Carta Visa: 15th Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.


Cutting the incident of setting my home on fire by cooking minced pork and basil stir fry short: After shouting and making loud ruckus for a while, the fire had begun spreading to the built-in food cupboard above my head; it was as if I was destined to die. But all of a sudden Isakov came in with a fire extinguisher!!! This had me completely shocked. “Hey how’d you know?”

Despite being somewhat confused, I felt inexplicably touched–that was until Isakov sprayed the fire extinguishing foam at the gas stove, and me…

…Okay, it’s a relief that the fire was put out and all, but I wasn’t the one being burnt here. What did you spray me for? Isakov made a surprised face (though he was clearly sneering inside) and I almost decided to forgive him if not for the fact that my eyes spotted a small sticky note stuck to the fire extinguisher.

‘Good night, moron.’

Hmph, Alexey.

But Isakov… you’re going to be the first to die!!!

With spite, I lunged for the fire extinguisher and sprayed it back with full force at the brutish bodyguard, his entire body soaking in foam. Altogether, this ordeal concluded in a brawl as we got down to exchanging blows like a couple of crazy fools. This bodyguard’s body was pretty sturdy so he only sported a couple of scratch marks. However, as for the person who received a uppercut to the chin and nearly passed out, this person was none other than… (let’s leave this blank since you already know who).

Huuuuu… this world is so cruel…

 

 

Sunday morning. I woke up at two minutes past seven. Despite it being pretty early, I couldn’t go back to sleep since my body hurt all over. My lips also swelled slightly, although not because it was attacked by someone’s hungry lust (I’d shoot myself if it was that bodyguard’s doing). As I staggered drowsily to open the front door and get the newspaper…

“Sasha… wa… wait… someone’s going to see us.”

The owner of room 1206 paid no mind to the protesting voice, instead placing fervent kisses down onto that white neck, leaving behind a trail of bruises.  “Uu… no more. I need to go to work, what will people think if they see these marks.”

“If they’re brave enough to ask, tell them that you already have an owner… that your owner made these marks.”

“You’re speaking nonsense.” The pale figure wearing a plain t-shirt nearly turned entirely pink from the other man’s touch. His hands were ready to remove every piece of clothing, piling each article down on the floor.

“What nonsense…? If it’s about me wanting to eat you whole… that’s not nonsense, it’s very true.”

The fair and handsome face capable of making any girl squeal now turned a faint shade of pink. And as for the lips which were kissed over and over again, they turned a juicy crimson. “We’re in the hallway, someone can exit their room any second now.”

“Well you’re being naughty, refusing to go back to bed…”

“I need to give something to Petch and head to work, Sasha please, I beg of you.” Despite objecting, his voice was starting to tremble. “If I don’t hurry, my editor is going to kill me.”

“Then… stay over tonight Pun… I want you close, all day and all night long .”

 

 

I retreat back into my own room. I thought I was seeing things, but no, the sound of the two people flirting could be heard occasionally on the other side of my door. The more I listened, the more I wanted to shout an echoing cry across the entire earth that: Punnaphob was playing innocent!!! His mouth said no but he was quick to act. It was exactly as Mild said, pure on the outside, devilish on the inside. Who would have thought that opening the front door, I would encounter my senior and his new man, caressing and embracing each other so lovingly that it almost crossed the 18+ line. They had a room and the door to it was also wide open, so there was no need to be flirting right in the middle of the hallway.

P’Pun, I went to the effort of worrying about your male sovereignty when in actual fact you’ve rushed ahead by several miles already, hmph! What a waste of Petch’s trust. What a waste of his love and endearment for his sugar daddy! You’ve decided to renounce the likes of a mistress like me it seems. Next time I visit P’Pun’s house, I swear to reveal every single juicy detail about P’Pun and Sasha for Pudding to hear. Even though it was merely a stupid-looking wrinkly-faced pug, surely it could sympathize with someone demoted to second place like me.

