Categories
Malaysia South-East Asia (2019)

Malaysia; The credit it deserves

If only I had burned out some months before and Malaysia would have gotten more credit. But no, my burnout peaked after a late post on the Philippines and with that, Malaysia was already in the past. Three whole months wrapped up in a single blog post. Was it a country so dull then? Is it lacking of enticing tales? Neh, unfortunately my creativity was what was dull and lacking. All that was written had been a story of hitchhiking, as I could not imagine a story involving anything other than the unusual. In my mind, no memory performed well when written, however that mindset has changed and the answer to the question on Malaysia: No. Malaysia was everything I could wish it to be. Hence the time spent there. Hence the return to it. Strangely enough however, when asked what to visit, though there are many allurements, I was shockingly speechless. Nothing stood out intensely to the liking of mesmerising beaches, snorkelling with whale-sharks, lonesome islands boasting their flora and so on. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot about Malaysia that is breathtaking, picturesque, impressive and on. Some of the most incredible sunsets took place there, the Petronas stand tall and mighty, Cameroon Highlands provides a charming view of the world of tea and towns like Malacca and Georgetown offer architecture, art and history that is more than fascinating. But, what it comes down to, it’s not what I reminisce about when afar and definitely not the reason I returned.

The appeal to this peninsula lays in the resemblance of being home. A home that is away. It’s the homey feeling that made me initially extend my stay and book a ticket after draining jobs and a growing longing for my love. The locals and their amazing cuisine do their part by welcoming each and every person setting foot on Malaysian soil. A dish served with a smile is their motto. At least, I dare to think so. Everywhere you go, smiles are granted and dishes are to delight. For these reasons, it made only sense to this time around stay put in one place and coat the insides of an apartment with our precious belongings. Incontestably it was not at the throw of a dart, as our residence came with a planned view of the nearby harbour perpetually hauling its passengers for few dimes and pennies from side to side. That other side was Georgetown, Penang, where I knew the streets like my hometown. With a place so familiar and filled with comfort for me a boat-ride away, I felt valorous enough to dive into an unknown town by the name of Butterworth to unpack our backpacks.

The haul there had been long; as a lonesome trailblazer I initiated the journey from the airport in the Netherlands. A foreshadowing terror when I was denied at check-in, lacking an exit-ticket not requested or asked for last time, resulted in a 20 or so minutes back and forth messages and exchanging information with Kath ending in a booked bus proving exit from Malaysia. Delightful. From there on, the saunter to my gate went surprisingly effortless and before I knew it, the sleepless flight had started.

After an endless voyage, the wheels of the – second – plane finally graced the runway and with a squealing sound the arrival was announced. It was a late afternoon and I knew I had two options at this point: One, I depart the airport in search of a cheap hostel, stay there a night resting in the comfort of a soft bed and then during twilight scurry off to the town of destination. Two, head to the bus straight away, taking on an immediate six-hour drive in the hope I get to rest and arrive in the dead of the night to only wait until the hour grows at an acceptable stance for calling someone awake. Those that know me well enough will know I opted for the second choice.

And these same people will know my exact luck coming in the shape of a night’s visit from Insomnia. For reasons unknown, this devil’s terror only appears at worst timings and such was this bus ride after an already lacking of sleep. The air-condition was on, and though I praise the lords when the first breeze of cool air gently strikes my skin, hours in I had regret the sweater still recessing inside my backpack as now the bundles of hair on my arms had risen into a goose-bump and my body occasionally shivered. Once we arrived, wistfully precise by clock, the night had struck and the town was asleep. As the apartment would officially be under my name by afternoon, I felt it unfair to waken the owner on the night before and therefore I watched the hours pass inside the harbour’s cooled building and even managed to sneak in a tiny, awkward nap. Then, delirious on a growing hunger and need for sleep, I contacted the pick-up and within the hour I stood inside the spacious room. With a stomach expected to remain satiated and restrain from protesting on a single meal doused with the wrong spices taken half a day ago, I hadn’t felt the greatest. But, to be back on known land under these rough traveller’s conditions with mere days separated between me and my love, the feeling of bliss overshadowed the wailing body and after quenching my thirst by hosing a glass of water down my throat and gorging on a snack of dry cereal, I waddled to my bed carrying a smile. It feels great to be home.

