Well if the first 24 hours of our adventure is anything to go by it’s going to be an extremely eventful, amazing, challenging experience!
We arrived at the Gold Coast Airport very early for our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Five hours early to be exact! It was raining and we had all our luggage with us and really, all we could think about was getting on that plane. The plan was to just hang out, get some dinner and make sure we were ready for check in as soon as it opened. We didn’t realise however, that the majority of food outlets were in the departure lounge and while you can go there without having checked in, you can’t bring luggage. We attempted to store our cases in the lockers but there were no large ones available. So, we just found some seats near check in and sat for a few hours with our luggage. This was actually pretty fun and went quite fast. We called family, the kids played their Nintendo DS and games on the iPad and we ate some snacks we had brought. In typical fashion though, when check in finally opened we were completely unprepared and by the time we got to the line there were about 100 people ahead of us. Ours were the only kids in the line and they were getting a bit over excited and you could just read some of the other passengers expressions ‘I better not get stuck sitting near those kids……’ Little did they know those kids were going to be extremely well behaved for the whole flight!
When we finally checked in and went through security we hot footed it straight to the eating area and bought some ridiculously overpriced dinner. In the time we sat waiting for our food and then eating it, you would think we would have filled out the customs forms we were handed…….. note to self – pack a pen! After going through more security we sat for ages watching everyone pass us while Peter filled out 7 separate customs forms. At least our 5 antsy kids gave everyone else something to talk about! By the time we got through to the boarding gate we were behind pretty much every other passenger so we were extremely grateful when passengers with children were called to board first. It was a fairly large plane and we were in the middle with 2 rows of 3 seats separated by the aisle. I was so surprised that there was no drama or tantrums over who got the window seat. I guess all the kids were too excited/tired to care and over the course of the 8 hour flight we had so many seat changes everyone got a turn anyway.
We took off just after 9:30pm. Peter does not like taking off and landing and sat very rigid and very quiet until we were well into the air! The kids were disappointed there were no TVs on the plane but kept themselves entertained looking out the window and doing some colouring in. We had pre-ordered some meals when we purchased our tickets and these came about an hour and a half after take-off. The kids found this very exciting (ok, I found this very exciting). I love everything about plane travel, every little detail and I took great pleasure in photographing and filming everyone’s meals. Within minutes of eating, all the kids fell asleep. And stayed asleep! It was great. Pete slept on and off. I dozed a little but I was holding Ben and I didn’t want to fall fully asleep and drop him. The plane landed in Kuala Lumpur at 4am and we actually had to wake the kids up as they were so sound asleep. We disembarked the plane and walked to baggage claim feeling pretty great about how well the flight had gone.
When we got our cases we all got changed into fresh clothes and Pete and I discussed where we would head first. Then I asked peter for his wallet………………..then Peter started searching through every item of carry-on we had………..Then I started to freak out! Peter had LEFT HIS WALLET ON THE PLANE!!!! As we were still at baggage claim we were right next to lost and found so he went and talked to them. He had put the wallet into the storage pouch on the back of the seat in front of him after buying a drink so we had high hopes that it would be found there. They called for someone to check the plane and told us to wait about ten minutes. After what felt like an hour (but was about ten minutes), we were told that the plane had already left for a flight to Osaka, Japan and there had been no wallet handed in. Our panic turned to shock. He left his details (what little details we had) and we were told that if it showed up in Osaka, we wouldn’t be able to get it today and that they’d contact him and forward it on by courier to England for us. I was completely at a loss with what to do next. We hadn’t even left baggage claim after the first 9 hours of our adventure and something this massive was already happening.
For the next 2 hours we wandered around Kuala Lumpur airport trying to figure out what to do. We needed to contact our bank and travel card provider to put a stop on our cards but we didn’t even know how to get international roaming to work on our phones! The kids were so well behaved and we tried to hide our panic but poor Anna, always intuitive and always a worrier, was stressing with us. We got some breakfast from McDonalds as Peter tried with no luck to get his phone to work. Peter’s next idea was to buy a local sim card to call the banks but before doing that thought he’d try going back to ask at the airline again to see if it had been handed in, thinking that maybe a flight attendant or cleaner had found it and had not yet handed it in when we were at lost property. We went from one end of the airport to the other as Peter talked to many different people from our airline, each with a different idea of what we should do. We had all our luggage with us as well which made everything that little bit more difficult. At one point, when Peter was talking to someone, I fell asleep leaning on a suitcase and woke minutes later with a big indent from the handle on my forehead. This red mark stayed on my forehead for the next hour as we went from one place to the next! After talking to people from the airline at a check in counter, Peter left us in some seats and talked his way back through customs to the lost and found place we had started at. A while later he returned to us……..with his wallet held high in his hand and a very large smile on his face! I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but we had it and could finally, 3 hours later, make the most of our day in Kuala Lumpur, before our 10pm flight to Frankfurt.
