Yesterday (2 days ago?) I made the long journey from Portland to Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. I departed PDX about 9:45am on Friday morning, flying to SFO. Thanks
to United's much improved wireless access (thanks
TMobile) I was able to catch up on quite a bit of
work in the Red Carpet lounges in both PDX and SFO. At about 1pm I boarded the
747-400 in SFO to fly to Shanghai, China. It has been over three years since I
did a flight of this length - over 14 hours.
We arrived in Shanghai about 6pm local time (did you know that all of China
has the same time zone?) - this is where some confusion set in. The kind
flight attendants on the United flight assured me that I wouldn't have to
clear customs in China if I was simply transferring to another international
flight (turns out I was the only one on this flight doing so!). So I didn't
bother to fill out the immigration and customs paperwork. The agent that
processed my check-in at PDX had been a bit ambiguous about what would happen
to my luggage in Shanghai; I think it is unusual for people to connect to
Upon departing the plane, I was pretty worried about my luggage and I had a
couple of hours, so I proceeded to baggage claim to see if it showed up there.
Of course it did, so I grabbed it and tried to follow the signs to
international transfers. The agent there insisted that I need to go through
customs and check in upstairs at the desk. I am heading to Beijing after my
stay in KL, so I have a Chinese visa in my passport - this made clearing
immigration and customs very straightforward. But what if I didn't have a visa
(which would have been the case if I had only been traveling to KL)? I was
able to check in for my flight, but before heading to the gate I had to come
up with an airport tax of 90 Yuan RMB. This seemed much more complicated
than it needed to be, and I'm still wondering if there was a way to deal with
this without passing through immigration.
Still, I made it to KL without a hitch, arriving at 2:15am local time, and
finally arriving at my hotel
around 4:00am. I had managed to sleep for about 6 hours total on my two
flights (over a 24 hour period), so I didn't need a ton of sleep. This was
good, as my rest was, well, restless but at least I managed 3 hours of sleep.
We are in the tropics here, so things are quite warm, and I woke up to a
fairly hazy Sunday morning. Today is a day of rest and, hopefully, some
recreation with my colleague Trevor who is stationed here.