Monday, January 30, 2012

Joke: A Redhead, a Brunette and a Blonde

Three women are about to be executed for crimes. One's a brunette, one's a redhead, and one's a blonde.

Two guards brings the brunette forward, and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no, and the executioner shouts, "Ready . . . Aim . . ."

Suddenly the brunette yells, "earthquake!!" Everyone is startled and looks around. She manages to escape.

The angry guards then bring the redhead forward, and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no, and the executioner shouts, "Ready . . . Aim . . ."

The redhead then screams, "tornado!!" Yet again, everyone is startled and looks around. She too escapes execution.

By this point, the blonde has figured out what the others did. The guards bring her forward, and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She also says no, and the executioner shouts, Ready . . . Aim . . ."

The blonde shouts, "fire!!"

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How Landing in a Crosswind Looks Like?

All though landing through a crosswind is quite common, none are quite as severe as experienced at the Düsseldorf International Airport in Germany last week.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Joke: Running Away from the Police

A police officer attempts to stop a car for speeding and the guy gradually increases his speed until he's topping 100 mph. He eventually realizes he can't escape and finally pulls over.

The cop approaches the car and says, "It's been a long day and my shift is almost over, so if you can give me a good excuse for your behavior, I'll let you go."

The guy thinks for a few seconds and then says, "My wife ran away with a cop about a week ago. I thought you might be that officer trying to give her back!"

Friday, January 27, 2012

How it Feels to Be Deported from a Country at the Immigration.

This article was taken from Chris Guillebeau's Art of Non Conformity site and I found it interesting how he describes his adventure (I wouldnt call it an ordeal since he had planned for such an event to happen) about being deported from a country where he didnt have his required visa to enter.

JANUARY 26, 2012

I always knew it would happen one day.

Having successfully arrived in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Angola without the necessary visas, I had been pushing my luck.

Having challenged Belarus to a blogging duel, complete with a response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was no stranger to difficult countries. But last weekend in Eritrea, the luck ran out.

Let's be clear: I'm not interested in taking unnecessary risks. In each case where I've had to take my chances on traveling without a visa, it was because all other options had exhausted themselves. I would have much preferred to have the necessary permission instead of trying to pull off an East African wedding crasher routine. Nevertheless, sometimes the best laid plans fall by the wayside, and that's when you have to make a decision.

In Saudi Arabia's case, the New York consulate came through with the visa at the last possible minute -- and then promptly mailed my passport back to Portland, instead of holding it for local pickup on my way out of the country as agreed. Angola just kept the money and returned my passport without a word -- and without the visa.

Eritrea, however, was the worst offender of all. Having paid for the visa a total of three times and waited a full 90 days with my passport at their Washington, D.C. embassy without results, I was in a quandary. With only 15 countries left on my list and 13 months to go, I couldn't keep putting it off.

I decided to go for it and travel to the country anyway. What choice did I have? Passive resistance wasn't getting me very far.

I managed to obtain my Egypt Air boarding passes in Madrid with only minimal subterfuge. Airlines are responsible for ensuring that passengers have the necessary approvals before traveling, so I knew there would be an interrogation of sorts. I decided I wouldn't lie if directly asked about something, but I wasn't above leaving out a few key facts if necessary.

It wasn't that difficult; the agent was bored and had already printed the boarding passes when she remembered to check on the visa. I showed her my paperwork with a smile (but without the visa) and she wished me a good trip. So far, so good.

After a four-hour flight to Cairo, I powered up with an espresso and chocolate muffin. While sipping the coffee and preparing to board the final flight, I thought about the possible outcomes for the night ahead, based on ten years of experience in convincing random countries to allow me to visit.

Outcome 1: It would take some doing, but I'd get the entry visa upon arrival after pleading my case to various higher-ups. Predicted odds: 50%.

Outcome 2: I would get the entry visa upon arrival without any trouble at all, and my whole concern would be for nothing. Predicted odds: 25%.

Outcome 3: I would have a serious problem, would not get the entry visa, and would be thrown out of the country or thrown into jail. Predicted odds: 25%.


We landed after 2am and I was wide awake with nervous excitement. What would happen? How would the night end? Do Eritrean prisons have WiFi?

The plane parked on the tarmac and I rode a shuttle bus to the terminal with all the other passengers, most of whom were Eritrean. I began to feel relieved as the bus made the short trip; despite the late hour, everyone was smiling. Some of them caught my eye and said, "Welcome to Eritrea!"

"Welcome home!" I said in reply. The friendliness was a good sign, I thought.

Upon arrival at the first immigration blockade, however, I quickly realized that Option 2 -- the easy entry without any trouble -- was definitely out.

"You don't have a visa?" the first guy asked, seeming genuinely surprised.

"Not yet," I said, projecting confidence and wearing my only nice shirt of the trip. (I had even made sure to tuck it in before landing. When crashing a country, you only get one chance to make a first impression.)

