By Mansor Puteh
3 November, 2016, 5.59 p.m.,
I have boarded the China Southern Airlines flight CZ3048 which goes to Guangzhou
in China where I will spend the night at the airline’s expense so I am able to visit the
city for the first time and return to China after visiting the country the first time in
March, 1997 when I visited Beijing and Tianjin for five days. It is cloudy outside. And
there is a Malindo Airlines plane at the side of this plane I am in now. It looks like
most of the passengers are China people and maybe some from Malaysia.
I called Jalaluddin in Los Angeles to get Azimudden’s address there.
We are close to one hour in the air. I had some orange drink and no food has been
served yet. And it is already dark outside. There is three hours to go before arriving at
Guangzhou Baiyun Airport I had been to in July and August when I flew on the same
airline to go to England with Nizam and Izuddin.
11.50 p.m., New Century Hotel, Guangzhou, China.:
I am happy to back in China and in this city, but unfortunately the hotel which looks like
a five-star one is not so close to the city center where I hoped to be able to walkabout
tomorrow morning. But it is still okay now that I am here in this city and the country
again. Maybe I will be able to return and spend more time. It is good that CSA has
provided the facilities and driving me and some other transit passengers to stay for the
night here and in some other hotels of their choice.
I am still bothered and annoyed with China passenger who sat behind me in the plane
because he had removed his shoes and released smell which I thought was from the
plane. Later when I realized that I complained to the flight steward who offered me
another seat and he then released some perfume on the carpet and at the feet of the
smelly and stupid Chinaman who still refused to put on his shoes.
I am wearing the watch I bought in Villa Real, Portugal at the China store when the one I
had stopped because of the battery. I have two other watches in case if this one gives up,
including the one that uses manual rewinding power which is safe.
There is Wi-Fi in this room but FB is not working; maybe it is blocked by the
government. I managed to shoot some photos and also video from the bus heading
towards the hotel with the streets already deserted. At this time the city could pass for
another. I am charging my batteries and will try to use my WorldSim card to make a call
to Azimudden to tell him that I am here and would be in Los Angeles tomorrow
morning. He said he would pick me up and his new apartment is closer to the airport
than the old one I had been to in April, 2014.
4 November, Friday, 5.51 a.m.:
There is still no Wi-Fi despite my having lodged a complaint with the hotel staff. I used
my WorldSim card and it works and I got Azimudden on the phone; I do not know what
time it is there in Los Angeles. Fortunately, he was able to answer my call and I
confirmed with him my arrival at Los Angeles tomorrow morning. Unfortunately I am
not able to use the SIM card on my Asus phone but the Blu one I bought in New York
City two years ago for thirty dollars.
I looked out at the skyline but it is still dark. I hope to be able to at least walk about near
the hotel to see what they have for me to take photos of and sketch and also shoot video.
6.42 a.m., Restaurant.:
I went down for breakfast and there were already some people mostly local Chinese
having theirs too. This looks like a five-star hotel and not a three-star one which CSA
said they could provide for me and the other economy class passengers on transit. The
RM88 I paid for the visa to enter China is worth it. Or I would be stuck at the airport for
fourteen hours before getting on the connecting flight to Los Angeles.
8.10 a.m., Room 1707.:
I had a bath and am ready to go down again a while later to check out and take the bus
back to the airport. I still do not get Wi-Fi. It looks like it is warm outside from the way
the locals and the others wear. I am okay with the black leather jacket I have.
10.38 a.m., Baiyun Airport.:
I went out of the hotel to shoot photos and videos and did some sketches while waiting
for the bus to take me and the other passengers back to the airport. I took two pieces of
cake I thought I could eat while waiting at the departure lounge so I do not need to buy
them and since I do not have local currency to pay for them. I expect lunch to be served
on board the plane. And it is halal food I had ordered from them.
