First Thoughts of Malaysia

The Kuala Lumpur airport (KLIA) seems as modern as any I've ever seen. Just as when flying into the international wing of Chicago or LAX, you must go down a long hallway after exiting the gate. Unlike Chicago and LAX, yesterday we had long “peoplemovers” to do the walking for us. They dumped us into what turned out to be a remote terminal hub, a beautifully architected multi-story open atrium area of shops (yes, including a Starbucks) overflowing with green. The elevator enclosures were clear tubes of glass that had people flowing on all sides -- really, quite impressive.

We then road the automated minitram to the main building. Following Fumie's mom (who's done this several times), exiting the tram she headed right while the massive flow of humanity headed left. It turns out that KLIA has separate immigration controls for travelers with connections, so after descending a level, we were greeted with a mini immigration section with a line all of one person deep. It was fantastic.

As an aside, I'll note that the last time I entered the US (last summer, at Chicago, I think), while waiting as next in line for immigration, the unprepared family at the head of the line next to us was getting treated so rudely by the immigration officer that I cringed and was embarrassed to be American. His “soul spirit” sister must have been working as the Malaysian immigration officer for the line next to us, as she was exceptionally rude to the unprepared family next to us. I guess it's the same everywhere. )-:

Anyway, after all of three minutes, we were through and into the domestic terminal where we were met by Fumie's dad, conveniently returning from a business trip. We made the short flight to Penang to discover that Penang's small regional airport was modern, bright, and clean, and like any modern airport full of shops hawking high-priced booze and purses. Oddly, though, and I should stress that this was the only hint of “third-worldness” I've seen so far, I did not notice a Starbucks.

Fumie's dad had a car, but it wouldn't fit all six of us, so he arranged a taxi to take us to our hotel, the “Krystal Suites”. It was just after sunset and the drive was quite pleasant -- lots of green and modern-looking shops.

The hotel room, really a two-bedroom suite with a 40-foot-long living room, is larger than our previous whole apartment. The bathroom is a bit suspect, and the floor is randomly lumpy, but otherwise it's fine. The air conditioners (4) work, which at this point seems to be the most important thing (since it's in the 90s and muggy every day).

After dumping our luggage, the others joined us and we took a walk to a restaurant. I had to laugh when they walked into a Japanese restaurant(!) But it was 8pm (9pm Japan time) and Anthony was very tired and wanted milk, which the restaurant didn't have. So Fumie's dad and I walked a bit further to a 7-11 convenience store. (It turns out that this 7-11 is just a bit further from our hotel than the 7-11 near our place in Kyoto is far from our place). We got a bunch of bottled water and some milk. It filled a bag, and came to 8-something Ringgit -- about US$2.30.

The street was full of well-maintained cars, and not full of garbage. It seems to be a nice area.

Anyway, Anthony was so tired that I just took him back to the hotel, gave him his milk, and put him down.

GPS

One thing that struck me during this trip is how easy it is for GPS reception to be totally obscured. My GPS receiver got absolutely no reception unless it was pressed up against the window of the plane. Moving it, say, to my lap, and it got nothing. I guess the GPS designers had cruise missiles and other “have a clear view of the sky” items in mind.

Also, my GPS unit (Garmin GPSmap 60CS) has two ways to determine the altitude: a barometer and GPS. Inside a pressure-controled plane, the barometer is fairly useless, but I couldn't find a way to have it use the GPS for altitude (other than the one-time “Altidude via GPS” on the Satellite-Acquisition page's menu). Thus, while flying at 40,000 feet, it mostly said we were at 2,000 some meters. Fairly worthless )-:


One comment so far...

Hi! Jeffrey-san,Fumie-san and Anthony-kun ! I always read your blog and enjoy it.
(I like photos that you took it,cause there’re so beautiful!)
How’re you today in Malaysia? I hope you will all enjoy good health.
Have a wonderful travel!
Say hello to Fumie-san and Anthony-kun for Maho and me.

— comment by Yoshiko and Maho on March 8th, 2006 at 3:46pm JST (11 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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