I wished to escape from it all. And this being recess week, it was exactly what I did last weekend.
I had it all planned out. I needed to be home by 1pm, but I was determined to make the most out of my trip. I would wake up early at 5.30, leave my hotel by 6.10, take the monorail to KL Sentral, and board the KLIA Express to the airport. That way, I’d have reached by 8am for my 9.20 flight.
Alas, the universe had other plans for me. I did not hear my alarm clock that morning. As a result, I awoke at 7.20 am. I was panicking. I quickly showered, put on a fresh diaper, but I knew that it would be too close to call. I checked Expedia, and was horrified that the next flight back to Singapore was not cheap at all!
Barely awake, I grabbed my things and ran down to check out. I asked the reception guy if there was an airport transfer available. He slowly took his time to telephone their driver, who was asleep. By the time they told me that, I had wasted 10 minutes. Fuming, I walked out onto the street, desperate to get a taxi. This was where I was making a mistake.
Anyway, a taxi came around. I got in, and we were off. Unfortunately, I had very little cash on me, so he stopped at an RHB bank, And that’s where I realised that I hadn’t activated my Masterard for overseas use! I wasted a further 10 minutes trying in vain to contact the bank, to try and get it activated. But it was no. The quick-thinking taxi driver came to my aid, and he drove me to an OCBC bank branch, where I was able to withdraw money. I bargained with him to pay 170 Ringgit, I knew that it was way overpriced, the usual price is apparently 100 Ringgit. But I was desperate.
I knew that the flight counters closed at 8.35. I was hoping that they would let me in as I only had carry-on luggage. But we only reached KLIA2 at 8.45. I ran, and to my great dismay, I found that he Tigerair counters had closed, and the staff had left!.
It was a terrible realisation! There I was, stranded in a foreign airport with just 2 ringgit in my wallet and an unactivated Mastercard, and wearing a diaper. But I knew that I had to press on.
I checked the departure timings. The next flight to Singapore was at 10, by Airasia. I went to their counter and was horrified that they were charging RM300! A budget flight on this route usually costs in the range of RM100! Luckily, there was another flight to Singapore at 10.30, by Malindo Air. I was weary of it as it was an Indonesian airline. But the ticket was RM150 and the next available flight to Singapore(by pricey Airasia) was at 12. I asked the staff where the ATMs were, and I walked over. But I didn’t see any OCBC ATM. I asked the information counter ands was horrified by their reply; there weren’t any!
OCBC is such a big bank in Malaysia and they don’t have a single ATM in the biggest airport in the country? I was expaserated. I just sat down against a pillar. Then, it dawned on me that there was free Wifi here. I quickly activated my Mastercard for overseas use. But surprise surprise!
I tried 5 different ATMs, none of them allowed me to withdraw cash. It was a terrible sinking feeling. I sat down at a pillar again, in front of the departures info panel. I raced through the websites of different airlines, comparing the time and the price for each flight. Somehow, it boiled down to a 12pm, RM300 Airasia flight, or a 3.30pm, RM170 Tigerair flight. I just couldn’t make up my mind. Online credit was my last resort. I knew that if this failed, I would have had to call my dad to bail me out.
Somehow, I got distracted in this midst. I got up, and walked back to the Malindo Air ticket counter. It was already 9.45, and the flight was at 10.30. I guess that I was just too hardened by the turn of events, and my mind simply did not process the fact that I could have simply swiped my Mastercard without the need for any activation of any sort. But I went in and thankfully, the transaction went through. I guess the universe did its best to help me out of that tight spot.
I raced through the check-in, ran through the immigration and security checks, literally pelted down the gates to the freaking last gate in KLIA2, gate P22. And found out that the flight would be delayed because a related flight from Mumbai was overdue…
But at least, I was on a flight back home, at last!
In hindsight, what I should have done was this. I should have accepted that I was going to miss the Tigerair flight. I should have left the hotel, as soon as possible. Assuming that I had left at 7.35, I could have taken the 1.5hr monorail+KLIA Ekspress option and reached at 9.15. Then, I just had to find out which was the next flight to Singapore, which I should have realised, was the most travelled route in the region. Anyway, I would have ended up taking the flight which I eventually took. That way, I could have saved RM135(S$45).
Painful lesson, but I guess I learned a valuable life-skill.