Categories
Life outside of travel

Welcoming her home

At last, the tiny Filipina hidden behind her trolley rolled through the gate with tired eyes and a dreary face that screamed to have gone through hell. Short domestic flights with her hand tightly gripped into her lover’s had been an anxiety-riddled adventure. One must imagine the peaking of adrenaline and anxiousness when she stood alone on the Filipino airport, about to embark on a multiple flight journey of over 20 hours. Cheeks came doused with tears, dried over the hour-long flight and a heart was beating at an alarming rate throughout, but she bit down and fought through to finally arrive in Schiphol, Netherlands. A smile of exhaustion and weariness painted her face as she shyly moved closer to me and my father. A father I was glad to still be there and not hauled off by the Dutch military police after a near incident. After introducing the two to each other, we walked the same route I did a month before upon returning home.

I remember the drive home being foggy as ever, diminishing the views of the lowlands from our car, however with a dozing off girlfriend simply pleased to be back in the arms of her boyfriend it hadn’t been the greatest bother. For once, the restaurant on the way as usual stop was skipped and we headed straight for the house. Her to-be home. The pets and cuddles with the dogs were curt, since we quickly thereafter had taken on a horizontal position and caught up on some due sleep before introducing her to the initial Dutch unhealthy snacks.

From the day that I met her til the moment she stood bearing her encharming smile at the airport, I indubitably got to know more about her than anyone can claim. To this point, she seemed a perfect fit for me. For reasons unknown, she puts up with my weird, childlike behaviour and accepts as well as endorses and loves the wandering side of me, which means the acceptance of staying at our future home whilst I am off and to be open to migration more than once. However, the final tests remained within the Dutch culinary masterpieces and her opinion on such. So, the same day and weeks to follow I dragged her to local snackbars, the Wall of Febo and through stands of liquorice, stroopwafels and baked goods at supermarkets. With hopeful eyes I gazed at her as she put her teeth into a soft bread with a long croquette and atop of it a mush of mustard. My prayers and pleas had been answered when she shivered out of giddy excitement and exclaimed her love for the food, along with all other – admittedly unhealthy – that I had shoved down her throat.

After the Dutch delights, it remains without a doubt important how well she fares with my family. Bearing gifts from the marble capital Romblon, the two of us trotted up and down, hopping on the train for a weekend at my mom’s, followed by cycling through town to visit the grandmother, another deceased grandma’s sister and my aunt, meeting up with my sister and bonding with the younger brothers. One of them already excelling in English would understand every bit whereas the other would progressively gain more knowledge during her stay. And besides the grandma, everyone appeared to have a handle on the language and within family she clicked in perfectly, as she learned my trait of weirdness had been an overflowing mixture of that of both my mom’s and dad’s. And having met my sister and younger brothers, it is clear that there runs no exception. Nonetheless, she coped and chuckled along with the jesters.

Though, 18 months had been far too long. And you might take the globetrotter and put him back in his country, but you can’t remove the wanderlust nor stop the flowing of his traveller’s blood. At times, its flow is tranquil and hardly palpable, but with every beat it flows. So, the second the commotion of welcoming and uniqueness had died down and work, the same, unaltered, routinely tasks had reached boiling point of the pot that is monotonous, stale and bleak, my lust for being on the move came to a rise. The only distinction was, with an Asian’s arm locked into mine, I became tourist in own country!

For those utterly confused regarding the timeline, this belated blog post is written about the events on begin 2019, shortly after returning home from my South-East Asia and Australia venture. However, with the rapid speed I am currently writing at, soon, hopefully not too soon, they’ll be completely up-to-date. For now, to the travellers reading this, have you been tourist in own country?

Categories
South-East Asia (2017-2018)

Dubai Airport

The Pakistanis did not leave their habits at home as they took off from the Islamabad airport. I noticed this when upon landing in Dubai, the insides of the air-plane at seemed as if someone had run by with a torn garbage bag. Despite the effortless attempts of the stewards and stewardesses to collect everyone’s empty bottles, plastics and other junk, the passengers had hoarded it, to at final minutes litter the entire place. Baffled by the disrespect and lacking of courtesy, I stepped over the left-behind mess and made my way to the exit. Initially, I was supposed to have a few hours on hand, however a sudden change with my airline had left me with half a day in this capital of emirates. Unlike in Oman, I had no intention of heading for the city and attempted to make the airport my temporary home the way Tom Hanks did in the Terminal. For that reason, I took my time and calmly sauntered through the gateway leading me away from the plane.