Knock, knock.

I flinched, looking through the peephole I saw the source of my astounding surprise stood there with a smile, showing off his dimples and white teeth in front of my room. He held one bag of twenty baht chinese doughnuts, one bag of soymilk and another small paper bag stuffed with a soft thick scarf, two pairs of leather gloves, four pairs of very thick socks and a few camera filters.

“I had business around this area so I dropped by to bring you some gifts.”

Liar. Didn’t you escape from the clutches of a golden retriever just moments ago? Don’t even try to act smooth, we were only a wall apart from each other, hmph!

I tried to collect my thoughts, pouring soymilk into a glass but almost spilling it. “You had business near my condo at seven in the morning, really?” I questioned, sending him a suspicious look. Yet…

“Well the chinese doughnuts are going to get soggy otherwise.” The man replied, eyes bright and transparent as always. P’Pun, at this stage, there’s no need act innocent anymore woi! “And another thing, I hurried here because I feared you were going to forget to pack a few things, what if you freeze to death?”

If P’Pun was my boyfriend and I heard this sentence… I would have been extremely impressed. But as I was still in an unrecoverable state of shock, I sulked a little inside that he viewed bringing me gifts as just a secondary matter. I sat drinking my soymilk quietly since I didn’t have a clue of what to say.

My senior noticed I was acting peculiar, so he reached out a hand to squeeze my hair softly. “I’m going now, enjoy your trip.”

Hua, you’re going already?”

“Mm… I haven’t slept at all.” P’Pun turned his back and left, leaving zero room for anymore questions.

Seeing him yawn drowsily, I anticipate that when nighttime falls, there will probably be some ‘exercise’ happening near room 1206 again. As for me, I was extremely worried… I wonder whether my senior has figured it out yet, that his adorable golden retriever was clearly a wolf.

 

 

Two in the afternoon.

At last, I managed to cram everything into my twenty six inch travel suitcase with the close supervision of the maidyguard (my previous boxing opponent) and the noisy piercing voice from my phone which connected to Jessica–who continually nagged about things I shouldn’t forget to bring. Eventually, she was so irritating that I had to tell her to hang up before I start reconsidering our friendship. With this, Jessica complied and ended the call.

I shut the front door and drag my suitcase out–the bodyguard didn’t bother to help one bit (but I also didn’t know what he could help with, there was only one suitcase and a single camera bag after all).

I couldn’t resist making a sarcastic remark. “Give my regards to your boss too. With me away, Sir Alexander the Great’s ears will be at peace for a long time.”

Isakov chuckled. “You may be the one missing him instead.”

The answer I received jabbed painfully at my heart. “Oh I’m already missing him.” My mouth driveled on, but my heart… yeah where did he disappear off to? Would it hurt to give me a single word of farewell? How mean.

“You neck is as long as a giraffe’s. The boss isn’t here this morning, he has business at the German embassy.”

As if any embassy is actually open on Sunday… I thought to myself, making a frown by accident. Isakov smiled annoyingly. “If you want to talk to Sir. Alexey, why don’t you give him a call?”

Woi… why does a handsome, excellent, and perfect person like me have to make a farewell call to a man with a horrible personality like him!

Isakov waved bye bye with a hand. I wave back. Since when did we become friends? Either way, he really had an effect on me…

Especially his final words.

 

‘Why don’t you give him a call?’

 

 

I’ve kept this part of the story in for those of you who have never been to Suvarnabhumi before.

As a preface, I didn’t steal the following information from Wikipedia or some newspaper alright? Suvarnabhumi is the largest airport in Thailand and among other Asean nations, with it standing at the top of several categories such as the airport ‘notorious for its high levels of corruption’ since our forefathers’ era until now, ‘extremely silent’, somebody please tell me where the corrupt case about the CTX scanner used for identifying explosives disappeared to? But also ‘extremely popular’, a result of the Yellow Shirts shutting down the airport at the end of the 2008, an event which made no one want to travel to Thailand.

