Misdirection of Dress Codes


(If you ask me, this is a better video to watch for the first time visitors to Malaysia and Asha Gill is lovely as usual)

I was flying in to Malaysia just the other day and yes, I was flying on MAS. It was kind of painful to see the good, hardworking people in MAS facing some uncertainty as MAS undergoes a major restructuring. But that did not stopped the stewardess on my flight from ensuring that service was and always first class.

As we were starting to descend, the onboard entertainment system was switched off and a short video on KLIA and Malaysia were shown for the benefit of the first time visitors to the country. It was not the usual video (starring Asha Gill which is many times better) but a different one. It often happens, just as I watch a video of the good things of the country – the good places to visit, the people from different background of culture, race and religion and of course, the food – I would have tears on my eyes. This time, it was no exception either. I simply love my “tanahair” no matter how long I am out of the country.

As I watched the video, something was not right. The scene is duty free shops in KLIA and the narrator mentions “items found in no other part of the world”. The next scene once this statement completes is a picture of Star Buck. Items found in no other part of the world, eh? It must have crossed the family from Australia who was sitting in front of me. They were smiling when they saw this.

Anyway, the landing was perfect and throughout the immigration & customs, it was breeze too. When I got home, the family had gone out so I took a quick shower and after an easy meal, I went to sleep only to be rudely awaken a couple of hours later by my daughter. Yup, I was back home already.

Interesting, “home” is undergoing some form of transformation as well. And I am not talking about the latest scandal to hit Najib administration – the one that was committed outside the country and one that got the Australian police in action. Nothing at moved on the biggest scandal of the century in this country, so this news was a welcome change indeed (already the IGP was quick to clear those involved from any form of CBT).

No, I am talking about the silly, petty hoo-haa on the recent misdirection of enforcing the dress codes

And it probably started with this:-

A double gold medal winning gymnast has been accused of breaking strict Islamic dress code by performing in a ‘revealing’ leotard at a top international event.

Malaysian double gold medallist Farah Ann Abdul Hadi has been slammed by some in the majority Muslim nation for her outfit.

Thousands have taken to social media to express their support for Ms Abdul Hadi after the controversy emerged while she competed at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

(Source)

Things somehow quiet down after the Sultan of Selangor himself slammed the critics of her attire and praised Farah for her win:-

Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah fully backs national artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and has expressed disapproval at those who picked on her attire during the 28th SEA Games in Singapore.

In his congratulatory letter to Farah, Sultan Sharafuddin said her achievement had made the whole country, including Selangor, proud.

The Sultan, as quoted by local daily The Star said in his letter, “Criticising your attire should be the last matter in the minds of those who commented negatively on social media.

He added, “They should be celebrating your achievements for Malaysia and Selangor.”

In his letter, the Selangor ruler said that he hoped Farah would not take the comments of narrow-minded people to heart and continue to strive to be the best in her field.

(Source)

Then more of dress code mishaps started to trickle in , starting with the famed Sarong-gate at JPJ office:-

A woman had a shock at a Road Transport Department (JPJ) office when she was forced to wear a sarong or be refused service.

(Source)

Interestingly soon after the incident went viral on the net, they were quick to admit that there was no such rule and they went too far with this and issued an apology. At least they admitted it was the wrong thing to do.

Then we had the visitor barred from seeing her father who was admitted in the hospital at a local hospital and in the end, she was forced to wear a towel to see him:-

In a third incident at public institutions here, a woman has come forward alleging that she was forbidden from entering the Sungai Buloh Hospital here recently because she was dressed in shorts.

In her Facebook post accessible to the public that is being shared on social media, the woman who goes by the moniker Nisha Daddygal said she was then forced to borrow a towel to cover up her legs before she was allowed to visit her father who had been warded there.

(Source)

Just imagine if this was an emergency and in the wee hours of the morning. And once again, there was a public apology and the hospital administrators informed that it was just a misunderstanding on the guidelines and a newly joined security guard to be blamed.

