The bumpy road back home

Bumpy is one word that could be used to describe a number of journeys in this holiday. Taxis, buses and even trains bouncing at high speed. The slower but even rougher ride on an elephant’s back. And last night’s flight home.

Only once have I experienced a flight so rough and that was a small jet weaving its way through storms. The much larger Airbus A330-200 shook as it was tossed around in the clouds. To make matters worse we were seated towards the back of the aircraft, so, like the rear of a bus, every little bump was magnified. Up until last night I thought that I had overcome much of my fear of turbulence, but the sweaty palms were back.

After sampling some of the Hilton’s huge range of breakfast foods (including kuay!) B and I descended to the pool deck. The shallow pool snakes around past the lounges and an artificial waterfall and… a waterslide! A fast (but too short!) slide! I haven’t enjoyed a waterslide so much in years.

Sadly it was then time to check-out from the hotel. Leaving our bags with the concierge we caught a monorail back again to Chinatown. Chinatown was packed with lion dancers and Chinese locals celebrating the final day of the 14-day Chinese New Year period.

No kuay to be found at Chinatown, but B’s main purpose was to purchase a highly recommended Korean soapy called Virgin Snow. She had rediscovered soaps while laughing at Thai television in Bangkok. One show featured a Eurasian Brett Lee lookalike (with black hair, of course) and was obviously total melodrama, even if we couldn’t understand a word. Another program had a bunch of black leather clad woman fighting off gangsters with really bad martial arts. You had to laugh.

Our last proper meal in Malaysia was Hainanese Chicken Rice (and assam fish) at Nam Heong in Chinatown. From there we caught another monorail to Bukit Bintang, the place we had stayed during the first leg of our time in KL. We were electronics shopping at Low Yatt Plaza. Suffice it to say that we added to our luggage.

By this time we were running a tad late. The monorail returned us to KL Sentral, then we rushed back to the hotel to collect our bags. Then it was all aboard the KLIA Express to the airport. It’s good to be able to sit back in a fast, comfortable, airconditioned train and have a final chance just to enjoy the view.

The queues at KLIA were horrendous. Our flight was obviously full judging from the line in front of the Jetstar check-in. Two security checks followed, one after passport control, then another at the gate itself. Despite the rumblings of our stomachs we only had time to buy one gift of perfume before walking to the distant gate.

Our plane’s arrival at the gate was delayed. We sat in the gate lounge opposite from three bogan women and hoped that we would not have to put up with their nasal voices the entire flight back. Finally we boarded and the plane pulled out into the golden evening light. I kept drifting in and out of sleep until the thrust increased and we said our goodbyes to B’s old homeland.

The rising full Moon was visible as a yellow disk below us, gradually moving above us, fuzzy through high cloud, as the night progressed. We crossed over bright Singapore, then the shaking began and didn’t really stop until we were well over the Australian mainland. I tried to watch my video on demand unit, but just couldn’t focus, needing to look out of the window to focus on the weather outside.

A couple of hours out of Sydney and the flight finally became smooth and we drifted above a sea of clouds. Then more bumps as we descended beneath those clouds and touched down under a just-risen red Sun.

It was good to be back. Unlike our previous trips where the final leg was in Japan, I felt ready to return home on this trip. We both enjoyed this holiday, but to me it never quite reached the heights of previous journeys. There were always deadlines, be it meeting relatives, eating breakfast or joining a tour. Few days were we could just randomly make up our minds. That said, I know that we’ll almost certainly be returning to Malaysia, if only for the food, and to Thailand, a country that promises much more than we had the opportunity to see.

This time there is no need to feel depressed at the ending of a holiday. For the next holiday is already planned. Europe!

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