An Auspicious Begining
My bags are packed, I have said my goodbyes and am ready to go. I pre-ordered a van taxi earlier in the day and reconfirmed an hour ago, but 15 minutes after it has supposed to have been here, no taxi. To complicate things, I am taking two bikes and three bags; one bike and two bags are mine and one bag and a bike are the an unintended result of rewarding my newly graduated high school niece by having her cycle with me on the Trans-Oceania.
After a frantic phone call in which I find out that pre-ordering a taxi in Toronto is an exercise in futility, a taxi arrives. Fortunately, for once, the collector lanes to the airport are not jammed and we arrive in time for my check in.
I get to the counter, pay for the extra bags and bikes. My niece, who is more privileged than her tender years allow her to understand, is in Finland visiting a friend and meeting me in Singapore and therefore I am carrying her bike. It is now time to pass through security. Unfortunately, the x-ray machine is not large enough to have the bikes go through.
“Please open the boxes” says the commanding authority. And so I comply. She checks my box, puts a few things through the x-ray machine, takes the brush to test for chemicals or explosives and all is good. Now to my niece’s bike box, which was given to me by my sister. If you can’t trust your sister, who can you trust? The cloth covered brush sails over the box, gathering minute particles and then it is put into a chemical analyzer. The red warning light flashes.
The adventure begins. Until now this was a normal security procedure, but in an instant, my situation changes from simply being late for the plane and has has turned into a new ballgame. In depth examinations of everything in my possession, documents, money, etc. It does not help that I have more cash than one is allowed to take out of the country. I answer every question politely. Minutes are ticking away. My plane is due to depart soon.
To my great relief they decide that, after all, I am no Jihadist, a con man nor laundering money for the cartels. I am free to depart the security zone for the flight that will eventually bring me to Medan, Sumatra and the start of the Trans-Oceania Epic.
After cycling the world for 12 years, there is always the potential for a surprise. And the alarm? My sister tells me she paid US$50 at her local bike shop to package the bike. It seems that the boys working in the shop use a few chemicals to get through the day. On top of this they left the tires fully pressurized. There would likely have been another surprise or two in the air.