Then we had the ultimate dress code incident – of all places, at an international airport:-

Blogger Wilson Ng wrote about his experience at KLIA’s Baggage Services Lost and Found area, where he was forced to don long black pants and shoes because the knee-length pink shorts and sandals he was wearing was deemed inappropriate.

Ng who had gone to pick up his luggage which he had accidentally left at the baggage carousel following a trip to Taipei was denied entry by a security officer at the enquiry counter who told him to go home and change because there is a dress code to enter the KLIA building and the lost and found baggage office.

(Source)

Public apology was then duly rendered and MAHB stated that it has investigated the matter and found it to be due to miscommunication on the implementation of a policy pertaining to the issuance of visitor passes at the airport.

Wrong dress code incidents since I was back is unlikely to be small mistake, oversight or “opps, they misunderstood the instructions”. We never had these problems in the past – so why now and why so frequent in recent weeks?

Then one guy opened his mouth:-

Non-Muslims should dress more “appropriately” in public places out of “respect” for Muslims who will sin upon seeing people, including non-Muslims, who do not cover their “aurat”, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said amid the controversy surrounding conservative dress codes enforced at government departments.

“Even when we wear properly but we see other people who show their ‘aurat’, it is haram,” Harussani told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“They should show respect for Muslims and dress more appropriately; they cannot be showing their thighs. It is not wrong for them to dress how they like, but they must be considerate because when we bump into them at public places and see this, it is considered haram for us (Muslims),” the conservative cleric added.

(Source)

Perhaps that explains why Marina Mahathir is having a tough time shopping for a good Baju Melayu for the upcoming hari raya – she calls it the Arab Colonialism. But then again, I too stopped wearing jippa some years ago already – it is more on the change of fashion, environment and preference, I guess.

But then, it seems like things were getting out of hand and it was not big surprise when ex-civil servants and lawyers commented back as follows:-

Former high-ranking civil servants and lawyers have blamed the recent spate of strict enforcement of dress codes at government buildings on the intolerant attitude of certain “holier-than-thou” Muslims imposing their Islamic values on Malaysians of other faiths.

It was also a case of little Napoleons trying to be “more pious than the Pope”, they said. They added that it was time Putrajaya put a stop to this moral policing, saying the leadership must take a firm stand against those who abused the rights of the people seeking services at government departments. They also said Cuepacs, the umbrella group of civil service unions, had no business endorsing such actions.

(Source)

Even the Old Man noticed the stupidity in enforcing the silly dress code and commented:-

Malaysia is now sliding backwards and is acting like Saudi Arabia in its zeal to impose a dress code on the public, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said today.

He said it was a person’s right to wear shorts in public, and, “as long as they aren’t naked”, they should be allowed to enter a government building or hospital. “In government offices, certainly there is a dress code. But that is an office matter.

“Public matters are different. We shouldn’t be telling others what to do, they aren’t Muslim,” he told a press conference after a buka puasa event with Perkasa in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

He said dress codes in government buildings should only apply to its staff, and not visitors, especially those who are not Muslim.‎ “We are now sliding backwards. Soon, not only shorts will be an issue. If a woman leaves a house without a burqa, it will be considered wrong.

(Source)

If you ask me, as far as I could remember, Malaysians have generally dressed well and they know their limits when they are in the public areas (although there are some exception to this but they are in the smallish minority).

And one wearing shorts or skirts that is knee level is nothing compared to some Mat Salleh backpackers who come to this country wearing nothing but T-shirts that looks like rags from our mamak stalls and very short, shorts. Some even looks unwashed for weeks. And yet we welcome them with open arms and a very big smile. It is not like they have committed high treason wearing short pants. It is just how they dress themselves as they backpack to this part of the world and there is nothing wrong with it.

angkorwat dress code

(No doubt there must be some sense of protocols and dress code in place when one visits Government departments for official business, temples and even one’s home even in other countries. One cannot be wearing their sleeping dress or be half naked when they are there on official businesses or when they are on holy grounds. Image source: http://www.happinessplunge.com)

In the 1980s when me and group of friends from my neighborhood decided to attend the Open House at Istana Negara, our parents made sure that we are dressed well and wore proper shoes (we wore our finest on that day). And I also remember whilst we were waiting in the long queue to see the King, a policeman stopped a man in front and informed that he could not meet the King as he was wearing a sandal seemed extreme but even back then, we understood that there was minimal adherence to protocols.

