Quick Layover at Kuala Lumpur
January 1, 1970
by Marianne Zara
It was just hours before the flight when we decided to go to Kuala Lumpur. Well, it was not much of a choice. To backtrack a little, let me tell you our missing-the-plane story.
Goodbye Manila turned Goodbye Marianne
It was August 25 (Thursday), 5:49PM. No Grab or Uber drivers around (probably because it was rush hour). It was unexpected. Flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia’s at 7:50PM and we must be check in 30mins. before the flight. How are we doing this? I asked.
6:01PM Finally! Damn it! Rush rush rush.
So we went straight to the condominium’s lobby to wait for our Uber driver. It says 7mins. before the driver arrives so I bought snacks first in the condo’s convenient store. I have bought the snack and waited quite a while and still, the driver wasn’t there so we called.
“Ma’am, good evening! I am currently stuck in traffic and according the Waze (the travel navigator), I will be there in about 15mins.” the driver said.
What??? I panicked in my mind and paced back and forth. No way that we would make it in time before 7:20PM. Manila traffic has gotten much worse, I couldn’t stop worrying. From our place in Pasig, the airport is just 8 kilometers away. However, my allowance for travel time is about an hour. If the driver gets here at 6:24PM, it would mean we’ll get to the airport at around 7:24PM.
I was at lost in my thought when my phone beeped Your driver has arrived. Quickly, we threw our bags in the trunk and went inside the car telling the driver that we were in a rush. 6:21PM when I looked at my watch. We were moving quickly until we get to the main roads. Despite the traffic navigator, we were still stuck. It was a long time that I was just checking the driver’s Waze to see the ETA.
It wasn’t working for us.
7:46PM we were nearing the airport but in a standstill traffic before the U-turn slot which is approximately 1km so we decided to grab our bags and run to the airport. I told my companion to leave me at airport security to rush to the airline and inquire if the flight was delayed (and of course, to beg for the airline officers to let us board the plane). Flight was delayed. So the begging went from the explanation that traffic was really bad to please let us board even if we won’t check in the bags anymore and just tag them as carry-on baggage.
Yup, you got it right. It didn’t work.
Since, I was processing the turn of events and I happen to be very hungry, I just said, Let’s have a meal first.
Mongkok: Because Chinese Turns my Gloomy Mood Around
After 5 orders of dumpling, a rice meal bowl and crispy seafood noodles, I am ready to talk.
“Babe, I think it would be better if just choose not to go at all” I said “There are no direct flights to Siem Reap until Saturday and our return flight is August 28 (Sunday) at 10:00PM, if we go there, we would arrive Saturday evening and it wouldn’t be economical.” I looked at him and he looked really sad but at the same time, I knew he was thinking (probably weighing the pros and cons) and so I continued “But do you want to go?”
He then called his sister to browse flights bound to Cambodia while I think of the different airlines that we could visit in the airport and ask for flights.
After our dinner, we proceeded to Philippine Airlines (PAL) to inquire for flights bound to Siem Reap or even Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. But then again, they mentioned that it was only Cebu Pacific that has direct flights bound to Cambodia. They directed us to Saudia Airlines and Cathay Pacific, but then again, none. I opened my Air Asia app and searched flights, there’s a flight the next day – August 26 (Friday), a little after 1PM. It would, however, have a 12-hour layover at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We went to their ticketing office to ask if they would have discounts or the like only to see that the ticketing office has closed.
Tragedy turned Opportunity
We went back to the condo for a while to sleep things off and budget since it will be around $353 for a one-way ticket to Siem Reap with a Kuala Lumpur layover. We decided to put out some clothes from our luggage and fixed things as if we would just have to pull our luggage the moment we have to leave. And so we rest.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
It’s a new day. We woke up quite early and went to the airport at around 9:30AM, we went to Air Asia’s ticketing office and bought our $706 tickets. So much emphasis on that because we got our promo flight direct to Siem Reap, Cambodia (two-way) at $260 for two pax. Regular tickets are at $478 for two pax. The skyrocketing price was not shocking but really impractical for a law student like my boyfriend and a currently unemployed (just spending her savings) lady like me.
Moving on, we finally got our tickets. As my boyfriend said, it was a tragedy turned opportunity. We just thought of the event as an opportunity to visit Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
We had our brunch at Pizza Hut (also a funny story). It was quite early and their morning shift waiters has not arrived just yet so the Chef was the one serving the meals and the manager was the cashier. Anyway, so we enjoyed our time and thought of just visiting PETRONAS Twin Towers (a must when in Kuala Lumpur). I then headed to a nail spa lounge where I had my manicure and pedicure since there was much time to kill and I quite needed it too to be honest.
