Woe begone: Woe is me, my TSA lock is gone

27 Jul

Taking a break from talking about Art-y stuff to get something off my chest. It might not serve any purpose to the general public except maybe a note of precaution for general knowledge.

And emotional diarrhoea.

Last month, my cousin and I took a trip to Kuala Lumpur/Cameron Highland. As we both hated long coach rides, we decided to go the way of a short flight on a budget airline over to Kuala Lumpur, flying into the LCCT, and then taking a local tour up to Cameron Highlands.

Mistake!

Either that or I, like most Singaporeans, am just spoilt rotten by Changi Airport.

When we got to the LCCT, we marveled at how backward the airport felt but reasoned that we couldn’t expect much from a budget terminal anyway. We happily proceeded to collect our baggage, knowing that we need to get going to catch the half-hourly Skybus shuttle bus from LCCT to KL Sentral (a one hour trip).

We bought a bus transfer ticket from the counter right outside the baggage carousel and walked out of the terminal into the mess that is the LCCT…  We wandered out feeling a little lost and a little exposed, whatever illusion of security we had for airports was slowly fading away. We scanned the crowds and looked out for any signages indicating the pick-up point for the coach.

There was none.

After enquiring with the counter girl again, we proceeded in the general direction she pointed out to us.  Luggage in tow, we traversed uneven concrete and eventually reached what we thought was the end of the terminal building.

Still no signages whatsoever. Yikes. Where were we?

An airport staff pointed us to the direction of the bus bay, where the Skybus and all coaches were parked. We walked over and the men on duty called out to us.

“Skybus?”

We approached cautiously and quickly realised that we had tickets for AEROBUS instead of SKYBUS. We thought we got Skybus tickets since the lady who sold us the tickets stood under a Skybus sign, but we should have looked harder. I guess we were complacent. The Skybus folks waved us on to the next bus bay.

“Genting?? You go Genting??”

“No, KL Sentral.”

“Ya lah, same same.”

“Not Genting ah!”

“Ya, correct.” said the man in dreadlocks, ciggy hanging from the corner of his mouth. His partner at the back shoved our luggage into the storage compartment.

Oh well, too late. As long as we get there right?

And so, we grudgingly boarded the rather beat up yellow bus feeling somewhat cheated and found a reclined seat at the back.  I say reclined not as a description of comfort, since it was not a matter of choice for us. The seat would not budge from its incline! Not comfortable at all. And the bus, being filled with passengers, didn’t offer any alternative seating. Crap.

We tried to find a comfortable position for the one-hour trip into KL Sentral. There wasn’t any but we tolerated it, being still excited about the trip to come.

When we reached the basement bus bay at KL Sentral, we had a rude shock.

After retrieving our luggage from a hump of others carelessly thrown atop one another by the lackadaisical staff, I noticed for the first time that my lock was missing! I had used a small TSA approved padlock for my zippered trolley bag. I quickly told my cousin and guess what, her lock was gone too!  We escaped from the touting cab drivers to find a quiet corner to check our stuff.

I was lucky, nothing was missing except for my lock. My cousin didn’t lose anything either but her luggage was thoroughly ransacked! Zips left open, items rummaged roughly, secured items strewn messily inside. It looked like a deliberate search for valuables.  Luckily, we were sensible enough not to put any valuables in there in the first place. I shuddered to think what could have happened if we had any valuable items in there!

Our thoughts circled upon whereabouts the act was committed and we knew that it would be a lost cause to claim any damage since we ourselves were not sure if it was the fault of the airline, the LCCT or the bus company! Besides… nothing valuable was lost… except maybe our peace of mind?

It is an unnerving thing to find one’s luggage lock broken and stuff ransacked.  Especially more so if you are on a supposedly relaxing holiday.  Over the next few days, the initial anger morphed, over a long period of contemplation, into a cess pool of simmering doubt and (dare I say) travel paranoia.

It very definitely cast a gloomy doom over my short holiday. 😦

A series of unfortunate things happened along our way to Cameron Highlands. We had our first hand experience of “Malaysian hospitality” and an attitude of general disregard for good customer service.

Sigh. Were we too pampered? I don’t know. Was it wrong to expect better from another capital city?

Ah well, we live, we learn. At least we didn’t suffer the indignity of having a sanitary pad get stuck on our luggage. Though it felt equally revolting.

The morale of the story is:

If you are travelling to KL via the LCCT anytime soon, pack things you won’t mind losing/are replaceable and BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE. Don’t be niao!

On hingsight: At least we reached safely, post trip research turned up feedback that would have been good to know beforehand…dangerous driversharassment at KL Sentral…verbal abuse.

Gosh. We were lucky after all.

I say "Flush bad experience after use"

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