And couple years ago when we are at resort’s swimming pool, the life guard on duty barred couple of guests from entering the swimming pool because they did not have their swimming attires on (they only had t-shirts and short pants). There is places when one cannot simply walk in wearing just any clothes.

But whilst one can understand the minimal need for protocols, it does not make any sense to impose the same for a visitor who is visiting a patient or a passenger looking for a lost luggage. And even if one goes by the arguments of the Perak Mufti that the non-Muslims must show respect to the Muslims by dressing properly, one must remember that:-

1. Respect is a mutual thing – it cannot be forced upon by rules and regulations. And respect should not be limited to just wearing the right clothes. There are many other aspect of respect that can be done without the need to force another to wear a different clothes

2. Wearing shorts or skirts that shows the knee is nothing new in this multi racial country. Even our police used to be in khaki shorts many years ago (still remember?). And I even saw a number of Muslims wearing short pants when they were at a local hypermarket after they had opened fast couple days ago. Even at night, it was terribly warm. Why now it had become a big issue? Why a show of knees can shake up one’s faith on God? If someone gets all too excited by seeing the knees, then something is not right with that person.

3. And we are not expected to “cover up” from head to toe in this hot, humid environment. There must be a reason why people in the Middle East historically cover themselves up in the first place (and it had nothing to do with religion) but please don’t expect us to be idiots and cover up under the Malaysian weather and end up with foul stinky sweat and smell at the end of the day.

4. And more importantly, there are more pressing issues facing the individuals, society and the country than what one wears to a Government office. Someone who just wears sandals, shorts and t-shirts but hard-working, earns his money from legal means and is good to his family, friends and neighbors is thousand time better than someone who may wear that seems to be conforming to one’s faith but living off from dubious means of income, spread lies, hatred and confusion.

Petrol price just went up and recent survey shows that all not well with the implementation of GST and the Government is stuck with scandals – one after another and the implications on the country’s economy is dreadful especially after what we saw happened with Greece. Are we becoming the next Greece in this part of the world – the question may not be if but when? And yet, some people hardly moved by the fact that MARA overpaid RM66 million more for some property in Australia and sees no wrong done on this. No one had even offered to tender their resignation on this.

And if these silly trends are left unchecked, don’t be surprised if one day, these same people who is very very much afraid of short pants and low skirts places a menacing guard at the entrance to check the color of your underwear and if it is not to their color of liking (or brand), you are forced to go back and change them before you are allowed in to do your official business.

MH17 – The Final Goodbye 2


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(Image source: Astro)

I thought the Dutch had serve justice to the victims of the MH17 crash and nothing will top that off but I was wrong.

The Malaysian Government (yes Najib does look sad this time) may have copied what the Dutch have done but it was worth the final send off & respect before the bodies were passed back to their families for the final good byes.

MH370: Interpol hits back at Malaysia


interpol

(It is not the first time the Malaysian authorities had some differences with Interpol. This is from the Wikipedia – Journalist Hamza Kashgari, who in February 2012 fled his home country of Saudi Arabia to avoid prosecution for apostasy, and was subsequently arrested in Malaysia. The Royal Malaysian Police initially asserted that they had arrested Kashgari because they had received an Interpol Red Notice request to do so. However, Interpol stated that no such notice had been issued, and the Malaysian police retracted their claim. Image source: http://www.intelligence-sec.com)

I still recall the comment made over Business Week on how Malaysian authorities initial handling of the MH370 crisis:-

“They’re handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,”

We have made some positive progress on how we handle things but then again, somehow the above statement still lingers on with this:-

On Wednesday Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told parliament in Kuala Lumpur that consulting the database was too time consuming for immigration officers and caused airport delays. Interpol shot back saying Malaysia’s decision to not consult the database before allowing travellers to enter the country or board planes ‘cannot be defended by falsely blaming technology or Interpol’.

