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En route to MalaysiaJuly 7, 2008 By: Mark Rogers
It was a few hours before midnight on the Fourth of July and the ride to LAX to catch a flight to Malaysia was a dramatic one. The sky was lit up by one fireworks display after another, creating a kind of merry, war zone atmosphere. I was flying Business Class on Malaysia Air, on a B747-400P, the biggest plane in their fleet, with room for 359 passengers. I think it was carrying a load of approximately 200 the night I flew out. The flight departed at 1:40 a.m., so by the time I got done settling in (declining dinner because of the late hour) we were in the wee wee hours, making it easy to hit the hay for a full night’s rest. The flight had some nice touches. The seat controls had a variety of buttons, from specific adjustments to several general configurations. A push of one button to prepare the seat for a meal set the whole seat into motion, adjusting it to just the right position.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Another tiny detail– maybe insignificant to most travelers but welcomed by me– they serve coffee in mugs instead of tiny cups.
There was a choice of two breakfast meals, a Western-style breakfast with omelet and chicken sausage, or a Malay meal called mee goreng, a combination of noodles and scallops, shrimp and fish, with a side of bok choy. I tried the Malay breakfast and found it delicious, although something I’d be more inclined to have at dinner.
Service onboard was phenomenal and gracious– a wonderful hint of what I suppose I’ll find when I meet Malaysians on their home turf. Malaysia is a moderate Muslim country that is accepting of other religions, including Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. The country is a mélange of Asian cultures with hints of the colonial heritage dating from the centuries when the Portuguese, British and Dutch passed the country back and forth.
After 11 hours we stopped in Taipei, having picked up an hour in flight due to a stiff tail wind. Then it was on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, for a more than four hour flight to complete the final leg of the journey.
Rani Sundaajoo, a flight attendant with 16 year’s service with Malaysia Air, and a current resident of Kuala Lumpur, had some tips for visiting the capital. “A wonderful place to have dinner and enjoy the Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur Convention Center fountains at night is either Santini’s, which serves Italian food, or Shook!, which serves Western, Japanese and Chinese grilled fare,” she says. “But you don’t go there for the food – you go for the ambiance.”
Rani also recommended the strip of nightclubs along Bintang Walk, in KL’s posh Golden Triangle area, where the best hotels and shops are also located. She’s a big fan of the venue, Qba, in the Westin Kuala Lumpur, where she and her husband go when they’re in the mood for a night of salsa dancing.
Our arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport went smoothly. I was surprised when I was told we didn’t need to fill out an immigration form (certainly not missed). We arrived in one of the satellite terminals, which necessitated a quick shuttle transfer to the main terminal to collect our bags and exit. I’m not sure if all flights are routed this way, but it’s a detail to keep in mind when you’re flying into KL for the first time.