A Surprisingly Disastrous Trip to KL – Penang


02 Feb. 2014

Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) – Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

“Run, Aya….Run!!”, the sentence was keep repeating in my head. I was running towards boarding gate No. 9. Almost bumping into some people on the way. But I did run. Cause I know, I am late.

The public announcement was heard about 5 minutes earlier, when I’m still queuing at the immigration to get my exit stamp.

“Attention please. Flight Indonesia AA, QZ82xx is now boarding at Gate No. 9”

The ground handling staff was about to close the gate door when I arrived. Panting and totally out of breathe. She asked my destination.

“Jakarta please”

“Ok, go ahead to the right, F64”, she said as she gives back my ripped in half boarding pass.

And at that second I was running again. This time towards the F64. To board the airplane before it take off without.

It suddenly hit me how I have failed on this trip.  I have never had a “bad trips” before. But this one is totally chaotic from the start. As I finally come inside the airplane 3 minutes later, I reflect to all the events on the trip.

28 Jan. 2014

Jakarta

12 hours before departure flight, my traveling partner, Ronald, canceled his trip. Due to unexpected meeting coming up during the Chinese New Year weekend, he has to cancel his trip with me. Left with no options, I’m going with the itinerary that has been planned. I have no time to reschedule or rearranged everything. The poor thing is, Ronald already paid all his shared cost of the trip. And no refundable. So, yeah…..he lost it.

Sheza, a good friend in KL and Amy’s former bridesmaid, said that it would be OK for me to stay at her place for one night in KL. So I canceled my KL guesthouse booking. Charged with a cancellation fee by the website. But should be able to get my money credited back to my card. At least it’s something.

So there I was, ready for the trip in the morning. The “two friends trip” that ended up as a solo trip. If I would have known that it will be a solo trip, I would have stick to my first itinerary. This was the itinerary that I prepared, before Ronald decided he to join me.

My previous one will only take me to KL as a transit point. Jakarta – KL transit for max 3 hours then to Penang by plane, domestic flight. Arrive in Penang at early evening. And depart in 2 days the same way to Jakarta. Penang to KL by domestic flight then transit only for max 3 hours and direct to Jakarta. No long layover time. And hopefully no waiting time. This kind of itinerary will allow me to enjoy Penang without being too exhausted of the long commuting.

But then again, having a traveling partner changes things. We decided to take the bus from and to Penang. Giving some layover time in KL. It was fine. But it became a problem when the supposed 2 traveler become only 1 traveler.

But I still have to go anyway. I paid for this trip.

29 Jan. 2014

Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur

It was a huge thunder rain since 2AM. My mom woke me up. Saying that we have to be prepared incase the flood come inside the house. Yeah…..it is another rainy flood season. And I hate every second of it.

At 5AM, I asked my Mom to drive me to the bus station, to catch the bus to the airport. We have to passed the flood of 20cm high in from of my house gate. Ahhh…..this rain is totally sucking the life out of me.

It was still raining when I arrived at the bus station and say goodbye with my mom. I watched her waving inside the car as my bus takes of to the airport about 5 minutes later.  Luckily the way to the airport is quite ok. No traffic at all, despites the heavy traffic reports on the radio. Some place in Jakarta is flooded. And the morning becomes a catastrophic morning for some people.

About 1 hour later, I arrived at the airport. Terminal 3 – Soekarno Hatta International Airport. I feel a slight relieve.  Did the check in on the electronic check in machine and immediately proceed to boarding lounge. As I was sitting in the lounge, I realized there were not so much people as usually common on morning flights. People are probably stuck in flood of that morning terrible traffic. I remember that this will be my 2nd trip to KL. The city has something that Jakarta need to learn from. Flood control using a smart tunnel and dam system. And the success story of KL flood control is always on the news every year Jakarta flooded. But again, no action ever taken by Jakarta to imitate the good system.

The flight was boarding on schedule. And 2 hours later, I have arrived in LCCT terminal in KL. It was noon. And I have to catch my bus from a place called Plaza Damas a bit far from the city central. I remembered that we, Ronald and I, chose Nice bus line for it’s luxury service and booked the bus online from a Malaysia-Singapore’s bus ticketing website. It provides wi-fi on board, snacks and drinks with entertainment system. Well…the price is double from the regular intercity bus. However this bus depart from a place far from the city center. This was not something I consider about before.

