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African Safari (ii) ;The Interlude QR LXR-DOH-KUL  
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 27284 times:

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Where am I physically in the world? It’s a haphazard school building built of mud-bricks in Uganda. It is the 15th April 2011. There are bright, enthusiastic kids playing out in a tumble-down courtyard, ignorant of all the worlds gloom: dancing and singing in the bright sunshine. I am their English Teacher; Mr Luke. I have been for 3 months.

This is my sabbatical from travelling, my interlude to give a little bit back to Mama Africa’s children as I spend 409 days hitch-hiking from Cape Agulhas (the most southerly point of the dark African Continent), all the way back through the Middle East and Europe to my modest little hometown of Dunoon in Scotland. Here, in my temporarily peaceful classroom on a barely functioning laptop, I finally cajole myself into booking some flights with QR from Egypt departing in about 3 months’ time – a little treat to myself. A holiday from a holiday some would say.

My last report My African Safari (i) ; The Beginning (EZY/ QR) (by lukeyboy95 Feb 27 2012 in Trip Reports) covered an jubilant departure from the UK to South Africa, via Easyjet (LTN-SAW) and Qatar (IST-DOH-JNB-CPT). I was emphatic how absolutely classy and brilliant Qatar Airways was after that trip. Oh how the mighty fall…. Erstwhile over the next 6 months, I did my travelling thing, dispensed of exhaustive materialism, and set off with my threadbare backpack to get a taste of Africa.

Although initially a cynic about Afreeca (like the majority of us understandably media-conditioned spectators are), by my arrival in Uganda I wanted to ululate from the rooftops on how endearing, generous, vibrant and enthralling Africa and her people had been so far.



This report will do the following in no uncertain terms;

- Gloss over my travel through Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and finally to Egypt (LXR) where my flight departs

- Qatar Airways LXR-DOH-KUL (With the dreadful transfer)

- Intra Asia flights with AK/ FY/ TR to Philippines and about Malaysia

- Complaint letter of conditions and treatment during DOH transfer

- More descriptive travelogue – Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopa, Sudan, Egypt.

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In a bid to reduce the size of my report, I will post the return sector on Qatar in a final part of my African series.
But without much further ado;
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Welcome to my 10th Report; African Safari (ii) ;The Interlude QR LXR-DOH-KUL


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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
56 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 1, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 27610 times:

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Gratitude to GCMapper for their innovation.




To satisfy the insatiable appetite for all things aviation on this website, I shan’t dwell to laboriously on the overland travelling I required to take to get me overland from Uganda to Luxor in Egypt to make my flight. In summary – my flight would depart in a little over 3 months from the date I confirmed my booking. On the day I booked my flight my head was awash with excitement as I walked back to my hut on the dust road – after what seemed to be quite a subsistence form of living, I was grappling with the guilt of excessiveness that had made me book an unnecessary flight at a cost that could have sponsored 5 of my pupils through higher education. But I learned to look forward to it, and used it as a goal to make Egypt safely.




My brilliant class at Johnson Nkosi Memorial Primary School, Uganda


I donned my backpack once again on the 27th April 2011, unfamiliar with the weight of it. I would soon get into the groove. My travel through Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan has to be some of the most enthralling I have ever done. I know some of you are die-hard, but I really encourage you to catch a glimpse of my more detailed account of this overland part at the end of the report. It was enchanting, epic, vast, harsh, a revelation and I fell utterly in love with the Republic of Sudan.


As I class this section the ‘Getting to the Airport’ section of the TR, I will include a few of the transport options I took.




Crossing one of many ‘source of the Nile’s’ in cement truck – Jinja, Lake Victoria, Uganda




One of my hitches gets stuck, Eldoret, Kenya


Some points to note; timing was paramount. I had to ensure all the visas would play into each other and it was truly a juggling act. For example, I could only secure a 2 week transit for Sudan (prolifically difficult for visas), which I could only secure 2 months in advance from Kampala. Then the whole trip was thrown into disarray after a heated meeting with the consular general of Ethiopia in Kampala, Uganda, who said that unless I had residence status, they would not grant me a visa and I would have to fly in or apply at the London Embassy (a farcical visa process which I am convinced is to do with capitalising on passengers arriving through the wholly owned government airline who charge stupendous prices Intra-Africa – any thoughts appreciated?).

This threw my plans into disarray, and opened up a lot of potential to covering the entirety of Sudan overland. It was pretty unchartered territory, and with violence escalating in apprehension of the split of South Sudan, I was getting very nervous about my options. I had almost resigned to trying to get through the Sudanese frontiers, when I met a girl in the hostel who would be flying BA back to London that night. I asked her if she would be happy transporting my passport, and giving it to a friend, who would then apply for my Ethiopian visa at the London Embassy and FedEx it back. Seven nerve-wracking days later, I received my passport in a FedEx envelope, and continued on in earnest.




Ferry madness, Mombasa




Riding on top of cattle truck on Bandito Road, desert between N.Kenya/ Ethiopia


As I continued this travel, political tensions escalated too. The Arab uprising was upon the nations; perhaps one of the most dynamic and unpredictable times the Arabic area of Africa had ever experienced. Thankfully, the majority of Egypt’s backlash had been played out, but Syria and Libya remained hot potatoes that only proliferated into further upheaval. Although pissy about how this affected my travel ambitions, I was glad to hear of despots and dictators sweating in their palaces.

Ethiopia a grave disappointment; extraordinary xenophobia, stoned twice by children (incidentally the most scared I felt the whole trip (big boulders)) and almost endlessly ripped off.




Bus station at Addis Ababa, dawn (often take buses to get out of city)




Bemused looks on a gravel tipper, Lalibela, Ethiopia


Sudan the antithesis – graceful, respectful, honest and kind. If I were to convert and abscond, this is the place I would do it.




Haboob (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haboob)/ Apocalypse, Sudan Interior.





Old Bedford buses, Sudan




Amphibious Donkey Kart, Wadi Halfa in Sudan

I catch the once weekly ferry I had been hedging my bets on overnight from Wadi Halfa in Sudan, right up through fragmented Lake Nasser and across the border to the city of Aswan in Egypt. Dip into terrible depression from the finishing of my ‘truly African’ part of the trip, here is teeming, economically mighty Arab African Egypt.




Weekly ferry Sudan to Egypt up Lake Nasser




But my main transport; the thumb and trustworthy smile, Sudan Interior.


So as you might have gathered, it wasn’t quite a straight-forward ‘hop on the bus to the airport’ situation. Fortunately a lot of incalculable elements fell into place, and after hitching a geographically vast and stark section of Africa, I pick the story up on a rickety train trundling to Luxor from Aswan, the night before my flight. The heat was sickly, my head lolled, I could not keep myself awake. I began to shiver violently, and wrapped myself still further. In all the lethargy, I was robbed of a few hundred Egyptian pounds.




Night before flight, arrival at Luxor Ramses train station.


That night I was Couchsurfing at a Doctors House. I asked him what he read into my sudden illness on the train; he was gung-ho and said probably some bad food. That night I slimmed down my rucksack, smoked some of the endemic Egyptian herbs and fell deeply asleep; tomorrow I was Asia bound.


18th June 2011 – the Day of Departure


Departure; I am feeling much better today. It is 7am when I awake. Despite the unique location, I am filled with the atypical childish excitement of the thought of flying. I pack easily in 10 minutes – as I am increasingly realising, I need close to nothing in life- and munch on a yoghurt, some fresh pita breads and some salty cheese. I’ve given myself an hour to get to the airport.


The first stage is going out onto the street and hailing one of the converted pick-up/ taxi sort things. Best not to ask the price, but observe and pay confidently so as not to be ripped off.



Super-cheap pick-ups to Ferry over Nile.


10 minutes later we’re at the bank of the Nile River in central Luxor. I board a ferry for 10p, only foreigners seem to be charged. The ferry crossed the swollen and lethargic watercourse soon enough – it is a beautiful view with the low sun. An expanse of the shoreline is given up to moored cruise-boats; the tourist industry has latterly collapsed given the Arab Uprising and the unprovoked few attacks on white media and foreigners during the time.




Morning commute across the Nile. Locals seem to go for free.


Safely across, my morning walk takes me past Luxor temple (which is breath-taking), I grab a chai, before heading down the main street to the Ramses train station. Somehow, walking through a surreal environ enhances the idea that you’re flying away.



Walking past a deserted Luxor Temple enhances the journey.


At the bus-station, or minibus I should say, things develop into the typical argument. I generally always keep my cool; predictably no such minibus runs out to the airport, I will have to take a private car at a very expensive price. Isn’t that convenient! Gosh. Well, thankfully, deep down there, Egyptians are good people, and when they see conning won’t work, they often admit the truth in defeat. I am shown a minibus (by one of the private hire dudes) that will drop me 5 minutes walk from the terminal for about 5p (yes $00.08). It soon fills up and we soon speed off for the 7 rather scenic miles to the airport.




Extraordinarily cheap local public transport to airport.


The conductor encourages me off at a junction and points the way towards terminal. I use this opportunity to buy some local, reasonably priced food at a local shop, prepare my stuff etc, before beginning my walk to the terminal. Egypt is an entirely irrigated nation; without the resourceful canals and aqueducts of water, this would be a lifeless, barren dessert. A crystal clear canal of water runs beside me on my walk to the terminal. I stop and dip my toes in it. I’ve plenty of time prior to the flight.


As I walk a donkey-drawn cart edges past me. The Egyptians treat their donkeys prolifically – I can only imagine the Donkey Sanctuary Charity, UK would have a field-day if they saw. The laden beast trots on in the heat, and the owner gives me a bemused look and with a gentle arm movement seemingly invites me to hop on his cart. Now, I will never claim any sort of firsts or records on A.net (certainly not with registrations), but I do proclaim the right to have taken the most unique transport ever to an airport… when I hitch-hiked on a donkey-drawn cart to Luxor International Airport. A moment to savour…..




On foot I proceed through the vehicle security checks into the grounds of Luxor Airport. Plainly their not used to seeing a vagabond hop off the back of a donkey cart and proceed to check-in. I mark the spot in which I will ‘deviate’ from my Africa course, and return upon in two weeks to take the route back on. I surmise that this way I will not be cheating.




Security channels into LXR


Luxor airport is immaculate. The grounds are manicured, lush and well-tended. A gaggle of gardeners sit out on the lawn chatting and lazily watering the trimmed green lawns. The terminal, though box-like, has some enormous lettering of LUXOR INT AIRPORT which looks sort of retro, and is adorned with mosaics of birds in flight. Generally I like it.






Frontage, and relaxed airport workers on the lawn outside.




Lettering on building.


Predictably I get the overzealous security officer in my pre-check-in security screening. Apparently he has to check something, and waddles off, all making my time a little tighter. Finally, after a good 10 mins, he reappears and permits me entry. I’ve no problem at check-in. The Qatar Airways staff are friendly, queues little and curiosity abounds what connecting flight I will get (my flight has been moved due to rescheduling – see complaint at report end). But they console; “No problem seer, you see in Dohaaa”. I’m given only one boarding pass.




Qatar Airways check-in this morning is quiet. Loads likely to reflect.


I briefly explore a deserted LXR. I go up to the dining area for a better photo, and note forlornly that in a day they will receive only four international flights. Things are not boding well.





Quiet upstairs café inside airport. Cautious with interior photos given security.


Daily International departures. Quite quiet.


Meanwhile, I have passed through a pretty liaise-faire security check and am in the holding area. To my surprise I am greeted by the head QR check-in agent who wishes to reconfirm my travel intentions. He is extremely friendly, and we talk about the changes QR have made to their schedules and the effect of the crisis. He asks if he can be of further assistance, and tells me where I can sit and assures I have a good seat. Very impressive. Sadly no upgrade!





Holding area for today’s Gate 3.


About 35 minutes prior to departure, boarding commences...


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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 27560 times:

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LXR-DOH

Airline……………..Qatar Airways
Aircraft…………….Airbus A320-232
Flight………………QR519
Registration……... A7-ADF
Seat……………….26F (Economy / Window)
Departure time......10.30 (10.23)
Arrival time……….14.15 (14.05)
LF: 25%............. Economy
Distance….. …….1178 miles

Price……………. Approx. £470.00


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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © BEYspotter
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Photo © Vatche Mitilian




This is an orderly affair. I count about thirty people clambering at check-in, so the loads are deeply concerning. I am the last to proceed to board, and walk out into the morning heat. In the safe-haven of the terminal, you overlook the heat. But it hits me once more. I believe departure is on the 1st level (though I may be mistaken).




Outside on the walkway that leads to the bus.


We descend down onto a bus that takes us 10 or so minutes around the airport to our awaiting plane. Perish the thought of Airbridges… which suits me fine.



The entire planes LF is on this bus.




Other airframe out in the blistering heat.


We come across the Airbus DF like she could well have been put out for scrap in the Mojave. But no, there is still the QR sparkle to her airframe, sitting oddly at LXR where every other airline has been keen to avoid.




Approaching our bird for the hop to DOH


The bus pulls in and we zip through the pulsating heat and up the stairs to the door. Ground personnel plainly talking politics and completely unconcerned by frenzied photo-taking.




Bit of an old Airbus put on this route today.




At door


I am welcomed warmly aboard todays flight. I make my way to the back of the aircraft. My brief brush with the heat has left me a little parched, so I go to the galley straight off to ask a distracted FA if I can have a water. She seems surprised, but a warm smile envelops and she hands me a glass with ice and points to a 2 litre plastic bottle of water and insists I take the whole thing – positive signs. On top of this, a selection of international newspapers are distributed, as well as the usual sucky sweets to mitigate popping ears, and a citrus-scented hand towel.




No risk of dehydration on todays sector.




QR pre-departure paraphernalia




International, English-language paper selection


With few passengers and a deserted airport, it’s no great achievement to feel the lurch of the AC 10 mins before scheduled Dept Time. The flight-crew introduce themselves on the way to LXR’s sole runway, and an amateurishly illustrated safety-video streams. As is my personal policy with such things, I pay some attention to this.




