DM and MM's Germany 2007 Diary

Day 1 - Sydney to Kuala Lumpur

Saturday, 21 April, 2007

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15:23 MH122 SYD-KUL

We are finally underway after a delay on the tarmac of about half an hour before take-off. We discovered yesterday that there would be no trains running on our line as far as Wynyard today. Our original plan had been to get the train to the airport, but rather than deal with a bus and a train with our luggage, we decided to call a taxi. We got to the airport at around 11:30, almost a full three hours before scheduled departure.

We joined a painfully long queue at the Malaysian check-in counter, thinking people must be checking in for an earlier flight. Surely that many people couldn't be checking in three hours before departure! But no, a quick check of the information screens showed that the counters were only handling one flight: ours. It took us a good 40 minutes of waiting to reach the front of the queue. A few people were being turned away to repack bags and there were numerous staff in bright yellow shirts handing out small, clear plastic bags and information leaflets on the new liquid and gel carry-on restrictions. It turned out that our small toothpaste was over the limit of 100g per container at 110g, so we had to move it into the checked bags.

After checking in, we went to the airport medical centre quickly to get a doctor to look at my ear again. I've been having trouble with an infection and blockage, and was worried it would cause pressure problems in flight. My GP had said yesterday there wasn't much to be done, and advised against syringing the ear. The doctor today confirmed the diagnosis but was strong in reassuring me that it shouldn't cause any problems on the flight.

We went to Jester's in the food court so Michelle could get a coffee ("The best coffee in the airport!"), and I got a sausage roll even though I wasn't very hungry, because it was still almost two hours until our flight. After eating, we bought a tiny toothpaste - 45g - for use on the plane, and Michelle bought some gum. We had $1.15 in coins left and decided to use them up buy buying some chocolate bullets from a sweet shop. I filled a bag with what I estimated to be about the right amount, charged by weight, and we took it to the counter to be weighed. The lady announced we had $1.20 worth. We explained we were trying to get rid of our last coins and only had $1.15. She smiled and took it, letting us have our one extra bullet.

Thus provisioned, we went through customs and security to the gate area. We wandered around the various shops, quickly exhausting any real interest, and then spent several minutes examining various bottles of alcoholic beverages in great detail, trying to find ones of various colours and checking out all the mega-expansive varieties of scotch and cognac.

Eventually, our plane boarded and we were close to the last ones on, as we wandered off for another look at the bookshop while the hordes went first. After finding our seats - near the front for a pleasant change - a steward came over.

"Mrs Morgan?"

"Yes?"

"We've got a nice rare steak for you, with potatoes and gravy."

Michelle looked shocked, but I started laughing. Then she got it too and said, "Oh, okay, that's great."

The guy chuckled and said, "We've got your vegetarian meal. It's very nice, I think you'll enjoy it."

We're now flying over western New South Wales and I'm pleased to report no trouble at all with the ear. Yay! We've had some peanuts and guava juice, but I'm hungry and awaiting the meal.

20:20 KL time

Descending into Kuala Lumpur. The dinner was a choice of pumpkin pasta, chicken and mash, or fish curry and rice. I chose the fish, which was quite good. The green beans were nice and crisp.

I spent most of the flight playing in-flight games, going through the puzzle games selection. I finished 25/26 levels of Caveman, but couldn't solve the last level.

About halfway into the flight, a crew member came up and asked, "Dr Morgan-Mar? Can we ask you to have a look at a passenger?" I quickly had to explain I wasn't a medical doctor. A few seconds later, they made a general announcement asking for anyone with medical knowledge. The sick passenger was a few rows behind us, and there was soon a small crowd of people around her. Thankfully it didn't seem too serious.

Later we got a bread roll for a snack: chicken with a spicy mayonnaise sauce.

23:48 KL time

We've just boarded the flight to Frankfurt after a 2.5 hour transit stop in Kuala Lumpur. We stopped at the first cafe we saw on the airport concourse, after first realising that we had no Malaysian currency, then realising that we didn't even know what the Malaysian currency even was, then confirming that we could pay at the cafe with Visa. Michelle got a hot chocolate for 13 ringgit, while I got a ginger tea to soothe a sore throat I've developed on the flight from the dry air, and a slice of apple and blueberry pie (because I've heard that's good for sore throats as well).

We saw the sick woman from the flight being driven on a cart to the first aid room, which happened to be right across from our table at the cafe. She didn't look too bad, and obviously it wasn't a full-on emergency because she got off the plane last.

While we ate and drank, an English guy sat at a nearby table and spent the entire time calling up various mates back home and telling them, "I'm in Malaysia, I'll be home tomorrow morning, see you then." As soon as he rung off one, he dialled another.

Looking at the menu, I guessed the exchange rate was about 3 ringgit to the dollar. I paid the bill of MR36.50, figuring it to be about $12. As we wandered around the shops in the terminal, I saw an exchange rate sign indicating MR2.70 to A$1. So the drinks and pie were a bit more expensive than estimated. With so long to wait, we took a slow stroll around the terminal, stopping in a couple of souvenir shops, and one shop full of chocolates and sweets, with huge piles of chocolate bars stacked on the floor to waist high in a block about a metre square. Outside the shop were a bevy of women who kept saying, "Buy some chocolate, sir," and when we went in to look around one of them peeled off and tailed us closely through the entire store. They were giving other travellers the same treatment.

KL airport is impressively clean and modern, a fact that they like to boast about with numerous posters declaring it as the best airport in the world. I sneaked a photo of the impressive geometric architecture before any security guards could see me, then a bit later remembered to change the time on our cameras to Germany time.

For boarding, we had to go through another security check, which took some time as pretty much everyone beeped the metal detector and had to be patted down manually. A woman security officer handled female passengers. Fortunately we managed to avoid setting off the metal detector. We have window seats, pretty near the front of the plane again. This plane is a 777, smaller and more comfortable than the 747 we got from Sydney.


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