Friday, March 14, 2008

Airport Tales: and Other Hijinx

Arriving at Sydney airport on departure day and sporting the niftiest in high-flying attire, I sauntered up to the arrival desk and proudly presented my passport. No sooner had I begun loudly exclaiming how well travelled I had become in recent times that I was interrupted by the attendant with some shocking news. My Vietnamese visa had expired!

"That's not right." I angled lamely, my stomach descending rapidly. "It starts today."

"Well according to your passport, it ends today." offered my observant but unavoidably hateful attendant. Snatching my passport back, I confirmed that the Vietnamese embassy in London had assigned me the wrong dates for my visa. That dastardly embassy -- The same embassy who had closed for Chinese new year knowing full well I harboured suspicions that Vietnam was another country altogether. The same embassy who only 3 days before I was due to leave had hung up in my ear when I demanded that Ho Chi Min himself track down my missing passport. The same embassy who had now conspired to ruin me at Sydney airport and who no doubt had a camera trained on me this very second to enjoy the spectacle of my destruction.

Despite suspecting worse, I summed their provable indiscretions to be two - hanging up on me, and foiling my visa. So while this was only strike two for them, I was nonetheless happy to dispense with tradition altogether and forever relegate them to the category of 'you're out'. Unfortunately this did little to balm my rising frustration, and I began making what I now affectionately refer to as 'a spectacle' but could more accurately be described as 'a tantrum'.

Clearly taking pity on those within my close proximity, Singapore airlines hatched a plan; fly to Singapore, my original stopover, and fix my visa at the embassy there. Even if this couldn't be done, I could still stay in Singapore for 6 days and catch my return flight out, meaning that I wouldn't have to fork out for extra flights. Ingenious! I vigorously shook the hand of the helpful staff member, who eyed me with barely concealed dread and encouraged me to leave them alone immediately. I agreed, and turned to the nearest camera to begin scowling menacingly.

"Thought you had me that time, eh? Look whose laughing now!"

I broke into a rumbling cackle that quietened the room. When I eventually concluded laughing and had wiped the tears from my eyes, the only murmurings I heard came from the helpful attendant who was busy whispering some recommendations into her handset that might have included the word 'security' and definitely included the word 'risk'.

I trundled off happily, knowing that adventure awaited.

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