The Great Escape
Kota Kinabalu Travel Blog› entry 100 of 121 › view all entries
This was me at my most stupid. How I got away with this day Iâ€™ll never know. Yes I can be manipulative and seem to enjoy a lot of luck. Yes I am scatty as hell and clueless at times; but honestly, this was just something else.
So what happened? Well I woke for breakfast at the planned hour and took a shower. I was up and ready in plenty of time. I packed properly and started heading towards Philtranco Bus Station to catch the bus when it just occurred to me to double check for my passport. I couldnâ€™t find it on my person! Panic, panic, panic â€“ I raced back to the hostel but it wasnâ€™t in lost property; it wasnâ€™t in my rapidly emptied and re-packed bags; it wasnâ€™t in the room mixed amongst the bedding. Ok, now I was in trouble. I got the address of the British Embassy out of the Lonely Planet and made my way over to the building. Where the hell the building actually was was anybodies best guess it seemed. My taxi driver dropped me off a good walk away, and when I asked for directions I got sent backwards and forwards as no-one seemed to know where it was. I finally found the address and queued up for customer services only to find out the embassy had moved all time ago; long before the revised addition of the Lonely Planet!
Luckily Iâ€™m a calm person and reasonably good in a crisis. I jumped back in a taxi to the new address already resigned to the fact that Manila just would not let me leave. Once at the now correct building, I approached the window to find the embassy is closed on Fridays. Oh man it seemed my luck had completely ran out, but they did make a few phone calls for me and I was told a new passport would take ten working days to process and I should go to the post office to extend the visa STAT.
Iâ€™d had enough and didnâ€™t really want to go to the post office immediately. Instead I went back to the hostel so I could book in for a night and then have a little bit of a think how to pass the ten days. Maybe I could make Palawan after all?
Something kind of clicked as I walked up the stairs, and I ran over to the computers where Iâ€™d booked my flights the previous night; there was my passport! Without time to give myself a good slap, I reclaimed my money and ran as fast as I could for the LRT to get to the stop for Philtranco. Granted I had long missed my bus (again), but there was a chance there might be another. Incredibly my luck had U-turned and there was one for 2:30pm. Ok, that would be cutting it fine for the check in, but at least I stood a chance.
I met a couple of Americans on the bus, Andy and Justin who were going in the same direction as me, and together we made it to the airport within the check in time. If I could just get through the immigration issues quickly, I could still catch my plane. I queued up as normal and checked in my bag and approached the immigration desk. I canâ€™t explain this, but I confidently handed over my passport and tickets and it got stamped and I got waved through without them even noticing Iâ€™d over-stayed by a day! Was I actually going to get away with it? Yes I was! The plane took off with me on it and Iâ€™d got away with it scot-free. It seems my luck had returned in abundance after hiding away for a day or two. I think this must be karma for something good Iâ€™ll have to do in the future. Maybe I can donate blood or something?
So pleased to touch down in Kota Kinabalu, that I played Lucky Man by the Verve on the iPod to celebrate my escape. I waited for Andy and Justin after the immigration routine and we all hailed a taxi to take us to the main town centre. We quickly got checked in and went out for a few drinks. I couldnâ€™t but relate the Philippines to a Charles Dickinson opener â€śIt was the best of times, it was the worst of timesâ€ť â€“ A Tale of Two Cities, but now it was all over.