“If there is any responsibility or blame for this failure, it rests solely with Malaysia’s Immigration Department,” the France-based organisation said.

Interpol said that it takes “just seconds to reveal whether a passport is listed, with recent tests providing results in 0.2 seconds”. While some countries consult the database more than a hundred million times a year, “in 2014 prior to the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Malaysia’s Immigration Department did not conduct a single check of passengers’ passports against Interpol’s databases,” the agency said.

“Had Malaysia consulted Interpol’s database, the fact that both passengers were using stolen passports would have been discovered almost instantaneously,” it added.

(Source)

No thanks to the Minister who had discounted the Interpol with flimsy reasons, you now know why Malaysia looks really stupid and seemed incompetent in handling it’s affairs?

Well, shame on us because Malaysia given the available money for overseas shopping & expensive up-keeping of pandas (that will never belong to us in the end), there seems to be  a severe lack of money to beef up the necessary technology and the infrastructure for national security.

Well, shame on us again because our own neighbor down south, Singapore is one of about 70 member states of Interpol that actually cross checks with Interpol database and yet I have not seen any airport delays when I flew in onto Singapore (on the contrary to the excuse given by Malaysia that the checking against the Interpol database will cause airport delays). The last time I went, it hardly took a minute for immigration clearance.

In fact, I have held up for almost a minute or two at immigration counters in some airports in some countries but I have no complaints on such delays. The strictness is inconvenient but highly understandable. The same should apply the same for foreigners coming in to this country. Why we are worried of causing inconvenient of a few seconds to foreigners but causes a major inconvenient to the national security on the long run. Interpol says the latest test shows that it only takes 0.2 seconds.

Even if the immigration department decided not to connect to the Interpol database for cross checking on the travel documents, there is still one mystery that remains unresolved, remains unanswered.

The two Iranians came in using Iranian passport but left on stolen Austrian & Italian passports. Didn’t the immigration department captured the two Iranians biometric and passport details when they entered? Then why the same verification was done when they departed? The system would have flagged the different passport for the same biometrics and the immigration department could have stopped the 2 Iranians on the spot. Further, wouldn’t that “internal” verification been faster than connecting to Interpol database? So, why this has not been done and the only excuse that the Minister can come up is that verification is time consuming & it causes airport delays – an excuse that implies that national security can take the back seat as long as there are no delays at the airport.

Thus no wonder there has been nothing but brickbats for the Home Minister in this aspect.

From Malaysian Insider:-

Notice their culture of always blaming someone else for their own laziness. Until today none has step forward to assume responsibility. Even the RMAF being keeping quiet hoping that no one will bring up their failure in protecting our airspace.

Right now their own incompetence stood out like a sore thumb yet they are unaware the world is watching them with disbelief. Plane turn back in distress, the deputy minister simply shot an unbelievable cooked up answer. Not a tinge of remorseful but continue trying to lie their way out.

It is just the way BN government handles politics. Never their fault always someone else’s fault. Never admit mistake always someone else’s mistake. Even worse while not admitting to mistake our minister have the face to criticise and blame the Chinese press, the Interpol etc.

Some of our ministers are still living in the days of typewriters and cabinet filing!

And from Malaysiakini:-

Again caught with our pants down. It shows the Immigrations is not bothered, do not know or understand the Interpol database and yet have not cared to inform or consult Interpol about their problem. For Zahid to immediately blame Interpol and be defensive also shows he has not bothered to check and find out the truth. This is typical of arrogant BN ministers. They always get away with stupid excuses inside Malaysia but are made to look foolish when it comes to international issues.