As soon as I stepped into the airport, I was amazed at the magnificence of the building which seemed to be constructed solely out of iron and glass. It looked beautiful and otherworldly (even though from some angles it looked like a bamboo food cover). Turning left and right, the building seemed to stretch on endlessly and the number of people here was innumerable. Air hostesses walked by briskly, dragging their suitcases past me in their gorgeous uniforms. I spent roughly fifteen minutes figuring out where I was meant to go, eventually arriving at the check-in counter after taking several trips up and down the building.

The Air Astana airline occupied only two counters. A group of giant athletic-looking foreigners were queuing up in front of me and spewing Russian at each other nonstop, it was as if their mouths were strapped onto rockets. I stood, gripping my e-ticket and passport, hands damp with sweat from anticipation…

What do I need to do…?

I lean forward to spy on the first person in line.

Point one, smile at the staff.

Point two, hand over the passport and e-ticket, then stand there and wait with a sheepish expression.

Point three, if she asks where you’d like to sit, definitely don’t answer: ‘in the center of your heart’.

Point four, this airline permits suitcases with a total weight of no more than twenty kilograms…

“Your suitcase exceeds the weight limit sir.”

The screen indicated 20.2 kg…

I tried to bargain with my eyes but the pretty lady refused to backdown. Eventually, I complied, opening my suitcase to grab a coat and my MacBook before attempting to close it back down again amidst the burning gazes of the other people waiting in line.

I made the observation that this country loved making things difficult. Be it the embassy (there were no seats and people were allowed in one by one), the embassy authorities (it was nearly a bloodbath before a visa could be obtained), or its national airline (the airplane was huge and yet they only opened two check-in counters).

“All done sir. You’ll be embarking at Gate C, the boarding time is 5PM, please be there ten minutes early.” The staff at the counter explained to me quickly and called for the next person in line. However, seeing my bright clueless eyes, she was forced to repeat her words once more.

I received the boarding pass with a trembling hand… probably the same reaction I would have if Liverpool won the Premier League cup. Alright, let’s do this. Hopefully some crazy guy around here won’t shred my boarding pass and make me miss the flight.

Then again, where do I go next…

 

 

I spent ages trying to find my way, finally discovering that everyone had to bypass the immigration checkpoint first.

The immigration checkpoint was a narrow corridor partitioned by opaque glass. Exiting out the other end were elevated counters, each resembling the Jade Emperor’s Throne; there were around ten in total. I paused, spending two minutes trying to pick a counter before one of the authorities walked over to nudge me.

“Youngster, if you’re Thai, go to that aisle over there.”

“Can I not queue in that one sir?”

“That’s the aisle for people with a diplomatic passport and the disabled.”

I had a revelation then that the immigration checkpoint was divided into zones depending on if one held an official passport, a diplomatic passport, or a foreign or Thai passport. The diplomatic passport aisle made exceptions for the disabled and their personal caretakers as there were very few people lining up, the queue was exceptionally short. I smiled sheepishly and waddled over to the green aisle (meant for Thai passports), then stood waiting… wait, waiting and waited…

That said… why was the authority stationed at the counter staring at my face so intensely…? Having studied me left and right… I hope my face didn’t resemble an FBI wanted criminal.

“Young man, lift your head and look at the camera.”

The female authority in roughly her early fifties spoke to me in a tone that was on the verge of commanding. “You keep looking down at the floor like a refugee fleeing into the country.”

I lift my head and attempted a smile at the webcam–or whatever they called the device sitting on top of the counter.

“Oh, you’re pretty good-looking. But quit observing your feet, it won’t make you any taller.”

Hua, you’ve been inspecting my passport for five minutes already auntie. Do you expect me to stare at the camera until I find true love or something? “Is this actually a real passport?”

“Of course it’s real.”

“Let me see your national identification card.”

