I’m Dreaming of a Hot Christmas

Francesca and I did not choose to be in Malaysia – a Muslim country – for Christmas it was just the luck (or unluck) of the layover draw.  Nor were we relishing spending what is traditionally, for most of the Christian world, a cold weather holiday in the hot sun of Kuala Lumpur.   However the city – or at least the major hotel chains – did not do a bad job of recreating for us some of the pleasures of the festive season including Christmas trees and special Christmas dinner menus.  Alas, they were not able to produce any snow, but we’ll forgive them on that account.

Even the flight attendants on Air Asia got into the spirit by donning Santa hats for the entire flight.  You go girls!

A view of the acres and acres of palm trees upon arrival into KL airport. Palm oil is a big export product for Malaysia.

Francesca had located a great holiday deal from the famous five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel so we decided to spend our one night in KL in the lap of luxury.

The view from our hotel room’s floor to ceiling windows.

While KL has a lot to see we decided to stay in our hotel and make use of its wonderful facilities including the gym, the tennis courts…..

….and the pool area.

A view of the KL skyline from the infinity pool.

Frantastic enjoying a refreshing beverage poolside.

That night we joined our travel friends Allie and Duncan (whom we’d met in Laos and met up with again in Vietnam) at their hotel The Traders for a holiday party already in progress with several other westerners who for one reason or another found themselves in KL for Christmas.

From left to right: Brad from Peoria, IL, Franny, Duncan (UK), Eugene’s wife (Russia), Eugene (Russia), Shum (LA) & Morgan (LA).

We had planned a nice, Christmas dinner with just Allie and Duncan, but those plans were effectively scuttled when Duncan and his newfound friends got hammered during the Traders’ guest happy hour and so we just carried on drinking and dancing with some Christmas finger foods thrown in here and there.

We were happy to do so and had a great time with this international crew.

Franny, Duncan and Allie with the famous Petronas Towers (blurred like my vision) in the background.

The next morning we were pretty hung over and since our flight was not until 5pm (or so we thought) we would take it easy in the morning, have a nice, big breakfast in bed and then head out to see a few of the sites including walking on the glassbottomed Skybridge at the top of the Petronas Towers which were only a short walk from the Mandarin.

However, when Francesca checked our itinerary in her iPhone she noticed that our flight was actually at 1pm, not 5pm!!  It was already close to 10am so we’d have to leave the hotel by 10:30am at the latest to arrive at the airport in time, but we also had to buy a new backpack for Francesca as the brand new Deuter pack she purchased in Cambodia for $17 broke on its maiden voyage (ya get whatcha pay for).  We quickly showered, got dressed and ran to a luggage store in the mall next door where Franny found a bag she liked.

Since the Petronas Towers are in the same complex as the mall we tried to swoop by and go up to the skybridge, but it turns out you need to get in line around 7:30am if you want any chance of getting a ticket for the same day.

Then began our long, harrowing journey to the airport.  We got in a cab at the Mandarin hotel which took us to the train station where we caught the next train to the airport.  We arrived just about one hour before our international flight, but we could not find our Jet Star flight to Melbourne anywhere on the departures board.  When we inquired at the information booth we were told that Jet Star flies out of another terminal, but that this terminal was about twenty minutes away by taxi.  Panic!!

We didn’t think we’d ever make it in time which would be bad as it would throw off the rest of our flight schedule; Melbourne to Christchurch, New Zealand, Christchurch to Queenstown.  We’d probably be out some serious cash to pay change fees and we would be late in meeting my cousin in Christchurch and our friends Tiff and Adam in Queenstown.  So without any choice we ran to the taxi line waited a few minutes for our turn only to have the taxi driver ask us for our voucher.  Voucher??  Apparently you need to buy a ticket in advance for taxis at the airport.  Who knew?  So we rushed back inside and purchased our voucher.  Then we were on our way with the taxi driver pushing the speed limit.

We arrived at the Jet Star terminal about twenty minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off and although we thought the chances were slim that they would allow us on the flight that we assumed would surely be closed I had already worked out my sales pitch to talk our way on and was preparing myself to get nasty if necessary.  But when we arrived at the check in counter the Jet Star lady was smiling and calmly asked for our passports with no mention of our tardiness or the plane being delayed.  We didn’t want to jinx our good fortune, but we thought it was prudent to make sure she knew what flight we were on.  She did, we made it and all’s well that ends well.  We were off to Melbourne!

Country Stats:

Official Name: Malaysia

Official Language: Malay

Population: 28,310,000

Capital City: Kuala Lumpur

Government: Federal constitutional elective monarchy, Parliamentary democracy

Current Leader(s): Najib Tun Razak (Prime Minister)

For more information about Malaysia click here.

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