Friday, July 13, 2007

Sydney Trip Diaries: Sydney Leg, Chilly Mornings

The business seats on the flight to Sydney was much nicer. My seat was on the second floor on the first row just at the back of the cockpit which is cool because of two things: You get to catch glimpses of what they do in there whenever a crewmember would speak to the pilots (I could actually hear some of the navigation instruments when we were landing - it was a digital voice counting down presumably the altitude reading) and more importantly you get to be served first - haha! I watched a couple of movies before sleep overcame me (I haven't had much sleep the previous night). Oh and I have this neighbor who drinks a lot of Shiraz during the flight and kept on glancing on my LCD screen. The flight attendant asked her twice if she needed help but she just asked for more wine. The flight attendant even made a mistake and called her Ms. ****** --> my family name. I found this mildly amusing and I told the flight attendant jokingly that no we are not married. My neighbor didn't looked amused though. Hehe.

I arrived at 6am in Sydney and immigration, baggage claim and customs was a breeze. Ah speaking of customs, when we were just about to land, the flight crew announced over the PA that bringing in of food items not declared on the declaration sheet we filled up earlier could result to very stiff fines at customs. I immediately ate 2 squares of sugar free brownies that I brought along with me. And that was after I already had the in-flight breakfast haha. So I feel a bit bloated afterwards. The first impression I have upon arriving is how cold the weather is. The pilot mentioned that it was about 7 degrees outside. I was slightly shivering and if I clench my teeth they would start chattering. I haven't used my jacket yet but I won't be going out the airport right away anyway. I wouldn't be able to check-in in the hotel until 10:30am at the earliest so I still have time to spare. I actually attempted several times to go out but everytime I feel the cold air blast at me when I approach the exit, I immediately turn tail and retreat to the relatively comfortable temperature of the airport complex interior.

It was already 11pm when I finally ventured out of the airport to the taxi queue. The taxi driver mistook me as a Chinese. I experience that a lot when I go out of the country. The hotel is quite far from the airport and it took more than an hour to get there. The hotel was "no-frills" and if you'd ask me way too overpriced. But as the taxi driver told me earlier, everything is more expensive in Sydney.

Sydney Trip Diaries: Singapore leg, Free food!

The trip from the house to the airport was uneventful although the taxi driver kept asking questions on which route to take implying that he was not familiar with the way to the airport (very suspicious!, I think it's just a ploy to use a circuitous route by taking the wrong turns on purpose).

Going through the NAIA airport is always stressful for me. I arrived before the check-in counter was open so I had a few minutes to spare. The immigration queue was unusually long. I think I spent more than half an hour. A lot of passengers were being sent back and I was a bit curious why. It seems that most of the passengers with problems were flying on budget airlines. Unlike the normal carriers, budget airlines does requires you to pay the travel tax separately instead of being part of the fare rate thus giving the false impression of being much cheaper than it actually is. Very sneaky huh...

Free food!One of the nice things when traveling on business class is the free use of the airport lounges. And for me that is especially wonderful because of the free food! I remember a few years back when I had a trip to Europe and I think I ate too much at the Northwest lounge and I was feeling sick all throughout the trip. I think I should not overdo it this time. The Krisflyer airport lounge was just serving light snacks mostly sandwiches and pastries. For starters I just grabbed a steamed meat bun (siopao) and a diet Pepsi. Unfortunately, I managed to spill diet Pepsi all over the table and some even went into the carpet. Ack! How embarrassing hehe. I really liked their cream of carrot soup. I went to the pre-departure area about 30 minutes before boarding time. The plane boarded and left on time.

It was a short flight to Singapore so it was a just a small plane. The Business class seats, although bigger than the economy seats still felt a bit cramped especially during meals. I was afraid that I might knock over my drink to my lap or worse unto my neighbor. Luckily, the flight was uneventful. I had a very brief stopover in Singapore first before continuing to the longer flight to Sydney.
Changi airport in Singapore is always a nice place to hang out. I was a bit distracted perusing nice gadgets on sale and contemplating trying out one of those free electronic feet massagers scattered all over the airport (I tried it once and it was relaxing but I couldn't stand it longer than a few minutes since I'm very ticklish). All the while I thought that my next flight was still at 10pm but it was actually at 8pm! Good think I rechecked my itinerary. The pre-departure gate won't open for 40 more minutes so I again searched for the Krisflyer silver lounge and had a light snack before boarding. Hey, I can really get used to this! The vegetarian ravioli in mushroom cream sauce was very nice.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sydney Trip Diaries: Pre travel jitters

Friday night. Hardly slept. I spent a lot of time deciding what stuff
to bring. I wanted to travel as light as possible so I had to reduce
the amount of clothes from a huge pile into a reasonable size that can
fit into a standard sized carry-on luggage. It's currently wintertime
in Australia and I hope I could survive with just a sweater and a
jacket on top of that. The temperature forecast on weather.com for
Sydney has lows of up to 5 degrees but the average temperature is 10
to 15 degrees. I ended up with just a small trolley luggage and a
knapsack which will be my hand carry luggage ( a thick book that I
wanted to finish a long time ago but had always just read a few pages
before putting it down again, a sweater and a jacket, a company
provided laptop, a camera, an audio player, an extra shirt in case I
spill coffee on my clothes or something, and my PDA).