January 30, 2009

Surviving A Long-Haul Air Asia X Flight

Air Asia X LogoI was really fortunate to be able to fly to Malaysia via business class with the Enrich air miles I've accrued over the years. However, a one-way ticket from KL to Melbourne on a normal-cost airline would cost me $1200 during the peak period, which is ridiculously expensive. The cheapest alternative was to fly via Air Asia X. An anti-climax to a wonderful trip back, I know, but it was a tremendous amount of savings. So flew via Air Asia X I did, and oh boy, what an experience it was.

To be honest, I was really apprehensive on traveling via Air Asia X. I expected leather seats which hardly reclines on the plane, just as they do on the Air Asia planes which fly domestically and to other countries as well. I expected no service. In fact, I expected the worst. What I expected didn't even come close to what I encountered.

If you think that flying cattle (economy) class is bad, my dears, you haven't tried Air Asia X.

First of all, the seats are incredibly small and narrow. They're even smaller than the seats you see on an Air Asia plane! Air Asia X has an option where you can book for larger, so-called "more comfortable seats", on their XL seats. Those seats, are probably an inch or so wider than the usual economy class seats you see on normal-cost flights (frankly, I couldn't tell the difference if it was any bigger than usual economy class seats). The price of that is equivalent to an economy-class ticket on Malaysia Airlines.

Worst of all, these tiny-ass seats do not recline. They have this thing where you can extend the seat about an inch or two in front, push the headboard down, and then you slide your body down. That's their way of letting you recline. Unfortunately, this means that it cuts off two inches of the very minimal space you already have. Good luck to those with long legs. Even more to those poor fellows who are stuck in between the window and aisle seats.

Large people will find the seats most uncomfortable. I have a large bum, and I get about an inch of space on each side of the seat. Sleeping in the tiny seat was simply awful.

In order to accommodate more people on the plane, the arrangement is such that there are three rows, with three seats per row. About 60 people share two toilets. Whoop-de-freaking-doo. There's also no service with the flight, just as you'd expect on other Air Asia flights.

Honestly, I didn't think that the leather seats were at all necessary. Why not use the money on larger seats instead? By larger seats, I meant the seats used on regular Air Asia flights. That would have been a more feasible solution than cramping so many people in tiny seats in a plane.

If you are likely to suffer from deep vein thrombosis, I highly discourage you from traveling via Air Asia X. There's hardly any room for you to move about.

The food's all right. If you haven't pre-paid for your meals, I recommend the Malaysian meal, which is the nasi lemak. That was surprisingly good.

I hope the uncomfortable seats alone is enough to deter you from traveling via Air Asia X. The KL-MELB flight was the worst trip I've ever had, and I've had bad ones where I got sick and almost threw up. If not, then here are a few tips on surviving a long-haul flight on Air Asia X:
  • Check in early. For international flights, Air Asia recommends you to check in three hours before you fly. And a good thing too, because the queues are simply massive. And you know how chaotic the LCCT can be.
  • Bring in a bottle of water. Air Asia does not allow you to bring in outside food and drinks, but they do close an eye on bottled water. If you have pre-paid for your meals, then you'll get a main dish (e.g. nasi lemak), a bar of chocolate and a bottle of mineral water. However you should drink a lot of water on a long-haul flight, and a bottle for the 7 hours just wouldn't do. They will not supply you with free water.
  • Bring a blanket/shawl/pashmina to keep you warm throughout your flight. This isn't provided. You can purchase a Comfort Kit at RM35 where you'll get a blanket, inflatable neck pillow and an eyemask. I had to get one, but not for the blanket. The blanket, which comes wrapped in a drawstring bag, was used as a makeshift pillow for my back. The neck pillow made it a lot easier to sleep with. As the seats are incredibly narrow, the chances of you slipping to the other seat whilst asleep is very high. I saw a lot of disgruntled passengers who had other passengers' heads on their shoulders.
  • Pre-order your meals when you purchase your ticket. This makes it a lot easier rather than carrying a wad of small change with you when you want to get a meal. Each prepaid meal only gives you ONE meal. On a typical 7-hour flight, the flight attendants will come around twice to sell you food.
  • Speaking of pre-ordering, when you purchase your ticket online, I'd suggest you to pre-book your seat allocation too. Choose an aisle seat so that you'll at least have more space.
  • Eat up first before you fly. Save the pre-paid meal to two hours before landing. Or else you'll be pretty hungry when the flight attendants come again serving food. The food's overpriced on the plane, as you can tell. Oh, and don't chuck your boarding pass when you're on the plane. If you have pre-paid for your meal, there will be a sticker on your boarding pass as an indication to the flight attendants to serve you your meal.
  • Bring plenty of books and a media player/laptop (fully charged) on your flight. This should keep you entertained throughout the flight if you don't want to pay to watch in-flight movies.
There you go, that should be about it. I strongly discourage older folks to travel via Air Asia X, as this would be very uncomfortable for them. At least, keep the flights to less than 3 hours if possible. I don't think I'll be flying via Air Asia X again, unless it's absolutely necessary. When the plane touched down at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport, I heard a lot of passengers complaining "Never flying via Air Asia X again. Aiyo my poor back/neck/insert-body-part".

