Due to Malaysian airlines canceling our second leg, we spent a night in KL on our way to Medan, It’s been many years since I was last in KL and just as I remembered, there was lots of open space once out of the airport.
We arrived tired and weary into KL after a 7 hour flight. After clearing customs and quarantine which was very straightforward, we emerged out into the airport hoping to see someone holding up a plaque with our names or even the name of our hotel. Yet there was nothing, so we based our suitcases by a door and Marg stood guard while I headed off to find out where we had to go to find the transport promised. After several false leads, we finally found someone who actually knew where the transport counter was. We were invited to sit down and wait a while. We had landed in KL at 3pm and finally at 4/30 we were invited to board a mini bus which would deliver us to our hotel. By this time we were exhausted and were really looking forward to reaching our hotel however the drive seemed endless. We passed acres and acres of palm oil as well as many enormous building sites. Some looked like businesses and others looked like huge housing estates. It was with relief we reached the hotel an hour later after zig zagging through the streets. Our hotel was absolutely lovely but we were so tired it was difficult to appreciate it. We discovered a pool which would have been lovely but we just didn’t have the energy. All we could do was find the restaurant and eat dinner before collapsing into bed.
Today then began with a very early start with our alarm going off at 4 instead of 5 yet we were up showered and dressed before we realised this!! It gave us time to check our emails and messages and before we knew it, it was time to head downstairs. The ride back to the airport was at dawn, so everything we passed was clouded with smoke and semi darkness. The smoke in KL was quite thick and was noticeable as soon as we entered KL airspace, however we soon adjusted and no longer noticed it.
We returned to the airport thankful that we now knew that we needed to go to level 4. Rather than wait for the lift which was running slowly, we lugged our suitcases up the escalators and in no time reached level 4 where bedlam greeted us. There were hundreds and hundreds of people all trying to check in and hand over their luggage. We were initially told by the girls at the MAS desk to line up at counter C to get a boarding pass. After waiting there for 10 minutes and aware that time was running out very quickly, I asked again at the desk. Once again she insisted that we needed counter C, however another passenger waiting at counter C said we needed a queue ticket to line up at counter C. So again I returned to the MAS counter and this time she suggested we try counter B where we immediately saw the familiar machines that print boarding passes!! Why it took her so long to suggest this is beyond me. We then looked at the long lines of people queuing to drop off their luggage. We naturally chose the shorter queue and after standing in it for 10 minutes, the kind fellow behind us informed us that we were standing in the domestic queue!! By this time the international queue was almost out the door and people had started another side queue!! Thus the line progressed slowly and we enjoyed chatting to a lovely lass behind us who was on her way to Ho Chi Minh City for a conference. At the point where our queue reached the side queue, we discovered an Australian family from Brisbane who were on their way to Hong Kong. With time ticking away steadily and signs around us stating that gates close 20 minutes before departure, we learned that the first queue we’d joined is for both international and domestic travel!! Astaga!!! We almost reached the beginning of the queue when an announcement invited all passengers heading to Bali & Medan proceed immediately to counter C4 which we did and our luggage was processed slowly with 5 minutes to spare. We then raced to our gate as the final boarding call was flashing on the monitors! We sank into our seats in relief and was happy to say goodbye to KL airport!! What an absolutely enormous airport where nothing is obvious and it is difficult to find anyone who knows what is actually happening!!
The flight to Medan was incredibly quick. The hour flight flew by and no sooner had we been offered kacang Kapri (yummy garlic peanuts) and juice or water, we began our descent to Indonesia. The first thing we noticed was how quiet and calm Medan airport is after KL. People smiling and friendly. Our suitcases were the first off the plane and once scanned, we joined the short VOA queue of 4 people of which we were half!! The fellow behind the counter was lovely and in no time at all we had our visas. We followed the path to the customs officials and for the first time ever entering Indonesian, the VOA queue was the shortest. We went straight through while the local queue zig zagged back 5 or 6 rows!!
Our welcoming committee was outside! Pak Pahot and Ibu Eliza were very visible wearing PEPS shirts! It was so lovely seeing them again! Also there was the school principal and one of the many/pengawas. Finally we could feel the warmth of Indonesia!! Both the warmth of the climate and the warmth of Indonesian hospitality!!