June 5, 2017 10.30am
We’re boarded and taking off. I’ve got a ton of room in my Business Class seat with no one sitting next to me. I take some deep breaths and relax.
As we go up the pilot says something about the seatbelt sign being left on and hot drinks not being served so I gather there’s going to be some turbulence. I wonder how that’s going to be for the kids.
I really need the bathroom and a cup of coffee having not had time for either since leaving the house at 6am. I ask the flight attendant and she lets me get out of my seat to use the restroom.
My raw vegetarian meal arrives (seemed like the only real vegan choice when I was booking the flight, “oriental vegetarian” might have had eggs, “western vegetarian” might have had dairy) I munch down hungrily on my salad with a side of coleslaw and fruit. I’m dying for a coffee. I could just about go for some booze at this point too but I don’t. We’re not there yet.
I start to fall asleep as we begin our descent and I’m snoozing into my travel pillow and blankie as we land. But as soon as the plane pulls in near the gate I’m up and keen to see how the kids have fared and luckily a very kind person stops me from leaving behind my handbag containing my passport and wallet.
I get through immigration quickly. A lady asks me all the usual questions; why I’m in Malaysia, how long I’m staying and where I will be staying and smiles when I explain before stamping me in for 90 days and wishing me well.
I make my way as quickly as possible to the baggage claim and am met by Mr Muru, Petri’s colleague, holding a little sign. He points to where the quarantine office is and says he will go and get the kids and meet me there.
I grab my mountain of luggage and wheel it over. The kids arrive in their crates. They’re shivering and Mr Muru explains that it would have been very cold for them on the flight. This is something I didn’t quite get about baggage vs cargo until now. I think the baggage area might not be temperature controlled whereas cargo is. I’m grateful it was a short flight from Phuket to KL.
I give Mr Muru the papers he needs; Health certificate and Export License from the Department of Livestock in Thailand, the kid’s vaccination books and a photocopy of my passport. I have a big folder with everything in it.
Nut is on anti-allergy medication and omega 3 supplements for her skin and Frankie is on doxycyline to prevent any reinfection with E.Canis and hopefully lower her antibodies so I give those to Mr Muru and the leftover food for everyone that I brought from Phuket.
Mr Muru says that he could be a while at this office and then must take the kids into quarantine and that there’s nothing more I can do for now. I realize that my presence is making the kids even more stressed and make my way out to find a taxi.
So I’m camped out for the week in a homestay I booked through airbnb near the airport and the quarantine. It’s a very sleepy Muslim area and it’s also Ramadan so even quieter than usual I expect. I have a lovely morning run and then call Mr Muru.
The kids are ok, they’re all eating. This is good. I’m especially relieved that Mickey is eating as being a cat he can be very sensitive. The dogs will still eat if they’re stressed, just not if they’re sick.
Mr Muru asks for my whatsapp and sends me photos. He asks about Nut’s eye which looks a little pink but I explain it’s been like that since she was a baby and send him back some photos for comparison.
I decide then and there that I will visit Mickey but not the girls (the dogs)
The girls need at least a day to calm down after their flight and my coming and going will not allow them that. They will think I’m there to pick them up and will be looking for the car to go home. There will be shaking and crying and that can’t be good for their immune systems. They have each other and they are safe and fed. I will leave them be unless there is a problem.
Mickey on the other hand is effectively in solitary confinement and as a very sociable cat that will be tough on him, he needs Mummy to visit.
I have a look at Facebook and find that Petri and his team are having quite a drama. A dog in their care has gone missing from the homestay. What a nightmare for them and I have to admit I find it somewhat disconcerting having just arrived. I remind myself that even the most competent person can make a mistake and that they’re bound to find the little dog. I have a chat with Petri on the phone about my kids and when I bring up the missing dog I can tell that he is worried but also calm and determined. They’re gonna find him.
I get an uber to the quarantine station. It is a sprawling place with well-kept lawns made up of lots of small buildings. It’s not easy to know where to go right away but eventually I find the office, hand over my passport and sign in. I’m given directions to Mickey’s room and set off with my visitor’s badge to the cat area.