Turning into active with heat-sheen.




LXR terminal to right of wing, during take-off acceleration


Like a beautifully maturing whisky, as we rise higher into the sultry Egyptian sky, so the view becomes more staggering of the surrounding land. It isn’t simply enough to travel overland in Egypt – you need to get airborne to appreciate the mesmerising dependency on water in this country. Like a wreathing caterpillar of life and vegetation, the Nile irrigates a few kilometres here and there either side, before the desert wins over and the land becomes desolate and stark. It is so special seeing this from the air.










Stunning views of the Great Nile River, a carpet of green life.




In no-time we are crossing the Red Sea




Enjoying a beer above these parched lands lends to great satisfaction. Note flimsy hot-towel and standard QR nibbles served.


Service begins on this sector. All FA’s are female, and the majority are Asian and very pleasant. No menu is distributed, but we are informed politely 40 minutes after take-off, that the options are fish or beef with pasta. I select the pasta. Here is my much maligned culinary critique;



Meal tray.



Second main option. Again, wouldn’t have normally served this with rice.


By looks, my beef dish is distinctly average. We have a gloopy mince-like sauce, spread over desiccated pasta, with three oddly placed cubes of green pepper. I ponder whether it should have been served with mashed potato. Upon tasting it, I am relieved to find it is full of flavour and perfectly satisfactory. The other main option, which I later request, is a battered fillet of fish with rice and vegetables. This is good also; a soggy batter admittedly, but a tender a moist fish fillet and vegetables that are not overcooked. I suspect the mains were loaded at LXR hence questionable quality.




Different angle. With glass of white wine (not had for long time on trip)


The sides do more with the fish; a delicious tuna salad (with a wedge of lime (very classy)) with a dollop of tartar sauce on the other compartment. Tuc Biscuits and Laughing Cow Cheese are the rather disappointing accompaniments to this.




Good sides.


Desert, however, is a gelatinous Arabic pudding; milky and crushed almonds, it is yummy and not too stodgy. At the galley I am offered some profiteroles by one of the FA’s. They say it is their lunch, but they have too much loaded. I delight in this, again, beyond the call of duty. Well done!




Clearing trays and serving coffee/ Brandy.




I take a coffee (taste fine, though a little cool) and brandy.




QR Branded plastic cups.


Meanwhile I enjoy the flight. What is a little disappointing is the lack of seat back IFE screens. Somehow though, what with the start desert landscapes, this seems a trivial matter. But I do ponder how TXL (just one of the European destinations this A320 was deployed too in it’s history) customers would have taken this deprivation. FA’s are obliging in my drink requests, I make a meal of things, with a brandy, a coffee, a glass of wine and a whisky. It’s all the more delicious knowing you are flying over the very heart of Saudi Arabia. Cheers....


The atmosphere is relaxed onboard and I can explore easily through the cabin. Other passengers seem to feel the same, and a besotted kid stares fascinated at me for a considerable portion of the flight. I wonder…



I am the object of this delightful infants curiosity… they’re not all bad you haters!




Immaculate washrooms.




Plenty of space to relax with todays load




Sweet FA’s deliver a sweet something.


Approaching the man-made shorelines of the Middle-East




FA’s preparing cabin for landing into DOH


What ho. The flight comes to an end all too soon and we descend into DOH. Typically stark and not too busy this afternoon.




On ground, DOH, pretty quiet during the day


It has been a long time since I was here at this time of day. Passengers are now all divided by colours on their boarding passes. Sadly, I am bland white, having not been assigned a colour by the baffled check-in staff at LXR. So I go to a transfer desk.




My multiple hours of neglect begin at the transfer desk.

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Welcome to the most harrowing transfer of my time flying.

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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 3, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 27520 times:

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The DOH Transfer Debacle (no photos)


The crux of the issue has been highlighted in the letter of complaint you were privy to at the end of this report. But briefly, due to a rescheduling (much earlier) of my LXR-DOH flight, they wish to put me on an immediate and uninformed of flight to KUL. This technically gets me into a city that I know nothing of, nor have any place to stay, 2 days before I am supposed to be there. When I ask them to provide further options, the neglect begins.


I am passed of repeatedly, forwarded to arrogant little men who are Team Transfer. They are so infuriatingly proud and superior about their roles and duties that they barely choose to take-notice of me. I wait an age outside their scruffy transfer office but continue to be ignored. By the time my dilemma is finally addressed, my KUL flight has long-gone, and they start threatening me that I will be arrested if I stay any longer than 24 hours in the airport. Their language is hostile and poisonous and I am astounded at their customer services. Or lack thereof.

Within time I begin to get ill and am admitted to the medics. Some Filipinos tentatively check my vitals and decide I am unwell and running a fever. As documented in the letter, the transfer staff pay no heed to these warnings and make no effort to prioritise my case. Instead I am repeatedly fobbed off, ignored, snapped-at.

I couldn’t go into my feeling in the letter; but I felt worn out. I felt tired, shivery, lethargic and kept drifting off in hallucinations. Despite continued pestering’s, I was consistently ignored by QR staff.


Finally my temper broke, and in emotional desperation worthy of an Airline (tv) special, I confronted the Transfer supervisor. That was nearly 14 hours after I had first arrived here. What a total disgrace – no food, water or blankets. Despite medical insistence I have each of these as a priority. Only this little outburst seemed to drive home the desperation of my situation. One solitary blanket was sought, and food offered. I had well and truly lost my appetite by now though. During my doze, I popped to the toilet, and off course some bloody British toff stole my blanket.


I was so upset by the whole thing…. It seemed crazy. There and then, I wished I was in the clutch of BA, or any European/ Asian carrier, who I feel would have been much more humanistic in their approach to dealing with me. I felt QR was acting as an overstressed robot. It was disgusting, I felt less than human. Qatar Airways, don’t you ever consider yourselves a 5* airline when this is the way you treat some of your passengers.

All through this, it was the arrogance of these transfer staff that was the most pervasive aspect that stayed on my mind. I can imagine QR flowering their excuses with optimistic promises that their soon moving into NDIA. But right here and now, in DOH, you’ve neglected one of your passengers.


Whether it’s too see that I am finally off and out his life, the Indian transfer supervisor is there when I board my KUL flight and ensures I am content with my seat. He has blocked my adjoining seat.





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DOH-KUL

Airline……………..Qatar Airways
Aircraft…………….Airbus A330-300
Flight………………QR622
Registration……... Least of my concerns
Seat……………….??H (Economy / Window)
Departure time......07.50 (07.35)
Arrival time……….20.40 (20.04)
LF: 83%............. Economy
Distance….. …….3675 miles (07hrs 50mins)

Price……………. Approx. £470.00 (Rtn LUX-DOH-KUL)



Here we go. Standard procedure with a bus out to the aircraft.




A new day, a new dawn.


I feel like shit by this stage of the game, and subsequently make few references to my surroundings. One relief is that the aircraft isn’t packed full and I will have a space beside me. Since this is a daytime flight, no amenity kits are given out, but each seat has a pillow and a blanket and some headphones on it. I should note that the blanket is much less scratchy than it used to be. We depart without holding on the runway…




A/C with omitted registration.




Taxiing to active.




Loathe to use Jonas’ catchphrase ‘Wheels Up!’


Meal service soon begins. I select canton noodles with chicken in a chopsuey sauce. Good enough. I would much rather this than the mundane offerings of a badly done western breakfast….


Menu



Frontage mosaic design of QR menus.




Oodles of noodles.


…. It all comes along with some uber-fresh fruit, a little oat yoghurt dip thing, a ropey looking croissant and some preserve. My illness has encouragingly subsided by now. I watch ‘Rango’ with Johnny Depp which I find quite funny.




Rango, a cosy blanket and immigration cards for Malaysia.


The flight is most pleasant. I nod off in the middle section of the flight. A couple hours out, and with the sun still up, the crew distribute a pastry type pocket. I find these thing so utterly unsatisfying; generic pastry, filled with a spinach and cheese concoction. Ultimately disappointing, but grateful for the sustenance.




Hot pocket isn’t something to get excited about.


Despite this being the harsh light of day 1.5 hours prior to arrival, we clash abruptly with the night, and by the time the seat-belt sign pongs on, it is fully dark.




Darkness catches up on us all too suddenly.




Harsh lighting just prior to descent.




Usual filth after a long-flight


We descend and touch-down smoothly into KUL. We are shortly attached to our airbridge, adjacent to a JAL 767 (Perhaps). Not long after our QR flight empties. Passengers are spewed into the airside arrival/ departure part of the terminal. So ultimately it is their choice when they want to exit. I use this opportunity to check e-mails and update some friends that I have arrived much sooner than expected in KUL.




KUL infrastructure.




We come to a halt beside a JAL bird.




I’ve a little KUL appreciation time. A beautiful airport.




An old aerial photo shows a JAL in exactly the same gate as the one tonight was. Nice.


Once I have found the luggage belts, I wait… shiver a little… and wait some more, until I decide it is futile, my bag will not be coming out tonight. Resigned, I make my way to the MAS Lost Luggage area were a despondent little woman scurries around with a form – “No Qatar don’t normally be so concerned about lost luggage so be warn” she adds helpfully – which is a little alarming. I have nowhere to go, so mosey about, and finally find a back corridor to the airline offices. I judge that because since I have no hotel to stay at yet, I should talk to a staff member.




Back-corridor airline offices.




QR.


I get a sultry subcontinent man, who sighs deeply and rolls his eyes exaggeratedly as I recount my dilemma. Somehow I always feel like the one in the wrong when dealing with QR ground staff, they are rarely obliging. He phones some place, and comes off saying my bag has been sent to Phuket with the aeroplane, and that I will have to wait until it returns. I say I think I should be entitled to some voucher or something to get a bite whilst I wait the near 5 hours it will take to return. But he smiles broadly and says ‘no’.




Time enough to check-out numerous nice KUL exhibitions/ information tunnels.




Slightly over-the-top prohibited items list.




Nice awning out in the warm of outside. Reminds me of LHR T5


Miserable, I get my head down for a few hours or so, until the Phuket flight shows it’s landed status. I then finally collect my bags which have had the time of their life, and go and curl up in a corner of the airport – truly a broken man.





Bags finally arrive…. Via Phuket
 



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 4, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 27488 times:

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Asia


The choice to come to Asia on this sojourn wasn’t taken easily. But I craved a bit of it – the buzz, the frantic pace, the unfettered development, the electric thrill that is Asia. But, I was also keen on the smells, the sights and particularly the tastes. After a diet made largely of Maize porridge, boiled beans and a scrawny bit of fatty meat, I was craving something that would challenge my tastebuds a little. One of the strengths of coming to Malaysia.




A simple and much loved of chicken and rice.




Delicious home-cooked meals by a friend’s Indian mother.


One airline that had got my curiosity was Firefly ever since a very nice report from AirPearl. It seemed they offered excellent flights indeed, and using something of exotic equipment for a budget carrier. Finally the fact that they operated from much more central Subang Airport was yet another draw. So one night I had compiled an itinerary of 7 flights at a steal of 9MYR each. On top of this, I was eager to get out to my darling Philippines to put my feet up and enjoy the food, so I booked AirAsia KUL-CRK, and then would return after a week on Tiger Airways MNL-SIN. Within Manila I had planned to take some intra-island flights with Cebu but curiously no good options came up that were convenient. My flight map was to look a little like this;





Eventually I found a friend that would accommodate me, to which I was entirely grateful. He lived in the Satiawangsa area of town. I have to say, the first sortie into Kuala Lumpur central was mind-blowing. After getting comfortably set in the African way with respect to timing, development, infrastructure and all that jazz, KL was a total revelation. I vividly recollect going to a hawker centre in the mall for my favourite roast chicken and rice dish, and being open-mouthed in wonder at how modern it all seemed – and everything and everyone was connected, all buried deeply into computer devices, yapping aimlessly into gadgetry and iphones. So deeply immersed in IT, yet it felt as though it was I that was drowning. I suddenly had a sensation of being old-fashioned and aloof in the world. Plainly I had been on the road too long.




Old town of KL has a less frenetic pace.




The same hawker place that I visited on my first time travelling in S.E.Asia 5 years prior





Staggering architecture. These are true beacons for Malaysia.






National Mosque…


So yes, a few days in KUL – a lot of walking about and soaking up the vibes, going out with my friend, resting in AirCon. I should also mention my friend is a doctor, and I told him about my previous ailments. He seemed pretty interested, but said it didn’t seem life-threatening so I put it off once more. I had a good time around the PETRONAS Towers which are pretty photogenic in every setting.




Pretty park next to PETRONAS Towers.


One of my nicest days was a cheeky one where, seeing they were charging for the viewing platform, I thought it makes as much sense to go to another building and get an equally great view OF the towers. I choose a hotel, and they seemed to presume I was staying and gave me a towel and a cool drink. So yes, I enjoyed it from a roof-top pool….

Counting down the days till that arrest.




Roof top pool I snuck into…


Ah yes. Flights.





Firefly FY2216 SZB-PEN 23.00-23.59 ATR72


On the 25th June I have my first flight with Firefly. I have it on good authority that I should take the 81 local RapidKL bus from Pasar Sani in the near the main market. This is just fine, and I grab some hawker food before finding the bus.



RapidKL into Pasar Sani. Superb transport.




Old Metro buses.


In the rush-hour it takes a good hour to get out to Subang Airport. Which you should note also goes under the more wordy Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport. I make analogies to SZB being like a drive-thru airport, as one minute we seemed to be on the freeway, and the next the busdriver was coaxing me off outside the main terminal. In short; SZB had a large motorway running directly outside the terminal doors.

