Saturday, April 03, 2010

Coming Home

It was supposed to be a routine trip home. So routine that we didn't even bother to carry any hand luggage with us other than our laptop. The 16-hour plane ride is something I try to avoid as much as I can but with the client delaying vital information for me to proceed with my work, it was decided that its best for me to take my planned break and then hope that the client would have sorted out their mess in my 2-week absence. The ride to the airport was in the super huge Toyota Sequoia. It was a joy to ride in this beast. Our driver was Nicolas, the safest driver among the lot.

 

toyota-sequoia

 

The check-in at the airport was a terrible hassle. The big police officer at the airport entrance tried to play magic with us, calling out my name and saying he knows my name by just looking at me. He thinks I didn't notice him looking at my name written in large letters, pasted on both sides of my luggage. He tried his best to get us to part with some Naira but with a crowd of visitors behind us, he eventually let us through. Then the bell boy said he could get us to cut queue if we gave him N5000. We smiled. He smiled. He walked away. The queue was long. Then another smartly dressed, mute guy came over and looked at our check-in slip and asked us, with sign language, for N1000 to bypass the check-in queue. We agreed. N1000 was reasonable. Then he rolled our bags out and half way through, he stopped and demanded another N1000. I knew saying No would have made us walk to the back of the ever—growing long queue. So I paid. We got through to the Customs official. Hoisted one bag up, the lady looked in, then looked at my wife, then gave me a nice smile. When she saw me putting my hand into my pocket, she closed our bag and ushered us to move on. We paid her N500. Then we waited in a chaotic queue in front of the ticketing desk. It was total madness. Everyone was cutting queues, no one was paying attention to anything. After around 20 minutes, it was our turn. Our bags weighed in a 1kg below the maximum allowable weight. It only took us less than 4 minutes for the lady to issue us our boarding pass all the way to KL. Holding the boarding pass and the immigration form, we walked towards the departure gate. There, another officer looked at our boarding pass and then asked us, “Master, today is the weekend. What do you have for me?” He said it quietly when there were people around. We pretended to not know what he was saying. By then my wife was pretty angry. She bluntly asked him, “What are you asking us for? Money?”

 

“No, I just said Master.”

 

“But what does Master mean? Passport”

 

“Yes”

 

“Then why didn't you say so?”

 

We gave him our passports. And then he chipped in.

 

“It’s not good to raise your voice to an officer. If you treat us well, we will treat us well.”

 

This banter went on for a while until he knew he wasn't going to get anything from us. My wife was pretty fired up against this fool. We grabbed our boarding pass and passports and walked into the check-in lounge. If this guy was humble in asking for money, we would have given him. After all, we did give to all those who had asked us earlier, those who had the courtesy to ask politely. But this guys was utter arrogance. To those that we had paid earlier, they did something for us – the first one cut our waiting time by a large margin; the customs official didn't check our luggage, saving us valuable packing time. But this guy, all he had to do was to check that people had a valid boarding pass and passport. He couldn't have helped us in any other manner. But yet, he had the cheek to be arrogant in demanding some bribe from us!

 

After this, everything went on smoothly except that while queuing to board the plane at 1.50 pm (plane scheduled to leave at 2.50 pm), the computer network went down. We stood in line for about 2 hours, only boarding the plane at 3.50 pm and the plane eventually took off at 4.30 pm. Everyone was grumbling about missing their connection flight to other destinations. We knew we would definitely be missing ours as we only had a 1 hour 20 minute window between our flights. Our flight from Dubai to KL was scheduled to leave at 1.40 am Dubai time, which was when our Lagos-Dubai plane landed. The next flight was 4 am but the lady at the counter said even if she could have fitted us in, our bags wouldn't follow suit. They would only come on the 10.30 am flight. But she was kind enough to give us a hotel room at the Millennium Hotel for the night. I was expecting a good sleep but after doing the math, it turned out that we could only sleep for 3 hours before packing up and heading back to the airport. Nevertheless, it was great to finally be able to take a shower with excellent water pressure, compared to the pathetic water pressure at our Somerset Hotel. Below is our visa on demand. The good thing about being a Malaysian is that we get a one-month entry visa automatically. Shown below is Immigration control at Dubai airport and our on-demand visa. The men in white are the security officials.

 

Immigration Control at Dubai airport

 

On demand visa once we arrived in Dubai

 

The Millennium Hotel is a 3-star hotel. At a rate of USD170 per night, its priced to similar to the Somerset Hotel which we’re staying in Nigeria. We had complimentary sandwich and drinks at our arrival, and breakfast was served the next morning. Shown below are the taxis at the airport at 3 in the morning.

 

Taxi's outside the airport at 3 in the morning 

 

The cafe at the Millennium Hotel. Every worker we saw was a foreigner. I wonder what the locals work as.

 

Millennium Hotel Cafe

 Millennium Hotel Cafe

 

Our cozy hotel room. We squeezed cozily into one bed.

 

Millennium Hotel Room

 

Millennium Hotel Room

 

Next morning, after having a delicious breakfast, we headed back to the airport. This are the photo’s of Dubai that we managed to snap.

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Dubai

 

Seven and a half hours later we landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. We landed at 10 pm Sunday after, 8 hours later than expected. Finally, on home soil and delicious food.

2 comments:

Rizwan said...

i enjoy your story... good experience for you!!

i guess the way they ask for money, makes our police look like an angel!

Think & Create said...

Ha, thanks for the comment. Yes, they make our police look like angels. With our drivers, we are safe. But once someone with authority comes into the picture, their only interested in filling their pockets with money. Its sad but true.