Entry below taken from my elder brother latest entry in his blog CESEEPS; I asked permission first to post this entry here in my blog. In my surprise, he told me that part of this article is for the OFWs.
DISCOVERING KUALA LUMPUR (PART I)
(October 25 – 28, 2007)
By Doods A. Amora, PEE
Traveling to other lands has always been fascinatingly educational. As other countries differ from our very own Philippines in terms of language, history, culture, tradition, architecture, infrastructures and ways of doing things, the opportunities given me while in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Northern China, Southern China and Jakarta in mid 1990’s had addressed the learnings & experiences of these mixed diversities I’ve treasured over the years.
Probably due to inertia at rest brought by the eight-year hiatus from these travels somehow made me lethargic to take a trip outside the country once more. But this time, an occasion to discover Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Qatar Airways through its partner airline, Malaysia Airlines, the zeal to trek in places where I’d not been to, came to my senses itching once again.
What would I see then? What would I learn this time?
Hence, on a sunny Thursday afternoon, we flew from Mactan to Kuala Lumpur via Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu together with my wife Mimi, my son Boboy and a family friend. We were to join my daughter Kitty, a cabin crew of Qatar Airways, in time of her three days lay-over at the posh Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel located in the heart of the financial district of Kuala Lumpur. Similar to Manila-Davao flight, it was one hour & thirty minutes plane ride to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, a state of Malaysia.
STOP-OVER AT KOTA KINABALU
Flying over Sabah to me was wonderful – its blue-green forests showcased the richness of the centuries-old flora & fauna of a land that was once claimed by our country as ours. In a nostalgic flash, it reminded me of the bald(ed) woodlands of our country that were once known as the vaunted source of best timbers of the planet. It further prompted me to muse over the sad plight of a once mighty wood-based industry sprawled in my hometown of Nasipit that had now been leveled, and then later vanished seemingly without a trace.
Yes, to my friends who knew my roots, I meant our cherished Nasipit Lumber Company (NALCO), which once upon a time employed more than 3,000 people (including me) and fed some 15,000 mouths. Reflecting on recent history, NALCO like most of the lumber companies in the country had to fade away as there are no more jungles to log over. No more lauan, apitong, magkono, tugas, tuog, yakal, etc. Gone were the smells of the ‘trosos’ and the shrieking sounds of band mills & moulding machines. In retrospect, I felt sad thinking of the demise of such a beautiful industry I had been a part of. What were left are memories… and like NALCO itself, its memories will soon die away, sooner or later…
My soliloquy was disrupted when we touched down at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) at 5:30 in the afternoon. Our brief sojourn at KKIA nursed us with the first Malaysian phrase we learned – “Selamat Datang”, apparently same as Indonesia’s “Welcome”. Being a smoker myself, the next words that caught my wits were “Dilarang Merokok”, meaning “No Smoking”. To my subliminal relief, I found the next words I should grasp, “Bilir Merokok”, meaning “Smoking Room”. And there it was my friends, together with my unacquainted cohorts, we found ourselves silently savoring the aroma of the white whiffs within the four corners of the so-called (in my own lingo) “Oxygen Room” sometimes referred to as “Lung Center” by others. Then, there was the “Tandas” or Toilet. Similar to other travelers, one’s system must always be leaking and thus one must know where the Tandases are.
At the outset, airports always fascinate me. An international airport is said to be the window of the soul of a country or region it represents. As a reflection of what the country is all about, international airports are in fact, national prides, some describe them as national monuments. Airports somehow articulate in one way or another of the discipline of the people and the state of opulence & economic well being of a nation.
As the forty minute stop-over at Kota Kinabalu tendered me of some insights, I found myself drifted to comparing Kota Kinabalu International Airport to our own Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), both second only to the main hubs of Kuala Lumpur and Manila respectively.
Kota Kinabalu Airport at present is rated at 5.0 million passengers per year same as Mactan Cebu International Airport but with a runway stretching 3,780 meters (480 meters longer than MCIA). It has two terminal buildings compared to MCIA’s only one. But the airport itself is bustling of massive construction going on today in a project to accommodate Airbus 380 aircrafts and an ambitious 12 million annual passenger capacity by 2010.
Terminal 1 is the main terminal of KKIA. At present its technical facilities include 12 gates, 5 air-bridges, and 4 baggage claim belts. It has the capacity of handling 2.5 million passengers annually. Today, the terminal building is currently undergoing vast renovation and expansion – a beehive snapshot of activities that can not escape the eyes. Noteworthy, Kota Kinabalu is in the thick of constructing more than twice as large as the present airport.
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