Jillian R.
I was going through my journal and I can’t believe I forgot to blog this!

We were at the Muscat Airport checking in for our flight to New York, and of course, it wouldn’t be happening to us if it wasn’t bizarre and/or weird, or at least entertaining, because as we have come to accept; nothing “normal” happens to us anymore.

So, anyway, we were waiting in line to get our boarding passes. There were two lines open; one had about eight people and the other had only one. Naturally, we went and stood behind the one guy. As it turned out, the guy had lots of questions to ask and on the ground, he had two coconut lanterns which looked like this:-

(Excuse my poor illustration; the said coconut lanterns)

We couldn’t see the bottom of the lanterns, but the tops were covered in black coconut husk; with a tassel-like top. The box they were sitting in was not covered and was tied with string in a criss-cross manner (as illustrated poorly). We guessed the problem was that the airline staff had wanted the guy to check the lanterns in, but he had wanted to carry them on board with him. His gestures seemed to suggest that he was explaining that they might break if checked-in.

Now that I think about it, I don't really know why this whole scenario was so funny, at the time we were laughing at how ironic it was that we got on the slow line and how strange the coconut lanterns looked and of course how adamant the guy was to have his precious coconuts on board with him!

The whole exchange took about 20 minutes, and by that time, the eight people on that other line had finished and had went on with their lives, and new people replaced them. Yes, we continued waiting in our line because…well, why not? It’s just ONE person and he might finish at any time!

During the wait, Eric turned and said to me “He’ll sit next to you on the plane and you’ll have to look at those coconut lanterns for eight hours”. I laughed for about five minutes. It was very funny at the time!

Of course, when we got on the plane, he sat about 2-3 seats down from us. And yes, below the seat, he had those two coconut lanterns! 
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Jillian R.
I know I haven’t been updating much these past couple of weeks, we have been quite busy sorting things that go in the moving truck, things to discard and of course, things which go with us on the plane. Unlike other countries we’ve been in, namely Korea and of course Malaysia, where one could use the services of a “normal” moving company, here in the dessert, one could have one of these two choices; (a) pay an arm and a leg (800 rials to be exact, which is approximately US$2,000 ) for a shipping company to move our stuff OR (b) pay a quarter of that and hire a person with a pickup truck to drive our boxes over to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E), which is only a 4-5 hour drive from Muscat. Also, a fun fact; ONLY Omani citizens are allowed to purchase a pickup truck, so you know what I’m getting at, option (b) involves dealing with a local company which will probably be a pain.

We were supposed to have moved two days ago, but because of a combination of incompetence, laziness and generally not giving a sh*t about others, our paperwork never got processed and we’re stuck here in Oman for another week. I suspect it will be more than a week because of course, there will always be incompetence here in this part of the world.

Because of the sheer ridiculous amount that is option (a), option (b) became the obvious and only affordable choice. The would-be movers came this evening to inspect our things which needed to be moved, and to give us the final amount. They saw the boxes I’ve carefully put together and labeled, stacked in one corner of the room, the lack of furniture (TWO small cabinets) we will be bringing and got the idea of how many boxes that would be going, which is really not much and would fit snugly in a regular-size pickup truck.

Then came the following discussion (or something like it, with less understandable English):-
Mover: We will charge xxx rials including boxing everything, but you have to carry it to the truck yourself.
Eric: What?
Mover: Yeah, we don’t carry stuff.
Me: Ok, how about WE box it ourselves and you carry it downstairs?
Mover: Nonono

After a while of haggling prices and a lot puzzlement from our side; because really?! A moving company who will box for you but WILL NOT carry the boxes onto the truck for you? Wow, this really is new. My perception has been right all along, these people CANNOT exert themselves, and God forbid they sweat while carrying boxes – which is their job! I never wanted them to box for us in the first place, I don’t want anyone’s sweaty hands touching my clothes or any of my stuff! They were probably going to throw everything in boxes and break them anyway. We finally agreed on paying a little more and for them to hire people to carry our stuff and us boxing everything ourselves, we were finally set.

They took a deposit and left. They also didn’t have a receipt to give us so Eric wrote a note and made one of the guys sign it. Now it’s time to hope for the best.
Jillian R.
The flight time from JFK Airport in New York to Muscat via Abu Dhabi takes 15 hours (not including layovers). Each flight had a delay of an hour each, making it a total of 17 hours sitting on our butts on the plane. Usually I'm not one to complain about a mere 17-hour flight, I've done 26 hours before, emerging with severe knee pain being cramped in Economy because we weren't rich enough to spend triple the amount to fly comfortably in Business Class.

