A Travellerspoint blog

December 2015

A glamorous wedding


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Today, I experienced something different. In my half-century, I hadn’t experienced a Malay wedding. Tonight, I attended a wedding reception for Adlie and Amal. Adlie is the son of a friend and also nephew of an old school mate.

They had married on Christmas day, exchanging their vows, but today is the big dinner. It was held at the Baitulmal, which is an Islamic centre. I went with Richard and Habibah who live near me and we seated ourselves near the main entrance and the head table.

There was a bit of waiting around but we were kept entertained on the big screen with videos of the actual wedding day. They had their formal vows, change of costumes (Korean, Indian), games, Bollywood dancing and at midnight releasing sky lanterns into the night sky. As this was held in the Library, being non-religious, they were able to get away with a drag queen. I hear it was quite raunchy.

The first bit of fanfare came with the arrival of a dignitary, the second with the happy couple and the final (and grandest) was the serving of the rice. The happy couple watched a silat performance before coming in. Large bowls of rice were marched in to grand music by a parade of men in orange traditional garb.

At the centre of each table was a heavy round serving dish with several inserts of food. I had dressed up for this special occasion in a white Baju Melayu and a black/green samping. I took care not to have any curry on my brand new attire. It is rare for me to dress up and look glamorous! The dress code was formal, batik shirt or Baju Melayu. As I hadn’t brought anything suitable, I had to make a purchase anyway, so I went the whole hog with the Baju Melayu.

At the end of dinner, we stayed behind for photographs. The pelamin (stage) was beautifully set and many people took the opportunity for photos with the newlyweds. For reasons of privacy, I have opted not to post the photos on the travel blog but keep them on my facebook page.

Note:Actually, they groom's side (at least) are Melanau but the distinction between Malay and Melanaus who are Muslim is quite blurred nowadays.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Flying to see family via Senai, Johor


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Today I fly to Kuching [Kuching-travel-guide-1096915] for Christmas with my family. Being the festive season, flights out of Singapore were expensive and I saved SGD80 by flying out of Senai [Senai-travel-guide-1098710] in Johor. It seemed like a good idea when I made the booking because I wasn’t working. But now that I’m earning again, it felt like a dumb idea.

As it turned out, it was relatively easy and the bigger inconvenience was getting to Senai 5h before departure and killing time till bagdrop 2h prior to the flight.

0930: Left aunt’s apartment in Katong by taxi.
0950: Departed bus from Queen St bus station bound for the causeway.
1020: Arrived at Singapore CIQ.
1030: Back on the bus for the short ride across to Malaysian CIQ.
1040: With x-rays not in use on the Malaysian side, I was out in JB Sentral! There had been no waiting anywhere. I looked for the counter to exchange my preprinted voucher for a free ride to Senai airport. The counter was nowhere to be found so I went to the bus where I was told it was no longer available. I paid MYR8 and hopped on for an immediate departure.
1100: Depart for Senai airport.
1145: Arrive at Senai airport, 2h15 after leaving the house. Unfortunately this is 5h prior to departure and 3h till bagdrop opened.

Senai airport is privately operated and it was good to see how it has even improved further. I managed find a good spot in a cafe for lunch and do admin on the computer. The outside now even has commercial shopping areas and eateries. Weather-permitting, one could walk to that mini-town next to the airport whereas during my previous visit, the airport was in the middle of nowhere.

There’s even a small hotel (Hotel Zamsaham), for people who wish to overnight before an early flight. This is great for Singapore-residents who wish to avoid the morning rush through the border to catch some flights (especially to Malaysian domestic destinations) that aren’t available from Singapore.

Time passed very quickly doing admin (including invoicing) at the restaurant after lunch. I packed up and wandered the terminal briefly buying a tube of Colgate Pro-Relief toothpaste from the chemist. That turned out to be about 40% cheaper than in Kuching at a supermarket; it was on a 30% promo but their standard price was still cheaper. Good to know that airport shopping isn’t always a con.

I tried AirAsia’s self-service bagdrop which was really cool. Scan boarding pass first and then scan pre-printed bagtag. Your baggage allowance is validated and then a warning flashes before the belt rolls away ... whirr and it’s gone. They also have an option for home-printed bagtags (A4 folded and inserted into a plastic sleeve).

I spent over an hour in the Plaza Premium lounge airside. It was a little worn, converted from the area vacated by Malaysia Airlines. The food didn’t look the best but it was pretty good, especially the awesome Johor Laksa. It was my first experience with this variety of laksa; it has a mashed fish gravy like the Penang variety but not sour. The noodle used (according to Google) should be spaghetti(!) but they used what they called mee laksa which appeared identical to Chiinese kwayteow tikus, aka lor she fun aka bee thai bak.

It was short flight to Kuching. Flying off from Senai, I couldn’t help noticing how the surrounding area has become so industrialised since my last visit.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Pilots forgot where they parked the plane?


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Before landing, there were no announcements on drugs, mandatory death sentence, prohibition on nunchuks, knuckle dusters etc. It must be optional as some airlines do make these religiously.

Leaving the gate area, there was a cordon and staff stationed at various points with an iPad/tablet pointing the direction we’re supposed to head towards. I followed that but took off to the toilet. Coming out, I noticed that I was beside the escalator down to immigration and baggage claim. Going down the escalator I noticed that it said Terminal 1 when I knewAir New Zealand is processed through Terminal 3. Fortunately I checked with some staff and backtracked upstairs. Otherwise I’d be severely inconvenienced having to come through airside/immigration to collect my luggage from Terminal 3.

Coming upstairs, I saw our pilots and warned them to check on the terminal with staff as well. So, the cordon and staff were there for a purpose but I kinda got through their net by going to the loo. They should have said “Take the train to Terminal 3” as well, because that was what was required. The Terminal 1 exit was just too near and convenient.

As for the pilots, I’m surprised they didn’t know where they had parked their plane! Terminal 1 instead of Terminal 3!

I taxied to my aunt’s for a 3 night stay. It was nice to see my cousin Janet from Scotland. In the evening, we had dinner at home with more cousins visiting. It was awesome to see cousin Patsy after about 30 years and another cousin Hong after maybe 10 years.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Leaving home


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I fly out to Singapore in the wee hours of Saturday morning 19DEC after a full day in the office on Friday. I managed to get a bit of a lie in after the street Christmas party before getting dropped at the airport at 0015.

The Air New Zealand check-in area was deserted 90 mins before the flight (or 60 mins before the originaly scheduled time; there had been a pre-notified delay of 30 mins).

As the flight was overbooked slightly, and with the festive season ahead, I didn’t expect to get a boarding pass at all. Surprisingly, I got one immediately without having for the flight to close 45 mins prior to departure.

I had prepared myself for flying Qantas at 0600 and camping at the airport till check-in opened for that flight at 0400. That would require 3h35 connection in Sydney and would get me into Singapore at 1630 instead of the breakfast time.

With only 30 minutes of non-useful time, I didn’t bother going to the lounge with my complimentary voucher. We boarded soon enough and I took my seat near the rear of the aircraft in an aisle seat in the centre triplet, next to a largish woman. Yep, the seats are narrow on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with the cabin designed for 8-across but now accommodating 9.

I stayed up for supper after take-off as I felt sufficiently alert and disturbed by everything around me. I took a sleeping pill after dinner and dozed for 4h before waking up about an hour before breakfast. Walking up and down to stretch my legs, I noticed the aircraft wasn’t as quiet as the Scoot 787 one I flew on some time ago, but it was still much quieter than the Boeing 777.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)