Tag Archive: Singapore


The Return


No Im not high, I just hadnt had a beer in 4 days...

Spent the last 3 weeks in the states gorging myself on BBQ and Mexican food. I forgot what real salsa tastes like. Dont ever take that for granted. Salty, the smells of cilantro, crunchy white onion pieces and gawd…. fresh tortia chips!!! The highlights in no particular order: 

  1. Umami Burger – Los Angeles, CA, Carnitas Burger with jalapeno sour cream, guacamole and Mexican Coke
  2. Cristos Cafe – Orlando, FL, Deep Fried French Toast (’nuff said)
  3. Malo – Silverlake, CA, Soft Tacos and 3 epic Spicy Cucumber Margaritas
  4. Some shitty sports bar in Lakeland, FL – Crappy bar food, Sierra on Tap and Hockey on TV
  5. Grandmas House – Lakeland, FL – Smoked Turkey and Fried Okra
  6. Wendys – Orlando airport – Spicy Chicken Sandwich
  7. St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL – $5 plastic cheese nachos with $1 extra for jalapeno

Josh, his girlfriends sister and I went to the Tampa Bay Lighting vs. Boston Bruins game. Scored 3rd row seats on the corner. We were lucky enough to have some additional entertainment in the form of classic Floridian white trash. Some gold chain mafia guy and his girlfriend showed up cheering for Boston. Im guessing she had nothing to do with Boston besides the fact maybe her boyfriend went there once for a vacuum cleaner repairman convention. She had no grasp of the game or the rules but luckily for us that didnt hinder her from expressing her expert analysis in what was kind of a play-by-play with the vinacular of Sam Kinison and the depth Paris Hilton. She dropped the F bomb so many times that midway through the 2nd an usher had to come down and ask whoever was using the foul language to please stop. Thankfully the Bruins played their perennial-flop-of-a-goaltender Tukka Rask and Tampa rolled them 3-1. I got to watch the joy drain from her face like a child who just lost their toy down the sewer drain.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Mom continued her annual tradition of making up traditions that never existed before and spent most the time talking to inanimate objects around the house. I dont blame her, its just a natural response to 15 years of being alone with my dads stoicism. Grandma seems to be the most sane of any of us despite the fact that she likes to go on nighttime drives with vision that would make a possum look like a prime candidate for a military sniper. I continued my own personal tradition of doing a detox while there which just accentuated all the minor annoyances putting me in a real lovely mood. I cheated the last night which was when #4 above occurred.

Its so easy to improve on what the French do but this is the ultimate make over for french toast

Went on my shopping spree of food and tech gadgets. After 10 months of shopping in Indonesian computer stores with their Chinese knock offs at 25% mark up of the real deal, walking into Frys Electronics was like the first time I walked into a strip club. Justin had to force me to leave. I liked how they carried as many adult magazines as computer magazines, they know their audience. I got my stash of candy, sauce (Stubbs BBQ, Tapitio and A1), pecans and more candy.

Thankfully I was able to experience my last time flying where I belong, with the rich people in up front. Sat next to a nice old man that was living in Vietnam because his pension didnt cover the cost of living in the United States (yet he was flying Business Class) but just then turned out to be a dirty old man. He left his wife of 40 years to go live a 38 year old woman (he was about 70) in Hanoi. He had some interesting stories but the prospect of me being him in 40 years messed with my head the entire flight.

In Singapore I had a layover for 24 hours but my friend Dicky was also there on business so we hung out all day and did some more essential shopping (Media Center to play the 2TBs of movies on my TV that my friend had loaded in Orlando) and got some great ramen noodles. Oh and also got to have a $15 beer which was a real special treat since it tasted like Budweiser. Thats the problem with jumping around from country to country is you lose track of the currency exchange rate.

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So, we woke up and realized that what we had slept on was actually the mat for the diaper changing station. Lovely.   

Lida barely slept all night, freaking out about the cost of a ticket to Russia and if she would even be allowed to come back. She finally fell asleep around 5am. At 8am the “guard” (I use quotes here because the only thing he was guarding was his own lack of purpose, achievement and personality) decided his prisoners (we were accompanied by an extremely nice guy from the Punjab providence) had slept long enough, turned on the light and sat down on the couch, casting creepy glances at Lida every few minutes. Of course the Great White Russian Bear (and I mean that in the most effeminate way) was unphased by any of it and slept through it all.      

She may ride forever above the streets of Jakarta shes the girl who never returned

 

The previous night Lida had gotten the number for the Russian consulate. Being the ultimate skeptic of government and its actual effectiveness in my daily life, I thought nothing of it. She called them, and after a brief conversation, hung up the phone and to my surprise said the vice-consul would be calling her back in 15 minutes. They apologised for the wait but there was an emergency on an island with a group of Russians.    

