RTW in 66 Days
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A year ago today, I was sitting in the SilverKris lounge at Singapore’s Changi Airport (the one in T3) and ending what was the most unbelievable journey I have had around the world. I had spent over 2 months, journeying around the world visiting new countries, meeting new people and just having a blast. I was sad to see it all end, but I did have the comfort of enjoying the lounge with my friend Cat. Little did I know, this lounge visit would change my life.
While heading to the buffet for a coffee top up, I saw someone sitting at one of the tables who I thought I knew, considering there was a coffee stand that way, I took a swing around that way to suss it out. The person who I thought it was, turned out to be him. The owner of the company I worked for at the time. It was surreal. We sat down and caught up and had a good chat about travelling, work, how hard it was going to be to go back to work etc for me. We got to chatting about where I would be going in the future. I told him the truth that I wasn’t sure, that I didn’t get my green card for the USA but some friends were tempting me to go and live and work in Canada. We got to chatting and he dropped a bombshell. If I wanted a job in the USA, he could help with that.
My head span, my mind was going a million miles an hour. The first words out of my mouth were “Don’t be joking with me on that” Considering I had been wanting to work/live in the USA for a good 5 years by that stage, with attempts previously failed. I did not want to get my hopes up. He was serious, I told him that I would have an answer to him in a couple of weeks when I would see him next, as I needed time to think it over and we were quickly approaching boarding time for both our flights (actually departing only a few gates away).
Well, we all know just how that turned out? Because here I sit, in my apartment in Seattle. I am one happy man because life is just the way I have wanted it for so long. Sure things took a bit longer than expected to get over here, but no journey is ever without its ups and downs. So on this one year anniversary of the end of a massive trip, I don’t want to think of it as an ending, but more on a beginning, the beginning of a new journey. A journey towards my future… one that I am incredibly grateful for.
1. Drink a glass of French Champagne in France – link
2. Drink a glass of Champagne onboard a long haul flight – link
3. Run Through Central Park – link Runkeeper Link
4. Pastrami on Rye at Katz’s Deli NYC – link
5. In’n’Out Burger – link
6. Drive a car in the USA – link
7. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge – link
8. Ride a “Bullet Train” in Japan – link
9. Hot Dog from a Cart – link link2
10. Food from a Truck in Portland – link
11. Sushi for Breakfast at Fish Markets in Tokyo – link
12. Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace – link
13. Visit Borough Market – link
14. Fly Upper Deck on an A380 – link
15. Visit Hiroshima (Japan) – link
16. Visit Normandy (France) – link
17. Touch the Berlin Wall – link
18. Ride a Train on 3 Different Continents – link link link
19. Sit in a Backwards Facing Airline Seat – Failed
20. Plane Spotting in San Francisco, Vancouver & Narita – link
21. Catch a “Flying Fish” in Seattle – link
22. Visit Alcatraz – link
23. Ride a Cable Car in San Francisco – link
24. Go Hiking in the Rockies – link
25. Ride a Bike – link
26. Go White Water Rafting in Canada – link
27. Visit a Location where Macgyver was filmed – link
28. Eat a Celebrity/Celebrity Chef’s Restaurant – link
29. Eat Chicken Rice in Singapore – link
30. Buy Clothes at a store in New York – link
31. Visit Macys – link
32. Go to the Rodeo in Canada – link
33. Drink a Glass of Wine in the Napa Valley – link
34. Visit a Brewery – link
35. Visit a Temple – link
36. Visit a Cathedral – link
37. See the Mona Lisa – link
38. Make new friends – link
39. Go Airline Lounge Hopping – link
40. Try to Meet a Flyertalker/Milepointer – link
41. Do Something Crazy – link
42. Go to a Baseball Game – link
43. Eat a Voodoo Donut – link
44. Visit the UN – link
45. Walk up the Eiffel tower – link
46. Wasabi Kit Kat – link
47. Buy Football Jerseys in the USA – link
48. Visit “China” – link
49. Buy a Fake Rolex – link
50. Spot a Retro Jet – Failed
51. Pay Tribute to a Flyertalk/Blog idol – link
52. Write a Trip Report – link
53. See a Broadway Musical/Show/Colbert Report – link
54. Meet up with some “Tweeps” – link
55. Go to a Whole Foods Market – Top Chef Style – link