The last bit of traveller’s spirit had dripped out during my stay in Pakistan and I had been yearning for my home. To make these long-some hours pass by more rapidly, I had entered the well-known Hard-Rock cafe to only be reminded by my second home. A young Filipina welcomed me into a stool and with a broad smile stood before me awaiting the order. As I asked for a beer from the tap, she raised her eyebrow and with an apologetic tone she asked for my passport. A melancholic-doused smile appeared on my face as I slid a hand into my backpack searching for the passport. The hint of her accent had made me beam, however it reminded me I was far from seeing my love again. As she confirmed my age, explaining that here the age is 21 and above, my eyes wandered around and I noticed many a Filipina and Filipino galloping around the bar either scribbling down orders on their notepads of people coming for a meal accompanied with music or carrying trays bearing tiny glasses with inside a translucent liquid most likely to numb the senses and crush the filter of words.

Lily poured me one of the finest crafts, as she answered the question on my mind; “The Filipinos basically run this airport.” I could find a trace of pride when she talked about all her fellow compatriots that went through the same effort to work alongside her on this side of the security. She sighed with a smile as she placed the beer on the coaster. As soon as she did, the tiny droplets on the outside of the tower of a glass descended down and wetted the coaster. With Pakistan’s beer coming in a can and tap beer being scarce in the Philippines, it had been some months since I had a beer so mouthwatering. Taking in my first delicious sip of the golden drink that came in perfect to speed up time, my thumb and index finger folded open the receipt which I studied intensely. Unexpectedly, I had a hefty amount of rupees left from my trip and that what I could, I had exchanged moments before entering the bar. With my wallet full of dirham, I was unaware of its worth. Possibly the distraction of the Filipina and her reminding accent or the bewitching keg of draught beer had me forget the number one rule of travelling; to always check the currency.

As I choked on my lavish beverage upon seeing its costs in my own currency, the bartender had returned and asked me if I had ever been to the Philippines, now that I knew her nationality. This question had been a gateway of topics that had us conversing for the majority of my beer. A beer I nurtured due to its price. Apparently, she and I had a lot in common as we both lived in the torment of a long-distance relationship and the same issues as well as thoughts on how to cope with those. As we talked the time away, a black man had watched us with his perfect, white as snow teeth shining from the dimmed booth he shared with Lily. He wore the same uniform and stood alongside her, though rising far above her, thus I assumed he worked there as well. However he was obviously not one of her compatriots, which rose my curiosity. Seeming eager to jump into the conversation, he grabbed his opportunity when she had to trot off to continue work. During this, I had shamelessly ordered a second posh beer, waving away my guilt by stating it is my last travel money anyhow. Picking up where she had left, the man engaged me with tons of questions before proudly, and warranted to do so, explaining how he, a man from Nigeria wound up serving drinks and meals at an airport in Dubai.

But nearing the end of his tale, he got interrupted by a cheerful blast resonating from a speaker somewhere near. He sighed and chuckled as his eyes averted to the ground. “It’s time”, he said in a voice of subtlety leaving me with a mind of questions. With long strides he marched towards the entrance where there stood a small podium. Taller than all his coworkers, he joined them by stepping onto the stage when a familiar sung began to play. Seconds later, I emitted a quiet cackle as I watched them all dance the YMCA. Where the Pakistanis took their habit of littering into the airplane, the Filipinos carried there culture of singing into this filipino-controlled hard-rock cafe and it was an astonishing phenomenon to witness. Upon the finishing of the song, I had a laugh with the two before parting to lounge on one of the comfy laid-back chairs I had spotted some hours before.

I began to feel light-headed, in the dreamy way, as the two tall beers had sufficed to take me on my empty stomach to a state of tipsiness and dreaminess which had made drowsing off relatively easy. Despite a half-day being immensely long and usually seeming to drag on when that time is spent waiting, my Pakistan-Netherlands journey had been one of ease and comfort if you take into mind that I had been gone for 18 months. 18 months and no member of the family, no animal nor human had fallen ill or gotten injured, no grave events had occurred and I was a day away from seeing them and holding the two Belgian Shepherds I cherish so deeply. Going on trips to see my close relatives before heading to the shop for my oh-so longed for unhealthy cravings. To actually ride my rinky-dink bike again that by now, as I write this belated post has been replaced for a superior one. Perhaps most importantly, to be sleeping in my own bed again. With that thought, I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

Categories
Other

The importance of the proper booking site

The airline you choose to fly with is more than important as it can be the ruler of the journey there being a feast or a debacle. It is not all about the flight however. The airport you depart from or have a stopover at can also hugely affect the overall experience. Whether you’re lounging in a laid-back chair at Dubai or you’re at the brink of a verbal fight with yet another idiot at a South-African airport, it matters. When your flight has delay on top of delay, it would be lovely to spend these crawling hours of waiting somewhere pleasant. For such, Singapore will be a joy to depart from. Since you fly through check-in, there will be guaranteed copious time to wander the premises of this wonderful airport. But with the opposite, having little wiggle room, airports like Frankfurt, where it takes buses, slow queues and poorly-timed defect check-ins to get to your connecting flight are far from entertaining. Manila where the chain of people begins a block away from the airport and the inside is a chaotic mingle of heads does not fare much better.

