Sunday 30 January 2005
Woke up really late today. I'm leaving for Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon. I'm a bit excited. I haven't left the country for quite some time now and I have always loved traveling. I was timing my departure from the house so that I will arrive 2 hours before my flight. Upon checking my printed itinerary however, written in smaller font at the very bottom of the page was the advice that I should be there 3 to 4 hours earlier to avoid missing the flight! Must be for the additional security precautions. I panicked for a few moments and attempted to eat a slice of pizza in 2 to 3 bites. I then pestered my brother to finish his meal and to call a taxi right away.
I'm not hiding anything in there... honest!
On the way to the airport, I kept on glancing at my watch and imagining that I will miss my flight. I arrived 2.25 hours before my flight. When I reached the check-in counter, there was a very long queue at the airlines counter. And it's just my luck that there's a whole group of golfers going to KL probably for a tournament or something. After spending almost an hour and a half queuing for luggage check-in, immigration checks and additional security checks at the predeparture area (I was afraid they would strip search me when the metal detector kept on beeping even after I already removed my shoes, my watch and my belt. Lucky for me it was only my zipper or pants button - the lady security guard was looking at me a bit strangely though), I was finally in the predeparture area waiting for boarding.
Stain on the plane
The actual flight was pretty much uneventful. The teenagers from the golfing group were a little bit rowdy and they kept on blocking the narrow aisle of the 737 plane leading to the lavatories. I had an aisle seat so it was a bit inconvenient since the person in the window seat tend to go out every 20 minutes or so. I had an accident however involving a small tub of butter. I was expecting it to be chilled but when I opened it, melted butter dribbled down my shirt and most of it ending up in a yellow pool in my pants. I think I saw some people looking at me strangely at the arrival area in KL. Either it's because of the fact that I smelled like freshly popped popcorn or they were wondering what that yellow stain on my pants was.
In the Airport
KL airport is very big. I remember the first time I saw it I was very amazed that you need to ride a train from one part of the airport to the other. This is my third visit (I think) to KL but the last time was about 3 to 4 years ago (well technically I have physically been here quite recently but that was only a stopover for my trip to Europe and we didn't even have to de-plane). Upon arriving, I was pleased to note that there were no problems with my mobile phone's roaming access. I sent a couple of SMS to let people know I was still in one piece and I got SMS responses without any problems.
I was supposed to have dinner with one of my colleagues at the hotel but I decided to eat at the airport. Whenever I go out of the country, I usually play it safe on the first day and eat in a place I am familiar with. In most cases it's a fast food chain (some people find this very strange, they were shocked when I told them that the first thing I ate when I went to France was a McDonalds meal). So anyway, I was falling in line in a Burger King counter when this person on the other line began to talk to me. Where was I from, have you been in Malaysia before, what hotel was I staying in KL and if I will be taking a taxi to KL. I was moderately alarmed by his line of questioning so I just said that I'm staying with a friend and in fact I'm waiting for him to pick me up. I grabbed my meal, politely excused myself and immediately went to the far end of the store and ate quickly (glancing around every few minutes just in case he was going to sit on my table).
Bathtub Soak and some Door Trouble
KL is about an hour or so away from the airport and the taxi driver was a friendly sort of person. It was just a bit strange for me since he is in the wrong side of the car (in my opinion at least) and driving on the wrong side of the road! It must be very difficult to adjust to drive anywhere here when I'm used to driving on the right side (right as in the opposite of left and also right as in the correct way) of the road. When I reached the hotel, I paid a large amount for the deposit since I didn't want to use my credit card (I heard a lot of horror stories before I left).
The first thing I do when I go inside my hotel room is to look a round and inspect the room. I open up cabinets, drawers, find out where the bathroom is, test all the light switches, those type of things. One of the door turned out to be an adjoining door to the other room (there was 2 sets of doors both with only 1 knob on the outer part so that the other could not enter the other room without the other person opening the other door) and once I realized what it was, I carefully closed it. What I didn't realize is that the door didn't latch properly. More on this later.
What better way to relax after a busy day traveling than to soak in a hot bubbly tub. I brought my own bubble bath for just this occasion, so before I could unpack my stuff, I was already enjoying the hot tub. I was just relaxing there for a few minutes when the phone rang. I wasn't expecting any calls so I was a little puzzled. I thought it was my friend who was staying also in the hotel but it turned out to be the concierge telling me that there was a problem with my room. Apparently there was a lady next door who was just as curious as I was on the different doors inside the room and she accidentally pushed my side of the door and I imagine much to her horror, the door actually swung open and revealed the bed with some clothes on top of it. She might have imagined me parading inside the room stark naked. I cautiously peeked out the bathroom and making sure that her side of the room was closed, I closed the door making sure it's properly closed this time (both my clothes and the bathrobes where outside the bathroom and although the towel was large enough, I didn't want to scare her any further - she already sounded hysterical as it is). I could hear her complaining to somebody in the next room. She wanted some assurance that I would not be able to go to her room. Err... excuse me? I think I'm the one that should be complaining. Just think of the things she could have done to me when I was lying there vulnerable in the bathtub!