Finally made it to Australia. Getting off the plane I get a text message from Ian saying that he was lost and was going to be late picking me up…no big deal I thought because I still needed to pick up my luggage and make it through customs.
I present my passport and customs form to the customs agent. The only thing I had not filled in was the address where I was staying while in AUS. The agent asked me how long I was there for and I explained that it was a day layover on my way to NZ. I told her that I was meeting my husband and he made our overnight stay arrangements, but I was unaware of what those arrangements were. She said, “no problem mate” and sent me on my way.
While I was waiting for my baggage a guard came around with a dog that sniffed me up and down. I didn’t think this was an issue till she came back to me three times…the last time she asked the dog “did you find it?”. Hummm I thought.
I get my bags and head out to the customs screening area. As I was walking through the gate a woman pointed me to another agent and said that he would take care of me. How nice I thought. Little did I know what I was about to get in to.
We walked over to an area away from the rest of the screeners. The guy said that he just wanted to check my baggage, which didn’t seem unusual because of the security that we have to deal with in the states. I know I’ve had my purse check for residue a number of times.
The first thing the inspector did was go through my purse. He started setting some items such as my camera and an envelope of paper work aside. Meanwhile he was asking me 10,000 questions about where I’ve been, where I was going, what I was doing, who I was meeting, why the short stay, why the route through China, how did I pay for my ticket, what did I do for a living, etc. They he went over my customs form with me. He asked if I understood all the questions…especially number 1 and number 5 (1 being the question about food, drugs, plants, etc and 5 being whether I had more than $10,000 US on my person (this one made me giggle)).
From here he explained that he was going to have to empty everything from all of my bags and scan each piece of luggage. The entire time I was standing there the guy was as nice as can be and explained that I was flagged because of the unusual route through China, the short stay in AUS and the fact that my baggage claim tag numbers were not in consecutive order.
So, I had two bags that I was barely able to close in the first place that had to be completely emptied out…I actually thought he was kidding about that until I was standing there with clothes, shoes, underwear, everything scattered all over this table. While we were doing all of this the guard’s supervisor came over and started asking me all the same questions all over again. They couldn’t quite understand my travel sequence.
We finally got all the screening of my luggage done (one bag we were unable to get zipped back up, but that wasn’t a big deal…just amusing). The last bag was my back pack. I told him that my computer and accessories were in there. He asked what was in my computer…”uh pictures, music? I don’t really understand your question”. Then he opened up the front pouch and found my Luna Bars, Airbourne and sleeping pills (uh oh). I didn’t think anything of it, but he looked at me like I was a piece of shit, pulled out my customs form and a reread number 1. I was like, oops I didn’t think about that and he started shaking his head saying this is not good. Now I’m starting to panic a little.
He made me stand there freaking out for about ten minutes while he tried to get his supervisor over to see my "stash". The supervisor finally made his way over and told the guy that it was fine to let me go....whew!
This entire ordeal took over 30 min. I got out and told Ian...he said that JC got caught with an apple and was charged $200 for not claiming it! So, all in all I guess I got off pretty easy...least it wasn't China!