A series of unfortunate events.... kinda birding related - long

To: "" <>
Subject: A series of unfortunate events.... kinda birding related - long
From: Bill Stent <>
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2013 07:23:12 +1000
Received from Ken Cross, replies to him please.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Ken Cross" <>
To: <>
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2013 20:24:17 +1000
Subject: A series of unfortunate events.... kinda birding related - long

This weekend – today in fact - I presumed that I would be flying to
Malaysia to enjoy a long weekend in the north of that country birding
at the Royal Belum State Park with a ‘promotion’ entitled the
International Hornbill Expedition. I was very much looking forward to
it and had gone to considerable trouble and some expense to plan for
it and make arrangements with my job etc. The trip was at the kind
invitation of the Malaysian Nature Society and was sponsored, in part
at least, by Tourism Malaysia.

However tonight I sit in my living room, having gone nowhere, due to
the incredible incompetence and / or tardiness of Tourism Malaysia,
and perhaps, to a lesser degree the Malaysian Nature Society.  This
post sounds a warning not to place too much trust in either the
Malaysian Nature Society  nor Tourism Malaysia.

When invited just over a week ago I quickly responded to their
application process and was accepted. Since then developments
continued at a snail’s pace. Twelve hours before I was supposed to
travel I had not received my tickets. Instead new arrangements were
offered [and tickets delivered] that changed the suggested itinerary
meaning that I would travel for some 24 hours [with no sleep possible]
and miss the entire first day of the three day program! After ‘hanging
on the emails’ for the week prior this was the last straw and I

No reasonable explanation from the Malaysian Nature Society nor
Tourism Malaysia was offered for the itinerary changes nor for the
extremely late notice of any of the travel plans. No apology was
offered when it was brought to their attention that I had lost income
and made expenses to accommodate their original itinerary of

For the patient, the curious or the plain mad – all of the details follow;

On the 9 September I received this emailed invitation from Andrew
Sebastian from Malaysian Nature Society;

“Dear Mr. Ken Cross,

Greetings from Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)!

MNS will be organizing an expedition to our oldest rainforest in
Malaysia, called the “International Hornbill Expedition 2013” which
will be held from September 20th to 22nd, 2013 this year at and around
Royal Belum State Park and hosted at Belum Rainforest Resort. “

“We would like to extend an invitation to all of you to join us for
this expedition.  We are able to look into sponsoring one
representative from each country. “

“Please do note that full sponsorship is subject to the following criterias :-

 1.      You must have working knowledge of eco/bird tourism in your country;

2.      You must be able to present a 15 minute introductory
presentation of bird/eco tourism in your country.

3.      You should be able to give us some feedback on how we can
improve links between your country and Malaysia, especially related to
our Royal Belum State Park.

 This is limited to 40 international delegates. Pls see a brief write
up and details of the event as an attachment and would appreciate your
response as soon as possible. “

I responded that I was very much interested in attending.

On the 10 September I received this; “ Hi Ken,

I am Stephenie from MNS (Andrew's staff). I tried sending you the
documents attached but keeps bouncing back.

Hope you get them now. Please acknowledge receipt of this email. And
appreciate if you could forward me the information by end of today
(10th September)

Thank ou”

So I immediately completed the form and the following day dutifully
scanned my passport and sent it off.

On the 12 September I received this;

“Dear delegates,

Just would like to update you on the flight arrangements for the
expedition. Today, I have finalized all the proposed flight
detailsband have forwarded the information to our sponsor, Tourism
Malaysia who will be purchasing all your flight tickets.

I would need to check with Tourism Malaysia if they would be sending
the tickets to you on their own or they will be forwarding them to me
to distribute to all of you. I hope to advice you on this by end of
today. “

No advicewas forthcoming.

Still I make my arrangements. I organise to have two days off work –
never an easy thing to do [one day off ‘sick’ and the other unpaid
leave].  I organise and pay for travel insurance. I write to a good
friend and advise him that I will no longer be able to host him on
that weekend. I respond to a party invitation for the Saturday night
and advise that I cannot attend.

Finally on the 17 September I receive,

“Dear all,

For your information, yesterday was a public holiday in Malaysia,
hence no replies from me or Tourism Malaysia. I will be contacting
Tourism Malaysia today and rest assured that this is my top priority
right now.

Hope for your patience and understanding and I will surely get back to
you today. “

Later on the 17 September I receive,

“I have been informed by Tourism Malaysia that they are finalizing the
purchasing of the tickets and will be sending me all e-tickets before
1pm, Malaysia time. As soon as I obtained the e-tickets, I shall be
forwarding to you.

Appreciate your patience and thank you.”

On the 18 September I receive,

“ I am still waiting for anymore tickets which I hope to forward to
each of you as soon as possible.”

I still have not received any tickets nor any travel itinerary.

Later on the 18 September I receive,

“Hope to send the e-tickets to all of you very soon. “

Later on the 18 September I’m starting to get worried. Remember the
conference is on the 20, 21 and 22 of September so I expect, not
unnaturally that I will fly on the 19th. I request, if not the
tickets, a flight schedule so that I can arrange transport from my
house to the airport [as one must when travelling internationally!?]
So I receive,

“Ken, I have proposed the below flight details for Tourism Malaysia to
purchase for you...but the final decision is theirs to decide.

