The Case of the Missing Laptop

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So, Sri Lanka has certainly got off to a memorable start. I touched down around 10.30pm, feeling mighty flat and non-enthused, to be perfectly honest. My nine hour stopover ended up being quite tolerable, actually, but as soon as I got on the plane, tiredness hit me like a ton of bricks. 99% of the time I love travelling, I really do, but I can’t deny there are times when it all seems like too much effort. Sitting on the plane with heavy eyes and a headache, all I wanted was to be at home, in my bed, with my dog curled up at my feet. I guess after three months of leading a quiet life at home, being reminded how big and busy the world is had overwhelmed me.

Despite warnings of possible delays due to renovations currently occurring at Bandaranaike International Airport, going through immigration was quick and easy, and I was ready to be picked up by the free shuttle at the nearby airport hotel where I was staying within half an hour of getting off the plane. Once the brief formalities of check-in were finalised and I’d been shown to my room, the exhaustion magically evaporated. The hard part was over and I could finally relax- or so I thought.

My laptop had run out of battery while I’d been waiting at Kuala Lumpur, so I pulled out my charger and went to connect it to my laptop, only to realise, with a very sickening feeling, that it wasn’t in my room. The first pang of panic struck as I walked back to reception and, when it wasn’t to be found there either, my tiny bubble of hope burst immediately. Of course, I couldn’t now remember when I’d last had it with me, but I suspected that I’d put it down while calling for my shuttle- a call which I’d made outside on a ledge near the taxi rank, which was swarming with people. I had zero hope. It was gone forever.

The hotel staff kindly drove me back to the airport, insisting that they hadn’t seen it. I think they thought that I thought they’d taken it, and I’m sorry if I gave off that impression. It was a miserable ride, made even more depressing by a lady I spoke to on the phone who, although I couldn’t focus on much of what she was saying in my state, I did comprehend when she said it was my responsibility to look after my own possessions in the airport. Like I’m not disagreeing with you, lady, but I just felt it was an unnecessary kick in the guts. You’re telling me something I already know and am kicking myself over. I tried to console myself with the fact that I’d backed everything up on my portable hard drive back home- but it was a bitter consolation.

Once I’d been dropped off, I returned to the place where I’d made the call, but, unsurprisingly, there was no laptop there. The only other place I could’ve left it was at the currency exchange counter, so I made my way back to the arrivals hall, knowing it was only a fool’s hope leading me on. A guard stopped me from entering, so I explained my situation, and he made a couple of calls. When he finished the second call, he turned to me and said there is a laptop. He directed me to the day pass office, and a tiny spark of hope was ignited- could it be?

I wandered over to the office and, lo and behold, there it was. I spotted my scratched black Compaq straight away, sitting smack bang on top of a table. Just another laptop in an office to anyone else who may have glimpsed it as they walked past, but a glorious sight to see for yours truly. I could’ve cried, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d assumed the worst, but some angel out there had proved we shouldn’t give up on the goodness of people.

I was let into the day pass office in order to verify that the laptop was actually mine. The only problem was, of course, that it had run out of charge. I was willing to catch a taxi back to the hotel and get the charger, but I think it was obvious to the two officers that I was being honest about my claim. They took my details and let me take my laptop without any further ado.

I had to find my own way back to the hotel now, as the shuttle had not been allowed to wait for me, but I was so ecstatic that I didn’t even care. I knew now that the hotel was only a fifteen minute walk away, so off I went, completely unperturbed at walking on the side of a road in a brand new country at 12.30am.

In my experience, there is always one time on a trip, guaranteed, when something will go wrong, and I’m hoping that with this misadventure, my quota for Sri Lanka has been filled. I also believe that all’s well that ends well- and I certainly couldn’t have asked for a happier ending than this. To the honest soul who handed in my laptop to airport staff- thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You have saved me a lot of grief and ensured my memories of this trip will not be overshadowed by an unfortunate experience. May plenty of good karma come your way.

