On another no-frills, low cost flight out of Denpasar, this time to Kuala Lumpur, I flew AirAsia. With price points the deciding factor between AirAsia and Malaysian Air, both based in Malaysia, I was happy with my choice. The calm flight was close to three hours with no untoward incident.
Crossing my fingers and hoping not to be delayed too long at the immigration queue as in Denpasar, I inched my luggage along until half an hour later, I was in front of an immigration officer, a woman who, after reviewing my passport, raised the forefinger of her right hand. Following the direction of the finger, I saw a black round ball with an eye. Assuming this was a camera, I looked at it and hoped that a passable smile was pasted on my face. But the woman shook her finger and again pointed her forefinger upward. What? I wasn’t supposed to smile? Okay, take two. I tried to do an impassive pose. Again the finger shook. It was getting to be frustrating until the finger not just pointed upward but by hand signals I then understood that it was my forefinger the camera wanted, not my face. WOW!! Biometric security screening. Impressive, really, until March 8 with the revelation that plane passengers are able to board with stolen passports.
Yes, that was my entry into Kuala Lumpur. Uh huh, that Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, subject of the media, 24/7 since March 8.
I booked a Toyota on the website of the hotel, but was met at KLIA by a uniformed driver, in a Benz. Hmmm… the wrong information was processed, but no complaints, no big deal. It wasn’t like a request for a 777 and being met by a 787. The long 55 km. ride was made more comfortable by the driver, a local with loads of social and cultural information about Kuala Lumpur.
My hotel room at the Renaissance, part of an American chain, was lovely, large and overlooked a beautiful garden and pool. A short stroll away was the Petronas Twin Towers and everything was accessible by taxi or public transport.
A complimentary plate of bon bons and fruit was a nice touch. As I looked around the room, I saw what I thought was a giant bug on the ceiling. After observing and noticing no movement I got up on the ottoman and looked more closely. It was a kiblat, a pointer to the direction of Mecca while praying.
THE BATHROOM COMEDY
Day One: All was well until I looked at the bathroom, which was clean, but looked like it was about to reach its expiration date. The cold water tap would not budge. It was wound so tight, I got a male staff to try to open it. He had a difficult time as well but finally got it. However, once open, it would not close properly and there was a drip. In harmony, when the water dripped, the toilet tank would hum. This was reported to the front desk and another guest relations desk with staff called Navigators. Everyone vowed to call maintenance. As I thought this was just a simple change of washer problem, I refused the offer to change rooms. Maintenance did come while I was away and switched the taps around, so this time, the hot water tap would not budge. After another flurry of calls from my new friends downstairs to maintenance, someone came to open the hot water tap, but when opened, it would not close properly and left a drip, with the toilet tank humming away.
Day Two: Before leaving for a day tour to Mallaca, I left another call with Maintenance with backup chorus from my friends downstairs. I was stunned to return at the end of the day to find the hum and drip problem still existed. Stubbornly thinking that in New York, fixing a leaky faucet was not an issue, I again refused the offer to change rooms. On the side table, there was once again a complimentary plate of goodies with a note from the Facilities Manager, requesting a call back, which I did. Not surprisingly, the manager was not available and no one in the office had any information on her return or the situation on the bathroom taps. The drip and the hum still went on.
Day Three: Before going to visit the Batu Caves, I did the now routine call to Maintenance and reminders to my friends at the desk to keep nudging the Facilities Manager. Returning after 1:00 pm, tired and in dire need of a refreshing shower, I saw another complimentary jar of cookies. SHOCKER! All the water was shut off in the bathroom. Urgent and excited calls to Maintenance and Front Desk to have the water turned on immediately. Was this a solution to fix the drippy tap and humming toilet tank? Maintenance came in and it seemed like they started to look at the problem, shake their collective heads and go to lunch! Was this how things worked in Kuala Lumpur?
My experience with hotel bureaucracy, now a laughing matter, and not even in an infinitesimal degree to be compared to the sad current events in Malaysia have left me unsurprised at the international criticism on reaction and seemingly paralyzed efforts.
Sampai berjumpa lagi