Wednesday 30 November 2011: The KL trip 03
Bob dropped me off for the visa pickup but we were about half an hour early and the gate was closed. I was slightly unnerved by the posted sign that forbids shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. I knew about the shorts rule from a previous disaster, when I had to get a taxi to the shopping mall to buy a pair of long trousers, but if they nailed me this time it would totally screw up the finances again. Fortunately with the refurbishment work that was going on, the security guard hut was not in use and my attire went unnoticed, phew!
The pick-up went well, so armed with my new VISA, Bob transported me to the airport and with fond goodbyes we parted. I headed to the AirAsia counter, armed with my Rm865 and ordered my ticket, next available flight, one way back to Bandung. "That will be Rm885 sir". The price has risen Rm185, some 25% in two days! I argued my case of the Rm700 quote that I received two days ago but the only explanation that I got was that the prices fluctuate by the minute.
I was Rm20 short, which just happened to be the cost of the big muck meal that I had two days earlier when I arrived. I knew I was going to regret the meal but not as much as I do now. The chap standing behind me asked how much I was light and slapped a couple of tens on the counter for me, the equivalent of four British pounds, so not exactly loose change. What an amazing act of generosity, I was overwhelmed.
I chatted with my savior and tried to extract an email address or some form of contact, but he wouldn't even give me his name, he was so determined to prevent me from repaying this generous gift. I did eventually manage to extract his name a couple of hours later as we waited for the flight to be called. He was a Malaysian IT salesman named Mambo, travelling to Bandung to do a bit of shopping at the many clothing manufacture outlets. So Mambo, if you are reading this, you saved my skin and I thankyou, profusely, over and over many times.
Bandung is the clothing manufacturer for the world. All those high priced labeled shirts that you buy in the expensive high street fashion houses of England were likely made right here in Bandung.
Back at Bandung airport, the security pulled me over for a baggage search. Nothing unusual here as they always search me. I had nothing to hide, obviously I was not smuggling extra vodka back this time. He opened everything, re-scanned my towel, checked the walls of my back pack, opened my deodorant bottle and my camera battery housing. He found my rolling tobacco, strange to him as cigarettes are so cheap in Indonesia. He sniffed it, gave me twenty questions about it and asked me to roll him one, which confused me but I obliged.
He raked through my passport, asked me about each and all the trips, what I am doing in Bandung, what is my relationship with my sponsor, why have I changed sponsors from my wife, where is my wife now, am I working, when am I leaving, where do I live, is it my own house, why have I rented for a year with a sixty day visa, do I intend to marry my sponsor, who do I live with, who's picking me up, what did I have for breakfast etc.
After the superficial check, I re-packed my bag and was allowed through. What that was all about I do not know, but NEVER EVER try to smuggle anything into Indonesia. Bandung airport is the strictest and most thorough airport that I have ever been through and I have done a bit of travelling in my time.
I shared a cab with Mambo, as his hotel was on the way to my place. I arrived home clutching my door keys, fully expecting them not to fit after the horrendous nightmare of a trip, but they did. Home, oh so sweet home. Here endeth the saga, well almost!
The blip is of a tanked fish kept on the car port of Sam's house. The fish stared at me from a distance of fifteen feet. As I got closer, it started to become agitated. As I got to within two feet of the glass, the fish became manic, rapidly shaking it's head from side to side, trying to eat me, if it was a dog, it would probably have succeeded.