A Kuala Lumpur visit that was not to be


Checking in at Changi Terminal 3 for our flight to Kuala Lumpur
Checking in at Changi Terminal 3 for our flight to Kuala Lumpur

I put a lot of effort into tweaking my travel schedules just so. With the opportunity for a layover to explore a new city or an extra segment the gets me on a new airline I’ll nearly always make it work. And so, as we begin a two month journey through South Asia, the idea of grabbing an extra passport stamp seemed like a pretty good idea. Alas, the travel gods had other ideas.

From Singapore to Kathmandu the flight options are limited. SilkAir offers an expensive nonstop flight while several more affordable one-stop options exist. I chose Malindo Air, part of the Lion Air group, mostly by the price, but also because of the options it presented. We could choose from three departure times at Singapore, giving us one hour, four hours or nine hours in Kuala Lumpur along the way.

While the one hour option is nominally the “best” connection I was not keen on that short a stay, especially as we are meeting a tour in Kathmandu and I didn’t want to risk missing that. The four hour option is, to me, the least good choice for nearly any airport. Not enough time to head into town and too long to spend sitting in transit without going stir crazy. So I booked the eight hour sit. It would be enough time to hop on the KL Ekspres into town and then the metro over to the Petronas Towers. Touristy as hell, but a decent enough way to pass the time.



And then the airline decided to play games with my plans. A week before the trip it moved the departure from Kualal Lumpur to Kathmandu up three-ish hours. That dropped the connection time at KUL down from an easy trop into town to a race, and possible a very bad choice, depending on the immigration lines. So we were resigned to an unreasonably long sit in KUL, the exact scenario I was trying to avoid with the booking.

Security at the gate, from the far, far end of Terminal 3
Security at the gate, from the far, far end of Terminal 3

The morning of our departure things got even worse. The inbound aircraft was more than an hour behind, meaning our departure from Singapore would be similarly delayed. Now we have even less time on the connection, though that’s not entirely a bad thing. Rather than spending extra time at KUL we’re splitting it between that airport and Singapore Changi’s Terminal 3. Our plan to get to the airport at the last minute was now early enough to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a walk through the butterfly garden (my first visit!) while awaiting departure.

One of the many butterflies that lives in Singapore's Changi Airport
One of the many butterflies that lives in Singapore’s Changi Airport


The layover at the airport lounge proved a test of my patience; it was crowded and chaotic with pretty poor F&B offerings. And there was one set of kids sufficiently loud that I had (very civil) words with their parents. And eventually we wandered off because the terminal was a far better experience, save for a general lack of power outlets.

The Changi butterfly garden is impressive, even if it does require going out into the steam bath that is Singapore weather
The Changi butterfly garden is impressive, even if it does require going out into the steam bath that is Singapore weather

Sure, it meant no visit to the Petronas Towers. But I’m not too worried. That was just a side trip and the bigger picture is still intact.

So long, Singapore!
So long, Singapore!

Tales from our South Asia Adventures

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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