Friday, November 18, 2011

MC Fiasco Aftermath and Beyond

Thinking that my troubles were finished when I received my emergency card in Jakarta, they still hadn't quite all been resolved. Issue number one was not even being able to check in to the hotel because my credit card hadn't arrived at that point, and without a valid card, they wouldn't let me check in. Now, I could have paid cash, but I didn't know how much they would have wanted me to pay for the deposit, and I had tried to find out in advance by emailing them, but with the language barrier, that didn't work out so well as people on the other end couldn't figure out what I was trying to ask them. So I had to wait. My colleague from another university was at some meetings, but I knew he was going to be back at the hotel within a couple of hours, so I sent him a text to see if he'd be able to use his card to check me in, and that way, I could at least get a room and then wait for my card to arrive that day so I could still pay with my own card upon checking out. By the time he returned, and I was able to check in with his card, my own card had already arrived, but the transaction had already taken place, so the clerk swiped my card just to see if it would work, and it didn't, so at the time, I thought it was just as well that my colleague was there to help me out.

I decided to phone MC to find out if I had to activate the new card, and they said that I didn't, but that the reason it didn't work was likely due to the fact that with these emergency cards, they have to punch in the number manually because they can't be swiped. I made a couple of insignificant purchases the next day to try to see if it would work, and still, even with the manual entry, the card still didn't work! I called them later, and I found out that the reason it didn't work is that the card had already been blocked because when they tried to swipe the card rather than do the manual entry, the card got blocked again, so I ended up having to get MC security to unblock the card. I'm happy to say the card worked for the rest of the time, except for a brief scare at the Sheraton in Surabaya, although it turned out it was something wrong with the hotel itself, not my card, thank goodness.

Other than that, I can't really say a whole lot else happened on my trip. In Hong Kong, it was great to meet up with old friends (i.e. recruiters I've met on other trips) and hang out with them. One of these guys, who happens to be Chinese, was able to introduce us to some interesting foods there. He took us to this place where they have good desserts, and I tried what he was having as he had recommended this coconut milk served warm in the shell. There were some gelatinous bits in it that I didn't think about, and then all of a sudden, he took another look at the menu and said "Ohh, I had better wait until you finish to tell you what's in it." Well, then I had to know, so he informed me that I was eating bird's nest and we ended up learning is called "harsmar" in English, although I'm not really sure if that's a word. In any case, for those of you that don't know, bird's best is sparrow saliva, the kind that's used to glue their nests together. Harsmar is also a questionable food, in my opinion. The taste was quite okay. It's not that I would seek out these foods, although it adds to my repertoire of weird things I've eaten, but the thing I don't understand is at what point someone decided these are things that should be eaten. I mean, Fallopian tubes of toads? Bird spit? That's the part I don't get. In any case, it's all part of the adventures of my life, right?

Let's see if I can muster up another entry for Indonesia :o)

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