the journey begins

Our flight was at 1:20am on Wednesday morning. I arrived at KLIA at 10:30pm on Tuesday night. Fiza arrived half an hour later. We checked-in. It was smooth as I had a confirmed ticket *phew* but we didn’t get to sit together as most passengers had booked their seats much earlier. Fiza got a seat at the front row, while mine was four rows behind hers.

We cleared the immigration and took a shuttle bus to the satellite terminal. By the way, KLIA’s aerotrain is down for maintenance until early 2011. So if you are travelling overseas soon, be prepared for a short bus ride from the main terminal (where you clear your passport) to the satellite terminal (where your plane awaits).

Since we had a couple of hours to waste, we headed to Starbucks, grabbed some drinks and enjoyed the free internet service (during which I managed to reply to several of your guesses on where I was heading :-D). Then we hopped onto the plane and went to our separate seats.

I sat between two guys. To my left was a Mainland Chinese guy and to my right was a South American guy. It was way past midnight so I was really sleepy. The moment the plane took off I put on my sleep mask and dozed off.

Not long after, I was awaken by a loud conversation between the two guys sitting next to me. The guy on my left asked in heavily-Chinese-accented Spanish how to use the remote control to select movies. The guy on my right told him in Formula-1-speed Spanish which button to press. I was no longer able to get anymore sleep, ugh! Took off my mask and asked the guy on my right if he wanted to sit with his friend. He said that the guy wasn’t his friend, he was just helping him out with the remote control.

He then introduced himself as John and he was on his way home to Columbia from Japan. ‘‘What were you doing in Japan?’’ I asked him. ‘‘You know what, I’m going to be completely honest with you,’’ he said. ‘‘Okay...’’ I replied, puzzled. He continued, ‘‘I was in jail.’’

Jail?! I was immediately thrown into alarm mode. My feet quickly reached for my handbag that I put underneath the front seat. While plastering a huge (read: fake) smile across my face, I used my right foot to wrap the strap aroud my left foot, then I squeezed the bag tightly between my ankles.

‘‘Why?’’ I asked him, obviously I wanted to know what got him slammed behind bars in a country as lovely as Japan. He told me that he and his friends got drunk, went for a joyride and crashed the car. The Japanese police arrested them and ordered them to do blood test. Guess what, in addition to being drunk, they also took ecstacy. Drink + drive + drug = Accident -> Jail!

Yes, all of them were sentenced to Japanese prison for five years. During the term, they were kind of “brainwashed”. In Japan, the prison’s approach was ‘‘correcting not ‘‘punishing’’. Prisoners were instilled with good habits and positive attitudes day after day. It was like they took out your brain, clean it piece by piece, put each piece together in the right places and then returned the brain into your skull in one perfect puzzle. ‘‘I’m coming home a completely different man, a more positive man,’’ said John happily.

We continued talking until the cabin crew served us late night meal. I asked if he didn’t mind swapping seats with Fiza so she could sit next to me. “I don’t mind,” he said, “but I like sitting with you, so I will ask the other guy if he wants to move.”

John then attempted to talk the Chinese guy to my left about swapping seats. The guy spoke zero English, while his Spanish sounded more like Jackie Chan’s Hollywood movie (he pronounced “ahora” as “ahola”). John couldn’t figure out a word of what the Chinese guy was saying, so in the end he said it was okay, he would swap seats with Fiza. I quickly thanked him and called Fiza to come and sit next to me. Yeay!

I spent the rest of the flight sleeping and sometimes talking to the Chinese guy. Yes, unlike John, I could understand his heavily-Chinese-accented Spanish ;-) I guess growing up in Malaysia trained my ears to be flexible towards different accents.

The Chinese guy told me that he was originally from Beijing and he had lived in Argentina for 12 years. It was his first homecoming since he migrated. After spending some time with his relatives, he was heading back to Argentina with his wife and two kids. He didn’t know much about Buenos Aires as he lived in a different province, so he wasn’t able to tell me much about the city.

Talking to him made me feel really good about myself, because I was able to strike a decent conversation in Spanish. It was like a warming up session before I start speaking with native Spanish speakers upon reaching Buenos Aires. Those classes that I took every Saturday for the past two years did worth it, yeay!

After 11 hours and 40 minutes in the plane, we arrive in Cape Town for a transit. We had the option to stay in the plane for the next 1.5 hours or get out. We opted to get out to find money changer and buy some Argentinian pesos. Interestingly, the money changer at Cape Town Airport didn’t have Argentinian pesos either, therefore we had to wait till we reach Buenos Aires to get them.

The transit passes that allowed us a toilet break with plenty water supply ;-)

We then hopped back onto the plane for another 8 hours and 50 minutes flight to Buenos Aires. Finally, at 12:20pm Argentinian time, we arrived at Ministro Pistarini Airport a.k.a. Ezeiza Airport, after 22 hours of flying on a jet plane! Whoa!

