A Travellerspoint blog

Home time!

Home time today! I fly back to Auckland [Auckland-travel-guide-1139106] after just over 24h stop in Sydney. I took the shuttle from the hostel to the airport instead of the train as it was AUD7 cheaper (AUD12 instead of nearly AUD18). It takes just a little bit longer; both modes have their overhead times (eg walking to/from and waiting for the train vs waiting for the shuttle and picking up at other hostels).

I got to China Airlines (of Taiwan) counter a few minutes before it opened and was processed swiftly. Immigration and security took 40 minutes though. Despite being swift-moving, the countless zigzags were long. I managed to get about 90 minutes in the lounge before boarding my flight home.

The flight proved very pleasant even though when I analysed it, nothing was terribly special. Perhaps it was the relaxed manner of the staff, the simple quick meal service and the soothing colours in the cabin. The China Airlines flight was cheap too; comparable to budget airlines but with meals and luggage. It was a little more expensive than staff standby tickets and the difference was worth paying for to ensure peace-of-mind after an amazing and trouble-free two-month journey.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sydney nightstop

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Scoot check-in for my 0145 flight to Sydney [Sydney-travel-guide-157961] was swift without any queue as I turned up early. I stayed landside till I got hungry so I could have a snack of McDonald’s prawn burger and sweet potato chips.

On board the aircraft, the doors closed and I was surprised to see so many spare seats. It might have been about half to two-thirds full but that’s not enough spare rows for me to lie down.

I asked the crew whether they hand out the prebooked meal at the beginning or end of the flight; she said at the end about 3h prior to landing. I didn’t feel like eating and that’s what I was hoping (actually I was hoping for 2h prior).

Unfortunately, they started the meal service 4h prior, which another crew member said was their standard practice. That was smack in the middle of the flight which meant I only had less than 3h sleep out of the 7+ hours. Damn! Dumb, considering they did a quick round of saleable meals immediately after take-off (for which very few people had interest).

It was otherwise a lovely flight with a very quiet cabin overwing on the Boeing 787-8; very little engine and ventilation noise. I can't remember it being so quiet on my previous 787 flights. Seats had power sockets but it’s the first time I’ve heard an airline charging for its usage!

We got the nearest gate arriving at Sydney and it took only a few minutes to get to immigration. Our luggage took longer despite the proximity. I trained down to Maze Backpackers for my nightstop.

I grabbed dinner in Chinatown. I chose lemon Tom Yum which turned out to be a dish I use to love (by another name) at my neighbourhood food court. I chose the small one for AUD6.90 as I had seen the portion sizes and it was the standard NZ size. Lucky I didn’t go for the big one!

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Garden city stopover

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Quite unusually the queue for my AirAsia flight bagdrop was quite long at Kuching. My flight to Singapore left a few minutes early, which is quite usual for the airline. Prior to arrival, the "death sentence for drugs" recorded PA was made (quite normal). But there was a new PA this time about the prohibition of importing toy guns, numchuks, knuckledusters etc, and to approach the customs officers "for assistance" if you have them with you.

Changi was its usual self and I got out landside very quickly and got myself a local SIM card.

This time, I stayed true to my research an avoided the tourist SIMs. As it turned out, they did have normal non-tourist packs which they only show you when you decline to buy the tourist packs and say you’ll buy the normal one from 7-Eleven later.

I taxied to my elderly aunt’s place where I stayed with her for a couple of days. It's a nice change to pass through the garden city again instead of KL which has become my norm due to better flight connections.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Family time again

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The transit “hassles” in Colombo made the 2h10 transit go really quickly. We boarded the Malaysia Airlines B737-800 for the 3h40 flight to Kuala Lumpur [Kuala-Lumpur-travel-guide-1096867] departing at 0055 and arriving at 0705 due to the time difference. It wasn’t long enough to sleep properly but I must have dozed off briefly after the meal service. Incidentally, the hot meal on Malaysia Airlines was uplifted in Colombo and had the same chicken peppery curry as on the previous flight on Sri Lankan; I should have opted for the lamb but sometimes that's tough.

