Return to Roots 落葉歸根 Pt II: SIN-KUL-CAN

Pt I: Prologue
Pt II: SIN-KUL-CAN
Pt III: Lufeng 陆丰
Pt IV: Luhe 陆河
Pt V: D2282
Pt VI: Yongchun 永春
Pt VII: Xiamen 厦门 / Gulangyu 鼓浪屿
Pt VIII: Malaysian Hospitality
Pt IX: Epilogue

As usual waking up at 4am wasn’t pretty. Two taxis brought the six of us (Ying joined us as well) to Changi T2 slightly before 5am.

The direct Tigerair flight to CAN seemed like a better idea

I was actually quite excited to try out Malaysia Airlines after having a good experience with Garuda Indonesia. However the issue with MH370 remained unresolved (still is now) at the time of our flights and the questions remained with us: where did it go and what happened?

MH Economy Class

Despite having checked in online the day before, it still took quite some time for the agents to issue our boarding passes. We had kaya toast for breakfast at the air-side Killiney Cafe before making our way to Gate E1 where a queue had already formed up for security check.

Gate E1

24A today

The plane that would ferry us from SIN to KUL was a Boeing 737-800.

9M-MLN

Flight: Malaysia Airlines MH 602
Depart: Singapore (SIN) – 6:45
Arrive: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – 7:45
Duration: 1h0m
Distance: 184 miles (296 km)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: 9M-MLN
Seat: 24A

Boarding

My first impression of the MH crew wasn’t good. Granted it was the first flight of the day, the crew didn’t seem really interested. One of the crew even looked on without interest as the passengers struggled to place their stuff in the overhead compartment. In comparison I had seen Scoot crew proactively helping out passengers with their bags. Morale certainly didn’t seem high at MH.

Pretty winglet

I was more impressed with the hardware. I liked the seats in the red and maroon color scheme although the seat pitch was quite tight. IFE was available on the ground and content seemed adequate. Like GA, it employs the touch-screen technology. No ear pieces were distributed for this flight though.

IFE

The seat pocket was filled with the usual items.

Seat pocket content

The safety video was played on the IFE and Ying recognized that the crew in the video was serving on this flight.

(Taken from a later flight) Crew onboard

The plane actually pushed back before the scheduled departure time but as always there was a wait for take-off at SIN.

Waiting for take-off

Once the plane was cruising, the crew came around with snacks…

Salted peanuts (for monkeys?)

…followed by drinks.

Orange juice

Apple juice

View outside:-

Muar (I think)

Oil palm plantations

Could see over water villas

Despite the wait at SIN, we landed 15 minutes ahead of time at KUL.

KUL

Landed

While taxi-ing I spotted KLIA-2 which was supposed to be in operation last June. The new opening date is May 2014 but I would be keeping my fingers crossed. Although to be honest it looked completed.

MH Central

Former AirAsia X’s A343

Malindo Boeing 737-900ER

We arrived at KLIA Main Terminal and had to take the skytrain to the Satellite Terminal where the C gates were.

Waiting for train

Our train arrived at the Satellite Terminal in no time.

Satellite Terminal

The Satellite Terminal was a more interesting place to do spotting.

Iraqi Airways

Qatar Airways

Xiamen Airlines

Two CX birds

The gate for our flight to Guangzhou wasn’t opened yet and we found some seats on the second level (outside Krisflyer lounge). Feeling a little peckish, I went to Burger King and bought some food for all to share. The packets of chili sauce and ketchup would come in handy in China later.

Taken after security screening – 9M-ATL would fly us to CAN

Our relatives living in Malaysia went through the security not long after us and by then the plane was ready for boarding.

On aerobridge

No one cared to clean up this mess

Flight: Malaysia Airlines MH 376
Depart: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – 9:30
Arrive: Guangzhou (CAN) – 13:35
Duration: 4h5m
Distance: 1622 miles (2610 km)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Registration: 9M-MTL
Seat: 36A

Settled in Seat 36A

There was a passenger who checked in online but didn’t turn up and the crew made an announcement over the PA asking him to identify himself. His friends happened to sit across the aisle from us and informed a crew that he wouldn’t be on the flight. The crew member confirmed with them that the missing passenger didn’t check in any luggage.

Seen from my window:-

China Southern

MH A380

AirAsia Central

Take-off:-

Soon after take-off

The IFE had to be restarted and many passengers started to question the crew who were distributing drinks (same choices as the earlier flight) after the plane reached cruising altitude. An announcement was made later to announce that IFE was unavailable for the first 20 minutes of the flight and Malaysia Airlines apologized for the inconvenience.

No IFE

The next best alternative would be looking out of the window.

Over somewhere in Malaysia

Lake

The crew who was serving our side had a weird hairdo which couldn’t be described by words.

Crew with weird hairdo

About half an hour into the flight, my pre-booked seafood meal was served first. Those around me waited for around 20 minutes more before theirs were served.

Seafood meal – Steamed fish with omelette, mushrooms, asparagus and grilled tomato

I would have preferred the nasi lemak that Ying opted for.

Nasi lemak with sambal shrimps

Clearly MAS had taken Chef Wan’s complaint seriously and the nasi lemak came with yummy sambal shrimps and ikan bilis.

During the meal service I got some white wine to go with my food but it wasn’t to my liking. My mom had red wine which she said was not bad.

The early start had an effect on me and I couldn’t concentrate on any movies on the IFE. The screen was set to the flight map instead.

Less than two hours to go

Off Vietnam – Close to where MH 370 was last contacted

After the meal service I drifted in and out of sleep. I recalled that the crew did one more round of drinks run before landing.

Islet off Vietnam

Somewhere over Shenzhen

Somewhere over Shenzhen

Reaching CAN

Seen on CAN tarmac:-

China Southern

Qatar Airways

It had been quite some time since I had taken Malaysia Airlines and frankly I didn’t think that it wasn’t a five-star airline. While the hardware was not bad, the crew didn’t seem very motivated. It would take a lot more before their service could catch up with other leading carriers.

Sight of CZ Boeing 787 greeting me as I walked off the aerobridge

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport

As we went to the washroom after disembarking, we were among the last people from our flight to be in the queue for immigration checks. My brother and I managed to end up on a queue which moved pretty fast; some of my family members were in a slower queue where there were several Africans in front of them.

It didn’t matter though because all passengers who checked in their luggage had to wait for the bags to appear on the belt.

Meanwhile my brother went ahead to purchase SIM cards (100 CNY each) for our time in China.

Kiosk to purchase SIM cards

The crew had made an announcement on arrival that the bags would be collected at Belt 1 but no bags came. They were at Belt 4 instead.

Four of our China relatives were already waiting for us when we exited into the Arrivals area. We hadn’t met them before but it was easy to spot them with their signs.

They surprised us with the information that the ancestral village is 320km away from the airport and the car ride there would take around four hours. That was almost the distance between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and we didn’t expect it to be so far.

We were all very touched by our relatives’ offer to receive us at Guangzhou Airport as they had to take time off work and make an 8-hour round trip to pick us up. We would continue to be touched by their hospitality throughout the trip.

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