Day 1 20th October 2009, Tuesday
It was a 5.20 pm Air Asia X flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hangzhou, arriving at 10.20 pm. The moment we got to the check in counter, there were sea of people. Since the first counter stated “Open”, there were people lining up there as well only to find that, there was nobody manning it. Frustrated, we moved to the next lane. However, it really felt like China even before we got to China. Everybody is cutting queue like nobody’s business. Since we were early, we didn’t really bother.
The flight was quite unpleasant. We were seated next to the toilet, so you can imagine – the amount of people going in and out from the toilet and bear in mind, it was a full flight! I could actually keep track of how many times one white haired lady who went in and out from the toilet in the 5-hour flight. Haha! So people, please pre-book your seats to avoid such situation.
I don’t remember that the seats are so rigid and tight. It’s even worse than the smaller planes. This is Air Asia X, mind you… for long haul flights and we had to sit straight on our back and on such a tiny seat! Imagine my aunt, a 50 kg 5 ft old lady complained that the seat was too narrow. What about me, who is 2x heavier than her and taller than her by 4 inches? Thank God they are going to change the seats in 2010.
Apart from that, there was a pasar malam action going on at 35,000 feet above sea level. When the flight attendants were selling duty free products, it took one guy 30 minutes just to buy a bottle of liquor. Currency problem? Communication problem? Some Malaysians were nice enough to help them to translate what they wanted. So, there – new friendships were formed instantaneously. Then there were endless talking. It was really like pasar borong on the plane. There was one middle aged fat lady who has a balding patch on her head was speaking at the top of her voice in a triad-like Cantonese, like she’s going to run amok anytime on the plane. I prayed hard that she is not one of my travel mates otherwise, we are screwed.
I spent the entire 5 hours reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, the author for the much loved Kite Runner. I think I’ve never spent such long hours sitting on a chair, reading a book before! After reaching the page where Laila and Mariam tried to escape but were caught by their barbaric husband, Rasheed, we reached Hangzhou.
We were greeted by Ms Shao, a pretty Suzhou lass. There were 22 people in our group. Since it was such a long and not to mention noisy flight, we were tired. But we were rather impressed to see the highways of Hangzhou. They were all multi-tiered and brightly lit with multi-colored lights! Even if the lights are sort of ah beng-ish – you have a bit of blinking blues here, yellows here and shocking pink there, everyone went “wow” when they saw the highly colorful highways. There were many beautiful lush willow trees surrounding the highway.
Hot street food is good for a cold Tuesday night.
We stayed at Wan Hao Wan Jia Hotel in Hangzhou for a night. After checking in, we went for a walkabout and sampled some street food. They only have some fried food and satay. We made do with some fried noodles and rice to ease our hunger pangs before going to bed.