November 25, 2017 - Leaving KL!

Another day partially spent sitting on a plane!

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KL Sentral / Little India

We started today late because we did laundry. Behind the KL Sentral Monorel (immediately beside Cozy Hotel) is a new laundromat that wasn’t there last year. At 6 ringgit for the 10kg washer, 8 ringgit for the 14kg washer, 6 ringgit for the first 20 minutes of dryer and 1 ringgit for every 4 minutes thereafter, it was a reasonable price for a laundromat so close to our hotel, rather than the one up the street that we had used last year.

We packed our bags and checked out of the hotel, leaving our luggage in the luggage storage, which was just a cramped room underneath the stairs in their lobby. We weren’t planning to go far, so we walked into NU Sentral looking for food, but decided against eating there and walked out into Little India and chose a vegetarian indian restaurant called ________ to eat at, which was apparently a copycat of a more famous restaurant in India.

We ordered the North Indian thali, paneer tikka masala pulao, North Indian thali (including three curries, two rice), ice milo and teh tarik. The ice milo was good, it wasn’t as cold as it would normally be, but it also wasn’t fully composed of ice. The teh tarik was average, but did come in a fancier teacup. The food was good according to S. I just wish that they would turn on the air conditioning in the restaurant. It also took a long time to serve our food, and the restaurant got quite a bit busier from when we sat down at noon to when we left sometime after 1pm.

We started going through Little India, browsing clothing stores for Sneha’s wedding. S did most of the looking, noting prices and what kind of designs were available when a thunderstorm and heavy downpour suddenly started. There were a few spots of flooding on the streets and the lightning was striking close by. Scampering between covered walkways and across roadways, we made it back to NU Sentral, and did some light shopping where S found a top at the Parkson’s department store.

Having dried off and cooled down, we grabbed our luggage from M&M Hotel and headed to KL Sentral where we had booked a bus.

SkyBus from KL Sentral to KLIA2

Over lunch, I ordered and paid for the SkyBus ticket from KL Sentral to AirAsia’s hub at KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Terminal 2). Earlier in the morning, I tried to book the SkyBus on the AirAsia site, but the option to pay for the SkyBus (8.90 ringgit per person) disappeared. In the end, I ended up booking the SkyBus direct from its site for 11 ringgit per person. Other bus companies charged between 10-12 ringgit, but most of them required you to reserve a specific bus. With SkyBus, you just had to show up on the day of and board the next bus, which left regularly enough. Note that the cash price is even higher at 12 ringgit if you try to buy a ticket in person, and it’s a bit hectic.

The departure area for the buses at KL Sentral was beneath main level. So after walking through NU Sentral and taking the large escalator down into KL Sentral, immediately turn around and walk to the area beneath and behind the large escalator, where there will be an elevator and escalator that will take you down to the level of the busses. If you paid online in advance, show your receipt to the SkyBus office and they will print out tickets for you to hand to the bus driver. Luggage is loaded into the storage compartments beneath the bus.

SkyBus for whatever reason didn’t turn on the bus while it was parked, so it was quite hot on the bus. Fortunately, the bus left about 10 minutes later and the air conditioning came on strong through the vents. This bus was older and you could visibly see it had a lot more wear and tear compared to some of the other busses we had taken before.


We arrived at the airport at about 5:15. KLILA2 is set up such that you have to walk through an entire mall first, in order to get to the departures area. We used one of the self check-in kiosks to print out our boarding passes and luggage tags.

To avoid baggage overage charges, we each went to the baggage drop separately, ensuring that our carry-on was empty enough in case we had to transfer items from our checked baggage. Both of us were over (S at 21 and me at 22.4) and so we both removed items from our suitcase and stuffed it into our bags. S took a while to go through the baggage drop because the agent went through her entire passport and asked her where the visa was for Maldives (Canadians don’t need to apply for one in advance). When it was my turn to line up, the line was relatively short and I walked to the front, just behind a small Chinese family of 3 with 10 minutes to spare.

There were 6 counters open at this point and they were all serving customers. As each one finished, they put up a Closed sign at their kiosk and left, resulting in the number of kiosks being cut down to two kiosks, one which was serving the small Chinese family (at this point they had mysteriously multiplied into 9 people) and another group that were standing around looking around for unknown reasons - 15 minutes later, the 4th member of their party showed up running in (but not before handing off a full hiking bag before checking in). Finally, someone showed up to open up a new counter, but they invited someone who was standing off to the side. It seemed like he would finish fast, as his luggage was whisked away and he packed his bag. But then he started reopening his carry-on and discussing with the check-in agent about something on his phone and started taking pictures of documents.

Finally, a 4th booth opened and I was finally invited forward. At this point, it was 50 minutes before the flight (10 minutes after baggage cutoff) and I was nervous as the agent checked his watch to confirm the time, but he said nothing (aside from asking for excess baggage charges) before whisking my bag away. Unlike S’s experience, my agent spent most of his time asking me about the onward journey from Maldives, and wondered where my visa was for India.

AK72 - AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to Male, Maldives

We realized while sitting on the plane (an Airbus A320 with ETOPS) that our hotel included free airport transfer from reading the reviews. We had originally planned on taking the ferry and walking the 10 minutes to the hotel, but we would never turn down a free transfer. I left the hotel a message with our flight and estimated arrival time in the hopes that they would still be able to give us a transfer when we had landed.

