April 20, 2018 Friday – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Hong Kong & onward to Los Angeles, California, USA
2018 Borneo tour
I’m up at 5:15AM, put my bag out and have breakfast at 6AM downstairs in the hotel with the rest of my tour group. Since all the bags and people are aboard the bus, we leave 15 minutes early for the Kuala Lumpur International airport. Our local guide Susan is a Type A personality, so everything is highly organized for us! We arrive on Level 1 where our driver Mohammed drops us off. We then take the elevator to Level 5 where Departures are located. We check-in, go through security and clear Malaysian immigration. We then take a train to the departure gates, find our gate and board our Airbus A330 – a four hour Dragon Air flight to Hong Kong, which leaves on time at 10:30AM.
After disembarking, we re-group at the end of the Jetway and Michele suggests a few of us who are more mobile go ahead to start the transfer process to our flight to Los Angeles, which includes two security checks. It is a pretty long trek across this huge airport – taking about a half hour to find our gate and get ready for our much longer flight across the Pacific Ocean to Los Angeles. It is totally disorganized at the Cathay Pacific gate, with Business Class and priority boarding mixing with Premium Economy, but everyone eventually is aboard and seated.
The Premium Economy upgrade some of us went for is expensive and only applies for the return trip segment between LA and Hong Kong, but it includes a nicer dinner menu with more choices, complementary alcoholic drinks, a seat which is much more comfortable with a recliner and foot rest. We also get to board before regular economy, and have our own cabin with an exclusive washroom.
About an hour out of Hong Kong, we are served drinks and dinner, and are then given a bottle of water and an overnight kit. I plug my notebook computer into the 110v outlet under my seat – another perk of Premium Economy. I’m satiated and relaxed as we head eastward over the Pacific aboard Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300ER. I manage to sleep off and on for the first seven hours as we fly through darkness. The Milky Way and southern constellations are beautiful as I observe them out my south-facing window. At the seven hour mark, we have blue sky, but I can’t see the Sun rising because we are heading due east.
We land 12 hours after departure – two hours less than the flight in the opposite direction. As a Canadian, I qualify for the faster customs and immigration kiosks at LAX, however once through that hurdle, I still have to join a second line to see an agent before I’m free to collect my bag.
I say goodbye to Michele at the baggage carousel and walk over to the hotel shuttle pickup area to catch a shuttle to the Best Western Airpark hotel. The hotel is nothing special, but it is clean, quiet, and the best deal in the area. I immediately have a shower and go to bed for three hours. After waking, I go across the street to Roscoe’s Chicken Waffle restaurant, which is very busy. Just like the name says, they serve chicken and waffles…not a vegetable in sight except for some greens listed on the menu that nobody seems to order! The chicken is good, the waffle is OK, and I’m no longer hungry. Let’s just say it was an interesting cultural experience!
I return to the room and browse online before going back to bed. Flying eastward means I get to live today twice, gaining some 15 hours in the process while crossing the International Date Line. In reality, all it means is that I’m tired from the long flight and my body’s clock will be screwed up for a couple of days!