QF562 PER-SYD

Qantas were then very generous to switch me from the cheap (to them) seat on the 11am plane to the 8am (had booked a longish connection given D7’s record).

QF576 PER-SYD 26-Mar
Boeing 767-336 VH-ZXE (Apr-91) Seat 30D

Perth Qantas Club was packed early morning with the cleaning staff struggling to clean away the plates. My first QF domestic flights in months!! Rope and board out for Priority Boarding but the big banner was on the wrong side and effectively two lines formed.

Moderate 70% loads with most middle seats spare. On the ex-BA bird that at least doesnt have the project screens.

Breakfast choices were a muesli or a bacon frittata of some description. Anyhow non-eventful flight where I typed up most of the kl segment of this report.

Qantas were then very generous to switch me from the cheap (to them) seat on the 11am plane to the 8am (had booked a longish connection given D7’s record).

QF562 PER-SYD Boeing 767-336 VH-VXE Seat 30D

Perth Qantas Club was packed early morning with the cleaning staff struggling to clean away the plates. My first QF domestic flights in months!! Rope and board out for Priority Boarding but the big banner was on the wrong side and effectively two lines formed. Moderate 70% loads with most middle seats spare.

Breakfast choices were a muesli or a bacon frittata of some description. Anyhow non-eventful flight where I typed up most of the kl segment of this report.

Plaza Premium KUL LCCT and D7236 KUL-PER

Flying out after the Malaysian F1 race I went to the airport early and put my luggage in left luggage then took a bus to the track which is very close to the airport (actually the last F1 bus departing at 2pm – still 2hrs before main event)

You certainly get a sense for how large AirAsia is here – the terminal is absolutely heaving.

Coming back picked up luggage and used PriorityPass to access the Plaza Premium lounge. This is an OK lounge that has a glass wall separating two sides of the lounge – one landslide and one airside. There is a shower landslide that sits in the bathrooms in a converted stall (one only for men). Food consisted of a soup, rice, meat curry, vegetable sticks, ice cream and drinks limited to water, soft drinks and beer in 200ml bottles. Nothing special but great to get a shower.

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Whilst in the lounge received an Optiontown email that my Uto (business upgrade) was unsuccessful (about 5hrs out). This was not unsurprising given there had been no seats for sale for a number of weeks. I still had an Eso (empty seat option) to go. The four hour deadline passed and no email. At 3hrs I called Optiontown – call answered immediately, after a 2min wait told upgrade declined, I said I know that, what about the empty seat, another 5min on hold with no music, then the line went dead. Oh well, may as well check-in. At desk told yes you have empty seats and given boarding pass for 40K midway down the plane. About half an hour later, email from Optiontown came through advising success. Up the escalator, through immigration, then back down to the other side of the lounge – Slightly smaller and with less food,

D7236 KUL-PER 25-Mar
Airbus A330-300 9M-XXA (Sep-08) Seat 40H/J/K

Then boarding from the airstairs. Seats appear noticeably narrow (as you would be expect with a 3x3x3 configuration) but found the legroom OK. Safety briefing is entirely manual. I was then very quickly into my earplugs and eye mask and trying to sleep.

Load was over 90% will have few spare seats — and I had 3! All for an extra myr52 (usd15) over my aud120 ticket! No idea about meals or service – I slept.

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Arrived at Perth about 20 min early and quickly through customs with my Apec card despite sitting down the back.

Then a 30min wait for bag. There we bags coming out from when I got there so I’m not sure whether there was a smoko break after each bag was loaded or a bunch of pygmy’s individually but I wasn’t impressed.

Was about the 20th last out. Waited 15min for the first GoConnect shuttle to domestic which arrived on time but then decided to wait another 10min till 630.

Malaysian F1 2012, Sepang Circuit

Three days at the F1 was the final part of my trip and the main reason for the visit to KL.

Went in for Friday practice. Caught the Airport train (local) which included a bus to the circuit dropoff zone, then onto another bus to the main entrance. Entry is actually totall fee on the Friday and you had run of the house apart from the Paddock Club which is the other side of the main straight. Was hottest day getting close to 30deg and track temp well over 40.

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Leaving the circuit I jumped on the bus to the Airport terminal and raced off to buy a SIM topup (none available at the track). Unfortunately just missed the train (after accidentally going to the express platform first) and had to wait another half hour.

Saturday was with a few friends and we cabbed to the circuit and back.

On the Sunday again caught the AirAsia affiliated bus from KL Sentral to the LCCT, put my luggage in left luggage then a 2pm (the last one) bus to the track. As those who are F1 fans will know, the race was a little wet, and was red flagged for some time. But a great race and even better listening to a proper broadcast on FanVision.