“Is there a problem with my passport Ma’am?”

Others waiting to have their passports inspected behind me leaned over to look, eyes curious. There were a lot of flights departing this Sunday evening and people hauling their suitcases overseas filled the airport to the brim, can you just let me go through already? I felt the eyes of the group of girls waiting behind me as the tried to burn a hole through my head.

“The photo in the passport book, your face looks like Igor.”

“Uh… and what do I look like now?” I asked softly, brave but hesitant. If I made this auntie angry, I wonder if she was going to tear my boarding pass apart.

“You look kind of Burmese.”

“But I can sing the national anthem clearly Ma’am: Thailand embraces all people of Thai blood~♪”

“Enough, enough. I believe you.” The auntie laughed dryly, beckoning me with a hand to collect my passport. In the exact second that my hand touched hers, auntie leaned down from her throne to whisper something next to my ear…

“Truth is, I don’t really want to let you through. Your passport photo and your real self don’t actually match except for the ears, but whatever… you’re cute so I’ll let it pass. Enjoy your trip, young man.”

Let’s put it this way… I vow to never let someone bite my ear off. If something unfortunate happens to me and only my ears remain discernable, don’t forget to call this auntie over to identify the corpse.

 

 

“Welcome to Astana Airline #%^#$%T^^EE()__(&%$##WE&(GFDRHNJLLNVDSSS@@@… Thank you”

Having not even left Suvarnabhumi Airport yet, I was vaguely beginning to understand my communication problem. From just the message welcoming passengers onboard the flight announced in Russian and followed by English, I could only grasp two words, these being: welcome and thank you. I frowned while glancing at the blonde air hostess who seemed to be a mixed-blood Russian woman (by this, I mean a combination of Caucasian, Indian and Mongolian). My mouth was itching to ask a question, however I was unable to organize my sentence in English properly. My wristwatch displayed the time 20.15 but the airplane doors still hadn’t yet shut. Moreover, the air hostesses were instead preoccupied with their makeup, powdering their faces, re-doing their mascara and painting their lips, they were like retail workers stationed at department store makeup counters.

“Excuse me miss, it’s eight-fifteen and the final call has already passed, why don’t you hurry up and takeoff? Who’s going to take responsibility if I’m late for my connecting flight!”

A foreigner sitting in one of the seats to the front asked grumpily. A few other voices banded together in agreement but they didn’t make themselves known.

The air hostess detached her gaze from her brandname compact powder case and stared at the passenger with disdain, claiming that all passengers weren’t accounted for and therefore they had to wait.

This unhappy passenger was a large muscular foreigner and according to his voice, he was starting to get furious.

“Is this missing passenger such a hot shot? Do you have any idea who I am?”

If you don’t know who you are, then who else would know…? I thought to myself. I really hate it when people try to flaunt their high and mighty status in a place where it’s inappropriate to do so. I secretly pulled out my phone to turn the device off but…

Should I call Alexey…? Like, call to gloat at him and be like: I’m finally going to step foot on your homeland, you can’t bully me anymore!

Turning left and right, hm…? The location I sat in was odd. This flight was packed, yet why was there not a single soul in seats 33A to 33H? Not only that, rows 32 and 34 were also completely empty.

“Did no one teach you not to use your phone on the airplane?”

!!!

 

The airplane doors closed with a bang…

My hair stood on end… Hua, even though there was a possibility, why was the owner of that familiar voice sitting in economy class? How could someone as high-class as him willingly allow his suit to be tainted by a poor person’s breath like mine?

The source of the airplane’s half an hour delay eyed me reprimandingly. “You’re staring, do you have a problem?”

“I never knew you could act like a commoner too. Try being more punctual next time will you? Innocent people are waiting.”

“Where are these innocent people you speak of?”

Turning left and right, it was empty… I had a revelation then…

If this was your doing, you might as well just rent the entire plane and send me off to Kazakhstan alone woi.

