A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

Summer 2007 - Malaysia XVI

Seriously, don't fly Air China

-17 °C
View Summer Vacation 2007 on agc_cwm's travel map.

Good gracious, that was money well spent. We got our call, showered and rushed to the gate, only to learn that there had been further delays and it'd be at least another hour before boarding. Really miffed, I wondered if we could get back in to our room for another hour, and then we tried to get comfortable on the benches next to the Chinese national badminton team (in KL for the world championships). There was another security check before we were led into another waiting area prior to boarding. When we finally got on the plane, we tried to settle in for some sleep. But about 30 minutes after takeoff, they served the meal. Dinner type food. At breakfast time. Because I want to eat fried rice at 6am. I left mine on my tray table and tried to get some sleep before I touched it. Well, when I actually did fall asleep, my arms fell down off my chest and into my glass of water, spilling it everywhere. At this point I decided to try to eat my food before I ended up wearing it. I got a few bites down before my stomach turned and I made the decision to stop. I ate my fruit salad and called it done.

Well at least there was a film on the flight. Unfortunately it was in Mandarin, and we didn't have headphones anyway, so no matter. We tried to sort out what we should do about the connection while on board but they had no information to give us about flights or anything. Unfortunately, this is what we expected of Air China, but we were still frustrated. So when we finally arrived in Beijing, we rushed off the plane to try to find some information. There were some ground staff there at the gate helping with connections, but for some reason unknown to us or anyone we asked, we were not on the list of passengers heading to Osaka. So we missed the first flight we could have possibly taken back to Osaka. We were M-A-D. I was keeping it together a little better than Andrew at this point. He was really irritated. And Andrew doesn't get mad, but boy did he blow a gasket at the people at the transit desk. Those people didn't seem to think that a five and a half hour delay might cause people to miss connecting flights. It was like that possibility never occurred to them. Yeah, I know, right?!

So we put up an awful stink and they called some other lady to deal with us, and she proceeded to put us on the 16:20 flight. We said if we had to stay in Beijing all day, then we at least wanted a meal. She said she couldn't do that, and then took us on a wild goose chase around the airport, through a couple of immigration checks and down to the baggage carousels where she said our bags would be brought to us. After standing around there for about fifteen minutes, and realizing they were probably just jerking us around for putting up a stink, I went off to find our bags. I found them; our flight had long since been cleared out, and our bags were going around with a flight from Hong Kong. With much effort, I hauled the packs over to a trolley, and went to find Andrew and the lady again. They were headed towards me, and we were on our way to somewhere else; a ticket counter apparently. We went through a couple more security checks and got up to the ticket counter through a crowd of people. I mean it was bedlam up there. At this point we decided to ask to speak to a manager. Looking increasing annoyed with us, she led us through yet another security check to the check-in desks. We had noticed earlier on a departure board that there was a flight to Osaka at 14:55. When we got to the check-in, we inquired about this flight. They busied themselves ignoring us while trying to book us a ticket. We voiced our complaints about how we had been treated in the past twelve hours. The manager made no apologies, saying he doesn't control all the employees, and gave us a phone number to call and make our grievances be known; he was obviously not about to deal with us any more than he had to.

Well, they did managed to get us on the earlier flight. And lucky for us, it was an ANA flight and not and Air China one. It didn't matter that we didn't get that upgrade was asked for; not flying Air China was upgrade enough. We raced to the gate, as boarding as about to close (we did have to cut into the immigration line; sorry to all those people behind us). We got on the plane, and were so happy to be in a comfortable seat at the front of economy class, with personal TVs, good food, and friendly service in a familiar language. Not that I understand Japanese, but at least it's familiar. The flight was very comfortable. We watched Shrek the Third (meh). We arrived in Osaka, and it was hot, as we expected. We got through immigration in record time (we got a lot of looks from the tourists waiting in the really long line; because we have re-entry permits, we can go through the residents line. Apparently we don't look Japanese. Who knew?), but when we got to customs, the guy searched our bags. I don't think he believed that we didn't buy any souvenirs. We really didn't; all we bought were spices and postcards and books. Well, it didn't hold us back long, and out we went to catch a bus back to NIshinomiya. From there we opted to take a taxi, deciding to spare the rush hour passengers the indignity of getting hit with our packs. We arrived at our apartment at about 19:30, when we should have arrived at least six hours earlier. It takes a trip to the Beijing airport to make you miss the courteous service and friendly smiles you get in Japan.

