Picking up on my UN-Trip report from last week, here is some more of the story.
It is important to understand the layout here at Kuala Lumpur International Airport(s). Elsewhere in the world it makes more sense to have separate discount (LCCT – Low Cost Carrier Terminal) and conventional terminals (MTB – Main Terminal Building). What many airports do when they expand, is instead of building the new airport across town from the convenient old airport, they build on the same property and use the original (terrible, dilapidated tin garages really) for the discount airlines and build the nice new expensive terminals on the same grounds. This saves the cost of moving 100% of the infrastructure, or worse, creating two traffic centers, two subway lines, etc. It also allows the airport authority to charge the discounters less for inferior facilities, and the nice big international carriers more for the really good stuff that their customers want. Here is the map:
We determined that our best chance of getting out of Malaysia (because we have jobs and bills) was to get to the main terminal. Discount carriers like Air Asia are excellent when everything goes to plan, and in five years of crisscrossing the globe with the Sherpstress, things have only gone wrong twice. The first time allowed my (then girlfriend) to shine so much I asked her to be my wife, the second is right now.
The plan is to hop in a cab and head to the other terminal as they are very separate entities and there is no other way to reach the two of them. I open my wallet and remember that we spent the last amount of meaningful cash on some great t-shirts that say “Happiness” (more on that later), and now I was left with only 11 MYR (Malaysian Ringgit – about $3 USD) which was enough for a cab most places in town, but not much more.
I go to an ATM that only dispenses foreign currency (requiring another transaction) because this is the only one in sight. My card is rejected for not being “The Right Kind Of Card” meaning that it did not have an electronic chip inside like the rest of the world.
We go outside to look for another but all the ATM signs point back inside. We find another this time connected to a bank, and currency counter, likely much easier to work with. My card is again rejected, as is my wife’s where I experience a bit of an Amazing Race moment (insert video of upset contestant here).
The Sherpstress is truly my partner in life, and while I am busy being frustrated, she is calm and relaxed. “We will figure it out, we always do.” It’s exactly what I would say if I were the calm one – but I wasn’t.
We take this battle outside, let’s just see how much they charge to just go around the airport to the other side.
“Forty-two Ringgit” the taxi captain says as he continues to direct cabs around me.
“Four point two?” I strain back, as 42 MYR would be an insane amount of money to go around the building ($13 USD) which we don’t have access to anyway. The hour long drive from the city was 150 MYR in a taxi, I must have been mistaken. I wasn’t. He holds up four fingers with one hand, then two with the other and informs me that I need to go back inside for a ticket.
The Sherpa has had it.
I go around him to the cabs, open a door and make my offer to a driver: 11 Ringgit, it’s all I have, please take us to the other side.
As I throw my arms up in despair (because that usually helps matters), a cabbie points and shouts something to me, “Bus, bus, bus!” And there it was, doors just opening to collect passengers and take them to the terminal they likely needed to be at instead of the one for which they arrived.
Side Note: Your airport layout is terrible when A) You can’t connect the two terminals or won’t, and B) When so many customers are confused and arrive at the wrong terminal that you actually create a bus service to go from one to the other.
We bolt for the bus. We ask when we get to the door, “How much” which internationally is the same as saying, “Hello sir/madam, I am an American if you couldn’t already tell.”
“Two (V)ifty” I believe he said, I take out 5 MYR and hand it to him, he accepts it without protest. We are on our way. I ask him how long, 20 minutes he says. <Sherpa shakes head in disbelief>
You may not be religious, we are and this is Sunday morning. Whether or not you believe in God, you might still be asking for a little help in this situation – I certainly was.
We arrive at the International Terminal (though the Low Cost Carrier Terminal – LCCT is highly international as well) and it is modern and beautiful, and ready to start the day. We don’t really know what the right approach is here, but here are some options:
• If we find a way to Yangon (there are three flights that will still get us there in enough time to start our trip) then we can pay for the ticket and we have no more issues.
• We can get the Malaysian Airlines folks to drop the first flight off our itinerary without penalty and just spend all day in the lounge and airport waiting for our night flight.
• We can try to trick the system in some way. We could just spill it all, explaining that Air Asia essentially rejected our Myanmar transit visa, therefore we were in some sort of weird immigration limbo and would end up like Tom Hanks in Terminal without their help.
Find out what happens Here…