Furthermore, whether you have the urge to update the entire social media of your riveting life or crave for another episode of your favourite show to kill time, the desperate need of internet is at an all-time high at the airport. For that reason, with most having weak spots in abundance and along with it annoying conditions such as “30 minutes max”, Hong Kong scores well due to its consistent and strong internet throughout. Lastly, worthy of a mention is Lahore, where upon landing a minor miracle had occurred. From the bleak, grim booth of passport control appeared a smile. What used to be the home of morose men and women where grunts and growls tend to make the conversation and eye contact is rarely made, was now a man bearing a broad smile. Question after question, he had long forgotten the rule of being dour that applies to the ones in that seat. Then he went on to share stories of a travelling friend before he sent me into Pakistan with a smile.

In addition to airports and flying, there is a process that comes months (for the spontaneous ones among us days or weeks) before the actual drive to the airport. I am of course talking about the booking of the ticket. There are heaps of sites and airlines to book and buy through, each with offers and deals differing from the others. Therefore, you should take serious consideration and time before making the final decision. My first flight, I hadn’t. WTC had been my great pal. A return from Netherlands to South-Africa and a stopover in London. Insurance had been purchased. Roused with excitement I stood in the line seconds away from bumping into the initial issue. Given a generous two hours to transfer in London, I soon learned that it would be a race against the clock. Though indeed landing in London, my flight of departure would be from a different airport in the same city. My obliviousness had been to blame, but I was told and I knew, that WTC was at fault too due to a lack of red-flagging the issue. Though I had nailed the 2-hour sprint, it was not the last drama I had with WTC.

I see it as a learning curve however. Nowadays I gravitate towards using Skyscanner and through that make a pick. A safe bet tends to be kiwi.com and a recent experience with them also incentivised me into writing all these. Aside from the quick and easy process of the booking – and the price tending to be inclusive – they offer an exceptional customer service. When they had messed up grandly and I was stranded in Kuala Lumpur, they had swiftly fixed their mistake. While they spoke with my friend and significant other, as I sat with a dying phone, I headed to the arranged hotel room where I awaited confirmation of my new booking. That night, I drank with a Malay buddy of mine and his friends which had been on my expense as days after I received a substantial compensation from the company. Kiwi had given me the chance to a night out with an old friend and stayed in contact to reassure my well-being along the way. So, next time you book a flight and you have the time, look into the airline you’re flying with, where you book it through and finally, if possible, have the stopover be in a country with an airport of ease to make the overall journey one of comfort and assurance.

That about sums up part of the extremes I experienced. Travelling by plane can be horrendous and mind-numbing, but if you make something out of it, it can also be exciting and fun. What are your experiences with flying?

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Other

The in-flight experience

Ever since the wanderlust had risen from within me, the airports have gradually become my second home. Though it perhaps isn’t the most environment-friendly way of travelling, biking the distance can’t always be the answer either. Thus, many hours have been wasted away through booking, checking in and flying. Those who have flown anywhere before most likely know that it can be a stressful, everlasting and embittering experience. The horror when the sounds of a crying baby encroaches and at its peak the woman holding the little Mandrake pauses her shuffle and looks at the seat directly behind you. Mere minutes later, a heavy man seemingly having finished a marathon launches himself in the window-seat next to you before relieving his sweat-soaked feet from his old, scruffy shoes. Happens to be too, that his bladder is the size of a pebble. The seat on your other side soon gets filled by a man feeling talkative during your drowsy moments.