I suppose perhaps, at some point, we'll make a return trip to China and see more than the airport, and I hope to be proven wrong. But for now, we've decided never again to transit through Beijing (we'll opt for Hong Kong or Singapore next time). But a return trip to Malaysia is definitely in the works. There is so much in Sabah that we didn't get to see, and there are so many other parts of the country worth checking out (including some more time in KL). Hope to see you again soon, Malaysia! But for now, I need to buy a spice grinder for those bags of cumin and coriander seed.

Posted by agc_cwm 05:41 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Summer 2007 - Malaysia XV

Leaving Sabah

-17 °C
View Summer Vacation 2007 on agc_cwm's travel map.

We woke up around 6:00 for our departure at 7:00. we had breakfast and got on the boat, leaving Selingaan in our wake.

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The boat ride back was pretty calm and not too hot; just the way we like it.

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When we got back, there were a cople of taxis waiting for people. We got in a taxi and asked him if he know of a place we could leave our packs, because we didn't want to lug them around all day. He took us to the Sabah Hotel and it was no problem for us to leave them there for the day. Grateful for that, our next destination was a clinic to get more medication for Andrew's ear. We paid a visit to Dr. Raja, but we had to wait for a little while before he arrived. Andrew was the first patient of the day. He went in to see the good doctor, and the doctor took on look at his ear and said "Oh no. That's not good. Oh s*%t." We thought this was pretty funny. He was prescribed more pills and we were on our way. The staff at the clinic called our driver for us, and he took us down to the market, and we made arrangements for him to pick us up at the hotel at 14:30.

This market was cleaner than the one we went to in Ho Chi Minh City, but it had that same old market smell. We looked at all the fresh produce and the ridiculous fresh fish. More types of fish for sale than you'd ever see at a grocery store. We saw a cat wandering around; no better place to be a cat, I think. I also had some success in my quest for spices. I bought some turmeric, coriander seed, cinnamon sticks, star anise, nutmeg, and some tamarind. There were a few youngsters following us around, and they looked like trouble, so Andrew kept a vigilant eye on them while I shopped. We left the market and went to a nearby souvenir shop. I scouted a few things I wanted to buy, and then we went to the nearby 'mall', which was really a lot like small-scale Walmart, on multiple floors. We poked around looking for a novel for Andrew, but we had no luck there, so we just bought snacks. And by snacks, I mean chocolate and root beer (you can't get root beer in Japan, so I was stoked). We finished up there and went to find an internet cafe. We had a little trouble with that, so we stopped instead to have some lunch. The restaurant had a staggering array of dishes. I settled on a clay pot lamb dish, and Andrew had some type of noodle. We decided against ordering this one, though:

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After an incredibly satisfying lunch, we had to exchange some money. Luckily on our way to do that, we found an internet cafe. We internetted for a little while, listening to the same crappy song at the cafe over and over and over again (I think the final count was 7). We then went back to the souvenir shop where I picked up a field guide to mammals of Borneo and some postcards. We caught a cab out to the hotel to get our bags and wait for our other driver. He showed up shortly thereafter, and we were on our way to the airport. We read a newspaper before checking in to our flight. We made sure we were one of the first through security because there appeared to be a lot of people who opted for the express boarding option on this flight. I was not giving up my seat at the front of the plane. As soon as they allowed us through the the doors, I was off. We ended up in the front again.We had intended to get some sleep on the plane, but there was a chatty lady sitting next to us, so we chin-wagged with her a bit about Malaysia and other stuff until we arrived in KL. We quickly got off the plane and grabbed our bags. Then we boarded the shuttle to the main terminal building. When we got to the main terminal, we saw that our flight was delayed, but it didn't say for how long, and they weren't checking people in yet. We went to get some food and then Andrew went shopping for novels and I scouted a shower before we got in line to check in. We were waiting a long time in line, and getting more frustrated. Thirty minutes passed and they had only checked in three people. When we reached the front, we realized the problem: our 00:50 departure time was now 04:30. Oh, we were too tired to really care, but we did try to sort some things out, as we were definitely going to miss our connection to Osaka. They told us to find the ground crew when we got to Beijing and they could tell us what to do. So we trusted that, checked our bags in, got our meal voucher for Burger King (because I really want to eat BK at midnight...some compensation), and went off to find the airport hotel. We decided RM160 for a few hours of sleep in a bed and a shower was a good investment in our sanity. We got to our room and crashed, waiting for the 03:30 wake up call we arranged.

Posted by agc_cwm 05:54 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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