Monday, 21 December 1998
Holland is dark in winter. This country is too close to the polar circle. The lights are on, even in daytime. Recharge your battery in tropical Malaysia! My battery is empty. It's about time to catch some sunshine.

Which flight to take?

  • Safety ( is the only demand.
  • Price is the only criterion.
  • I couldn't care less about in flight service and departure times. The airlines are pretty similar anyway.
I would like to submit a simple query like: "What's the cheapest flight in week 51 to Kuala Lumpur?"

Airlines are very mysterious about their airfares. In vain I seek a website that lists the various fares. Nothing. www...farequot is the best I can find. Suggestions are welcome. I fill in a form, and just hope for the best.

The next day the Dutch agency Top Travel (Phone +31-164-253600) lists all fares nicely in an email. A bit primitive, but effective. To my surprise the German Lufthansa ( is the cheapest of all. These Germans are even cheaper than the Pakistani and the Russians. It's a special introduction fare, with a departure from Brussels (Belgium). No worries.

The mysteriousness of the airline industry is alien to Dutch railways. The railways obviously know that good information attracts additional customers. Their site shows departure times, fares and even platforms. Three trains will take me to Brussels Airport. I print the schedules and add them to the rest of my luggage. No time for breakfast, just pack and go. At Central Station a big Italian cheese and ham bun satisfies my stomach.

The platform is full of passengers with bags and trunks. The next train is clearly heading for an airport. Every train has it's own public. It's miraculous how all those people end up in the right train. Travelling by train is so much easier than flying. Buy a ticket and board, nothing to it. The assignment of platforms is fixed. There is no need to get there an hour in advance, no check in, no customs. The railways have free seating. They don't care who sits where. Travellers choose their Passengers organise their own logistic planning. That simplicity gives me a pleasant freedom. It may be one of the reasons why travelling by train is so enjoyable. I sit back and relax in the non-smoking section and let the scenery pass by.

Brussels airport is a very charming place. Yes, I do have a weak spot for Belgium, so my judgement is not fully objective. Get my ticket first, and find the check in desk. Why is flying so unnecessary complex? A check in chick fires a volley of questions towards me. Yes, an aisle seat please. Yes, a non smoking flight is fine with me. Yes, this really is all my luggage. Yes, yes I do know how to read a boarding pass and know how to find a gate. Sigh.

The brand new Kuala Lumpur International Airport ( is fantastic. Asians know how to please the eye with fantastic architecture. Disney World is nothing compared to this. The shuttle train between the terminals is a show off, ofcourse better than competitor Singapore. In the arrival hall passengers are waiting at the carousel. Funny how luggage and passenger match. A small charming suitcase ends up at a very nice lady. A big trunk goes to a grumpy businessman. The backpack for this tourist arrives.

Full battery Outside the tropical sun shines right through my skull. My battery recharges. In the taxi it is as if green Malaysia welcomes me exuberantly: "Selamat datang lagi Hank Yen", welcome back Nut.

Till next week,