Friday, February 24, 2012

Buenos Aires, Argentina 8-13 Feb 2012

Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, covering 19.4km from north to south and 17.9km from east to west. Almost as big as Kuala Lumpur. We arrived at Ezeiza airport about 35km south of center. As there were no metro service to the center, we 3 took a taxi. I have found a couch and Inge and Marga will look for a hostel. So we have the taxi driver drop us in the center where there is the metro and near to some hostel streets. The metro system in BA is called Subte. There were 6 lines and it is cheap, per ride it cost AP2.50. I manage to find my way to my host house which is 20 minutes away by Subte from the center.

I was welcomed into a very neat and beautiful decorated house. My host Pablo cannot speak very well English so we communicate with Spanish. He was very interested to learn about Malaysian and Asian culture. We talked about food and culture. I promised to make him a nice Malaysia meal.

2nd day in BA, I met the gals in town, we followed the Lonely Planet Guidebook Walking Tour. First we started with San Martin Park, then we went to Teatro Cervantes and Teatro Colon, one of BA`s most impressive buildings. Marga and Inge took a tour and I decided to skip and went for a cheese cake and coffee. We met again to continue our walk passing the Obelisco and arrived at Plaza de Mayo. I was getting really tired with all the cars and human traffic. After 1 month in Patagonia, it was hard for me to get back to this busy city environment. I decided to head home for some rest.

3rd day in BA, I first went to get my bus ticket to Puerto Iguazu for Sunday. Then I went to meet the gals, today we planned to take the tourist bus to go around the city. When we went to purchase our tickets, the gal in the booth was very rude to us, she insisted that we have to take the 4pm bus instead of listening to our preference to take the bus whenever we want. Well! It is a hop on and hop off bus...duhh! She just took back our tickets and return our money back and wave for the next one in queue. F!@#$# bitch! She spoilt our mood. Then we decide to walk, we visited San Telmo and La Boca. San Telmo was a fashinable and classy neighborhood but in the 19th century a yellow fever epidemic hit, driving the rich north into the present day Recoleta. Now what left is old mansions that are subdivided to house poor people,  converted to museo, fancy shop, and hostel. The San Telmo market and Plaza Dorrego has lots of antiques shops. I quiet like this place. 

We then hop on to a local bus to La Boca, which only cost us AP1.20. With some help from the local, we made it to La Boca. I immediately like this place. It is colorful with the many vibrant colors of building and tango music everywhere. But his place is prone to have more crime than central area. Only the tourist area is relatively safe. When we were there, there was a football match at night, the famous Boca Junior - club of famous Diego Maradona is playing. There were police everywhere, so we took this oppotunity to walked around the La Bombonera stadium. Unfortunately due to the match, all the shops, restaurants and bars close early. We were told that it is not safe to stay here. We quickly finished our beer and left the place. We had our dinner in a nice restaurant and bar, it could possibly our last dinner together if we don´t meet in Puerto Iguazu.

4th day, was a Saturday. With Pablo we planned to visit China Town in the evening so I could buy some stuff to cook a Malaysian meal. In the morning, I went visit the famous Recoleta Cemetery, tha gals was also going there, we didn´t managed to find each other. Lovely cemetery with lots of angels and nice architecture. Many famous people were barried here including the famous First lady of Argentina- Eva Peron or so called Evita.

The China Town was a threat for me, I went crazy over toufu and all the asian stuff. Pablo bought a chines teapot and cups and some chinese tea. I was dying to have toufu so I bought toufu, spring onion, ginger, oyster source and some onions to cook at night. It was a fiesta! I was so happy to have stayed an extra day just to cook. :-)

5th day, my last day in this big city, I am happy to move on, enough of big city, crowded, polluted and noise. I am taking the 2:30pm bus to Puerto Iguazu. The gals will be there 1 or 2 days later, hopefully we can meet again. Iguazu will be my last stop in Argentina before I cross to Brazil. I have to make it to Rio for the carnival in a week time.

Pablo has been amazingly hospitable. I am lucky to have met him. From his house I took a train to the terminal, while changing train in one of the interchange terminal, some white stuff flew from behind me, it stained my backpack and my hair. A guy walked pass me and told me that my bag was dirty, I have to clean it. Immediately I recalled this scam that I read online, this is a common scam that the thief used to steal from foreigner. I continue to walked then a lady approached me and offer her help, I told her no thanks. I walked on, as I thought I have got away from it, I put down my bag when I arrived at the other platform. First the small backpack I put in between my legs, then the big backpack next to me. It was just a little bit of shaving cream that they used. I starter to clean it then suddenly someone shouted behind me and said you drop your money, I looked back, there were some money on the floor, I took a step backward but suddenly my mind struck, I didn´t have any pocket, that´s not my money.Just in that spilt seconds, I turned back and my small backpack is gone! Someone shouted and pointing to a direction, I run towards it but I stop and turn back immediately cause I thought to myself that it must have been one of them that distracted me by pointing me to the opposite direction beside I still have my big backpack lying on the floor. At that moment I was so angry with myself to have put down my nags and let this happen. I should have waited for the train and left. Oh! No! Now I´m in deep shit! My passport is in the small backpack. Disaster!