56. Eat a “Giant Cob of Corn Husk on” at Calgary Stampede – link
57. Eat a Canadian Baked Potato at Calgary Stampede –Revised see 68
58. Spend the entire day at Calgary Stampede all the way to closing time – link
59. Walk the Highline in NYC – link
60. View a Ceremony that not many people ever get to experience – link
61. Eat in Restaurant that was famous for a General/President who ate/stayed there – link
62. Eat a “Concrete” – link
63. Visit a Crumpler Store Overseas – link
64. Drink some Siphon Coffee – link
65. On my birthday find a good looking stranger and tell them “it’s my birthday” – link
66. Go Spotting in LAX with an online Travel Blogger – link
67. Dennys Grand Slam – link
68. Find the most random food & eat it – link
69. Pretzel M&Ms – link
70. Climb a Mountain – link
71. Stop at a roadside Diner & have a slice of pie – link
72. Eat a Nutella Crepe in France – link
73. Macaron in Paris – link
74. See the Eiffel Tower Sparkle – link
75. Pretzel in Germany – link
76. Schnitzel in Germany – link
77. Go spotting in the middle of a city – link
78. Eat Fugu – link
79. Buy a Tailor Made Suit in Hong Kong – link
80. Have a Drink at the “Long Bar” in Singapore – link
Yep all of my photos from the Big Trip are now online. Pretty much all that is left is my spotting photos (of which will take me a while to work on as there is a good 8000 photos to sort and touch up) and my panoramas which there are about 10 or so with some other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure.
Here are all the folder links!
|RTW in 66 Days – Canada 1|
|RTW in 66 Days – Canada 2|
|RTW in 66 Days – USA 1|
|RTW in 66 Days – USA 2|
|RTW in 66 Days – Europe 1|
|RTW in 66 Days – Europe 2|
|RTW in 66 Days – London|
|RTW in 66 Days – Japan 1|
|RTW in 66 Days – Japan 2|
|RTW in 66 Days – Hong Kong|
|RTW in 66 Days – Singapore|
|RTW in 66 Days – Panos & Artistic|
|RTW in 66 Days – Spotting Photos|
Back to reality means that I have time to reflect. After spending 9 weeks travelling almost non stop, barely gives you time to breathe but with all the flights I still had time to chill out and had time to breathe and relax.
The trip was probably the best trip of my life so far. I did over plan a little bit I think in some areas, yet underplanned in others. With only one real dissapointment flight wise (damn you United for the aircraft change) everything else went off without a hitch with minimal issues (only really short delays so nothing dramatic).
As an aviation geek this trip provided a plethora of new airlines & new airports but only 2 new aircraft (777-300ER & 737-500). One thing I get asked a lot is who was the best. I can’t answer that though. There was no one standout best on this trip. Many different things were holding each one back, what was great on one airline was crap on the other. But I can break it down for you all as follows:
Best Seat: Three way tie – Swiss New Business, ANA Staggered Business (new business) and the New Air New Zealand Business Premier.
Best Food: ANA
Best Service: Singapore Airlines (but only the 2nd crew I had)
Best Looking Crew: Singapore Airlines tied with Swiss (although SQ crew were just sheer perfection).
This whole trip had me fly a total of 30385 Butt in Seat Miles and earned me 54970 Miles with Aegean. In saying that I love the fact that thanks to Aegean I am now a Star Gold and hopefully I can get another program to status match me with their current promotion.
All in All I think this trip was $$ well spent and that I am now looking forward to my next trip which thanks to this trip will be using up some of the points most likely… Let the planning begin!
Well I am back home now. Back to Reality, back to work, back to getting into a daily routine of commuting to and from work.
The trip was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I loved every minute of it. The frustrations made it so much more of a challenge at times. Life has frustrations and you just have to deal with it, but these frustrations come regardless of where you are or what you are doing, so you just keep life plodding along.
I have returned back to reality already with my 2nd day at work today. Boy what a change really. Trying to fit back in with so many changes etc and then having such an experience I need to keep focused on what I have just acheived so I don’t end up in the Post Trip Depression like I had last time. I have already been back to the gym as well, with a full session of weights yesterday my muscles are aching. Shouldnt have avoided doing them so much while I was away. Running this morning with sore muscles was not easy at all.
