Departure from Kuala Lumpur
Midnight 12 May ‘09, and the international departure at KLIA LCCT can’t get any desolate than this. But it’s a huge improvement over older facility.
Our AirAsia X KUL-STN flight D7-2002 departed at 1am on the dot, and 10 hours later, I still can’t believe how comfy I am. Look at the ample leg space I have on this Airbus A340-300.
Somewhere over the Black Sea, now covered in white.
Breakfast is suddenly served and that’s one compact but tasty nasi lemak, I can assure.
Some 12 hours into the flight, with less than 2 hours to go, we are in Ukraine at 38,000ft. Strong headwind impedes the speed to just below 800km/h.
Landing on time at STN after a 13.45hr flight, and I have a 5-hour layover before my next flight to Amsterdam. STN is a pleasant airport, some say the best in the UK, but one thing I can tell - it’s not a bad place for a lengthy layover.
Taking off from STN as scheduled, easyJet flight EZY3005 promptly flies over Ipswich and head for the English Channel.
Not too long soo, the cute Airbus A319 crosses the Dutch coastline.
I think that’s the city of Leiden in the background.
On final for Runway 06 at Schiphol.
Finally at AMS, and next to us Ezam’s A319. We are 20min early.
Arriving Schiphol Airport, we promptly take a cab to this delightful hotel, near the town of Lisse, some 30km southwest of Amsterdam.
I always love to start the day with continental breakfast, plus a good helping of yoghurt. Somehow European egg yolk tastes ’sweet-ish’ which I like.
Energized for the day, we start our trek to Keukenhof, the very reason we come to Lisse. We have our kid #3, who joined us from Toronto, and his friend. They took Air Transat to Gatwick and on to Amsterdam with easyJet, arriving AMS a couple of hours before us.
What we initially thought was idyllic farmland …
… turns out to be a huge flower plantation!
Soon we start seeing blooms everywhere, …
… hectares of them.
Across the huge expanse of blooming field, I spot two Dutch icons.
Soon a junction in the road, …
… past beautiful pasture and a canal, …
… and we enter the woods of Keukenhof. Whatever is this thing called ‘Keukenhof’?
So back to my query, what is ‘Keukenhof‘? It’s a piece of woodland belonging to an aristocrat which has been converted into the worlds largest ‘flower garden’. And yes, this year’s its 60th anniversary.
Dubbed as the ‘Garden of Europe’, it’s only open for some 9 weeks per year, between March and May. Keukenhof’s specialty is its amazing collection of tulips, daffodils and lillies, with about 7mil bulbs being planted each year just for the 9-week show.
Past the gate, and a you are most welcomed.
Once inside, it’s glorious tulips everywhere …
… of all shades and hues!
And you can actually touch them. Dutch awesome world-beating horticulture technology in full display for the world to see.
The flower bulbs were planted under the shades of the mature trees.
The blooms are everywhere, carpeting the ground.
These plants grow from bulbs, like the humble onion, and coaxing colourful things out of such things is sheer technology.
The plants are sponsored by bulb suppliers, who proudly display their names next to their creations. Keukenhof is virtually a flower expo.
There are food kiosks …
… and clumps of cafes, trinket shops, galleries, amenities, etc, scattered in the grounds - to replenish yourselves, to rest your tired limbs and to relax, and also to cool down overloaded eyes.
Waterways aplenty too, where native avians make their homes.
If you are keen you can buy your own bulbs to plant at home.
But first check out the extensive catalogue.
Then enter the hut to be served.
In any case, you can easily spend 5-6 hours trudging the countless chromatic footpaths in search of your most perfect tulip!
> MORE TO COME