I’d booked my travel in two distinct hops, on two different carriers. It was the most economical. (As an aside, the first hop, on Batik Airlines from Perth to Kuala Lumpur was on a Boeing 737-Max, the jet with all the problems a few years ago. I’m happy to report it didn’t crash.) It was a redeye, we left Perth at 6:30 pm with an arrival at midnight in Malaysia. Flight was decent, even in economy class (I’m such a snob, these days!), because I had a window and nobody in the middle. On the downside, not even water was to be had without paying.
After landing, I cruise through Immigration and Customs, and after some scurrying about, finding out my outward flight is in a different terminal, ten minutes away by shuttle bus, I get to where I need to be. I figured since my flight was scheduled for 0655 and it was around 0100, I’d find a quiet corner and get some zees. I figured conditions to be somewhere between Denver overnight (no flights, and only a few people roaming the concourses), and Venice overnight (nobody, and I mean nobody except the guy driving the floor-tile Zamboni, and the carabinieri hassling me for not having my mask over my nose (it was January 2022 – Omicron time).
I was wrong. The place was bustling. There were scheduled flights all night. Restaurants were open – even the frigging Starbucks. It was so crowded, I had a difficult time even finding a seat (I eventually did). While seated, I saw there was a self-serve kiosk. Since I wasn't going to get any sleep anyway, I shuffled over and printed my boarding pass and baggage tag. Yeah, I’ve been checking my bag lately. They are really strict about carry on in this part of the world – for both quantity and weight. In Cairns, for instance, they weighed every carry on to ensure it didn’t exceed the 7 kg limit. My two bags are 9.1 & 6.5 kg, if you're curious. Since one bag is often included in the fare, or if the fare is super economy, and I have to pay a bit, I figure what the hell.
Around 0300, the stations open for checking bags for the airline. I dutifully queue behind the myriad of people who are taking massive amounts of luggage with them. From what I could tell, it appeared entire families were relocating via airplane. I eventually get to the front. I had the gentleman my passport and put the bag on the conveyor, complete with the tag already applied. This’ll be quick. He scans, my passport, checks the boarding pass, looks at my bag, and asks me for my visa. I pull it out of the Critical Carry bag, and hand it over.
He's looking. And looking, And looking. Finally, he looks and me and says the passport numbers don’t match. Sure enough, the first three digits of my passport are 562, and on the visa application, I’d typed 552. Fat Finger Freddie strikes again. He says he can’t let me on the plane; I’ll have to get a new visa.
Swell. It takes a minimum of three days processing and $100 US to get one. I’m left holding the bag. The bag being stuck in the KL airport with a non-refundable airline ticket, a week-long hotel reservation who’s 24-hours prior to arrival refund expired just 6 hours previously, and scheduled tour in the new city for which I had no idea if it could be refunded, but I don't think so. Added up, the visa and lost bookings totaled about $500 in actual lost money, and a zombie multiplier of no sleep and food, caused this cowboy to question life choices. Like they say, it's always darkest before the dawn, and 0400 am is smack-dab in the middle of that timespan. Bleak city.
It took a bit, but I sucked it up Buttercup, and started looking at hotels in the city. I’ve got nowhere to go and nowhen to be there. Since I’m here, I may as well check out KL. So, within about twenty five minutes, I’d booked myself into a 4-star hotel in the city center for less than $50/night. It dawned on me, slowly to be sure, because fatigue and calorie deficit, that, damn, KL is very affordable! Now, I just needed to (a) get some cash because (b) thought I would take a cab to the hotel. The cash part was easy, you can’t walk 50 meters in an airport these days without seeing an ATM sign. I decided to delay the getting a cab part lie for a bit to let the sun come up. Who knows what kind of crabby cabby I’d get at 4:30 am, and y room wouldn’t be ready until mid-afternoon, anyway. Ergo, no hurry.
Around 8:00 am, as I wandered the vastness of just the second terminal at this gargantuan airport, I stumbled across the KLIA-Express ticket window. KLIA is an acronym for Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and Express meant TRAIN! I paid the whopping 55 Malaysian Ringgit (about $12) for the 35 minute ride and hopped aboard. Cab be damned: I had spied that the train was going to drop me about 1.5 miles from the hotel.
Now this is why I make sure I can carry all my luggage. I popped the Patagonia Black Hole with clothes on my back, and the Critical Carry backpack on my front, and legged it to the hotel in about 45 minutes. I didn’t get run over even once, though in my ignorance of how aggressive the driving is, and that they drive on the wrong side of the road, I did offer a few opportunities. Protip: It’s not a good idea to walk in a non-pedestrian-friendly city in the heat, and/or when one hasn’t slept.
I’m now in my hotel room. And I’ve located a good coffee shop, a Malaysian restaurant where I can get dinner for the price of an Americano at the coffee shop, Chinatown, and three groceries all within about a 15 minute walk. The hotel has both a gym and a pool, too. By my reckoning, I’ve managed to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but in the process I did end up paying a stiff price for my lack of proofreading. So for all you ones of readers out there, don’t just be smart and learn from your mistakes, be wise and learn from mine.