Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 1: Malaysia - Hangzhou

I had long heard about how impolite and impatient the Chinese (in this case when I say Chinese I meant China Chinese, not Malaysian Chinese) are, but I had never expected to witness it even before I set foot on their land.

So we were waiting in line to check-in our luggage at the counter in LCCT. It was a long queue and I bet everyone was getting impatient. In front of us there was this Caucasian couple, didn't know where they were from, couldn't catch their language; behind us was a huge group of Chinese tourists. We all know there were two types of queue with multiple counters - one queue per counter, or one queue for all counters whereby the next in line could go to whichever counter that was available. Even the blind could see that they were using the latter method. So there was this counter about to open, and the Chinese tourists behind us got really excited. We watched in amazement as one of them moved the pole that formed the queue to make way for the luggage trolley. Before they could successfully drag their luggage towards the new counter, some guy from the airport came to hold the justice. The Caucasian couple were actually clapping away, whilst the Chinese getting annoyed. Me and Mr. Chin, we were simply amused.

"你们要嘛站这儿,要嘛站那儿呀! (You either queue here, or there!)" Shouted one of the Chinese to the Caucasian couple. As if they'd understand. HAHAHA!

We were thrilled when we first set out eyes on the seats in the plane. They were spacious, comfortable, almost luxurious, and highly compatible to those of MAS. But let's face it. We're on AirAsia - the cheapest everyone-can-fly airplane. The seats we were looking at, were actually...

Yes... Premium seats.

How disappointing. As expected, AirAsia X was no better than AirAsia, despite the longer hours of flight. It was equally cramped and uncomfortable. Well, what's to complain when we only paid RM420 per person.

The moment we exit the airport there were hundreds of taxi drivers approaching us offering different prices for a ride. Those were not registered taxi drivers. Some guy offered us RMB120 to Nanshan Road but we decided to wait in queue at the taxi stand. We managed to get in a cab after waiting in line for 10 minutes. The driver was a friendly man – we talked about the food in Hangzhou, places to go, the people and the language. He seemed to be curious that Malaysians speak the same language as him, though with different accent.

We gave him the address as to which hotel we were heading but he didn’t know where it was. “It’s a small hotel,” he said.

I desperately looked up the map I bought. “It’s near the junction where Nanshan Road and Qinghefang Road intercept,” I said, happy with my discovery.

“But Nanshan Road and Qinghefang Road don't intercept,” the driver said.

I stared at him in disbelief, then looked at the map again. I wasn’t wrong. And later when we discovered Hangzhou it was indeed proven that the map was right. That was the problem with taxi drivers in China - they didn't really know their way around. So it was necessary to know the exact location of where you were going or give him specific significant landmarks.

Lesson 1 : The address of the hotel alone is not sufficient. Be prepared to know your way around. Get a map and get the landmark.

But we were lucky that we had met that driver. He told us to give him the hotel contact number and he called them to ask where it was. And we found it. It was close to 11:30pm and I couldn’t imagine having to carry our 7.5kg luggage walking around in the drizzle looking for the hotel. I was really grateful at his kind gesture. The meter read RMB100 as we got out of the cab.

Lesson 2 : Always get registered taxis from the taxi stand. Most of the time it will be cheaper when charged by meter.

We stayed in Starway Jingshang Hotel that night. My review? Great amenities, friendly and helpful staff, clean rooms, totally worth a RMB188 per night. We were told that we managed to get a good deal because we booked earlier. The rate was higher than RMB300 by then.

Lesson 3 : Always book your hotel in advance. You'll never know if you'd get a better deal.

This worked like Astro, only better. You can choose from a list of movies, shows, drama series to watch, just one click away from your remote control.

 No closet or cupboard. But this was fine.

 Clean washroom. I always like to have the shower compartment isolated.

That settled our first night in a foreign country. We were more tired than excited. What we didn't know was, many more tiring days were awaiting us.


confessions of a medical student said...

airasiaX so small... i was expecting a more comfortable plane.... well, what we pay is what we get...

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

me too... i was hoping it'd be slightly more spacious compared to airasia.... too bad it's all the same...