But that's life. What makes this particular trip unbearable was this; you know how it is when you get on a public transport and there's a crying baby on board, right? Take that crying baby, replace it with four SCREAMING toddlers and two very, very incompetent parents and you get a very angry passenger - me.

Actually there were about 200 other angry passengers but as usual, I feel like I'm taking it worse than anyone else because of my weird left ear. You see, sounds tend to "crack" in the left ear when it gets too loud. I know I need to get it checked out, but I've only been procrastinating for about five years.

So, the flight from JFK to Heathrow was uneventful. I practically slept four hours out of the seven. I even snoozed our 40-min delay away and when I woke up, we were soaring through the clouds. We touched down in London about an hour late and had all of 15 mins to run from the aircraft, to a very strict security check, to a shuttle train (which took another 10 mins to arrive) and finally to the departure gate. Oh and before all this, the captain had announced before the landing that all passengers should remain seated so that the dozen or so passengers (that includes us) could get off first because we only had a very short time to catch our next flight. Of course, even before we landed we could hear the un-clicking of seat belts, and as soon as we came to a halt, people started standing up and trying to get their carry-ons from the overhead compartment. Some people are really inconsiderate.

Anyway, I won't bother you with tedious details; we made our flight, out of breath and all - and that flight was delayed for another hour. So all that running for nothing. Soon as we got on, I noticed that there was a baby crying a few seats away. Naturally I didn't pay much attention, knowing that at some point the baby will stop and I'll just fall asleep. I even scolded Eric for putting on his noise cancellation headphones - because I'm a woman, and I like to talk; whenever. I was wrong about the fact that it was baby, let alone one baby. 

When a second baby started to cry I got up and looked around; and that's when I saw the four toddlers aged between 1-5 years old. The father was holding the first crying toddler, singing "Baa-baa black sheep" to him while giggling and clapping (Giggling? Clapping? Really?!). The singing, clapping and obviously the giggling encouraged the toddler to keep crying. I'm not a parent and even I know that!

The second toddler wasn't really crying, she was just screaming wildly for attention, and her name was "Gorgeous". Yes! Gorgeous! This girl was NOT gorgeous, I can tell you that honestly (not because she was annoying). I really don't agree that all babies are cute, because well, some AREN'T. Can you imagine this kid growing up to be horrible and spoiled and say "Hi, I'm Gorgeous". So anyway, "Gorgeous" was obviously a very irritating child and she kept screaming and laughing (which were high-pitched and scream-ish) and the mother had to yell "GORGEOUS, STOP IT!" quite a lot. At least the mother was asserting some kind of discipline. The father on the other hand, repeatedly asked his children (very loudly) "What do you want?" while they are screaming wildly. I also heard the mother saying "Maybe his ears hurt". So, wait, how about all 200 pairs of OUR ears? 

Oh, and he also openly sneezed and coughed without covering his mouth.

Awesome, right? This went on for EIGHT straight hours. I wondered the entire time how much sugar the parents had fed them before the flight to keep them going for eight-****ing-hours! I mean! Really! By the 7th hour I lost my patience and my sanity and I started yelling randomly; even though no one asked me anything, "I CAN'T GO TO SLEEP BECAUSE THE CHILDREN WON'T STOP SCREAMING!" or "WHAT BABIES? THOOOOSSSSEEEE *points at cluster of horror with arm over headrest*" and "I KNOW RIGHT?! WHAT HORRIBLE PARENTS!". I also shushed them quite a number of times but I was ignored. I get very cranky when I don't get my naps.

I mellowed down after an hour of yelling and being ignored and resorted to praying that they get off in Abu Dhabi. We were to sit on the plane while people get off and Muscat-bound passengers hop on. They didn't!

During the one-hour wait, the children ran free around the aircraft while the parents did nothing, except talked to the crazy woman sitting next to them who complimented their children of being cute. The children got in the cleaning crew's way and I had a sneaking suspicion that they (the children) TP-ed the bathroom - giving it an early Halloween makeover.

So I endured another hour of non-stop screaming making it nine straight hours. During the entire ordeal, there was a family in front of us; with the best baby in the world - because he/she did not cry once (I didn't know this was possible) during the flight and three adorable little girls who were pleasant and smiled shyly whenever anyone said hello. We later found out that they had been travelling for 30 hours. See, good parenting vs bad parenting?

When we arrived in Muscat, guess who were first to get out of their seats and getting in everyone's way to get their bags first? Yes, the most annoying family in the world themselves. It was like teamwork really, the wife said "You take Gorgeous, I'll take Kushi (or something like that)" and then they got in everyone's way. After they pushed their way through, we started talking to the other more patient passengers. We heard everything from "It was driving me nuts!" to "Wow, that was rough" to lots of head shaking (from those who had given up).
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