Monday, November 01, 2004

Problems with custom officers

Labuan Ferry Terminal Posted by Hello

Haven’t really the time to write up on my trip to Labuan but I’ll relate about a certain incident I had with the custom officer and jetty officials on the way out of Labuan. Coming to Labuan wasn’t much of a hassle, it’s the leaving part that is a bit of a tangle for us. The first thing was the terminal ticketing officer whom we asked if we could purchase tickets for the 1 p.m. ferry back to Kk. His answers was “Come back at 12” even as the sign stated that ticketing sales begins at 11 a.m. Ok so I resigned myself to walking back to the hotel and waited for the appointed time. This time, lugging our luggage and purchases, we made our way to the ticket booth again. This time seeing a guy with two large bags, the other passengers decided it was a good opportunity to rush forward and cut me to buy the tickets while the seller looking at me didn’t even move an inch to allow me the courtesy of one.

Next Laura and I thought we’d nicely seat ourselves inside the ferry terminal because of our luggage. Paying the terminal fees, we were about to enter when a guy, we later found out was an officer there stopped us with the reason that it wasn’t time for our ferry and this one is going to Limbang. I retorted that there were so many empty seats in there and it was at least shaded and with ventilation as compared to the scorching weather outside, but he was adamant. Okay, another strike so we headed to the coffee shop opposite and had some drinks while waiting for the half hour to pass before we are let into the terminal. Next incident happened as another jetty personal signaled for the passengers to line up to board but as everyone got their luggage and was in line, the first guy that barred us into the building began to argue that the ferry is just coming in and has not docked, sigh. The former soon won out after a while and we were allowed in. Walking pass the customs, Laura saw a guy stopping at the customs office, we had nothing to declare since we were not carrying alcohol and only a fair amount of chocolates but she stopped. I remarked that we could just walk by but the custom lady, a very sour faced one to be precise began to retort, “What! nothing to declare, quick open up and see”. “What these chocolates, what do you mean nothing to declare, quick let me search, open up,” she barked. So after finding we never actually had anything to declare and fulfilling her jollies we were let on. We should’ve followed my friend, Adrian’s tactic and put your goodies under several layers of clothing, pack the top with smelly and sweaty clothes, wet towel and used undergarments, and presto they would be glad to get rid of you with no questions asked.

Our next encounter with the port authorities was when I wanted to get some shots from the jetty and walking back to the bridge connecting the terminal, I was about to snap when the guy sitting near the entrance quickly walked towards me and asked me to stop. I asked why and he soon began a retort about how it is not allowed to take pictures at the terminal. I asked back, “Why is this so, there are no signs to indicate this and I’ve not seen a written rule stating ass such so you have no rights to stop me, besides what do you think I’m going to do with the pictures? Sell them to Osama and he’ll come bomb this unknown and unimportant little concrete float on the sea?” All he could reply after a minute of being dumbstrucked was that I should ask the operator’s permission beforehand before I took the picture and he went back to his sentry post. I said to hell with him and proceeded to take the picture as I figured there was no such rule anyway and the fact that there were a bunch of Japanese tourists doing the same thing and he never made a move to stop them. I figure that after mindlessly processing so many passengers everyday these people get bored and the only way the get their jollies is to pick on the unsuspecting passenger to liven up their monotonous routine. So ends my encounter with the Labuan port authorities.

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