My feet are damp. I have two days in Los Angeles and not three days because I thought I
would get there on 3 November but it turned out that I will get there the next day.
There is no Wi-Fi at the airport. They said they have it but I am still not able to access it,
so I could check emails and my FB.
They have a system whereby passengers must register their passports at the machine to
get a username and password. I got mine but the connection is very slow.
11.36 a.m., Gate A110.:
I tried to check my FB but someone said that it is blocked here in China. I am also not
able to check my emails. But I managed to send Aboi a message by Whatsapp concerning
2.34 p.m., CZ621.:
I just had lunch and am now watching a documentary in the plane as it heads east
towards Los Angeles.
My seat number is 60D.
Just had another meal. There are some air pockets on the flight, or otherwise it has been
a smooth flight on the Boeing-777.
4 November, Friday, 9.16 a.m.:
Los Angeles Airport (LAX):
The plane is taxing on the runway, but I am not able to see outside as I do not have a
window seat to shoot photos and video from.
I slept a bit on the plane as I was still tired and did not have much of sleep since the first
flight and the night before. I was anxious to get back on the flight and to return to
America after an absence of just two years or so. I am sure will be back to the country
again early next year for the expedition called ‘Eating-Wind…Across America: Malaysia-
America Friendship Tour, 2017’ to cross the country from Los Angeles to New York
City and back in four weeks, driving in a MPV with three assistants.
9.26 a.m.: My WorldSim card is good; and I might not have to buy a local card in Los
Angeles if I am not going to make that many calls and I can use the free Wi-Fi on the
Greyhound buses I will be taking. I have US$30 in the card and can top it up if need be.
They are charging twenty-five cents for every call I make and receive including those
missed ones. This is cheating.
10.42 a.m., LAX.:
I called Azimudden and he says he is on his way to the airport where I am now.
I was anxious passing through immigration at the airport, and this was the first time I
had to electronically register myself using a machine they have near the counters or gates
and was handprinted and was given a slip with a large ‘X’ across it. I noticed some other
passengers not having it on their slip. I thought could this mean that I might not be
allowed entry into the country. But it was not so when I noticed few other passengers
also having the ‘X’ on their slips and they look like people who are regular visitors to the
country. And sure enough when it was my turn to go to the gate to face the immigration
officer I knew it was okay for me to enter after I had given him some answers to the
questions he posed. And this time he asked when I would be leaving the country, for him
to give the visa for a stay till I leave. I will be leaving on 22 November. He did not want
me to say ‘this month’ but November, to be exact.
It is going to be the presidential election here on 8 November but there does not seem to
be any election fever and no buntings or banners or posters everywhere. It looks like any
other day here in America, elections or no elections. I thought if Barisan Nasional (BN)
wants to win big they too should not hang them everywhere.
It is cool at 22 Celsius.
11.57 a.m., Azimudden’s apartment.:
I am now in Azimudden’s new apartment at 1026 Larch Street, Inglewood which is very
near the airport from where I can see planes hovering in the sky above it, for landing or
after taking off from LAX. It is much like in Subang Jaya when Subang Airport was
active. He came in his new car which is red in color, but he still has the old Honda he
used to drive me two years ago. And he came with another Rohingya guy who said he
had lived and worked in Malaysia a while working in Seri Kembangan and is able to
speak Melayu well. He says ‘bisa’ for ‘boleh’ which is how the Indonesians say the word.
I had to wait for him to come as he had not left his apartment early. I waited by sitting
outside of Terminal 3.
I hope to get a local SIM card. I am still worried about the ‘X’ I got for my slip at
the CBP or Center for Border Protection.
4.17 p.m., Azimudden’s apartment.:
I slept on the couch and woke up after noon and had some food to eat for a late lunch. I
forgot the Greyhound address here in Los Angeles; and this is where I will have to go
early Sunday morning to get on it to go to New York City, a trip that would take three
days and nights. I hope Azimudden or Jalal can send me there.