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Doubletree By Hilton Kuala Lumpur

Doubletree By Hilton Kuala Lumpur

Had picked this hotel given I have Diamond status and it is closer to KL triangle (one station or a 10min walk from Petronas/KLCC)(and was cheaper than the main Hilton). The hotel sits within The Intermark complex which is an office tower with a new one under construction, across the road from the Ampang Park station. I travelled by Lcct bus to Sentral, then train. To find the hotel, take the Ampang Plaza exit (opposite side to Intercontinental) then head towards the McDonalds, hotel is across the road to the left. The current overpass has stairs up and down so not great with heavy bags but looks like a new overpass will open soon which will connect Level 1 of Intermark (hotel lobby level) with the 2nd level of Ampang Plaza.

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Check-in at Doubletree is off to the side and there were four lanes, but the HH lane wasn’t manned. Great hotel cookie served and given Diamond benefit letter (Exec Lounge breakfast only, 530-730 drinks and canapés). Free wifi in lounge mentioned (but no mention of in room internet). Was not advised of an upgrade.

Going to room heading towards the corner – yes an Executive Suite. Rooms looks impressive, light wood throughout and very modern. Two tv’s recessed into the wall so connections aren’t easy to get at. Replicator at desk for hdmi/usb/available but this only works for lounge tv. You also need to find the hidden input button on the side of the tv as nothing on the remote. In any event the hdmi connection was poorly shielded and showed big interference.

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Drinks and canapés in executive floor of were very good. 8 hot dishes, 4-5 cold dishes, chips, dips, and some tasty dessert morsels, tiger, heineken, Australia, Argentina and French wines, and a good range of spirits. On the two occasions I went good variety in the dishes, which was repeated at breakfast. For breakfast choice was also decent albeit small and the scrambled eggs were the only downfall. Lounge also has a small outdoor area with four our so sears with views of both Petronas and KL Tower.

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Hotel has a good sized outdoor pool and the gym looked impressive although I didn’t use it. Axis lounge near the lobby was fairly happening most nights with live music, and there is also another venue a floor down that appears dessert and drink focused that was pumping at midnight on a Saturday.

Overall very impressed and would use again when in KL.

AK2655 LGK-KUL

AK2655 LGK-KUL 22-Mar
Airbus A320-200 9M-AHT(Jul-09) Seat 15C

My first ever AirAsia flight.

Plain black leather seats, premium ones with a red cover. Plane did a very quick turnaround, queue had formed in the gate area before passengers had even started disembarking. Loads about 60% with very few premium seats occupied.

Quick safety briefing that called AirAsia the “world’s first low cost airline” really! (I think they meant “world’s best” which they have been voted… And gave a plug for Queens Park Rangers. Crew handcounted passengers about 5 times and were very quick to shift people sitting in the wrong seats. Beverage and snack service immediately after takeoff.

Prebooked hot meals then delivered including my very tasty chicken satay (and excellent value at myr7 as well). Only about five prebooked meals surprisingly and limited other sales.

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The Andaman Langkawi and Priority Plaza Langkawi

The Andaman Langkawi

After landing taxi from the airport to the hotel. Driving down the driveway The Andaman, things looked a little old, but actually this is a fantastic hotel that has really settled into its rainforest surroundings.

Spent some time at the pool, then went on a Free Rainforest Walk that occurs most nights and mornings. Also saw the coral farm where the hotel is hoping to regrow coral for eventual transplant on the reef that was decimated by the tsunami.

Only downside was on checking out when the bell staff had no record of a request for a cab to be called for my 1pm departure. After being told a called one would take too long I agreed to pay the hotel car fee (RMB100) which was a hire car and had the porter drive me (of course we passed plenty of cabs along the way). If I was staying in Langkawi again I would probably hire a car.

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Priority Plaza Lounge Langkawi

Little lounge with about 60 seats and four computers just outside security for the shared gate area (although you can see Gate 4 from where my flight departed). I was the only occupant alongside 4 staff. OK food – a pasta noodle dish, bread canapés, clear chicken soup, muesli and some cheese sandwiches, soft drinks and water. Own wifi not needed with free gate wifi. Anyhow a few drinks before my AK Flight.

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MH2122 MH2605 MH1446 TWU-BKI-KUL-LGK

MH2122 TWU-BKI 21-Mar
Boeing 737-400 9M-MMW (Jun-93) Seat 22C

Back to the old 737 for the first of three flights to Langkawi. Tawau airport has seen better days and only has three gates but does the job. Got one bag checked thru to Langkawi, then went into the departure lounge. Flight was absolutely packed and service consisted of a pack of peanuts (unheard of nowadays on a western airline and an orange juice ). Landed on time at kk and made my way to the next new gate.

MH2605 BKI-KUL 21-Mar
Boeing 737-800 9M-FFA (May-05) Seat 14C

New Malaysian 737, writing on door said operated by Firefly. Four row 2×2 business in cloth blue, then economy standard 3×3 in blue leather. Despite plane seeming to have drop down screens the safety demo done manually.