So from LCCT, I immediately board the express bus to KL Sentral bus station. Without delaying even one minute. The more time I have, the more easy for me to find a way to this strange place. However, when I did get to KL Sentral, I immediately loose track of where I’m going. A couple of Chinese asked me on the street for way, while I’m also look foreign to the site.

So I took the taxi instead. Bargain for RM20 to Plaza Damas, wherever that is. This is what I actually hate about taxis in KL. They never use meter. They have it, but they never use it. So when you use them, you either have to know the distance you are going or you either have to take whatever you think suits your budget. And since I was kinda lost, I think the RM20 is pretty decent.

However, the taxi driver didn’t know where he’s going as well. He stopped at Perhentian Duta, at least that was the sign I saw on the entrance. Knowing that it doesn’t look like a Plaza for me, I refused to step down. Then he brought someone with him.

“Going Penang. Stop here”, he said.

No. I’m going to Plaza Damas for a bus to Penang”, then show him my copy of booking confirmation

“Oh….booked ticket online already. Not here”, the guy turned to my taxi driver then instruct him to keep driving ahead and make a turn to something. Not too clear for me.

Then my diver enter the car again.

“Uncle, I said Plaza Damas. Just take me to Plaza Damas. This is definitely not Plaza Damas”, I keep repeating. It kinda burned my blood, knowing that driver has been ignoring my request to take me to Plaza Damas.

The taxi moved forward. Then about 15 minutes later arrived in from a “mall-looking” building.

“This is Mall Damas”, he said.

I looked around for a minute. Ok.. seems right. Plaza, Mall…. maybe no different. So I stepped down and pay him. But I still did not see any bus.

Desperate, I’m walking to the security guard in from of the entrance. Asking them where the location exactly. They looked at my booking confirmation and told me to go to the building opposite. So I did.  Until I saw this little sign saying “Nice” beside the Damas Club. I asked the security if it was the right place. He lets me in.

Finally found it and relieved. But hey…it was only for a second. The reception said that it is not possible for me to get on board. Cause they have no seat at the time. OMG!! Suddenly I’m burst in anger. Upset, hungry cause I didn’t have time to get lunch yet, I almost hit my boiling point. I almost scolded at the girl saying that as far as I know my reservation was an instant confirmation and I have paid full amount with a card already. I told her, she has to have my seat. No buts.

The girl then asked me to sit down. Sitting down, trying to calm my self, I saw the girl is doing nothing at the counter. Really…nothing!!

I keep coming back to the counter. Annoying her. Asking for confirmation. Until 1 hour later she told me to wait for 10 minutes until the bus come. And it did come. With 2 seats empty. Yeah….that was the 2-seats I booked online. Damn!! Why did they say I don’t have a seat?? Why??

Suddenly I regret taking this trip. The so-called-prepared trip started a bit messy. And I’m already tired to the top of my lungs.

Inside the bus I got a bit calm. It was as advertised. The Nice bus line is luxurious. With entertainment system; movies and music, light snack and drinks, most importantly a massage chair. I immediately use it to calm my tensed nerves. The ride to Penang is about 5 hours. Quite a long one. The bus only makes 1 stop, for about 5 minutes for restroom.

Arriving in Penang’s Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal about 8:30 at night. I didn’t take time to look my surroundings. So tired. My energy is drained already. So I rushed to the taxi counter and took the RM30 ride to Love Lane in Georgetown.

I booked Red Inn Heritage Guesthouse in downtown Georgetown called Love Lane or Lorong Love. This is one of the busiest backpackers area in the old town. Next to all the bars and restaurants and in the center of all the tourist attractions. Arriving at Love Lane immediately reminded me of Jalan Poppies or Poppies Lane in Bali. A lot of backpackers sitting in cafes or bars, chatting and having a good time. Or in front of their guesthouse, reading a book.

Red Inn Heritage at Love Lane, Georgetown - Penang

Red Inn Heritage at Love Lane, Georgetown – Penang

Red Inn Heritage Guesthouse is one of the well-known guest house in the area. My check in process was quick. I immediately settled in to the room in the 2nd floor. Took my cold shower, took a quick strolled to get dinner, ate my dinner and come back to the room to rest. This has been a tiring day. I need a good rest to at least have something to do the next day.

*more stories on my Penang trip will be on another posting…coming up soon*

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