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If you are flying to/from Jakarta on budget airlines AirAsia, Tiger Air (operated in Indonesia by Mandala) and JetStar Airways, expect to arrive/depart from Terminal 3 of Cengkareng Airport. The relatively new complex is a breath of much-needed fresh air for harried passengers.

Here is a view of the check-in counters.

Go early to avoid the queues. The counters on the left are for domestic flights; the ones on the right for international flights. Tiger Airways flights to Kuala Lumpur are almost always on the right-most check-in counter even though the electronic signage states “All Destinations”.

After checking in, you need to walk all the way to the end of the hall. Watch out for the sign that says “Keberangkatan” (Departures).

At the arrival/departure hall, you can find a J. Co outlet. J. Co is an Indonesian donut chain that has branches in Malaysia and Singapore. Their donuts are excellent IMHO and I’d pick J. Co over Krispy Kreme any time because I find the latter too sweet.

Near the exit is a drinking water fountain but paranoid that I am, I stick to bottled water. (Sorry, Indonesian friends. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. I can eat in a totally unknown waroeng but I stick to Aqua or teh tawar to avoid the possibility of an upset stomach. This strategy has kept me 100% diarrhea-free so far in all my trips to Indonesia — and elsewhere all over the world — over the years.

Both arriving and departing passengers would find themselves in this area in the ground floor, where you can also find a bakmi restaurant, some retail outlets which include a mini mart (Circle K) and pharmacy. ATMs can be found near the escalator but it’s a shame that there are no money changers in the entire complex.

There are toilets and a playground for children beside the escalators.

If you need to meet up with someone, it might be easier to spot them at the Meeting Point.

Departures are in the upper floor, which is accessible by stairs, escalator and lifts.

In the Departure Hall, you can also find toilets, surau/musollah (Muslim prayer room), a reflexology centre, DeGreen executive lounge (only for people who hold certain credit cards or belong to certain airline loyalty programmes)…

…and Monas executive lounge which is open to everyone for a small fee.

Side note: the ATM machines are located right in front of Monas Lounge.

The entrance fee to Monas Lounge is Rp80,000 per person but if you are a Visa or MasterCard holder, they give you a 50% discount. Food and beverage choices are limited but you can eat and drink as much as you like. Over all, it’s a great bargain for Rp40,000 (~RM13/US$4)!

The seating arrangements inside Monas Lounge cater for people who are traveling alone or in groups. (Just make sure you don’t miss your flight, you hear?! You! Yes, you snoozing on that grey arm chair!)

There is a charging station near the food and beverage counter inside Monas Lounge.

If you need your caffeine fix, there is a Starbucks outlet ensconced between the duty-free shops (look out for it on the left-hand side).

Interestingly enough, the duty-free shops are right before the Immigration counters, making them technically accessible to non-passengers. (Note to self: check if they require boarding pass or passport for any purchase next time.)

The limited number of immigration counters give you an idea of the relatively low number of passengers who go through this terminal.

For Terminal 3′s facilities, cleanliness and overall ambience, I’d now pick budget airlines anytime over other airlines. It’s a great way to arrive into and depart from Jakarta!

Schiphol remains one of my favourite airports for a variety of reasons. It is spacious and well-planned, offers free wifi access for an hour throughout the airport terminal, has excellent signage (including estimated walking time from one area to another), has lots of spaces for resting, has a free mini version of Rijksmuseum, and has excellent facilities all around, including a meditation centre.

Schiphol’s meditation centre, which caters for all religions, is open from 6:00 to 23:00 hours but is manned from 9:00 to 17:00 hours.

As you approach the entrance, you can see a small office/consultation room on the left. The actual entrance to the meditation centre is on the right.

They have a small collection of reading material inside, including various translations of the Bible and Qur’an.

This corner of the meditation centre seems to have been allotted specifically for Muslims, based on the location of the translations of the Qur’an in the bookshelves as well as prayer mats and various female wear for prayers (telekung and variants thereof)…

…and the unmistakable mark on the floor showing the direction of the qiblah.

On Sundays, there is a church service at 11.00 hours. Alternately there is a Mass, and Anglican service or a Protestant service. In principle, all services are in English.

According to Schiphol’s official website, it is possible for a group to hold its own service at the Meditation Centre during opening hours. 
The key to the cupboard with liturgical requisites can be obtained from the desk of the KLM Crown Lounge on the second floor, next to the Meditation Centre.

The meditation centre is located at Level 2 of Schiphol Airport once you get past Passport Control, i.e. it’s available for passengers who have already checked in. If I remember correctly, I only saw one meditation centre at Holland Avenue, not far from Rijksmuseum, but when I checked Schiphol’s official website for the location map, the map shows two locations.

For more information, please call +31 (0)20 601 4751 or email [email protected]

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Despite having flown in and out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at least once every month, I’ve never really had the time to check out KLIA’s Jungle Boardwalk until today.

Right after getting off the aerotrain, you will see the huge information counter; the Jungle Board Walk is right behind it.

The circular area that it covers is not big but it really feels like going into a Malaysian tropical jungle — bird calls, tall trees, humidity and all.

The waterfall may be man-made but the trees are all genuine, having been kept there during construction in keeping with KLIA’s jungle-in-an-airport concept.

So if you’re in KL for a very short business trip that left no time for proper sightseeing, do visit KLIA’s Jungle Boardwalk so that you can tell the folks back home how you squeezed in — and survived — a trip to a Malaysian tropical jungle during your trip 😉

What’s not to love about Changi Airport, Singapore?

Changi Airport, Singapore

It ranks among my favourite airports, together with KLIA (what can I say? I’m biased!), Dubai Airport, and Schiphol (which I shall feature in detail very soon).

What about you? Which international airports are your favourites?

Ever thought about what happens the moment your plane touches down the runway and slowly taxis towards its designated gate? I’ve flown countless times and not once did it cross my mind, as I’ve always been more preoccupied with the thought of getting out of the aircraft the moment the doors are opened and getting my bags as quickly as possible.

Only during my recent trip to the Philippines did I manage to see the highly synchronised ballet that unfolds on the tarmac the moment your aircraft approaches its designated gate.

There is a man who guides the pilot using flags and hand gestures. Does anyone know what he’s called? I’ve tried googling it but haven’t had much luck.

Once the plane’s landing gear is on the yellow line, these men scramble to put these wedges under the wheels to ensure there is no unnecessary movement, much like a car parked on a slope.

At the same time, the jet bridge is slowly being manoeuvered into position, in preparation for the passengers’ disembarkation.

jet bridge

Other workers scramble to put orange cones around the plane’s engines and the tip of each wing; others are on stand-by to handle the luggage.

airport workers

A conveyor belt loader moves towards the aircraft as the luggage hold is opened.

luggage conveyor belt

The first baggage truck arrives and gets ready to receive all off-loaded baggage.

But wait! What is this? The baby strollers are the first to be off-loaded! See that guy right under the wing, near the engine?

strollers offloaded from a plane

The strollers are carried up the flight of stairs located at the side of the jet bridge, so that disembarking passengers can collect the strollers as they exit.

baby strollers

Sometimes, the luggage get out of the plane much faster than the passengers do!

luggage being offloaded from the plane

And so concludes the well-orchestrated tarmac ballet that unfolds as you wait to disembark from your plane.

The End.