Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Getting everybody accounted for on board the tour coach

                               Some members of the DID invited guests

It is of utmost importance for the tour guide to get all tourists/passengers accounted for on board the tour coach before it proceeds to the next stop. Most time the tourists would not just sit still and be counted; they would be yelping loudly about things they saw or souvenirs they had bought. Many times I had to raise my voice and told them in a very friendly but determined way requesting them to sit down and be counted. As a tour guide it is my duty to make everyone accounted for. I had always a name list with me from their tour leader who kept them company when they arrived. Once the head count was done and found to be correct, only then I would call for the coach captain (the driver) to move on.

What if due to some miscalculation, confusion and carelessness some passengers were left behind and the coach had already left the hotel, on the way to the airport for their departure? That spelt big trouble, all tour guides will tell you! The coach driver would be very unhappy and cursing relentlessly; he would be very reluctant to turn the bus back to pick up those left behind. The tour guide would get a bad name and if there were a complaint he would be blacklisted, and he would not be called for tour assignments by the tour agency anymore. One of the preventive measures is to appeal for punctuality to be observed by the tourists, with the cooperation of the tour leader.

There was a group of tourists to whom I guided for a day tour of Kuala Lumpur city. They were precious guests of Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) of the Federal Government’s Ministry of Works. It was about two years ago when they flew into Malaysia on invitation for their study tours and visit. There were 16 of them from some 3rd world countries, all engineers comprising of 15 males and one lady. They were from North Korea, Cuban, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, Pakistan, India, and few African nations.

After a visit to The National Monument we proceeded to the National Mosque for a photo stop via The Lake Garden amidst the tropical rain forest; with the coach passing through the picturesque jungle scene slowly before we stopped at the majestic mosque. Very quickly after they had alighted from the coach, most of the passengers made a beeline and disappeared into the mosque. Only the Vietnamese, Laotians, Philipino and North Koreans were there chatting among their own nationals around the bus. They did not seem to be comfortable to converse with visitors from other countries; maybe language was the main barrier.

After a good half an hour when time was up, all had come back and boarded the coach. I did a quick count of them and found one missing. There were two D.I.D. officers (One gentleman and one lady officer) who came along to act as tour leaders. I told them that one passenger had not boarded the bus yet, we should wait a little bit longer or should I go find this passenger? The male officer said very firmly that all had boarded the bus as he had checked the name list, and that we should send them back to their hotel as soon as possible before the notorious traffic jam began. It was then close to . I told the coach captain to start driving since the officer was the leader and the boss as he spoke like one. Half way to Hotel Vistana, the female officer noticed a trolley bag placed atop one of the passenger seats. She shouted: Isn’t the bag belongs to the Pakistani? After a few frantic phone calls a van was dispatched to The National Mosque to look for the Pakistani engineer. Eventually they found out that the missing person had left for the hotel in a taxi. He was smiling broadly to receive his travelling bag from me at the hotel lobby when we reached there. Later I was told that this Pakistani guy fell asleep at the prayer hall of the mosque after his prayer, and that resulted his missing from the group.

                     The Majestic National Mosque - Completed in 1965           
I was very upset with myself for allowing such folly to occur. I should have insisted that one was missing and we should have checked the name list once again, or go searching for him to make sure everyone was accounted for.

It was a lesson well learned for me.


Alan CY Kok

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