The Waiting Game

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If ever there was a time that I didn’t want to hear my flight was about to touch down half an hour ahead of schedule, it was today, with a stopover that is already eight hours and forty five minutes l-o-n-g. It’s now 2pm and two hours have elapsed since my arrival at the klia2 terminal in Kuala Lumpur, but there are still seven hours to go until I depart on my three hour flight to Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I think my stopover will end up being longer than my actual flight time.

Still, I’ve had worse times in transit. My first experience in klia2, back in January 2014 while en route to Japan, was such a chaotic experience that I did not ever want to return. But I did, with trepidation, in October last year. To my great surprise- and relief, it was a smooth and seamless transit experience, with none of the unorganisation and overcrowding that plagued my first visit. I can only assume that the terminal was undergoing some renovations back in 2014 and that was the primary cause of the chaos.

Although klia2 was far more pleasant to navigate around on my second visit, the four hours I spent waiting for my onward flight to Nepal last year was characterised by bloodshot eyes, as a result of getting zero sleep the night before, as well as a runny nose that started up out of the blue on the flight over to KL, and was compounded by a severe lack of quality tissues. Basically, I resembled a zombie, only with a nose more akin to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Not fun.

I doubt any stopover experience will ever quite compare to the ten hours my brother and I endured in Delhi while flying back from Europe in 2013, though. While today’s wait is only forty five minutes shorter, it’s in the middle of the day. This makes a big difference because the airport is a hub of activity, and there are constantly people coming and going. Not to mention, it’s normal to be awake at this time. Our stopover in Delhi, on the other hand, was from 10pm to 8am. My brother and I are both night owls by nature, but this was a struggle, even for us. We were absolutely shattered by the time we boarded our plane for Singapore.

Exhaustion is just a given when it comes to travelling, and I usually bounce back pretty quickly. I’ve learnt to sleep on planes pretty well, or at least as much as it is possible to sleep while contorting your body every five minutes to try and find a comfortable position that you secretly know doesn’t actually exist. In any case, this is pretty much all I did on my flight over to Kuala Lumpur this morning, as my grand plan to get a few hours sleep before my alarm went off at 4am ended up being little more than a nap. I’m already envisioning how glorious it will feel to stretch out and sleep for several hours when I finally get to my hotel tonight.

And, what do you know, I am now two hours closer to experiencing this glorious moment. Writing this post has taken longer than expected, probably because every few minutes, my thoughts have been distracted by the screams of excited children, as well as mobile store owners yelling out to new arrivals about SIM cards, but, most of all, by a trolley boy who I suspect harbours a secret aspiration to win Malaysian Idol. All afternoon, he’s been chasing after passengers who try to take trolleys laden with their cabin baggage downstairs to the main baggage collection area- for some reason, it appears this is not allowed. I’ve watched, amused, as a number of people have come really close to escaping down the escalator, but all bar once, he’s caught them out at the final moment. With the chase over, he sits down and belts out snippets of song lyrics with great conviction every time. Has he got a really rocking playlist on Soundcloud, or is he simply proclaiming his satisfaction for yet another successful trolley rescue?

I’ll never know, because it’s time to shut down my laptop screen and go for a walk to stretch my legs- sans trolley, I think!

***

30/01/2017

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Adventure Eve

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So, I think I’ve mastered the art of minimalism when it comes to packing! (Well, the chance to save 120 bucks on baggage fees was a good motivator.) These two bags contain all that I need for the next two and a half weeks.

In twelve hours from now, I’ll be at the airport, getting ready to embark on my first adventure for 2017. I’ll be travelling around Sri Lanka, and now that I’m packed, I can finally allow myself to feel excited!

I’m just hoping that I’ll manage a few hours sleep before my alarm goes off at 4am, and then I’ll be all set for a jam-packed fortnight of exploring a new corner of the world!

The Return of Summer

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Sunsets are one of my favourite things to photograph, and I am lucky to live in a city which is blessed with some spectacular ones. The 2015/16 season was full of rainbow skies and striking cloud formations.

