9 Lives and the Immigration Supervisors
I have been wanting to write this story for two years now. My friends thought it was so funny that they encouraged me to write to a travel magazine which I never did, but now as I have nothing better to do, here it is.
Some time ago I had a blazing row with my wife on the morning of Dec 31st, alcohol involved of course. I was living in Brisbane, Australia at the time. Just down the road from me was a train station that had a direct service to the Gold Coast. I just packed a small bag and left our apartment and went and jumped on the train. As I was inebriated I actually had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do, so off I went. The trip was about an hour so when we arrived at the end of the line, I just jumped on a bus and had no idea where that was going either. As we were driving along we passed Cooloongatta Airport and that's where my brilliant alcohol fuelled idea came in to play.
When I exited the bus, there was a grog shop right in front of me, so I thought, as you do, with a car when running low on gas, maybe I should just top up. Along comes another bus that says Airport shuttle, so with my cunning plan in mind, I jumped on that. So here I am half tanked rolling up at an airport having no idea exactly what I was going to do.
So in I stagger, have a look round, see a departure board and through one eye checked it out. There it was, an Air Asia flight leaving in 1 1/2 hours to Kuala Lumpur. That was it, I was getting on that, bugger the missus, bugger the world, I'll show
them. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to show them, but I was going to. "One way ticket to KL" please I said to the rep. He looked rather perplexed as he probably did not get to many people just rolling up and buying a one
way ticket 1 1/2 hours before the flight.
"Holiday, sir", he says.
"Nup, mission", I say.
"Oh you're a missionary, are you?"
"Well I am at the moment!"
Eight hours later I find myself in KL somewhat sobered up, wondering what the fxxx I had actually done. So to increase my brainpower as to how I was going to cope with this dilemma, I decided to stop my DT's and found the nearest bar. Now this was
9 o'clock at night in Malaysia. Just this morning I was in Brisbane and now I was here. After my shakes had reduced to minor tremors, I ventured to the departure lounge and had a look the board. There was a flight at 11 PM to somewhere called
I went to the sales desk and said "Where's Langkawi and what is actually there?"
"Oh it's a beautiful little island about an hour's flight north."
"Right that will do! How much is it?"
"Ah is that on the inside or outside of the plane?", I asked.
Midnight and I arrive at this rather dark looking airport. Get my meagre belongings and head outside.
"Taxi sir, where you want to go?"
"I don't really know", I say. "Just take me to a bar somewhere!"
About 15 minutes later I arrive at this little beach called Pantai Cenang [or something like that ]. Find a nice little bar and proceeded to get smashed yet again so that I would actually forget where I was, because I really did not want to know. The missus had no idea where I was but was probably not too worried because in the past I had taken off for a few days before returning home, tail between my legs.
Found a little bungalow place [or it found me] not sure which one, and got a room and passed out.
Come morning I woke up and actually had no idea where the hell I was, because I could not remember. Well let me tell you, I got quite a shock when I realised what had transpired in the previous 24 hours. Drinking sometimes can be akin to owning a travel agent that specialises in "mystery tours"!
So this is quite a cute little place right on the beach, no high-rise and oddly enough a duty free island, which was probably not such a good thing considering my drinking habit at the time. Found a nice little bar on the beach and just spent the next few days imbibing to excess. One day, sitting on my favourite stool, in comes this English guy called Stuart, a few years younger but quite the drinker himself. We strike up the "Odd couple" friendship and sit at this bar for at least another week every day, just drinking.
I did send my missus an email that just said "In Malaysia".
When I got around to being able to actually see a monitor a few days later, she had replied "Bullshit, where are you, why is your phone switched off?"
I thought it would be prudent at this stage to get a cell and call her. She was speechless "What the fxxx are you doing there?"
Taking some marriage leave, don't worry I will be back soon.
"Fxxx off "she said and hung up on me.
Now that suited me fine, because that is exactly what I had done anyway.
Stui, my new bestest friend made a suggestion that we catch a boat over to Penang and then head up to Thailand for a few days. What a good idea I thought, not actually realising that this was in fact where my life was about to go seriously pear-shaped.
We went to the ferry terminal 3 hours ahead of departure time and guess what we found…."a bar". So we just sat there and drank until it was time to leave on the SS Minnow. Quite a fast thing for a claptrap shitbox of a "boat"
that carried about 40 people. You could go up on the top deck and have a smoke if you desired, so I did.