It seemed he read my thoughts.

“I had planned to fly to Frankfurt for business at first, but thinking it over again… leaving you to wander around by yourself in Astana sounds like a bad idea. I finished clearing up these seats just now, that’s why I’m late.”

“I’m not a child.” I glared, unimpressed yet oddly relieved to have this guy beside me taking a huge yawn.

Alexey lowered his eyes at me with contempt. “You can’t speak English so it’ll be a problem if the police escorts a sobbing runny-nosed child back to Thailand for nothing…”

“With a cute endearing face like mine, who wouldn’t want to escort me back?”

“That’s one reason why I’m here…”

…I didn’t know why… but my cheeks seared with heat…

“That clueless idiotic face of yours, even if I didn’t want to, I’d probably have to drag you back either way.”

 

Okay… there was no damned reason for me to be embarrassed earlier!

 

 

Sky high above Almaty, the capital city of the republic of Kazakhstan, the local time was currently one-thirty in the morning. As there was a time difference of around one hour between Kazakhstan and Thailand, this meant that it was two-thirty in Bangkok; by this time I would have been fast asleep drooling on my pillow.

I sat eyes hollow and dispirited in seat 33A, thinking to curse the turbulent ‘atmosphere’ which seemed to be bullying me into not getting any sleep ever since taking off from Bangkok. There were two main causes for this:

One, an inopportune storm followed us along the entire flight path from Bangkok to Kazakhstan. As such, the plane was forced to fly through rain clouds, cloud clusters, nitrogen, UFO’s, or some other object. The aircraft shook violently, dipping down unexpectedly at times.

Two, the drop dead handsome man sitting beside me didn’t speak a single word.

He really didn’t speak. He didn’t scold, didn’t bite, didn’t cajole, and didn’t utter any sweet words… nothing at all. Although I tried to make small talk… ‘beep beep, the mobile number you have called is currently unavailable’. He looked to be in a good mood when he boarded the plane earlier, but now… um… what happened? I saw Alexey take out his laptop, his concentration focused on sorting through his unread emails. Suddenly, he knits his eyebrows together then turns to ask me:

“When are you going to Uzbekistan?”

“On…” I counted with my fingers. I planned to travel in Kazakhstan for two weeks, then hop over to Uzbekistan to take photographs for two weeks, and if possible, I wanted to see the Silk Road. “Today is the sixteenth, so I’ll be staying in Kazakhstan for two weeks and then fly to Tashkent on roughly the twenty-ninth. The dates are alterable since I haven’t bought the tickets yet.”

“And do you have a place to stay yet?”

“Sasha said he was going to make reservations for me, we already agreed on this since the day I went to collect my visa.”

“How is this related to that guy?”

“Well he’s the one who invited me to participate in the project promoting tourism in Uzbekistan–ah.

Damn, I couldn’t halt my troublesome mouth in time. Alexey stared down at me, his eyes flashing red.

“…A newbie like you invited to be Thailand’s representative… really?”

The hottie used the corners of his eyes to study me from head to toe. What other man was capable of staring with so much disdain that the gaze felt excruciatingly painful? I quickly flatten my ears and tuck in my tail, afraid of getting a lengthy earful, but unexpectedly… Alexey didn’t say a single word back–to which it made the storm outside the airplane creep even closer, intensifying the worry in my heart.

The more silent he became, the more horrible I felt, even though I had no idea what I was feeling guilty of. How was this different from booking through an agency…? Either way… this short tempered hottie was already angry.

 

Dear respected court of law, I really accepted Sasha’s offer with pure virtuous intentions. It was only afterwards when I figured out that this guy was trying to snatch and bed both me and Pun in one go; and so I had to distance myself (a lot). Hence, I request the court take this defendant’s plea into consideration as well.

