Day 1 Gold Coast to Kota Kinabalu
Flights to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Kota Kinabalu take 14 hours. My motto is we might as well get it out of the way all at once!
With an early start and a quick cup of tea we at breakfast at Blackwell’s right at the end of the Gold Coast airport, quiet, relaxed, serving great food at great prices for breakfast. Unusual for an airport.
We flew Air Asia on an Airbus, plenty of space, although it is a budget airline so you have to have your hand in your pocket for any extras you need.
According to my son Air Asia planes are X Qantas planes, comforting to know in a strange kind of way! On one hand great because of Qantas’ brilliant safety record and then on the other hand what on earth are they doing selling them on?
Which crossed my mind when I heard that noise that the engines make when the plane is taking off, you know when they seem to be going full throttle they have been in the air for 5-10 minutes and then the captain slows down or something and the engine changes pitch. You look around, lock eyes with a person, in my case Kev and know they are thinking the same thing. Are we going to ditch?
Of course you don’t, everything settles down, you go back to reading or whatever else you were doing and that moment is forgotten.
Unless, like me, you pick up the in-flight magazine and come across an article written all about planes landing on water (or “ditching” as known in the pilot world), which goes into lengthy detail about what it takes to make a plane and it’s passengers survive!
For goodness sake why don’t they just say “in the event of an emergency”or “when your plane is crashing and heading to the ground at break neck speeds” if you are lucky your pilot will be highly skilled at ditching and you will survive!
If I had a choice to be unfortunate enough to be on my way to a ditching experience, then I would like Captain Chesley Sullenburg (Sully) be my pilot as he made a perfect landing on January 15, 2009 on the Hudson River in New York City. That day Sully saved 155 lives exactly the the kind of pilot I would like in charge!
Day 1, Part 2 Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu
As we stepped outside the plane to descend onto the Tarmac in Kuala Lumpur the heat and humidity hit us and escorted us to the airport terminal. Kuala Lumpur’s LCC terminal has seen better days, however there is a bonus being that the international and domestic terminals a part of the same building and area.
The ground staff are well organized and helpful always pointing you in the right direction and assisting if required.
Although a few planes had landed together, there were plenty of immigration booths open and the queue was a constant slow movement like a snake on a lazy journey.
One stand out thing for us was that there is no need to fill out a entry card into Malaysia now. According to one of the other passengers in the queue this was abolished in 2011. A simple process of handing over passports and placing both fore fingers on a little scanning device and it’s time to collect your bags!
Kuala Lumpur’s baggage handlers must hold the world record for their speed of collecting and delivering luggage to the carousel! Our bags were already available when we arrived to collected them.
This was handy for us as we were on a tight schedule for a connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu.
After a quick stop at the Duty Free store our supplies we cleared customs, in fact I don’t recall seeing any office through the green section at all!
Weaving our way through the hoards of people we followed the signs to the domestic terminal where we found the Air Asia check in counter. Miss Air Asia behind the counter asked for our boarding passes which A) we weren’t aware we had to have and B) had no recollection of having received one via email either.
Oh no we were informed you had to swipe your paperwork in front of the domestic terminal and print off your boarding pass there. You can’t go and do that now though, she continued, as its now under 1 hour and it’s closed off.
Miss Air Asia would have to assist us and for that service it would cost MR10 each for “counter service”. I inquired how were we to know that we had to have printed boarding passes, at which point Miss Air Asia stood up from her chair and said “you are from Australia right?” “yes”, I answered, “then when you were booking your tickets online and ticked the box for the terms and conditions, you would have read about the boarding pass there.
As there were several, lengthy queues It kind of suggested we were not the only ones that hadn’t read the terms and conditions!
Onto our baggage. By chance Miss Air Asia had not read our paperwork and declared that we needed to pay excess baggage. As we had paid for 80kgs of luggage this was not correct. Dive equipment weighs quite a bit and there are separate (paid) allowances that airlines make available for sporting equipment.
So Miss Air Asia suggested that we needed to pay excess baggage. We quickly informed her that we didn’t believe so and upon checking she confirmed we were correct. However, because we had such equipment then we needed to take the said equipment to another check in counter!
Ah, the joys of traveling!
After a 2 1/2 hour flight we landed in Kota Kinabalu. First impressions were so different to those of my imagination. The city, and I’m guessing it’s a city in the official sense of the word is much larger.
It appears that the economy is booming, most of the cars are new looking, hardly a motorbike in sight and many of the larger chain hotels are evident.
Our hotel of our groups choice is the Hyatt Regency and although we booked a standard room the lovely receptionist awarded us an upgrade to a sea view. Very grateful for that!
Quite a sight when we checked in as there was a gang of painters sprucing the lobby up. Bearing in mind that it was now 9.30pm we thought it a tad comical.
The staff here are all very helpful and friendly awarding us with beautiful smiles as we walk past.
Dinner took place at a local restaurant and we were reminded that we were in Asia very quickly as we stupidly ordered western food for our meals. We all vowed when in Asia, eat what the locals eat and we’d be guaranteed of some great cuisine!
What’s the best Asian food you have eaten? Let us know in the comments below.