Chickens can fly

What a pleasant flight home! After all the fear and internal drama of developing storms and jetstream turbulence combined with the apprehension of a “Sydney welcome” the flight turned out to be very smooth.

We had to get up early. Early for Malaysia, but sadly still later than our usual Australian day which has returned all too soon. After a quick check out we made our way down to Sentral Stesen and caught the KLIA Ekspres to KLIA2, the Sun a red ball in the morning sky.

It’s a bit of a hike from the station to the departure hall. As we had already preprinted the boarding passes in Australia and just had carry-on luggage all we needed to do was have our passports checked. But only a single desk was open for document checking and the attendant was very slow at getting through the queue.

Now time for breakfast. The terminal has a range of eateries in mock shophouses. We found a roti canai place, but we have eaten rather a lot of it and so we selected “Nonya Colors” instead. Alex and I had nasi lemaks wrappen in banana leaf and brown paper. B chose an assam laksa. Good and reasonably priced considering that this was an airport.

Time was getting away from us. Immigration and initial security were quick affairs, but we got delayed briefly at a duty free toy store with a slide and a big Lego Yoda. The problem is that KLIA is big and our gate was one of the more distant ones. KLIA2 has a hybrid security setup somewhere between Sydney and Singapore’s. There’s an x-ray bag check after immigration and another before what must be the international gates.

When we eventually reached the actual gate our flight was on final call with boarding well under way. We put a couple of bags overhead and took our seats. I was feeling stressed and nervous, the other two were fine.

As was the case with our other AirAsia flights this trip we were delayed leaving the gate. A sister aircraft, bound for the Gold Coast, headed off before us.

We taxied out to the runway and took off into skies so hazy that I couldn’t tell if there was much cloud up there or not.

Fortunately not.

A smooth cruise up, though we passed what could have been the precursor clouds to later storms. Passed them, not passed through them. Big difference.

A couple of passengers nearby seemed to be suffering some gastric complaint with serious attendant Felicia giving them tablets. Bit of a worry and hope we don’t come down with Noro virus or similar.

The first few hours were mostly flown above a cloud layer with only brief views of Indonesia beneath. The crew served lunch, a slow and inefficient process. We had ordered three meals for the flight and after the heavy breakfast we chose to only take the chicken rice for lunch. Not bad. Alex and B somehow managed to convince them that he had ordered cup noodles for lunch, which he ate.

Then Alex slept and B watched The Croods on my old phone. I listened to music and stared out the window, distracted by the little niggling bumps. Over blue seas I felt confident enough to watch some Robot Chicken on my phone. Alex awoke and he did some drawing, then we used a splitter to let him watch what remained of The Croods.

Time seemed to go faster on this flight. The captain announced our crossing of the Western Australian coastline plus a whole lot of other details that an aviation nut would love but which were simply too inaudible to understand. As usual for a Malaysian operated flight.

Details on the ground were hard to make out through the haze, but it had a dreamy sensation about it, enhanced by the very smooth air. I finally finished watching Paul on my phone while Alex and B watched Rise of the Guardians and made loom bands. Incidentally, it was a Malaysian living in the US that started this kids sensation.

We crossed the salt lakes of South Australia and as the Sun set were served the remainder of our meal orders, nasi lemak and satay chicken, which tasted better to my hungry tongue. Then nothing could be seen as darkness fell.

I could feel us descending for a long time and there were a few small bumps. It was disconcerting not to be able to see anything other than the odd light outside. I was disoriented as we approached Sydney. I thought we were coming in from the south, but on my right I could see the black waters of a bay. Then the city.

It became apparent that we were doing a long loop around the city, curving around it until we were on the northwesterly flight path right over my workplace. The city was beautiful in the night, more stars below than above. Green sports fields, amber streetlights, purple toll gates.

We made a smooth descent right on to the runway. Even though the cabin was still in darkness passengers got up as soon as we started taxiing and the crew did nothing about it.

Once we had disembarked we rushed as quickly as possible to immigration. The only problem was that (again) they had run out of immigration forms on the flight. I suspect that they don’t carry enough to save on weight and it’s really poor form. So we had to try to fill out a form while waiting in line.

At least the customs waived us through without requiring us to open our bags, then we went straight to the taxi rank for a ride home. The Lime taxi was big enough for all of us to sit at the back and the driver seemed quite proud of its history of servicing the disabled (didn’t apply to us).

The night hadn’t quite ended when we stepped in the door. We still had to get bread and milk for the next day, so we rushed off to the local supermarket with half an hour to spare before its 10 pm close.

I hate to admit it, but I was glad to be home. Malaysia isn’t the easiest of countries to get around and I felt quite isolated at the Hilton, nice as it was. The bits I loved best about Malaysia were eating food from a tiny street side stall or open hawker centre or wandering the pasar malam. Shopping centres, restaurants and taxi rides, that I could do without. I wanted to be in SS2 snacking and sleeping, not constantly in transit or trying to satisfy the old folk.

Legoland was great, although it would be hard to justify frequent visits and Singapore, I think a longer holiday there would be nice. Pity the hotels are so expensive.

I felt at times that perhaps I didn’t want to fly again, that it was an agony I could do without. But that last flight was so pleasant that I could feel the old joy returning.

And so another holiday comes to an end.

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