Published: August 13th 2011August 10th 2011
The morning was a lot cooler than any we have experienced here thus far. Obviously temperature is a relative concept - it was still warm enough to shower outdoors after all. Breakfast at the extremely busy main lodge and a taxi ride to the airport.
A very sedate flight to Kuala Lumpur before I tried my hardest to get us moved to the earlier flight to Singapore. According to the AirAsia website you can change to different flights if you want to. What I found though was that you were pretty much paying for a new booking as the cost of a flight change was exactly the same as buying a new seat.
Anyway, I tried to get us moved to the early flight. I failed. No amount of slightly camp charm was convicing the bloke on the other side of the counter to let us change for a lower price - I should've sent Liz in arm with a low cut top and a pout. Maybe she would've done better. Although his insistance that it is "impossible" to change bookings might have made such a move a rather futile one.
So, 4 hours to kill in KLIA
LCCT (Kuala Lumpur International Airport Low Cost Carrier Terminal - nothing like a good acronym is there?). We got some tea and cake (not death) and sat updating the blog and fiddling around on the free WIFI at the airport. English airports and airlines could learn a few things from their Asian counterparts, that much is for certain.
Except maybe how to handle a customer query. My attempt to get us moved to another flight took us round the entire terminal building talking to almost anyone in a red suit (it was like being back at Butlins as a child at times) until, eventually, the girl at desk S22 told us to go to desk R68 - the desk at which we began our 40 minute tour of the LCCT departures hall.
By which time we decided to go for a classic 'sod it' mentality, went and checked the self service ticket purchasing machines to see if we could just buy ourselves some new seats - we couldn't - and then ultimately decided that cake was the more appealing option in a terminal containing McDonalds, KFC and your other usual, bland cathedrals to tasteless cuisine.
quirk of being out in the east; I get this feeling when I'm going through airports and other such public places that they still want to portray and image of unadulterated helpfulness to westerners. My backpack is surely bordering on the very limits of the commonly accepted sizings for carry on baggage but have I been questioned or challenged about it? Not once. I just get smiled through and wished a good day and thanked for coming. Queues of locals, other east Asian and Indian/Paskistani/Bangladeshi people struggle to force their bags into the obligatory measuring cases and we walk through without even being asked to show our liquids, let alone bothered with checking they are all below 100ml. It's strange. Obviously it's a blissful change from airports back in Europe where getting through security is a tiresome and overtly bothering mission in itself, but it doesn't half feel like it may have something to do with 'keeping up appearances' for us westerners.
Maybe it's just me. Who knows?
Anyway. The flight to Singapore was quick and over in no time. Immigration was as rapid as anything I've ever experienced - and it even came with a smile and
a sweet. If only European airports were as pleasant places to be as Changi airport was.
I need to get to my hotel.
Sure Sir. Would you like a taxi for $45? Or for $9 each you can get a shuttle bus.
Shuttle bus it is then. And what a 'bus' it was. Air con, leather and individual seats. And to discuss the pristine nature of Singapore with you further- as it frightens me slightly - I'll pass you over to Miss S.
The shuttle bus took 20 minutes, and even though there were small children on board, the standard of travel was much higher. Even the seats were of a high standard of leather. It was clear that Singapore took the concept of tidiness and order very seriously, as every car that passed us was shiny and clean looking. We were the first drop off at the Conrad Centenial. Let's just say, our fellow passengers were very jealous as we stepped off the shuttle.
We stepped into the foyer. A blast of cool air hit us as we walked towards the check in desk. It was stunning. Think luxury hotel but a thousand times more magnificent. A grand piano in the centre, art everywhere and the smiles of people trying to assist your every move. It still makes me awkward when someone asks to help with my luggage.
We where whisked instantly to the Hilton Honours desk where we said that we had a reservation, were given a glass of delightful passionfruit juice and then taken up to the 31st floor Executive Lounge to check in. There we were shown to a table and the complimentary glasses of booze began. We had our first wine since we left the UK. Then I started on the champers.
As it was free (free!), I proceeded to drink the majority of a bottle. And Daniel had a glass or two (apparently it was actually 3) to accompany his beers. The whole time were were eating divine little nibbles and looking at the lovely view from the 31st floor.
At 10.30pm they told us it was last order and the suite shut at 11. So one last glass of champagne for me, which was making me a little giddy by this point.
11 came and we headed down to our room, almost forgetting our bags. The staff were so pleasant to us plebs who'd been drinking the bar dry, and said they hadn't wanted to disturb our important conversation (we were generally talking crap). So we grabbed our bags and got the lift the the 27th floor and to our room.
One word. WOW. I've never stayed in a suite before. It was decadent. The bathroom was marble with a huge bath and a walk in shower. There were the complimentary goodies (including a free teddy) and even a fruit bowl. Needless to say, we didn't head to bed straight away, especially with the mahoosive TV and the need to pillage the freebies.