I hate the stress that is generated when you leave things until the last minute, so I was ready to go by 8:30am with the taxi organised for a 10:30am to pick up to take me on the one hour journey to the airport. I am not yet very accustomed to flying so I probably worry more than I need to do. The Malaysian airlines flight was leaving at 3:00pm so no panic stations for me; itâ€™s smart to be organised. At 9:00am my reading glasses snapped into two pieces! Thanks to my wonderful optician I had temporary frames and was back home again by 10:00am albeit a little frayed around the edges.
My taxi driver, a Punjab Sikh man named Nermal, I had pleasant company and we solved a number of global issues during our one hour taxi ride to the airport that took 2 hours and 30 minutes due to the freeway being closed following an accident, the closure creating traffic havoc on all roads leading to Melbourne Airport. The trip cost $141:46!
Running the usual plane boarding gauntlet went smoothly, although on passing through customs I must have looked suspicious as I was taken aside and had a drug sniffer thingy device wiped all over my backpack and then had to stand with my arms outstretched and legs spread while a customers officer got up close and far more personal than I would have preferred, and he didnâ€™t even introduce himself!
On the plane I was in seat 14G, which was in the middle section of 5 seats one in from the aisle. This placed me between two young women both of whom were returning home to the UK after long working holidays in Australia. One was sorry she had to leave and the other couldnâ€™t get out of Oz quickly enough. Both of them were visibly very nervous and said that they hated flying. I must admit I donâ€™t like it either but I thought that I was quite calm by comparison. The flight itself was uneventful if you do not include two periods of turbulence; one over Uluru and the other over the Timor Sea. Over Uluru the plane started to jolt and lurch violently (OK so the wings didnâ€™t fall off and no one ended up on the floor, but it was the worst I have experienced and since Iâ€™m telling the story I am going to use the word â€œviolentlyâ€). So, as I was saying, the plane started to jolt and lurch violently. This circumstance was made worse by the fact that we had just been served our meals and our food trays were jumping all around. The girl on my left lent forward, clutched the back of the seat in front of her, and began chanting â€œOh my God â€¦ Oh my Godâ€¦â€ with an ever escalating sense of panic and rising volume, her food tray now roaming at will. The girl on my right, who had just picked up a full cup of orange juice as the jolting commenced, decided on a more dramatic approach and screamed dropping her cup at the same time. Fortunately the juice made little mess on the floor of the plane as my trousers absorbed almost all of it. Once the screamer realised that she was probably not going to die just yet, she was very apologetic. The crisis now over both girls marvelled at how calm I was through it all. Now I could have lied to them both by informing them that is was due to my James Bond – shark hunter disposition that I can stare into the jaws of death and laugh, but the truth is that I was so distracted by the hysteria surrounding me, not to mention unsuccessfully trying to dodge flying cups of orange juice, that it was all over before I could absorb what was happening. Had they both have been calm then probably I would have been screaming and hurling cups of juice over the other passengers!
The rest of the trip was uneventful. Arrived in KL airport, which is so big you have to catch a train to get to the baggage collection area. I caught the KLIA super fast train to KL Sentral, (Yes that is how you spell it!), and arrived tired and juice stained at Le Meridien hotel at 1:30am Melbourne time (11:30pm Malaysia time). When I checked din I asked it they could arrange for me to visit Malacca (Melaka in Malay). They said they would see what they could do. My room is on the 19th floor and has a fantastic view of KL. Took me a while to work out how to switch in the bedside lights and so on … I hate gadgets! Pat would have had it worked out in minutes. It took me â€¦ well Iâ€™ll just say that I didnâ€™t have to call for assistance, but it was touch and go there for a while!