After a long, [annoying flight onboard KL0810](/2006/02/06/kuala-lumpur-to-amsterdam/) I finally arrived in Amsterdam. Local time: 5:30am. Thanks to my seat, I got out pretty quickly. At the gate, someone else was just asking the only KLM employee in sight where he’d get the boarding card for the connecting flight.
“At the transfer desk,” she answered. “Go this way and just follow the signs.”
Nice, that was my question too. I walked into the indicated direction. Peter, the German courier guy, wanted to smoke, but I was in no mood to torture my lungs with passive smoking, so I bade him farewell, and followed the signs. I located the first transfer desk pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it was deserted. No matter. Surely, I thought, they’d man the more central transfer desks first.
Half an hour of walking through a mostly dark and deserted airport later, I had found at least five of the nine transfer desks. None of them occupied by a single soul. I decided that instead of sitting around and waiting, I’d simply go to the arrival hall, grab a coke at McD’s, and then check in at the normal check in.
Easier said, than done. First, I had to leave the international transfer area. I did expect a passport control, and that was short and painless. I didn’t expect a security check immediately afterwards. What is the point of xraying passengers who just got out of a plane and want to actually **leave**? Beats me, but whatever, if that is what floats the Dutchemn’s boats…
After that little surprise I conitnued on, further down and in a bit of a curve, to the baggage claim area. My eyes focussed ahead, I walked through the dark halls. The baggage lanes were all quiet and empty. Unfortunately, so was the toll gates. “No exit” and “closed”. All of them. And again not a soul in sight. A janitor told me how to get out, and indeed, about a half dozen baggage lanes further there was an open door. Still no soul in sight. Had I wanted to smuggle precious diamonds or the plans for the archvillain’s lair, I’d have had no problems at all.
I proceeded first to the departure area. Trusting the screens to give me the right desks, I first lined up at the baggage drop-off for quick-checkins. A big, flat bag – kinda like a wide painting, wrapped – leaned against the first KLM chick’s desk. Of course, knowing how airports deal with lost luggage, I alerted her to it.
“Thank you, I didn’t see that,” she said.
“I know,” I replied. “That’s why I told you.”
“Of course I don’t know whose luggage this is. I am sorry, excuse me please, I’ll have to call security.”
The next KLM woman told me I was in the wrong line. So I walked over to the other line of counters, where the two KLM women on duty promptly took about 15 minutes for 3 people in front of me. Still, at last, I had my boarding pass. I grabbed a quick coke at Burger King and decided to wait at my gate instead when I began to freeze very seriously. (The arrival hall of Schiphol airport isn’t heated. And I was the only guy in a shirt.)
I found my gate pretty easily – no big walk. The longest delay was waiting in line for the security check. Morning rush I guess. The gate had one flight before ours, KLM Cityhopper to Copenhagen. The checkin was completed, one bus left for the aircraft, one was waiting. Schipol has very clear announcements – not like the very nice sugarcoated messages you’ll hear in Frankfurt.
“This is the last call for Mr. So-and-so travelling to Copenhagen. Please proceed immediately to gate B24. You are delaying the flight. We will proceed to offload your luggage.”
Only Mr. So-and-So arrived about 2 minutes after the second bus had left. He whined and begged. “I have an appointment, I cannot be late!” he cried desperately. The KLM staff told him that should then be more punctual. “We can not delay the aircraft,” they said. Mr. So-and-So thanked them by kicking a garbage bin on his way out. Meanwhile, someone in the men’s bathroom commenced to puke very audibly.
Our plane turned out to be delayed again – by 30 minutes. We finally began boarding – and had to enter a bus as well. This is where I began to seriously regret having my jacket in my checked in luggage. Having come from a place 35 Â°C warmer, I was shivering about 3cm in every direction. The busses doors were kept open for an unreasonably long time, it seemed to me. And thanks to my non-aggressive nature, I was almost the last to actually baord the plane. I must’ve looked really goofy, the only guy in a shirt among people wrapped in warm coats.
At least it was a long-sleeved shirt.
I was lucky with my seat – 14C, at the emergency exit. Despite the delay in departure, we miraculously arrived in Frankfurt on time. And on the approach to Frankfurt International, I saw what I least wanted to see: The area was covered in a thin layer of snow.
I arrived in Malaysia without problems. I actually managed to catch some sleep before departing, and was out the door only 30 minutes late – because I couldn’t find my iPod photo adapter. And since I don’t have a notebook here I really need the additional storage for photos.
