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  • Writer's pictureswedishvikingprinc

The time we entered Malaysia - unofficially...

We were probably more surprised than anyone when we arrived in KL without having collected our luggage or passed immigration!

As we left the plane, the flight attendant told us our luggage will arrive at Carousel 'P'. We entered the airport and proceeded to follow signs towards baggage claim as we figured Immigration was 'en-route'. Kuala Lumpur is a giant airport, but at the time, it was

also under renovation. Chaotic is an understatement. Teamed with shops everywhere - including the middle of walk ways, we totally missed the sign for Immigration. We saw it on a subsequent trip behind posters for the new shops to be constructed. Blissfully unaware of the singular hidden sign we found ourselves at a sign for the 'MNO' carousels. 'P' couldn't be far away, so we followed. We looked around and spotted 'P' through the glass wall. Oh dear. All the doors forbade us to retreat or go through to the correct carousel, so we asked staff for help. They pointed us to doors that led who-knows-where and we followed their direction.

Blinking at what had just happened, we found ourselves at the end of the public part of the Arrivals hall - without baggage or stamped documents. Immediately I had visions of being arrested and either thrown into prison or deported back to Australia. I suggested to my husband that perhaps now would be a good time to make use of his retired police officer ID. We approached a guard and told him what happened. It took some time, but upon showing our boarding passes and insisting we were seriously lost, he pointed us through the 'do not enter' doorway that lead to our Carousel.

Once through that one way door, we came across another guard who looked at us with some suspicion. Now, with luggage in tow, we re-told our story and he showed us to the immigration counter. Fortunately we skipped the line and got ourselves (finally) entered legally into Malaysia.

Even though I am reasonably well travelled, I always have a bit of a 'butterflies in my belly' feeling if I encounter guards in South East Asia. Logically I have nothing to fear as I do not break laws with regard to visiting other countries. Generally I try to be law abiding at all time, but I have been known to pop a head of broccoli into my bag at Coles when it scanned at 4c a kilo instead to 40c... however these guys look fierce! They're always beautifully groomed and have an air about them. Remarkable, scary yet impressive.

Anyway, we are now very aware of looking for Immigration before worrying about our luggage. Thinking back, I have never been told by the airline staff which carousel to go to, so I'm quite baffled!

It's not the first time Immigration has had us stumped. When we left Aberdeen and flew via Charles du Galle Airport, we managed to go through various security checks before finding our next gate. Our arrival in the European Union was officially in Paris, but we never left the airport. As such, we were actually looking for Immigration in Palermo, but there wasn't one! As we arrived in Palermo from Paris, they assumed we had officially entered the Schengen area. I believe, we should have had our passports stamped in Paris, but we weren't thinking about looking for the desk.

Needless to say, everything as fine. The only hitch was having two of our bags left behind in Paris. Palermo at the time had temperatures ranging from 46-50 degrees C and raging bush fires. The day after arriving we hopped on the bus straight back to the airport to collect the bags that had arrived that morning. The bus ride was 45 minutes and there was NO air-conditioning. Joy. When we hopped off I took a photo of the licence plate so we could avoid that one on the way back.

Luggage retrieved (after again going through the out door the wrong way, but with a guard this time) we headed back to the bus stop. The next bus would depart in 20 minutes so we waited in line trying to find shade. Guess which bus was next? The broken air-conditioning bus of course.... The question was - catch this one, or wait an hour to get the next? Good thing we had water and cold drinks - it was a very hot ride back to the city, but at least we were out of the direct sun.

So not everything goes smoothly, but these occurrences do make for a good story - after

the fact! Shouldn't complain... we're lucky enough to be out and about around the World. The valuable lesson for us is to always looks out for Immigration signs :)

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