We walked back through the airport for the fiftieth time that morning, to the train station where we were going to have to pay a crazy amount for us all to catch a train into the city, so we then headed to the bus terminal. Even the bus we found was expensive considering where we were, but at that point we didn’t care. We just needed to get out of the airport before one of us (and by ‘one of us’ I’m referring to me) had a full blown meltdown! The bus was a clean and comfy coach and within minutes of driving, all seven of us were asleep. I kept trying to wake up and look out the window and actually take in the fact that we were in such a different and amazing place, but I struggled to keep my eyes open. One thing I did notice and was pretty amazed by, was just how green the place was. Lush, bright green plants and trees everywhere. Really beautiful!
As we entered the city I woke up and started to take it all in. The roads, the buildings, the apartments, the people, all so different from anything I had ever seen. Now I was getting excited! We had told the driver we were wanting to get off at the Petronas Towers but before I could even see them, the bus was stopping and we were being very quickly ushered off and into a taxi. As I herded the kids, peter dealt with our luggage. He seemed to know what he was doing so I just went with it. It wasn’t until we were all squashed into the taxi, along with 2 other passengers from the bus, that Peter told me that the bus driver didn’t want to go through the city so had payed for a taxi to deal with us the rest of the way. Our taxi driver, along with most of the other drivers on the road, had no regard for red lights, oncoming cars or really, any basic road rules at all. At one point Korey asked me to please stop squeezing his hand so tight!
Once we got to the towers and unloaded our children and luggage we stood on the other side of the road, not entirely sure what to do next. The events of the morning had left us a little rattled. Originally we had planned to get off the plane and research what we would do for the day while leisurely eating breakfast. Well that didn’t happen!!!!
We took some photos then headed into Suria, a huge 6 level shopping centre full of high end clothes and accessories. We knew it was going to be hot in KL but even just five minutes in the thick, humid air had us excited to be in air conditioning. We bought some water and some cheap donuts and sat outside near a fountain, where several different people decided that Peter really looked like he wanted to buy a new mobile phone! Various sly looking characters casually produced the phones from their pockets and offered them to him saying ‘iphone six? You want buy?’
Next we headed along some paths toward a park, with Peter lifting the pram and suitcases up several flights of stairs, much to many people’s amusement. We stopped at a playground where it was very apparent that safety standards are definitely lower than what we are used to. I sat on a bench and fed Ben while a security officer (one of the hundreds dotted all over the city) watched! I had a feeding cover on but I felt pretty uncomfortable and wondered if it was acceptable to breast feed in public in Malaysia. It turned out she was just really taken with Ben. When I stopped feeding him she talked to him and stroked him and even tried to cool him down with a little fan. He got a lot of attention while we were in Kuala Lumpur, more than normal, and more than the girls. Especially when he was in the carrier on Peter. Our little army as a whole got a lot of attention too. People pointed, took photos and counted the kids in amazement.
We walked a little further through some lovely gardens at KL City Park and went on the hunt for somewhere to eat some authentic Malaysian food. By this time though we were extremely hot and tired and fed up lugging so much around so we settled on a little indoor food court and went into a little restaurant which seemed busy enough for us to assume the food would be pretty good, which it was. We ordered several small Malaysian dishes as well some fries for the kids. It was a good job we got the fries as the rest of the food was pretty spicy. The kids all gave it a go though and all found something they liked. I’m still not sure exactly what some of the things were but we enjoyed it and were pretty impressed with how it cheap it was.
We left the food court and headed back the way we had come. By this time I was starting to get stressed about how long it may take us to get back to the airport considering we had no idea where to even catch a bus from. We must have looked confused or lost because a very friendly local stopped and asked if we needed any help. He was a wealth of knowledge on transport around the city and pointed us in the direction of a bus terminal. As we got to the buses a taxi driver latched on to Peter and after a little bartering we decided to skip the stress and confusion of catching a bus and pay the extra to go directly to the airport with him. I didn’t think it was even possible to fit our pram, two suitcases, porta-cot, carry on bags and the seven on us all in his cab but somehow he squashed us all in. Peter sat in the front with Ben on him in the carrier and I sat in the back with the other four kids. I don’t think the kids knew whether to be excited or scared! This time I really took in our surroundings. So different to any city I have ever been to. We had barely even scratched the surface of Kuala Lumpur and will definitely have to come back to really explore one day soon.
Not long after we started driving, Ben started grizzling, then full on screaming. As Pete tried to calm him the driver looked more and more concerned and we eventually asked him to pull over so I could take him. And that’s how I ended up riding through the streets of Kuala Lumpur in the back of a taxi with ALL FIVE of my children. Ben continued to grizzle with me however, and that’s how I ended up riding through the streets of Kuala Lumpur in the back of a taxi with ALL FIVE of my children while breastfeeding!
It was a relief to reach the airport and find our check in point knowing we had plenty of time to spare. We found a baby change room and made ourselves at home. In that private little room we got changed, sorted our luggage and basically re-grouped and prepared for the next flight. We were tired, overwhelmed and yet still very excited for the next leg of our adventure!