I had no visa, but I was not without ammunition. "Here is my landing card, my passport photo, my hotel reservation, and my return ticket," I said, presenting the papers with a flourish. "How much does the visa cost?"

This ruse often works. Four years of arguing with numerous government leaders in West Africa followed by another six years of frequent international travel has taught me the power of paper. If you don't have the right piece of paper for the job, bring lots of other paper instead.

Unfortunately, the paper-pushing trick didn't work on the first guy, and the second guy I was referred to didn't even look at any of the printouts. I kept getting passed off higher and higher until I finally ended up in the office of the Chief Immigration Officer. It was here I would make my last stand.

Alas, this final challenge did not begin well. In another ominous sign, the Chief Immigration Officer was not nearly as friendly as the smiling Eritreans I had rode in on the bus with. I tried some light banter: "Wow, I'm really excited to be here. Do you guys have a hop-on, hop-off bus? Any theme parks I should visit?"

Despite my brilliant attempt at making friends, the boss didn't seem very interested in getting to know me. An offer of a complimentary Turkish Airways amenity kit from a previous flight was also swatted away.

I sat and waited, feeling optimistic ("60/40 odds," I told myself. "Maybe even 70/30"). Calls were made. Officials were dispatched to check the records to see where I had previously applied for visas at the embassy in Washington. Long conversations about me were conducted in a language I didn't understand, although naturally I assumed that the phrases "bestselling author" and "popular Facebook page" were spoken.

The longer I waited, the more the odds improved -- or so I thought. Another rule of these situations is that if you keep sitting around patiently, eventually they'll get bored and let you in. Unfortunately, every immigration rule has an exception. All of a sudden, the waiting shifted to action, and the action wasn't good.

In Which It All Comes To An Abrupt End

I couldn't believe it, but after two hours of making new friends while gently pleading my case, I was going out on the return flight to Cairo... which now left in ten minutes. No way! But indeed, that was the plan, and I had no vote in the matter.

The Chief Immigration Officer assigned me a handler, who marched me outside the airport and guided me around to the departure area in front. I was disappointed and sleep-deprived, but when I was given a hand-written boarding pass I still remembered to ask the all-important question: "Can you add my Frequent Flyer number?"

Yes, if I was really going to be deported, at least I'd earn miles for it. It's 1,130 miles from Asmara to Cairo, plus any special "last minute deportation" bonuses that happen to be on special. Lesson: never pass up miles or points when they come your way.

Everyone else had boarded and the plane was ready to go. My handler, the Egyptian Airlines station manager, and a couple of hangers-on walked me back out the tarmac and up the steps of the waiting plane. Inside the cabin, the station manager handed my passport to the purser and instructed him to return it only upon reaching the transit desk in Cairo. I never like to be without my passport, but such was the price to pay for being deported.

The plane took off and I dozed against the window, looking down at Asmara as we prepared to leave Eritrean airspace on the way back to Egypt. Exhaustion was creeping in after staying up all night, but the whole time I was thinking about one important question: does this count as a country visit?

Ask the Readers: Does This Count?

People often ask what my criteria is for visiting a country. Long story short, I don't really have any. My one rule is that I don't count airport stops -- simply being in transit isn't enough. I've been on two flights that have touched down in Khartoum, for example, but since I didn't get off the plane, I still can't say that I've been to Sudan.

This case is trickier, though. I've paid to go to Eritrea on multiple occasions. I did make it to the airport, and even outside the airport. I had an extended interrogation session with several interesting people. It wasn't like going on a tour of the interior and stopping by a few villages, but it was certainly a story-worthy experience.

Even if it probably shouldn't count as a true visit, the honest truth is that I really don't know if I'll be allowed back into Eritrea, at least anytime soon. After 90 days of pestering the embassy and paying the fee three times, they still returned my passport with no visa.

The Eritreans I talked with have all been very friendly, much like the Ethiopians I know. But the government has a reputation for being hostile and highly secretive. Eritrea is in a long-standing conflict with Ethiopia, and the U.S. government is on the side of the Ethiopians. I've never held any position in the government and don't have anything to do with politics, but when it comes to immigration and travel restrictions, these things matter.

When I visited Angola last year, I also had visa problems and wasn't expecting to be able to enter the country, instead planning an extended transit. After much stress with the embassy and repeated payoffs, I had finally made my peace with accepting that the Angola visit might need to have an asterisk next to it. Much to my surprise, however, when I went there I was actually allowed free reign of Luanda -- thus obviating the need for the asterisk.

I'm tempted to put this visit in the same category, but I'd like to know what you think.

For those who are still reading, have I officially been to Eritrea, or will I need to regroup yet again and make another plan?

Share your opinion (yes/no/something else) here.

