Sabah couple's Paris dreams dashed by Mt Ruang eruption


Couples Kuhim Ugat (second right) and Lamuin Salimun (right), and Kristany Ubud (third left) and Kadmil Gungat (second left) learned their flight to Kuala Lumpur were cancelled after arriving the Kota Kinabalu International Airport Friday morning (April 19).

KOTA KINABALU: Kuhim Ugat and Lamuin Salimun's excitement over their upcoming trip to Paris was cut short as soon as they arrived at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Friday morning.

They found that their 11.30am Malaysia Airlines flight to the City of Light had been cancelled following the eruption of Sulawesi's Mount Ruang.

“It is devastating, but it’s probably not our luck.

“We were really looking forward to this trip. Did last-minute packing and slept around 1am. I set my alarm for 4am, but woke up even before it rang. I was just too excited,” said Ugat, 61.

ALSO READ: Sabahans willing to wait hours to catch next flight out

The couple said this was not their first trip abroad, as they have been to Thailand and Indonesia.

“But Paris is something else, it is like a different world. The aura there is not the same as here,” said Ugat, as his 53-year-old wife nodded in agreement.

They were among 10 recipients of a week-long expenses-paid trip to Paris under the Amway Leadership Seminar programme.

“This is an annual treat for the best achievers. Last year we went to Alaska and Santorini island (in Greece),” said Kristany Ubud, 42.

Travelling with her husband Kadmil Gungat, 41, Ubud said they were still waiting for word on whether or not the trip, scheduled from Friday to April 25, is on.

ALSO READ: Local airlines resuming flights from Sabah, Sarawak following volcanic eruption

“Alternatively, we will have to go on the second wave, which is leaving on April 26 to the same destination,” she said.

Shyrel Geoffrey, 30.Shyrel Geoffrey, 30.Shyrel Geoffrey said she had a bad feeling about the trip from the beginning.

“I didn’t feel that excited, so much so that I packed at the last minute.

"We have been busy at work, so maybe I'm just too tired. Still, it is devastating since the others were looking forward to the trip,” said Shyrel, 30.

Another traveller, Haslina Sabri, was forced to change her wedding plans after the airline cancelled a direct flight to Kota Baru, Kelantan on Thursday (April 18).

Haslina Sabri, 28.Haslina Sabri, 28.

“We had our wedding in January at my home town in Tuaran. I was supposed to fly on Thursday at 5pm for another reception at my husband’s hometown this weekend, but the flight was cancelled.

“I was advised to change my flight to another date after the 24th, which is impossible since the reception is on Sunday (April 21).

"So I came back to the airport today to try my luck with another flight, but luck is not on my side,” said the 28-year-old bride.

Haslina said she tried looking for an alternative by flying to Kuala Lumpur before proceeding to Kota Baru, but the tickets were just too costly.

"It is over a thousand ringgit for a one-way trip,” said the teacher.

If all efforts fail, Haslina said she told her in-laws to continue with the reception without her, since invitations had been sent out.

“My family is flying there tomorrow. If they succeed, their presence will make up for my absence. I will have to reschedule my trip to meet my in-laws for the next school holidays in May,” said Haslina.

It is learnt that for suspended flights, passengers are allowed to reschedule their trip within 30 days or opt for refunds.

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