DM and MM's Italy/France 2012 Diary

Day 1 - Sydney to Kuala Lumpur

Saturday, 28 April, 2012

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We're on our first flight, from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, and I'm typing this diary straight into my iPad for the first time, rather than writing it by hand in a notebook and then having to transcribe it when we get home. We got up about 08:00 this morning and rushed through the last of our packing. We'd booked an airport shuttle because the trains weren't running this weekend. It was due to pick us up between 09:45 and 10:00. We had to shower and do all the last minute organising and packing of stuff. The driver called us about 09:30 and said he'd be there ten minutes. We had to panic and quickly get the last few items sorted. Then he called again from outside and we weren't ready to leave yet, so we had to say we'd still be a couple of minutes.

Once on the shuttle van it was a smooth ride to the airport, with two other couples, a young couple flying internationally, and an elderly couple who got off at the domestic terminal first. We were very early and our check-in counters weren't open yet so we wandered around the terminal for a while. After a circuit of the shops, our check-ins were open so we dropped our luggage off and got our boarding passes. M. managed to get us exit row seats for the first flight, but we need to check in Kuala Lumpur for an exit row on the next flight.

Once through Customs, we were faced with a wait of nearly three hours for our flight. So we wandered around to look at all the shops. I realised I forgot to put my watch on in our rush to leave home, so I checked out some places to see if they had cheap watches. The cheapest I found was $45 for a kid's watch, or $86 for a reasonable looking adult one, which was more than I was willing to spend for a spare watch. We'll just check the time on M.'s phone.

We bought some small gifts for Jan and Kristyn, which we think they'll like. Then after a bit more wandering we had lunch in the yum-cha place, looking out over the tarmac and the planes. We had vege dumplings, vege buns, and prawn dumplings, and they were pretty good. Then it was more waiting before boarding the plane. I discovered that this time the advertised free WiFi in the airport actually worked, and I sent some quick snaps with the iPad out to Facebook and Twitter.

Finally we made it on to the flight, and we're now cruising above central Australia on our way to Malaysia and a 3.5 hour transit stop.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport. 22:13

All the shops in airports are full of expensive designer goods and all the glossy giant advertising posters show beautiful people looking perfectly groomed and happy. The actual people walking around the terminal are messy, sleep-deprived, tired zombies, mostly without any thought of buying these expensive goods because they're too busy thinking about blowing their budget on this trip in the first place. Seriously, who actually buys a $1000 handbag or a $2000 watch in an airport terminal while waiting four hours in transit between an 8 hour flight and a 12 hour flight?

We landed here at Kuala Lumpur at 19:45 local time, the flight from Sydney being nearly eight hours long. Our connection to Frankfurt is scheduled to depart at 23:59, so we have over four hours to wait here. We first checked at the transfer counter to see if we could get an exit row for this, the longest leg, and the one we want to try to catch some sleep on if we possibly can. But unfortunately the woman behind the desk said the flight was full and the exit rows had already been assigned. Oh well, we tried.

Nööödles! at Kuala Lumpur Airport

We walked around the terminal a little, then sat at the Dôme cafe. We've had drinks and snacks at this same cafe twice before, on our trip to and from England. I suggested we should get a frequent coffee club card and get it stamped every time we come through Kuala Lumpur Airport. M. had a coffee and I got a mango smoothie. M. also ordered a bowl of potato wedges because she was peckish and we polished those off too. While sitting there, we managed to get free WiFi from the Starbucks which was on the mezzanine level immediately above us.

Then it was more walking around the terminal to try to keep awake until our departure at 2am Sydney time. A new feature of Kuala Lumpur Airport that wasn't here last time we came through is the jungle boardwalk. The satellite terminal is built around a circular jungle garden in the middle, and now you can go through doors and walk through the tall trees and palms and so on. It's only about a ten metre walk, but it's good to get out in the fresh air, even if it is 30°C and about 90% humidity out there, despite it being 10pm. There were tropical bird calls, but I suspect they were recorded.

Now we're sitting in one of the TV lounges in the terminal, which is showing a Beyoncé concert. The lounge is full of people who look just as tired as us.

During the flight, between the two meals, they brought around frozen mango and ice cream Weis bars. I opened one and tried to bite into it, and got my lips stuck fast to the ultra-cold ice. It took several seconds of manipulation to free my lips, and it was painful to do so. I think they must have stored them in dry ice to get them that cold. It was several minutes before it thawed enough to allow me to actually bite through it and eat it.

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