The quick visa operation was about to begin. Theoretically, we are able to get an extension of the social visit pass in Singapore to up to 89 days. However, I have gotten a week .So I decided to take a more drastic way to get one. Leave the country for over three days and arrive at the airport again. Always remember to have return ticket just in case the customs demand to see it. If one arrives at the airport, one gets a month visa-free as opposed to 2 weeks when you arrive on land.
My girlfriend found me a ticket to Kuala Lumpur on the Internet for $ 80 with the budget airline Tiger Airways based in Singapore. Budget Terminal, has everything though minimal, but effective, there’s no need to be at the departure hall in advance. One hour or an hour and a half is perfect for this kind of domestic flight. I kissed my girlfriend and I went through the gates to wait for my plane to take off at 20 h 20m. In the lobby, there is a little lounge with TV and comfortable couches. There are some stores and good for the budget constraints- no Armani and Hugo Boss stores like the usual big airports. I like the free cell phone charging stations that allows us to charge our mobiles in a locker safe. You keep the key to the locker and come back for your mobile before your departure. Don’t forget!
Luggage checks were done quickly and soon I queued up in a narrow corridor to board the plane. The plane was quite modern.A basic Airbus model with no luxury options.
We were waiting on the plane for a while, and I wondered “what’s going on?” There were rumours that the pilot got into a fight with the management because they had changed the original plane to this bigger one due to the large number of passengers without fore- warning him. “We apologize for the wait, the pilot should be here shortly.”, the stewardess announced apologetically.
An hour and a half of waiting without further notice and we did not even get a glass of water. A real budget flight as they say. We finally took off around 10 pm instead of the scheduled 8:20pm.
The flight was short; barely 50 minutes. There wasn’t even time to feel thirsty or the urge to visit the bathroom. We actually spent more time waiting in the plane than the air-time. Long live to the adventurous economic class..! At these cheap rates we got no right to complain.
We landed in the secondary airport of Kuala Lumpur, a real hangar in every sense of the term. I can’t find a pencil to fill in my arrival form. A Good Samaritan saw my distress and did not hesitate to offer me a pen from his wife’s purse to help me. The baggage screening was done very quickly without many questions.
I can understand why so many people transit here.
-A nice three-month visa free on arrival without many questions which is quite rare, with what is happening around the world.
-Flights to Kuala Lumpur are fairly cheap especially with very competitive airlines like Air Asia which has its headquarters there
– The cost of living is relatively low due to their low value currency. 1RM is about 30 cents U.S.
-The country is large and offers many diversified activities – urban, Petronas Twin Tower, beach and jungle -Plenty of good cheap imitations
– It’s the perfect place to spend a little time to earn the right to have a new visa in a neighbourhood country
Passengers all come from various backgrounds. Many in robes, turban and veils. The atmosphere is very relaxed and stress-free. The customs officer scanned our luggage and looked almost asleep on their chairs. We heard the alarm going off but nobody cared. This is so different than in America in red alert and their paranoid checks.
I was going to wait for the bus to go the main terminal 20 minutes away. People asked me where I was heading and I told them I need to go to the main terminal. “oh this is the bust stop “B” here”. I connected to the airport’s wireless network thanks to my iPhone and the free wifi services. I told my girlfriend that the flight was delayed, but everything was OK. “You have to wait for the free shuttle bus which arrives every 15 minutes.” Several buses came and went but they weren’t the one I was waiting for. Time passed and I realized that it’d been more than 15 mins . I have learnt in Singapore that Malays like to take things easy and at a slower pace hence I did not panic.
Finally when I arrived at the terminal and asked if the KL (Kuala Lumpur) Express was still in operation at this hour. “Yes, hurry up! Climb the stairs and follow the pink indication.” The officer told me. I went straight though the deserted corridors. I came to an escalator which did not seem to be in operation. However once I got onto it, it started. Viva la green technology.
I was looking for a counter to purchase a ticket, but the machines were not in service and all the counters were closed. I asked the only other person there in the huge lobby. He gladly informed me that there was a counter that served commuter at 1 am, but we must purchase ours tickets on arrival.
The express train to downtown was empty. A real ghost train with nobody on board; only television sets with recorded messages to keep me company. A nonstop modern train nonstop led me to the city Sentral in 28 minutes sharp.
I paid RM $ 35 for the train so that accounted to about U.S. $ 11, because a Malaysian Riggit is about 33 cents U.S. . Then I spent $7 for a taxi to Metropolitan hostel.
The hostel is located on the 4th floor of a funky building with a bit of leftover construction materials along the stairways. There were people sleeping on the floor of the second storey. I was relieved that most people use the elevator so they do not see the dark side of the stairs.
The hostel is located one minute away from the skytrain station,Chow Kit. The neighbourhood is frequented by Malays going to the traditional market nearby. You can explore plenty of small street restaurants, with local menu, where people sip their tea while indulging in a little bit of the neighbourhood’s gossip.
This post is also available in: French