See, I wasn't the only one :p

January 29, 2009

I'm Back, and Damn It's Hot

Finally back in Melbourne. I'm glad to be back, but to tell you the truth, I can't help but wish I was back in Malaysia instead, for the sweltering heat here is simply unbearable.

It's bloody 45C outside.

It's the hottest temperature I've ever experienced, and it's very difficult to get used to. Makeup be damned; I only wear sunscreen and lipbalm (with sunscreen) now. And lots and lots of water, of course.

I had a great holiday, meeting up with my family and friends. 'Tis a pity Tim couldn't come back with me; I kinda stuck out like a sore thumb when visiting his extended family :p Lots of photographs to process, and funny videos from my trip to Genting.

For now, I'm just going to have to get used to this weather first. Sigh.

PS: I'm using the wifi from the public library. Free air-con FTW! :D

January 24, 2009

I Almost Deleted My Blog!

Asian Woman Panic ComputerLast week gave me quite a scare.

I was just tinkering about my blog last week and decided to move some files via FTP to my webhost. I no longer host my beauty blog on Blogger, and have moved to a separate webhost instead and migrated to Wordpress. With my own webhost, I could essentially host my other blogs on it too, without having to purchase a new one.

Anyway, so there I was, transferring some files on my FTP client, FileZilla, and I have absolutely no idea what happened next, or how it even happened, but I accidentally deleted my public_html folder. This folder had my beauty blog files in it, and the next thing you know, I could access my blog no longer.

I had, somehow, manage to delete my blog.

I felt as though my entire stomach and heart were ripped out of me. I had a panic attack. I did not just delete over a year's work, did I?!

I immediately shot an email to my blogging guru and saviour, Edrei, who then reassured me that as long as my mySQL database was intact, my posts and comments would still remain untouched. I heaved a huge sigh of relief, because I don't know what I would do if I were to lose over a year's worth of work. Hard work too, mind you.

Thank God, I had a backup of my blog files somewhere in my computer. I had the files stored away in my computer just before upgrading to Wordpress 2.7. Essentially, I only lost a month's worth of changes I made to the settings and plugins of the blog. As all my photographs were hosted on Photobucket, I didn't lose any of the pictures used in my posts.

After an hour of transferring the files back to the server via FTP, and adding the changes, my blog was finally back to normal. My heart and stomach slowly crawled their way back into my body.

Let this be a lesson to all of us. Back up your work, and back up often. Also, do not put all your eggs into one basket. Keep your files in separate servers if possible. If I were to put all of my photographs in the public_html folder, I would have lost ALL of them if I hadn't backed them up. Also, retrieving lost files from your webhost could be very expensive. I contacted Lunarpages (my webhost) if they could retrieve a backup of my files. They replied that files retrieval would cost me US$75. Oh boy.

So back up, back up, BACK UP. Whether it's your work, your blog, etc. Anything you put a lot of hard work and effort in deserves at least that bit of security measure.

January 15, 2009

Seasons of Change

Meeting up with my girlfriends proved to be even more cathartic than I thought. How I've missed all the bitching sessions we used to have together, shopping raves, and talking just about anything under the sun. Most of all, I've missed them.

It's interesting to note that as our status in life changed, so did our topics of conversation. What used to be conversations about work now became discussions about married life and the surrounding environment and people that came with it. It was an interesting change, which I embraced. It does not mean that this has become a gathering of "si lais", but something we all grew into as we moved into that chapter of our lives.

Seasons of change. It's a good thing.

On another note, I'll be seeing Hester's baby for the first time this Sunday. Ahh ... darlin' Nat. I remembered exclaiming to Tim, after getting that text message from her that baby Natalie has arrived, "She took my future daughter's name!!!" Oh yeah, I wanted Natalie too :p

January 07, 2009

Malaysia Mari

I'll be leaving for Malaysia tomorrow afternoon. Tim's not coming with me as he has to prepare for his exams in March. It's funny how I could stand being away from him for over a year before we got married, but now, it's difficult for me to leave him. Oh well, he needs his space to study, and I want to see my old friends once more. Guess it isn't so bad at the end of the day.

Three weeks back in Malaysia. I wonder how that's going to be like. I remembered the last few times I was back. Somehow I just couldn't adjust. I felt like an outsider being hit by culture shock. 'Tis odd, given that I wasn't even away that long.

Anyway I'm really looking forward to seeing my family and friends once more. My cousin is getting married this Saturday, which is really exciting. I'm going to be walking down memory lane on this one, for I got married at the same hotel a year ago.

I'm all packed and ready to go.

Oh and flying back via business class is going to be so sweet. Satay, here I come!