Friday, March 16, 2012


We got back late Wed night and I am so happy to be back in warm weather. Until you have lived in an old, unheated, high-ceilinged, minimal amenities house in 1 degree temperature (with wind chill factored in, one night was -3 C) in Shanghai, you wouldn't know what it was like. We heard times over, from relatives and taxi drivers, that "Shanghai spring is colder than winter," "Take your clothes off and chill to death in spring in Shanghai" and "Even the northerners can't stand the cold in Shanghai". The day we left was a sunny warm day of 14 C and I hear that this weekend the temperature will go up to 20 C. The only good thing I got from the cold is rosy cheeks but that wouldn't last long.

The Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) flight from KK to Shanghai is just perfect, very comfortable timing, leaving KK at 9 am with a 50-minute transit in Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), the non-happening capital of Brunei, and arriving SH at 2:15 pm. I once had to transit in the BSB airport for 12 boring hours and it was enough to make me want to walk all the way back to KK, 20 minutes' flight away.

On our homebound flight, just before landing, the pilot announced that we have been honoured with the presence of a VVIP and that when the plane came to a stop, everybody was to remain seated until the VVIP gets off at the VVIP stand (apparently, this VVIP gets off first thing is a regular event on RBA flights) and then the plane will taxi to the regular--what do you call it--stand. The pilot, a white guy, (RBA international routes are piloted by whites or at least someone who sounds white) spoke in English. When the plane stopped, the passengers, mostly Chinese on the way to KK, all unbuckled, took their overhead luggage and started to line up in the aisle. A flight steward shouted for people to sit down, and when he got to my seat, I told him that the people had no idea that it's a temporary stop because there was no announcement in Chinese. He said he couldn't speak Chinese and that only one steward could, so I asked him what kind of an international airline is RBA if it can't even make announcements in Chinese to outbound passengers from China. He and his colleague looked lost and walked on. Brush it off as jet lag, but I'm just flabbergasted when airlines in this region don't bother to make announcements in Chinese.

RBA isn't the only airline that doesn't make announcements in Chinese on flights in and out of China. AirAsia and Malaysian Airlines too seem to have cabin crews who lack language skills even though many of the crew are  Malaysian Chinese and can speak the language.  Cathay Pacific  makes multi-lingual announcements and that's another reason why it is one of the world's best airlines.

In the BSB airport, there was no one to direct the passengers to the transit area and the tourists stood in groups, not knowing where to go. Come on Brunei, you can be less provincial than that. Another thing--the amount of liquid you can bring into the aircraft is only 50 ml, not 100 ml. "We are more strict" said the lady officer. How do you argue that the permissible amount in international airports is 100 ml? I also learnt something new, that if you have a 150 ml bottle of liquid which is, say, half empty, it will be chucked into the bin. The only way to get through security is to transfer the liquid to a 100 ml (or 50 ml in Brunei) bottle. Many of the passengers had to throw their face creams and sun block, very reluctantly, into the bin. The strangest thing is they got through the Pudong Airport in SH but not the Brunei Airport.

What does this photo tell you about travellers? Travellers love their scissors (I'm one. My eyebrows scissors got confiscated in Guilin airport years ago and I was upset because it was part of a manicure set) and their forks and a kid out there learnt a lesson.

Airline food used to be worth eating but in the last two decades, airlines have been competing to out-crap each other. That piece of cheesecake is the crappiest I've ever ever eaten.

I ate a lot in the last 8 days and walked a lot too, thinking that I can have my food and my waistline. Despite all that walking, I came home 1.5 kgs heavier. It's so defeating. Lots of food photos coming up. I just need some time to adjust to the heat.


Beau Lotus 涟 said...

My youngest lost his favourite toy gun the day he left it in my hub's suit pocket and the man wore it to the airport.

Travelling nowadays can be quite stressful with all these rules, Hub lost half a bottle of expensive perfume the other day because he refused to believe me when I said they only look at the volume of the bottle not that of its content.

Meanwhile it was quite a short (but happy) trip, wasn't it? Out of curiosity when you ate with the relatives, do they cook or do you eat out?

Michelle Chin said...

the cheesecake looks super sad. i love cathay pacific's in flight food. their tofu pannacotta is the bomb!

Anonymous said...

Oh I totally agree about BSB airport!! We took RBA to London a few years back.....transit Dubai...going was fine, transit time was quite short BUT coming back we had an 8 hour transit in BSB......argh!! Felt like forever....we took SIA to Melbourne recently & the transit in Changi was 7 or 8 hours & we didn't feel the much difference! Might never take RBA again..

Rae :)

Anonymous said...

It is true on BSB airport.They will never learn that it is so important to cater for the passengers needs on the flight or on transit.I once help them in the transit as all passengers were China moslem. They are no business man. Timing is very important.That is why CX made money cos they will look at the passengers profile. We make the local dialect when we fly to Xiamen and Chennei, we make Tamil.Transit in HK is CX selling point.

Kelly said...

Shanghai can be super cold. It boggles my mind how some of the apartments cost so much without decent heat.

I was there in the winter 3 years ago staying at a relatives and my mom and I were sick for almost a month. From that point on, I only stayed in hotels.

Btw how are the bathrooms in Shanghai now? I was there last May and the shopping mall bathrooms are still very dirty compared to HK shopping malls.

Laura said...

Hi Terri!
I'm glad you're back home, in warm weather now!!
Relax yourself now! :)

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

beau: we ate out mostly bc relatives invited us and i also had a list of restuarants to try. on a few occasions when we slept in, we ate lunch with our relatives at home, ben fan.

michelle: oh, i hope i get to eat tt soon:)

rae: but the good thing about a small airport is it's quieter and the gates are not 10 miles away. i actually prefer a small airport like BSB's if on a short transit. longer transits, i love the HK airport.

kelly: china's restuarant toilets are way better than Msia's! i didn't go to any malls this trip so i can't tell you but overall, their toilets aren't horrendous like ours. BSB's airport toilet is also backward, water everywhere.

laura: my skin's flaking off so i'm pleased with that. maybe i'm half a shade lighter now:0 ah, warm weather can be uncomfortable but i prefer warm to cold.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

except for walking. it's impossible to walk comfortably here bc it's so hot and humid.

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