Winning a free holiday is a dream for many of us, but could you imagine winning a “whole plane” and holiday package where you get to take 265 of your friends and family to Malaysia?
These days, there are so many online and telephone scams going around that when Lismore local Julie-Anne Foster was called by Air Asia X and told she had won their Friendsy Facebook competition to fly an entire plane filled with her choice of comrades to Kuala Lumpur, she was "gobsmacked and speechless".
The competition required Air Asia X Facebook fans to fill a virtual plane with Facebook friends for a chance to win a free return flight, hotel accommodation and tour package with 265 friends to Kuala Lumpur. Last weekend, Julie-Anne and her entourage jetted off for their trip of a lifetime, which included three days accommodation at the brand new Ibis Styles Fraser Business Park .
Over the three days, the 'Friendsy of Malaysia' group were given full VIP treatment and the chance to check out many of the region’s sights including the impressive Batu Caves, a cultural lunch at JW Marriott Hotel, cocktails at the Luna Rooftop bar, a trip to Monkey Hill, and a gentle cruise to see the famous fireflies.
Total Travel caught up with Julie-Anne during the trip for the down-low on the trip and her thoughts on travelling with a couple hundred mates, some who had not seen each other in two decades:
What was it like, having your own personal airplane to KL with all your family and friends?
"I didn't know what to expect on the flight to KL with everybody. I was actually shaking as I walked into the airport to a round of applause from 250 odd very excited friends. I was really overwhelmed that I could take all these people away with me, on my very own flight. It was quite surreal. But once we got onto the flight and it was happening, it was actually so much fun. It was really nice to turn around and always have a friend or family member to talk too!"
Were your expectations met?
"My expectations were just for everybody to have fun and to catch up with people they had not seen in a very long time. 6 degrees of separation is real!!! Having school friends that we haven't seen in 17 years and some 27!! It was lovely that we all had a common denominator, which was me."
How did you find travelling around KL with so many people?
"I was lucky enough to have my wonderful friend, Todd McGeary to help organise a fantastic 2 day tour of KL with guides that we have used previously. CK and Susan helped us organise a magnificent tour of what we thought would be the best of KL. We had 6 buses with most of the guests on board -225 at least - so travelling around with all of these people was actually fun! Everyone is now saying that they were on the ‘BEST’ bus, a little competition I think! Us Aussies, we are always so competitive. Tourism Malaysia also helped in getting us to and from the airport."
Out of the whole experience what were the highlights?
"My highlights were definitely seeing so many of my friends and family all together. The plane flight over with Air Asia was amazing! Tourism Malaysia put on a fantastic lunch at the RW Marriot, with traditional dancers that were beautiful to watch. The Luna Bar was another highlight. It was my bar for the night and to see everyone enjoying themselves, dancing, drinking, socialising, was wonderful. The fireflies were amazing, as was the dinner at the seafood village."
What were the lowlights?
"The lowlights were the trip wasn’t long enough!! We missed out on a lot of shopping as we could really only do it on the last day."
What advice would you have for first timers heading to Malaysia?
"For first timers heading to KL, there are so many sights to choose from: Batu Caves, Monkey Hill and Fireflies, Petronis Towers, Bird Sanctuary and that's just to start.
There are so many great restaurants: Eat Street (Jalan Alor) - heaps to choose from and my favourite is Loong Kee, I don't think you can go wrong in KL for food.
The shopping is everywhere, from Chinatown Markets, Little India, Central Markets, to The Pavilion and Sungei Wang Plaza. There are many bargains to be found and the bartering at the markets is fun.
Luna Bar and Sky Bar are lovely places to go and let your hair down and they have beautiful views of the Petronis Towers at night."