083 Flying With Mecca on Our Minds

March 11, 2009. The ride to the airport was hot, sweaty and as exciting as the ride into Manila. We rode directly to the Airport Hotel and yes, they had saved our bike boxes. Nest step, we cycled up into the departure area and worked our way through security. Once inside we chose an out of the fray spot and parked. Cat removed the bags while I went back and retrieved the boxes. What a struggle, dragging them up the street, ignoring orders from Police as though I was deaf then again, through security.

As I began the struggle of taking the bikes apart an Aussie, John, straggled over and initiated conversation. He and Cat became best of friends as I sweat, strained and got grease all over myself. It took almost 2 hours to get the bikes into the boxes. I had a back ache and was in total fatigue by the time the bikes were finally tucked safely into their boxes.

Bikes, bags, Cat, John and Pat boarded at 10:00 PM. The flight attendants are all tall and good looking women dressed in “I Dream of Jeanie” looking outfits. Once in the air they reappeared in long gowns and served food. An anomaly, the plane is portrayed on the movie screen with a symbol amid ship and a line pointing in the direction of Mecca. 

Two hours flight time and we were working our way through Immigration. Our bags and the bike boxes were last off so we wwe last out. Customs Officers spent time trying to pry open the boxes to verify that the bikes weren’t new. Cat gave them our SE Asia cards cards and explained our trip. They were impressed, stopped prying and helped get through the gateway.

There was none of the usual flurry of porters trying to earn a tip. We loaded two carts and pushed through out into the warm night air. There was only one little station wagon taxi at the curb. We asked for a van, the driver shook his head and indicated he would take us. It looked impossible but he put the rear seats down, picked up a bike box awe pushed it inside. The other on top then all the bags in and around them, we were set to go except, no room for us. The driver pointed to the console. we jammed in with Cat perched there and off we went to the Orchid Gardens Hotel.

A middle of the night welcome to our 3rd country, The Sultanate of Brunei!