Sincerely… Phachara… (Defendant. 1)

 

Outside, lightning flashed bright and blinding, the situation seemed ugly. I tried to sit still and not move around, peering at the hottie’s glass of wine which was on the verge of spilling over. My stomach felt upset, my hands were cold, and the airplane was shaking violently due to the storm outside. A large majority of the passengers had woken up. Cabin lights shined glaringly, complete with a loud announcement in Russian. In that instant, I felt a sharp drop–as if the seat under me vanished–amidst the screaming voices of the female passengers. My heart dropped to my feet, though I exhaled after  realizing that this was simply a case of the plane falling through an air pocket.

“Are you okay?”

The short tempered hottie spoke to me for the first time since we started playing psychological warfare for roughly half an hour. My cheeks stiffened. “I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong.”

Grey eyes shifted downwards. I followed his gaze and saw my own hand gripping his arm tight, his skin pale white (due to lack of blood circulation). I was about to pull my hand back, except it was pinned down with his own. The hottie’s face appeared hesitant, as if debating whether to speak or not (but if he was thinking to scold me, now was not the right time).

“I’ll get my secretary to find new accommodation for you.”

Ha? What are you scheming? And… and why are you staring so intensely into my eyes? Are you trying to hypnotize me? I avert my eyes, increasingly starting to feel like my body wasn’t my own.

“Even if you don’t agree, you’ll have to comply.” The hottie gathered both of my hands together. “That guy is sly.”

“Look, if you really hate you friend that much, wouldn’t breaking off relations with him be much easier than doing this?” I asked, though I was struggling and fidgeting in my seat. Let go of my hands already woi, what if someone walks past? Instead of stopping to appreciate my good looks, the first thought they’ll have is that I’m a crazy person.

Alexey observed me and let out a small laugh. Although I wasn’t looking in his direction, simply hearing him laugh was enough to make me feel like mountain was lifted from my shoulders. You’re finally in a good mood…

“Who says I hate him…? Rather, it’s just because…” His warm breath tickled my ear, lips leaning in to gently caress my left cheek. I sat, body stiff, heart pounding in anticipation for his following words. But I heard nothing else.

…You’re mine…

A cigarette-scented kiss… Though my lips caught the bitter acrid taste of cigarettes, my nose found the faint smell of burnt tobacco leaves oddly fragrant… Alexey bit my lip softly as if to tease me. I felt lightheaded when his large palms cradled the back of my neck…

…You’re mine…

Was I dreaming…? I didn’t imagine hearing these words right? For sure? Alexey’s tongue slid inside, tossing my thoughts into utter disarray… I thought to object at first… but eventually gave in after discovering how awfully I missed the other man… Alexey’s long fingers danced around the opening of my shirt, picking off the black buttons on my shirt with ease. I closed my eyes when a large palm wandered underneath my shirt and started to massage my chest, the likes of which was pounding rapidly, on the verge of bursting.

 

…I’m yours, and this kiss is your apology is it…?

“Air Astana would like to welcome all passengers onboard to Almaty, Kazakhstan.” The sound of the air hostesses’ announcement interrupted as the wheels of the airplane hit the runway with a loud thud. I jumped. Once my consciousness returned to its body, I slapped the hottie’s hand away and hastily buttoned up my shirt properly before one of the air hostesses weaved through the aisle of passengers. She was headed straight for seat 33B, greeting Isakov and Viktar on the way; apparently they were watching vigilantly from seats 32C and 34C.

The hottie stared at me with the corners of his eyes, adjusting his shirt collar slightly and clearing his throat. “We’re here. I’m heading off first, it’s urgent business.” The hottie reached for his suitcase and stood up as soon as the airplane came to a complete stop.

I was left with my mouth hanging open. In the corner of my vision was a luxurious car driving straight down the runway.

Hua, where are you going? What about me?” I grabbed his wrist just in time, but had to let go quickly as the air hostess was staring at me with green displeasure.

What are you looking at? Is this guy your husband or something!?