Some silly stats have come out of this trip though. I have taken 20,000 photos. Thats right 20 Thousand photos (plus about 10 or 15 videos). I have to start sorting all of these out. a Giant chunk of this is spotting photos (probably around the 8000 mark or so which will mean less to deal with straight away) which needed to be sorted, touched up and edited but that can wait really as there is no rush with those and I like to go through and choose which ones I am going to touch up (same with the panoramas really, which i have to stitch together and edit anyway).
I haven’t even started totally up the mileage I have covered on this trip or the points earned. The mileage covered I will probably need to try and manually work out with all the different modes of transport used it will be a bit crazy really. I don’t even want to think, it would be upwards of like 50,000 miles I would say (i think the flights alone are around 35-40 thousand).
I need to get back to reality fast as I have so many things on with engagement parties, baptisms, work trips etc that I cant afford to be still off in La La land. But i will tell you the memories that flood back each and every night while I look at the photos or some of the stuff that I had sent home. It’s crazy. The memories that get triggered by the smallest thing.
I still have not yet recieved 2 of the boxes from canada (first two sent home and could be another month or two before it arrives unfortunately) so cant really even finish off sorting out the stuff I want to keep or trash or scrapbook from there (yes I am going to do a scrap book sad I know). Anyway I should stop slacking off and get back to work now that my break is almost over.
Current Location: Work
Countries Visited: 12
The usual start to my flight day. An OMG oclock wake up, a gym work out followed by a taxi to the airport but with a few differences. Today was the final leg of my journey so I was a little bit sad. At check out it meant a bit extra time required due to needing to get some contact information of the GM and then it was in the taxi to go and pick up my friend from her hotel.
Once all together a taxi full of bags we were airport bound and shortly arriving at Changi T3 and dropped in front of the business check in. As we walked in we were waived over to an open desk (first class not business) and check in was swiftly progressed. Again no points were showing in my file (seriously don’t they recognise A3?) but this was swiftly added but meant my gold recognition was not there which was quite dissapointing as I was given a 2nd rate seat (middle aisle).
After check in we cleared immigration with ease and I cleared out my account of SGD ready for a final conversion to AUD. We headed towards the SilverKris lounge and I guested my friend into the lounge and I got a request made for a new seat and I headed towards the foreign currency exchange, some last minute burning of $$ and scoped out the Gold lounge (which was just a small version of the silverkris).
Once I was back in the lounge I was grabbing some breakfast and then I spotted someone I did not think I would see. The owner of the company I work for! Total craziness. We had a good chat in the lounge and discussed the travel we had been doing over the last few months. It was just a mind blow to run into him and as we both headed towards the gates I bid farewell and cleared security at the lead in to the first set of B gates.
Once through I rejoined my friend who had gone off to shop and after getting my seat request checked (window seat confirmed but no new boarding pass print booo) and then shortly after that boarding was called.
Singapore to Brisbane
Airbus – A330-300 (9V-STS)
Business Class – Seat 14K
Boarding: 0915 (Gate B1)
Push Back: 0959
Take Off Roll: 1039 (Runway 20C)
Top of Descent: 1845
Touch Down: 1919 (Runway 19)
Shut Down: 1925 (Gate 80)
I bid my friend safe journeys as we headed towards the gate. I head down the airbridge for the final time on this journey and was chastised by someone for taking a photo and instructed to delete the photo (which I promptly faked the process of doing) and stepped onboard. My seatmate was already at the seat and quite difficult to deal with. But I was not going to let that change anything.
I settled into my seat and got myself sorted. Boarding continued and pre departure beverages were offered. I had just a water as usual and before departing drink offers were taken for after take off. Push back was delayed as we waited for our slot and when we finally pushed, I had a feeling it was going to be a slow slow journey to the active as we were a number of planes behind (soon confirmed by the captain).
We taxiied towards the active 20C and were informed of a flight time of 6 hours 40 minutes so we must be getting some great tailwinds. The captain came back shortly thereafter and informed us that we were #8 in line for takeoff. O great.