If any of that sounds familiar, I truly feel for you. I have entered a plane where half the passengers had doused themselves in bottles of perfumes turning it into a flight of fragrance fury. Once, the insides had looked like a war-zone upon landing with everyone’s garbage scattered everywhere. Smells, noises and indecent behaviours are a large part of the in-flight experience. It isn’t just the humans that can make it a hellish journey though! There have been budget airlines that only gave out two minuscule cups of water over eight hours and the stewardesses had disregarded my pleas and cries as I sat without a nickle or dime. AirAsia is not the only airline that can play Scrooge, as Lufthansa charged a hefty nine euros for anyone wanting a larger selection than the three movies offered. Had it been anything shorter than the twelve hours it was, I might have accepted that act of cheapskatery. During flights, restlessness is my biggest buddy, thus any type of mind-numbing entertainment is an absolute must. I remember having read the magazines and brochures over a million times during announcement.

Luckily, it isn’t all bitter and sour. At times, your economy flight turns into a near first class one as realisation sinks in that you won’t be needing to share the set of chairs. Travelling like a king with all the space you could wish for without any unwanted smells or conversing. Then there are the airlines that surprise you with complimentary snacks surprisingly appetising or alcoholic beverages to literally numb. Qantas Air had done so on flights as short as sixty minutes. Though my words on them may not be completely unbiased, as their flight had come straight after a compensation for a cancelled flight that had come in the shape of a hotel room far more lavish than I am used to. With a credit on their name, more than once room-service had come knocking on my door for the delivery of overpriced meals. It’s definitely true that the airline you choose to fly with is more than important as it can be the ruler of the journey there being a feast or a debacle.

Stay tuned for the second part! In the meantime, do you have any pet peeves during flights?

Categories
Australia (2018) Life outside of travel

A Temporary Goodbye

Tears flooded over her precious cheeks. We had spoken of our time together, our “December” frequently, holding on to the tiny thread that held us sane, yet when it was finally within our grasp, the moment had just as soon passed. Begin of December, we finally intertwined with the longest of hugs. I then met her family, we travelled together, went on ventures normal couples go and made life heaven and hell during the two glorious months spent together. All the time that we had already known each other cramped into two measly months. Two bloody months of passionate love and happiness and then life takes it all back. Kicked out of the garden of Eden, my paradise. Back at the airport, with parents and daughter in tears. The hourglass’s sand had gone and there was no way to turn it back around. We already used up that trick on my 2nd one month’s visa. Time’s up, money’s up, get out of the Philippines. We both wished it to be easier, but we knew then and we know now that not all passports have equal privileges. So, morosely, I swung my bag over my shoulder and trudged my way to the security while she remained. Gloomily, but nonetheless a little excited for the land they call Down-Under I boarded my flight.

It won’t be the last time this gets mentioned, but the toughest part always lays in the first and the later stage of a long distance relationship. Upon the onset of being companion-less, it is the change that crashes upon you. Alone, there is now a constant silence. For many years, I had embraced that silence and been happier within that space. After finding my true love, that changed a fair bit. Because she is the only one with whom I don’t filter my personality. Then, getting used to being on your own again, you begin with accepting the temporary forsaken feeling. Not being able to communicate the random, silly thoughts that pop up or discuss the topical events of the day. It’s what makes the first days or weeks hard.

For every person it works different, but once you get there, to the accepting the distance and working with it, life is good for awhile. You do your thing, whilst often in contact with each other. Loving messages, late night calls. All the good stuff. But, slowly yet steadily, the later stage encroaches, when it has been months since you have been within miles reach of your lover. This, is when you go down the slope of insanity. At the brink of, you crave the touch and sight of your partner. The need to breathe the same air, share the same space. Honest to god, it doesn’t even matter what you do, all you want is to be in the same room, because where you are now is a lonesome pit that craves the feeling of being filled with love. Love that is at a distance had oft been worse than the life of a lone wolf I lead previously, as the latter would not feel the lacking of it. In lieu of, I knew what I could have and yearned for more. Friends and family could be all they are, but being months, a year, or more for some, away from the one you love so dearly, it would drive almost anyone mad. This, we experienced every time we had to say goodbye – and also explains some of the future decisions I made, but more on that later.

Luckily, still deeply embedding the happiness this trip had brought me after ages of waiting and bearing the excitement of a little kid in a candy-shop as I was headed for a work opportunity in Australia, it could have been worse. I felt more grateful for the life I had than the solemness of who I lacked. I am young, healthy, got an amazing girlfriend and have the opportunity to travel in this manner, so stop bitching, amirite? Australia would be exciting and could help with the funds for a return. Some weeks ago, I had contacted the owner of a backpacker’s motel and there was a promise of farming jobs. Eager as ever, I flew to Mildura with a stopover in Sydney and Melbourne. Forced to linger a night in Melbourne, as a flock of birds had flown into the engine, Qantas Air had provided me with the nearby upscale hotel. I paraded in my fancy room upon having graced my body with the bathrobe and ordered myself some late night costly dining on Qantas’s credit. Australia had welcomed me with a grin from ear to ear and delirious from lack of sleep I fell onto the soft mattress for a long due rest. The following day, full with good spirits and believing nothing could bring me down, I would arrive in the insignificant town 500 km North of Melbourne. There, the lady from the web would bring me to the wee village Wentworth and soon that smile turned to a frown.

