Saturday, August 22, 2009
Almost missed the connection at HK. Thought 70minutes would be long enough, but only JUST: with yet another x-ray and hoards of mainland Chinese in the way and jumping the line. I did make it to the plane (second Cathay Pacific flight I'd been on that day) to find the seats on this one were just as awful as the last flight. Lots of leg room, but there was a bit at the back of the bottom seat cushion that chafed my rear end for the entire flight. Quite a contrast to the Business Class upgrade on the flight from Taipei to Seoul, which was SWEET! Nice smiley service, but even my jaded color palate rebels against the batik-inspired turquoise and green of MH.
Malaysia has a colonial history, which may be apparent from this roadsign. Which placename does not fit with the others, children?
OK: it's Malaysia, so the immigration forms were the usual ones cunningly psychologically designed to weed out miscreants. "Are you bringing in illegal drugs?" Why would anyone with a greater than room temperature IQ (and yes, I am talking Celsius) even ASK that question? A different KIND of "stupid" is required to ask this one: "Have you visited any countries that the WHO has designated as centres for H1N1 virus? Yes or no? If you are caught lying you are liable to imprisonment." WTF?? YES or NO??? I am on a plane in mid-flight: I can not "phone a friend", nor look it up on the web. So what to do? Hmmm... I just put a big "?" in the middle and said I had no clue, as I was not a member of WHO, and listed the countries I had been in, in the last seven days. Seemed to work. This was a recurring theme throughout my trip: customers doing a quick thermometer check of the forehead or ear, and asking in a big form if I had stayed in "any countries that the WHO has...". Again, I don't have Peter Townsend's phone number, plus by the end of the trip, the local death toll from H1N1 went from 18 to 36, and I was pointedly writing "Malaysia" down as my guess at a WHO designated flu hotspot.
Anyway: got out of customs in Penang with no issues, and met my old friends Dave and Damian who had booked me into the G Hotel on Gurney Drive, Penang. More anon.