Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Bumpy Ride

Yes...the title says it all, literally. It's been day three in Ras Tanura and so far so good. My beloved hubby has gone to work really early in the morning, at 5 a.m. for his morning shift. I've got lots of time to prepare a late lunch for him as he would arrive home at 3 p.m. So for the time being I think I would do some blogging before all these crazy ideas for my post evaporate into thin air...hahaha!

It all started with my hubby coming home 3 months after he left us to start his new job in Saudi Arabia. I remember all of us (my daughters and I) were really excited and we waited for the airport limo to arrive in baited breath. My kids always like to shout "SURPRISE" at him whenever he opens the door after a trip somewhere. This time it was no different. The minute my hubby turned the key, they synchronously shouted the word...Hehehe! It always make him smile...

I know..you might wonder, what bumpy ride? Well, let me tell you in my long-winded kind of way. I prefer to tell my story chronologically so that my story won't get all jumbled up and lost in translation. Yeah..some might say..Boring, but everyone is entitled to his opinion. Hmm..there I go again being boring when I know I should go on with my story...

Well, here goes...At first we were planning to go to Saudi in March. We have secured our entry visa and the process went rather smoothly. However little did I know that everything was not as easy as it looked or sounded. What with my hubby having to apply for leave, booking a flight with forever fully-booked Em*r*tes Airlines, and tending to millions of unfinished business in KL, enough to make me scream like a mad hatter. We were running around for three days to settle our housing loan and appoint the lawyer, topping up our utilities bills, transferring our Astro subscription to Alor Setar and terminating our broadband and phone line as well. Thank God for our reliable scooter for it really helped us save time when we really need to go to various places with the time constraint.

Then the nightmare begins. On the fourth day after my beloved hubby returns, our children were sent off to KLIA for a midday M*S flight to Alor Setar whilst my hubby and me would drive our old but reliable 19-year-old car to Alor Setar. After seeing the kids off, we decided to go to the bank to get a replacement for my hubby's damaged credit card. One thing after another, we went back to our house and this and that, we began to upload things to bring back to Alor Setar. I wanted to give Mak and Kak Anis some Correlle dining sets I bought in Dubai last year. I also packed a large suitcase full of used clothes to give to the needy (so that Kak Anis can distribute them to the poor when she has the time). Arriving slightly before midnight, with Mak still waiting in the living room, we chatted awhile before turning in for the night. We didn't have much time to spend in Alor Setar but for one day, since we are flying out on the midnight of 11 April, which is much to Mak's dismay, but at least we got to say goodbye to her and others. We flew back to KL in A*rAs*a early evening flight and reached home just about dusk. I don't know why my hand suddenly unzipped one suitcase near the aquarium and lo and behold...the suitcase full of used clothes was there...so what about the heavy suitcase we uploaded into the car's boot? OMG!!! I mistakenly brought back a suitcase full of Iranian carpets I intended to use in my new house in Saudi...What a bummer!!!

I tried to look at it this way, if we were to bring that suitcase, we might not be able to bring other stuff as it already weighed 30kg. So in place of the carpets I managed to add in a few other stuff and still within the allowable excess baggage limit that A**mco set for everyone of us. So I consoled myself by knowing that I would bring the carpets in December when I go back for the holidays. Ok...not really a nightmare you might say...

One that really got on my nerves was the issuing of the replacement credit card by the bank. My hubby had already applied for the new one on the day he arrived and since he's been a member since 1991 that should be quite a reason to ask the bank to expedite the replacement. Alas, they dilly-dallied and felt that my hubby should wait for the normal process of 7 days new card issuance. We did go to the bank asking for a special prerogative, (since we only had one day and we need the card for easy transactions whenever we travel) knowing that we never default our payment and always paid in full at the end of the billing period. I guess in Malaysia it doesn't pay to dress casually and keep a low profile appearance coz' people really judge you by your cover...you have to act rich to get people to be nice and attentive...what's the world coming to I ask....enough said.

Well, enough is enough! My hubby simply said he couldn't wait until Saturday coz' by that time we'd already be gone, and he told the bank officer to tell the card centre to destroy the new card. He said to me if worse comes to worst we'd only use my supplementary card and wait until December to get his card replaced. All this for being a loyal customer? We even contemplating terminating the bank's service and opening a new account with M**b*nk. Feeling frustrated and flustered we went home. So you see..we were in a roller-coaster ride already, going up and down and a free fall before going in a loop. All these not only overwhelmed me, but making me dizzy all the same...

The credit card story just won't let go. The next day while we were in Alor Setar, sometime around 10 a.m. the people from card centre called and informed us that the card is ready for collection at the bank that day. My hubby told them he's in Alor Setar and could not collect the card. He again told them to simply destroy the card..but suddenly membership has its privileges, they insisted my hubby get the card (they relentlessly called him to make sure he would accept) even though the next day was Saturday and the bank's closed, they decided to poslaju the card so my hubby can collect it at the poslaju centre in Taman Sh*m*lin, Cheras on Saturday.After a run around with the poslaju people, we finally got the newly replaced card. Whew!!! What a relief.

