Saturday, May 5, 2007

Travel Happenings

Greetings from Dubai! I usually have to travel to Dubai about once a quarter for work, so here I am again.

Traveling here yesterday started normally, and then a series of strange things happened.

Bizarro moment #1: I got to the airport early, so I figured I'd indulge in a little reflexology. (It had only been two days since my last one, but as I've said, I'm a spa whore.) I went to a reflexology place that recently opened up in KLIA. I had been to another branch that was outstanding, so I figured, why not? The prices were airport inflated (almost double from their other branch), but I figured it was a small price to pay for the heaven that is reflexology. When my session was done, I went into the other room to put on my shoes, and that's when it happened. My therapist followed me into the other room and said...


Not "Tip?" as in a question. Just a statement. A nice statement, said with a smile, not particularly demanding, but a statement nonetheless. I had to ask him again, because I thought surely I had misunderstood. I mean, tipping doesn't happen much in Malaysia...right?? :) So he said it again. I asked him "Do you want a tip?" to make sure I understood, to which he said yes, again with a smile. It was odd. Even in the US, where tipping is more widely practiced, I've never been asked so directly for one. I've been asked in general in a bar: "Ladies and gentlemen, be sure to tip your bartenders and waitresses!" I've been asked passively at a salon: On a sign - "If you feel the service of your stylist/masseuse/etc. was exemplary, please feel free to leave a tip in one of the envelopes provided." I've been obligated to give one: On a restaurant bill in US - "Gratuity charge". In Malaysia - "Service charge". And so on. So I tipped him. No biggie.

So, anyway, I wasn't necessarily offended or anything, I just found it strange. Considering a comment I received the other day on this blog about tipping, I thought it was certainly ironic. Who would have thought tipping was ever expected in Malaysia? I'm just saying. :)

Bizarro moment #2: Sighting of a man sitting at our gate at KLIA, very openly reading a book entitled Singapore Erotica. I love it. I guess if reading erotica in a public airport in a conservative country butters your muffin, so be it. I usually prefer it in the privacy of my own home, but that's just me.

Bizarro moment #3: Fell asleep while watching The Last King of Scotland on the plane. Really good movie, by the way. The sleeping had more to do with the red-eye flight than the movie. Anyway, I woke up during a very graphic part, and I don't know if it was that or what, but all of a sudden I had this huge wave of nausea. I tried to fight it in my seat for as long as possible, but then the cold sweat came, and I knew I had to get to the bathroom, just in case. A flight attendant waiting near the restroom took pity on me, got me a bag and let me go in front of her into the next bathroom. just completely went away. It was awful though. Given that my digestive issues are usually IBS related rather than pukeage related, that was indeed bizarre.

Bizarro moment #4: After arriving at my hotel, I crawled into bed and set my phone alarm. It went off and so I groggily got up. I looked out the window and thought, wow, the sun sure isn't very bright this morning. Strange. Then I called Matt in KL, who was in a breakfast meeting. Strange. Something wasn't adding up. Breakfast? I asked Matt what time it was and he said it was 10am. Which was 6am in Dubai. In my sleepy daze, I had forgotten to change my clock on my phone. So after talking to him for a while, I couldn't go back to sleep.

(Okay, none of those were all that bizarre, but cut me some slack. I'm a sleepy girl.)

It's just as well though. I have so much day now! I need to do some work, and then I am off to the mall. I like to shop for clothes in Dubai, since it's easier here to find clothes that fit my linebacker shoulders.


At May 5, 2007 at 2:42 PM , Anonymous reese said...

oh my, the tip thing. I would have been incredulous. I just told J. and he said 'it's because she's white.' You're right, though--totally bizarre behavior for anyone, but particularly for a non-tipping culture.

And the Singapore Erotica...that's priceless.

At May 5, 2007 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous reese said...

random question:
did you happen to notice an inordinate amount of families taking, say, 5 televisions each as carry ons, on your plane ride to Dubai? ;)

At May 5, 2007 at 7:31 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

I didn't see too many TVs this time, but I have before. The airport where I see the largest amount of stuff being shipped is in LAX. It's nuts. Luggage carts full of kid's toys, electronics, and tires. I'm always puzzled by the sheer number of tires I see. The international terminal there is just a madhouse, but what great people watching!

We recently had to buy a TV (since the ones from the US won't work here) and in comparing the prices in KL, Dubai and the US, strangely enough, the Dubai prices are the best. I think that, ultimately, you can probably get them cheaper in KL, but it's all about the bartering, which Matt and I don't seem to have good luck with.

At May 5, 2007 at 10:11 PM , Anonymous jen-i-foo-foo said...

Just for the principle of it, if that tip thing had happened to me, I would have said "Sorry? Don't understand. Can't hear you. Good bye!" :) :) :)

At May 5, 2007 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous jen-i-foo-foo said...

Freaky Triad Event: I almost puked on the plane coming back from San Diego. I have NEVER done that before. I had to take Dramamine!

At May 6, 2007 at 1:38 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

Um, to correct myself, we are not good at the bargaining, not bartering (although, trading for a new LCD TV would be interesting). Damn, I hate it when I use the wrong word.


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