THURSDAY, April 5/06
It was like a sudden jolt, waking from a beautiful dream to the nightmare that is LAX, Los Angeles Int. Airport. No, our plane landed smoothly and safely, but as soon as you disembark you can feel the stress level of being in the U.S.A. Where were all the happy, smiling faces, the courteous, gracious Malay people we had grown so fond of? We were hustled and bustled into yet more lineups, went through various rigorous security checks, and then had to wait seven hours in that dingy, uninviting airport. After clean and sparkling Kuala Lumpur and the Tai Pai airports it was quite a shock! Disgusting, actually.
Our flight from K.L. left at 10.30 a.m. Saturday morning. Four hours later we landed in Taipei for an hour refuelling stop. Then the long, rather cramped, flight across the Pacific which was around 17 hours. Landed in LAX at 9.30 a.m. Saturday morning. Then we waited another 7 hours before boarding our flight to Vancouver. Arrived here about 9.30 pm and went straight to the hotel that my travel buddy had booked for us. A brilliant idea!
What a lovely surprise for two weary travellers to find two long-stemmed red roses and a bottle of champagne, welcome home gifts from her husband!
After a long sleep, we finally headed to our homes on Sunday noon. Yes, I'm home now but still feeling rather disembobulated, though I think the worst of it is over now. For a few days my brain was frazzled and I was really in that lovely dream-world of Malaysia, still imgining the white sandy beach under the palms. The first few nights I laid awake thinking of everything that has happened in the last two weeks. Yes, it is like a dream. And now, the reality, the culture shock sets in. But we have such lovely memories.
Here's a recap of some of the 'best' and 'worst' and most fun things of the trip:
#1 best was just being there. Every day was a wonder!
#1 worst being at LAX (both going and coming home!)
#1 best fun time There were so many, but perhaps one of the most memorable was being on theisland with all those monkeys, seeing them up-close and personal in their own habitat.
#1 disappointment Unfortunately, the Lagoon Resort pool was closed for 4 of the 7 days we were there. We did, however get to swim on a couple of gorgeous beaches during that time.
#1 Most memorable dining experience: There were several, but I think the Malay restaurant our driver Hasbullah took us to was the best. Not just the ambience and the food, but finding those fragrant flowers floating in the loo was one example of the care and thoughtfulness of these people.
#1 Most disappointing meal: It was a rip-off, really and a lesson we learned was, ask first if they are weighing the lobster meat only or including the shell. It was a not-very-tastey and horribly expensive meal at that Chinese Seafood Restaurant. Shocking big mistake!
#1. Most special event: Hard to choose. But for me, the personal tour around Rimbun Dahan,
the Centre for Contemporary and Traditional Art and the botanical gardens.
#1 Most disappointing event: I guess it was not being able to get tickets to go up in the Petronas Twin Towers. We went early to wait in line, but had to leave because of tour driver was picking us up. So we didn't get an opportunity to experience the thrill of this. But we compensated by going up the telecommunications tower instead.
Would I go to Malaysia again? Most certainly! It is a destination I would recommend for sure. This trip was a gift (door-prize) from the B.C. Association of Travel Writers, at a gala sponsored by Malaysian Tourism and I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity. We were treated like the Queen Bees everywhere we went. We were both touched and thrilled by the hospitality and friendliness of the Malay people. Kuala Lumpur is an amazing city and we only wished we'd had more time to explore it. Langkawi is a laid-back, lovely isalnd, not yet over-run with tourists (such as neighbouring Thailand). And most of all, we felt safe and welcome and were treated respectfully and generously by the gracious Malay people wherever we went. We were impressed with the efficiency of the tour operators and drivers. It was definitely a vacation I will not forget!