everytime i'm back in malaysia for Chinese New Year, my parents would go travel in China with my relatives and their long time travel buddies via travel agency. we went to Harbin-Jilin-Changchun-Shenyang-Beijing (on Air China) in 2007, and to Kunming-Lijiang-Shenzen (on Shenzhen Airlines & Lucky Airlines) in 2008. this year, we went to the Shanxi Province and traveled to the cities Datong, Wutai Shan, Taiyuan, Linfen and left Taiyuan via Beijing back to Kuala Lumpur. the following is the flight trip report:
since we're long time customer of this travel agency, they arranged 2 vans to pick us up. one of the van went to my aunt's house in Kota Kumining in Shah Alam and another van to pick up the travel buddies off Jalan Ipoh in KL. It is the Chinese New Year's eve so we all had our reunion dinner prior and when we arrived my my aunt's, the van has arrived and most of my aunts' and uncles' luggage are loaded and before long, 9 of us and other luggage are on our way to KLIA, which is about 40 minutes ride away.
we arrived at the lowest level of the airport where the bus and shuttle vans pick-up and drop-off at exactly 9pm, more than enough to check in for our 1135pm flight. After a few minutes, we' re on our way to level 5 of Air China's counter and there's already a large crowd there and our tour leader is waiting for us at the group check in area. we arranged the luggage and out on the color coded tags to differentiate our group than the others. Chinese New Year typically is the most popular time to travel to China and this year is no exception. There're at least 2 other groups traveling on this flight.
the commotion at the airport, Air China check in area
KLIA departure hall's distintive cone roof
the Chinese New Year's decoration..its the year of the rabbit, so, bunnies everywhere
once the check in is completed, we were given the boarding pass (with MH's logo and everything) and my aunts are not happy that our group being placed in the rear of the aircraft (we were assigned rows 35 onwards)... after all being said and done, we proceed to the passport checkpoint, first we're greeted by 2 very friendly staff checking our borading pass and passport, and since we're Malaysians, we're using the autogate for passport control. The machine and its thumb print reader sometimes cause so much delay because we just can;t 'center' the thumb enough or its just not reading it properly and resulted lots of trial and error...time for upgrade, i guess... we passed through a x-ray machine right after that (we emptied our bottles to fill it up later)
once everyone is safely passed through the horror-gate, we walked a distance to the bus-stop to take us to the satellite building since the train is still under repair/upgrade (that thing would require 6 months downtime, apparently)...once in the satellite building, my uncles bought some liquor to consume during the trip and before long, announcement are being made in english, malay, mandarin of boarding (not just on flight to China, they do 3 languages on every announcment) , so we emptied our bottles that we just filled 15 minutes prior yet again since there's another x-ray machine for each boarding gate.
Air China 2/2/11
CA972 - KUL - PEK
seat: 35A (original 35C)
flight time: 6 hours
the B757-200 arrived just less than an hour prior and waiting for us to board, a JL 767-300 taxing for its 7 hours flight home to NRT
our B757-200 and the tail of a MH 747-400 being pushed back to AMS is visible
in about 20 minutes prior to departure, MH's ground staff made announcement and we board by rows. while trying to get to our set, i passed by one of the emergency exit and suprised that they instealled seats in the middle of the exit ! leaving space as wide as the aisle behind the seat to access the exit, would not love to be on this plane during emergency exit (knock-on-wood)
the traffic jam at row 12...the emergency exit seats in questions are the 2-seaters in the pic
more jam...now at row 23
the purple upholdstery and the headrest 'sheet' thing...at the seat back, the sheet is an ad for a Chinese Automotive Co.
my dad got a middle seat while my mum got a window seat. my mum said my dad don;t move around so we wanted to switch seat with me since our row is right behind the exit and there's no seat in front of me, so i can sneak out of my new window seat easily if i wanted to.
