For this year’s Chinese New Year holiday I decided to head south to enjoy some warm weather in Malaysia. Chinese New Year falls at the the perfect time for a nice break from the bitter cold winter in Korea. As a budget traveler I’ve learned how to do some quality traveling without breaking the bank, but I think this trip threw me a few curve balls that made me question whether saving a few hundred dollars is worth some of the stress. Overall, I had an amazing time, but for some reason it seemed as if I was running frantically to every train, bus, ferry, or flight that I had to catch.
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is true; however, on every international flight I have ever been on, at least one meal and a drink comes complimentary with the flight. With AirAsia there is no such thing as a free anything. Checked baggage? Extra charge. Choice of seat? Extra charge. Food and drink? Extra charge. The initial price of the flights with AirAsia are very appealing, but when you take a look at everything you have to sacrifice to fly with them, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Just a few tips for anyone who ever decides to fly with AirAsia: bring your own food, drink, and entertainment, make sure your luggage is less than 7 kgs. and brace yourself for the landing. My AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, left Seoul at around 8:30 in the morning. My friend Meghan and I, left ourselves more than enough time to get to the airport. Or so we thought, until we arrived and the time of the flight on the ticket was 30 minutes earlier than the time on our online itinerary. Looking at the crowded airport and long security lines because of the New Year holiday we both started to panic a little. There was a small chance that we wouldn’t be able to make our flight. Thankfully we weren’t the only ones. After cutting through security and getting on the shuttle to the terminal, dozens of people ran up the escalators in a mad dash. One man literally hopped over the escalator railing and landed on the step right in front of me almost tripping over himself. After what felt like pure chaos running to the terminal people gradually began to slow down when they realized the flight had not even started boarding. AirAsia printed out the wrong times on the ticket after all and we had probably 15-20 minutes left before boarding. Oh, AirAsia.
After a 7 hour flight sitting in literally the last row of the plane with expensive, crappy food, not one movie, and a terrifying landing, Meghan and I landed safely in Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia also has their own airport in Kuala Lumpur called LCCT, which basically stands for Lowest Cheap Crappy Terminal. We didn’t fly into the main airport and we didn’t even have to fill out immigration forms. Sketchy.
We took an hour bus ride into the center of the city and navigated our way through the subway to our hostel. We found our hostel quite easily which was a relief. We stayed at the Explorers’ Guesthouse hostel, which is right in the center of the city in Chinatown.
The first thing that I noticed upon arrival is the diversity. Malaysia is a mesh of world religions and people from different cultures. There are religious groups including Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus who have all converged together in one big city. The city of KL is sprinkled with mosques and temples from all of these religions, which give the city a lot of character. KL is not the nicest city I have seen in southeast Asia, but most likely one of the most diverse.
After putting our stuff down in our private 2 bed hostel room we headed out to get some authentic Malaysian cuisine. Since we were staying in Chinatown we ventured to the traditional Chinese markets and found ourselves at a decent looking Chinese restaurant. After a nice meal and a beer we walked around the outdoor markets. The outdoor markets weren’t really that great, but Central Market, kind of like an indoor mall with traditional gifts and food, was really interesting. We found some nice hand made crafts and other souvenirs at good prices. The other nice thing about Malaysia is that the sellers do the bargaining for you. The minute you pick up an item, you hear a worker say: “This is 20 ringit, but for YOU, 10 ringit.” The price seems to drop 20%-30% just by looking at something. This doesn’t mean that you can’t bargain for an even cheaper price, but it was pretty convenient. At around 9 pm we found ourselves at a massage place that looked very inviting. From the outside the massage place looked really classy so I wasn’t sure if it would be a place that we could afford, but looking at the menu and seeing 1 hour massages for the equivalent of $20 USD, we were sold! We both got 1/2 hour body massages that lasted almost an hour. Afterward, I was so relaxed I could barely stand up. It was the perfect ending to a stressful day of travel.