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  • Writer's pictureNondiarist

A Change is Gonna Come, I wrote – So is the change finally here?

A journey has ended.

We said goodbye to Worcester at 1200 on the 9th November 2021 and arrived at our destination of the Grand Millennium hotel in Kuala Lumpur at around 0300 UK time on the 11th November (1100 local time). We have one more leg of the overall journey to complete and that’s KL to Penang – approximately a 4 hour drive – but only after we’ve finished being quarantined here in KL.

The flying time in all that? Only about 14 hours. But OMG is it good to get back in an aeroplane again and go SOMEWHERE. Sod the Staycation and the attitude that we should be content and delighted with going NOWHERE.

Assuming there are no issues with the visa, this is it. This is after 10 months of wondering whether anything would actually happen. The state of living in limbo and the disconcerting experience of putting your whole life on hold for something that may never come to being, appear to be over. I’ve seen the back of all the temporary household stuff I’ve lived with for most of this year and might finally get reunited with my real furniture and other possessions in the foreseeable future.

It’s been a weird experience. From the time we booked up the flights, hotels at Heathrow and in KL and an Airbnb in Penang, I’ve been on tenterhooks, appalled at the number of things that could go wrong. My job involves compiling quantitative risk registers for highway schemes – well the RR for this project was as long as my arm and all red on the RAG status. And having become very familiar with my pessimistic side recently there’s still a part of me that says we’re not out of the woods yet.

The flying bit was not without incident.

I thought the offered champagne on the first, London-Doha leg of the journey was celebratory in a I’ve-actually-made-it-to-leaving-England sort of way.


This journey involved a risk that I hadn’t given much thought to – aircraft faults. An electrical failure on the ground at Heathrow seriously delayed the take-off and left us with next to no time to get from one end of Doha’s Hamad International Airport to the other. We weren’t the only passengers frantic about a connecting transfer and a bunch of us was out of the seats and at the door within seconds of the seat belt sign going off, bobbing and sighing and groaning while a couple of very nervous cabin crew members stood there at the locked door peering through a tiny window at the guy on the outside who took FOR EVER to line up the boarding bridge. I’m sorry – I believe it’s called the Expedited Suspended Passenger Entry System. Um, what?

This agitated bunch erupted from the aircraft as soon as the door opened a crack, nearly flattening said boarding bridge guy, and set off on a panicked gallop in individual directions to find departure gates, scattering aimlessly dawdling other travellers and jinxing round escaped children. How does an already bloody huge airport stretch when your flight is actually boarding? Thank heavens for travellators.

We skidded through the gate passport check, flung ourselves into a waiting bus and hoped like hell it was taking us to the right aircraft.

In all of this, the Qatar Airways crews were magnificent and soothing, especially the lady who appeared from heaven and offered me a cold towel and a glass of champagne (yes, again – I wasn’t going to say no, was I?) as I sank, sweating, into my seat on the KL bound flight.

I knew that the process through KL International Airport, which is closed to everyone apart from Malaysian citizens or foreigners with an approved “My Travel Pass” (MTP), was going to be quite painful and it was certainly lengthy, like some kind of assault course with various stages to pass through. I have to say though that every single person we dealt with or encountered for the MTP check, phone app (MySejahtera) registration, passport checks, testing/vaccination checks, actual testing and signing off of quarantine matters, from security guards to officials to medical staff, was so helpful and kind and cheerful. Similarly the driver who brought us here to the hotel and the few staff we’ve met here (wandering around in fallout protection suits handing out food - even more like a horror movie - not their fault) were the same.

A real contrast from Heathrow. Every single person we encountered there, apart from the Qatar Airways check in lady, was either sullen and dismissive or obstructive and downright aggressive. Maybe it’s my fault for being there too early in the morning.

So here is the view from the room – or one of the rooms as we have two adjoining – down to Jalan Bukit Bintang (Jalan means “street”) at rush hour yesterday.

Nice big rooms – I’m assigning the end of one, by the window, as a dance area so I’ll get YouTube on soon.

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Wonderful!! Enjoy it all and what a view to watch while isolating. Glad the rooms are spacious. Xx



Welcome.....Penang waits for you...



The travel happened at last! Congrats.

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