My Peregrinations

Winging my way through life

Month: July 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Why I’m flying Malaysia Airlines to London

I’m flying Malaysia Airlines to London – a decision I made after much shopping around for airfares. I didn’t have many options to choose from because I procrastinated about booking my trip. Many of the airlines’ promotions were over by the time I got around to looking for flights.

Some of my friends think I’m crazy. I suppose it’s natural for people to have doubts about flying Malaysia Airlines to London or anywhere else in light of the MH17 and MH370 tragedies. I have to admit that I did hem and haw for a while before booking. I was mainly concerned about the quality of service because of bad passenger reviews on Skytrax. It seems like the airline has been cutting corners here and there. Low staff morale is also highly probable. But here’s why I ultimately chose to go with Malaysia Airlines:

1. Price. I’m travelling during the summer holiday season so tickets are going at a premium. My return flights with upper deck seats on the KL-London-KL legs of the flight came up to less than S$1,200. In contrast, flights on Qatar Airways or Emirates would have set me back by at least S$1,600 (base fare plus taxes). Fares on British Airways and Singapore Airlines were even more prohibitive.

2. Timing. I wanted to arrive and depart in the early morning on specific dates. Only Malaysia Airlines had seats on flights with timings that suited me. In fact, Malaysia Airlines has a pretty good selection of flight timings with short transits in Kuala Lumpur. I hate transiting, so the shorter the transit time, the better.

3. Safety. AirlineRatings.com gave Malaysia Airlines a safety rating of 5/7 earlier this year, which is the same rating given to Qatar Airways. The former’s rating likely got dinged by the two accidents, as one of the criteria used to assess safety is the 10-year fatality record. Malaysia Airlines has also passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) benchmark for global safety management.

4. Destiny. I believe that if it’s your time to die, it’s your time to die. You could be on a flight with a 7/7 safety rating, flying first class, and still die en route. Morbid, but true.

A Malaysia Airlines plane at KLIA in April 2016.

A Malaysia Airlines plane at KL International Airport, April 2016.

These will be my first flights on Malaysia Airlines in many, many years. I don’t have particularly outstanding memories of previous experiences because they occurred when I was a child, before I developed awareness of what it means to have a pleasant flight. Let’s see how things go.

London photography gear.

I always take a DSLR along when I travel. It seems a waste to go somewhere and not have the gear to capture nice pictures. But travelling alone means I have to think about the weight of all my stuff. There’ll be no one to hand off a heavy bag when I get tired. I’ve decided that my London photography gear will consist of three items. I’ll be taking my Canon 7D, a Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens, and a “Nifty Fifty” Canon 50mm f/1.8.

This setup will change the way I shoot. I usually travel with a Canon 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. It’s a great all-in-one travel lens but it makes for lazy shooting. It will be a refreshing challenge to travel with just two prime lenses.

Canon 7D at ISO400, Canon 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, f/5.6 at 1/60 handheld

Canon 7D at ISO400, Canon 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, f/5.6 at 1/60 handheld. I shot this while eating a bowl of gamy chicken pho in a little restaurant on Lao Cai’s main thoroughfare.

I also need to work on my post-processing skills. I’m using a really old MacBook that’s on its last legs. It won’t tolerate being loaded with any new software at this point. I’ve been editing pictures using either Adobe Photoshop or iPhoto’s built-in editor. I’m looking forward to being able to play with Lightroom when my laptop gives up the ghost and I can get my hands on a new one.

PS: I bought the 24mm pancake from SLR Revolution for just S$180. It’s a pretty good deal as the next best price I found was on Lazada at S$219. You should call up SLRR before you go down – I bought the last piece they had in stock last week.

Packing for a wet London summer.

I’m an overthinker by nature. I tend to work myself into a tizzy before every trip trying to figure out what to pack to ensure that I’m fully prepared for my destination. Packing for a London summer has been a bit anxiety-inducing.

I’ve been obsessively checking weather forecasts, and asking people who have lived in London how I should be packing to stay warm and dry.

London is only just now coming out of a wet spell. Accuweather predicts that there will be at least two rainy days while I’m there at the end of this month. I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, so my packing list looks like this:

  • Six 3/4- or long-sleeved shirts
  • Two cardigans
  • Two jackets for layering
  • Two pairs of jeans/chinos
  • Rainproof outer shell
  • Doc Martens and a pair of kicks
  • Essentials

Everything is going to be in neutral colours so I don’t have to think about matching. The Tripadvisor London Forum and my Fodor’s guidebook advises that I bring an umbrella. But it’ll be cumbersome to manage one, so I’m going with a rain shell.  Anything that I sorely need, I’ll just buy when I’m there.

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