“I have business in Almaty to deal with first.”

“But… and… and…”

“Well you booked your ticket to Astana so hop on that connecting flight. Don’t worry, I won’t abandon you… a VIP car will be waiting at the Astana airport, keep your phone turned on as well. See you then.”

And then he slipped on his blazer, walking away briskly with his two bodyguards while leaving me to sit deserted on my own amidst the boisterous Russian chattering of every passenger on the aircraft.

I felt myself shrink to two inches… Um, he sat next to me, got angry at me, stopped being angry at me, kissed me, started to molest me, tried to bed me on the airplane… and then he left with a straight face? Ugh, I couldn’t keep up. I was starting to feel dizzy, does anyone have some tiger balm? This is urgent.

 

Dear respected court of law…

I would like to request a change to my position from defendant to plaintiff instead. As the mistress to an Uzbek man I would like to settle a divorce with my Kazakh man.

Sincerely… Phachara… (Ex-defendant. 1) Plaintiff.

 

 

Taking a connecting flight in the middle of the night at Almaty International Airport was a highly painful ordeal–especially for a hardcore fan of Thailand’s duty-free shop ‘King Power’ since the airport was very small… The airport in Krabi Province was probably even bigger than this.

I passed through customs without any problems. The drowsy-looking authority seemed to have little will left to work. After a significantly long wait, I finally collected my suitcase and dragged it out to the waiting area.

I surveyed around myself, feeling like an insignificant speck among the large towering foreigners walking past in the airport. I walked back and forth, circling the entire building, able to count exactly four bookstalls, four stores selling mobile phones, four banks, and a coffee shop; yet no one could speak English. Altogether, this made up the entire international airport. The overall state of the airport was fairly old, like an aged refrigerator from your mother’s era. Those capable of picturing it can probably guess that everything around me was a muddy color; though I wasn’t sure whether this was because it was old or because I was blurry-eyed from lack of sleep.

 

The time of the connecting flight was 3.30 AM. Currently only thirty minutes had passed. I was afraid to fall asleep, what if someone stole my belongings? My banana-yellow travel suitcase was especially cute and endearing after all. I thought to take a walk and survey the scenery outside the airport, but seeing as the rainstorm pounded against the windows of the building, I was afraid of being blown away by the wind. What a bad omen, it was as if this country didn’t welcome me.

After sitting drowsily for what felt like ages, I heard Thai being spoken faintly in the distance. My ears perked up as I turned to look, finding a group of men in large padded winter overcoats. They piqued my interest as though the temperature was fairly cold, it wasn’t that cold. Hastily rushing towards them, I said a greeting and made their acquaintance. From our short conversation, it so happens that I wasn’t the only insane person who wanted to come visit this crazy country. Apparently there were a lot of Thai people flying overseas to work here. In this case, these men were a bunch of laborers hired to excavate a mine in the northern parts of Kazakhstan.

“What’s the north like?” The ghost of a journalist possessed me as I pulled out a pen and paper to jot down some notes.

They explained that Kazakhstan was shaped like an upside down triangle. The north and a section of the west bordered the Caspian Sea. As for the east, it adjoined to China and Mongolia. Moreover, Kazakhstan is the largest country geographically and holds the most power among the CIS (Not the CIA or CSI dear readers, but a confederation of countries which used to be a part of the Soviet Union before it dissolved).  These Thai men were being sent north, near Mongolia which…

“Feels like you’re being frozen all the time.” One of the men explained as such. For a person sensitive to the cold (physically and mentally) like me, just imagining it was scary. “It’s like a really cold desert… people freeze to death all the time since they don’t take good care of themselves.”

I swallowed my saliva stiffly, inspecting the overcoats, scarves, and other articles of clothing that the men wore in preparation, sympathizing with them somewhat.

The man who spoke to me was a dock engineer. He had worked here for three years now and this was his last. “Once this contract expires, I’m heading back to the countryside young man. You risk freezing to death by working here.”