An excellent account of the airport can be found in Airpearls (*where are you!?*) excellent report
Propping Down To Singapore On A Firefly (by airpearl Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)


What a revelation this airport is. Prior to 1998, SZB served as the main gateway for KL. You see some faded signed around the airport buildings that will point to this, and the FY pilots are relaxed about getting their ATR72’s down on the 3.7km long runway (once the longest in SE Asia). Though AirAsia have sniffed about, the government is currently only allowing general aviation and turbo-prop flights out of Subang Airport.




Departures from SZB tonight are as ever, a FY affair.


The airport underwent renovation works at Terminal 3 from February 2008 and was finished in October 2009. Terminal 3 was renamed to Subang Skypark. And I can confirm the airport is really beautiful – it feels manageable in size, the terminal is uncluttered and relaxing, big plushy leather arm-chairs make a pleasant place to brood on your impending flight, a huge interactive map allows travellers to track their aeroplanes in the air in real-time and the weather where you are going. It is duel-level with a mall-like set-up of shops (they called it Subang Skypark) – they are reasonably priced, and there is a McDonalds for the heathens.



Interactive map of flights.


The mood of passengers reflects that mall ethos too. People seem relaxed and at ease, lighting is soft, furniture is comfy and it all feels very new. FY is almost the sole commercial operator out of here, along with a few Berjaya Air flights. Some would say they have a monopoly, others would say they bought Turboprop aircraft.

Friendly check-in agents see to me. Given a supermarket receipt boarding pass. One thing I feel like a plonker about, is I make an enormous effort to slim down my rucksack to their carry-on requirements to avoid the sting of a charge. This includes wearing almost every item of clothing, with any other things in pockets. It isn’t till I arrive in PEN later that night I realise you are permitted to check-in luggage of FY free of charge. Doh.

Through a vacant corridor, past pleasantly smiling security and into a large open waiting room. Plenty of comfortable chairs and it doesn’t seem too busy tonight. I’ve about 40 minutes till boarding. Another Penang flight was due to depart a few hours before us but has been delayed. It transpires into that weird situation where, after the thrumming roar of an ATR pulling in, our later flight gets called for boarding.




Corridor leading to security.




Little in departure waiting area.


This enrages some of the normally placid Malaysians. The irony is that on tonight’s flight there only about fifteen passengers – but I am sure they have some procedure. We board without hassle. Note that FY codeshare with MH on their flights.



The first of the simultaneous FY PEN flights boards.


First time on an ATR, quite excited after living a pedestrian life on Airbuses and Boeing for so long. FY’s aircraft look stunning in my opinion, it is a great, firey livery that catches the eye.



First ATR. She looks great tonight.


Flight is fantastic. Safe to say that on all the flights I take over the next week or so on FY, all the FA’s a prim and proper, but quite warm and friendly. Two per flight, and always happy to fetch you an extra glass of guava juice. Ooooh that’s my sort of FA. Very nice.

The little TurboProps rev into a fury and propel this little aircraft down the mammoth runway at 23.05. Once we reach our cruise level (which I believe to be pretty low), the FA’s spring to action and pass through with the very sweet offering of some of Malaysian’s finest peanuts, a little muffin and a choice of juices. It’s as courteous as putting ice into the glasses. I am really impressed.



Proping out of KL towards the coast.


Stretching out and enjoying the flight won’t be an option on this ATR as the seats are tighter than…. well, my commonly used phrase isn’t appropriate on this website. But let me assure you it’s tight. But with an empty flight, I stretch out.



Thumbs up for basic, but welcome catering onboard.




I did not take this photo, but it shows the FY FA’s uniform. Very eye-catching.



More guava.



Rarely do I describe legroom as hellish


Before I have had time to peruse the IF Magazine, our descent is announced from the F/D and we lurch down towards earth and line up over the ocean for our arrival into PEN. Landing smooth, would hate to be caught in a heavy thunderstorm on this little firefly.


Not been to PEN for a long time. When I arrive tonight, it is a total building site. They’ve crossed the threshold of ‘work you can get away with whilst still staying operational’. I find a quiet place to put my head down till the morning when I can get my public bus directly to Bhattu Farenghi in the north of the island.




My quiet little spot and bed made for the night.


Seems to have been an explosion of development on this little island. Which, for me at least, is a bit sad to see. The bus takes about 2 hours, and I meet my friend in BaFe – it seems an OK place, but I am here in the wet season and am finding all the high-rises and built-up mass tourism and bit tasteless.

The next day is spent relaxing pool-side, going out for a beer, indulging in delicious iced coffees and roti with friends . It is a nice day, I must admit.



Firefly FY2083 PEN-SZB 15.30-16.30 9M-FYI


In the morning I take a bus into the old part of Georgetown. It is really beautiful, and I happily indulge in some food prior to my flight home. I also take the ferry over to Butterworth which is a nice, cheap cruise for the budgeter. The city is awash with tourists, and I soon make my way to the airport on the local bus.

The airport seems pretty busy, and chaotic given all the building work.



The old, quite traditional looking frontage.




The building site. Not two seconds before, a huge excavator had passed infront. Hence tracks. Just missed it!


Check-in is simple. I can cooly check my bags in which is helpful. I admire a couple infront; she is a feisty little Malaysian national, snapping and barking at a big oaf of an Australian boyfriend.



Firefly Check-in with the oaf of the couple infront.


Security is fine, but PEN is a scruffy airport airside. Really bursting at the seems. Nice to see an SQ bird on the ground.


Departures for this afternoon.




Busy-busy at PEN




I think due to HKG. AK.


Our flight home is much the same procedures. Loads a bit heavier, but never have anyone sitting beside me.


Beautiful a/c FYI




I really like the livery




Prop



PEN just visible as we make a turn into the clouds.



Good scenery of lush Malaysia.



Baggage system on arrival at SZB. Quite a transparent system.


On arrival at SZB, I take the local bus without incident, back into the centre of town, use the internet before making my way to KLCC to catch a bus the 50 minute drive out to KLIA LCC. I am sick to death of constant abbreviations that seem to be vogue here.




Teeming KLIA LCC


KLIA LCC is like an ants-nest that a kid has just disturbed. In the dark, there are people of all creeds scuttling to and fro. It is quite amazing. I admire this spectacle, do a bit of people watching, munch on my take-away hawker food and watch a lot of brash (perhaps it was just these particular passengers – don’t take offence) passengers making the AirAsiaX flights out to the scatter of three Aussie destinations. The ill-fated Christchurch and Paris flights are also boarding.




Last of tonight’s flights.


I find about the quietest spot possible to set up my bed. But quiet is a stretch of the imagination. The airport is so noisy given the hour. Miraculously I get some shut eye…. Only to be tapped awake after an hour or so by a sheepish Malaysian airport employee lady with “Sa’cuzamee saa, please can you move as we are about to built a shop heeyaa”. I thought I was delirious. Yes, likely something lost in translation, but I retire to some seats and watch bleary-eyed in amazement as they actually construct a pop-up luggage shop. Development Asia-style.



Fairly clear layout on functional terminal way beyond capacity.






AirAsia AK662 KUL-CRK 07.55-11.40 Airbus A320 9M-AHT


Awake at 06.10. KUL KLIA LCC goes down in history as the noisiest airport I have ever had the misfortune to have slept in.

Self-check-in. Machine spews out an undesirable 19B middle seat. An employee at check-ins is more than happy to give me a window seat towards the front instead. You see, this is what I like about budget airlines outside of Europe, well outside of FR, is that they aren’t venomous, you don’t feel like they’re out to con you out of every penny and strike at any misfortune.



Original BP from Self Check.



AK’s morning bank is something to be proud of!


Security is fine. Many little checks on people trying to sneak oversized hand-luggage past, but thankfully my rucksack is deemed OK.


Airside is a bit scruffy. I think they also are having work done here. But it is much calmer than I would be led to believe from the number of flights AK now have operating out of their LCC.

Miraculously they also have a drinking water fountain tucked away near the toilet. I am a huge ambassador for this most simple of facilities in airports. I’ve mentioned it before, and I will mention it again, every airport should have a fountain. Travellers should not have to be duped into buying overpriced bottled rubbish. It should be a basic right, and I am pleased to see it here. Well done.



Sacred drinking fountain. STN have now removed all of theirs.



Cluttered departure holding areas. Gate’s in background.


Boarding commences and is a calm affair. This morning it is a relaxed stroll out under the permanent sheet metal awnings along the walkways to the aircraft. It reminds me of a luggage sorting system and I ponder how many passengers go astray since no-one seems to be keeping too close an eye on us sheep.



The stroll along walkways to the plane.



a/c AHT looking great this morning and being refuelled for long hop.


Seats are modern and comfortable. The sunrise is staggering and we push back and commence what turns out to be a pretty standard flight.



Turning onto active.




Followed by the mail




Passing barmy looking Putrajaya


Surrounding mist-soaked hills are very beautiful on ascent. I sleep a lot of the way to Manila. It is quite a long flight. Towards the end I get talking to my seat neighbour on the aisle. He is very friendly chappy from England who works for some water infrastructure firm.


Mist not yet risen on the Malaysian highlands.


Arrival into CRK is smooth. Last I heard, they were going to do a BER with CRK, but I can’t see much development about today. Easy and pleasant immigration. I withdraw some pesos (some of my favourite foreign note designs). Elated when the English chappy says I can grab a lift with him into Metro Manila as by previous experience I know the Jeepney guys can be unscrupulous bastards here (last time I had to call the police).




Whay-hay… welcome to the Philippines.


Manila’s Manila. Unmatched in chaos, quirk and congestion. I spend a lot of the time walking about some of the slum communities down by the sea, which I find eliminating. Everyone is extremely friendly and I feel a vibrancy for life that reminds me of the rhythm of Africa. I also decide that Manila is up there with Jakarta and Mumbai for the prize of filthiest city I’ve ever visited.




Who would have thought that today’s youth would try and ‘scan’ this camouflage.




Filth of Manila.



Went out on a ‘food tour’ around Chinatown. Really brilliant food.



Not the first chicken-leg on this trip.



Less keen on this gloop.



Chop-stick tutorial.



Incredible dumplings.



A little lecheon.



And a sweet custard-tart finish.




Tiger Airways TR2729 MNL-SIN 05.50-09.20 Airbus A320 $50.00 4/7/2011 LF 85%



5 days later and I am due back to the mainland. My Tiger Airways flight leaves at an ungodly hour. A friend drops me off on the ‘loop’ road of Metro Manila, where a snarling bus speeds me through downtown Manila and out towards Pasay. Despite enthusiastic nodding, I’m a little dismayed when they drop me nowhere near the airport. Its now 2am at night, the area is enormously dodgy and I take sanctuary in a 7/11. Someone recommends hop on a Jeepney… but this only ends up at Terminal 3 (where Cebu Pacific operate).


No Problem! I optimise, I will just hop on the transfer bus. But why of course, this only starts running at 8am. What a farce. Glancing at the time, I’m amazed to see I am now cutting it fine, with less than an hour till check-in. Luck is in though and, after battling off parasitic taxi-drivers who seem to emerge out the night, a Jeepney cruises into view. Hurrah. I transfer somewhere, and am lucky to get a second Jeepney that jerks and bumps the 4km to terminal 1. The driver seems about twelve, but asks the correct money and drops me off close to the terminal as the hour strikes 4am.



The Endearing and notorious jeepney to the terminal.


MNL’s Terminal 1 was opened in 1981, and is the penance you’ll pay for flying with any carrier other than PAL and Cebu Pacific. Although I can muse with nostalgia at the curved art-deco concrete concourse, and the diplomatic flutter of many flags outside, or the coastal-defence-like façade, or general dimly-lit ambiance that makes me think of a 70’s shag-pad, the truth is in fact it is a car-crash of a terminal. Very dysfunctional, very out-dated and run into the ground in many respects. The staff and general management of the place were the biggest pain: as you’ll see as I proceed through.



Retro T1 NAIA MNL frontage/ Coastal Defence.



Internal departures space.


The check-in line for my Tiger flight is extensive. Somewhere out there beyond my vision, customers are apparently being served. It takes around an hour to be checked-in.






Whats cooking at T1 this morning.





They weigh my bag, and give me a boarding pass. I think this is a quiet time at MNL in theory… I don’t see too many overseas workers heading off today. However, the queue is lengthy at the Terminal Fee payment area. Probably just feeling irksome this morning, but it seems hypocritical to be paying this within such a shoddy airport. I crave SIN… I voice my opinions to the little Filipino agent, as to what exactly they’re doing with the money as the terminal is the worst I have ever visited. He purses his lips defensively and stamps my pass without further chit-chat.



Farcical Terminal Fee queue.


Next farce is security. The officers are unhurried, have a little pow-wow with each other and it is excruciatingly slow. By this time, the flight will depart in 20 mins. An arrogant border police officer berates the woman infront of me for being so late. When it’s my turn, I defend her and notify him to slow check-in, fee payment and security. Isn’t a happy man, and ignores my request to stamp passport in a tiny corner. Arse.



Some a/c on the ground.


Nerry a minute to admire the heavy metal displayed out the fortress-like windows of MNL T1 today. But they look glorious with the sun rising through tropical clouds and the dark-blue of dawn being chased away. Gate area is a disgraceful building-site. What a mess. All along the route are Tiger Airways staff, encouraging passengers and barring the way to Duty-Free.




And of course, it is this seamless and elegant process that your terminal development fee is supporting!




What a beautiful a/c!



Boarding the Tiger


Board without issue. Very friendly and pretty FA’s indeed. I’ve no internal of the A320. However it is immaculate, black leather and I have three seats to myself. Hurray. We lift off into stunning skies after a 15 minute taxi. We’re impressively on-time. I keep my eyes open for just long enough to appreciate the glorious ascent out of Philippine airspace this morning, before I get my head down and sleep deeply until I am awoken on approach to SIN.



