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lundi 4 mai 2009

A Mi Tierra Natal: Dia 1 Malasia.

Day 1 of a trip to Asia

In fact it was more than 24 hours, on this first day of the trip, to get to KL from Paris. I left Paris at 10 45 am ie 16 45 at KL on 2 May 2009 and I reached KL at 0600 am on 4th May 2009..nearly 38 hours. This flight normally takes, if on a direct Malaysian Airlines Flight from CDG to KUL. But my flights had to be re routed through Bangalore and Madras.. due to some schedule changes in Air France. I flew Air France, a comfortable 9 hour flight to Bangalore arriving there on the dot at midnight. The new airport is shiny and without much convenience but at least it is quiet, which is a rare thing in India. I could go to the Domestic counter at 5 am, having spent two hours on courtesy wi fi of Bangalore airport. 260 inr is the fee for the privilege of using the domestic terminal, which are being charged to all domestic passengers, yet another levy on the poor paying passenger, no wonder how the major Indian Airlines: Indian, Jet and Kingfisher are all in great financial strife! The Kingfisher flight to Madras was mostly empty.

Arrived at Madras Airport at 7 am on Sunday 3rd. Immediately accosted by people who want to suggest hotels to you, but I had already something in mind. I wanted to sleep and rest and it would be better to find a hotel near the airport, which I did. Trident Hotel just five minutes from the airport. 6000 INR plus 1200 INR in taxes.. can check in at 8 am and I can check out at about 8 pm (could have stayed longer if I wanted, but I had a flight to catch)..closed the curtains, switched off the lights and off to the slumber land, tired body succumbing easily to sleep.

With the exception of slight disturbances, slept until 5 15 and wrote some emails to friends and after yet another shower, at 8 30 pm was at the Airport (air conditioned car transfer included in the price). At the tea stand, spent 5 inr (10 cents usd for a cup of cardamom tea). The check in process at the Malaysian Airlines counters was agonizingly slow but the agent was pleasant enough and was given a good seat, but nothing could compare to the luxury of Air France. I was glad I was flying Malaysian Airlines rather than Air India Express (notorious for its tardiness). At the Duty Free store, was surprised to find Sparkling Wine from Jacobs Creek in Australia at 6 usd per bottle, so bought two. Was happy to buy the newly published autobiography of Zubin Mehta. At the 24 hour pharmacy I was able to stock up on some of the medications requested by friends in the USA. When I left India, I had no Indian currency left with me, normally a few hundred rupees are left over.. I wonder what is the symbolism of that?

A very nice dinner served at 1 am local time in fact 4 am Kuala Lumpur time. I had a tasty chicken curry with basmati rice, two glasses of a mediocre red wine.. since I had not eaten anything substantial during my 24 hours in India, it was welcome relief.. and the food quality was good.

As expected, at 6 am the Malaysian airlines Airbus 330 arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I was one of the first through the door and was the first in line in front of a sleepy immigration agent who was wearing a face mask, but who did not ask any questions about swine flu or where I had been. In Bangalore, rows of tables had been set up and a doctor in each of the tables, questioned the incoming passengers especially if they were coming from Mexico, USA or Canada.

You were born in Malacca? Says the friendly immigration officer.

Yes, so I deserve a special treatment and he smiles and within thirty seconds I had cleared the Immigration and within a few minutes my bag arrives and no further checks and I am on the Malaysian soil.. ready for my teh tahrek and roti canai..