Friday, July 4, 2008

Adventure in Kunming 昆明历险记 ( 1 )

It was a trip filled with excitement, surprises and agony, it was more fitting to be called an Adventure in Kunming then just a plain homecoming of Rev. Fr. Leo Chang.

I have promised to accompany him to go back to his home village one last time. Many showed keen interest, but at the end, only Cecilia, Fr's helper, my wife and I made the trip. Thank God, Steven decided to join in at the last minute. If not for him, we would have many difficulties in our traveling.

I have many anxieties before the trip. Fr. Leo is not in good physical condition. His blood sugar was very high despite medication. With my knee condition, I have fear in my heart thinking of looking after an old man in a wheelchair. The new Visa ruling by the Chinese Government added put more pressure in our planning.

Three years ago, we were traveling in a group of 15 in an organised tour. Everything was arranged by the tour company. For this trip, we have to arrange all by ourselves. I am very grateful to Steven for his great assistance provided during this trip.

Let me begin first with our agony.

Our agony began when we checked in at the MAS (Malaysia Airlines) counter in KLIA for the 9:30 am direct flight to Kunming. The check-in clerk just simply told us that "we have arranged for you to fly to Guangzhou and then a domestic flight to Kunming". My God, the flight was cancelled two weeks ago (as told by the clerk) and we were not being informed !

It was really a shock to all of us. The whole journey would take twelve and a half hours instead of the four by direct flight.

MAS action was simply un-ethical and immoral. I am preparing a letter to send to MAS regarding this matter.

We have no choice but took the flight as offered. At Guangzhou airport, at Kunming sector, we encountered problem with the Security regarding the use of wheel chair and air ticket. In KLIA, we were allowed to use our own wheel chair and wheeled Fr. Leo right to the aircraft. The wheelchair would be kept by the crews. At Guangzhou Airport, it was not allowed. As Fr. and Cecilia went to a special lane for "people with special need", we were seperated. They have to seek help from some kind officers to pack the wheel chair to send as lunggage.

As we booked our flight online, no ticket was issued. This brought us trouble while we cleared Immigration Check. For three of us, we were able to explain the situation to the Security people. But Fr. and Cecilia were having problem to explain to an abusive officer at the special lane. They were being shouted at for not having air ticket even though they have boarding passes. It took them a while to sort out with that particular abusive officer. It was quite traumatic for Fr. Leo and Cecilia.

The flight to Kunming was delayed. Any way, we heaped a sight of relief when we landed at Kunming Airport at 10:00 pm. We were warmly received by the Parish Priest and Chairman of the Parish Council of Xiao Pu Ze.

It was the longest traveling day of our lives. Thank God Fr. Leo was OK.

We waited more than five hours at the Guangzhou Airport for the connecting flight to Kunming.


去年当张神父庆祝晋铎五十周年时,他提出想回乡的意愿,我就答应了会带他完成这个可能是最后一次的回乡心愿。原本有很多朋友说要他通行,但最终只有Cecilia(神父的护理,龚丹英姐妹),我及太太成行而已。幸亏最后时刻,Steven 能够同行,他在旅途中,帮我们解决了许多面对的困难。


三年前,当张神父从堂区退休后,我们一组十五人,陪同他回乡探亲。当时的一切,都由旅行社处理,非常的方便顺畅。这次我们的回乡,只有四人 (后加多steven) ,一切都是自己处理。我也担心,以我的膝盖情形,是否能够照顾在轮椅上的张神父呢?他身体状况不是很好,血糖很高。他年事高了,常有不需要的担忧,一点小事,就会彻夜难眠。最近中国政府新签证措施,就是另一个使我们担忧的原因。一个残,一个缺,两个女人同行,会遇到困难吗?我非常感谢天主,Steven 能够参与,很多事情都由他代解决了,包括申请签证事宜。




我们在毫无选择之下,只好接受如此的安排。在广州机场,我们在办理昆明的那段登机时候,在安全检查处,遇到了麻烦。在马来西亚,我们可以把自己的轮椅推到飞机舱门口,然后轮椅有空务员保管。当时神父和 Cecilia 是由特别通道进入安检,和我们分开了。当被告知轮椅不能推进时,他们得求助机场人员的帮忙,把轮椅绑好,然后寄机舱。当时他们应该是非常的狼狈。

更糟的是,因为我们是网上订票,没有正式的机票在手,他们因此而被安检人员呼喝,虽有登记证,但还是无理及强硬的要他们出示机票。几经解释,才使这些无知,粗暴的官员明白,什么叫做 e ticket ! 对张神父和 Cecilia 来说,这确是个吓人的经验。



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