Some heavies at T1



PAL place



Cebu Place



Goodbye Manila



Good views this morning. Really a great morning to fly…


SIN, even in their Budget Terminal capacity, are a formidable force. We’ve barely hit the choc, when stairs seal onto the fuselage and a workforce gets to the turn-around. Curiously, we have to go through a full security check enter the airport. But this is handled expertly buy many staff. (Drinking) water-fountains and boiled sweets smooth it all out, and before I know it I am granted entry into Singapore. Exciting. The Budget Terminal is due to be demolished Sept 12, so bye for now.


Hop on shuttle-bus to nicer terminals. About a 10 minute featureless drive. Once there, a friendly Filipino customer assistant spots me looking about, and offers help. I ask him where I can get my head down for an hour or two before a flight. He shows me the way with a smile. I ask why his home-airport can’t give him some gainful employment.
The observation area at SIN has some snuggly carpet and I make my bed here for the hottest hours of the day. Blissful.



Snug as a bug in a rug. SIN



Later, I make my way to the basement transport centre, where one had the option of several buses. I take No36 which runs in a loop, is slower and inadvertently a bit of a tour-bus in lieu of going past many sites and then up Orchard Road.




Pretty sure this development had just opened. On way to Malaysia once more.


I get some hawker food, before setting off to JHB. Of course, I am in the wrong country to depart from JHB, so I join the throng of commuting domestic workers on the bus out to Woodlands and over the Singapore-Johor causeway. Perhaps in quiet times, this is a breeze. However, for me, it is quite a stress. It is really busy, the signage is terrible. No-one informs you that you can hop back on your pre-paid bus. It happens once more after Malaysian customers. Finally, an hour later, I get into Johor bus station. Not as streamlined as I’d have expected.


Face a major issue when it is reported that the last bus to the airport has conveniently left early, and no more are running. A little panicky – I thought it was a lot closer to the centre of Johor. However, I find a bus going quite close, and a woman who says she will share a taxi the rest of the way. This all works out fine, and by 10pm I arrive at JHB. Looks modern and nice.


I proceed inside, where the hectic days activity is cooling down. Have a little explore – it seems modern and clean here. So far so good. And seats without armrests. Good; perfect for sleeping. Infact, I make my bed. A couple of security officers come over, smile daftly, and then wonder off. Then it happens. I drift off for half-an-hour, and when I reawaken, the airport is deserted. Abandoned, it is a lock-in. They’ve even done me the courtesy of dimming the lights down. All is silent. I take a little stroll around, highly bemused, and find not a soul, staff or passenger, wherever I go. I sleep like a baby that night, the airport is my hotel room.




Probably my most momentous ‘sleeping in airports’ photo since the day I snuck into the Prayer room at PIK.


.
Firefly FY2140 JHB- SZB 08.45-09.45 9M-FYF 53% LF 5th July 2011


My use of JHB is fairly unremarkable. I find it a very pleasant airport. This morning it is not too busy either. Official name is Senai Airport, but most airlines offer it as Johor Bharu airport.


Some points of interest are that there is currently a ‘masterplan’ in the tone of ‘economic-freight superhub’. My eyes roll when I discover it’s to be called Aeropolis. But great stuff, JHB had suffered from ‘rationalisation’ from MH and AK, so this should provide a boost. QR run cargo operations here, which is being expanded.


Meanwhile, a thunderstorm had just passed, and airside is saturated with rainwater, and the sun falteringly peeks out and I ponder what a nice scene it is. Off to the left, there’s a gathering of 747’s which I know little of. Meanwhile, within the open-plan airside are, there are many exhibitions, information boards, wild-life facts and figures, to keep the restless commuter occupied.




Sun emerging after a thunderstorm



Spic and span airside area… not all the galleries. . .



Big birds out on the airfield.


Bang on time a FireFly drops into JHB. All is orderly, and we board her shortly. Load is yet again light. Flight attendants are yet again polite and welcoming, and extremely fine-looking in their rags. We take-off behind an AK flight headed to KUL.


FY always brings a bit of brightness to an airport.


Flight service is a muffin, and the usual juice. It’s a lottery whether they’ll put ice in your guava juice, and the nervous tension keeps me on tenterhooks. Ultimately they sweetly ask if I would like ice. Yes. Sigh….
Our descent is pretty cool, and takes us over KUL proper. Massive airport, with the expanse of rubber plantations that cunningly gives it unlimited scope to expand. LHR learn lessons.



Overflying KUL proper.


I had planned a‘fun’ flight out to TGG that afternoon. No problem in SZB, with a McDonalds close at hand, cheap local food and curries, and comfortable seats to recline into. At SZB I notice a lot of Arab holiday-makers – men and young children unrecognisable in western board-shorts, flip-flops and funky t-shirts…. Wives very recognisable in all-encompassing ninja-gear, concealed. Safe.


Firefly FY2102 SZB – TGG 15.30- 16.30 9M-FYB 35 % LF 5th July 2011


Security faultless as ever, and promptly through. All proceeds as normal, that is except for my health. I begin to feel very hot, with that deep-pitted sickly feeling in my stomach, and a tingling cold sweat emits from my complaining body. Something is not up… It takes the gravitational disturbance of a nippy take-off to make me lunge for the sick-bag and put it to its intended use (that’s going out to all you collectors!) This marks my first ever sickness on a plane. I feel dreadful, but also much like I’ve just ejected poison from the pit of my stomach.


When we level out, I sheepishly approach the FA’s with my bulging bag. Quite ashamed. Needless to say, they are excellent and ‘tend’ proactively to me. One pulls out a first-aid kit and readily gives me some asperin with instructions, whilst another gets me some water and wet-wipes. They keep an eye on me the whole flight, and keep bringing me juice to get my hydration up. I was ignorant then, and more fool me, but these were the first warning signs.


Firefly FY2107 TGG - SZB 21.30 – 22.30 9M-FYB 15% LF 5th July 2011


At TGG airport, I feel a little too weak to make the bus into the centre of town for some seafood as I had intended. Instead, I find a bench outside in the warm and curl up for a couple of hours. I sleep well, and when I awake, I am joined with a friendly airport police officer. He offers me a cigarette, and we talk enthusiastically. He reminisces that he was there at the opening of KUL as a security screener there.


Eventually I head back into the terminal. It’s rather glitzy in some parts, with cascading streams, dramatic open spaces and angular architecture, intermingled with traditional Malaysian patterning.
Security is lengthy, and the holding-area airside is pretty featureless. My flight home is good, and the FA’s are just as helpful and beautiful. What consistency FY!



FY flight home

It is my blameless intention to spend the night at SZB prior to an early departure to Kota Bharu. The airport quietens down, and I make my bed and head to sleep.


I’ve never had a more awful sleep in all my life. I can’t explain it… I was feverous, delirious, deathly thirsty, confused and entirely ill. I briefly remember my alarm going off for my flight, but that is ignored. It is 17 hours later that I surmount the delirium to pull myself up and get water. This also goes down as the first time I have ever missed a flight. I will bring this part of the report to an end now, as the next part gets a little more graphic and unsatisfying....



Conclusions and thoughts


It hasn’t quite worked out how I hoped it would. QR scuttled my hopes of a seamless transit, and put me in a terrible and humiliating situation whilst in transit in their care. I am really disappointed at QR personnel on this occasion. The total neglect and disinterest by overworked employees was a degrading and traumatic experience. Plainly not words to associate with an airline of the calibre. I’m not in the habit of embellishing facts, so take it as you see it. I see it as a catalogue of failures.


At least the flights were the redeeming features. These were all great, although a little disappointed at the hardware outbound LXR-DOH. The KUL flight impressed by means of how busy it was. Also the FA’s were all pleasant throughout.

AK weren’t too bad infact, and have gone up in my estimations. TR I was indifferent on.

However, it was with FY that I found my biggest thrill of the trip. From fares that constituted as a steal, to the classy homebase of Subang which I find preferable to trucking all the way out to overworked (budget terminal at least) KUL, to slick and efficient crew, to in-flight catering that reflects the duration and ease of flights, to the gloriously fitted out ATR-72s that buzz out to interesting airports. FireFly was definitely the emanating glow of light amongst the darkness of QR on this trip.


Any comments, corrections or reflections on this report are gratefully received.



The next report will cover my return QR flight. They also buggered up with these flights, so you should expect that. It will be the final report of my Africa series, and without giving too much away, will sadly end in a medical evacuation with A3


Regards,




Luke





Procrastinating? Please find a list of previous TR’s below;

BA And Cityjet - Scotland To London (DND/GLA/LCY) (by lukeyboy95 Mar 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
An Indian Summer; The South – S2 And IT (Part 2) (by lukeyboy95 Jul 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
BA’s Nod To The Northeast – NCL-LHR 747 (by lukeyboy95 Jul 30 2010 in Trip Reports)
~A Promise Kept; To France For Chicken AF A380~ (by lukeyboy95 Oct 23 2011 in Trip Reports)
Part 1; The Rushes Run – BA Vs. Virgin Train 1st (by lukeyboy95 Dec 23 2011 in Trip Reports)
Part 2; To Venice For Filming With BA (by lukeyboy95 Jan 12 2012 in Trip Reports)
Pivo In Bratislava ; A Day With FR (by lukeyboy95 May 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
An Indian Summer; The North – BA And IT (Part 1) (by lukeyboy95 Jun 11 2010 in Trip Reports)
My African Safari (i) ; The Beginning (EZY/ QR) (by lukeyboy95 Feb 27 2012 in Trip Reports)



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 27254 times:

.

Selected excerpts from complaint letter to Qatar Airways. I have not had a peep of response from them…

Quote:
Dear Qatar Airways,

The event I will refer to is a disgrace to your airline, and for me, one of the most shocking and dismal experiences I have had whilst flying. It demonstrates a complete breakdown in your duty of care, and an attitude that I felt devalued my basic human rights. I will now provide a narrative.

I booked some flights for a getaway with QR whilst conducting voluntary work in Africa. My flights were to depart Luxor, Egypt on the 19th of June and return again from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I would make these flights overland from Sudan which has a very strict visa procedure for entry/departure dates. Therefore, I was dismayed to receive a rather abrupt message from QR that my flight had been rescheduled to almost 48 hours earlier, on the morning of the 18th. This caused no end of hassle with my visa plans, but I adapted. I found the customer service assistant very unhelpful in the first instance.

…. fast forward to my situation in DOH, where at the Transit desk, I was told I would have to get a flight leaving in a few hours. I refused this, as it was landing me in KUL over 2 days before my intended arrival time. I had no hotel, no details of KUL (As I had already booked a connecting flight to the Philippines) and had no intention of spending my time in KUL.

I can only say that the attitude of your Transfer staff is an absolute disgrace. I have never met such arrogant, unconcerned, proud men in all my time travelling. During the time, I dealt with two Transit Supervisors; one from Kenya, and the other from the Indian subcontinent. I was requested to visit their office which is tucked off in a corner of the airport

….moreover, it was the extraordinary manner in which they dealt with me. They neither properly tried to address my issue, or seemed overly concerned with my case. I was made to wait in the seating area for over two hours…. The Indian subcontinent supervisor was on the night shift. Quite suddenly I began to get feverous, and was directed to the medical area where I was seen by the doctor, and who decided I had a fever and prescribed appropriate medicines. He referred me to the Transfer staff, who knew by medical authority that I was unwell…. I began shivering badly, and asked for a blanket…..

…..When I tried to ask the staff in the office, they officially and abruptly ordered me to wait outside. Finally, I was once again promised the blanket and a food voucher, and told I would be found in the rest-area. I went here. An hour passed without anything. I was shivering and dangerously cold by this stage. I went to see the doctor, who once again informed your staff to get me a blanket immediately, and some water. For a third time I was sent back to the rest-area with a solemn promise…..

….I had had enough. After over 14 hours of waiting, being repeatedly shrugged off by your arrogant staff, I finally broke. I would not even treat an animal as your staff were treating me. I found your supervisor, and visibly upset confronted him. I was freezing, neglected, ignored. It was only this emotional outburst that finally prompted him to take any notice of me……he also got me a single blanket 14 hours too late. Now, how can Qatar call itself a 5* Airline, when this is the sort of treatment passengers get. I fully understand Qatar has been expanding in a huge way over the last decade, and is bursting in its current facility. But this does not excuse this treatment…..

…..The flight passes, and at KUL airport I am dismayed to find my baggage does not come out…. I find a QR Airport Office, and explain this to your staff. The staff member tells me the bag has flown onto Phuket, and that I will have to wait for the plane to return. He refuses to forward it to a hotel, and says I will have to wait the approximate 4 hours in the airport. It is the middle of the night, I am freezing, and your company is making me wait for my baggage to fly to Phuket and back…..

….if you are going to offer a service, you need to deliver it well irrespective of your current facilities. Your Transfer staff could not handle the amount of work they had to do, entirely understaffed. Secondly, Qatar Airways adjusted their flight schedules for Egypt in lieu of the Arab Uprising. This is not an external factor- it is QR’s choice to adjust flight frequencies and maintain profitability. But you have a duty of care to cater to those whose plans have been disrupted…..
I have never been spoken to, ignored and generally treated so terribly as the way in which I was by your Transfer Staff. If you think upsetting customers, letting them shiver away without water for 14 hours, ignoring pleas of help etc. is the hallmark of a 5* Airline, then something is deadly wrong in your airline. My health concerns only developed during the transfer so I will refute any claims that I should not have flown….


…. This was quite simply a catalogue of failings on your behalf.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinezizou From Australia, joined Oct 2000, 1535 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 27093 times:

great report! Well written, it reads like a engrossing novel  

User currently offlinebyronicle6 From New Zealand, joined Oct 2011, 460 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 26733 times:

Fantastic report lukeyboy95!
I really like your writing style! And Firefly look like a really good carrier for short Malaysia & SEA hops



Travel is my thing
User currently offlinelasmike From United States of America, joined Jul 2011, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 26622 times:

I thoroughly enjoyed your report. I can't wait to read what happened to you next!


a first class dude in an economy world
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 19
Reply 9, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 26504 times:

Hi Luke

Yet another outstanding installment of your Palinesque adventures around the globe. A perfect combination of text and images. I think what it is about your pictures, what makes them unusual is that they are pictures of everyday people in everyday situation. I find that makes them very personable and all the more appealing.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):
The other main option, which I later request, is a battered fillet of fish with rice and vegetables.