I went up to the ticket counter to get help, they pointed me to another gate where there is a police. I found the police but he told me I have to go to the police station which is in Florida Station. I asked if he can accompany me there, he said "No". What is he there for? Doesn´t care that I was robbed and can´t help to go with me to the police station? Useless! I took out my map and started to find my way to the station, on the way I saw a few other police on the street, Same thing out of 4 of them, none of them can bring me to the police station. Should I thank them for giving the direction? So I finally arrived at the police station to make my report. I asked if I can make a local call, guess what? No, you can´t. Luckily I have some money left in my sling bag to make a call from the phone booth.

I called Pablo and explained him what happen, finally I tear out while talking to him. He was so nice to take me back. At his home, I made a call to cancel my credit card and sim card. I still can´t get over what happen, I have lost a lot of expensive stuff but my passport will caused me my trip. I can´t even finish Brazil now and of cause I miss my bus to Puerto Iguazu.

The embassy will open on Monday, everything will depend on it now. Whether I can still go to Brazil or wheather I can get a new passport. I read before that loosing a Malaysian passport overseas has only one option, that is to return to Malaysia to get a replacement but I am putting my hope high now cause I am not ready to go home yet!

In the evening, Pablo went with me to the crime scene. We search every single dustbin around the station, Pablo asked in all the ticketing counter, kiosk, rubbish cleaner and some guys in the station. One of them told him he is a Robber but he didn´t robbed me, he explained to us that they usually work in a group, "It´s a job" they robbed and  at the end of the day they gathered at one place to share all what they have robbed, sometime they will drop passport back to the ticket counter at night, so we should come to check with the ticketing counter the next morning. He even asked me if it was 2 men and a lady who robbed me, I was so shocked to hear that, Pablo asked if he could help with my passport but he refused. We spent almost 3 hours searching but nothing was found. While heading back to collect his car, we c√≥uldn´t find it! OMH! This can´t be happening, first I though it was stolen but then we found out it was towed away. He has parked outside a theatro that happen to have a show that night. It cost him AP250 to collect the car back and more when he receive a fine. I felt deeply sorry that I have caused all this to him, I offer to pay for the fine but he refused. That night I couln´t sleep, everytime I close my eyes, the scene repeat over and over again.

Next day, first thing I did was to go back to the Police Station, because they can´t be more intelligent than making a modification on an old report which resulted in stating me as an Argentinean and I remind them again that it is a blue bag instead of black. She refused to change it. Got that done, now I will try my luck at the ticket counter to see if the robber is kind enough to leave it there. Well! Nop! My next stop will be the Malaysian Embassy then. The consulate was not around, the interior of the Embassy was nicely decorated with photos from Malaysia, I thought of home again. A lady came to chat with me, she is Malaysian Chinese, been living in Argentina for more than 10 years, she was extremely nice, I suddenly miss home, we chat in Mandarin  Malay, Hokkien and Cantonese, she made me coffee and lunch, she even invited me for ice cream during her lunch time. That was truly Malaysian hospitality.  The consulate came back after lunch, as much as I hope for a good news, I was prepared for the worst. I was told that I´ve to return to Malaysia, he can only issue me an Emergency Document to return. I asked if I can leave from Brazil, he said he is not sure if Brazil custom will let me in with the emergency document. The only good news is I have 30 days visa in Argentina, I can spent the rest of my 20 days visiting Argentina. Maybe with some luck someone will find my passport during the 20 days. :-)

Now the only place I want to go is Iguazu Fall. I went immediately to get my bus ticket to leave that night. Don´t want to spend any more time in this city. The gals are leaving at 7:30pm, wherelse I took the 9pm bus. I still have to pack, sort out some stuff and say good bye to Pablo. Pablo sent me to the terminal this time, before that he stop by at the metro again to ask for my passport. He will help me to contact the Loss and Found department to see if there is any passport found. He is my angel!

Items Stolen :-
  • Passport
  • Yellow fever card
  • Driving license
  • Malaysian ID
  • Singapore ID
  • PADI dive ID
  • IANTD dive ID
  • Computer
  • Dive Computer
  • Camera housing
  • Credit card
  • Ipod shuffle
  • Handphone
  • $400 cash
  • Sunglasses and spectacles
  • Torch
  • Tumbdrive
  • SD card
  • Internet banking key
  • $100 Travellers cheque
  • Souvenirs
  • books and dictionery
  • others
*** Appologised no photos available at the moment to post as my computer was stolen ***


Taxi from airport to center - AP50 share by 3
Bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu – AP497 x 2
Subte - AP2.5 per ride


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