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Welcome to Jakarta Kitty Cat! How was your Flight?

Welcome to Jakarta Kitty Cat! How was your Flight?

Milo relaxing in DC

We got to Dulles International Airport 3 hrs early….and that was barely enough time. We had 4 gigantic stuffed bags to check in and 1 VIP…Very important Pet! Milo (me-low), our cat, who consumed all our worries about our move from the USA to Jakarta, Indonesia.

What carrier should we buy? Well, we actually purchased 5…

“that one is too small, that one is too big, Oh, frick they need to be IATA approved! That one is a piece of JUNK! OK, this one is perfect…very safe and secure”.

IATA approved pet crate

During boarding I approached the Qatar Airlines counter and asked if my kitty was going to make the plane. The attendant called the baggage handlers directly and ensured me that she was just going on….The staff at Qatar did a great job of handling our VIP. And for that matter, handling my wife and I as well.

See, the deal was, it was my responsibility to oversee Milo’s trip across the World. If anything was to happen, I would be in deep shit! Never to live down my failed mission. Never trusted again and in the dog house forever!

The first leg of our journey started on a Boeing 77W. My Wife and I shuddered when the 2 giant engines of the 777 roared to life and we rumbled down the runway like some super charged Harley Davidson. We both looked at each other and imagined little Milo’s face during takeoff. It must have been some experience for her. But, we told ourselves, she is a tough Kitty!

Qatar 77W at Doha

We arrived at Qatar, Doha in the middle of the night. We had just traveled 12 hours (7000 miles) on the massive 777. Now all we wanted to do was get to the airport lounge, chill, and eat!

Doha International Airport is like a giant 24hr Hypermart. Cigarettes, booze, cars, electronics…it’s all there. We relaxed in the lounge, which cost $40, ate humus galore and watched Al Jazeera’s fantastic coverage of the crisis in Egypt. Only then did I realize Al Jazeera was from Qatar…what a dumb ass I am sometimes!

The experience in the Doha Oryx lounge was throughly relaxing…..best money spent….but the whole time we couldn’t help but worry about little Milo….how was she? Was she gonna get on the next plane? We could only hope for the best. It was out of our hands. So, how about a Scotch on the rocks!

The final leg of our journey from Doha to Jakarta was performed on a Airbus 333. This plane was a bit older than the 777, had less movies and the seats were 1″ narrower, but they reclined more and overall I found the plane more comfortable than the 777. I checked again and made sure Milo was put on the plane…again the staff at Qatar where on top of the situation. I almost was about to pat my self on the back. My Mission was almost accomplished.

But then……my wife and I went to the bathroom and as I waited for her in the lounge area, guess who happened to be there? The Captain. I knew that I should ask him if Milo was OK…was he aware he had Live Cargo??? But I froze, instead just saying “hello” as he passed by. My wife saw him as she came out of the bathroom….”Did you ask him about Milo?”

Uhhhhhhhhhh….

Should have, would have, could have….

Damn!

A few hours later we had a perfect landing in Jakarta, and on the way in I could see the 1000 Islands...which are beautiful!

When we went to baggage claim, Milo was already there. She was fine, we where able to see her for a minute,  and then she was taken away by our support service, Groovy Pets, to Quarantine for 2 weeks.

Today Milo was delivered by Groovy Pets to our new home. She was a bit stinky, and has a kitty cold…but otherwise she looks good and is in good spirits. She loves our new house…She wants to explore even though we know she needs some sleep. But as we said, she is a tough Kitty!

World Traveler, Milo, Home at Last. Mission Accomplished!

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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Living in Jakarta, World Travel

 

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Vin Diesel…and other stories of NY train travel in the 70’s

Grand Central terminal in New York, NY

Image via Wikipedia

My parents were separated early in my life, so every weekend found my sisters and I shuttling between NYC and Cold Spring NY via the Metro North Railroad. For those of you familiar with the mostly clean, efficient Metro North of today, nothing could be further from the case back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Known in those days as Conrail, it was a mismatched fleet of old dusty rail cars pulled along by giant diesel belching locomotives. Many of the rail cars were hold overs from the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was not uncommon to find commuters sprawled out on large lounge chairs, drinking whiskey, smoking cigars and playing poker…..all the while cruising down the coast of the Hudson River. Other cars you stumbled into would be bright, clean and packed with wives and mothers going to Sing Sing to visit there troubled loved ones….

The trains where never on time, and if we were lucky, my mother would get us to Grand Central Terminal just in time to sprint down the platform and jump on to the 7:50, at 8:05pm!

Announcements on the trains where careless and sporadic at best…..but to this day the thought of the conductor yelling out “Cold Spring! next station stop is Cold Spring!” brings me back to those bygone days.

Stepping onto a Conrail or Metro North train back then was like stepping into a time machine….it was pretty awesome, if not damn near scary…..

 

(photo via Penn Central Online)

I would bring friends from the city up to my Dads for some cool suburban fun. Mark Vincent aka Vin Diesel, came up a few times. Back then Mark (or Vin?) was a skinny guy who ate like crazy, including one night when he ate about 12 taco’s my Dad had made…and then we were off to Friendly’s Fishkill for the “Giant Sundae”…..which was a big as a fish bowl!

One very scary situation happend on a snowy night when my sister and I were exiting the train in Cold Spring. Once again the lack of proper communication came into play. She stepped out on the wrong side of the train directly into the path of another oncoming train! The train whistle blew, but my sister was stunned and caught in the oncoming lights. I yelled out to her, and finally she came to and jumped back into the train. Disaster averted. No conducter to be seen…..or heard from.

Another thing about that time period was the condition of Grand Central Terminal. It was dark, dirty, dangerous, and full of gaudy advertising. You would not dare use the restrooms without risking picking up some disease. Restaraunts? Forget about it…although the Oyster Bar was always around. Nowadays, if you look up at the ceiling in the main hall you can see a small square spot that was left uncleaned by the renovation. This mark is to let people know just how dirty the station use to be.

(photo via rogerand frances)

Those days are now long forgotten. Grand Central Terminal was renovated and transformed into one of the stellar land marks of New York City. Conrail gave way to Metro North…..the fleet was modernized and timetables are now strictly adhered to. Progress is good, but in some ways I miss those old “funky” days….It was a transitional time, the day of pay phones and subway tokens. I just feel fortunate to have been there to have a glimpse into the past every time I stepped onto one of those dusty old trains.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Music & Entertainment

 

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