At the end of November 2016, with only a few days to go until the official start of summer, there was an evening that blazed with a flaming orange sky. I got super excited, thinking this was a teaser for what was in store for the hot months ahead.

It wasn’t.

Two months went by, and there was nothing. Each night, the skies have been calm and clear. I don’t know whether it’s because we haven’t had as many days of sustained high temperatures as usual, but there simply haven’t been any dramatic endings to the day.

And then, finally, finally, this happened.

I have been waiting for an epic sunset like this all summer. I love the simple sunsets, don’t get me wrong. But there is something utterly thrilling about witnessing such a lively sky, full of vibrance and energy. It is as if a grand masterpiece is being painted before your eyes, simultaneously revealing the past, present and future of a moment in time.

These are the skies that tell a thousand stories and weave them into an epic saga about a fleeting empire of castles built in the air; an empire that is falling into ruins even as it is being built. These are the skies that sing bold proclamations to the heavens, rejoicing in life but all the while preparing for their voice to be extinguished. These are the skies that define majesty and magic, and spark the imagination with a light that reflects the secrets of some other world.

But most of all, these are the skies that remind all who view them just how small and inconsequential we are in their presence. And that is why I love them.

January Reads

This year, I am aiming to continue with a practice I established last year, and that is to read every day. So far, so good! I find there’s no better way to end off a hot summer’s day than to go and lie in the hammock with my book. I have read three books this month, and enjoyed all three.

  1. Summit 8000, by Andrew Lock

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  2. A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

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  3. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

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Great Southern Land

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Today I watched the movie ‘Lion’. I really enjoyed it and found it to be a moving film. It reinforced a feeling that really struck me when I travelled around Cambodia last year- that we don’t have a choice as to where we are born or what circumstances we are born into. So many factors beyond our control shape our lives.

There is no doubt I was born into fortunate circumstances- as a child, I never had to wander the streets, or worry about my next meal, or toil in laborious jobs to support my family. I was able to go to school and get an education. I went to bed each night with a roof over my head, feeling loved and safe. I have been very blessed indeed, because, as the movie showed, not all children are lucky enough to have such a carefree introduction to life.

No doubt one of the reasons why I had such a fortunate childhood is because I was born in Australia. And since it is Australia Day, it is apt that, today of all days, ‘Lion’ reminded me of how lucky I am to be Australian. There are many things to love about living in this beautiful country, but today, what I feel most grateful for is that, when my wheel of life was spun to determine where I would be born, it just so happened to land on this great southern land.

One Month

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Today marks one month since I started An Evolution of Adventure. I am immensely proud of the fact that I have been writing every day since then. It was a goal I hoped to achieve, but one that I was not entirely confident I would. I thought it would be too hard.

As it’s turned out, it’s been easy. Writing has simply become part of my daily routine, and the best thing is, I haven’t forced it to be. That’s made all the difference, because it means that now, I look forward to writing, instead of regarding it as something that has to be done, like a chore on a to-do list. And of course, when you enjoy something, it gives you joy. Writing is now a source of personal satisfaction rather than frustration.

The reason why writing has suddenly become easier for me is because I’ve learnt that it is only as difficult as I choose to make it. Simplicity is best, but we are so used to life being complicated that we tend to forget this. Sure, there are still times when I sit and deliberate over words. The creative process has a mind of its own, and sometimes it wants to transform a simple idea into something bigger than Ben Hur. When it all starts to get too much, I know, now, to get back to basics. Or rather, I apply this knowledge, because deep down, I think I always knew. The key to achieving success in writing, for me, is to stop overthinking things and focus on what it is that I want to say. Essentially, it all comes down to that wise philosophy to keep it simple, stupid.

I’m delighted that the year has got off to such a great start, creatively, and I can’t wait to continue writing. After all, if writing is a form of alchemy, I’ll be in for a magical year.