Sunday, November 22, 2009

in & out. chop, chop!

KL, I hardly knew ye.

I could be accused of being a little too lax in my travel preparations. I hopped on the plane last month and breezed into Thailand without too much thought about details like immigration and tourist visas. Consequently, when I looked at the stamp in my passport, I realized that I was only chopped in until the 22 of November. I wasn't too concerned. On other visits I have dealt with overstaying my welcome by paying a small fine upon departure. Alas, I was behind the times. This method is now frowned on and I had to find another way to extend my visa. Marvelous and magical things can be done with passports in Thailand. Sometimes the passports mysteriously find their own way across the borders but after some consultation with the pros, I decided to use the tried and true approach. I flew down to Malaysia, turned around and came directly back to Thailand and got stamped back in for another few weeks. It's a rather carbon unfriendly way to do it but it was fast. It's the first time I have been issued boarding passes for both the outgoing and the return portions of my trip at the ticket desk. The gap between arrival and departure was so tight that I walked directly back on the plane and did not even sit down in the departure gate.

I regretted not making an attempt to get in town to see a few sights. Just being in the airport brought back a flood of memories about Malaysia. A glimpse of the Petronas logo and I was instantly transported to a meeting I had with the company's promotional group. I was part of a team working on a Natural Gas exhibit and we met in the old Petronas building (the construction of the new towers was just starting at that time) and the clients were sitting with their backs to the window. My view through the window was filtered by an arabic screen of a geometric pattern. Throughout the meeting a helicopter repeatedly buzzed the building. I thought I could see a man dangling from a rope ladder. I later found out that they were filming one of the jackie chan Super Cop movies. It amazes me to think that I didn't find the helicopter stunts very unusual. I guess life was sufficiently strange at the time. Men hanging off of helicopters was par for the course.

While running through the KL airport I snapped the Selangor shop with a nod to my pal Susan. You'll notice there is a christmas tree displayed in the a full-on Muslim country. I think that's pretty tolerant.

The writer of the Shrimp and Petroleum Blog provided a detailed driving guide for Malaysians. The guide is equally applicable in Thailand. My thai taxi driver had turned his cab into a mini shrine, lining the front dash with religious relics, stringing good luck charms from the visor and plastering the ceiling with prayer cloths. Unfortunately the coconut elephant he had occupying the left hand side of the dash did not make it into the frame.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Malaysian road rules from Shrimp & Petroleum. Snort (as B. Shamu likes to say) Snort ! Snort !