ON OUR WAY TO KOTA BHARU:
We had to get up way too early to get to the airport, but our driver was there at 6, even earlier than planned. He was given a cup of coffee as he waited for us, and we were off by 6:15. We got to the airport early for our flight—which is an experience. First, you get your boarding passes electronically, then load the checked bags through their scanner, grab them and take them to the counter to get them checked in. All went well in Penang, but our plane didn't leave till 8:30 instead of 8 am, and our luggage took awhile to come out when we got to KL, and they wouldn't let us board our flight to Kota Bharu. They said the flight was boarding right then and we didn't have enough time, so they put us on the 1:30 flight. But in order to do that, we had to go to another counter down the way. We had a new printout which showed our flight two days later had also changed and would get in about 30 min later, so we could miss the next flight to Kuching. Every time you fly to a new area, you have to fly in and out of KL AND pick up your luggage and recheck it.
He told us we might have to change to the 8 am flight to KL to make sure we get on the next flight to Kuching, but go talk to the sales office, so we walked over there and were told he couldn't change our tickets because they are point-to-point tickets and they're not responsible if we didn't book each flight with enough time, even though THEY CHANGED THE FLIGHT TIMES! He said we could buy new tickets for the 8 am flight, but they could not reimburse or credit or exchange tickets since their change was less than 45 minutes difference. New tickets would cost MR390, which is about $130. Then he said he couldn't help us with that, so he sent us back to the other area where we'd come from. By then we were getting pretty pissed off, and Matthew had to remind me to keep cool, which he did very gently by just putting his hand on my shoulder.
The guy at counter 66 told us we might make that flight if everything comes in on time and our luggage gets in quickly etc. I asked if we could get our baggage sent straight through, but that was a no. By now, it's about 10:30, so we just gave up and checked in our luggage after getting the new boarding passes. We sat and sat and sat...though I did get to Skype with Ingrid while there since they have free wi-fi.
We decided after a few hours of relaxing and thinking about it to go online at our hotel and buy new tickets for the 8 am flight so we would have to stress about missing our flight to Kuching. All flights to there are full, so we didn't want to risk missing it. Plus, I've paid for a driver to pick us up at the airport and would have more hassles. It took lots of frustrating time to buy tickets since their website was also a mess and hard to navigate, especially when it refused our credit card which is ON FILE already with them.
Matthew put in a different cc and we finally got the new tickets. I'll write about Kota Bharu later with pictures of places, food, of course, and mostly the wonderful people we met there. The highlight was yesterday when we met some university students at lunch and asked to take their picture because they all were dressed so beautifully and colorfully---and they turned out to be lovely young ladies. Then we shopped in a bazaar and met two women who were also friendly and helpful. I put a sneak peak on Facebook last night, so will also add it here:
And if you're part of my guild study group and are reading this AND if you asked for some material, here's where it came from....