7. Dumplings in Malaysia

Presentation wasn’t the highest priority, but they were ah-mazing

You can guess how excited I was when I stepped off the plane to walk straight in to a dim sum food stall selling dumplings. It was literally the first thing I saw after going through security! I instantly forgot my flight had been delayed by four hours, instead of the 40 minute stopover I was meant to have, because I was so excited I would get a chance to eat dumplings in Asia. And they were RM$5.50 which was about NZ$2.30. The rest of the shops in the Airport were pretty exciting (translation: so many bargains) apart from the bar, but every airport has one retailer with the monopoly on alcohol. This one also had the monopoly on power plugs, so after some deliciously prawny dumplings and a 60c bottle of water I settled down with a glass of what I can only assume was chardonnay. At NZ$9.50 a glass you’d think they could tell you a bit more than ‘white.’ Also featured on the shelves:

Skin whitening cream at the pharmacy. Just a bit sickening that that even exists

Landing in Malaysia provided some quite interesting views. The vast majority of trees were all in perfect rows (on the flight path at least), and there were beachside resorts right next to big industrial plants and quarrys, with views obscured by oil rigs ( that’s what they looked like anyway – I’m no expert on these matters).

In order to beat the luggage limits, I was wearing all of my heaviest clothes: boots, jeans, 2 tops, cardigan, a wool jersey in my backpack and carrying my heavy wool coat. I’ve felt worse in shorts and a tshirt in Brisbane, but I definitely felt like I was in training for the Scandinavian Sauna Championships landing in 25 degree heat.

6. 25 Hours in one seat

It wasn’t until the day of my flight that I actually worked out the amount of time I would be on the plane (that time zone changing business is deceptive, you know). 11 hours first leg, 14 second. Definitely the longest flight I have ever been on!

Before that I had a pretty long wait in Christchurch Airport (4 hours, plus the flight was delayed a further hour). I managed to get 90 minutes (instead of the usual 30) of free Wifi by logging in with three different devices: iPod, phone and laptop and three different email address. Proud of myself for that stroke of genius! I also started a movement by stealing couch cushions and sitting in the kids play area so I could plug in my phone and computer. Next thing it was packed with adults and their technical devices.

All kudos for airport ingenuity was out the door at the check in desk though. In in epic display of idiocy, the man behind the counter pointed out I had mispelled my own name when booking the flight. I knew I was going to do something stupid when booking everything, but that’s a special brand of idiocy right there.

For a brief few minutes I almost didn’t think I was going to be allowed on the plane (based on when the man behind the counter said “we can’t really allow you on the plane”). Luckily only one of the 3 G’s in Geoghegan was missing and my doe eyes worked a charm on the guy behind the counter. I was ready to whip out some tears but a little white lie: “Yeah, someone else booked it for me” was sufficent. Thank God. I didn’t want to check my Ryanair boarding pass because I had a hunch that the folk at Stansted wouldn’t be nearly as nice as Christchurch…

After that minor stressful moment, I was ready to go! Not as ready as this girl, though…

Pre-departure neck pillow

I had pre-booked my Air Asia comfort pack, an absolute winner. Note to anyone else thinking of flying air asia, bring your own earplugs too. I also pre-booked a meal on each flight. I was astonished that on the NZ-KL leg the meal cost $25 and from KL-London it was only $10. The only reasoning I could drum up was that they pass on the savings from buying ingredients in Malaysia to the passengers. I was pretty worried that I would get hungry on the flight – 2 meals in 25 hours isn’t much. And I get grumpy and forgetful if I don’t eat enough! So all afternoon I was carbo-loading like I was about to run a marathon. Anything with calories, send it my way! Turns out they did two rounds of food per leg, so my backup box of meusli bars wasn’t essential (but definitely handy). Judging by other passengers (and the smells wafting through the plane) the ‘Malaysian Meal’ was a winning choice, with the ‘European’ meal looking rather sad. I figured I ought to stick with what they know best.

First AirAsia Meal

Plus my love of all variations of asian food helps. I definitely would have eaten those meals again, which is lucky because I they were going to be my next two meals. Another bonus of the comfort pack was all the plastic wrapping it comes in. Next tip – don’t rip it all apart, the air hostesses don’t come round to get your meal rubbish and the pockets in front of you are tiny so they make for good resealable rubbish bags.

Second Airasia Meal

A lot of people seemed to screw their noses up at me when I said I was flying air asia, but it really was no different to most other flights apart from the lack of complementary anything. But who needs a few free drinks when the price difference is $400? If you really have problems going without you could buy one of the mini bottles at duty free… The seats went pretty far back too (compared with Jetstar) which was great until I was getting up to go to the bathroom and as I was squeezing past the girl on the end the guy in front put his seat back rather violently, resulting in my sitting awkwardly on her lap. On returning the guy in front wasn’t there so I kindly put his seat up for him.. We were about to land,¬†after-all. Next tip: if you are a frequent toilet goer, book an aisle seat.

The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful, armed with a fistful of not so legally acquired prescription drugs I planned to knock myself out for the rest of the flight. I woke up very refreshed, just in time for my next meal (unnamed Malaysian rice concoction).

The second leg was much the same, only 3 hours longer. The sleeping pills didn’t do too much the first time, so I took two the second and slept on and off for most of the flight. One thing that was interesting was the difference between the meals on the first leg vs the second, particularly as they were meant to be the same. They were noticeably more stingy, but also a whole lot more spicy! I also learned from Captain Lim, a columnist in the in-flight magazine that being seated by the wings is the best place if you don’t like turbulence (plane’s centre of gravity) and down the back if you don’t like screaming babies (loudest engine noises).

Second round, decidedly more ‘average,’ to be polite

As per usual there were quite a few screaming babies on the plane. Every single time I fly I am astounded by how many parents don’t realise that when their ears are popping as the plane lands, their babies ears are popping too so of course the child is going to cry. On one of the flightsI actually gave a child a lollipop to shut it up – worked a treat! I laughed at Dad when he gave me corporate branded lollipops from work as a joke farewell but they were actually quite useful.