10 January 2022

A Hobbit in East Malaysia


Farewell, Kerteh. Farewell 2021.

It is officially my 14th day in Kota Kinabalu. While parochial preoccupations in Kerteh raged back and forth, a captain in Kota Kinabalu base threw the towel in to seek his fortunes elsewhere. I was nominated to take his place. Hence, here I am.

I take it that this is my retirement posting. The way the company sees it, I only have till my 60th birthday before I occupy the top of the heap. I really think it is a blessing undisguised.

Good morning Kota Kinabalu. Hello, 2022.

There is a pace of life here which is detuned from what I am used to. The mornings in the apartment are hushed. Noise begins closer to lunch with the voices of boisterious kids and couriers from Grab and Food Panda trailing up and down the stairs. Trees stand right outside the window and the visiting birds are a reassuring sight. I have begun sleeping through the night again, although I wake at a quarter to six without an alarm, in tune with the arrival of dawn. As I used to, here in this same town, as a ten-year old.

A sparrow preens in the warming day

The first ten days were spent in laborious expectancy for the endorsement of my Sabah Work Pass. I couldn't legally do anything job related till that sticker got affixed onto my passport.

Rejoin for runway 02 via Pulau Sulug. That little smudge below the coastline.

At long last the base email announced the endorsement was passed at 1600H on 6 Jan 2022. It was swiftly followed by line training on the morrow with three continuous sectors, twice to Malikai, just 30 minutes away, with once to Gumusut under the Labuan Radar airspace taking an hour each way. I was a tad headspun on the first sector. After the luxury of a heliport all to myself, the contention for air traffic clearances and the Gatling-speed radio chatter in Kota Kinabalu International Airport was disorienting. By the second sortie, my internal filters began to function and day's end saw me handling the RT unsupervised. My training captain was not thoroughly displeased with me, although when he saw me climbing up the aircraft and jumping back down to ground during pre flight checks, he teasingly yelled out at me to the amusement of the KK ground crew,"Oi old cock!! No jumping!! Your think your'e still young is it?"

Pulau Mengalum sitting midway between KK and Malikai.

Three sectors. The first rotor engagement was at 0800H. The final shutdown was at 1505H. I clocked 5:55 in block time. I was plumb tuckered out, but an extremely happy puppy. I have 2 days of line training before my line check under the Senior Training Captain. Then, if the company deigns to award me my rank, I am free to fly with the copilots. We'll see how that fares.

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