You had two airplane meals in one go? You must have been hungry!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
It hasn’t quite worked out how I hoped it would. QR scuttled my hopes of a seamless transit, and put me in a terrible and humiliating situation whilst in transit in their care. I am really disappointed at QR personnel on this occasion. The total neglect and disinterest by overworked employees was a degrading and traumatic experience. Plainly not words to associate with an airline of the calibre. I’m not in the habit of embellishing facts, so take it as you see it. I see it as a catalogue of failures.

A very unfortunate affair and certainly not one of QR's finest moments. Interestingly enough though, I had a similar experience with EK a few years back. The 'flying' part of the product was excellent. But their customer care on the ground in Dubai was non existent. I ended up stuck in the transit area for seven hours and was basically left to my own devices. The EK ground staff evidently could not have cared any less. I have not flown EK since and I don't intend to in future either.

In any case, thanks for posting this. Looking forward to the next installment.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3360 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 26125 times:

Great report Luke - I do think it'd be better to split it up a bit more so there's not so much to read in one go though! Looking forward to part 2!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
It was enchanting, epic, vast, harsh, a revelation and I fell utterly in love with the Republic of Sudan.

I'd love to go to Sudan - your pictures look great. Did you go to port Sudan - meant to have great diving there

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I met a girl in the hostel who would be flying BA back to London that night. I asked her if she would be happy transporting my passport, and giving it to a friend, who would then apply for my Ethiopian visa at the London Embassy and FedEx it back. Seven nerve-wracking days later, I received my passport in a FedEx envelope, and continued on in earnest.

Ooh, brave man sending your passport off with a stranger. Lucky it worked out ok

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I pack easily in 10 minutes – as I am increasingly realising, I need close to nothing in life-

Lucky you

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
My brief brush with the heat has left me a little parched, so I go to the galley straight off to ask a distracted FA if I can have a water. She seems surprised, but a warm smile envelops and she hands me a glass with ice and points to a 2 litre plastic bottle of water and insists I take the whole thing – positive signs

Very nice. Same thing happened to me 2 weeks on Biman from Calcutta to Dhaka

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
No menu is distributed, but we are informed politely 40 minutes after take-off, that the options are fish or beef with pasta. I select the pasta. Here is my much maligned culinary critique;

The beef looks a bit awful - glad it tasted ok

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
a brandy, a coffee, a glass of wine and a whisky. It’s all the more delicious knowing you are flying over the very heart of Saudi Arabia. Cheers....

Haha, cheers to that! I recently found out that it's not so much alcohol that's hated, but addiction. So really, smoking should be outlawed, rather than stopping people enjoying a quiet relaxing drink.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I was so upset by the whole thing…. It seemed crazy. There and then, I wished I was in the clutch of BA, or any European/ Asian carrier, who I feel would have been much more humanistic in their approach to dealing with me. I felt QR was acting as an overstressed robot. It was disgusting, I felt less than human. Qatar Airways, don’t you ever consider yourselves a 5* airline when this is the way you treat some of your passengers.

Hmm, I'm not sure how that situation came about, but it sounds pretty awful

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I get a sultry subcontinent man, who sighs deeply and rolls his eyes exaggeratedly as I recount my dilemma. Somehow I always feel like the one in the wrong when dealing with QR ground staff, they are rarely obliging. He phones some place, and comes off saying my bag has been sent to Phuket with the aeroplane, and that I will have to wait until it returns. I say I think I should be entitled to some voucher or something to get a bite whilst I wait the near 5 hours it will take to return. But he smiles broadly and says ‘no’.

Now that is very poor. You shoudl have put your foot down, and ordered him to have it delieved to your hotel. It was QRs mistake not offloading it in KUL

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Counting down the days till that arrest.

Haha

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Though AirAsia have sniffed about, the government is currently only allowing general aviation and turbo-prop flights out of Subang Airport.

What else? One must protect the MAS golden goose from the company that actually makes money

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
AK’s morning bank is something to be proud of!

MAS must be green with envy

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
MNL’s Terminal 1 was opened in 1981, and is the penance you’ll pay for flying with any carrier other than PAL and Cebu Pacific. Although I can muse with nostalgia at the curved art-deco concrete concourse, and the diplomatic flutter of many flags outside, or the coastal-defence-like façade, or general dimly-lit ambiance that makes me think of a 70’s shag-pad, the truth is in fact it is a car-crash of a terminal. Very dysfunctional, very out-dated and run into the ground in many respects. The staff and general management of the place were the biggest pain: as you’ll see as I proceed through.

I hate MNL. Even the Cebu terminal is a half finished dump. And the PAL terminal....never seen so many birds stuck inside a building trying to get out. At least T1 has some variation in tails

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Next farce is security. The officers are unhurried, have a little pow-wow with each other and it is excruciatingly slow. By this time, the flight will depart in 20 mins. An arrogant border police officer berates the woman infront of me for being so late. When it’s my turn, I defend her and notify him to slow check-in, fee payment and security. Isn’t a happy man, and ignores my request to stamp passport in a tiny corner. Arse.

Some passport people can't be such b******s! I asked when I arrived in DAC for the guy to specially NOT stamp on one of my two completely empty pages. "yes, yes ok". Stamp, in the middle of my penultimate empty page. Not impressed.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
At SZB I notice a lot of Arab holiday-makers – men and young children unrecognisable in western board-shorts, flip-flops and funky t-shirts…. Wives very recognisable in all-encompassing ninja-gear, concealed. Safe.

Hahahaha, I love your writing, so un-PC!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I’ve never had a more awful sleep in all my life. I can’t explain it… I was feverous, delirious, deathly thirsty, confused and entirely ill. I briefly remember my alarm going off for my flight, but that is ignored. It is 17 hours later that I surmount the delirium to pull myself up and get water. This also goes down as the first time I have ever missed a flight. I will bring this part of the report to an end now, as the next part gets a little more graphic and unsatisfying....

Oh dear. You should have splashed out for a hotel. I've felt like that a few times, and ended up missing a LHR-VIE-TIA flight. Luckily I was able to reschedule for only £35.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineplanejamie From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2011, 576 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 25685 times:

Very insteresting trip report, makes my illness caused by an India Restaurant I ate at (the night before my flight) in Riyadh this time last year seem rather trivial. Like your experience with Firefly, BA were very helpful in issuing medication. For me, it was a flight home from seeing my father and I could rest for 4 days afterwards in the comfort of my own home.

I think the way QR dealt with you was just awful. It isn't like DOH is some sort of obscure place where 1 transit passenger a year passes through, there are hundreds, if not thousands daily and they should be fully equipped to deal with the simple problem of a rescheduled flight. I hope they give you a decent amount of compensation and even a refund! However, as it's not in the EU - good luck. I'd just write to the Daily Mail (no1 for sensationalism) and they'd soon publish a story about how you shouldn't transfer with QR...

Besides that, your trip around Africa is very inspiring (as I said in the first report) and as a few have pointed out - this would make a great novel if written in full and with photos - I'd certainly buy it, as would many others (even those that aren't aviation geeks!).

It's awful missing a flight, but I would presume the 17 hours rest you got gave you a bit of energy to go on! I'm sure firefly dealt with that well.

Looking forward to the third part and look forward to reading about your (hopefully) recovery!


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 12, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 25625 times:

.

Sorry for a bit of a delay getting the 'travel' photos up. Take's longer than you think. Thanks for staying tuned!






Greetings and salutations. Welcome to the non-aviation travelogue of the section of my travel beginning from Uganda and passing into Kenya, then relentlessly northwards through Ethiopia, cricking into Sudan and finally taking the Lake Nasser ferry to Aswan, Egypt.


I am no philanthropist, I am no influential do-gooder, I have not hatched any schemes to swim a well-known channel and raise enough money to build a new classroom… or any of the sorts of things that people enjoy doing for Africa. But… I made it my solemn pledge to myself and those I met, that I would tell as many people how extraordinary and magnificent the ‘dark’ continent of Africa is. To challenge the gross stereotypes that simply will not shake off the image of Africa. Therefore, I invite you to see for yourselves through the following photos.


I will not make it too word heavy, but instead summarise the general route I took through the specific country, the ethos and vibes I picked up from the people and of course, my favourite photos. I am a simple sort of traveller, and yet was more fulfilled during this trip than ever in my life. It was a total joy… I invite you to visit Mother Africa, if you have not already done so.



A reminder of my total overland route in shocking pink.



A west-facing perspective of what ground I will cover in this report.



Uganda


After three months living in Uganda, in a small town called Mukono, and teaching at a delightful School called Johnson Nkosi Memorial Primary School, I pick up my backpack, adjust to the unfamiliar weight, and set off hitching. Effectively, the next time I remove the weight should be in Scotland. I have no clue what lies ahead… be it good or bad, tough or easy, pleasurable or infuriating, life… or death. It is in the hands of the Gods…



Owino Market, Kampala. One of the hugest, most lawless markets in all of Africa. It is likely that some of your second hand clothes will have ended up here. I bought an Italian suit jacket in tweed for 50p!



In many parts of Africa, food is sold in pretty little piles.



Street boys riffling through the skip for food they can resell. I’m inspired when I see their smiles and enjoyment.



Vast Matatu park, Uganda. It is surprisingly organised on the ground!

.


In incarnation as school teacher.

After many weeks of drought, the pupils make the most of a rain shower.

This boy couldn’t do the work in class, but I had admiration when I saw him deliver these two goats 10 minutes before this photo.


Smiling Ugandan children!

Entire school on back of school lorry.

Checking a dentist chair sent by a friend.


Sportsday. Despite basic materials, and the girls being made to wear their skirts and be barefoot, they were extraordinary jumpers!

This young man is being punished… not by me.

Ant larvae… popular in Uganda and full of protein.

Typical local bar in Uganda. Doesn’t look much, but great value and always fun. Beckham Gin will bugger you up though.

Libya is in civil war when I spot this chappati car in Kampala. I ask the vendor if he will change his business name.

But all the hints are there for turbulence. In Kampala along, I had been teargased during the convoluted elections for Museveni. Whilst dreading Al Jazeera’s heralding of yet more uprising and civil chaos in the Arab world. Egypt had all but burnt its self out by the time I left, but Syria was proving to be an immense headache.

In Uganda more than any country, the people loved life. Sure they would moan. But by god they danced, and laughed, and engaged, and debated. The people were intelligent, the children bright eyed and thrilling to teach. You got into such a rhythm in that country… cheap cheerful food, Nile Specials…. All the loveliness. During my time I conducted an unpaid survey for a friend who is sponsoring 20 children, and also checked up on a dentist’s chair that had been sent from the UK.


Dramatic Nile plunges at Bujagali, not far from the source.



My faithful 1-man tent at the falls after being pummelled by a storm the previous night.



This crowd is gathered below the falls to witness divers bring the body of a man who had slipped in the falls yesterday up from the riverbed. I watched horrified as relative screamed in astonishing grief. A little later, hitching out of the small village. A car picked me up, inviting me in. When they replied negatively to my greetings in Luganda, it transpired they were the dead mans relatives. He was 20, a student of law, and they were gracious enough to pick me up. Most surreal hitch of the trip.



A typical Uganda meal – Nyama Choma (BBQ’d pork meat), cassava, fresh avocado and a Nile Special. Bliss.



Where else in the world can you find two old-timer American Bishops exchanging tales under a Papaya tree!?



Master of the pondering/ bored squat… Sessee Islands



Exposed fisherman. I watch for an hour and they catch nothing. Sign of depletion of Lake Victoria and a harbinger for devastating future issues.



In Africa, the bike is a beast of burden.


One thing I should establish right here was an enduring relationship that during the entire portion of this part of the trip. Now, it is my great optimistic wish that I could tell you it was a relationship with an African beauty I’d wed and was guiding back to Scotland. However, my relationship was with the great 4130 mile long Nile River. The thing that piqued the explorers curiosity back in days past, would accompany me. Now… here is how it pans out. I tried to swim in all of the following places;


- Source Rusumo Falls, Rwanda. Supposedly just one of the sources. This flows to L. Victoria
.
- Source Jinja, Bujagali Falls – Source of White Nile, and site Speke ‘first laid eyes’
.
- Lake Tana, Blue Niles Falls, Ethiopia
.
- Blue Nile course, Sudan
.
- Dipping feet into confluence of Blue and White Nile, Khartoum, Sudan
.
- Various points within Egypt
.
- Rashid Town, Egypt. The mouth of the Nile into the Med. Cool!
.
Anyway, you will see photos of it throughout.


.

Lurking under a bridge over the Nile, this army officer.



Taking MV Kalangala out to the Sesse Islands (Home of the Tetze fly)



Warmly invited by the crew to come and watch as we cross the equator from the bridge. A great moment. Sadly I am not fast enough to get 00.00.00



On National Woman’s Day, I carry this old ladies things 4km to her mud-hut. They are extraordinarily heavy bags of food for her family.



Woman selling delicious fried fish at Jinja, Lake Victoria.



Clothes dry at the Lake Victoria source of the Nile.



Joyful ladies pass the source of the Nile on a quiet backroad.

.


Kenya






.
I pass undoubtedly one of the friendliest borders known to man between Uganda and Kenya. The Ugandan official wants a photo with me. Whilst the Kenyan authorities invite me behind the screens for a chai and chapatti. I read their internal memo on what to look out for with Al Shabab terrorist members – “oval head, bearded, claiming to be going on holiday”.


Friendly Ugandan border official.



Amen at the suggestion that truckers are lesser beings!