the 'infinity' leg-room
the exit seats are vacant whereas my aunt who's not exactly slim was stucked in middle seat behind us. she kept complaining how cramped the space is and my uncle wanted to move to the vacant exit row seat but some ladies got them before he managed to get out of his seat. in fact, we're already being pushed back at this point and the funny thing is, no announcement is being made and no flight attendant is making any take off checks. to stop my aunt's whining, we did some reshuffling seats by moving my aunt's seatmate (who';s traveling with us) to 35D since only 1 of the 3 seat is taken...all this was going on while we're taxing and the flight attendant never once stopped us. the flight attendants walked by to check on seatbelts once or twice and the passengers on exit row put their handbags on the vacant seat next to them and the crew said nothing and did nothing....SQ girls would already bitch at the passengers if this is in SQ...and they would have grabbed the bag and stuffed it in the overhead baggage bin
we took off and flew northeastery and the downtown KL and KLCC is clearly visible,. i tried to snap some pics but none of them come out decent, so no pics here... once we're close to crusing altitude, drink service is started and about an hour after departure, supper service is started.
the flight attendant asked in mandarin if we want noodle or fried rice and i had to ask them if its pork or beef or chicken (since my parents don't eat beef), so, the choice was actually chicken fried rice or 'seafood' friend noodle (yeah, like KLIA catering would ever make pork meal..being a muslim country and all :p )
my seafood fried rice consist of 3 shrimps
the meal was OK, but the serving is too little. my mum's rice taste really bland and yucky...
the inflight magazine is weirdly titled "Xi Nan Hang Kong"...so, does it actually mean Southwest Airlines or Southwest Aviation when translating literally? there's nary a english words in the magazine ...and Air China is based in Beijing, which is on the east side of China...just not making sense... (the 2007 Air China inflight magazine from the Harbin trip is titled "wings of china", which makes more sense)
inflight entertainment consist of some chinese rom-com which im not interested 1 bit to watch via "aisle-top" monitors and i tried to sleep (not successfully).. about an hour or 2 before landing, time to check out the scenery
pretty populated area and lots of people are actually up around 4am to celebrate Chinese New year..in facts, during the flight, we're able to see lots of fireworks going off below us throughout the evening/early morning
suburb of beijing
after 6 hours of flight, the crew came by a couple times offering drinks on tray and announcement is made that we're landing soon. the flight attendants walked by to check us ONCE, and disappeared for the rest of the flight until we're gated
parked at the brand new T3, next to the spotty ANA 767
once we're docked, the tour leaders made sure we're dressed warmly and everyone started to crowd the jetway to put on their jacket while me whol spent years in much worse winter in Wichita just walked out of the plane and icy cold jet way with t-shirt...
once we're all gathered and our tour group get dressed warmly and we took the long walk to the passport control at the international satellite..along the way, i saw a weird looking CX plane, turns out, its the 100th airplane special livery which i didnt remember seeing on here (did a search afterwards here after the trip, its around 2008 this plane delivered)
the special livery CX A330
after a long long walk, we reached the passport check area at the International (E) area. the foreign lanes are full but the China passport lanes are desserted and so they let us use those lanes and i'm one of the first on the Chinese lane. the pretty serious looking agent asked me how many people in the group and then asked me who's the person in my passport, turns out my dad gave me his passport and i quickly asked my dad to take my place. when its my turn, i apologized repeatedly and when he handed me the passport after he stamped them, i accidentally pushed it back onto his desk...oh, crumsy me but he actually quite good humor about it...
once everyone passed through the passport check, we gathered to take the train to the C area of the terminal and i became the butt of the joke for the mix-ups...soon we took the train to get to the C area in the HUGE terminal 3 main building and our bags are pretty much on the belt...we passed the green lane and we waited 15 minutes for the tour bus for our 7 days trip...
the arrival hall
we drove around Beijing town to see the bird nest for the Olympic 2008 before our 4 hours drive to Datong...
some of the things we saw: (all these sites are 1500 years history)
Yungang grottoes (UN cultural heritage site)
the Xuen Kong Si (the Hanging temple)
the Taiyuan twin pagodas
return trip to be continued