to get complacent and forgot that there were countries and cultures out there. So my first travel was a low-budget flight with Air Asia X from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It was an 8 hour flight in total and there was no on-board TVs, movies, nothing. The food I had to pay for in advance and it came in a heated up metal box and it wasn’t particularly exciting - roasted chicken lumped with runner beans. I managed to survive it all with a mixture of the second last episode of Deadwood watched on my notepad and reading as well as taking lots of pictures of the amazing clouds and landscapes flying over the top of Australia and the Indonesian archipelago. I’m assuming that’s what they were because there wasn’t a flight screen that you normally expect.

KL was hot and humid but despite the cold weather of Melbourne I didn’t really feel affected at all. The Mayview Glory Hotel was pretty basic as you could tell by the sily name - it had air con but everything was pretty run down and tatty and situated in a rough and tumble Indian area. The reason I’d arrived in KL in the first place was to catch the England versus USA World Cup match. So I took a shower, put on my white England shirt and had some curry at the open restaurant next door before getting a cab to an area full of pubs (and English).

After such a long time being away from English people it was a shock to my system to suddenly be surrounded by them. I don’t know if it was the football atmosphere, the inherent jingoism and nationalisms or just pissed people or all of the above - but English people can be so, er unimpressive sometimes. Maybe it’s me that everyone I spoke to was just irritating; the drunk lads incongruously chanting Engerland-Engerland at one of the TV screens or the matching t-shirt couple sat at the bar trying to ignore everyone or the pensioner Brummie who was an Aston Villa fan but couldn't to acknowledge his own bias. I think I simple dislike couples and stupid drunk people. Oh, and the Yanks who all of a sudden have gotten into ‘Soccer’ so we must now converse with the Johnny-come-latelys (where has that happened before in history?). Yes, I’m bitter about that stupid goal but what was surprising was how many people suddenly cheered when they scored. There had to be the old Scottish git and the Irish muppet cheering on the Yanks of course - "anyone but England". I’m not quite sure why they were there if they didn’t want to support a specific team - the puerile and twisted still live on it seems.

I left the pub and got home to the hotel at about 4 in the morning, it had been a long day. The following day I did a few errands; picked up my contact lenses that I had ordered from Australia and saving myself 65 percent in the price. I then got the air bus to the airport for my Emirates flight to Dubai and then onto Tehran. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the airport I couldn’t find the Emirates Check-In desk anywhere and there was no help desk, information desk or airport staff anywhere. I was confused. I finally asked somebody with Air Asia and they told me that I was at the wrong airport; this was the budget airport for Kuala Lumpur. I needed to go to Kuala Lumpur International Airport instead.

What? How far is that for fuck’s sake!? About fifteen minutes away by car; so with my luggage trolley I run around the terminal trying to find an ATM to get some more Malaysian Ringgit out to cover a 15 minute cab ride. I then run to the first taxi driver but he points to somewhere over yonder - couple of minutes later and I got the front of the parked taxis but they won’t take me either as I need a ticket. Where’s that for fuck’s sake!? In the terminal building, why it can’t be out here I don’t know. By this time Malaysia is annoying the hell out of me. I enter the terminal building but I see absolutely no signs for taxis and so I’m pretty desperate now.

But some guy standing inside the entrance catches my eye and asks me what I’m looking for. He offers to take me in his car for 45,000 Ringgit straight away, but I only have 30,000 that I’ve just taken out. He’ll take me anyway, but we are ‘friends’ if we are asked questions. So we go to his car and drive off, but before that a woman wearing a pink chador covering everything but her hands and face gets out of the front seat and into the back seat. Then I hear a little girl talking as well, seems that Mr Waiting around in an airport seems to be taking this family out to work with him.

So this fella is driving fast, going in and out of lanes onwards to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - which is the first I’ve heard of it. I’m panicking, check out closes an hour before the flight and it’s almost past that. But my driver assures me that I’ll make it on time as he had a friend flying Emirates who got on fifteen minutes after check in closes.

It was all bullshit of course. He got my money and I believed his false assurances. Emirates had closed its check in and because I had check-in luggage they were unable to shoo me through security. Bugger.
I complained that nowhere on my Emirates ticket did it say KLIA - and that I had entered KL on an international flight from Australia that did not land at this so-called international airport. I didn’t pursue it though as I was too exhausted and just wanted to rest my head. So, they put me on the next flight which was at 2 a.m. in the morning but I’d have to pay 200 Ringgit, about 50 AUD and on my budget this was not a negligible amount. They also put me on the connecting flight to Tehran with only 2 hours waiting time in Dubai. That would mean I was no longer staying overnight in Dubai as planned. So using the two hour free wireless at the airport I cancelled my hotel booking in Dubai and ate a meal. I then passed the time eating at an upmarket Asian restaurant (I felt like I needed it) and wandered around the terminal looking at the shops and watching Slovenia beat Algeria on a big screen in the departures terminal.

In a way I was glad the flight I missed forced me to miss Dubai because the place never appealed to me. A manufactured city entirely created on the wealth of oil, full of Western expats and run by hypocritical be roped Arabs (those who tolerate open prostitution but not public displays of affection). No ta, I’ll leave the place to Sharon from Essex and Giles from Northampton living it up in that bizarre place.

The Emirates flight I boarded was the first non-budget airline I’d been on since my first flight from England to Thailand over 17 months ago. I’d heard that it was an award winning airline but the stewards’ female headgear was simply hideous and the women weren’t exactly hot totty but the service, the media TV and the comfort level was the best I’ve had on an airplane. Except for meals I slept for most of the 7 hour flight over the Indian subcontinent. A staggering achievement for me as I find it nigh on impossible to sleep upright.

I was only in the Dubai terminal for a couple of hours and my luggage was to be transferred onto my connecting flight onto Tehran. So I managed to get a free shower and rest my eyes in the departure lounges before boarding for the Emirates flight to my final destination - the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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17th June 2010

Hey man, Good story, what an adventure. It's great how you put youre mind in to things and make them happen. Good luck in the middle east. I've heard that they are offering spectacular boat trips to Gaza. Greets, AJ
22nd June 2010

thanks aj - the visa was the difficult part as well as stopping yourself from spending money whilst you're sort of travelling-living abroad in Australia. Hope you get back on the road soon...or maybe I'll see you in Netherlands on my way back

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