Now at this point I was wearing some flimsy running shorts with just a back pocket where I had stupidly parked my wallet and passport. About half way through the 3 hour journey we pulled in to this little island to pick up or drop off some people, not quite sure. Up on deck having a smoke when we left and about 4 minutes out from the island whilst I was leaning my butt on the railing, guess what ? Yep my wallet and passport thought it was a great time to perform a swan dive straight in to the drink.
Now this kinda totally freaked me out, ran downstairs yelling at the crew who probably thought that I had gone somewhat mad, the way they looked at me. Only one of these boat boys could speak a little English and I explained to him what had happened. He said "No can go back" but I tell captain. Well a lot of good that will do, what's he going to do, call in the Malaysian navy? I was fxxxed, no money, no passport, just my little bag of clothes!
We arrive in Penang and found a small police station near the pier. I needed to call the Australian Consulate to come save one of their finest. No consulate in Penang, great. So I managed to get the emergency assistance line in Australia and rang them. There was an honorary consulate in Penang and they got in touch with her who came down and gave me enough money to get a hotel and then catch a bus down 7 hours to KL where there was in fact a consulate. Righto, that will do. But Stui had some bucks, so he paid for a room and I used the emergency money for our beers, saving enough for my bus fare to KL. I rang the consulate the next day which was a Thursday and explained my situation to them. They were to be expecting me the next day in the afternoon.
Now I still had my phone and that afternoon I get this call from some Sinbad who say "Mr. Peter, we find passport and wallet, where you. I couldn't believe it because for some reason, to this day I don't know, I had put the bracket of my SIM card in my wallet and it had the phone number on it. When I lost the wallet, there was about 1000 ringgit in it, when I got it back, there was about 100, I guess that's the price you pay. My passport was not in good shape, it was actually fxxxed. I dried it out as best I could but it was still fxxxed. Well that was the end of going to Thailand with Stui, I couldn't travel using that thing.
So the next morning, I was supposed to get picked up and taken to the bus station. Guess what, no-one bothered. Luckily there were busses that left every hour, so I get on the next one. We stopped at a place called Butterworth to pick up some more people,
so I thought I would go and buy some water. "How long are we going to be here" I say to the driver.
"20 minutes", he says.
Off I go and when I come back 10 minutes later, the bus has gone. Jesus, now no money, an excuse for what once used to be a passport and no bag, clothes or anything. It couldn't get any worse. How wrong I was!
This guy had called ahead to KL and said ok, when you get there you see Mr. Mohamed or something. This was a Friday and the consulate shut at 4, so I was in a hurry. 1 hour later the frickin bus gets a flat tyre. The thought of arriving in KL with the consulate shut, no clothes and no money did not appeal to me at all. Rang the consulate again and said I would probably not be there until 4.30, they agreed to wait. Fancy that, a government official working after office hours.
Get to KL, found Mr. Mohamed who had this rather alarmed look on his face. "Oh shit", here we go again I thought. "Where's my bag?"
Sorry sorry Mr. Peter, someone put bag by mistake on bus to Singapore. I really did not know what to say, for once in my life I was speechless. Gave him my phone number and said mate I gotta go, had just enough money for the train and race to the consulate, it was 4.40pm by the time I got there. The guard was expecting me and let me in.
There was this cranky 60 ish something "lady" waiting for me who decided to chastise me for being late. I just said "Lady, don't go there. Anyway we did the paperwork to get an emergency passport and then I remembered my other excuse
for a passport and showed her that.
"I thought you lost it in the ocean" she said.
I did but some fisherman or something found it.
"Well how did they find you?"
Oh please, I'm really not in the mood for this.
The Australian government gets really pissed off if you lose or have stolen 3 passports in 5 years. I had lost 1 and my wife thought it would be a good idea to put another one through the washing machine.
"We are going to have to fine you, sir."
"Fine me for what?"
"This is the 3rd passport in 5 years."
"But it's not stolen or lost", I explain.
"Doesn't matter", the old cow said.
"Ok so how am I going to pay a 1200 ringgit fine if I have no money"
"That's your problem sir, and your emergency passport will be ready in 5 days."
"5 days? I don't have any money, no clothes and you want me to come back in 5 days? Maam, is this consulate considered Australian soil?"
"Yes it is, why?"
"Because I ain't leaving here unless you help me! I need some money!"
"Do you have anyone in Australia that can help you?"
"No I don't."
I could have rung my missus but she would have laughed and said "Serves you right, you bastard!"
"So you want to kick me out on the street here, the papers would have a field day with that in the lucky country. Needless to say I got 1000 ringgit out of them and a letter explaining that my passport had been damaged and a new one was being issued. Why they had to give me a letter stating the bleeding obvious is beyond me.
