My jinx with Singapore continued – we were sitting on the plane at Seletor airport which is basically a military base with a portacabin tacked on as the passenger terminal. Three of the engines started OK, the fourth did not. So we get unloaded back to the portacabin and watch with bemusement as the pilot leans a long ladder against the wing, climbs up, opens the top of the engine and starts fiddling about inside. This goes on for a couple of hours, then he tries the technique of spinning the propeller by hand as the co-pilot cranks the ignition (it’s evidently some kind of starter motor problem) and quickly ducking as it sputters slightly to life before becoming a foot shorter than he already was. Persistent as he was, next he’s back on the wing clubbing the inside of the engine with a 2 foot long scaffolding bar. Valiant those his maintenance efforts were, it was to no avail as it would not start.
So I was faced with having to wait until at least 6 or 7 pm for another plane to come, and as I hadn’t had a chance to obtain ringgits (Malay currency) prior to the flight, and there are no ATMs on Tioman and nowhere except the dive agencies take credit card, and no roads on the island so you have to pay fishing boats to take you around, without money I would be stuck in the airport. Even if I did make it to a chalet, I would have no money to pay for a room. Had I arrived in daylight as was planned I could have worked something out, but not after dark so bailed out of this altogether.
Gate crashed Rakesh’s apartment complex for a while and lounged by the pool, as they had still not got back from their island, and decided to get a night bus to Kuala Lumpur. I had to wait near the bus terminal for 2 hours, all I could find was a karaoke bar which was highly enjoyable (not!) then the bus left late but arrived early at 4.30am at KL, which says something about the speed he was doing I suppose! Just as we got off at the kerbside (no bus station) a monsoon shower hit, and I was swarmed by the usual taxi touts with no idea of where I was or where to go, and no money. A somewhat dubious Indonesian geezer on the bus comes to the rescue and bundles me into his cab and gets me as far as central station where I sat it out until daylight. Now I’ve made it to a hotel district and found myself a nice looking place for tonight, I just have to wait 10 more minutes until I can get in there and take a badly needed shower, which I’m sure will relieve the rest of the people in this internet caff!