Sunday, 16 August 2009

First Day Back in OZ/ Greeted with Grace

An Air Asia flight attendant passed out the customs declaration forms about 6 hours before landing. In one ear, I heard the announcement about it being a legal document but casually let it out the other. I checked "NO" on all the boxes. Lo and behold! The customs in OZ is so strict about bringing food into the country. They don't just want you to declare if you bring rotten eggs or dead fish, but everything even a piece of bread, a can of dried peanuts, and cups of noodles, of which I actually brought. Although why I easily crossed off on the food declaration box has a reason behind it but wouldn't be appropriate to mention to the customs officer.

As a habit when I enter the US, I normally wouldn't bother declaring such items. Although one time I brought over a bag of dried squid for my aunt and was able to get away with it. So thus how the habit developed. But that's another story...

The extent to which Australian customs are obsessed about bringing food or drugs into the country is beyond anywhere else I have seen, even more so than in the US. While I was standing in line to get my passport checked, the customs officers ran around with a police dog, not once, but three times to sniff cocaine or something of that sort along the passenger line. It was quite a show for all the weary travelers.

Anyway, here's a little confession. I felt so guilty when the officer who checked my luggage found out that I had a piece of bread in my bag and a can of dried peanuts. Good thing she didn't see my cups of noodles hiding behind everything else.

Then came my sentence. "This is a legal document. You've committed a fraud by writing false information. The fine is 220 AUD." Pardon??? Come again? You got to be kidding me. I kept all these thoughts to myself of course. All I could utter at the time was, "This is my breakfast." How lame was that? I also wanted to say that I don't have diseases even though I've been living in Thailand for a year, and I don't eat rotten food. Plus the bread smells good, you gotta admit it.

Soon after, she said, " Next time......" With that, I knew she was gonna let me off the hook. I was belated. It'd be pathetic to have to pay 220 AUD for a piece of bread and a can of dried peanuts. "Thank you. I'll remember to declare every thing next time,( even a piece of bubble gum in my mouth.) Thank you for your generosity." Of which, I meant to say grace.