Kenya struck me as not only one of the most diverse countries I had ever visited (ethnically, tribally and geographically), but also one of the most welcoming. I ignorantly thought that because of the established tourism that they would be blasé, but I was always treated with interest and respect. I watched Will and Kate marry in a truckstop and saw tears in burly truck driver’s eyes.


An old ex-colonial hand, cheese factory, Eldoret. Nice man… treats staff really well.



Kids with some of the Great Rift Valley behind.

From Tororo, I hitch with two truck-drivers through Eldoret to Nairobi. Sam and Emmanuel are true legends. Cool at first, we are best friends by the end of the three day trip. It is great hitching in trucks, and you can sleep in the bunk bed. These were great guys… stopping for me at the equator, viewpoints and such like. As always with African truckers… we went off on lots of side businesses. Such as timber and picking up passengers here and there. They treated me better than family. Remarkable.



Sam and Emmanuel, in their stuck truck…



A bit of man-power gets us back on the road to Nairobi.


On the drive, we stopped at their old village which had been decimated by the tribal violence during elections in Kenya. Tribalism always affects Africans disastrously, often when they least expect it. It is the one misnomer, the wild card…


Emmanuel looking out at the pillaged village from pre-election violence.





Climate high-up in Kenya is very alpine. I watch these timber workers with fascination. The processed would is being loaded on our truck. I hear later that the majority are all stoned/ high as the work is so demanding and dangerous.



Karibu Sana… another Equatorial crossing…



Myself and wonderful trucker Sam, stopped on the ascent of Great Rift Valley.



It is the females of Africa who are the real unsung heros. These mothers have imported all this wood to Nairobi.


So. From Nairobi (Where I must remain until I receive my passport which has been posted to the UK Ethiopian Embassy to get a visa), I live in the slum of Kabila for a week, and then go and chill in the extraordinary Mombasa. It is an amazing, diverse, trendy and unique city. Love that.



Pleasant if not a little edgy Nairobi


One of the truck-drivers is seriously drunk on the drive, and some hairy moments ensue. I hitch back with a young sheet-metal driver through Tsavo National Park. Again, they treat me like a brother and I am deeply humbled.



Mombasa



Famous elephant tusks of Mombasa….



Another type of Tusk-er







Old, very Islamic, Swahili part of Mombasa.



Whilst many know Africa for the great wildebeest migration, for me the evening exodus of workers from Rich north to the slums in the South is much more fascinating. This had to be seen to be believed.



Fortunately it is a little quieter going the other way.





I am in one of these sheet metal lorries on the run from Mombasa to Nairobi. Great fun!



A friend cooking Nsima, the maize powder stodge that is the staple for much of Africa.


From Nairobi, where I successfully and thankfully am reunited with my passport, I hitch up north through the Kenyan Highlands. This is beautiful land and the roads are fair. A highlight is a senior army officer who is enlightening about the position of the country. I cross the equator once again and that night I arrive in the town of Isiolo.



Heading north in the Kenyan Highlands.



Friendly Kenyan lorry driver.


Isiolo has to be seen to be believed. It is the last frontier, a true junction within Kenya. From here, you can go North East to party with Al Shabab in Somalia. Or you can Head northwards to Ethiopia, the remote Turkana tribes then North-West to the glorious Turquois Lake Turkana region. The status of a junction has led to the most bizarre melting pot of ethnicities, tribes, mentalities and religions. It is also a town that knows no daytime. For the trucks that keep this town alive pass through in the middle-of-the-night on their way from Nairobi. So, Isolians tend to sleep during the day, awake in the night, and chew copious amounts of chat… a mild hallucinogenic and stimulant.


Westerners are least welcome here. Within an hour of arriving, I am embroiled in a numbing argument proliferated by anti-west sentiment. As is mostly my policy, I do not identify my nationality… and predictably get accused of being American… as night follows day… I then get accused of wanting to ‘f**k Muslim woman’. Sensing some hostility, I seek refuge with the taxi-driver mafia, and chew chat until 3am when the distant snarl of trucks and an exploding tyre signifies the convoy northwards on one of the most dangerous roads in the world… it is 500km to Ethiopia through fierce desert swarming with tribal fractions and bandits.



The first 10km of the 500km road are fair. After that… well…





Buzzing with chat stimulant, I climb up onto the ledge of a cattle truck. They take supplies north to the tribes, and return laden with livestock. What ensues is one of highlights of my life. Wrapped in a rug, I admire our progress as we set off and reach a police road-block. It is night. But dawn is closing in, as the bumpy drive commences. We are 4 trucks in the convoy, and the atmosphere is charged. Soon we are on dust roads, bucking and rearing. I watch the sun rise over Acacia trees in a certain form on continuous ecstasy. A glorious moment on the trip…



Sun rising from the top of the cattle truck.


As the sun illuminate the desert surroundings, I realise just how isolated we are. The heat is already scorching. A peek under the tarp confirms numerous families on board. The road is barely there. Colourful tribes boggle the mind…



Sunrise reveals a different world.



Author in Italian tweed.



This gentleman is a soldier…



A good stretch on the main road between South and Northern Africa…






A little bashful, and not wanting to thrust a camera in their face, this is as close as I get to the staggering, and graceful Samburu tribes people.



Samburu male, borrowed from internet. But this is how the people dressed and looked. It was staggering. Too conservative to allow photos from me.



Believe it or not, this is tasty fuel for the next leg of the drive,



Next truck driven by Arsenal supporter.



Muzungu interloper on the roof



Pitstop under the vivid stars of the stark desert. Ecstatic



Vegetation begins once more.



Unlikely that these ladies see many white folk.


I spend one night rest in Marsabit, before continuing on the last stretch to Moyale at the border. It is an equally thrilling night.








Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 13, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 25617 times:

continued.....





Ethiopia



I fought hard with my visa to visit this country.

Certainly the most disconnected of all the countries I had visited so far. However, this distance could often manifest itself in xenophobia. I found the population very wary of white people, and received constant screams and abuse…. “FERANGI, FERANGI” (white man) and “YOU, YOU” wherever you went. It was relentless…. Perhaps in a group you could shrug it off, but as a solo traveller it struck to the core of my self-consciousness. . .



Camel breeding in the South. The foolish driver crashed and killed 8 poor beasts. I noticed with interesting the compassion that Ethiopian showed their animals.





Injera food of Ethiopia



Ethinically, Ethiopians are an interesting and unique looking lot. Very curly hair… like me.



St Georges local beer… quite good.


I journeyed north, stopping in at an Action Aid project that another charitable friend had funded. My first time with an NGO (They were typically my ‘enemy’ as they refused to pick hitchers up), I was quite eliminated. It was all Ethiopians, and there seemed to be very little waste. I was impressed.


Perfect breakfast – a legacy of the Italian’s failed occupation was lots of glorious coffee machines left over, and skills
with spaghetti. A macchiato will cost less than 10cents. Here I have avocado and bread and it is so tasty.








Visiting the Action Aid irrigation project in the highlands. Really great initiative.



Addis Ababa. New Flower. Since the border I had been getting wry looks at my surname (Addis), so it was a sort of pilgrimage to reach my namesake. I found an unexceptional city. It had life, but it also had crime, corruption, racism, irritation… African cities are mostly best avoided.






Emperor Haile Selassie’s shitter…



Friendly Addis locals… this is a butcher-cum-bar. Cheap beer, and raw or cooked bit of meat.



No middle-men here!



Ethiopians are known for spontaneous ceremonies or celebrations given the huge amount of religious dates. Here is a ‘bread’ ceremony.


From AA, I head north. I choose buses for this portion of the journey given the strength of disillusionment about Westerners in Ethiopia. I must stress, this is not an overarching analysis. I had numerous extraordinarily nice locals insist on buying me drinks, inviting me to share the bizarre Ethiopian food injera… and such like.


I cross the Nile Gorge on a bus. Really extraordinary. Two days later, I am on Lake Tana… skinny dipping with my boxers on my head (to prevent sunburn) between the monetary islands. I later visit the Blue Nile falls to see where the other Nile tributary begins its long course. It is a momentous occasion.



Beginning the staggering descent down into the Nile Gorge…


Crossing Blue Nile on Japanese built bridge.



Trekking up in the Ethiopian Highlands


Onwards, northwards. In ancient Lalibela, I experience my most harrowing and dangerous moment in Africa when I refuse some outstretched-hand begging children. Some minutes later on a rural road a large stone zips past my ear. The young children are attacking me. I am petrified, and in grave danger. I seek shelter with an elder. On the fear of this attack, and later that same day being robber by an individual I make for the border to Sudan sooner than expected. Ethiopia is the only place that I lost my temper (I broke)… something I rarely do when travelling… but sweetly they were very apologetic afterwards. . .



The road where, without exaggeration, I thought I was going to be stoned to death. You can just see the children hiding in the ditches… little fokkers.



Hitched with this friendly gent… it transpired he is the forum for the spectacular Ethiopian road winding away into the hills behind!



Coffee making ceremony in Ethiopia. They roast the beans infront of you, and grind them by hand. Delicious.



The friendly man at the Visitor Centre in Bahir Dar allows me to rewrite (I.E. Visitors Book) in the ‘Tourist Profile Registration Form’ book. A good example of how bureaucracy might harm Ethiopia in the future.



Skinny dipping twixt the Monastery Islands on Lake Tana





Insert own caption



Reed boats, Lake Tana



Ancient bridge across the source of the Blue Nile from Lake Tana.



The once might Blue Nile Falls



Coffee above the falls.





Earthen Coffeepot





Swimming with Colonial style hat in the Willy Wonka waters of Blue Nile source.



Oldest and worst bus I have ever seen. The ensuing journey was beyond farcical



Food, with beriberi seasoning, some bean soup in the pot and tej honey wine. . .










The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.



On the run to the Sudan border from Gondar, the minibus conductor tries to charge me 10times the normal fair. I demand they stop and drop me off… how sad it is that there is the constant need to exploit whites and westerners.




.


The Republic of Sudan



.
Treat Sudan like the antithesis of Ethiopia.

Here, at the baking hot border, I am treated honestly, respectfully and with the esteem that an Islamic country regards visitors with.

Via Gederaf (where on the first night, with 5 minutes of looking lost, a gentleman invites me back to stay with him and his family) to Khartoum. Sudan is the sun-baked vastness of Africa. It is huge, mysterious, cut-off, embargoed and delightful.


Sudanese kids… very different to Ethiopian children.



Graceful Sudanese at a wedding ceremony.


I only managed to secure a 2-week transit visa (and that was a trial by fire), so I have to keep the pace up. I meet a friend in the capital Khartoum. Khartoum is pretty modern in most respects. My friend will be getting married to a French woman in some days, and I am invited to the various celebrations that last at least 5 nights… it is extraordinary. I have never seen so many people converting to Islam as I saw in Sudan... it must be, well at least in my eyes, the purest and most harmonious form of the religion that I have seen in any country. Oh, and in Khartoum I watch the Sufi trance dancing… or whirling dervishes.



At the whirling dervishes of the Sufi worshipers. Sunset, Friday evening. A magnificent site.






Within a circle at a graveyard, worshippers whip up into a drug-induced stupor.



The climax is the prayer to Allah… joined in by a motorbike.



If only cameras had thermostats… central Khartou, 2pm, 60 C



Distinctive change in foods…



About 2 minutes later I arrested for taking this photos of two lounging dogs in the deserted train station. You can just see the army official in the distance.



Blue Nile, Khartoum is a fairly modern city in many respects.







Diving into Nile



Distant Mosque



Delicious shish-kebabs by fire





Mother of the groom, wedding ceremony,



A cat amidst the cool of water vassals, Mosque worshiper in reflection.





Dipping my feet in the confluence of the Blue and White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan. This is an incredibly sacred place and marks a milestone on my journey.


I leave on the eve of a Haboob. The atmosphere is windy, dusty, unsettled. Oh, commonly when in Khartoum, the temperature in the afternoon would peak at 60 Degrees! Just extraordinary heat… I could only lie down under a fan in these times and drink copiously.


I hitch 80km outside of Khartoum, to the Pyramid of Meroe. Said to rival that (in age) of the Egyptian pyramids.



Staggering night of the Haboob



Seeking shelter… this true apocalyptic color. Worth noting that the rain intermingled with the dust and fell as mud.



Trucks in the desert coming from Port Sudan.



I’ve many of the Pyramids of Meroe to myself.



A nomadic invites me for chai.



Difficult to get very far in Sudan without being invited in for water and coffee…



Fan of the Sudanese food.


The remainder of the hitching northwards to Wadi Halfa is extraordinary, and very humbling. I am constantly invited in for water and food at every single house I pass, I cannot pay for a single coffee, police at roadblocks refuse my hitching and instead put me on roaring Chinese buses for free, I camp on the irrigated banks of the Nile…. There are too many highlights to possibly list…



Never happier than in the back of a pick-up headed north through the Sudanese desert.



Wild camping on the banks of the Nile. A great night…



By day, you can see my outside bed.



Glorious town of Dabbah



Sudanese shop. Always great .displays!



Fuul. Looks terrible, but is good sustenance.



Market on the rails.



Keen to show their wares.





Sudanese children never once begged money. They were respectful and polite always. Here getting a ride on their cart.


My final 500km hitch is a fluke. I am picked up by a brand-new diplomatic car heading to the port. The driver takes immaculate care of me, buying me dinner and drinks… and as sun sets, pulling out an enormous hash pipe. Well…. It was the best journey ever.



551km to go to Wadi Halfa…



The only time I don’t begrudge the Chinese is to find out they built this glorious ribbon of tarmac to Wadi Halfa. It used to take 3 days, we cover it in 5 hours.



Strike it very, very lucky with this landcruiser hitch.


When I arrive at Wadi Halfa (in the dark), a group of men insist on my joining them for their dinner, and sleeping in their house (I had planned to camp). I spend 3 days with these gentlemen and my time in Wadi Halfa is the ultimate send-off to Africa.




