This report continues on from:
Baby Flies The A380 Pt 2: 3K SIN-KUL A320 (pics)
Baby Flies The A380 Pt 1: QF SYD-SIN A380 (pics)
The next leg of our journey was to Kuantan on Malaysia’s East Coast. I was hoping for a very lazy time at a resort on Teluk Chempedak.
After a couple of truly awful flights back in 2000 between Sydney and KL on MAS that had me wondering if I could ever leave Australia again I had vowed never to fly with them again. However, the only way to fly to Kuantan from KL is on Malaysia Airlines and the distance was short enough not to worry. The prices were pretty cheap for advanced purchases online.
I was feeling rundown from too many late nights and not enough rest. All I wanted to do was sleep when the alarm clock rang at 6am. We struggled to pack our luggage and get down to the station. Fortunately, KL Sentral hosts a Malaysia Airlines check-in counter which can be used if the flight time is more than two hours away. We just made it.
Freed of our luggage, we were now able to take a leisurely ride on the KLIA Ekspres to the airport. The ride begins in suburbia, past a military airfield with views of the Petronas and KL Towers, then past the architecturally fascinating but lifeless Malaysian administrative capital of Putrajaya. Palm plantations make up the last stretch until at last you run alongside the runway and into the terminal.
The clean and spacious check-in area is shared between international and domestic flights under a ceiling of sail-like canopies. We had already checked in, so were free to wander around at our leisure. Breakfast was very overpriced nasi lemak and noodles at an Asian Kitchen outlet – there aren’t many choices of eating places.
Eventually, we passed through domestic security, Alex permitted to stay asleep in his stroller, and went airside, through very shiny and very quiet corridors. On the way we stopped at a toy outlet. I really wanted to get Alex a lightsabre and Millenium Falcon but I don’t think it would have fit into the luggage!
We were actually running a little late and missed the “families with children first” but boarded shortly afterwards, handing over the stroller to the crew in the airbridge itself.
CARRIER: Malaysia Airlines
SECTOR: KUL - KUA
ETD: 09:10 (local)
ETA: 09:50 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 737-400
The 737-400 was adorned with “Visit Malaysia Year”, though the year itself had long gone. Every year must be Visit Malaysia Year!
The interior of the aircraft was wonderfully colourful, more like a children’s activity room than an traditional aircraft. I thought the interior looked a lot fresher and in better condition than the 734’s that I had been flying between Sydney and Canberra.
The flight was similarly short. As we taxied out on to the quiet runway, past the unmarked 747 classics, the colourfully dressed and friendly crew gave a safety demonstration, then the captain, a New Zealander by the sound of it, didn’t mention any turbulence. He was quite talkative on the flight, which is always enjoyable.
We took off past the palm plantations and into a tropically hazy sky. Below us passed plantations, then jungle, rivers, towns and development scars. We were handed small bags of peanuts, then a choice of orange or pink guava juice. My sick throat loved the juice, but B found the guava too sweet.
I’ve grown to loathe those Sydney Canberra flights for their turbulence and suffocation by being surrounded suits, but this was a really lovely flight through the tropical morning air above the clouds.
It wasn’t long after reaching maximum altitude that we began descending. The East Coast became visible, as did the kampong villages below. Brown canals turned golden by the morning sun, coconut palms standing tall beside bright green fields.
As we landed we raced past the military base and fire station, a metal mockup and a Caribou transport visible.
The terminal at Sultan Ahmed Shah was long and low and we parked on the tarmac in front of it. As I sat waiting for the door to open I saw a MiG-29 from the RMAF roar past. He did a few circuits as we walked down the stairs to the tarmac, where we collected our little red stroller.
Business class seating
Two customs checkpoints lay between the luggage belt and the exit. Lots of people were being waved over and told to open their bags, but we were permitted to pass straight through. I can’t understand the need for it considering that this was a domestic flight.
For all the criticism that MAS has received, I honestly couldn’t fault the flight. It had been a real pleasure to fly with them.
There were quite a few car hire shopfronts in the terminal. We went straight to Hertz, on the basis that a web search had shown them as having a child seat available, and hired a brand new Hyundai Elantra for quite a good rate. However, right next door to them, Hawk Rentals had an even newer Japanese childseat on display, despite their website showing nothing!
Childseats are not compulsory in Malaysia and I had been forced to hold Alex in my arms. It’s not satisfactory, especially the way the Malaysians drive. We were forced to drive between Kuantan and KL return in a day to finish some business and heard over the radio that, on average, 17 Malaysians died in traffic accidents everyday in 2008. That said, the freeway between the two cities was very good, though how we managed to navigate in KL was nothing short of a miracle.
Teluk Chempedak was very pleasant, though it was a bit of a mistake visiting during Ramadan. Most of the beachside stalls were closed during the fasting season, so we were forced to drive around looking for food. Or we could have eaten at the big 24 hour McDonalds and KFC outlets, but what a waste of valuable stomach space that would be better filled by local flavours.
En route to Cherating
Dried squid, anyone?
The view from our balcony at the Hyatt
Laksa at Hoi Yin
Looking back along Teluk Chempedak
Al fresco dining at Pak Su
Full details of this trip can be seen on my travel blog and photo album
The next leg is Kuantan to Singapore with FireFly.