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More adventurous than the average bear

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

France/Spain 2011 - Day 14 - Departure

"To err is human--and to blame it on a computer is even more so." - Robert Orben


France/Spain 2011
Day 14 - 30th March - Departure

As far as I could tell, everyone in my room was male. One came back at about 1am and I didn't know about the rest. Hah, backpackers. No wonder I'd slept well.

7:35am on an ugly street (Avenue des Gobelins) is not a good place to start kissing your guy. But then, what do I know? And this was France.

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More snake oil: homeopathy in a beauty parlour. How appropriate.

At the bakery where I'd taken a picture of the Traditional Baguette advertisement the previous day, I bought a demi-baguette. I'd been tempted the previous day but it'd been near closing time so it probably wouldn't have been that good and anyway I was going for dinner. The price was extremely fair at 1,1€ (exactly half the price).

The same place also had a formule petit déjeuner (set breakfast) but it was a terrible deal at 3€ for a pain au chocolat/pain au miel/croissant and an orange pression (freshly squeezed orange juice). With the pastries at 1€-1,1€, that meant you were paying ~2€ for the orange juice. I had it anyway, and the juice was sweet and a little sour at the same time. Not as good as Florida's Natural and definitely not as good as Spanish Orange Juice. The croissant was very good (perfect except it wasn't warm) but the baguette was disappointing: cold annd not that crusty (despite it being about 7:30am). In other words worse than what I usually got in restaurants (I never buy baguettes myself, since I can't finish them). I need to go to Poilâne next time, at My Toy's recommendation.

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"Because of a sick traveller, traffic is slowed down along the whole line"
Maybe this was a lame excuse to cover up technical problems.

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Some lion. I think it was a monument to the defence of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War. Considering they actually lost the war...

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In a park

The Orlybus was 6,6€ and the Orlyval train 10€ including a métro ticket. Yet there was the allure of the train. It was faster also, I think, and definitely less frustrating (due to traffic, if nothing else).

A group of 4East/Southeast Asian women carried branded handbags and huge LV paper bags, and all were wearing boots. Gah. Meanwhile there was a guy wearing a beanie and the hair inside was puffed up, so he looked like one of the coneheads.

The most pathetic boarding pass I'd ever seen, courtesy of AirAsia

There was a hysterical bilingual anti-pirated goods campaign at the airport, probably sponsored by LVMH and friends.

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This should read "MU", of course.

At the airport, I witnessed a typically French cultural activity:

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Demonstration by cleaning staff

As demonstrations went it wasn't very impressive, but it was the thought that counted.


I asked them why they were protesting and got a lot of vocabulary I didn't understand thrown at me. They asked a PRC to explain to me, but I didn't get it either, since I again got a lot of strange vocabulary. I thought it was about pensions but it turned out it was about overtime which they hadn't been paid for this year (which I rephrased as "la paiement pour les heures prolongées") despite an industrial agreement which went back many years (at least since 1984 - they rattled off a long list of years). They said the airport had a lot of money (from the government, I think) and yet didn't want to pay them. At one point the PRC asked the non-Chinese speakers questions in Mandarin, which I found hilarious (the language confusion effect again).

Since I could do nothing, I just wished them "bonne protestation".

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Strike notice

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I think these were Soc Gen ads about team spirit.

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"Trash output decreased from 2007-2008, thanks to you"
Presumably it went up in 2009.

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This menu had no prices, so alarm bells went off. The prices were from top to bottom 8€, 10,10€ and 10,50€ (I only took note of the first 3)

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"The ideal man. 50 lessons for seducing the woman who pleases you"
This was beside "Les 7 clés du leadership" ("the 7 keys of leadership"), which was appropriate; both were about 20€. Below was "Pourquoi les hommes ne pensent qu'à ça et les femmes préfèrent le chocolat ?" ("Why do men only think of that and women prefer chocolate?") at an agreeable 6€.

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"Le secret des femmes. Voyage au cœur du plaisir et de la jouissance"
("The secret of women. Voyage to the heart of pleasure and orgasm")

There were also similar books like "Qui a peur du point G?" ("Who's afraid of the G spot?"), "sexe, mensonges et petite robe noire" ("sex, lies and the LBD" - telling).