After all the errands done, we did some last minute cleaning and packing. With the exception of the carpet suitcase, our total baggage consists of 3 large suitcases, 1 medium and 2 small bags plus 5 big boxes and a smaller box consists of dried chilies and anchovies. (I know, I know, you might ask do I need to bring all these? What can I say, there are some things like anchovies from Malaysia you cannot get elsewhere. Those who are in Sudan would definitely relate with this...)

So at 9 p.m. the airport van arrived to pick us up. Since we had so many baggage, we asked a cabbie friend to come too. My kids and I went with the van and my hubby went with his cabbie friend. The journey was quite uneventful just like every other countless journeys to the KLIA before. Again, I don't know why my right hand suddenly reached out for my Quicksilver backpack but nothing was under the seat! OMG!!! Not again...I didn't seem to remember where my backpack was...I asked Yaya whether she has my bag but negative. without thinking I called my neighbour Salha and ask her to look inside my house for the bag pack. I couldn't afford to miss the bag pack as it contained our birth certificates, the children's school reports and many other important documents needed here. I was in the verge of tears when I called my hubby and told him the situation. I know he was exasperated with me...I've never been like this before, usually I was calm and organized even in the most under pressured situation. It's not like I never used to moving around before but I felt that this time it really overwhelmed me. I am very lucky to have friends like my neighbours Salha and Rashidi who without any hesitance drove all the way to KLIA to bring my forgotten backpack which I left near the plant pot outside my grilled door (that showed how scatter-brained I've become). Thanks a lot guys...I owe you one.

The Horror! The Horror! I just could not imagine what I'm gonna do if Salha and Rashidi were not at home! I know for sure I have to go back and fetch the bag myself if I have to...could not afford to miss the back pack definitely. Then everything started to go smoothly and I could not help but being thankful to Allah the Almighty for giving me strength to endure during these trying times. Even our excess baggage which is 1 kg over the stipulated limit of 125kg was settled quite satisfactorily as we only need to pay for 104kg. Whew..imagine if we have to pay RM100 for every 1kg excess ourselves!!! Sayang duit! Well, anyway, I was glad everything went without a hitch and we reached Dubai around 4.30 a.m. safe and sound. We checked in into L* M*r*d*en Hotel at 6 a.m. and had breakfast before retiring to our rooms. The children had their own twin suite and beloved hubby and I had another one. I guess all the strains, insomniac nights, the labours of spring cleaning and packing took their toll on me as I lay my head onto the soft cushiony pillow on the bed. My beloved hubby too was not spared...he too was in deep slumber...

We woke up at 1 p.m. and freshen up a bit then we proceed to have lunch at the cafe house. There were an Easter party organized by some schools and there were Easter bunny and Barney the dinosaur. The atmosphere was heavy with little kids screaming and loud music playing. Somehow or rather we were too hungry to be bothered by all that. I guess we were hungry and tired too coz' after that we fell asleep again. Hahaha! Totally conked out!!!

Then the time came for us to go to the airport for our connecting flight to Dammam, KSA, and usually we would do some shopping in the Duty Free Section before going to the Em*r*t*s Lounge. I bought J Lo Sunkissed Glow perfume for me and my hubby settled for Aramis Classic. We bought a Casio watch for Yaya. I always look forward to eat at the lounge coz' the beriani there is nice and I love Mediterranean Meze like Hummus and Labneh. About 45 minutes before boarding time we proceeded to Gate 214 to wait for the boarding announcement. There were so many Indonesian maids and those people from "benua kecil" among others waiting. Just then the announcement for first class and business class passenger filled the whole waiting lounge and suddenly these people charged forward, all queeing closely to each other with little breathing space...making it quite difficult for us to pass through. I tried to look at it this way, I pity all these people having to work far, far away from their country with measly wages and leaving their family behind. One funny moment when the Em*r*t*s lady asked them to make way for the first and business class passengers to board first, one guy muttered out loud.."why always first and business class..*#@&!!" Hehehe! No doubt they too want to get to their seats first.

Once the plane began to take off, I couldn't help having a surreal feeling. We were on our way to Dammam and all sorts of mixed feeling swept over me. Did I miss my house in BTHO? Would I like it here, etc. etc? At last I told my beloved hubby that I don't want to eat anything, I just want to sleep. That's so typical of me...I found solace in sleep...weird huh? But lately sleep has become a luxury so hard to get and any opportunity I can get I'd try to have some shuteye even just for a few minutes. However, the bumpy ride that clouded our moving to KSA came to a climax when the flight from Dubai to Dammam was embroiled into one really turbulent flight that the stewardesses could not even offer all of us dining service. (Good thing we had eaten at the lounge) It was raining at that time in Qatar, Bahrain and then in Dammam, Dhahran and Ras Tanura. Can you imagine the desert of Arabia having so much rain? My hubby said to me maybe hujan rahmat (a blessing) to welcome you and the kids...Yeah, I think so too.

The procedures in Dammam airport went quite well despite being kept in line at the immigration for quite a while but once we got through everything went as a breeze. Even the custom officer greeted me with "Apa khabar" knowing us to be Malaysian and didn't even open our baggages and boxes. Whew! What a relief! The privilege of being Malaysians. Alhamdulillah. I guess the turbulent flight concluded our journey moving from Malaysia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a Bang!! That's the end of our bumpy ride which I hope would not occur again anytime soon. My heart could not take it anymore...Hahaha!

I guess now that I'm here with my beloved hubby and kids, I would once again find sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and contented...