“Mister, mister, do you need to have your visa renewed every year?”

“Yes, though I don’t particularly want to. I got the company which hired me and the tourism agency to organize it in my stead. One week was enough to process all twenty of these guy’s visas.”

Hua… this meant that Alexey postponed my visa on purpose then, he intended to get me worked up from the beginning. If this was the case, I’ll make sure to note it down and get my revenge later…

“This country is developing fast but they need a lot of workers, Kazakhstan is lacking in workforce.” The man explained.

Then I’ll note this down as well. If I apply for a visa again, I should hand in a proposal to become a laborer as well so the visa can be processed easily.

…As if this is a good idea Petch, no!

We chatted for awhile and it was pleasant, my loneliness felt eased to some extent because at least I got to speak my mother tongue–oh, and speaking of languages, I posed a lingering question: “And… mister, how do you communicate? Can people here speak English?”

The man waved a hand. “Don’t even think about it. I’ve worked here for three years and can still only use hand signs. Once they realize you’re Thai, the people here will start setting exorbitant prices. For example, a phone refill card costs roughly one thousand tenge, and if you look like a laborer they’ll charge you two thousand tenge instead, isn’t it shameless?”

Scamming money out of foreigners was truly a worldwide issue, it was no exception in a desert (of ice) too.

“With that clueless-looking face of yours, be careful or you’ll get tricked. The citizens here are seriously ruthless let me tell you.”

I think so too… but, hm? We’ve only gotten to know each other for half an hour so how could this mister tell that I was a clueless person… do I look that much like an idiot!?

 

 

Finally it was time to board the plane. I managed to haul my body with its little energy remaining onto the aircraft, expecting to sleep comfortably throughout the entire two hour flight. However… the person sitting next to me was incidentally a Russian auntie with a gigantic backside (I really don’t know how else to describe her, so allow me to call her ‘Russian auntie’, she looked caucasian and couldn’t speak a word of English after all). From my experience as a fashion photographer, I’ll take a guess that this auntie’s girth was approximately forty-eight inches, close to the size of a five cubic Mitsubishi refrigerator…

More importantly… this auntie had removed her dentures, placing it down beside me… The disgusting object looked as if it had been dug up from some grave and the nauseating smell was similar to that of chemicals used to preserve corpses… Not to mention, this auntie used the remaining gums and four molars in her mouth to chat enthusiastically with her friend, not taking into consideration that it was three in the morning and that half of the passengers hadn’t yet slept.

It wasn’t long after the airplane took off that I decided to remove my seatbelt, leaping over to sit in an empty seat while at the same time desperately trying to suck in oxygen. The person sitting next to me asked whether I was alright or not. Thanks but there’s no need to be alarmed, I just had a true taste of Kazakhstan for the first time that’s all…

Hmph… someone was laughing behind me. Yet it turned out to be a cheerful bald Japanese man in his middle years; who knows what he was in high spirits about. The man beckoned for me to sit closer and seeing as I had nothing to lose (at least I was confident in the dental hygiene of a citizen belonging to the samurais), I therefore sat down and said a greeting. Hm, what was ‘good evening’ in Japanese again…

Oh yeah, I remember, “Konbanwa…” My, my, I’ve still got this…

My travelling partner pointed at the horizon which was starting to brighten beyond the window and smiled. “Ohayo gozaimasu… demo ne…” (good morning… but), he yawned and smiled again, “Oyasumi” (good night). And then he covered himself with a blanket before going quiet. Hua, what the hell just happened…?

I scratch my head. Dammit, I was destined to meet nothing but crazy people in my life.

 

Yet I had no idea at the time… that this Japanese man was going lead me to… VIP situations… From here on out, several incidents would unfold…

Although… VIP doesn’t always mean ‘Very Important Person’, know that?


Sorry for the delay >.<

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4 thoughts on “Carta Visa: 15th Round

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