The bookshop also had Liu Xiaobao's "La Philosophie du porc et autres essais". I think it was a French publication (and not a translation). I mean, the philosophy of pigs???

Before immigration, a woman asked me to carry her bag for her. This was not a very smart thing to ask me. Especially as she asked it right in front of a member of the airport staff. Naturally she got scolded. Meanwhile, one French woman took pictures of a group of black teens in the security queue. Uhh. But then she seemed to know them (maybe she was the teacher?)

There was a sign for new security measures for US flights - no printer cartridges weighing 16 ounces or more, even in checkin bags. Yes, the terrorists have won. Maybe their real aim is to make flying unpleasant. So they are actually looking for more and more ways to make security measures even more ridiculous.

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"Diploma of the BEST BAGUETTE in Paris. All our breads are weighed and made by hand"
Bullshit. I was so disappointed, and I couldn't finish it. It was even worse 9 hours afrer purchase.

The flight back to KL was emptier than the flight to Paris. The woman beside me suggested I move to an almost-empty row so she could sit with her guy and I would have no one beside me (2 people in a 3 seat row). Inexplicably a woman on the other side of the row sidled up, to the seat beside me. Maybe she was lonely. Then later a woman tried to chase me out of the row (in Cantonese at first - I should've replied in French), claiming I was sitting in her friend's seat. But then her friend had moved away so she could sleep in the row of 3 seats. Grr.

There were also a lot of stewards. More than on all previous AirAsia flights I'd been combined. Possibly multiplied by 2-3.

The Captain thanked us for helping make their dreams reality. Well, guess what? Their dream is no more. Perhaps one reason was they didn't use ad space effectively, wasting a lot of it. At this point only the area where the common video screen would've been on planes in the 90s had ads, but they should've put them also on seat headrests and inside luggage compartments.

There was an ad for Queensland holidays in the plane - not Malaysia. Tsk.

Someone kept talking on the PA system about something called a "window shit".

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Pain in Chocolate. Putain.
That said it's cheap, especially for a flight. But it's probably Malaysian Kualiti, especially since AirAsia probably flies everything from Malaysia. How do I know? The mineral water I bought on the Paris-KL leg was packaged in Malaysia (I should've brought my own water on but didn't have enough time due to security screening). For meals there's at least some rationale, but water?! Very good.

Refusing to pay RM25 for Nasi Lemak, I'd smuggled a 6,90€ airport wrap onto the plane. Actually that worked out to about the same (the wrap was quite big but cold and not that good - but there was no Sign of the Evil Eye). Moral of the story: don't buy food at the airport. Though it was too early to get food in the city anyway (e.g. a kebab, which wouldn't have been nice by the time I ate it)

They made a "very special announcement" about drugs before we landed, then a kid started crying. Also, there's a word in Malay: "mandatori". Très bien.

2 of the AirAsia stewardesses made announcements in very good French. Especially when compared to what I'd heard on SIA.

We then landed at KL airport.

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I found this hilarious. Now you can bribe Malaysian officials with your credit card. Who said they don't move forward into the 21st century?

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Boost Juice Bar

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"Customer Satisfactory Box"

The rest of the journey back was uneventful.

AirAsia used to justify their no outside food policy with some line about respecting different Asian cultures, i.e. "our food is Halal and yours isn't". Now they just had a blanket ban without explanation. Moral of the story: fly on an airline from a civilised country. Of course libertarians can claim that there is a willing buyer-willing seller market, but then the airline could equally impose conditions like compulsory comfort kit purchases under this rule.

Interestingly the food has an allergy warning about nuts, gluten, seafood, eggs and dairy products. So I don't know what you're supposed to do if you're allergic, given their no outside food policy. I've got to see what happens next time - I'll tell AirAsia I'm allergic to one of these things and bring my own food onboard. Then again I saw a woman eating "Chips à l'ancienne" and no one stopped her. Doubtless its kualiti was much higher than the made in Malaysia pringles original available for sale.

AirAsia meal prices are by origin city. Flights from KL, Taipei, India and China cost RM12, those from Seoul 14,000 Won, Tokyo at 900Y, Paris at 6€, London 6£, Australia A$8 and New Zealand $15. This is not entirely justified by distance differentials.


And now on to my Australia 2011 travelogue. I think I should finish each trip before starting on the next one, so I know just *how* far behind I am.
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