My first thoughts upon setting my feet in Buenos Aires:
- Ezeiza Airport looked like the old Subang Airport during my childhood, maybe worse.
- The midday weather was just as hot as KL.
- Other than the crew, I only saw 2 other Malaysian passengers and they were MAS staff’s family members.

We cleared the immigration and headed to the luggage area. There was a money changer there so we finally got to buy Argentinian pesos. We wanted buy Uruguayan pesos too but the staff said they only handled Argentinian pesos there. For other currencies we had to go another money changer outside the arrival hall.

We collected our bags and got out of the arrival hall. We found the other money changer but the queue was incredibly long, so we decided to forgo the idea. So we proceeded to Taxi Ezeiza’s booth and got a cab to city centre for ARS 150. It was the first payment I made using the currency as they didn’t accept credit card.

The lady behind the counter told us to wait right there for the driver. Soon he came to greet us and took us to his cab. It was a really tiny car for a tall and stocky cab driver (imagine The Rock driving a MyVi) and guess what, it didn’t have aircond! The driver rolled down the windows for us to get some hot midday air and we headed to our hotel in the city centre, which was 45 minutes away.

We reached the hotel, checked-in, showered and went to bed. Too tired and jet-lagged to do anything. Nighty night, city exploration had to wait for tomorrow ;-)

P.S.: Sorry, for the mean time entries are without pics because I left red baby’s cable in Malaysia!

P.P.S.: Fine, I’ve put up one lonely pic for you to see :-D


Munirah Ismail said...

going there for a vacation?

JaJa'Z said...

mujur la akak perasan ur back dated entry...kalau tak..berkurun la akak menunggu nak baca ur entry..

tang jail tu memang akak gelak giler2..sah2 muka dieya cuak kan..tapi buat2 berani..hehhehe

~jeet~ said...

hola chica!!! so proud of you for being able to strike a good conversation ;)

stay safe ok?

Messy Mummy said...

Wahhh.. orang bercuti tulis entry.. Interesting journey so far ya?? Hehehe.. Anyway, good that blajar 2 tahun boleh guna.. MM blajar Jepun 3 semester 1 benda pun tak hingat. Sib baik tak fail every sem jer.. Hahaha

Erin said...

i laughed my a** off reading about the John guy, hahahah! enjoy your holiday, stay safe :)

dieya said...

yeah, i'm on vacation :-)

k jaja,
hehehe from now on kene la check selalu for backdated entries k.
muahahaha mmg cuak tahap gaban dgr perkataan "jail" tu.. siap gi ngadu kat stewardess bgtau mamat tu baru keluar lokap :-D

hola chica! que tal tu examen?
hahaha thx! takat ckp benda simple2 ok laa.. at least señor ladis tak malu ngaku anak murid :-D
sure thing. looking fwd to go to cape town tonight!

yeah! sementara ada wireless kan ;-)
tapi entry takde gambar laa, tunggu balik mesia baru letak gambar.
hehehe minat spanish nyer pasal, blasah je guna tho my grammar tunggang terbalik!

u r back from hols dy?
hahaha! skrg rasa kelakar laa but when it happened cuak gilers tau!
thanks mate! next stop: cape town!

Fertzy said...

hahahah dieya can instantly imagine ur face n reaction dgn si john tue. cant wait ur pix!!

PatinPasta said...

Finally.. the story begins :)

Okojot baca pasal that guy being in jail, and was just casually telling you all about it as if it was nothing. Wawawa! Nasib baik that Chinese guy didn't move. Huhu!

Waiting for loads of pics!

dieya said...

hahaha i know u can! i've put up loads of pics taken on my first day at BA. rasa mcm terlebih pulak.. banyak sgt pics ke?

yeah, finally! now that i'm home i can write more, before my MBA classes commence!
yeah, luckily john didn't understand the chinese guy, hence he was the one who had to move :-D
haaa.. amik tu.. bertimbun2 pics i letak just for one day's worth of entry.. hahaha!

ZuNas77 said...

hahaha..i rasa u patut amik email add si John tu. Since dia pun dah berubah..mesti boleh jadi the best BF ever!!..handsome tak? hehehe

dieya said...

omigod zu.. i lupa nak cerita, he told me that he wanted to learn about Islam coz he had a pakistani prison-mate. he had been looking for Al-Quran with spanish translation but couldn't find one. yg peliknya masa i pegi kedai buku el ateneo (yg theatre jadi bookstore tu) masuk2 je pintu i terus jumpa Al-Quran in spanish. camno tuh? :-D
kata mamat latin kan, mestilaa hensem, tapi takdela sampai mcm dlm telenovela.. hahaha!