MARCH 4, 2017 PART 4

Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

Saturday, March 4, 2017

I just got on the plane and I can tell it is going to be better already! This is a double decker plane. The Business/First class is upstairs and the level for commoners like me has plenty of room in the seats and aisles. Much easier to get around. The staff is really nice yet again. I was happy as soon as I sat down. They were playing really great boarding music and I couldn’t help but sing along. Who can resist “Come Fly With Me” by Frank Sinatra? Not me, that’s for sure!

The crew speaks 14 languages. In the US, if somebody speaks in Arabic, they are sometimes removed from the airplane and questioned. Here, that is the norm and pilots make PA announcement in Arabic. In fact, announcements were made in Arabic, English, and Malay.

Once the plane doors were closed, the flight attendants walked down the aisles and sprayed insecticide to kill any insects on the plane. I guess the bugs didn’t have a visa to enter Malaysia! The weather was great in Dubai but there was a lot of rain in the flight path so we were held at the gate for an extra 25 minutes to wait for air traffic to clear up.

Yet again, lots of food on the plane. Nothing to write home about, literally, although dessert was great on both flights. Also, fresh fruit was excellent. It was so strange to have sweet watermelon and honeydew in March!

During the flight, I watched “Finding Altamira” about the prehistoric cave painting discovery in Spain. I never heard of this movie but it was pretty good. It made me think of Merrily Duncan and -10th grade World Cultures. And many wacky memories came back from her class! If you had her as a teacher, you know what I am talking about. Rupert Everett and Antonio Banderas were in the film. Rupert played a creepy, sinister priest. Quite a change from his classic, "My Best Friends Wedding".

I watched "Fences" and thought it was good. I was surprised at how funny it was. I'm not saying it was a riot, but a good balance of emotional, dramatic, with a touch of humor. Denzel would hit the bottom of his vodka (or whatever clear liquid) twice before drinking it. Why? Is this action where the phrase, "hitting the bottle" comes from?

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is beautiful. It looks like a really nice shopping mall. There are lots of windows and it had an open feel to it. Many domestic airports have a closed in feeling and you can't tell if it is night or day. Once I got off the plane, I exchanged money for Malaysian currency, bought a sim card, and went through immigration. I didn't have to declare anything. In fact, they didn't ask me anything. They ran my figure prints and sent me on my way. They didn't do that for everyone. Some people had to go to secondary inspection.

Several little kids were staring at me in the airports in the Middle East and Asia. I wonder what they are thinking. Is it my hair, or my pale as pale can be skin? When I did my undergraduate internship with Adelphoi Village, we did some home visits. We went to the home of an African American family. There were several children who asked if they could touch my hair. They had never seen blond hair up.close. I obliged and a few minutes later, they were taking turns combing my hair. That always stuck with me because it was just Greensburg, but it surprised me all the same.

I noticed at the airport in Dubai that I was an oddity. When I got to the gate with the other passengers, I noticed that there weren't many females and certainly not any others traveling alone. Even so, I did not feel unsafe in any way. This was just an observation. There was an interesting snack at the airport. One of the kiosks had "Corn In A Cup" It was a cup for some reason. Odd snack but my nephew, Jonas, would love!

I met my driver from the hotel. It looked like the end of Love Actually! In the US, we don't really have large greeting areas anymore. There was a long wide line of friends and family with signs and then hotel drivers with signs. They do not put the guest's name on the sign for privacy reasons but sent me a copy of the sign my driver would have with his name. We walked outside and the humidity punched me in the face. Wow! 10:30 at night and the humidity level was so high and the air so thick that it felt like I could have shoveled the air like I shoveled snow before I left home!

In Malaysia, they drive on the right side of the road but steering wheel is on right. 30 minute ride from airport.We have so much work to do on infrastructure in the US. The highways from the airport to hotel were 3 lanes each way, toll booths like we have but "smart pass" instead of easy pass. Cars moved efficiently and with ease.

My hotel is very nice, it is a Hilton so I guess that's not a surprise. The hotel has security precautions that we don’t normally see back home. When my driver and I pulled up to the hotel, security checked the trunk and under the car. Then, once I checked in and got in the elevator, I thought it was broken because the doors wouldn’t close and then I saw the sign. You had to scan your room key to get the elevator to go up. Also, at the Dubai airport, you had to show your boarding pass to make a purchase.

I am wiped out and ready for a good rest. As they say in Malaysia, Selamat malam (goodnight).