After waiting in line and getting some good photos of some rare stuff (Evergreen 747, Xiamen Airlines, Cebu Pacific, some private birds) we were lining up, captain delivered his takeoff positions instruction to the crew and we were heading to the skies with grace. The climb out was long out over the golf clubs around Changi and it was a little time before the seat belt sign came off.
After being released from our seats I climbed out and over my seat mate, who had promptly decided to try and go to sleep blocking the aisle, and did the same thing as dozens of others, queued for the bathroom. Drink service began shortly soon after and the lovely nut mix was served (I am now a fan of a good salty roasted nut after this trip where as I loathed them before).
I set the seat for a good lounge style and sat back to enjoy watching an old movie (Robocop) while chowing down on the nut mix. In comparison the seat on the A330 with SQ is pretty good for a daytime regional flight. Plenty of storage spaces, goes flat and nice and comfy to lounge on. A downside though, when reclined the seat is lowered below window height so difficult to see out the window with really. No big issues though.
Lunch orders were taken and I took the Duck option which was the chefs special option. After my drink was constantly topped up and a request for some more crunchy snacks provided without an issue the full service began. I was constantly addressed by name by the crew and my table set for lunch.
Lunch today was a fusion mix it seemed with a thai style starter, a french/asian style main and the usual traditional dessert. I chose the Creme Brulee and followed it up with some lovely fruit and cheese. All up lunch took about an hour by the time i finished my coffee and chocolates but by this stage there was only about 4 hours left of the flight.
After trying to visit my friend down the back and not being able to see her, I gave up and headed back to my seat where I settled in to watch some movies. About 3 hours out, we started to hit Australian soil. Looking down onto my home below had me in mixed feelings. Happy to see the country I had missed so much while I was away, sad to be heading to the finish of this amazing journey.
The whole thing hit home and just made it all the more difficult to focus. I tried to distract myself with the TV but it didn’t work. I was to busy thinking about all the amazing and crazy experiences I have had on this trip.
About 2 hours out a round of dink orders was taken which pretty much meant the 2nd service was going to begin shortly there after. About 90 mins out the 2nd service began. Choices were again a western or Asian option and decided to take the asian option as I would be returning to normal western food for a while anyway, may as well enjoy it while I can. The lotus leaf encased parcel of rice, mushrooms, pork and chinese sausage was tasty and fantastic with some iced tea.
With service completed I got myself slowly ready for landing as I knew it would get a bit busy when the pre descent notice was given and the panic would set in with everyone. After thanking the crew and grabbing a last minute souveneir of the flight (postcard) I agreed to fill in a feedback form for the crew as they were faultless and probably the best I have had so far out of 14 flights and 9 different *A carriers.
With descent underway the leading steward Peter came by to thank me for the kind words and I thanked him for his crews fantastic service (credit where credit is due). A great way to end this journey with the famed SQ service. As we descended into Brisbane it was most definately dark outside and we came around for what I was predicting as an 01 arrival as the airshow was showing a roundabout descent profile.
Temperatures in Brisbane were predicted at 15 so the warm climate experience I had been enjoying the last few weeks was well and truly over, back to the cold cold reality… nooooo. Turns out we were not heading for 01 but towards 19. As we came in for a Bay approach we landed pretty close to the keys at BNE and I knew from that instant, it was all over and that this was truly an amazing trip.
We taxied fairly quickly towards the gate and was soon pulling up at gate 80, pretty much from the same gate I had taken off from only a few months ago. Immigration was a breeze once I had picked up my Duty Free that I had left behind in storage and I was into the waiting arms of my loving family.
This will be my last post from the road. At the moment I am chilling out in the Silverkris Lounge at Changi Airport. Unfortunately I board my last flight in about 90 minutes to head towards Australia and home, but I wont talk about that much in this post.
Looking back at my time in Singapore though, I am really happy with the time here. It was a smart way to readjust not only for myself but also for my friend Cat who is moving to Aus and is joining us on the same flight. Crazy times were had, with lots more relaxed pace since both Hong Kong where it was a flurry of determined shopping and sightseeing to random sightseeing, slow meandering shopping to see if I could find something and just exploring areas.
The main thing I have loved about Singapore is the cheap food. It is everywhere, plentiful and just amazingly good. The hawker centres have been fantastic. It is where so many of the locals eat and they just have the most amazing patience as they will line up for what is good. So that was the easiest way to work out what to eat, just line up and the longer the line, obviously the better.
