Sunday, March 20, 2005

London-KL thoughts

If there is one thing I hate about traveling is the fact that most of the time I have to go through Heathrow Terminal 3 airport. I have been traveling through that airport over the past eight years and not one bit has improved. Okay, once you have passed the immigration, you find better and more expensive shops - but that's about it.

Checking in is horrid. The queue is 30 minutes deep with only five counters open. By the time I got there they have ran out of window and aisle seats. A quick trip to customer service and I have been upgraded to a window seat. What a waste of time!

Heathrow has also introduced a second tier of immigration check right after baggage scanning check. The security is laughable what with many people passing through unchecked.

Once inside duty free, things started to get better. The interior is much nicer. An improvement which can be credited due to last summer's refurbishment. The human traffic is a little bit off-putting.

A quick trip to Dixons got me an aircraft headphone adaptor. (Note: Dixons staffs here are equally clueless as their high street colleagues) The prices here are nice though. You can fine the recently discounted 128Mb Tapwave Zodiac 2 PalmOS organizer/console gaming machine. A snip at £130.

There is not much one can do in Heathrow. You can drink but the only pub around is O'Neills! The only thing I did do after my purchase as Dixons was to sit down and read my book.

Note: However bad Heathrow Terminal 3 is, nothing in my experience can outdo Los Angeles International Aiport (LAX) as the primaire example of bad airports.

Fourteen hours later (after almost choking to death eating a tasteless creamy fish with tagliatte) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), I beamed with pride as I walked through the Sepang based airport.

But maybe after twelve hours of flight I was keen to escape and the sheer humidity of our hot weather probably clouded my initial judgement.

To be fair to Malaysia Airlines this was not the worst flight I ever been on. The first one was six years ago on a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore. But that was easy compared to what I had to endure with Connex South Central (au revoir) four years ago when they were diverting our one hour trains into three hour journeys. Imagine that - my return from Brighton to London was via Littlehampton!

Of course such grandness in KLIA is useless because the airport was empty! By the time I reached the baggage reclaim area I was starting to wonder whether such high tech facilities are needed in Malaysia yet. I got through to baggage reclaim from the aircraft in a record 15 minutes but it took a further 15 minutes for our airport to finally bring the goods up.

Sure Malaysia can build big buildings and advance formula one circuits but that's because our labor is cheap. Even the Petronas Twin Tower is not fully occupied last time I checked.

Anyway the one thing I hate about coming to Malaysia is the (lack of) media. Its sad that this country still only produce three national English titles in which two are tabloids!

But I like the food. That's why I came back. Hmm...

Note: Those interested, my JAM with its puny 1200mAh battery managed to clock up six hours of music even though I underclocked the PDA to 200Mhz. Crap. Makes me wish I had a PalmOS smartphone.

Update: I was a little concern with the amount of bush fires I saw en route to KL. Its quite shocking.

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