I am in Kuching since last Saturday, waiting and waiting. First, to source some Avgas which is hard to find here and then for my permit to overfly Malaysia and Philippines for Landing at Puerto Princess International, Palawan Philippines. All this is happening only because one Devil of a Controller disrupted all my well set plans by turning me back to KL, the other day. Otherwise, I probably would have been back in Buffalo by now. I and my agents GASE are trying hard now to resolve this new situation we have been forced into. I am sure we will, but it is taking lot longer than what I thought. It is not America, things are very beurocratic and move lot slower in this part of the world. I must be patient. Anyway, I rather be stuck in Kuching, the Land of the Hornbill, than anywhere else. It is the capital of Malaysian Borneo, a beautiful city with very welcoming people.
Just to pass time, I started looking at my old emails and spotted a contact of my good friend Phil Thomas (a New Zealander and my Sales Manager for South East Asia during AirSep days) named Sam Wong in Kuching. I had been introduced to Sam by email once but had never met. Without much hope, I sent an email to him. WOW, Sam responded in a matter of hours and came to see me. This young charismatic gentleman is an extremely successful entrepreneur, a very large real estate developer and unbeknownst to me is the son of the owner of Rimbuna Hijau, the 6th largest conglomerate of Malaysia. Rimbuna Hijau is big amongst, Oil/gas exploration, timber and real estate development, owns several helicopters and jets, pretty well-known in aviation circles here. In his earlier days Sam Wong spent years studying in Auckland, New Zealand and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia and so did I working (months not years) in both places. We had lots in common to talk. Cut through the chase, I now have access to a chauffeur driven Mercedes to take me to places I want. Furthermore, even though Avgas is hard to find in Borneo, in one phone call Sam was able to arrange the required quantity of Avgas for me from a flying club that happens to be at an airport on my way to Palawan. So, plan now is to depart for Philippines as soon as I get permit, and make a tech stop along the way at the flying club for refueling.
In the meantime, I discovered the Sarawak Flying Club/Global Aero Services of Kuching and made contact with them. The Managing Director and owner is Anand Samuel, a Malaysian of Indian ancestry, an extremely nice gentleman, who has taken me under his wing and is helping me with all my needs. Anand and his two pilots Mr. Lucas Tan and Mr. Foster Lawen are being as great hosts as any I have ever met. They have been showing me around Kuching, treating me to lunches/dinners and the whole works! Anand even took me to his home to meet his family. Anand’s sixteen year old son Alfred Raj is an accomplished drummer and wannabe pilot. I on the other hand am an accomplished pilot (????) and wannabe drummer. Obviously, we had lots in common. All in all a great stay at Kuching.
I have just been informed by my agents that I will have the permit today and will be able to depart tomorrow, August 10th. I am anxious to go, but will miss the company of these very nice people when I leave!!