Two hot choices for lunch – egg fried rice with ginger chicken or a Malaysian pancake (had run ut by my row). Served in a long tray with chocolate cake, a kit cat and orange juice, along with tray drinks. Very tasty and impressive for a 2hr20min economy flight.

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MH1446 KUL-LGK 21-Mar
Boeing 737-800 9M-FFC (Apr-07) Seat 5A

A long walk from B11 the A9 about as far as it gets at KUL Domestic. No lounge as the only Ppass lounge is in the International Satellite pier, although MH operates a Domestic Golden Lounge.

Another Firefly jet with same layout. Got row 5 which has excellent legroom and a cutout.

Service was again just peanuts and orange juice.

Seat 14C

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Holiday Inn Semporna and diving Sipidan

Holiday Inn Semporna

Trailed a few Westerners and paid myr50 to get on their shuttle into town where I checked into Holiday Inn (local hotel connected with Sipidan Scuba/ North Borneo Divers). Basic queen room of about 10sqm with no windows, but flat tv, good aircon and a lukewarm shower in a wetroom toilet/ shower. Safety lockers outside in full view of reception outside. Basic but OK enough and the price was RMB90 (dorm beds in the Inn are RMB25), but I wasn’t here for luxuries I was here to dive

Semporna is a pretty cheap town. Meals at a recommended Chinese restaurant in town for RMB6, on the water for RMB10. 4 beers RMB20-24

Diving in Sipidan

I used Sipidan Scuba as they are the only shop with an online reservations system with live access to Sipidan permits (only 100 a day and SS has 7) which helps when planning only a few weeks out. They are Semporna based so a longer trip on the boat, although they use a boat with 400hp to the outer islands. Friendly and good DiveMasters and decent albeit well used rental equipment.

Spent three days diving going to Manbutan, Sipidan and Mabul. Sipidan was the highlight with 3+m turtles swimming meters away, a huge school of jacks that swam around us, huge schools of 1m+ barricudas and some 1-2m whitetip reef sharks. At Mabul some cool lion fish, frog fish, crocodile fish, 2m grouper fish and a massive Moray eel. Coral was good but the marine life stunning. An awesome experience.

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As I had a relatively early flight I left the hotel at 545am and dragged my luggage to the local minivan depot (the Tawau depot is near the KFC). Driver turned up at about 6am but we didnt fill up and leave until 6.30am.  Anyhow for the princely sum of RMB20 I was on the near 100km journey back to Tawau Airport (the trip to Tawau goes past it). There is also a scheduled coach (for RMB40)  that apparently leaves at 7.00am but this was getting too risky for me.

 

MH3055 BKI-TWU

MH3055 BKI-TWU 17-Mar
ATR72-500 9M-MWG (Nov-09) Seat 3D

Checked in at the impressive Kota Kinabalu terminal to find flight delayed almost two hours. MH hides their check-in desk and tries to force everyone to use the kiosk and bagdrop desk.

Airport is much bigger than current needs with almost 20 domestic and international gates. A large number of shops in the domestic terminal appear shuttered. Small Golden Lounge and end of Domestic pier that appeared OK but nothing special (no access until MH joins oneworld)

Had some foot reflexology to pass the time, albeit the leg massage was somewhat painful thanks to my Mt Kinabalu sunburn.

Near new Maswings prop arrived for a quick turnaround. A 2×2 configuration throughout with a two row business section with same seats but separated by a curtain. Entrance only from the rear so premium pax are last off! Ceiling is low at about 6’4 hitting head and anyone above 6′ needs to be very careful of the overhead bins when open.

Small muffin and drink (your choice from cart) served on flight.

 

Le Meridien Kota Kinabala and Mt Kinabalu

LeMeridien Kota Kinabalu

Well located resort on the waterfront in Kota Kinabalu and a great cash and points rate. On checkin switched to a King Bed on high floor but no club access (as SPG Gold). Large room that is stylish yet understated, hotel showing some signs of age but in reasonable condition. Pool on level 2 is quite nice but appears underused.


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In and around Kota Kinabalu


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Climbing Mt Kinabalu

I decided to set myself a challenge despite having not done much training and climb Mt Kinabalu. Due to availability of Sipidan dive spots I could only do the one day climb. This has advantages in being cheaper (not having an overnight at Labu Raten), means you don’t have to climb in the dark, and limited to 4-5ppl, but you often get cloud cover at the top in the middle of the day. It is also a dammit tough climb. Pickup at hotel 500, Started climbing at 725. The way up is 8.6km long and 2200m vertical to reach Lows Peak of 4100m. Great view at the top and spent 25min there. Down is the same way and distance. I actually found the way down harder – combination of the distance and some sunburn.

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Slept very well that night!!