The first image that popped into my head was a bunch of Russians sun bathing in the nude on a Muslim island and trying to get Komodo Dragons to drink vodka. Then I realized how ridiculous that notion was…there’s no Muslims on Komodo Island [insert rim shot].    

The vice-consul called back and asked her to call his assistant who speaks fluent Bahasa and have him speak to an agent to see if there was anything that could be done over the phone. The guy pretending he had authority over us was very reluctant to go to the immigration office. I suspect this is because he always gets beat up or practical jokes played on him because he’s a grade A douche and really just a step below a mall cop (at least they get pepper spray and a baton). After much pleading he finally disappeared. He returned with representatives from the airline, which until this point, we thought were part of the immigration office. We later learn that the reason for this was they had made a mistake by allowing Lida to get on the plane to Singapore in the first place. Its their responsibility to stop people with invalid paperwork. For each person that they let through that shouldn’t be, they are fined $5000. They were attempting to shirk responsibility.     

 The phone call was unsuccessful and the vice-consul was not pleased about it. He was scheduled to be at the airport later that night but decided to head over early to help sort the mess out, although Lida said he was far less eloquent with his vocabulary. As the day wore on, it became apparent that the people charged with the outcome of our situation would have to put in a full days work rather than their normal half-day.  As a result, they became exceedingly impatient and rude, directing Lida and I like children and insisting we call the vice-consul repeatedly to find out how far away he was, as well as the cold stares they threw at us as they hunched in the corner smoking their cigarettes in front of a no smoking sign.  These guys make the French look motivated.  

In the 2 hours it took the vice-consul to get there, I had conjured up visions of a Oligarkian character who spoke softly but with a very threatening tone, stout in stature and a presence that was anything but subtle. All this was true save for his dress. And to top it off, he was extremely nice to Lida AND ME! Lida beamed with pride while walking through the terminal with him, the way a girl would if her superhero father, that all her peers denied existed, came to visit her at school to vindicate her years of ridicule. Once at the immigration office, the usual barrage of ineffective and pompous low-lever officers tried to stymie the consuls attempts to gain her entrance as well as saying his boss was in a meeting (not the most creative bunch). He finally grew tired of it and said, “Ok, let me just call the ambassador and see if he has any ideas”.  He was in the boss’ office under a minute. When he came out we unfortunately didnt the result we had hoped for, Lida being allowed to enter Indonesia, however it wasnt the worst either as they did agree to let her go to Kuala Lumpur instead of Russia.  Just to ensure her seemless transit, he had them sign a contract of agreement that said she would be allowed to go to KP and return to Indonesia without any further hindrances.  Im not too sure how much legal clout that carries but it exhilarating, after sitting in an airport for 20 hours with people who couldnt care less if you live or die and for Lida, 48 hours at that, to finally have someone who not only cared but had the foresight anda bility to anticipate future issues.  In addition, he said hes ready tomorrow morning when she returns from KP to help with anything that might happen upon reentry and to call him if anything comes up. It’s really inspiring to see this and helps you understand the worth of your government.   

So here we are again. Im sitting in luxury at home and my girlfriend is stuck in an airport by herself.  Its the first time in the nearly 2 years we’ve been traveling together that shes getting a stamp in her passport that doesnt match mine, and its kinda depressing. By the time she gets home it will have been 3 days with no shower or real bed. I know what youre saying, Im the worst boyfriend ever. I wanted to go with her but she insisted it was a waste of money for me to go. Shes even refusing to stay at a hotel. While I appreciate her self sacrifice, its doing a number on my Christian guilt.

Shanghai’d in Singapore


Lida and I came to Singapore last night to complete the process of getting a Social/Cultural visa, which will make renewal much easier. We did all our home work before hand.  She could visit with no visa for 96 hours, we had out paperwork and used the last of my hotel points to stay at a minimum cost.

We got to Singapore and I cleared customs and waited while they cleared her.  They took her to a back room.  She made some sign to indicate all was not well.  After 15 or 30 minutes the woman came out to explain that Russians can only visit without a visa if they are arriving for continuing to Russia.  Since we were arriving and returning to Indonesia she was not allowed in the country. The woman refused to let me talk to her to figure out what we would do.  She said they were sending her back but wouldnt tell me when. She wouldnt even give her a bag with her things in it since I knew shed be stuck in the airport no less than 8 hours. We had no cash cause I was planning on getting Singapore dollars out of the ATM when we got there.

I was able to talk to her for a while last night via her cell phone but she wasnt supposed to be using it and I havent heard from here in almost 12 hours so Im afraid they took it from her.  They had her sitting in a room and werent telling her anything.

So here I am sitting in a comfortable hotel room with food and drink and I have no idea where she is, if shes had anything eat, slept or if shes even in Singapore. I assume she is because shes logged into Yahoo IM on her phone, but Im not getting any responses.

Its a terrible helpless feeling.