Go easy on me...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Elderly Italian @ Confession

An elderly Italian man who lived on the outskirts of Naples, Italy, went to the local church for confession. 
When the priest slid open the panel in the confessional, the man said:

"Father, during World War II, a beautiful Jewish woman from our neighborhood knocked urgently on my door and asked me to hide her from the Nazis. So I hid her in my attic."

The priest replied: "That was a wonderful thing you did my son, and  you have no need to confess that."

"There is more to tell, Father. She started to repay me with sexual  favors. This happened several times a week, and sometimes twice on  Sundays."

The priest said, "That was a long time ago, and by doing what you did,  you placed the two of you in great danger, but two people under those  circumstances can easily succumb to the weakness of the flesh. However,  if you are truly sorry for your actions, you are indeed forgiven."

"Thank you, Father. That's a great load off my mind. I do have one more question."

"And what is that?" asked the priest.

"Should I tell her the war is over?''

An Irish Funeral

A man was leaving a convenience store with his morning coffee when he noticed a unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery.

A black hearse was followed by a second black hearse about 50 feet behind the first one. Behind the second hearse was a solitary man walking a dog on a leash. Behind him, a short distance back, were about 200 men walking in single file.

The man couldn't stand the curiosity. He respectfully approached the man walking the dog and said: "I am so sorry for your loss, and this may be a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Whose funeral is it?"

"My wife's."

''What happened to her?"

"She yelled at me and my dog attacked and killed her."

He inquired further, "But who is in the second hearse?"

The man answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my wife when the dog turned on her also."

A very poignant and touching moment of brotherhood and silence passed between the two men.

"Can I borrow the dog?"

The man replied, "You must get in line."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Caught the Evening Sun

Caught the evening sun as it was about to hide for the day. Picture taken from King's Park, Perth, WA.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Rumours Become True

In the summer of 1946, the rumour of a famine swept through a province in a South American country.

Actually, the crops were growing well and the weather was perfect for a bumper harvest.

But on the strength of that rumour, 20,000 small farmers abandoned their farms and fled to the cities for work. Because of their actions, the crops failed, thousands starved and the rumour about the famine proved true.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I love books. Which was why I was surprised to find the price of books (and everything else) very expensive in Australia. But according to my dad, the high cost is due to the high wages everyone earns in Australia.

With the closure of Borders book store last June/July, Dymocks, together with Boffins and Elizabeth Second Hand Books, are among the few book stores left in this part of Australia.

Most Australians shop online for their books. The cost of buying books from Amazon UK plus shipping is still lower than buying off the shelf.

I am disappointed with the number of books offered in Dymocks. I wish they could carry more varieties.

This picture of Dymocks was taken in the CBD (Central Business District) in Perth, WA.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Time to go to my Second Home

Ah, its time to stuff myself into a cramped seat and fly to my second home.

Instead of AirAsia, we're flying Qantas this time around. There's a difference between flying like a herd on AirAsia and flying decently on a full fledged airline.

One hour stop over at Singapore and we're off to Perth. We're scheduled to reach Perth in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Old Timer SEX

The husband leans over and asks his wife, 'Do you remember the first time we had sex together over sixty years ago? We went behind the village tavern where you leaned against the back fence and I made love to you.'

Yes, she says, 'I remember it well.'

OK,' he says, 'How about taking a stroll around there again and we can do it for old time's sake?'

Oh Jim, you old devil, that sounds like a crazy, but good idea!'

A police officer sitting in the next booth heard their conversation and, having a chuckle to himself, he thinks to himself, I've got to see these two old-timers having sex against a fence. I'll just keep an eye on them so there's no trouble. So he follows them.

The elderly couple walks haltingly along, leaning on each other for support aided by walking sticks. Finally, they get to the back of the tavern and make their way to the fence.

The old lady lifts her skirt and the old man drops his trousers. As she leans against the fence, the old man moves in..

Then suddenly they erupt into the most furious sex that the policeman has ever seen. This goes on for about ten minutes while both are making loud noises and moaning and screaming.

Finally, they both collapse, panting on the ground.

The policeman is amazed. He thinks he has learned something about life and old age that he didn't know.

After about half an hour of lying on the ground recovering, the old couple struggle to their feet and put their clothes back on. The policeman, is still watching and thinks to himself, this is truly amazing, I've got to ask them what their secret is.

So, as the couple passes, he says to them, 'Excuse me, but that was something else. You must've had a fantastic sex life together. Is there some sort of secret to this?'

Shaking, the old man is barely able to reply, 'Sixty years ago that wasn't an electric fence.'

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy 2012

Yup, it's another year.


This is the time lots of people sign up for their yearly gym membership and then stop going to the gym after the first two months. Gym's love people like this. Which is why I dont go to the gyms. I sleep.

Lets try to make this year better than 2011 was.

Personal victories are better than competing with the Jones.