Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Very Enjoyable BUT Stressful Week (part 2)

Ok, finally getting back to part 2 of my travel log. Part 1's here. Here goes:

Wednesday 6th September 2006

The day started bright and sunny (as usual) at 8.30am (GMT+8, timezone becomes important now). Kekeke. Apologies if the next few statements will sound a bit buaya. Breakfast was a bit special on my last morning in M'sia (for a while at least). First, Shell IT's Fair Lady, Ann passed by my house especially just to deliver dim sum for me:) So touched! Then, ahem, Shell's IT Miss Sunshine, Connie also dropped by to have McDonald's breakfast as well. For awhile, I felt like the luckiest guy in the world and to be honest, I might not be that far off the mark. Btw, the titles were given during Shell IT's annual dinner and these two ladies who won were nominated none other than me:P Need I repeat that I have pretty good taste:P I was so full that I didnt need to take lunch:P (David, LC, Ann and PP, now you all know la:P these were my lunch kakis for the day)

Hai, budak ni, ambil gambar tapi pakai seluar pendek:P Which was actually quite good because that's the last time I got to wear shorts and go out to anywhere. Doing that in Edinburgh is almost suicide. Even wearing slippers out is semi-suicide:))

After that, it was off to settle some nitty gritty stuff like exchanging currency and cut my hair (simple hair cut in Edinburgh costs at least £5 and that's student price). I also got worried that my luggage's weight was gonna go way beyond the 20kg they've given me. So I called Emirates and asked if they can give the extra 10kg which I can be entitled to as a student. Well, I rushed to KL to submit a letter to the manager (why last minute? My fault, too lazy before this..now I bore the consequences. It was also because I was receiving more and more nice gifts from people that I have to bring over. One can never be over-blessed:)). Manager was on leave. So couldnt get the confirmation. Lady there told just go earlier and hope for the best. I prayed really hard that all will be ok.

Though it was my mistake, guess what happened at the airport? When I reached the check-in counter, I found out that every passenger gets 30kg for luggage, regardless if they're student or not. Praise the Lord! What a relieve for me. Guess how much luggage I brought. 31kg:P I also had a hand-carried luggage, which was at first 2kg overweight (max is 7kg). Took out some stuff to reduce to 8kg. Because I checked in online earlier, I could queue at the business class counter. The lady at the counter was very friendly and helpful. So, tips for future travelers:

1. Fly Emirates (cheaper tickets, more luggage, good airplanes)
2. Check in online earlier (12 hours before is the earliest). You can set the seats you want (just like booking tickets for a show in cinema. Almost same system as TGV it seems:P) and you can get your boarding pass at the business class counter.

Of course before I reached the airport, I did the following:

Cleaned my room. Aircon still on sale for RM300 excluding de-installation. Room for rent as well. RM175 exclude electricity and water bills. Internet ready (got cable sambung masuk bilik). Exquisitely furnished (some place for you to hang clothes). Secure (Window got grill, door got lock). Good deal right?

Repacked all my stuff as well. Thanks my mum, aunt and sister, it was easier as they were more super-organized than me:P

Had dinner after that with my family and colleagues at my favourite chinese restaurant in Taman U:

Then it was off to the airport to do the usual stuff. I've sent so many people off that everything became so well-rehearsed:):

Check-in

Take a nice family photo:) Aunt, sis, dad and mum

Farewell card from some crazy folks in Shell. Of course, when you have to wait 2 hours for a friend to board a plane, you do have too much free time:
What the Luck??!!!

Some McDonalds moments

Some last minute photos before boarding:
Family, friends, complete set of memories

And some funny videos, so bored that we did some silly interview sessions (in mandarin and hokkien)




And I'm finally off. I treasured every step I took from the check-in counter to the boarding gate to the plane cause each step is the culmination of many many prayers from many many people for me. Of course before I got on the plane, got a bit of scare cause I accidentally put a scissors in my hand luggage. Created a small commotion at the scanning machine before entering the boarding gate:P Thanks goodness this is KLIA not Los Angeles International Airport.

Thursday 10th September 2006 (sort of)
Erm this is when it gets a bit confusing. Boarded the plane (Airbus A330). Plane was quite small, seats were pretty cramped. Thank God it was just a 6 hour flight. Slept a bit. Effects of the past few days of hectic schedule started to kick in. But in no time I landed in Dubai at 4.30 am (GMT+4). As expected, loads of sand everywhere:P I didnt go out of Dubai International Airport. Took a nap, which made things a bit better. Then started to jalan a bit around the airport:

Very modern-looking airport. Clean, professional.

The duty-free shopping area is like the size of a Tesco.

The airport offers a Luxury Car Lucky Draw all the time with different cars on offer. This time around, it's a new 2006 Mercedes S-Class. Sleek.

Smokers' area. Quite sad:P

Aaah...some sense of familiarity at last:)

The boarding area for each gate. Very comfortable chairs. Lots and lots of people just sleeping on the chair or even on the ground. Dubai airport is very busy indeed. I think it's a transit area for flights between Europe, Asia and Africa. Heard a lot of frantic last calls for boarding on the PA system for Mr Unga-unga flying Ethopian Airlines. Then it's Mr Wasoako! for Ethopian Airlines (again). Then it's Madam Dhu!riya for, you guessed it, Ethopian Airlines.

Finally it was my turn to board at 7.50am (GMT+4). This time around, the plane was a Boeing 777 and boy what a difference from the smaller Airbus A330. Seats were comfortable, more legroom and check this out, on-demand music, movies and TV programs. I wanted to sleep in during the 2nd flight so that I'll reach Manchester feeling fresh. I didnt do that. Instead I watched 3 movies in a row (Lucky Number Slevin (fantastic show, typical cool Bruce Willis genre), Fun with Dick and Jane, and Cassanova) and listened to 3/4 of a movie soundtrack (My Fair Lady's broadway version with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison in it). Meals were good as well. They also now put cameras at the bottom and front of the plane. So when it lands, you can actually see what's going on. Pretty cool.

After a very quick 71/2 hours (where did all the time go?), I reached Manchester. Getting off was a breeze. No customs check. Just needed to wait 10 minutes for my luggage to come out. It should be way better than Heathrow. Quite a number of students in Edinburgh who took British Airways and transit at Heathrow towards Edinburgh lost their luggage. So it was good that Jay Sean and Ann Jee (husband and wife) is in Manchester.

First evening in Manchester and I had the pleasure of learning cooking from Jay, Shawn and Ann Jee. 30-minutes instant class:

Pasta with tomato-based sauce (sausages, onions, tomato). Some ready-made baked potatoes and Venetta ice-cream for dessert. Sorry, ini bukan professional cooking blog, want more details go here:P

After dinner, we played 5 hours of Texas Hold'Em poker. Dam addictive game. Nice for the coming winter days.

Then it was finally off to bed. Time was 1:00am GMT+1 Friday 11th September. Malaysian time ? Friday 8.00am. Just realised I have not had proper sleep for 48 hours. No wonder I had no problems adjusting the local time in UK. My body was so exhausted that it would accept any timezone as long as it could get some sleep. Another tip for travellers. If you wanna adjust to the local time fast, just dont sleep from the moment you start traveling to the night of your destination. Guaranteed to work.

Part 3: Manchester to Edinburgh:P

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