After a long eighteen and a half hours trip, I have finally arrived in Penang at 1am Penang local time. The long journey back to my hometown included road, transit and flight times, stretched all the way from Hobart to Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur and to my final destination, Penang. Penang International Airport is undergoing a major MYR$250 million expansion program. If you are travelling to Penang, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. The roadwork outside to build the new multi storey carpark, departure drop off and arrival pick up points are quite messy.
My trip started in Hobart. I arrived at Hobart Airport with ample time to rest and read a book, James Patterson’s 9th Judgement. The boarding time was supposed to announce at 9:40am. Instead of boarding at Gate 2, the announcement was that there was engineering problem with the aircraft that had just landed, Virgin Blue DJ1321. There was a frantic moment that ran through my mind when I listened to that announcement. That, it was possible I may not get out of Hobart on time to catch my international flight in Melbourne.
In recent days, started on Easter’s Good Friday, many flights were delayed or cancelled due to security breached at the Melbourne Airport, and last night a Tiger Airline flight was delayed for almost 5 hours from taking off in Hobart! And, I thought. This was going to happen to me.
Fifteen minutes later the ground crew announced they have not determine the technical problem yet, and if anyone has a concern to please approach the ground staff at Gate 2. I was very worried that I may missed my international flight in Melbourne, which I have given myself 4 hours transit time allowance. I approached the staff. Rather than comforting me and reassuring me that they will do their utmost care to make sure I get there on time, or contact their partner airline, Malaysian Airline, that one of their passenger is stuck in Hobart, they told me they can’t tell me anything except that it may take 15 minutes or an hour or even longer before they know whether they can fix the problem. That response was not helpful. They showed no care or desire to ease my anxiety. I expected at least a timeframe (that is, by a certain time) and that if the engineering problem was not resolved, that they will contact Malaysia Airline to arrange an alternative plan for me. I mean how hard is it for them to use a bit of brain, or ask to see my Malaysia Airline flight schedule. Then work backyards the departure time, time require to check-in, time to fly to Melbourne and time to collect the check-in luggage to work out if the flight in Hobart does not leave by a set time, that they should do something.
Anyway, the good thing is that I made it to Penang. The Virgin flight eventually took off from Hobart Airport an hour late. It could have been worse. That is the price of living in a small island like Hobart, with limited flights in and out of Hobart.
Melbourne International Airport departure hall is undergoing renovation. I am glad they have finally decided to do something and upgrade the hall. It was the most boring departure hall I have ever been. But anymore, it is livelier. There are more duty free shops, including electronics, more resting areas with nice seats and lounges, more colourful and a new Vue café. I had a light lunch at the café and was splendidly surprised it was good – lamb and lentil pie with a pot of Earl Grey tea for $19.
The Malaysian Airline (MAS) flights from Melbourne to Penang were on schedule. The service and food are always good and consistent. The fare I purchased was a promotional fare for AUD$799 returned. It was a good fare for a full service flight. There were plenty of movie on demand choices. I selected The Tourist and Gulliver’s … One thing I dislike was the sound and noise using the airline headset. It was no good. Next time I will buy a Noise Reduction headset, which the girl that sat next to me recommended. She was an audio hearing type specialist on a trip to Europe for work seminar and exchange of scientific research works. A lovely Melbourne girl working on her PhD. Things that one can learn from a total stranger sitting next to you on a plane.
I was hungry when I arrived at Kuala Lumpure International Airport (KLIA) with a 3 hours transit time to Penang. I searched the place for some food to eat. I chose Old Malaya Kopitiam. I don’t think it is the same as Old Town Kopitiam. I ordered a bowl of Nyonya Laksa and Teh Tarik for MYR$17 (or less than AUD$6). That was my midnight snack at 10:30 PM local time (or 12:30 AM Australia time). Imagine having a bowl of spicy soup at midnight! LOL. Fortunately, the laksa was not spicy. It looked great when it arrived. But the soup stock was a bit bland. It filled my stomach for my last flight.