The satay trolley on Malaysia Airlines

One of my laments this year was that I never celebrated my birthday. It was a big one and I had planned to. I was excited to! I delayed it because of work, and then again, and then again. It never happened and now it is gone. But! I did have a surprise birthday party at 30,000 feet and it was a gorgeous one.

I flew to Borneo earlier this year with Malaysia Airlines to explore. The trip itself was a joy, lovely people, fabulous food, and lots of laksa. I got to visit Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur for the first time.

I cooked local food, I visited local food markets, I brought home lots of pepper (Sarawak pepper is said to be one of the best), bright green pepper candy (which I am yet to try!) and some laksa paste so that I could enjoy laksa at home, and work out a recipe. I saw more wonderful orangutans, many of them. I flew to Kuala Lumpur from London business class, a treat in itself.

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Turning left when you board a plane is a luxury. More room (just one neighbour on one side), a fully reclining bed which is also a massage chair, a blanket and pillow, a lovely wine list (including champagne!) and a fine dining menu. The TV screens are bigger and the headphones are very comfortable. This was also my first trip on an A380 superjumbo, an enormous plane with two floors, the top of which is business class. Even the toilets are bigger.

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Lets get to the food. On Malaysia Airlines the eggs are cooked fresh to order and as you like for breakfast, scrambled, poached, fried. In business class 6 cuisines are available if ordered 24 hours in advance, including Japanese, Malay and Western. I stuck to Malay, it seemed a missed opportunity otherwise. It was, as you would expect, very good.

The satay trolley is the thing. 20,000 sticks are served a day on Malaysia Airlines flights. Made with fresh shallots, turmeric, garlic, galangal and lemongrass, the satay sticks are chargrilled by hand over mangrove wood charcoal. It is served on board with with a traditional crushed peanut sauce, nasi himpit, cucumber and onion. It is as good as I have had anywhere, and the staff take great pride in it, which they should.

On the way back, my travelling companions were being a bit sketchy. They wanted me out of the way so that they could arrange the cakes. Of course, I didn’t know, nor did I realise, so when they craftily suggested a trip to see First Class (and well – HELLO), I hopped along. I was surprised with two celebration cakes and champagne on my return to celebrate my big birthday. Anyone can order a celebration cake in advance (in any class) and it is such a joy. The lady behind me also had a birthday that day and so we shared it all.

I would always turn left if I could. It is a world away from normality, which is a lovely luxury every once in a while.

My trip to Sarawak was sponsored by Malaysia Airlines, who are the only carrier to offer a twice daily non-stop A380 full service link between the UK and Malaysia. UK passengers can also take advantage of frequent onward connections to destinations across Malaysia, Asia and Australasia. Economy class return flights from London Heathrow to Kuching via Kuala Lumpur International Airport start from £817. Business Class from £3167 (prices including taxes and charges). To book visit www.malaysiaairlines.com or call +44 (0) 871 4239 090.

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Niamh

Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.
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