Europe, Asia · 21 Days · 21 Moments · May 2017

2017: Kalle & Jeff in Malaysia

14 June 2017

At the moment we are cruising over Denmark and expect to land in Helsinki about 30 minutes delayed as our airplane was help up in France prior to our departure. I have to say that I feel a bit tired: I woke up yesterday (the 13th) at 10:00 Malaysian time, which is 05:00 Finnish time. Now it's 22:43, which means that I have been up for slightly over 36 hours? No wonder I'm a bit sleepy. The crew on this flight seem very nice and accommodating, and I think it's a really good thing. European airlines should really buck up and take a close look at the Emirates and Etihad, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, and redo the whole serving process. Many companies now seem to think that customer service isn't the key, but we who have actually been Cabin Crew, and truly loved the job, know how far a smile and respectful attitude can take you. PS. The Irish coffee onboard was really good and tasty. It also comes in a filter cup, so no more instant coffee!
Well! I received a text message, followed by an email. Apparently my flight is full (luckily not overbooked), and they would like people to put their hand luggage also to the cargo hold, without any extra charge. Fantastic service, at least in my opinion, from British Airways! Not only does this free hatrack space in the cabin but also makes the whole boarding process faster! I would immediately take my hang baggage to cargo if I didn't have my late mother-in-law's antique set of plates in there. So of course, as I am a bit of a worrier, I had to go to the service desk and ask that they are not going to snatch my bag, that I have guarded with my life, and toss it to the cargo hold. Apparently I shouldn't worry as long as I have only two bags with me at the departure gate. I also intend to be there about he first person standing - and boarding. I still have about 1,5 hours to go before boarding, so good time to charge my phone.
I have been at Terminal 3 of the Heathrow Airport since early morning and I have to say that this is not my favourite terminal at all. As long as I can remember it's always been under construction and the same continues. There are many eateries, such as Caffè Nero, eat., and Pret, and a few restaurants as well. I chose "Pilots Bar & Kitchen" as my lunch place. For my drink I took Ginger Ale as it's made with natural gingers. And true to the word, the scent of proper ginger comes immediately when pouring the ale to the glass. The taste, however, could be more gingery. But the overall taste is refreshing! The burger I ordered doesn't contain any pork and the waiter was courteous to ask if I wanted cheese (instead of bacon and cheese). It looks delicious - and my tummy is making strange noises so I better tuck in! The burger is so juicy and good! The buns were soft and the fries just perfect. Or perhaps I was hungry? Nah, I know the difference of eating fast and enjoying the food.
I have to say a few words about the British Airways flights that I have done (LHR-KUL and KUL-LHR). The service on the outbound flight was snobbish and uncaring. And I greatly disliked when the Cabin Crew who delivered my meals looked at the tray, then me, then the seat, and then the same round again before opening heir mouth: "You have a... _Muslim meal_?" On the way back towards London, the service was so much better compared to the outbound flight: during the drinks service, they even asked if I wanted wine for dinner, or Worcester sauce for my tomato juice (neither were asked on outbound flight). But the stewardess bringing me the dinner repeated the questioning about me and a Muslim meal. However, the steward bringing me the breakfast prior to he arrival to London, just said "Here is your special meal, Sir. Enjoy your breakfast." So polite, no fuss, no eye rolling. I had to simply give feedback! #BritishAirways #BA

13 June 2017

It's a good idea to take a bit of time at KLIA as it's not as small as Helsinki Airport. We decided to have a bit of coffee and cake first before I head towards the Immigration and departure gate. Apparently my boarding time is 22:40, just half an hour before the departure time. First there is the Immigration desk, where they stamp my passport out of Malaysia, followed by a quick x-ray scan of the bags. No need to remove anything from the bags at this point. Except that the guys are intrigued by my plates that I have to hand carry as they are valuable and quite old and fragile. After tax free shopping I take the SkyTrain to the satellite building and head towards the departure gate. After reaching the satellite building I realise that the time mentioned on my boarding pass isn't the boarding time, but more of the last call time. Which means I am about the last person to board the plane. So off to London Heathrow with British Airways.
It's time to head towards the airport and start the journey towards home. It's a moment of mixed feelings - partially it is good to head back, as I am officially starting a new job, but at the same time I fear that these past weeks haven't been enough to destress me enough. Luckily in a few weeks time my family will be home with me. That gives me the strength I require to do my day-to-day chores. But as it is, my three weeks in Malaysia are now over, and I hope that I can return here soon! It's my second home as one part of my family lives here.