With the friends in Wadi Halfa who took great care of me.



New Wadi Halfa.





Stark and fascinating. Towards the lakefront. Sadly the locals have taken to using these boats as elaborate loos



South Sudanese ladies travel all the way here to brew alcohol for the fishermen.



Waiting out the midday heat in a teashop. A great sense of solidarity to get through the heat.



Drying fish



I shortly went for a swim in this water, and confirm it as the most filthy watercourse I have ever swan in. But the heat was unbearable.



Sudan, the place where shopkeepers rush to invite you in for watermelon and chilled water.



Young shopkeeper…



The donkey could sense I was the real ass of this situation.



Like being in an oven. This gent insists on riding me home.


On the last day… after an afternoon of shisha and goodbyes, I buy my ticket and aboard the ferry to Egypt. It is all pretty exciting. The head is mind-numbing that day.



Shisha before the ferry.



Ferry loaded and ready for voyage North up Lake Awasa. Very exciting.



Bye Sudan. Palin clearly docks here in his travel series. I will miss Sudan greatly…



Sunset over staggering Lake Nasser



Prayers on deck





Full moon, placid lake


Passing Abu Simbel


The voyage north is stunning… under the full moon; we motor up glorious, fragmented, placid Lake Nasser. In the night we pass Abu Simbel which is staggering…. The next day at 13.00, we approach land….


Disheartening arrival into Egypt. In a great mire of depression and bitterness.…




Egypt



hhhmmm


So, despite its land mass irrefutably being part of the African continent, it would be unfair to call Egypt exclusively African. For the ethnicity, religion and mind-set is much more inclined to the Arab world. It’s economy and the prevalence of tourism has also tainted it some of its people. Money is on the mind, often exhaustibly so and with it all the trappings. It was fairly standard to be charged ten times the local price for simple things such as a bottle of coke, or a hubbly bubbly.


As our ferry docked at Aswan, I was tinged with a great sadness, as I felt I was truly leaving the warm, vibrant heart of Africa. I vividly remember listening to ‘zorbing’ by Stornoway and feeling slightly suicidal. In my mind I had just left Africa.



Felucca in beautiful Aswan


But Egypt isn’t all bad. It is just that the crisis has caused those reliant on the tourism industry to push visitors trebly as hard to take unwanted services. It can make what should be a relaxing stroll down the beautiful promenade of Aswan’s Nile front into an argybargy of haranguing, arm-grabbing, feeble fibs and an embittered insult when they realise you are a lost cause.


I will go into much more detail about Egypt on the next report, as this only takes me up to Luxor. Safe to say it improved greatly.





Anyway, for now, it has been my great pleasure to show you some of the places I was honoured enough to explore. The world is out there!


Cheers,

Luke!




Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinefiloflyer From Finland, joined Feb 2012, 51 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 25556 times:

NAIA or MNL has a long way to go and things wont improve until it gets privitized in my opinion.... i dont understand as someone from the philippines where our travel tax goes and where the terminal fee goes.... I am born and raised in manila and it is a pity that i would say and many of us would say that our airports and personell suck bigtime!! T1 in my experience T1 is better than T2. the last time i used T2 immigration line was as long as the terminal stretches and i almost hid myself of shame as tourists are dead pissed of the long line to immigration and it took more than an hour to clear!! What ticked me most was on the other end of the terminal there are a couple of immigration booths and security screening areas left unused..

MNL is not a desirable destination for carriers as it sets a discriminatory tax against foreign carriers. thats why we lost direct services to and from europe.


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6937 posts, RR: 77
Reply 15, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 25216 times:

Hi Luke,

great report with amazing pictures! But I'm totally shocked by the way you were treated at DOH! It's hard to imagine that this would happen to a quality carrier's passenger. Have you received an answer yet?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Now, I will never claim any sort of firsts or records on A.net (certainly not with registrations), but I do proclaim the right to have taken the most unique transport ever to an airport… when I hitch-hiked on a donkey-drawn cart to Luxor International Airport. A moment to savour…..

Nice!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
By looks, my beef dish is distinctly average. We have a gloopy mince-like sauce, spread over desiccated pasta, with three oddly placed cubes of green pepper. I ponder whether it should have been served with mashed potato. Upon tasting it, I am relieved to find it is full of flavour and perfectly satisfactory. The other main option, which I later request, is a battered fillet of fish with rice and vegetables. This is good also; a soggy batter admittedly, but a tender a moist fish fillet and vegetables that are not overcooked. I suspect the mains were loaded at LXR hence questionable quality.

The catering doesn't look as good as on my recent QR flights.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I am the object of this delightful infants curiosity… they’re not all bad you haters!

Nice!


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3024 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 25099 times:

Hi Luke,

what a report, what an adventure! I can only echo what has been said already - you should try to sell your story (even as a Kindle ebook?) It would be well worth the read for travel enthusiasts who aren't members here.

A shame the QR official let you down so badly, could it be the case of one rotten egg in the basket? The service on board, as your previous legs, seems quite good.

Nice side trip to SE Asia, and some good flights logged there too.

Thanks for the great read!

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineTravelsUK From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2007, 135 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 24956 times:

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I suspect the mains were loaded at LXR hence questionable quality

QR contract their catering in LXR to 5* and very well known chain hotel in town, I flew LXR - DOH a couple of time whilst I was based in Egypt and always felt the catering ex LXR was in fact better than frrom DOH.

Great TR, a really interesting read, it would be interesting to know what the response was from QR...

Cheers!


User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 18, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 24775 times:

Hi Luke!

Another terrific report in that terribly witty and lovable style of yours. I really like the idea of taking a break from your African year in Asia. Some nice looking flights with Firefly et al and excellent bargains with those. I think you are the ultimate "man of the cheap" instead of our Swedish friend.

Love those African pictures too, you certainly have a LOT of courage and stubbornness (but I guess that's the Scottish spirit) in you to pull out something like that!

Sorry to hear about what happened with QR although from your description and the quoted letter/email it still isn't very apparent what actually went on there at Doha apart from the transfer staff mostly ignoring you and your distress (which in itself is of course already very bad). Hope you manage to sort things out somehow and end up with a 10

BTW you certainly know how to build up suspense - I can hardly wait until the next episode to discover what horrible disease is sapping your strength!


User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 19, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 24775 times:

Hi Luke!

Another terrific report in that terribly witty and lovable style of yours. I really like the idea of taking a break from your African year in Asia. Some nice looking flights with Firefly et al and excellent bargains with those. I think you are the ultimate "man of the cheap" instead of our Swedish friend.

Love those African pictures too, you certainly have a LOT of courage and stubbornness (but I guess that's the Scottish spirit) in you to pull out something like that!

Sorry to hear about what happened with QR although from your description and the quoted letter/email it still isn't very apparent what actually went on there at Doha apart from the transfer staff mostly ignoring you and your distress (which in itself is of course already very bad). Hope you manage to sort things out somehow and end up with a 1000 GBP discount voucher or something as a compensation - after all you don't seem to have any issues with the actual flying product of QR and their generous pour!  

BTW you certainly know how to build up suspense - I can hardly wait until the next episode to discover what horrible disease is sapping your strength!


User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2468 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 24612 times:

Again, OUTSTANDING pictures...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
In a bid to reduce the size of my report, I will post the return sector on Qatar in a final part of my African series.



Still, due to the large amounts of pictures very slow and long uploading- several parts would have been better...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 3):
Miserable, I get my head down for a few hours or so, until the Phuket flight shows it’s landed status. I then finally collect my bags which have had the time of their life



Never, ever I would have been waited for my bag to arrive- it was lost and mishandled by QR. You should have been straight off to a hotel/youth hostel and informed KUL ground staff via telephone with your current address (reclaiming the telephone costs and any other espenses -for soap, clothing etc.).

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 5):
Quote:
Dear Qatar Airways, I... I was dismayed to receive a rather abrupt message from QR that my flight had been rescheduled to almost 48 hours earlier, on the morning of the 18th. ... I found the customer service assistant very unhelpful in the first instance.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 19):
Sorry to hear about what happened with QR although from your description and the quoted letter/email it still isn't very apparent what actually went on there at Doha apart from the transfer staff mostly ignoring you and your distress (which in itself is of course already very bad).



What's the problem?! IF the new flight time was not fitting into your schedule (arriving too early in KUL)- you should not have been travelling at all. Before, either via customer service or at least with the station manager of QR in LXR, I would have asked for a confirmed transit hotel accommodation in DOH; or at least for a special stop-over offer! Now, lets face the problem in DOH, a young guy is arriving in DOH with a confirmed onward flight and is refusing to take this flight (as it arrives too early in KUL)? The QR staff was not expecting you at all, bcs. you boarded the inbound flight ex LXR and so agreed to the new flight times by checking in for your NEW itinerary. Again, in this situation @ DOH- just take the new flight (even if it is not fitting) to KUL, look out for a cheap hotel/hostel and send all the bills for refund to QR with a nice letter of complaint!


User currently offlinejetblue777 From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 1468 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 24557 times:

Hi Luke,

Fantastic trip report!

Shame about how QR treated you at DOH. Although, I've got to say, their onboard service seems to be fantastic! They really feed you well!  

It's great to hear that you had a good time in the Philippines. I'll have to say, I agree with everything you said about Manila and it's airport. Manila is filthy, and the only reason why we even go there is because flying through MNL from the US is a much cheaper option than flying through CEB, an airport that my family prefers. Although, this summer, SQ was nice enough to reroute us to CEB free of charge (operated by MI) after canceling our original flight.

As for MNL, I love the airport. It brings a lot of memories, but I'll have to agree, the staff is probably one of the most arrogant and rudest people you'll ever meet in your life. They are unhelpful and they expect some sort of monetary payment for every request you ask! Although the staff that certain airlines (like OZ) employs are a breath of fresh air and extremely helpful...and oh, the terminal free..Don't get me started..   (It would be acceptable ONLY IF the passengers actually see major improvements)

Great pictures too, glad that you enjoyed the food in the Philippines. I'll have to say though, the last time I ate something "fresh" in Manila, I got food poisoning...It was the most excruciating pain I've ever experienced in my life. My mom also had food poisoning, though she got it worse since she had it on our last night in MNL and we had a 20hr journey ahead of us! So, this summer, I'm avoiding the Food Court.


Looking forward for more TRs from you!

Regards!

- Jezrel   


jetBlue777



It's a cultural thing.
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 22, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 24489 times:

Hello, thanks for the raft of replies. I say it every time, but it really increases the satisfaction of writing and investing in a SA Linhas Aereas">TR when you get such kind responses. Many thanks...

Quoting zizou (Reply 6):
great report! Well written, it reads like a engrossing novel  

Great stuff... the report should 'read' so that is great. Some prefer pure photos and details!

Quoting byronicle6 (Reply 7):
Fantastic report lukeyboy95!
Yo Byronicle6 -

I really like your writing style! And Firefly look like a really good carrier for short Malaysia & SEA hops

Firefly surely a superb airline. Many thanks!

Quoting lasmike (Reply 8):
I thoroughly enjoyed your report. I can't wait to read what happened to you next!

Thanks Mike. I will try and get it up pretty soon.


SA)">HI William...

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 9):
Yet another outstanding installment of your Palinesque adventures around the globe.

Thanks very much. I even mention him at some point. There were some parts in Sudan which I vivdly remember seeing in the doco.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 9):
I think what it is about your pictures, what makes them unusual is that they are pictures of everyday people in everyday situation.

Awfully kind. That it a great compliment, as I am mostly humanistic. But really bashful about getting 'in peoples faces'. It should be said that many rural Africans on the whole are pretty suspicious of cameras.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 9):
You had two airplane meals in one go? You must have been hungry!

Well... it's research isn't it!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 9):
The 'flying' part of the product was excellent. But their customer care on the ground in Dubai was non existent. I ended up stuck in the transit area for seven hours and was basically left to my own devices.

That is exactly my point. QR were extraordinary in the air. But it has to be the whole experience. Particularly when something goes wrong. I heard of QR handling the volcanic ash situation superbly, so I was surprised at how amateurish they were in my experience.



Yo-ho Gabriel. Fellow globe-trotter!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Great report Luke - I do think it'd be better to split it up a bit more so there's not so much to read in one go though! Looking forward to part 2!

I would have taken bets that you were going to complain about this again! I even decided to put the return journey on a new thread... just to appease you! I will confer with you about the size of the next report to get your opinion. My problem is that viewers here are mostly interested in full-service carriers... so separate AK, SA Linhas Aereas">TR and EZY reports might be a flop.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
I'd love to go to Sudan - your pictures look great. Did you go to port Sudan - meant to have great diving there

Oh lord. It is a superb country. I absolutely loved it. The people are almost unreal in kindness. I have put the travelogue part of the report up now, so you should be able to see photos of it and have a good account. Visa's are the real pain in the arse.

I didn't get a chance to get to Port Sudan, but I had also heard the diving was out of this world there. And fairly economical.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Ooh, brave man sending your passport off with a stranger.

she seemed trustworthy! But I was uneasy too...

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Lucky you

well... whilst I am young and flighty

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Haha, cheers to that! I recently found out that it's not so much alcohol that's hated, but addiction. So really, smoking should be outlawed, rather than stopping people enjoying a quiet relaxing drink.

Interesting... I've no great issue. Many Islamic country I visited so far (Egypt, Sudan, Indonesia) smoked pot instead. I.e. contradictory. I went without alcohol a long time, and am currently applying for teaching positions in SA, so will have to learn to live without the bottle!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Hmm, I'm not sure how that situation came about, but it sounds pretty awful

It was. I will try and explain it in some of the following replies.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
ou shoudl have put your foot down, and ordered him to have it delieved to your hotel. It was QRs mistake not offloading it in KUL

Well, it was 3am, and I sorta didn't have an address.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
I hate MNL.

It's a pain.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Some passport people can't be such b******s!