Hope this helps.

Departure date: 19 September

09:10     BNE Brisbane     Singapore Airlines            SQ256

                15:30     SIN Singapore Changi    8h 20

                                Connect in airportLong wait        3h 30

                19:00     SIN Singapore Changi    Singapore Airlines

                20:25     PEN Penang       1h 25”

So I arrange transport to the airport based on this information as I
feel I must as the flight was less than 20 hours away.

Four hours later I receive this;

“Dear Ken, just got off the phone with Tourism and they have purchased
your ticket departing Brisbane at 11.45pm on 19sept..I am travelling
to Temengor now hence the very limited Internet signal and unable to
send the ticket..will forward it to you as soon as I reach the
resort..very sorry for this..”

I write back.

“Hello Stephanie,

Disappointed that I need to fly all night and then get to Malaysia
[without sleep] and be an asset on an expedition. I realise it is not
your fault however Tourism Malaysia are not winning any friends with
these kinds of arrangements nor the speed at which they are offered.

My responsibilities here have become second to second guessing when
any info [promised Friday] would arrive.

Tourism Malaysia have become a joke to anyone here who I relate my
story to. Please pass on this feedback to them.

Cheers and thanks for your persistence and patience and endurance.”

However the [changed] details were even worse as I found out when I
[finally] received my e-ticket. I respond below;


I am very disappointed about this schedule.

I leave Australia at 22-45 on Thursday. Fly all night with no sleep [I
am 6 foot two]. Land in Singapore at 5am. Fly to KL at 6am. Arrive at
KL at 7am. WAIT at the KL airport for SIX AND A HALF HOURS!! Fly to
Penang and then enjoy a long drive to the Rainforest resort – maybe to
arrive by nightfall! So that day at the rainforest totally wasted!
[Instead I’ll be spending valuable time at the KL airport!]

 I had arranged to have a day off for Thursday so I could fly to
Malaysia then [as your  itinerary suggested] thus ensuring adequate
sleep and a full day in the Belum area. Now my day off is for naught
and I feel as if I have misrepresented myself to my employers. Not to
mention my friends who I had organised to take me to the airport…

 I have researched and prepared a Powerpoint and presentation about
Australian birding and birdwatchers and their organisations;
incorporating suggestions for communication and networking. I was
looking forward to enjoying Belum and sharing and learning and meeting
like-minded people however my enthusiasm has been destroyed.

 It is therefore with considerable regret that I will not be attending
as I feel to spend so much [uncomfortable] time travelling [and
waiting] [some twenty hours] for a mere day and a half in the Belum
area is not reasonable. If a reasonable travel schedule had been
suggested I would have been more than happy to attend.

 I remain very interested in travelling to Malaysia and indeed
bringing Australian birders to your country in the future and I would
have welcomed the opportunity to survey new sites [rather than the
‘normal’ destinations of Bukit Fraser, Kuala Selangor and Taman

 I’m very, very sorry…”

I then receive the following email;

“I am really sorry for all the inconvenience caused as a result of the
above arrangements.  We sincerely apologize as the ticketing was
really beyond our control due to the fact that Tourism Malaysia was
handling all inbound and outbound flights.  It is rather unfair to
have you travel without any rest for a good portion of the trip.
However, we are still trying to work things out over here, and hence
was wondering would it make a difference, if we arranged
transportation from KL direct to Belum for you?  It would still take
between 5 to 6 hours to get to the resort, but it would eliminate the
unreasonable wait at KL airport”.

I reply;

“Dear Stephanie,

Thanks for attempting to put a pleasing plan in place however having
given the matter careful consideration I have decided not to come. The
new plan only provides an additional two hours of light at the Belum
area and does not address the whole issue of traveling time.

I cannot really describe how frustrated and angry I am about all of
this  - it seems to have been a massive waste of time and energy. And
false promises.  In addition there has been a cost to me as well for
this affair. I have lost 1 sick day [Thursday] for nothing. I have
lost 1 day’s pay [Friday] as I negotiated to have that day off. I paid
for travel insurance for my time away in Malaysia – again another
loss. So as it stands I’m already over $600 in the hole and I’m not
even bloody coming! This is not taking into account that I’ve appeared
dishonest to my work colleagues and friends.

 Please advise Tourism Malaysia if they are to advance their cause
they need to be able to make considered arrangements in a timely and
reasonable fashion.

I do hope what is left of the expedition goes well.

My sincere apologies to Andrew.”

The final email from Malaysia reads;

“Sorry for the late reply. Had no internet connection.

Noted on your final decision of not coming and as informed, we will
inform Tourism Malaysia of your feedback.

Thank you and glad that you would still be coming back to Malaysia in
the future. “

It is childish, perhaps, but I wanted the last word;

“Hi Stephanie,

I would very much welcome to hear Tourism Malaysia's response to this fiasco.

Do they apologise for this sort of thing? I realise I've got little
chance for any compensation for my out of pocket expenses for what I
see as their incompetence,



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