I think KL is a shithole, so what to do, I know, I'll go 75 km down to the airport and catch a flight back up to Langkawi and when I am going back to Australia, I will just swing by here and pick up the emergency one. So off I head with my letter
and miserable drowned rat of an ex-passport.
My bag arrived 2 days later. Got a call from Stui when I was under the weather yet again and he says "Hey, come up to Patong, it's really cool!
"I can't! My passport is fxxxed and I haven't got my new one."
By this stage, the page in my drowned one that has my picture on it has actually become detached. Dutch courage is sometimes a good thing, so I think fxxx it, they can only say no.
So back to the ferry terminal, get a ticket for Satun in Thailand and then tried to go through Immigration.
"You can't travel on this!"
"Look here's a letter telling you I'm getting a new one!"
"I have to get my supervisor!"
Ok, so this official looking person comes over, takes the page with my photo that has fallen out and then proceeds to sticky tape it back in to the remnants of my passport.
"Ok, you go now!"
Geez that was lucky. I bet I won't be so lucky in Thailand. Filled out my arrival card, went to the Immigration official who just stamped my passport, but had one question for me. "Your occupation?"
"What is a monkey Trainer, whoops, didn't think they would notice I had written that.
"Well sir, it's kinda like teaching English in Thailand."
"Oh ok, thank you, enjoy your stay!"
Caught the bus up to Pattaya and then taxi to Patpong, caught up with Stui and, well you know what you do in Patpong. 4 days of debauchery and bar hopping. Anyway decided to go back to KL so go to the airport.
"Sir, you cannot travel on this!"
Here we go again.
"Have to get supervisor."
"Hey mate, you let me in to the country on this, you gotta let me out, that's not fair.
"Ok we let you go, but you pay fine!"
"Fine for what?"
"For having bad passport!"
"Look, you are either going to let me travel on it, or you are not?"
"Ok, you not travel, goodbye!"
"How much is the fine?"
"What was I to do? Everyone knows what Thailand is like when it comes to extracting money from Farangs at the slightest opportunity.
I swear, if god was ever going to give this world an enema, this would be the place.
So arrive back in KL.
"Sir you cannot come in here on this."
"Look, you let me out, now you have to let me in, that's not fair."
"Wait, I get supervisor."
Not another bloody supervisor, they were becoming about as prevalent in my life as hookers in Patpong.
"Look here's a letter from consulate in KL, I have to go and pick up new passport, but I can't do that if you don't let me in."
"OK you go." Sooner or later my luck is going to run out. I need a drink.
Hopped on a plane straight back up to Langkawi. Why? I have no idea. 3 days later I get a call from the cow at the consulate.
"Hey, your passport has been ready for 5 days, why haven't you picked it up?"
"Oh, sorry" I say. "I have been getting to know every immigration supervisor in South-East Asia. I'll be there on Monday as that is when I m flying back to Australia.
Monday morning, I get an early flight back down to KL, catch the bus 75 km up to KL, then the train to the consulate to get my emergency passport. Frickin consulate closed. Why? Chinese New Year holiday. Thanks for telling me, you fat cow. Shit, what am I going to do. Just wing it, someone been looking after me so far, but still have this dreaded feeling I'm running out of lives
Get to the LCCT 7 hours before my flight, fretting about Immigration again because of this fxxxing nightmare passport. Sit at bar, find my old mate Mr. Dutch courage. I go to Immigration "Sorry sir, you cant travel on this!"
"Look just go and get your supervisor, I probably know him anyway."
Supervisor comes, different bloke, "Mate you let me in on it a week ago, you have to let me out."
"Ok you go back your own country."
Yahoo, home and hosed, I'm outta here.
Flight called for boarding, and boy am I glad that's all over with. I'm going home to face the wrath of she that rules. Anything would be better than the relationship I have had with this stupid piece of shit passport. Well, guess what, just
going through where they scan your boarding pass and there are these two official looking dudes of Caucasian character asking to see people's passports and having a look at them with one of those lights that they use to find traces of blood
not visible to the naked eye.
"Sir, you cannot travel using this."
I explained my woes about the consulate being shut, gave them the letter and said "Please, I just want to go home, please!"
"Ok you can go."
I'm free, free at last.
Arrive Australia, "Sir you can't use this document, it is too damaged!"
Oh Jesus! "What are you going to do huh! Deport me?"
"Well, we will let you in, but we will have to confiscate it."
Mate, you can use it to light your fxxxing barbecue as far as I'm concerned, I never want to see it again, Goodbye
Some people shouldn't be given a passport in the first place….