Our one day stop in Kuala Lumpur turned into a four day stop due to Haris’ illness. We were sure that what started in Pakistan was not properly cured and with a little travel stress, it all came back. This time it must be completely cured before we press on. Upon suggestion from a virtual panel of doctors from several countries, it was decided that Haris needed an anti-biotic. A course of Cipro was in order and was administered. While all of this illness was going on, there was a mention of the world cup final being played during the illness…..hmmm…could that have something to do with the illness…I am not sure, but I have my suspicions as we are a strong soccer/football family…. For the next two days, I stayed in the hotel room with Haris and made sure he took his medication and ate and drank plenty of fluids to nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, my Sargodhian entry-mate, Nawaz Khan, who is in Singapore, kept insisting that I visit Singapore as well. But due to Haris’s health concerns, I did not want to take a chance and had to decline. I also declined to see anyone else due to the fact that we did not want to venture too far from the hotel. Capt Mani and Ms Rani, our hosts in Kuala Lumpur from EAA Malaysia, were awesome and checked up on us several times a day and were always there when we needed them. Finally, when Haris gave us the indication that he was ready to go, we filed our next flight plan from Kuala Lumpur to Bali for the morning of Tuesday, July 15. Our next stop was at the immigration, which was a breeze – in and out in 10 minutes.
Our last stop was at the Air Traffic Control area where Ms Rani’s brother in law, Kadarvaloo Maniam, who is an air traffic controller at the Air Traffic Control Center for the past 40 years, wanted to give us a grand tour of the facility. This was an awesome event, we got to see how the the plane goes from clearance delivery to tower to departure control to enroute control and on to destination. We knew that it happened but we got to see every part of the system function on a first hand basis. After departure and until we cleared the Singapore Approach, every controller knew Haris’s mission and wished him success.
As we got to the airport, there was a group of young ethnic Chinese Malaysian kindergarten and primary school teachers who wanted an introductory flight that day. When they found out about Haris, they all wanted to be photographed with him and the plane. So, we spent the next ten minutes taking pictures in various groups and individuals. Then it was time for us to get going as we were almost two hours behind schedule. Startup, taxi and take off were uneventful and we were established in cruise at 11,000 feet. The flight through Malaysian and Singaporean air spaces were a breeze. Then we were handed off to the Indonesian controllers and the hide and seek with VHF and UHF radios started. Since we had an ICAO flight plan in place, I was sure that the controllers along our route of flight knew we were coming, but in third world countries it is never a good idea to assume ANYTHING. I also did not want us flying without ATC coverage. So, we kept looking for active frequencies and would sometimes luck out and stay with a controller through their sector, only to be dropped to the HF frequency that does not work worth a darn unless you are prepared to spend some serious cash on a very good airline quality HF radio.
Finally, leaving Isthmus of Kra through the Straits of Malacca, flying over the Island of Sumatra on to the Island of Java we made our way to Bali. Along the way, we saw some really tall volcanic mountains that stuck out of the clouds presenting a very majestic view. One seemed to be producing some smoke, but it could have been our imagination also, although we did look at it through our binoculars to make sure, but it was too far to say for sure if it was spewing out something or if it was clouds that gave us that impression from afar. While looking at all of those dormant volcanoes Haris informed me that we were headed straight into one of them that was in our flight path. Soon, the controllers routed us around them and started our initial descent into Bali. The thin cloud deck was close to 7000 feet but did not present a problem. We had completed an 8 hour leg, fighting headwinds and 1120 nautical mile trip and we were ready to land. Haris executed the VOR 09 approach into Bali with ease with an airliner waiting for our landing, we landed and made our way to parking.
As we landed, our handlers were waiting for us and as soon as we emerged from the plane, they requested our passports. With some bad experiences with re-fueling in recent arrivals, we had requested fuel to be ready on arrival at Bali. Even before the efficient immigration officials could return our passports, the fuelers were there with our requested two 200 liter barrels of fuel. They pumped all 400 liters in about 45 minutes and were gone. This arrival has been, by far the best so far.
The handlers then presented Haris and I with wood carved “signs” – you could not call them name plates if you saw how well they were made and then they drove us to our Bed and Breakfast (B&B). This B&B is quite interesting, in that, it is just slightly off the beaten path in Bali in the Kuta area and avoids the extreme hustle and bustle of the million strong Australian tourist presence, but is only 5 minute walk from the main drags. There are two parts of this B&B, one is cottages that are ringed around a swimming pool but for single roomers like Haris and I, there was a separate section that had just one room with whatever configuration of beds one may want. The whole atmosphere inside the B&B belied the extreme touristy appearance just 100 yards outside the main gate. It would be dishonest at this point, if I did not give due credit, once again, to our program managers : Eddie Gould and Ahmed of GASE, who got us the landing permits, over fly permits, handlers, fuel and hotel – each one at its best, bar none. Once again, Eddie…I don’t care what anyone (Ahmed and Anthea) says about you, or as we say in the US : You da Man !
Upon reaching our room, Haris wanted to work on his blog, while I was hungry and wanted to go out and eat. It took me about 35 minutes to get Haris to disengage and leave for dinner with me. After the recent spat with illness, Haris now questions everything he eats- which is a good thing. For my part, I decided that we will only eat at places we could trust, which, on the road can be challenging. But, for the most part, one can figure out the kind of food that would be served out of an establishment and so long as it was not Pakistani/Indian (desi) food, Haris did not seem to have a problem. It will probably a dark day, when Haris agrees to go to a desi restaurant to eat. We also decided that whatever we eat, must be completely dead and cooked at very high temperatures – if it kills all the nutrients at those temperatures, so be it – at least it will kill all the bacteria with it…..