What are similar unexpected surprises you got from an airline?

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Uncategorized

Scourging Starvation in Singapore

It was about noon, as I arrived at the Johor Bahru-Singapore border. Hungover and with a pit in my belly filled by a handful of pistachios in the last 24 hours I stood in the line to enter the head of the peninsula. It had been one helluva night before. With remaining Ringgit to spend, I intended to consume. Not part of said plan however, was the many offered drinks that were to come. After a cumulative three weeks in Malacca, the begin and ending, I had gotten to know a few who wouldn’t see me go without a drink in my hand. A few had turned into a few too many and a hangover was bound to come. Luckily, I could knock out a couple hour’s rest at the best hostel in wonderful Malacca that is ‘Buffalo Soldiers’.

WhatsApp Image 2018-05-05 at 22.13.35

Come morning, I had sluggishly carried myself out of bed, through the shower and eventually dressed with backpack ready to go. Looking like Goofy had just slammed his head into a speeding truck, I said my farewells to the lovely family that ran both the cheap, cosy hostel and the infamous bar. Malacca had taken three weeks from me. Astonished at how time flies by when alcohol fills your life, I awaited the bus to take me out of the captivating country. The ambience. I thought. That had been it. Whether it is sitting on the street with a canned beer listening to guitar play, having a historical guided tour through sand-hills or listening to “It wasn’t me” and “Bongo Bong” for the trillionth time as laughter and conversations fill the air. No, there is a reason for lingering in Malacca that goes way past the alcohol served. The bus had arrived and thus the train of thought derailed an instant’s moment later. For now, staring tensely out of the window, in attempt to untangle the tightened knot that lay in my belly and finish the battle going on in my head. Hopeless, of course.


At last, it had been my turn. My feverish head finally made it to the counter that stood between me and Singapore. The man confusingly ogled my passport, me and back. His eyes rolled up, as he began counting with his fingers. “3 Months??”, he exclaimed surprised. With disbelieve he shook his head, when I praised the country. The country, and the people. “Why?” A folk so pure and sincere is rare to find. No purveyors similar to Indonesia, no odd/blank staring as the Filipinos tend to do, but more appalling, is the service. Instead of the politeness you find in Europe, it is true gratitude and open arms you find. A broad smile and with that a welcomed feeling given. A “Thank you” with ever Anchor ordered followed by attempts at conversations. A reason why Malaysia will be a country to miss. To be honest, three months and it did not feel enough. Still, I wanted to linger and enjoy the presence of such lovely people. However, it had been time for a departure and a new chapter.

 


Singapore, a small country, a large city. There is not much to be told about this mini-Malaysia. Much like Malaysia, it is the more successful brother. The obtuse brother whom would call upon his parents every time something does not go his way. Something occurs, new laws are embedded. The successful brother thrives in business and leads an organised life. In the meanwhile, the younger brother, Malaysia, is in his room clinging a bong with a giant smile painted on his face. Malaysia at times attempts to be morally there with rules – at request of the parents – and attempts to copy Singapore with the ridiculous smoking in public fee – roughly 2000 euros- however is simply better at having fun. Whilst too busy enjoying life to obey to placed absurd rules, the Malay population prefers to enjoy.

Admittedly, Singapore in a way is perfect. Clean, little crime – and when there is, things get done – the roads and traffic are handled, public transport is organised, the economy is prosperous. With Little India, China Town and Malay markets, quality food comes in plenty and the country holds a certain culture. Perfect, however, after time passes, I would find myself bored and without a penny. Singapore, to me and many others, is a big city and no more. Having said such, Singapore is a must visit. Get the exciting thrill of smuggling gum into the country as you experience the well organised town. Awing at the light show and looking up – and down from – the Marina Bay Sands and onto the super trees. Walk over the spotless streets as you wander to the Botanic garden and have a drink in Little India or Chinatown. Experience the clean, organised and beautiful country, but depart before you have emptied your wallet. Departing won’t be a trouble either. The airport itself is already a sight to be seen. Fountains and tiny parks to distract from what tends to be a stressful and hectic couple of hours. Not in Singapore, however. Get there an hour before your flight and you will have half an hour left to walk about. Never, had I been that excited to fly. Without rushing, stress or even waiting, I had gone from the hostel to board the flight and not a problem on the way. The worst had been the Uber that could not figure out the difference between the brake and gas as he continuously kept using both. Having been on airports in South-Africa, this difference had meant a lot to me. That, I owe Singapore. An airport to remember. A flight to remember. A date. The 5th of December. The day that I would see the love of my life. Manila, here I come

