21 MARCH 2022


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Article from BTNews 21 MARCH 2022


Chris Pocock is a veteran aerospace journalist.  Rather like most of us he has been nowhere for the last two years and is now in Malaysia, having arrived via Langkawi, a resort very cleverly opened up by the Malaysian government.

“My wife and I just spent an "enforced" holiday on the splendid tropical island of Langkawi. For the last few months, it has been the only practical way for foreigners to enter the country.

The clever Malaysian government idea was to create a "travel bubble" whereby travellers could serve a seven-day virus quarantine on the island, before being released to travel elsewhere in this lovely country.  The idea of a beachside confinement did have an appeal

Thus it was that we checked in at Heathrow for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), armed with a collection of paperwork acquired tiresomely over the previous days. Not only a proof of UK vaccination and a negative PCR test, but a confirmed booking for the onward flight to Langkawi, a hotel reservation and airport transfers made using an approved Malaysian travel agent, a health declaration form, and a compulsory track-and-trace application created by the Malaysian Ministry of Health pre-loaded on my mobile phone.

Check-in was inevitably slow, as staff examined all the documents. The flight on an Airbus A350 was only a third full. My wife always travels Business Class. She said that MAS does not compare favourably with other airlines she has flown. At KUL, she was refused entry to the lounge, as we awaited our onward flight. I travelled Economy, which was good value, with generous legroom.

I feared the worst at KUL. Take another PCR test, await the result, then negotiate the virus bureaucrats. But Malaysians are invariably helpful, and we were smilingly led through the various hurdles. Our luggage had been checked through to Langkawi, despite the two flights being on separate bookings. The domestic leg on a MAS 737 was nearly full; it was school holidays and with their foreign travel options having been very limited, the locals were embracing a "staycation".

After a 24-hour journey door-to-door, we arrived at the Pelangi Beach Resort. Comfortable chalets, three dining options, two big swimming pools, hot sun, swaying palms, and an immaculately-kept beach. What's not to like, apart from the compulsory mask-wearing? By the time we arrived, a requirement for three more virus tests during our stay had been cancelled, and the quarantine period reduced to five days.

Malaysia is relaxing entry rules on 1 April. Vaccinated travellers will no longer need to quarantine. Nevertheless, I would still recommend Langkawi as a resort destination. For water sports enthusiasts, there's parasailing, jet skiing, etc. If you want to roam, there's island hopping by boat, tours of the mangrove swamps, plus some inland attractions such as a cable car and waterfalls. We found no need to visit the main town, Kuah. The road which runs parallel to Cenang and Tengah beaches, where most of the resorts are, had all we needed in the way of restaurants, shops, spas, and so on”.

Chris and his wife have now moved on to other destinations in Malaysia, visiting friends and relatives.


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Simon Grigor, United Kingdom

Nice to read that you are fit and well, Chris. I remember driving you to Sculthorpe many, many years ago for the arrival of some American F-105s!