It was a short transit of 1h10 in KL but it’s quite efficient transferring from international to domestic I even managed to get a bottle of duty free. Unfortunately, upon arriving in Kuching [Kuching-travel-guide-1096915], my bag didn’t appear on the carousel.

An airline staff approached me and said “You must be Alex Chan”. I replied “My bag missed the tight connection in KL?” and she said “Yes darling, my colleague at the counter is expecting you already to do the paperwork”.

Sure enough, my bag was seen in IATA’s tracing service on the next flight 2 hours later. It was delivered to my apartment 1h15 after the flight touched down. It must have gone into the taxi as soon as the carousel stopped for the flight. Very please with Malaysia Airlines’ handling of the delayed luggage.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Beginning of the end

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large_5550_14409456648408.jpgI don't think there is a more pleasant way of getting to the airport than this. Dhoni (boat) ride at sunset. Beats any taxi or limo ride and only costs USD 0.75.
Today is the beginning of the end when I finish the adventures and relaxation and proceed to Kuching for time with family before flying back to reality in Auckland in less than two weeks. We had set the alarm for 0600 to catch breakfast at the hotel before getting on the 0730 dhoni to Male [Male-travel-guide-1088313]. We felt that the duration of our stay was perfect; we relaxed on the beach from mid-morning to mid-afternoon yesterday. Two chill days and one dive day. I couldn’t do weeks of island-hopping.

At the harbour, we noticed how much rubbish was in it; largely plastic bottles. The local community need to do more to make sure they don’t end up in the harbour. Our hotel provides 2 small bottles per day per person.large_5550_1440945668993.jpgI don't think there is a more pleasant way of getting to the airport than this. Dhoni (boat) ride at sunset. Beats any taxi or limo ride and only costs USD 0.75.I wonder how they dispose of the bottles. This can’t continue.

The boat had curtains on one side only. If you think the correct side to be on is the side with the curtains, think again. That’s the side with the sun; that’s why it has curtains. The ferry operates on a fixed schedule and it only needs curtains on that side!

The 90 minute journey was quick. Arriving in Male, the young boat driver (who had taken over from the Captain partway) skilfully backed us into a tight spot. Quite impressive considering he was located right in front.

Taxi drivers wanted USD5 for the ride to Luckyhiya Hotel but it should be only MVR35 (just over USD2). We walked out of the port area and managed to get one at the right price. We spent most of the day indoors apart from lunch and dinner at the Nepali place.

I left around 1830 for the dhoni to the airport. My Sri Lankan Airlines flight for Colombo was at 2050, connecting to Malaysia Airlines for Kuala Lumpur and Kuching. I had been booked on Malaysia Airlines ex-Male but they operated their final flight only last night. I organised the rerouted flight as soon as I had found out a couple of months ago and the disruption was quite minor.

Check-in was painless with no queue and the staff checked my luggage all the way to Kuching without hesitation. Some staff are wary of sending bags to a domestic port as it isn’t normal practice for countries like Australia or New Zealand. We boarded a slightly aged but very presentable A320 for the short 1h20 flight to Colombo. A very delicious hot meal was served. I thought the CEO of AirAsia (Malaysia, not Group), Aireen Omar was diagonally behind. I took the chance to tell her what a fan I was of her airline when we landed. She had been in Male with her sidekick Raymond for discussions in preparation for their Male route launch in October.

My oneworld transit wasn’t that seamless. SriLankan couldn’t issue my boarding pass on behalf of Malaysia Airlines. They had to walk my passport and bagtags to the MH office downstairs and walk the boarding pass back. Aireen and Raymond were in a similar situation so we chatted some more. She had some concerns from customers about the price of accommodation but I assured her there was plenty of nice ones at USD40. They both seemed like very pleasant approachable managers.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

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