11 June 2017

As it is #Suomi100 or #Finland100 this year (in other words, Finland turns 100 years old), there are events celebrating this all around the world. And as it so happens, in Kuala Lumpur there is a concert where they play Sibelius', the national composer of Finland's, Symphony No.2 in D major. The orchestra in question is Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. All I can say is that if you find the time and possibility to go and listen to them - get the tickets! First of all, the auditorium at KLCC has really good acoustics, it's nicely air conditioned, and the seats are good for listening to music without falling asleep. Secondly, they don't let anyone in during the musical pieces, which means that one can really enjoy the music and the atmosphere. Third, the orchestra sounds so good! They may be young, but it doesn't show in their music. You can hear the passion and the training. And of course the conductor is brilliant as well! Which completes the whole experience!

9 June 2017

The drive back to KL was faster than driving to the jetty; perhaps because we took a different route this time. The roads in Malaysia seem to be in quite the good condition so I would have no problem driving here myself - at least on that account. But the drivers... sometimes I feel it's like a complete jungle also on the roads. People keep overtaking other cars in places where there are double lines, and in dangerous bends, driving fast like there is no tomorrow... the list goes on. So you have to bear that in mind if you consider driving here. On the other hand, if you can drive in KL, you probably can drive anywhere.
Tioman, like Langkawi, is a duty-free island, which means that it is a good place to get your alcohol and cigarettes to take home with you. The prices, at least compared to Finnish high-street prices are very competitive, but at the same time - if you have a flight coming on, remember that all liquids need to be packed into your suitcases that go to the cargo hold. However, the journey from our resort to the Duty Free shop doesn't take long and there is a bus transport (no cost) there and back. The bus actually stops there whilst going to nearby jetty, and stops there again on the way back. Practically this means roughly 15-20 minutes of shopping time. Remember to bring your passport with you!
We've spent three nights in the Berjaya Tioman Resort, and the place is really nice. From the jetty they have a bus transfer to the reception building of the resort, and from the reception you get a smaller transport taking you to your rooms. Brilliant Rooms, or chalets where we stayed are a bit outdated by modern standards, but it really doesn't matter. There is a functioning shower with hot water (as long as you remember to switch it on!), an aircon, and a good bed. What else do you need? A high-speed wifi would be nice but it's good to be off-grid at times. The surroundings are good, lots of nature (well kept nature that is), and swimming pools. Restaurants and such as in separate buildings, and the main restaurant where we have our dinners and breakfasts (buffet style) are mostly without walls there there is a nice breeze assisted by many fans. The resort is situated, conveniently, by the beach. Beach is clean, but there is a lot of dead coral, so walk carefully.

8 June 2017

It's almost automatic to compare Tioman to Perhentian islands, as these are the two on the east side of Malaysian peninsula that we have been together. But they are completely different. In Tioman the beach is more coarse and the water seems not as clear as in Perhentian, but the warmth of the air and the ocean... just perfect in my opinion. The resort we are in has deck chairs by the pool and also by the sea. We've mainly spent our afternoon hours (as morning and noon time is far too hot) being in the sea and then watching sunset on the deck chairs by the sea. Taking time off from city life is a welcome change. I've slept more than usual, very much more, but don't see that as a bad thing. Perhaps we all, at times, should just relax by taking ourselves off the grid, enjoying taking beach photos, and just sit in the sea watching small emoji fishes swim around our feet. It's not a bad thing at all. #Tioman #zen #holiday

6 June 2017

Parking the car proves surprisingly easy after a while; one just has to pay the fee and a motorist takes us behind the terminal where we park the cars and go inside. As Shen and Chir had made a booking beforehand, they had the tickets for the boat ready to be picked up, and we just had to pay the conservation fee. Personally I think that paying to conserve the marine environment is a good thing, as this goes towards the waste management and things like that - at least it should go. Anyhow, the ferry terminal can also be reached by buses from major cities (like KL, and Singapore) which is really convenient if one doesn't have a car.
It's 6:15 in the morning and we are already up. Or actually have been up for a while now getting ready for the trip to the Tioman Island. We're facing roughly 5 hours drive before 1,5 hours in a boat before reaching the island. I bet there's going to be some tired people when we are at our destination! Let's get going!

