20.04.2013 - 27.04.2013
As I disembarked from the plane, I was looking for signs directing me to immigration and luggage claim – I saw signs but I couldn’t understand what they were meant – it took me awhile to twig that it was written in Malaysian Bahasa and the smaller print was in English! I’m used to seeing English first and then whatever the local language is. Welcome to Malaysia!
Well, walking through the airport seemed like walking through a mall – little shops scattered everywhere! I’m glad to have made it to immigration in one piece, while dodging the shops and trying to read the signs.
Going through immigration was a breeze and finding my luggage intact was a good sign! Speaking of signs, I saw very well lit signs warning tourists of taxi touts and to make sure taxi coupons were bought before leaving the airport. Hmmm taxi coupons – that’s a new one for me! I played it safe and stood in line to buy those coupons. It’s a prepaid fare, you show them the address and they calculate how much the fare is, you pay at the counter and to search which gate the taxi was supposed to be at. I was told to go to Gate 3, saw all other gates but Gate 3 was hiding from me! I looked, I asked but still couldn’t find Gate 3! Then I decided to go outside and brave the humidity, ta-da I saw the Gate 3 sign ahead! You’d think that they would’ve made an extra sign to put inside of the airport! Mr Taxi Driver wasn’t too happy because it took me so long to find him. C’est la vie!
Off we went to my friend’s condo in Damansara Perdana and I wanted to make sure that he knew where to go and he assured me he did until I heard a grunt followed by some muttering – he took a wrong turn and would have to kinda-sorta detour. Luckily my fare has been prepaid.
An interesting fact I found out is that local or other taxis are not allowed to pick fares up at the airport. So the airport taxi company has the monopoly and they can charge whatever they want. My trip from KLIA to Damansara Perdana cost MYR84.
Apparently there are two airports in KL, there’s the KLIA and the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). So I decided on my return trip that I would try to get to KLIA via LCCT meaning I would catch a bus from one of the malls to LCCT and then change to another bus to KLIA. Sounds easy enough – right? By the way, everything is self service, I bought the ticket and left my luggage near the cargo hold, the driver was sitting having a smoke, apparently we had to put our own luggage in the cargo hold – luckily I hadn’t parked myself in a seat yet. The drive to LCCT was approximately an hour.
It was total mayhem at LCCT – cars, taxis, buses, tour coaches converging all at once – nobody to direct traffic. I had to find the bus to KLIA and still had to pay for the ticket. Asked where I could find the bus to KLIA – someone pointed in the general direction of where it was parked. It was like 2 aisles away from where I got off and I had to jump through oncoming traffic with my luggage – drivers didn’t stop for pedestrians even at cross walks!
Thankfully I got through, found the correct bus and was ready to put my luggage in the cargo hold until the driver told me to come on up with my luggage. There was no way I could lift my suitcase up those steps – he came over and with one swing he had my suitcase up and in place – apparently luggage and passengers sit in the same place!
The ride took about ½ hr and cost me MYR2! But what a ride! He must’ve been a Formula 1 wannabe! I had to hold onto my luggage every time he took a curve or my luggage would’ve landed either on his lap or in the next row of seats. Lesson learned hang onto luggage with wheels. I wasn’t sure whether I would get to KLIA in one piece! Then I felt something wet on my backpack and I looked up – I hope it's water that was leaking from a rusty and mouldy panel – great! I’m on a bus that’s like a bat out of hell, I’m hanging onto my luggage and now I’ve got to breathe mould spores!
What a transformation from LCCT to KLIA – almost like night and day! The lower level of KLIA is just for buses and tour coaches and in semi mayhem but as I got to ground level, things have calmed down somewhat and it felt like an international airport once again. Whew!
I went in search of a quiet corner to catch up on my emails etc. One week without decent wi-fi was frustrating! I bought data for 5 days for it only worked for 2 days! Hotlink (the ‘service’ provider) never sent me the settings to change on my phone in order to access the data plan. The satellite stores didn’t have tech support – I had to go to the main branches (all 2 of them) to have the settings set. Note: never, ever buy Hotlink SIM cards. I received at least 40 spam SMS daily – all in Malaysian Bahasa. I tried calling their help line (minutes used were taken out of the account) but after choosing the appropriate options, the call was dropped!
There were areas with chairs around a TV allocated especially for passengers, one I passed had the news on and another sports. Most people lying/lounging on those chairs were airport workers (they had their uniforms on). I found a spot without anyone’s smelling feet nearby or having to listen to heavy snoring and pounded away on my keyboard until near boarding time. It sure is nice to be connected to the rest of the world once again.