Speaking of photos – I’ll have to show those off once I get back. I am not even going to try and work out a way to get them on the Internet Cafe computers. Nevermind that I fear keyloggers, don’t even want to know how many virusses lurk on this piece of hardware.
Back on topic. I got to Frankfurt International without problems, the bus was maybe 10 minutes too late. However, the KLM desk at Terminal 2 was very empty.
“You’re travelling lightly,” the woman at the xray machine said.
“It was either packing a huge amount of stuff or packing very little. I chose the later,” I replied.
“Well, the counter to the right seems to be empty.”
I looked at the counters. Four lines open, one had a couple there, at another a guy was just leaving.
“Yeah, I don’t think I will steal anybody’s space here.”
The transfer flight to Amsterdam departed an hour late due to the horrible weather. It was alright, nice guy next to me who’s visiting his siter who [emigrated to Norway](http://auswandern.pandemonium.de). He was a bit anxious about flying so entertained him with some stories from my trips. He commented that I seem to fly a lot. Never thought that I do, but I guess he’s right.
82In Amsterdam, I met Arjan. Cleverly, I went to the Meeting Point; he wasn’t able to call or send an sms because he entered his pin code wrong – 3 times. He was smart enough to check there. We went downtown – almost got off at the wrong station – and finally found a nice little place where we did our brainstorming for [Neverwinter Nights 2](http://www.nwnprojects.com/). Very productive.
My long haul flight to Kuala Lumpur left on time at about 20:25. It was a horrible affair – a KLM 747, with the seats seemingly adjusted to Asian sizes. The guy in front of me had to lean back as far as he could for about 90% of the time. He also refused to sit at the window, when a couple with a baby asked if they could sit in the aisle seat. Jerk.
Arriving in Kuala Lumpur is not really the immediate culture shock you’d think it is. More like a climate shock. I don’t even want to know what the temperature and humidity were. The immigration process was pretty easygoing, but then I guess no German ever would voluntarily try to sneak into Malaysia. It’s funny how a place like Malaysia has to protect themselves from even poorer countries. The customs inspects was no big deal. After they put big warning labels on the customs form – “FOREWARNING: DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS” – I expected everything from a friendly “open your bag” to a full body cavity search. Not that I would ever carry drugs. Hell, I don’t even smoke cigs. At any rate, I asked the customs guy how things work here and he said, “Well what do you have?” -I shrugged. “Nothing really.” He looked at my bag and waved me through.
One thing that is very different to Europe is the huge crowd of hotel and taxi guys who try to intercept you in Arrival Hall. After about 2 minutes I wished I had a “no thanks” sign around my neck. They don’t accept when you ignore them, and follow for at least 5m repeating the same question again and again. Some didn’t even take a “no” for an asnwer. English must be so difficult.
Oh, and, finally, if you want to meet someone at KUL, don’t agree on McDonalds. Or know that is on the fifth floor in the far right corner.
89After Wenny had finally located me in the chaos, we went to the train station and went downtown to crash at the hotel. 22 hours, 11000 km.
We’ll continue this another day – sorry if there are spelling mistakes, this is an English keyboard and I am thinking I am coming down with a bit of a flu. Not the avian variety, mind you. It started in the horribly cold air conditioning of the KLM 747 and didn’t get better from all the airconditioned places we ran into and out of.
148Frankfurt is cold and rainy tonight. The tops of the skyscrapers were lost in the haze when I walked home from going out with my coworkers earlier today. It was definitely unpleasant. Germany is showing me its nasty side, as if to say: “Go away. You will not be missing anything.” I will depart in twelve hours, and I am getting nervous.
I am not used to such huge trips. And I feel woefully unprepared.
My trip, including layover in Amsterdam, will actually take a whopping 21 hours. I depart here at 11am, arriving in Amsterdam at 12:25, departing there again at 20:25 and arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 15:05 local time, which is 8:05 (in the morning) in Europe. In Amsterdam I’ll hook up with Arjan. That should be fun, and we’ll brainstorm on our project for Neverwinter Nights 2. Then a very long flight and I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur – at +30Â°C. With high humidity. I wonder how well I will take that.
I fear I won’t be blogging much from the road, but I’ll try to get to an Internet cafe now and then. And if all else fails, prepare for a flood of postings when I get back. I am determined to be better about blogging this trip than the past couple dozen.