2 June 2017

For the return trip we had tickets for Transtar Travel company, and as we just reached the bus terminal about 10 minutes prior to the departure time, the company gave me a call and made sure we would make it in time for the bus as we hadn't yet checked in with them at the counter! Such good customer service! The bus was newish, apparently making its maiden voyage with the company and we had seats on the second row in the upper deck. Only drawback for me, being a long-legged European, was that the seats would recline so low that they actually managed to pin my legs in a small space where I wouldn't have had any possibility to change seats without asking the person in front to raise the seat back. The ride was smooth, and the complimentary bottle of water was a nice gesture! Would travel with them again!

1 June 2017

As we were walking around Singapore, mainly the Arab Street area first and then made our way to the Theatres at the Park, and finally to the Merlion Park, the whole scenery changed: Singapore by day is filled with colourful old buildings (which I love so much, the Nyonya style, I call it), and then when the sun goes down, the daytime colours give way to the man-made colours, which are as vibrant but different! Singapore is definitely worth seeing, especially if you are into city holidays. Personally, I'm more into culture, history, and such. But Singapore was something that I just had to see.
Definitely the best way of getting around Singapore is to buy either single use ticket(s) to the public transport or a 24 hour one. If you get a 24 hour one, make sure to return the ticket the following day as you get your 10 SGD deposit back! I believe that you can buy the day ticket from any MRT station as long as there is a ticket/info counter. As we didn't have much time in Singapore, we decided to purchase a single ticket. In a way it's also a good thing to do as you can then top up the single ticket on a ticket machine again for a single trip! And on the third and sixth trip you get discounted! Whee! Off we go!
After arrival to Singapore, we decided to find somewhere to eat! As we were supposed to walk to the nearest MRT, we found this little, not too busy (Ramadan?) eatery. Food was really nice and tasty. It arrived quickly, and the place was filled with locals. We ordered (as our eyes were bigger than our stomachs) four main dishes of three different variety, and ended up paying just over 18 sin$ (which is roughly 12€) for them, inclusive of drinks! Worth visiting and eating! (NB! We passed by the place on the way back to the bus - it was _packed_! So they must be doing something right in the kitchen) #sedap #Singapore
Today, we are heading towards Singapore! At first we thought of taking a flight (as it's only about 1 hour), but decided on a bus. Even though the journey is longer (roughly 5 hours) it allows us to see things on the way - and to be frank, going to and from the airports plus boarding and all... I think that it's about the same. The bus terminal (which is actually a small kiosk on Jalan Imbi, under the monorail station next to Berjaya Times Sauare, is a bit hard to find. And trust me, there is a posh hotel and their consierge is not worth his job in knowing things. StarMart Express is the company that takes us to Singapore. The bus seems to be very spacious and the air con is strong enough to blow your hair off. As we are near the equator, it's actually a good thing! The seats are wide and there is plenty of leg room. However, as there usually is a but, the seat backs could be higher so that a tall European like me, would have neck rest.other than that, I'm happy!

26 May 2017

One thing about flying over night. I completely lost the count of the days. So it took me a bit of time to adjust that today is not yesterday but actually today, Friday. And the eve of Ramadan! So, after clearing immigration (and having a quick chat with the immigration officer about he hardships of fasting in Finland during summertime) I decide to enjoy a cup of coffee whilst waiting for my Sayang Wifey and my dearest SIL to manage their share of #FirstWorldProblems (= a traffic jam on an 8-lane motorway). As it is Friday and the eve of Ramadan, it seems that everyone is out with their cars! It takes us about 4 hours to drive home from KLIA! I've never before experienced anything like that! Luckily that gives me a perfect opportunity to have a nap.

25 May 2017

People can say whatever they want, but I really like (transiting) at Heathrow. Like everyone else, I dislike the amount of people, but at least for me the security control was an easy experience and the staff was cordial if not friendly. Besides Heathrow is one of these airports where there are enough different food options (and I chose a Meal Deal from Boots - mainly because there wasn't a Gregg's in sight!) to serve many different palates!
Time to start another great adventure! 😊 This time Jeff has already flown to Malaysia earlier as I still had to work and I am going today: Helsinki - London Heathrow - Kuala Lumpur.