Immigration is compromised, security is compromised. No wonder we have so many illegal immigrants here with their families.

MH370 may have just opened the can of worms in Malaysian accountability, transparency and responsibility out into the open and simply reinforces the missing notion of a Ministerial responsibility, which remains an alien concept and illusive in this country, to remain unchanged until we see a complete shakedown of the Government. We are waiting to see what excuse the Minister will come up in light of the Interpol’s revelations. Hopefully he will admit the shortcomings and move on with concrete actions to address the shortcomings and not come up with another flimsy, stupid and illogical excuses.

MH370: The Side Show


It is going to be a week since MH370 went missing and yet, we have not lost hope…

Whilst the whole world is anxiously waiting for any positive news for the missing MH370 and the relatives, friends and the Government of the missing passengers have strongly expressed their dissatisfaction with the sometimes contradictory and lack of information coming out from Malaysia, they are unfortunately had to deal with this:-

One cannot dismiss the power of bomohs / shamans / astrologers in any society (even in India) – I know some of them are quite good in what they do. With MH370 still missing, there’s no harm trying but there is a proper place and time for everything. The last thing we need is to have someone doing weird charms & ceremonies in the public and in front of a group of “hungry for news” reporters. It does not take too long before it goes viral on the internet and Malaysia ends up becoming a laughing stock of the world.

Don’t these people realise that it seriously undermines the authorities’ credibility in the crisis and Malaysia’s good name. It already took some considerable beatings todate. It also mocks the serious effort by the authorities and the search & rescue teams combing the vast ocean for any evidence of the missing plane (why waste time and effort when you can do the same with 2 coconuts). It has led to a number of spoofs too.

Obama

P.s. There was a photo of Obama watching the circus on TV circulated in social media but this was confirmed to be a fake. But does it really matters if it is a fake or not when the world had watch and read about it and had a good laugh?

Lost in KLIA


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(KLIA is no doubt huge but it is not difficult to find the way around. Image source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/)

Picked this gem up from Rocky Bru:-

Kenapa tak ada ground staff KLIA yang jaga untuk memberi arahan! Bodoh babi betul. Buat malu negara. Ada airport cantik tetapi planning macam kat kampung zaman P.Ramlee.  Satu hari kamu semua datang ke Changi, saya tunjukkan di setiap cerok di mana penumpang mungkin confuse, ada budak perempuan atau jantan muda berdiri untuk memberi arahan.

(Roughly translated: Why there is no ground crew at KLIA to guide the newly arrived passengers? It is a shame. We have a beautiful airport but the planning sucks big time! Come to Changi (airport) one day and I will show you where at every place where passengers may get confuse, there is always someone to give the right direction)

If you read the whole story by brother Reme, you will understand also why he is pissed off with MAS. Sometimes I wonder whether we have installed the culture of customer care into our daily business dealings. Hopefully MAS will take note of the complaint and will make the necessary changes so that quality of customer service improves. After all, MAS is also our national identity who is also an award winning airline and we are proud of it.

But what catches me is his complaint on KLIA for which an anonymous commenter replies:-

Errr…bukan ke bila kita keluar dari plane ada sign board tunjuk mana immigration / baggage collection. Seingat saya ada gambar train kan on the signboard. So I think it’s pretty straightforward in klia. and why do we need ground staff standing at corners?

Its enough to have a few information counters spread across the airport for those people who can’t read signboards and who don’t bother to do some research on their place of destination. My take is that if you are too stupid to read signboards, you should not be allowed to fly and use airports, let alone go for international travel.

Yes Changi is efficient but based on my travelling experience (and I have travelled quite a bit), KLIA is much better than many airports in capital cities.

I have been travelling quite often over the last 6 – 7 years and let me tell you that KLIA at times can get very confusing for first time travellers (but KLIA is not the only airport that has the problem – even the famous Dubai airport faired even worse). It’s true that by 11 at night, KLIA becomes almost like a ghost town – very few airport staff are seen around and even if you see one, it is most of the time are the foreign cleaners. I usually take the 2 am flight to Dubai, so, you can imagine how KLIA would look like at that hour.