Mickey’s room is big but he’s in a fairly small cage. I guess the cats have to be well contained to prevent an escape. Sure enough when I let him out of the cage he heads for the door so I get why he must be in the cage. I can’t help wishing it were bigger though. It’s only a week.
He has a bowl full of food and water and a litter tray which he has used so he must be eating.
I can tell he’s a bit confused but he’s happy to see me and he really is ok. We have a bit of a snuggle but he’s distracted by the birds outside and trying to come to grips with his new surroundings.
He’s not all that active but I think that is because it is hot.
I continue to get photos every morning from Mr Muru and I visit Mickey every day. I manage to find a cardboard cat scratcher with catnip exactly like the one he had in Phuket. There are no stores in Sepang that sell anything for dogs. Tesco sells dog food and a few very pretty collars but that’s it. Apparently, the dogs are not supposed to have chew toys or bones in quarantine anyway. I guess they don’t want to risk somebody choking.
I have a chat with a Swiss guy who has just brought his dog here from the Philipines. Because his dog is a Shitzu (a snub- nosed breed) a lot of airlines wouldn’t fly her. In the end he had to send her with Korean Airlines which meant she went from the Philipines to Seoul and then Seoul to KL. That’s crazy to me. The dog that no one wants to fly ends up doing an extra flight. I’m glad none of my kids are snub nosed breeds because they still have two flights to go; KL to Melbourne then Melbourne to Queensland.
If anyone reading this has a snub-nosed dog or cat, like a Shitzu or Pug I recommend getting in touch with Petri early to find out your options. From Thailand to Malaysia I think he can organize an overland trip, I think I read online about someone doing that.
It’s a boring week all round.
I know the kids are bored and I miss them terribly. I just keep reminding myself of the big picture. I have been preparing myself mentally for a long time for this week. I know that if I wanted to really feel miserable this week I could but I know that won’t help so I stay positive. If you’re going to this yourself be prepared for about Day 4, somehow that was the toughest for me.
One thing that I should mention about quarantine; It is situated close to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. This means that when I go to there from my accommodation my Uber fare is only about 8 Malaysian Ringit (70 baht or so) but if I get an Uber from there or anywhere else in that airport zone it costs 35 Malaysian Ringit right away. You also can’t get a signal from inside quarantine and will need to walk out towards the main road. Most days I opt to walk out a long way to also avoid the extra airport charge, I like the exercise anyway but for this reason I find it better to use the afternoon visiting hours rather than the morning ones so I am walking after 4pm rather than the middle of the day.
It occurred to me to hire a car but I would probably just get lost and it can be stressful and dangerous to drive around alone in a busy but unfamiliar area. I’m aware that any accident, even a small one, might see me stuck in Malaysia for even longer than I already am. I’ll stick with Uber!
June 11, 2017
The kids will be released tomorrow so today I’m moving to a pet friendly house in Puchong to get ready for them.
When I say “pet friendly” I mean that the owner obviously isn’t Muslim and so isn’t completely opposed to having dogs on the premises and probably only agreed to take us because I booked for 36 days. I don’t think he’s overjoyed to have me and three animals coming but he’ll see. We’re angels!
I will go and scope it out and put anything breakable away. If you have cat you know what I mean. Mickey is lovely but very good at pushing things of shelves.
I will also remove any rugs from the floor to avoid any kind of “confusion” about their function.
I have our own bedding so technically the no dogs on beds rule that was issued only a few days ago (after the free cancellation period was over) doesn’t apply. Noone puts Nut Nut on the floor!
To add to my good feeling, I look at Facebook and find that the little dog Bolt (yeah I know that name eh), the one that went missing has been found. I’m so happy for him and his family. I’m sure that was quite an ordeal for everyone concerned and I understand a bit about it having gone through something similar with Mickey.
I vow to make doubly sure my kids are safe during our “family holiday” here in Malaysia. After all, if somebody gets out in an unfamiliar place it will be difficult to find them again.
I pack up all my stuff and my bags seem to have multiplied but the extra is just food and water. I have a chat with my Airbnb hosts who are really lovely and make a few recommendations as to how to improve the room and then bid them farewell and help my driver pack everything into my UberXL.
Time for some adventures in Puchong!