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From Mark Dankof in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11-04-2011, 09:59 AM,
#1
From Mark Dankof in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today after a long journey from Houston to Moscow to Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The actual flying time from Texas to Singapore is about 22 hours. It is about 35 minutes from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Counting the waiting around in airports you're probably looking at about 33 hours total time.

The trip from Houston to Moscow went from Texas through part of the American Midwest and up into Canada, Newfoundland, and points north and east. We crossed Norway and Sweden and the Baltic States on the way into Russia. I had been in the Russian capital almost 20 years ago on Christian Disaster Response official business. The sky was as leaden gray as it was two decades ago, but the airport looked considerably better. The Russians made passengers on the Singapore Airlines jet passing through Moscow on the way to Singapore leave the aircraft with their belongings that had already secured clearance in the United States. The passengers and their carry on bags then went through all of the screening already endured in Houston. After this, they then re-boarded the aircraft. It made TSA personnel look intelligent, which says something. . . .

The flight from Moscow to Singapore went around the Caspian Sea to the east, crossed Uzbekistan and the Aral Sea, and actually flew the Kabul to Islamabad corridor presently a hot zone of drone strikes and accompanying political controversy. At this point, the Singapore Airlines jet ran into major atmospheric turbulence for about 15 minutes. The pilot later told us he would have had more options to avoid the turbulence, but was flying a corridor of extreme security restrictions. I personally felt better when we were out of there and heading east across northern India. Our subsequent pathway took us south of Rangoon, Burma before later crossing the Burma (Myanmar)/Thailand border and heading south across peninsular Malaysia into Singapore where we landed. Once there, I had to board a Silk Air jet (subsidiary of Singapore Airlines) to Kuala Lumpur. Although the flight is only 35 minutes, I had to walk a long way to catch a tram train to the correct terminal for the connection. This walk was lengthened because of a technical failure of the tram train at the original rendezvous point. Even after finally catching the train for the rail flight to terminal T2, I arrived at the gate in question, only to discover that Silk Air flight MI 5322 had experienced a last second gate change (the third one in an hour. . . .). I was lucky to make the connection.

One other flying observation: I like the Boeing 777-300 that made the flights between Texas, Russia, and Singapore. I wasn't too wild about the Airbus 320 used by Silk Air between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. . . .

Before going on this foreign excursion, I traveled last week to Washington, D. C. and a weekend seminar. The seminar was quite fascinating, but the weekend storm that hit the Northeast and the front page of every major daily in the country prevented me from doing a six minute Metro run from Crystal City to Arlington National Cemetery to see my father's grave site. All day Saturday the Washington area had a driving rain with temperatures around 36 Fahrenheit. Negotiating the cemetery on foot after disembarking from the Metro would have been impossible, especially an hour or two before a business appointment. I will have to try this again in the coming year.

I am going to rest from this rather excruciating global jaunt. You won't see much of me on the Internet for awhile. I have too many things to accomplish here before I return to the USA. And I have to figure out how to operate the camera I have with me tonight, before beginning my jaunts around Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, a city about which I know next to nothing.

A photo of me taken in Washington, D. C. last weekend at the Reagan Radisson Hotel in Crystal City is attached.

Mark
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