But the thing is it is not that difficult to make your way to the right path leading to the immigration and the luggage claim areas (not only in KLIA). All you need to do is:-

1. Do your homework before you travel.

For those who are planning to travel and may be to arrive in an airport that you are not familiar with, the least you could do is to do some research on it before you arrive.

KLIA is not situated in some 3rd world country and certainly it is not an obscure airport. It has a well defined webpage dedicating to the information and layout of the airport (it even have an interactive map – here). Get to know where the immigration counters, the luggage claim areas are and where to get the taxis and so on UPFRONT before you land. This is because once you have arrived, you are going to be tired, hungry and sleepy and the last thing you need is to be standing like a fool, not knowing where to go and what to do (like the Indian family in bro Reme’s story).

When Bangkok opened its new international airport (the beautiful Suvarnabhumi Airport) and we had to travel to Bangkok, one of the first we did was to do research on the net. Thankfully the airport had a good dedicated webpage and it was good to see where to move around. So, when we arrived, despite the chaos (of a newly opened airport), we simply breezed through and was in our hotel rooms without much delays.

2. Read the signs

KLIA to be fair – is well equipped with proper signs and notices. Unless you do not understand English (which is a big mistake when travelling to this part of the world and I have met people who speak NIL English, flying half way around the world), the signs is more than enough to guide you through. You may get lost momentarily but you will get in just all right.

In most of the airports I have been to, signboards in English are pretty standard and sometimes these signboards comes with pictures or logos to further assist. Even in war torn Kabul, the run down, chaotically managed, high security, suicide bomber’s favourite airport have signboards in English.

3. Ask around

When everything fails – ask someone. It can be your fellow passengers (who may have done their homework or who may have used the airport before), ground crew or the shop assistants at the duty free shops (I have seen even the foreign cleaners showing lost passengers the right way to go). In my recent flight, I noticed more airport staffs were stationed at “strategic” places but it means nothing if the lost passengers don’t open their mouth and ask.

3 simple rules and you will hardly have any problem navigating your way in any airport anywhere in the world. KLIA for an example is an award winning airport and had many good reviews from its customers and although it may not be the best airports around (as claimed by some), it can stand on its own when it comes to comfort and quality (the usually complaints is on the lack of shops). What is needed is some action from the passengers to make their trip less hassle and it is not a difficult thing to do.

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The Eagle Have Landed


Despite the age of the plane, the landing in Tehran’s newest international airport was surprisingly very smooth but even so, almost everyone clapped when the plane safely landed and that got us worried (clapping means the landing is not smooth most of the time?).

2 days before the departure has been a kind of marathon run on shopping – there were plenty of new clothes and items needed to be bought and that includes the usual packets of 3-in-1 oats and Maggi Mee (the usual suspects for Malaysians travelling abroad). As we are expected to experience winter this time around, there was shopping for winter clothes as well.

plane

(One of the smaller sized jumbo – Boeing 747 SP – it is really, really old)

The flight that we were taking was a direct flight from KLIA to Tehran with a very aging Boeing 747. The flight was not full and we got our seats just nice and right although we did experience delayed departure due to delayed passengers. We left almost 50 minutes late from our scheduled departure. We already been warned of boredom when using Iran Air – there was no in-flight entertainment and even though there were movies on the large ‘TV’, it was in Persian (we managed to follow the story by using the English sub titles at the bottom).

Iran has been hit with the US led trade embargo and this really shows when one is taking Iran Air – the public announcement system was not working (we hear whispers most of the time), there were traces of aged plane parts (we swear we saw some parts ‘rusting’ away at 12,000 feet), the upper luggage compartment was shaking rather violently during the take off and the seats were old and uncomfortable. At one point, we even had our doubts on whether we will reach Tehran in one piece. But the pilots were good – they got us through without much incident.

plane2

(The chaos before departure – take a look at the seat covers and mind you that it suppose to be clean ones!)