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A transit day in Oman

Hidden in the KFC with air conditioning blazing I type this. The afternoon wave hasn’t even hit and I have deserted, scattering off to the embassy of the obese. Afraid to admit, but here I am, in a fucking KFC in Oman. Hiding behind the ice-cold air getting blown in my direction. However, it feels damned good. I never figured I would miss the cold in half a day. My flight landed in Muscat early in the morning, after a solid six hours sided with an Indian man. The sun had long woken and was fierce, as it can be. A wall of humid heat pushed against my face. The immediate moment, a greased feel landed on my skin. A deep breath. It felt as if taking a literal bite from the air, so thick. “It’s barely morning”, someone mumbled. Leaving the airport, at every turn cabs honked at me. Bargaining myself into one, I enjoyed the views towards Matrah. Mountains with little to non vegetation all around. Temples along the way. The driver gladly gave me a short tour before I set off on foot.


Lost, I wandered up and down, feeling the heat hanging heavy from my shoulders. My mind had been set on trotting up and down, a young puppy exploring the world. My body disagreed. Under a small dome I laid, a bottle of water in each hand, melted on a bench. Wiping away the sweat, I gaze over upon the sea. Waves clashed against the walls while dragging the carcass of a cat drifting on a layer of dirt with it. A full-bodied scent swirled in the air made vigorously by the ruthless sun from above.  Broadly smiling, a young lad waves me over to his restaurant. “Inside is colder”, he says as he eagerly trots before me. A meal and a juice, served with a smile. A restaurant run by the family, was my guess. After having cooled down and given a slap by my hand of wanderlust, exhaustion crawled away and I bashed out of my refuge to wander the inner of the town.

The markets. Entering, strong smells of perfumes and scented candles filled my nose. An excessive amount of mixtures of fragrances in the air, tickling my nostrils. Omani people waved from both sides, flaunting their goodies. “No, the big bag of perfumes and the huge knife are no good for my backpack, nor the airport’s security”, I tried to explain. Another man dragged me inside his shop and before I could say “O, man”, I was dressed from top to ankle in traditional Omani clothing. Full of proud, he clothed me, not speaking a word English. I decided to buy a souvenir and a Forno before facing the demanding cabbies.


Is a sunburn and possible heatstroke all I gained? Definitely not. People all around were friendly. As the cab driver said; “Everyone here is my friend.” Plenty to see too, I bet. Oman, may we meet again on better terms. Now off to my next flight. Two chairs to myself, living the luxurious life. 

Oman transit day on 12-8-2017

Categories
Life outside of travel

Starting 2016 with a rant

Big news

I was actually supposed to stay in South-Africa a few weeks longer, but after I had gotten my tickets I was given a big announcement: my sister was going to get married!!  Of course I had to be there, I wanted to, being her little brother. However, this meant I had to change my return flight if I wanted to be back home on time. My tickets were bought through World Ticket Center, a random site we found on google search when finding tickets to Port Elizabeth. The problems had already begun at the beginning of my journey (My First Trip Alone), where I had been given 2½ hours in between flights in London cite when I found out that my plane would take off on a different airport than where I would land. Although the site should have clearly pointed out that these were two different airports, which most actual airways do, since almost no one would nor should expect them to be especially with the little time I had in between, I will admit I am also to blame for not noticing it.

Then when it was time to return and I wanted to get a new ticket, more issues came up. My father was the one that did most of the work, as the internet at Hanneke’s was acting up again due to more load shedding. When we, dad and I, first got the tickets, we decided to pay a small fee insuring us in case I wanted to rebook. This meant I didn’t have to pay anything extra. So logically we expected we could rebook without having to pay anything extra. The thing is though, the insurance we bought wasn’t just for any extra costs, it was for the extra costs of the SITE that you don’t pay. Honestly, I would have definitely been fine with that if they had clarified it clearly, instead of being vague making inexperienced – with flying – people think it is for costs overall. Then on top of that, they kept ignoring me when I sent them mails wherein I politely asked questions about this. Therefore WTC has been the most anger making experience of the entire trip.