While doing the safety demonstration, the captain interrupted to give the status of our flight. The flight was delayed because 8 people did not make it onto the flight and the pilots had to redo their paperwork. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were just behind me on the flight and narrowly missed the baggage drop off cutoff because of AirAsia’s poorly executed shift change that left most of the counters empty (and perhaps it would have been all, if the other 2 counters weren’t dealing with difficult passengers). As far as I could tell, the safety demonstration (which was almost done) was left as-is and the flight attendants left.

We were seated near a baby, who only cried during boarding. There were only two people in our set of 3 seats, so we enjoyed the extra space. The lack of water or snacks on the flight was annoying, as S was starving during the flight, but we hadn’t prebooked a meal nor did we have time to buy something while rushing through KL Sentral or at KLIA2.

At the end of the flight, everybody rushed to get to the front of the plane, pushing and shoving. Being in row 29, we weren’t in any rush which paid off when they opened the back door and we got out quickly.

Male, Maldives

The plane landed and we alighted onto the tarmac, where we walked about 50m along a short roadway into the air conditioned arrivals area. The customs immigration process was a breeze, with many lines open and each line only a couple people deep (unless you were planning on joining the temporary worker visa line). We picked up our luggage from one of three baggage conveyor belts - since we were one of the last to drop off our luggage, we were also one of the first to receive our baggage off the plane (it unfortunately did come out wet on one side). After going through customs (nothing to declare!) without incident (unlike Bermuda) we entered the non-airconditioned Arrivals area and found a lady carrying the Novina Hotel.

Novina Hotel Transfer

The lady thankfully found us on her list (amazingly my name was even printed on the pickup sheet, despite requesting the transfer only hours before). She explained that they were expecting two more additional people so we waited near the information counter until she picked up a couple and brought us to the ferry terminal. She had already bought the ferry tickets and given it to the ferry crew on our behalf, so we climbed aboard while the crew wrestled our luggage onto the ship. The ship was quite full, including boxes of stuff which I assume was air cargo being delivered into town.

After a quick and hot ferry ride, we made it to the ferry dock where we met up with the next staff member from Novina hotel. After we grabbed our suitcases as they were unloaded into the crowd, we waited for the Novina hotel staff to hail a cab for us. After trying several times, he asked if it was okay if we took a pickup truck. I said it was ok, so it was implied the other couple was also okay. He walked further up the street and hailed a pickup truck which he loaded on our bags and then we climbed in. The skeptical side of me thinks he could have hailed a cab if he had gone further up the street, but he would have needed two since there were four of us and a lot of bags.

The pickup truck must have took a really roundabout route, because I had looked up previously on Google Maps that the trip should be a 10 minute walk (down a one-way street though) but it felt like we were going continuously through small streets and making a large number of turns, possibly searching for the hotel. When we finally reached the hotel, the pickup truck drove past it before turning into a spot a couple stores down and unloaded us.

We chatted with the friendly Malaysian couple through the journey - they’re from Kuala Lumpur and were flying into Male for a night, before going onto their resort the following morning (Adaaran) for the rest of the week. They’re also certified divers and might be going for a dive during their stay. We exchanged Facebook contact information and will probably see them again someday in the future.

Novina Hotel

When we arrived, we were greeted with an icy cold cloth and a welcome drink and invited to have a seat in the cold lobby. They brought our suitcases up from the street and asked us for passports.

It took a while for the hotel to get us checked in for some reason. I don’t know if this time is intentional for us to enjoy the welcome drink and towel, but we were all sitting there for quite a while. They handed me all four passports, I guess they assumed we were all friends and travelled together at this point so obviously I kept them all (not!).

They showed us to our room and kindly explained what was complementary (a lot of things) and what wasn’t (everything in the minifridge!). There were a couple of letters printed and laid out on the bed welcoming us to their hotel and inviting us to leave a positive review. We were starving at this point, so we left very soon thereafter and went to go find food.

Male Walk

I had told S that I knew food was. In general, I had a rough idea, but didn’t exactly know where to go (the WiFi was very slow at Novina). We walked through Male at night, there was still quite a bit of scooter traffic. Sultan Park was very nicely lit at night and we walked quite some ways until we reached Barcelo’s. After asking if they accepted credit card (they do!), we grabbed a seat in the upstairs restaurant.

Barcelo’s is a rotisserie chicken restaurant, which is very similar to the Nando’s chain in my opinion. They have a selection of chicken and burger dishes which can be paired with one or two of various sides. The chicken was larger than what we got at the Nando’s in Toronto, and juicy and meaty (even the white meat). There were a number of ‘Peri’ sauces as well, ranging from Mild Peri all the way to Super-Peri, as well as a Tangy Lemon. The mashed potatoes were very smooth and tasted great as well.

6% GST (not the 12% for tourist establishments!), 10% service charge, and 12 MVR for a small bottle of water were also charged. Our meal (Beat Burger with 2 sides and Half Chicken with 1 side) came to ______ MVR.

Afterward, we walked back to the hotel and went to sleep.