The in-flight service was not that bad – the stewardesses were kind but they don’t seem to be quick in addressing the service call lights. There was one lighted up for several hours and no one seemed to be bothered. Even request for water took some time to be addressed. Despite the rather slow service, in-flight food was better than the rest although there was plenty of room for improvement.

It was about 8 hours of flight – so we slept most of the time. Whenever I had the time, I tried to watch the Iranian movies on the large screen (which surprisingly was quite easy to follow) or snap photos of the passengers or outside the plane.

Landing was smooth and immigration checking was swift and fast although there was some confusion in addressing the ‘surname’ and ‘family name’ part. We got our luggage quite fast and were grateful that it was not damaged. As we pass through the custom checkpoint, there was some commotion and all we saw was an elderly lady being taken away by custom officials. Other passengers ignored this commotion and continued with their journey. We did the same. We continued to walk and got out from the airport where we changed our money to the local currency rial and instantly became millionaires (1 USD = 9,900 Rial). We now needed a transport out from the airport situated about 50 km from the city.

Taking taxi was a bit tricky. There were 3 of us and 4 large luggage bags (excluding laptop bags, gift bags, etc). Taxis at the airport are unlike the taxis at KLIA – they are about the same size – small. We talked to one taxi driver but after looking at our luggage, he said that we need to take 2 taxis. We were about to leave and talk to the next taxi driver when he called back and said it can be done – all the 3 of us and 4 luggage in 1 taxi but he said that he needs additional payment. It was not much by our standards, so we quickly agreed. Last thing we wanted is for us to be split out in some foreign country with unfamiliar language. Somehow the driver managed to squeeze all 3 luggages into the small boot and placed one on the passenger seat.

It was a ride of our life! Reaching almost 140 km/h on the patchy, badly built highway with heavy traffic on the left, right and at the front, the taxi driver did not show any signs of slowing down…

Photos – the ageing 747 SP parked at KLIA and the commotion as passengers getting to their seats

(To be continued)

Trip to Brunei – First Impressions


exchange

(Where is Malaysia’s Ringgit in the list?)

The start of the journey was not without its dramatic moment and it started right in the KLIA terminal.

A man had an epileptic seizure and fell on the hard cold floor. A pool of dark blood was dripping from his broken skull and was flooding the floor. 2 westerners stayed close to this man and kept in a close watch whilst waiting for help to arrive. There was an information counter nearby but as expected, the staffs at the counter were not able to handle this emergency and were left with the task of paging for a doctor. One of the passengers who I believed a doctor then came to his aid.

There was more help from the passengers than from the staff, which left me disbelief and angry. Where is the readiness to expect the unexpected on an international airport?

My flight to Brunei was via Royal Brunei’s nibble A320 Airbus. The flight was not full – there were plenty of empty seats to sleep on this 2 hours flight. Service was first class and the crew was kind and attentive. It was too bad that the flight was short but I was kind of looking for reach the hotel as soon as possible for sleep. It was way past my bed time and I was so sleepy. I heard that the hotel was not far from the airport, it should not take long.

It was almost 2 am in the morning by the time I had settled down in my hotel room. Despite the odd looking from the outside, the room was clean and spacious. Breakfast was provided but it was not on buffet and the portion was small – kind of bad start in the morning for a guy who takes very heavy breakfast. Other than hand, the breakfast provided was healthier than the one I usual have in the morning.

It was all work on the next day but there were several first impressions of Brunei on my first day in the country and there are among others, is that Malaysia is not that prominent or influential to Bruneians. For one thing, Malaysia Ringgit is not listed in the exchange information on television despite the closeness of the 2 countries. I saw Najib prominently displayed on the front page at one of the newspapers in Brunei but that’s about it.

More influential and prominent to Brunei is Singapore and it not a big surprise – both are small countries facing the political and economic pressure from Malaysia.