I had the traditional items you would expect in Singapore, Chicken Rice but I also managed a little indian, some indonesian and some malay as well. It was all so good. But the highlight of this stay has been a dinner at Sky on 57. Touted as one of the best restaurants in Singapore it is located on the 57th Floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and it is right on the roof. Such an amazing view, the food was mind blowingly good. I was jealous of my friends vegetarian meal as she had it so much better than me!
I will post more when I get to Australia but the whole journey has been amazing stay!
Current Location: SilverKris Lounge, Changi Airport Singapore
Ok since my last post about Hong Kong was way to short I thought I would just give a bit of a post to add some more thoughts to it.
I did love Hong Kong. Craziness aside it was awesome! The food was great, the street food especially. I ate a number of times on Temple St (near my hotel but the big market area) and the food was great. The location may not have been the most cleanest but it was so good. I ate the staples that needed to be eaten. Hong Kong Egg Tarts, Mooncake (its that time of year), BBQ Pork, Garoupa and also some lovingly prepared dim sum.
The are a few things about Hong Kong that I would like to address though.
1. Public Transport – wow… so awesome the system is great, buses go everywhere, trains are quick and fast, the star ferry is cheap as all hell (about 40c), but there are a number of little nit pick issues. One, there is no integrated ticketing price. All the different companies charge different prices. So if you have a tourist pass for the trains, it wont work on the buses etc. Makes it a bit of a rude shock really when you dont know this or not told this!
2. Air Quality – the smog is BAD, very very bad. If you have breathing problems you are going to struggle. It also makes seeing across the harbour a bitch. It was really difficult to see things at times because the smog was so thick and just choking
3. Shopping – wow… i think this place is shoppers paradise. From markets to high end goodies, Hong Kong has it all. I managed to spend up a storm on just about everything I needed and in the end, was extremely happy with myself. Can’t believe that I had to go out and buy a new suitcase just to fit it all in because the extra bag I had with me was not big enough!
Anyway now that I am in singapore things are just as good. The food here is awesome, the variety is mind blowing. I don’t have the time or the appetite to try everything so I am just trying what I can and I have already had the staple Chicken Rice at the most famous stand in town really. Lets hope Singapore treats me well, just like Hong Kong did.
A lazy morning for once considering I am normally up at OMG o clock (and will be for my final flight). I copped out on the gym as I just couldn’t deal with it and decided not to rush my morning and just potter around the hotel getting myself good to go.
After having issues at Breakfast in regards to how to cook a poached egg, I checked out around 10am (as planned) and dragged myself, my new suitcase, my old suitcase, my backpack and camera bag to a cab to the station. After again having the driver try to take me somewhere I did not want to go, I had to keep telling him “JUST TAKE ME TO KOWLOON STATION.” I didn’t have to lug my bags far as when we pulled up it was right infront of the In Town Check In for the Airport Express.
The check in was painless and after negotiating for a half decent seat (ended up in the Forward mini Cabin) I was out of the check in area and headed downstairs for a train. Now you might be thinking why is he going to the airport so so early for an afternoon flight. Well I was intending (note the word intending for later) on doing some spotting, some last minute shopping and also lounge hopping my way around Hong Kong Airport.
Once at the airport it was out into Terminal 2 rather than Terminal 1 to do a bit of spotting. However the skydeck was not quite open when I arrived so instead hit up a few shops and then went up to the Skydeck and thankfully used up some of my last HKD on my octopus card. The Skydeck is the “official” spotting location at HKIA and overlooks both the approaches for runways 25L&R. Awesome shots were obtained but the light was crazy++ No retro jet though (but not without trying) so I guess that part of the trip list is going not done.
After loosing track of time and then hiking my way back to the terminal later than I thought and having to get my boarding pass reissued with my Aegean number on the pass as for some reason it is just not crediting properly, it was through security, immigration and out into the massive terminal. I tried to find my way through to some of the shops and then realising what the time was, was going to skip the lounge hopping (i did it in Narita anyway) and just head to the SQ lounge. But a few of the shops were all the way down near the TG and UA lounge. But it didn’t last either because I never ended up buying anything at those shops.
