Return to Roots 落葉歸根 Pt VIII: Malaysian Hospitality

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

The breakfast at Gem Hotel was a disappointment. There wasn’t much choice and the selection was less than inspiring. Thankfully I had a bowl of cup noodles bought the night before at the supermarket.

My cousin arranged a minibus (200 CNY) to bring us to Xiamen Gaoqi Airport at 12 noon. It took us around half an hour to reach there.

Malaysian Hospitality?

Although check-in hadn’t commenced, there was already a sizable queue at the counters. Many of the passengers seemed to be Malaysian Chinese visiting their ancestral hometowns.

Xiamen Gaoqi Airport

While queuing up, my mom striked up a conversation with a fellow passenger and asked her what was inside her boxes. She replied that they were gifts from their relatives and now she had 43kg of luggage. We would later find out that she had to pay 400 CNY for her excess baggage.

Check-in

My relatives browsed through the shops for a while before we headed air-side. When we were going through the security, there was a strange procedure. The agents checked our boarding passes but didn’t return to us. Instead he put it inside the basket with our wallets for X-ray.

When my sis was retrieving her items, her boarding pass was nowhere to be found. It was causing quite a bit of hooha as the agent denied seeing her boarding pass. She tried searching in her bag but it wasn’t there. Somehow the agents managed to find it in one of the baskets but no apologies were offered.

(Immigration on the other side)

The air-side dining option was not very inspiring; there was only an overpriced cafe with so-so food. Our lunch bill came up to almost 900 CNY for the eleven of us, four times the xiaolongbao dinner the night before. My advice would be have your meal outside the airport before your flight.

Staff leaving after delivering our orders

By the time we were done with our meal and trips to the washroom, the plane that would bring us to KUL was already here

9M-MLO

XMN doesn’t have many international destinations

ANA heading to Tokyo

Spring Airlines

Flight: Malaysia Airlines MH 391
Depart: Xiamen (XMN) – 15:10
Arrive: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – 19:45
Duration: 4h35m
Distance: 1863 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: 9M-MLO
Seat: 27F

Boarding

It was a standard MAS 738 and there didn’t seem to be any empty seats. The loads had been great for the MAS flights that I had been on; their promotions certainly helped to sell the seats. However, it’s unclear whether it generates any profits though.

Selamat Datang

Outside my window:-

Dragonair A333

Xiamen and China Spring

China Southern

Lining up to take off

Byebye Xiamen (with Kinmen in the background)

Making the turn

Somewhere over Fujian

Once the plane was cruising, the crew came around with beverages.

Orange juice again

The inflight meal wasn’t served until around an hour into the flight. Meanwhile I decided to watch a Masala comedy.

Phata Poster Nikhla Hero starring Shahid Kapoor

The crew came around and offered us the choice of either:-

Chicken

or

Fish

I chose chicken while Ying went with the fish. The bread roll which was given out later was a winner with its soft and fluffy texture. I finished my main and the fruits but didn’t like the cake so much.

After the meal, many passengers seemed to think that it was a good idea to visit the restrooms. The queue for the washrooms went up to five rows long and there were as many as 10 people in the queue.

During that time, the distinctive smell of cigarette was in the cabin and I turned around to Ying and asked if she smelled that too. It was unmistakeable because we had been subjected to that smell the whole time in China. Then an elderly Malaysian Chinese man who was in the washroom earlier walked past our row reeked of smoke. Clearly he was smoking inside the toilet. How he managed to smuggle his lighter or matches beyond the security channel was beyond me. #securityfail

Clouds over South China Sea

I still had time for one more movie. This time I chose to watch Diamantes Negros, an interesting tale about two young Malian teenagers moving to Spain to pursue their footballing dreams (which of course turned into nightmares). Highly recommended!

Black Diamonds

Clouds

Nearing KUL

It was close to sunset when we touched down at KUL.

KUL

KUL

Retired MH 744

Ex AirAsiaX A343 9M-XAB (Took me to Paris in 2011)

Ex AirAsiaX A343 9M-XAC (In Saudia colors )

Firefly B734 9M-FZB (Flew my parents from JHB to CNX in December 2013)

When I was leaving the plane, I informed the chief steward about the cigarette smell and asked him to check with his colleagues stationed behind. He seemed genuinely surprised; apparently no one had informed him.

Our plane was docked at KLIA Main Terminal and my relatives made their way to the immigration. It would take them around two hours to reach Melaka. Meanwhile we waited for our flight which departed at around 11pm.

KLIA Main Terminal

One of the cool features of KLIA was the model planes of the different carriers. There were some quirky airlines such as IranAir on display.

Model airplanes

FIDS with some really interesting destinations

We spent part of our transit time at Old Town White Coffee where we had a light dinner. The food pricing, while not cheap, was more reasonable than the lunch at XMN.

Finally after a three-hour wait, the gate was finally open for boarding.

Gate G2

Cheap-looking boarding pass

9M-MSD

Flight: Malaysia Airlines MH 609
Depart: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – 23:10
Arrive: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – 00:05 (+1)
Duration: 0h55m
Distance: 185 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: 9M-MSD
Seat: 24F

Shortly after I took this photograph, I fall asleep.

9M-MXA – MAS classic livery

I vaguely remembered waking up for the beverage run and then slept on till landing.

Although we took some time to purchase duty-free alcohol, we still had to wait for our bags to come out.

First bags arriving

Waiting

There was a 20 minute taxi queue and we were all glad to reach home shortly before 1am.

With Malaysia Airlines being a 5-star airline, naturally one would have high expectations of the service. However for the four flights that I had, the so-called Malaysian Hospitality was mediocre at best. I would rank it below Garuda Indonesia. They still had some way to go before recognized as a “5-star airline”.

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