As a fee for rebooking we would have to pay 180 euros fee on top of the price of a new ticket, is what I heard from my father. Now we both see that it would be more in our favour if we just buy a new ticket without wtc, this time making sure there wouldn’t be any problems. That’s what we did. The cheapest one possible, which of course leads to a less enjoyable trip back, but I was trying to not waste too much money on another ticket.

The journey back

My last day started early in the morning, heading back to Hanneke’s after a party. While I was getting the rest of my stuff, Glenn made me breakfast and tea for on the road. During this ride, I got to wake up with the sight of a beautiful sunrise enjoying my toast and tea. It was nice to know I got to see my family and dogs again, but it was still hard leaving South-Africa. It was near to an hour to the airport, where we got somewhat over 2 hours prior to the boarding time. I thought, that 2 hours should be enough time, which it was when going to SA, to check in, go through security and get to the departing area. Followed the signs of Emirates Airways and I got into the humongous line for check-in. It was not only extremely long, but the speed of the line was incredibly slow as well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only time I spent waiting in a queue, it was the same story with the security and passport control. Once I was finally free from queues I walked, no ran my way to the boarding hall, but my plane was already on its way. Together with a lady and her quite frankly annoying son, who were too late too, we were brought to a reception where they were going to help us adjust our flights. I did have to pay a fee, but thanks to the fact that I had 13 hours to kill in Dubai, my first stop, I could still make the second flight without having to pay anything for that. The lady couldn’t. Then when I had to check in again, where I had gotten precisely the time I was told to be there, the guy behind the counter sent me over to another desk. There were only two people in front of me, but it took forever! This lead to me almost getting too late again, where I was blamed for. At this point I was really annoyed, not even necessary because of the guy, but the stress and waiting gets got me pissed off. Then it doesn’t help when everyone around you is asking questions or telling you what to do. That’s while most of them were trying to be polite… 😳 Before I had gone through the passport control I could already hear my name being called out together with someone else’s through the speakers. When my passport was checked, some guy from the airport rushed us to the boarding area carrying our bags sprinting as fast as possible.The moment I got onboard  I felt a feeling of relieve, ready for my 8 hour flight to Dubai.

Once I arrived in Dubai, which was at night, things started to go more smoothly. The customs went very easy and quick, no problems with anything really. I still had seven hours left before my final flight of six hours to Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf is a German city, but it’s not much further away from Schiphol and it helped soften the price. These seven hours I mostly spent watching series on my laptop and reading. Along with my tickets I had received a voucher for a free meal due to the long waiting time, which I could really use after all the airplane food. For the rest, the check-in, security, passport control and boarding all went surprisingly easy and fast. Compared to the first part, I was really satisfied with the way things went in Dubai. I was actually happy when hearing Dutch – and German – on the plane knowing I was getting nearer to my own comfy bed. This time I spent six hours in the plane with more food that tastes way worse than it looks. Around the time I arrived in Dusseldorf, my father and sister were waiting at the airport. Since I wasn’t able to talk to them after the problems in Johannesburg, they had no idea whether I was going to be walking through one of the doors or not. So no surprise they too were really relieved to see me. Together we drove back, both of them excited asking questions. I told them all about South-Africa, the happy moments, the odd differences, that time my phone got stolen, which I got back, making lots of friends every where, my volunteering work in Johannesburg and Jeffrey’s Bay, my little trip to Soweto, lots of activities my visit to Kruger Park and much more. Instead of going straight home, we decided to go to my favourite local restaurant, Woody’s Steakhouse first. After a well enjoyed meal, I wanted to go home. I was exhausted and wanted to sleep, but mostly I wanted to see my two loyal ladies, Kiruna and Zafira again. The two German shepherds were just as happy to see me again after these two months. It was great to see my family and dogs again, but after the sleepless past 34 hours, I really wanted to get some good sleep.


 

Even though my flight back was far from great, as I look back at it, I mostly do it with a smile or a laugh. I realize a trip will never be completely perfect and that there will be moments like these, but this is actually what makes the rest of the trip even better. That’s also why I wanted to mention them, as they were part of the trip. These small issues should never discourage anyone to not go traveling as it is nothing compared to the rest of the trip. That doesn’t take away that ranting every now and then feels good too 😀

Happy new year everyone!

*Btw, there are some new photo’s, you can check out the slideshow if you want to*