Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tripping Down Under (part 1)

Gotta thank the MAS travel fair that made it possible for me to make my trip down to Sydney last month. My whole family endeavoured to send me to KLIA that Thursday (April 16th), so I didn't have to take the train from KLSentral like I used to when I taught part-time at UDM. We had dinner there, which was a little disappointing, as my kuey tiaw tasted like raw dough. Ah, c'est la vie. So I ate most of Chomp's dinner of hotplate noodle, which she barely touched.

Killed some time walking around the airport with Chomps before my gate call. Yongie bought a cute little dress for Iman at the airport with the Petronas Twin Tower on it and it was wrapped up nicely by the sales clerk. Thankfully it wasn't too big that I could place it in my knapsack comfortably. Wish I had thought to get Iman something, but decided to give her angpau before coming back home instead (Yongie gives good suggestions).

Hugged everyone and got a little teary eyed as I made my way through the immigration, with Chomps cries for "Achu! Nak ikut Achu!" echoeing in the cavernous KLIA. Huh. On the days when she declaim that she "Tak nak kawan, Achu!", I will recall those cries. Drama queen.

I had no real idea of the vast dimensions of the KLIA until I made my way through the international departure area. Had to take a train to get to the plane. Goodness. There were plenty of shops for last minute gift shopping as well as getting duty free goods. Strangely enough, the cosmetics aren't all that cheaper than counter prices. What a rip off.

We departed Malaysian soil at 2229 hrs. I had the window seat, but I gave it to the Indian gentleman who shared my row; he had the aisle seat, but since his limbs are so much longer than mine, it was better that he got my seat. There was only the two of us in that row, which makes for a comfy journey, judging by the other rows that were fully occupied. It was pretty okay for an economy class fare; slightly more space than the domestic flight (which is shorter so it makes sense). The lift off was smooth and the nifty screen showing us the flight path was really cool. Love the idea of going over land and sea and knowing how fast we were going. Whee!

We were served a peanut and juice snack, followed by dinner at around 2345 hrs; I chose a delicious chicken dish and secreted away the cheese and crackers for future consumption. Tried watching the movies available, but my seat was over the wings of the plane so the engine was too loud for me to hear the dialogue. Watched a bit of The Transporter; one movie where dialogue was unnecessary. However, the mammoth book of paranormal romance that I brought had greater appeal and so I read that until I fell asleep at around 0040 hrs.

Sleeping in the plane wasn't very comfortable; there was an elderly lady sitting behind me so I didn't want to lower the back (not to mention I failed in my attempts to do so). But my gift for falling asleep under any and every condition came through so I managed about a three hour nap, waking up every 45 minutes or so to blearily look around and nod off again. I woke up proper around 0400 hours, went to the loo to brush my teeth and tidy up a bit. The plane windows were opened by then; the sky was beautifully streaked with light. If you weren't keeping Malaysian time, you would have thought that it was nearly 7 am.

We were served a cold breakfast at about 0420; the Indian gentleman seated with me complained that his bun was too cold, poor thing. We spent some time chatting after breakfast; he was from India, had lived in Malaysia for some time before making a home for himself in Sydney. He reminisced of what life was like in the sixties and how much things have changed. His son is a free-lance journalist in Malaysia, I gathered, and he was here visiting his son and his French wife. Our conversation lapsed after a while and we both woolgathered until the announcement to land.

I arrived at 7.50 am local time. Once the light for the seat belt was off, I turned on the phone and was delighted to receive a message from my friend Suzi, whom I was meeting in Sydney. There was a bit of time to collect my luggage and get my passport stamped; gotta say that the Aussies are more efficient than the Americans at the Los Angeles airport. They were friendly enough and the little doggie (a spaniel or beagle of some sort, I think) who was sniffing for contraband was so cute. I got away with my crackers and cheese, but the dude behind me had apples in his bag; he claimed they were snacks his wife brought. Can't recall if it was confiscated though.

The beauty of cellular telephone connection meant I could warn Suzi that it took a while to find my bag and that she had to wait a bit. Her plane had arrived earlier from Melbourne and she had to take a ride from the domestic flights terminal to the international one; that's how big the Sydney airport is. After meeting her, we took a taxi to the inn where she'd booked us a room and we chatted a storm. Bits we didn't want our cabbie to hear was in Malay; I think she was glad to have someone she can talk to in her native tongue, even though her English is excellent.

Since we couldn't check in yet, we left our luggage in the office of the lodge.

... and left for our Sydney adventure!

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