It was a good day! Everything was going smoothly and thank God we’ve finally checked in. Passed thru immigration and just waiting for our flight in the airport’s lounges. Sipping our own drinks, my boyfriend and I rest as we wait for our delayed flight. It was not a surprise to have delayed flights in Manila, airports are congested (too much planes per airline, too much flights and air traffic that such 1-runway airport couldn’t accommodate). Let’s leave my airport infrastructure comments to rest as well.
A little after 5PM we are in another airport, another country… WELCOME TO KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA.
From KLIA to KL Central
Went straight to the concierge to get maps and find our way around Kuala Lumpur. Initially, I found different places that interests me. However, I knew we won’t get there in time and get to explore a lot so I just said PETRONAS Twin Towers would be the priority. We also decided to go to Pasar Seni – the Central Market of Kuala Lumpur (with really good deals).
Instead of taking a cab, we took KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) Ekspres Train. It was said to be the fastest train in Southeast Asia. It says it travels about 30mins. from KLIA 2 (the international airport) to KL Central (about 57km away) with one stopover (KLIA 1 – the domestic airport). We bought our 2 tickets for RM200 (Malaysian Ringgit) and to Central Market we go.
After alighting from KLIA Express, we decided to go to NU Sentral (the nearby mall) to eat our dinner. We chose Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken and it was good – real big servings perfect for our big appetite.
We went back to KL Central (where all the trains are) and grabbed one bound to Pasar Seni (KL’s Central Market). From Pasar Seni station, it was a quick walk to Central Market. Initially, it would be watches stands, juices, clothes and even vape shops. Then you enter a small mall where you can find jewelry, souvenirs and more clothes. Along the streets, you may find make-up, luggage, electronic devices and accessories and so much more.
My boyfriend is a fan of watches so when he saw this first stand, he bought one at once for RM45. He then proceeded to get himself his vape juice (his highlight buy of his trip). I went on because I am not a fan of clothes that covers almost the entire body especially in a warm place. There were pretty necklaces that are just about RM20 per piece and they would really make one’s OOTD.
I stopped in a clothing store because I saw a top which is chiffon in fabric and has a collar. I thought it was nice so I asked how much it was and he replied (I forget now). As I was inspecting the top, I noticed there was no arm hole so I asked where my arm would go and he said: No! No no no. No arm hole. Only to realize that the top was actually a shawl or a cover up. I was quite embarrassed, I just laughed at myself for not googling enough about the culture.
Later on, I saw another watch stand with a couple watch that I really liked. He was selling it for RM160. Too expensive I said and he asked me how much I was willing to pay for them. I replied saying RM120. He left without saying anything and came back with a lighter. He tried burning the watches’ straps and said: See! Real leather! You buy for RM130. And sold. It was a good show and I was able to get a discount so why the hell not?
We went around a little more and I saw a local Artis brush. I checked the brush and it was pretty fine so I inquired for the price and he said RM30. I said it’s the same price in our country and I think similar in quality so I said no thanks. He insisted saying How much can you pay? Please buy. I said no but he bargained and bargained and even followed me when I turned around so I just bought it when he said he’ll give it for RM20.
When we reached the end of the street, we saw a parade (they said it was a Chinese parade but I couldn’t really tell the story). It was fun to have seen such parade during our visit though.
The Famous PETRONAS Twin Towers
When we were done with our shopping spree, we decided to ask around which train to ride bound to PETRONAS Twin Towers; however, it slipped our minds that trains have limited operating hours. We didn’t know how much it would cost us in riding their Teksi so we decided to have a quick snack at Texas Chicken to access their wifi and search. It was about RM8 from Pasar Seni to PETRONAS so we went to grab a cab.
Knowing that we were tourists, he said we would have to pay RM15 for our trip. We didn’t mind. Quite honestly, we expected that because it’s how locales charge tourists in the Philippines as well.
The driver of the Teksi said the perfect spot to capture the twin towers is by the stoplight across the street so that’s where he dropped us off. Indeed, it was a great spot to have a selfie with my boyfriend and the twin towers.
There were another couple trying their best to capture the towers as well so I said if they could take our photo, I could take their photo also and I guess it went well.
Sadly, the PETRONAS close at 7PM so we weren’t able to enter but just seeing the place and the nightlife around it made our night.
The End of the Quick Tour
We took the last train schedule of KLIA Ekspres at around 12:30PM. We went straight to the floor where the capsules were located. Unfortunately for us, they were in a full house and fully booked. We then went to the premium rooms just 2 floors above; but then again, they were fully booked. We didn’t want to book outside the airport since we might miss our flight again so we just decided to take our nap at their food court. I think it was past 2AM when we got settled and our flight was at 6AM so we just slept alternately in the food court lounge. I thought it was safe because there were so many people doing it.