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Tip of the day: Try not to spend 8 hours waiting for your plane at Pontianak airport.

I am thinking of writing one of those well seasoned traveller’s airport reports where they tell you the quietest place to sit / plug in your laptop/ get good wi fi and relax with your feet up listening to your music on your i phone and catching up on all that work but this would be a rather negative report.

Plug in and enjoy Wi fi – you are joking and when the battery runs flat on this laptop the only powerpoint in sight will be on the C drive.

Quiet place to sit and relax? The piggy tailed airport cat and I are sat on my bags in the open air entrance to the airport with taxi drivers shouting over us and trying to avoid being run over by arriving and departing passengers none of whom should be in charge of an airport baggage trolley. Forget the travellers’ lounge or even the usual stylish but uncomfortable chain of seats that you can stretch out on in most airports(avoiding the one with the dubious stain) – here there is the floor.

On the positive side there is a small open air cafe with seats for about 12people and yesterday’s ‘buffet’ of scrawny chicken wings and nasi kuning smiling salmonella? at me on the counter.

Ah joy – only 7 and a half hours to go – at least the plane to Ketapang wasn’t sold out. Is it only me or does everyone get those slightly awkward moments like when I was told the ticket was 500,000+ IDR and the counter clerk looked disdainly blank as I held out my hand for the change? I then realised that the few thousand change represented about £1 and he wasn’t even going to bother to count that out for a ‘bouley’.

Looking on the positive side (can it get more negative – I am sounding like Victor Meldrew) the taxi arrived promptly at 6a.m in Kuching and the torrential overnight tropical storm had decided to move on so my departure from Malaysia was smooth.

The highlight of the morning was a repetition of February’s passage (or actual lack of it) through Pontianak customs with my 20kg of Orangutan Veterinary Aid’s donated equipment. You could see the glint in the eye of the bored and lethargic customs men as I walked into baggage claim. There was profuse muttering, cigarettes extinguished and much testosterone fuelled stretching as glances were exchanged and the scanning machine was fired up. For all the world it had the appearance of an All Black’s rugby scrum rubbing elbows, winking and hunching down prior to delivering a suicidal muscular launch as they realise that their opponants are the third fifteen from a girls prep school!

The complete frisk including (I thought) a rather impertenant cupping preceeded the complete bag search. First the hand luggage was unceremoniously emptied across the whole customs examination table but was really not very interesting (except to the remainder of the flight passengers who were smugly filing past the devastation) The IAR bag full of equipment, though, was met with huge excitement, so much so that the lady from quarantine had to be called and every item inventoried. I proferred my trump card which is always “I am a doctor for the orangutan” and, true to form it worked a treat. A rather portly but very jolly customs man emerged from the fray claimed he was an orangutan and insisted on having his pulse taken and being examined . This caused much amusement, especially when I pronounced him ‘Mati’ (dead) and the quarantine lady who had just found a digital thermometer decided to enter into the mock examination ! I find distraction techniques are always the best! Needless to say I emerged unscathed but with bags chaotically rummaged and thankful that I had decided not, in the end, to bring the butorphenol drug with me (A lowly Category 3 on the Indonesian drugs list but still carrying a sentence of 7 years in jail for possession!)

And so, here I sit, basking in the sunshine, people watching, cat smoothing and trying to look nonchalant about being the focus of everyone’s attention at Supadio airport. I have only been here an hour and I am on my second cup of Kopi O – thick, sweet, black Indonesian coffee. I wonder if they test for caffeine in your bloodstream??? We are also happily complacent about smoking now in the UK – I was happily daydreaming and supping my coffee when my privacy was shattered as a chain smoking Indonesian gentleman scooped up a chair at my table, reverse parked himself Christine Keeler style on it and commenced to blow smoke wilfully across the oilcloth table top.

All being well I will be in Ketapang tonight, back in familiar territory but with much work to do getting up to speed in the clinic before Christine leaves for her vacation. Tasha from Matang was a welcome sight at the Basaga hotel in Kuching last night – we both did a double take as she unexpectedly walked past my Billy No Mates table. She had a Great Projects tour group in tow and was trying to work out how she could shoehorn a couple of rather weighty members into the longboats on the river trip today – she was looking very doubtful.

Sara has arrived in Yogjakarta delivered into the safe and capable hands of Daniek and the rest of the COP team. They have an 8 kilometre march to COP camp this morning carrying their gear. She has also taken two paramedic rescue bags full of equipment for the Ape Crusader and Defender teams which should help them practically when they are on rescue missions in the field. Sara always enters into the spirit of things and was a star at last year’s COP camp, her lack of Bahasa seemingly not a problem I am sure she will have a great time. It also gives her (and me) a chance to catch up with Imam and Hardi and to discuss latest plans, needs and help that [as the newly formed Orangutan Vet Aid] we and supporters can continue to give the team.

So, for now, its bye from me and bye from my adopted cat.

Sampai nanti as we say here in Indonesia.


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