Happy New Year to you all! I hope 2013 brings you much good health and happiness.
Generally I start the year with a host of resolutions that I then fail to keep, but this year I was too busy having an adventure to make any kind of serious resolutions.
And boy, what an adventure it was! (And not just the interesting and entertaining cultural experience they advertised in the brochure!)
I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice to say that when my 16 year old son ‘lost’ his passport in transit in Kuala Lumpur airport (en route from Auckland to Bangkok) the beginning of our wonderful holiday turned into a nightmare. The plane we were all due to catch to meet up with our tour guide (and extended family) in Bangkok left without us. Immigration refused to let us out of Malaysia – and for a good length of time refused to let us out of the airport! The NZ High Commission was closed for another 48 hours (it was a Saturday), so there was no way of getting a replacement passport before then…
We met with police, immigration officials, airport officials and spoke (at length) with the on-call embassy staff who said replacement passports usually took at least 3 working days to process- and that the office was only open on Christmas Eve for a few hours, then closed for 10 days!
So, my husband and 14 yr old caught a late afternoon plane to Bangkok and I stayed in KL with my son ready to battle the authorities- and do a whole lot of smiling and nodding while internally I just wanted to cry. We were due to spend Christmas together (including relatives flying from Sydney to join us on the tour through Thailand) and that was starting to look impossible.
Eventually we were allowed to leave the airport with a tiny scrap of flimsy paper that said we must not leave the country, and we had to stay in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Next hurdle- where to find a hotel with a vacancy the busiest weekend of the year? LOL- the only one available was the very comfortable and very expensive Crowne Plaza (which our insurance company would pay for)– things started to look up; if I’m to be held hostage in a country- it might as well be in five star luxury!
Regular feedback from the other half of the family reported that they had finally met up with the tour and relatives, and that they were having a grand time kayaking under the Bridge on the River Kwai… so we knuckled down to try and enjoy KL. Lovely people. Lovely food! Very hot and humid weather.
Christmas Eve dawned and we posted ourselves outside the NZ High Commission very early and waited for the staff to arrive. I can’t describe the feeling of immense joy when a lovely lady with a short denim skirt and bare feet (typical Kiwi woman!) greeted us with a beaming smile and the words, ‘We always have a crisis at Christmas and we’re hoping you’re it! I’ve started the paperwork and you should be ready to go in a couple of hours!’ I could have kissed her!
True to her word the emergency travel document was processed in record time and we rushed to the airport and took the first available flight out of KL. The tour group was a few hours south of Bangkok and the tour company/insurance company provided a transfer for us. We met up with them all just in time for dinner on Christmas Eve night.
Then, we started our holiday (but that’s a whole different blog post!)
Looking back, in the midst of all the confusion and chaos, the worry and the anguish I did learn a few things:
– That NZ High Commission is a slice of Kiwi heaven in a crazy city
– That there is no point getting stressed in a situation you have NO control over
– That you still love your children no matter what they do
– That my family are more important to me than anything else
– That travel insurance is worth its weight in gold!
– That people genuinely do want to help you (Thank you to Abd from Malaysian Airlines and Vicky from the High Commission)
– That genuine smiles are pure salve to an aching heart
– That no experience is ever wasted to a writer! (Yes- I’m sure some time I’ll have a story that incorporates a lost passport in a steamy city!)
So, the only resolution I’m planning on this year is to smile more and thank my lucky stars I have a happy and healthy family, no matter where we find ourselves!
What about you? Ever had a holiday disaster? Ever had an experience you’ve learned from? Please share!