Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Holy Canelloni

Doesnt that Mr. Turnbull person seem like such a nice guy? The things that flow from that mouth. I'd lose that smug look if I were him cos it might make some people want to smack him in the face. Mr Abbott should start looking over his shoulder to protect his most-smug-politician position.

Apart from raving about Pan's Labyrinth, I have nothing new to say. Go see it, if you get a chance. It's worth it, even though it is brutally violent in parts and made me look away on more than one occasion (OK, 4!). Admittedly, I am of the queasy variety. Best movie I've seen in a long time.

Am afraid I'll have to dredge something from my unreliable memory for this month's post. So technically, this could have been written ages ago. No timeliness factor here.
[will now need you to imagine the screen dissolving]

"Whoo-hooo". Finally, some real use of my Malaysian passport. No visa required for Czechoslovakia. The consulate in Australia had suggested I get it when I was in Germany. Munich confirmed I needed one but was only open like 2 hours a week and seeing as I was going to be in London. Anyway, when I tried to get one, the London consulate contradicted them. "New law. You dont need one", said London. I'd just saved AUD$60!!! SIXTY buckeroos!

That Saturday, I then drove to the Czech checkpoint at Waldhaus, armed with my visa-less passport. I'll omit the "professional hitchhikers" anecdote for brevity. The guard glanced at my passport and waved me through. Heh. I spent the rest of the day and all my money at Karlovy-Vary. They shot Casino Royale here. Real pretty place.

Anyway, happy and penniless, with my haul of Bohemian crystal, I headed back to Germany. This time, the Czech guard examined my passport, scrutinising every page and then said, "Visum?". Huh? "Visum?!" Holy shit!!! What's he talking about? What visum? Instinctively, I squeaked "Sprechen Sie Inglisch?". I could feel the sweat slide down my armpits. I was alone on this trip and would not be missed at work till Monday. My visions of spending several nights in jail accompanied by snippets of Midnight Express was interrupted by the answer I least wanted to hear. "Nein, nur Deutsch." "Oder Czech.", he helpfully added with what appeared to me to be a menacing grin. [Will need you to imagine subtitles here] Eeek!! I then slowly explained (in pidgin German and in a pitch higher than what I normally use) how the London Consulate assured me I didnt need a visa and if he double checked, he'll discover I didnt need one. Thereafter, I spilled my guts, telling him about my work, my childhood, how that shoplifting incident was really all a misunderstanding. "London give incorrect information", placing his hand on his holster. My bladder contracted.

With 40 kroner left (around AUD$2, give or take), bribery was clearly out of the question and the barricades seemed pretty sturdy, even for a speedy Ford Sierra (black, 2.0L, Stuttgart plates). The other guards had that "Why dont you try it, buddy" look, whilst caressing their automatic weapons. After holding up traffic for a few more minutes, he gave up and grinned "Next time, get a visa".
Yeh, sure, next time. I snatched my passport back while thanking him profusely (and silently prayed that they not shoot me in the back as I drive away) and when he tired of this, I quickly drove off before he could change his mind. You should have seen the other cars overtake me for fear the same thing repeated itself at the German checkpoint, which it didnt. These days, I insist on getting a visa everywhere, regardless of need.

And thus ends this month's entry. Thank you for your indulgence.
Note that the Czech republic is a great place to visit. I'd revisit it in a flash. If you'd like more travel tips, give me a buzz.