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Flying to the Gate of China

"Don't you love trains?"

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Jakarta - Kuala Lumpur, December 23rd 2011

I call Malaysia in general and Kuala Lumpur in particular 'the gate to China' first, because the flight to China I could afford was Air Asia. It even was a promotion rate which I got for Kuala Lumpur - Chengdu return. No flight of Air Asia flies directly from Jakarta to any city in China. By that case, I can't but must, enter China through Kuala Lumpur.

I also call Malaysia 'the gate to China' because according to my foreign eye, Malaysia, is home to many many Chinese who are free to be themselves. When you step through a gate, you get a glimpse of what's behind the gate. So is it, I think, when I step into e.g. Kuala Lumpur or Penang. I get a better picture of China than at my hometown. Of course!

So here am I in Soekarno Hatta International Airport, ready to board my flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Honestly, this wasn't my first choice to knock my sleepyhead. I searched up and down the hall for something that would fit in with the theme of my trip but low cost. Nothing seemed to suit the first requirement. This one did suit my second requirement and turned out to be one sachet of Nescafe and a glass of hot water with a choice of having it fixed or fixing it myself. Ah... I said to myself, I have lots of Nescafe at home. Well, who knows one day I will fly to America and drink Nescafe in America, like this glass tells.

Suddenly the airport's caretaker came to this bench I was sitting on. He reached for my glass...

"Hey! That's mine!" I was frantic. I haven't even had a sip of it.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought someone had left it here."

"That someone is right here."

The caretaker looked at the glass which he had returned to its place, and then looked at me. Yes, the glass and me was quite apart. That was because I was preparing to take a picture of the glass.

This is my first experience with Malaysia Airlines. It's not because I had a surplus of money. It's because when Air Asia offered promotion rate for Jakarta - Kuala Lumpur, I was seriously broke. Then when my travel date came closer, Air Asia's rate went higher. On the contrary, I found out Malaysia Airlines still had its best deal. In total, including 20 kg baggage allowance (I have a stack of winter clothes, you know!) and meal, Malaysia Airline's fare turned out to be lower than Air Asia's.

The meal was not a disappointment at all. It was a meal rich in quantity and quality.

Left: The view of Jakarta several minutes after take off. Right: The view of Kuala Lumpur several minutes before landing.

This was the longest queue, the longest process it took in my whole traveling history, for immigration check-in. From the time I took this shot until I got my turn, it took 1 hour and 15 minutes! Oh ya, this was Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). When I looked for my luggage, it was already laid on the floor with some other suitcases. The conveyor seemed to have long stopped turning.

Next thing to do, get on KLIA Ekspres. Fare: 35 ringgits.

The train was rather quiet. Not so many passengers. Suddenly it occurred to me that I didn't set aside as much as 35 ringgits in my budget for transportation from KLIA to KL Sentral. What? I set straight by the window and started to think. Oh no! Hadn't I planned to take a bus? It's only 10 ringgit one way. Uhhh. I felt like having been hypnotized by the sign "KLIA Ekspres" in the airport. How could I forget to look for the bus?

"Don't you love trains?" as if I heard myself.

"Oh yeah, I do love trains."

That's a glimpse of my express expensive train ride. Scenery speaking, nothing special.

Welcome to KL Sentral Station. Since I knew KL Sentral Station, the part next to the bus terminal has always been under construction. But this time it was under a deeper construction. The elevator didn't work. An Indian guy offered to carry my suitcase down the stairs but of course I said no, because I wanted to safe as much as possible. The journey has just started. I dragged my suitcase all the way through some puddle until Hotel Sentral. Taxi drivers approached but of course I said no again. Well, the distance is too close for a taxi anyway. Come, let's do some sport.

Huahhh... for 120 ringgits a night exclude breakfast, this is not bad. You know, I particularly like the blue wall.

Clean, nice, but no toothbrush and toothpaste -- as anywhere in Malaysia I've been to.

The view from the window was like this. Nothing in particular, but it's really nice to have a room with a window. A window makes a room, a room, not a prison.

Posted by automidori 03:32 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur jakarta airport malaysia_airlines hotel_sentral

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