I got told that I can’t come back on the train from the middle gate area, I had to walk which took me a solid 15 minutes at my pace so that was a bit annoying but you deal with what you can do. This ate into my time and I managed to get what I could shopping wise with about 30 minutes of lounge time. I rushed into the SQ lounge, took a few photos, grabbed a quick nut snack, posted on the web and pretty soon the 30 minutes was almost up.
I rushed out to the bathroom (bathrooms at this lounge are on the outside none inside) for a quick pit stop pre flight and missed the boarding call which was early! As everyone was boarding as I headed to the gate.
Hong Kong to Singapore
Airbus – A380-800 (9V-SKA)
Business Class – Seat 14A
Boarding: 1445 (Gate 15)
Push Back: 1531
Take Off Roll: 1556 (Runway 07R)
Top of Descent: 1834
Touch Down: 1901 (Runway 02R)
Shut Down: 1906 (Gate B7)
For the first time I was heading upstairs on an A380 and ticking it off my list of things to do in life. The little upward incline meant time for a few photos unfortunately couldn’t get a clear shot of the bird flying me to Singapore. When I stepped into the upper deck I was shocked at how low the roof felt and then I saw the size of the seats. The SQ business seats are MASSIVE. Wider than I thought they would be. Way wider.
The seat was just huge and they had heaps of cushions to try and keep you in the seat and they just did not help at all! Another thing I noticed is even though the windows are at a good level, because your on the upper deck, you are set further back from the windows making it difficult to get many photos of the ground or down below you.
We waited for a while to push back due to the brakes not being cool enough according to the Captain after his pre flight briefing and the Singapore Girls just could not do more to keep you happy. The service was great. We taxiied out eventually towards 07R (runway switch must of happened as when I was spotting it was the 25s) and it was a long long taxi. Eventually we took off, and headed for the sky.
Service began extremely quickly after take off as orders had been taken on the ground for both drinks and “dinner.” The menu had plenty of choices and I was looking forward to some good cuisine (although I am tempted to “book the cook” on my next flight. As I settled in for a movie and dinner progressed through the courses I was totally lost in the moment and not realising how time was going or what was going on.
The lunch service was a little slow and was suspended for a few minutes due to some turbulence which wasn’t all that bad imo but eventually we were heading towards Top of Descent. I had to get my AVOD system to be rebooted after it crashed and then pretty much 5 minutes after it came back up, it was shut off for landing and approach. O well.
As we approached into Singapore I was again snap happy as much as I could but it was not possible to get as many photos as I normally do. O well. Gotta deal with it. We landed on 02R and taxiied quickly to B7 one of the A380 gates. This is where things got wierd for me as when we deboarded it was out into the normal terminal area. No sectioned off area for arriving guests. Crazy. Immigration was a breeze (was one of the first people there) waited about 10 mins for my bag to pop out and then I was in a Limosuine Taxi (wanted the pre set price option) on my way to my hotel. A Quick flight that just made my day.
Well Hong Kong was a blast. Although I didn’t do much around town other than get lost, shop and eat, it was pretty damn successful if I must say so.
Unfortunately I don’t have much time at the moment since we will be boarding shortly and I want to at least relax a little bit before my flight and be first onboard so I can take some photos of my much awaited flight. But I will give you some of the highlights of my trip:
* Eating at the worlds largest floating restaurant
* Stumbling into a Michelen Star Restaurant and eating lunch for around $30AUD
* Enjoying a cruise on the harbour with some aussies
* Getting the Star Ferry and then working out it barely cost me 40c
* Seeing Pandas for the first time
Well it was a random time in Hong Kong. They love to shop and there are mass shopping malls. I managed to shop my way around Both islands while still keeping my back balance fairly in check really. I didn’t spend nearly as much as I thought I would and to be honest, I am pretty sure that my back balance thanks me but I am sure my credit card company is sorely dissapointed. But I did managed to get myself fitted for a new suit, custom made for less than what I thought it would cost me. Which is awesome. I had to buy a new suitcase though, the small pack down bag I bought in Portland just would not cut it with the amount of shopping I did do (a lot of gifts for people).
Pretty soon I am making my last flight off to Singapore for the final leg of this trip. I am kinda sad while excited at the same time!