A series of unfortunate-turn-good events
07.04.2007 - 07.06.2007 43 °C
Written: July 6, 2007
So it wasn't quite first class. However, the glasses of (free and good) red wine and (real, not Bambino or El Presidente) champagne, the brunch (consisting of fresh fruits, fillet of beef, rhubarb tarts and Godiva chocolates) and the fully reclinable seats with so-much-legroom-I-can't-touch-the-seat-before-me all contributed to a pretty good flight. Of course, this was the reward for a day of delay in Dubai.
After spending half a day with Catherine and her family in London, I had been really worried about whether I would reach Gatwick airport on time. The tube traffic at Knightsbridge had been held up due to high traffic and the roads weren't great either. However, luck was on my side as I somehow caught a bus straight to Victoria Train Station and took the Gatwick Express arriving 1 hour before takeoff (or so I thought). Check-in was somewhat problematic since I didn't have an onward ticket out of Uganda as required. I intended to overland from Uganda to Tanzania through Kenya, flying out from Dar es Salaam. The manager at Emirates was nice enough to "reserve" a "ticket" from Entebbe to Dar es Salaam to show Ugandan passport control.
There was some minor delay at the gate and then we got on to the plane. Take-off was scheduled for 9:08 p.m. but that didn't happen until 2 hours later. While everyone was on board, a passenger developed a medical emergency and she and her family had to get off. All the baggages of the plane had to be taken out in order to find the luggages of that family. A carry-on security check then had to be performed in order to make sure nothing was left behind. The delay pushed our landing time 2 hours later, preventing myself and other passengers from making their connection flights.
While the delay wasn't the worst thing to happen to me, I felt horrible since I only had 4 hours to warn my friend Thomas not to pick me up in Entebbe. As soon as I got to the complementary hotel provided by Emirates, I tried to dial the cell phone number provided to no avail. I then proceeded to walk around in the 44C heat with my black long sleeve shirt (London was 18C) searching for internet that didn't cost $1/minute. In the end, I found a place that charged $5 for 15 minutes and proceeded to fire off an email to Thomas as fast as possible, hoping he would check before he left.
While the delay did set me back I think, in the end, it was exactly what I needed. I took a long afternoon nap, took a bath, watched a decent movie for a change (Remember the Titans) and got a pint of Guinness. Of course, like the other delayed passengers, my backpack wasn't sent to the hotel as I made them promise me 3 times. This caused some confusion and required a personal trip to the airport baggage services. (*One positive note: While searching for baggage services, I found free internet in the Emirates First/Business Class section. A saving of $5 per 15 minutes!)
During my wait in Baggage Services, I also attempted to talk to the attractive Emirates service woman and it went something like this:
Her: Have a seat sir, it could take a while.
Me: So, what did you do to get stuck in this position down here?
<If she laughs, proceed to Page 4>
<If she ignores you, proceed to Page 9 - The End>
Inevitably my lack of time and money contributed to a short story.
While I showed unwanted interest in the hot Emirates lady, I would be on the receiving end later at the pub. Satisfied that I hadn't spent much money at all in Dubai for 1 day, I decided I needed a Guinness. The pub a few steps away from my room would provided just that as well as an assortment of older couples, bored businessmen and young Asian girls. As I walked into the pub, I felt the attention of the latter group; 5-6 girls of SE Asia origins hanging around in the corner. I ordered my Guinness and leaned back on the bar to watch Wimbledon highlights. I noticed in the corner of my eye that they were still eying me (understandably, I am a rare specimen in this part of the world, nonetheless an Asian Canadian!) One of them approached me, young, about my age, nothing extraordinary.
She asked, "By yourself? Want some company?"
Not sure where the conversation was going, I decided going with a questionable response, "Is it going to cost me anything?"
"Just a little", she replied.
I replied, "Sorry, just a poor student stuck in this city, I don't have any money to buy you drinks." I'll never be a sucker for that I thought as she walked back to her friends.
Moments later, I heard the bartender telling a waitress to shoo the group of non-drinking girls away and tell them to come back later. as the waitress told the girls, one of them left and the old guy next to me quickly rushed out. A minute later, the two of them came back to the bar together and that's when it slammed into me.
The girls were escorts!!!
I am writing this now in Nairobi, Kenya, transiting to Entebbe, Uganda. I'm not sure if I'll be visiting Nairobi or Kenya anymore since even locals say it is dangerous. I'll look more into it and make a decision in Uganda.