I went on a 5-day trip to Ipoh (state capital of Perak on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia) last week to visit my uncle and his family.  It has been seven and a half years since I last made a trip there to attend my cousin’s wedding.

Thanks to Firefly, a community airline operated by Malaysian Airline System, that flies direct between Singapore and Ipoh twice daily, the journey is now made possible with just merely an hour and a half.  Travelling on a coach or train (operates by Keratapi Tanah Melayu) takes a good 8 to 9 hours, and also with more coach accidents along the North-South Expressway in Malaysia, surely taking a flight is a better option now, although it costs more.

Though not a budget airline, Firefly flights depart from the Budget Terminal of Changi Airport, and since I had never travelled on a budget airline, it was my first time going there.

It was very convenient to get to the Budget Terminal.  Shuttle bus service is available in intervals of 10 minutes (from 5am to 1:59am) or 20 minutes (from 2am to 4:59am), between Terminal 2 and Budget Terminal.

There was already an extremely long queue for check-in when I arrived at the Budget Terminal at 8am+.  Obviously budget airlines have gained popularity amongst travellers.

Fortunately there were two separate check-in counters just for Firefly, and I did not have to queue at all! 🙂

On my way to airport that morning, the taxi driver told me that there was nothing at the Budget Terminal except MacDonald’s.  I was doubtful of what he said and obviously, he was wrong.

Beside MacDonald’s, there was also eatery for toast and coffee etc.

I was impressed! There was even a small children’s play area at one corner of the departure hall.

These recycling bins are cute!  Can I have them for my housing estate? 😀

After passing the immigration, there are quite a good variety of shops and…

… also terminals for free internet access!

And this was the flight I took – a 78-seater 6-bladed propeller aircraft.  This was my first time taking such a small plane.  Haha… I was the last to board but of course I didn’t cause any delay.  It departed on time. 🙂

Full leather seats, clean and comfortable!  There were only two flight stewardesses but that was good enough.  They were friendly and attentive.

Safety demo by one of the flight stewardesses.  She is pretty, isn’t she?

Unlike budget airlines, passengers were served with complimentary light refreshments…. Ngan Yin groundnuts are product of Perak state.

…and there was also inflight sales!  I picked up a key chain which costs RM12 (pretty good price) to remember my first experience with Firefly.

Arriving into Ipoh

Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, Ipoh – a very small airport

I was glad that overall, it was a very pleasant experience travelling on Firefly.  There was no delay in departure (like what I had read about budget airlines), take-off and landing were smooth, the flight was very stable and service standard both at the check-in counter and inflight was good too.  My impression of travelling on small aircraft has also changed after this trip. I wished DS had joined me on this new experience.  The only one small problem I had was that I somehow felt a little giddy when I tried to do some reading during the journey, and when the flight made a turn. I have never had such a problem in all my previous trips on big airplanes.  Perhaps it was due to the relatively small size of the aircraft.  Hopefully I will overcome this problem after I have more chances of travelling on such aircraft in future.  I am already thinking of using Firefly again in my next trip to KL, if the airfare is attractive enough. 🙂

On arriving at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, my uncle and aunty were already there waiting for me.  Since I had been to Ipoh quite a number of times, I decided to give all the tourist attractions a miss this time but spend time with my uncle and aunty, cousins, little niece and nephews.  Given the advantage of strong Singapore currency, I also took the opportunity to pamper myself with pedicure (for the first time in my life) and manicure, as well as a hair perm. 🙂  And of course, surrounded by all the hospitable relatives, I was also stuffed with lots of food and fruits including Red Prawn durians almost everyday!  So, I was not surprised that I actually put on 2 kilos after the trip!

These are the must-eat in Ipoh – Bean sprouts chicken (芽菜鸡) and Ipoh Hor Fun (rice noodles).  Unlike bean sprouts found in Singapore, these bean sprouts are short, thick and very crunchy.  I love the Hor Fun (in Cantonese dialect) too.  My aunty told me that it is made using limestone water thus different from our kway tiao (in Hokkien dialect) here.

Surely, I am going to be in Ipoh again, and it will not be another 7.5 years.


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