Yes, and it is a tricky business not to look too suspicious and nervous too.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
Hahahaha, I love your writing, so un-PC!

Say it as I see it. I don't mean to be though! There is one massive advocate of being PC on this forum, so he might actually find that and pull me up on it. I am bracing myself!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
You should have splashed out for a hotel.

Gabriel. I would have, except I physically could not get up. This is a danger of travelling solo (you'll know) is not having support to help when things go wrong). I only just managed to get to the toilet for water.


SA)">HI Jamie!

Quoting planejamie (Reply 11):
Very insteresting trip report, makes my illness caused by an India Restaurant I ate at (the night before my flight) in Riyadh this time last year seem rather trivial.

Oh which one is it...I might be going out to Riyadh soon. Is it a terrible place? Someone said prison would be a bit cheerier to me the other day.

Quoting planejamie (Reply 11):
It isn't like DOH is some sort of obscure place where 1 transit passenger a year passes through, there are hundreds, if not thousands daily and they should be fully equipped to deal with the simple problem of a rescheduled flight.

No, plainly overworked staff and unsure of the situation

Quoting planejamie (Reply 11):
I hope they give you a decent amount of compensation and even a refund! However, as it's not in the EU - good luck.

I am not holding much hope. Likely nothing. It has been a long time and no reply.

Quoting planejamie (Reply 11):
I'd just write to the Daily Mail

Haha... sadly no dramatic photo and it happened a year ago.

Quoting planejamie (Reply 11):
I'd certainly buy it, as would many others (even those that aren't aviation geeks!).

ha. Thanks... well, I hope to jot something down. This forum is a good outlet.

Quoting planejamie (Reply 11):
Looking forward to the third part and look forward to reading about your (hopefully) recovery!

Ah ha. Wait and see! Cheers....


Hi filo

Quoting filoflyer (Reply 14):
things wont improve until it gets privitized in my opinion

Most likely not. Progress seems pretty slow at MNL

Quoting filoflyer (Reply 14):
where the terminal fee goes

Exactly. I mean, some say it is just not included in the airticket fee like other airports. But improvements are few and far between

Quoting filoflyer (Reply 14):
MNL is not a desirable destination for carriers

Sadly so... I think they have missed the opportunity, and direct links will always be poor with Europe in the future.


Hi Udo. You should be getting the final details ready for the big-day, not wasting your time on my reports!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
great report with amazing pictures!

cheers....

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
But I'm totally shocked by the way you were treated at DOH! It's hard to imagine that this would happen to a quality carrier's passenger. Have you received an answer yet?

No, it has been some months. I am unlikely to receive a reply. Customer service doesn't rate to highly given it is outside EU. But, ask yourself, why would they reply? I am just one person. A drop in the ocean. I will however send them a link to this report. Bastards.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
The catering doesn't look as good as on my recent QR flights.

Well, a later poster claims it is made at a local 5* hotel. Dubious...



Greets Signol

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
what a report, what an adventure!

haha. thanks... these types of reports will be few and far between from me!

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
(even as a Kindle ebook?)

Ha. You just never know. It is my intention to offer to do bits of writing for any travel mags or blogs.

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
could it be the case of one rotten egg in the basket?

Probably just a case of overstretched, incompetent arseholes of staff really. Every single one of them (and I saw them all!) was rude as hell.

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
some good flights logged there too.

Indeed. Good fun propping around the place. The itinerary could have been even better, but I wanted to rationalise on funds.


Hi Travels

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 17):
QR contract their catering in LXR to 5* and very well known chain hotel in town, I flew LXR - DOH a couple of time whilst I was based in Egypt and always felt the catering ex LXR was in fact better than frrom DOH.

Thanks for the input here. This sounds a likely partnership, but do you think it had maybe expired by the time I took this flight. Afterall, does that meal look like something the Oberoi would put it. Where your flights before the uprising, and back in those days what were the loads like?

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 17):
it would be interesting to know what the response was from QR...

No response. Will send them link to report.




Hello everyone's favourite Finn.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 18):
Another terrific report in that terribly witty and lovable style of yours.

Great. Thanks... you love it or you hate it, or it bores you!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 18):
I really like the idea of taking a break from your African year in Asia.

ha. Well, some said 'it is a holiday from a holiday', but I can assure you that wasn't the case. Needed to get away, and I craved asia greatly.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 18):
I think you are the ultimate "man of the cheap" instead of our Swedish friend.

haha. Our Sweedish friend has many lessons to learn in being cheap I can assure you. But there is a method to my cheapness. As you'll know, Westerner's can blow a couple of grand in one excessive, ill-planned package holiday. By being the king of cheap, I managed to stay on the road for 14months for about £3000 all-in. I did feel a little guilt at not putting much into the African economy.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 18):
Love those African pictures too, you certainly have a LOT of courage and stubbornness (but I guess that's the Scottish spirit) in you to pull out something like that!

Thanks P. Good to hear. Well, it was a stunning landscape, so no skill involved. Sometime I felt like there was a long way and alot of barriers ahead. But because I was doing the journey towards 'home', it gave me a great incentive to push on... knowing that every km north was a km closer to home and my family.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 19):
Hope you manage to sort things out somehow and end up with a 1000 GBP discount voucher or something as a compensation

Very unlikely. Debonair (below) is probing about it.... so maybe that will clear things up for you too as I was a bit unclear.



Hi Debonair. Thanks for the reply, and also thanks for asking a few more questions so that I can perhaps explain my position more fully on the transit.

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
Again, OUTSTANDING pictures...

danke....

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
Still, due to the large amounts of pictures very slow and long uploading- several parts would have been better...

Well, I realise this. It is a bugbear of venerable Gabriel too. But I wanted to group this reports into a clean 3-segment report. Often I did not have sufficient photos to justify a detailed singular report (the Asia flights). I know, it is a stramash, but ... it is done! Future ones will be shorter...

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
Never, ever I would have been waited for my bag to arrive- it was lost and mishandled by QR. You should have been straight off to a hotel/youth hostel and informed KUL ground staff via telephone with your current address (reclaiming the telephone costs and any other espenses -for soap, clothing etc.).

I agree. But let me put it to you this way... it was extremely late at night, I had no guide or information on the city, I had no confirmed address in which to get the bag sent, I wasn't happy to have it further lost as I would be flying away from KUL shortly, and given the shoestring, nay, cotton-thread budget I was travelling on, paying for hotels and relying on a refund is a risky old business. I had told QR numerous times that I would expect the extra nights accommodation costs incurred in the early arrival time reimbursed. But I was talking to a brick wall.

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
What's the problem?! IF the new flight time was not fitting into your schedule (arriving too early in KUL)- you should not have been travelling at all.

Although I agree, I did not want to jeopardise the entire trip on account of this. The station manager in LXR had no information about options open to me, and had not explained properly the options available to me. I was rebooked on the new flights as default, and repeatedly told customer-services I was not happy with the changes. Again, they are robots when it comes to their customer service.

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
either via customer service or at least with the station manager of QR in LXR, I would have asked for a confirmed transit hotel accommodation in DOH; or at least for a special stop-over offer!

And I did... repeatedly. They used the legal argument not to put me in transit accommodation in DOH (being over 24 hours), which I understood, but said if that was the case, then I should receive accommodation in KUL for the extra nights. Is that unreasonable? One option they did offer was to fly direct to MNL.

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
a young guy is arriving in DOH with a confirmed onward flight and is refusing to take this flight (as it arrives too early in KUL)?

Thanks for the young part. I didn't 'refuse', I simply argued that it was putting unfair strain on me on arrival in KUL. But over and above the actual technicalities, it was the degrading care and treatment I received which was so devastating.

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
agreed to the new flight times by checking in for your NEW itinerary.

I never agreed to this. It was changed automatically (and something similar on the outbound as you will see), and I asked the customer service assistant (via e-mail) to provide an alternative, but he chose not to return further e-mails.

Quoting debonair (Reply 20):
Again, in this situation @ DOH- just take the new flight (even if it is not fitting) to KUL, look out for a cheap hotel/hostel and send all the bills for refund to QR with a nice letter of complaint!

QR would not give an inch. I just don't trust middle-eastern airlines in this respect ( to latterly claimed costs and compensation). If I was to count the amount of times during the transit that I was informed 'But sir, this is beyond Qatar Airways control', I would loose my mind. Is it beyond their remit when they choose to reduce frequencies to maximise profit? I'm not sure... Maybe it's me in the wrong in this respect.




Hi Jezrel. Cool name.

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
Hi Luke,

Fantastic trip report!

Thanks awfully....

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
Although, I've got to say, their onboard service seems to be fantastic! They really feed you well!  

No it is. I will fly a QR easily for their inflight product.

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
SQ was nice enough to reroute us to CEB free of charge (operated by MI) after canceling our original flight.

That is great. I could not see QR giving me a sandwich for free... QR had none of this accommodating nature.

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
As for MNL, I love the airport. It brings a lot of memories,

I bet! It speaks memories....

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
the staff is probably one of the most arrogant and rudest people you'll ever meet in your life.

The irony is that many of the extremely polite employees at great airports around the world are Filipinos!

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
and oh, the terminal free..Don't get me started..   (It would be acceptable ONLY IF the passengers actually see major improvements)

precisely

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
I'll have to say though, the last time I ate something "fresh" in Manila, I got food poisoning...I

Ah, but my stomach was truly hardened by Africa!

Quoting jetblue777 (Reply 21):
Looking forward for more TRs from you!

Indeed.... I have a couple lined up, but so little time to write them. Thanks Jezrel.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 23, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 24470 times:

That last reply is littered with SA Linhas Aereas"> quotes. I am not sure what that is from, but I'll just treat it as another Anet HTML quirk/glitch. Not supposed to read like that.

Rgds

L



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5129 posts, RR: 55
Reply 24, posted (2 years 8 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 24439 times:

Absolutely fantastic trip report, and welcome to my RR. Anyone who goes outside the beaten path gets my vote of being a traveler and not a tourist  . This report was incredible, and one of the best reads I have had on A.Net in a while. Seriously amazing -

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I donned my backpack once again on the 27th April 2011, unfamiliar with the weight of it. I would soon get into the groove. My travel through Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan has to be some of the most enthralling I have ever done. I know some of you are die-hard, but I really encourage you to catch a glimpse of my more detailed account of this overland part at the end of the report. It was enchanting, epic, vast, harsh, a revelation and I fell utterly in love with the Republic of Sudan.

= Wow. Sudan is one of the top places I want to visit - and, I am unsurprised by the warm hospitality you received. I have heard very good things about the country, and it is very high in my 2013 list of places to visit.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Then the whole trip was thrown into disarray after a heated meeting with the consular general of Ethiopia in Kampala, Uganda, who said that unless I had residence status, they would not grant me a visa and I would have to fly in or apply at the London Embassy (a farcical visa process which I am convinced is to do with capitalising on passengers arriving through the wholly owned government airline who charge stupendous prices Intra-Africa – any thoughts appreciated?).

= This is really strange as I thought many countries got visa-on-arrival in Ethiopia. Personally, I find the country to have become extremely xenophobic over the past few years and lurched onto fascist overtones of the current leader ...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I had almost resigned to trying to get through the Sudanese frontiers, when I met a girl in the hostel who would be flying BA back to London that night. I asked her if she would be happy transporting my passport, and giving it to a friend, who would then apply for my Ethiopian visa at the London Embassy and FedEx it back. Seven nerve-wracking days later, I received my passport in a FedEx envelope, and continued on in earnest.

= Very cool. Taking a chance is part of travel, and I am glad it paid off.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Now, I will never claim any sort of firsts or records on A.net (certainly not with registrations), but I do proclaim the right to have taken the most unique transport ever to an airport… when I hitch-hiked on a donkey-drawn cart to Luxor International Airport. A moment to savour…..

= Absolutely.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
The Qatar Airways staff are friendly, queues little and curiosity abounds what connecting flight I will get (my flight has been moved due to rescheduling – see complaint at report end). But they console; “No problem seer, you see in Dohaaa”. I’m given only one boarding pass.

= NEVER EVER NEVER EVER accept Gulf carriers (especially QR and EK) to have things handled in DOH and DXB. It is bad. Etihad is marginally better.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
My multiple hours of neglect begin at the transfer desk.
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I am passed of repeatedly, forwarded to arrogant little men who are Team Transfer. They are so infuriatingly proud and superior about their roles and duties that they barely choose to take-notice of me. I wait an age outside their scruffy transfer office but continue to be ignored. By the time my dilemma is finally addressed, my KUL flight has long-gone, and they start threatening me that I will be arrested if I stay any longer than 24 hours in the airport. Their language is hostile and poisonous and I am astounded at their customer services. Or lack thereof.

= I am not surprised AT ALL. Outside possibly CDG, Doha (and Qatar) is one of my LEAST favourite places to transit in the world -- and I have had my shares of transit in the world. Read this (http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/146050/) and this was in J class -- after this, I had another bad experience, and vowed NEVER to transit through the manic lunacy again.

If everything runs smoothly, QR is fine ... the moment there is an IRROP, things just fall apart, and the lipstick behind the pig, reveals the pig ...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Next farce is security. The officers are unhurried, have a little pow-wow with each other and it is excruciatingly slow. By this time, the flight will depart in 20 mins. An arrogant border police officer berates the woman infront of me for being so late. When it’s my turn, I defend her and notify him to slow check-in, fee payment and security. Isn’t a happy man, and ignores my request to stamp passport in a tiny corner. Arse.

= Aah ... how I miss NAIA  .

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
It will be the final report of my Africa series, and without giving too much away, will sadly end in a medical evacuation with A3

= Oh no. Hope you are OK now.

Thanks again for this great read. I am really glad you were able to do this -- travel changes us. And the way you travel my friend, is the true way of traveling.

Thanks again.

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
25 lychemsa : Lukeboy: You write the most fantastic trip reports. I appreciate the time you put in. You are a real ADVENTURER. I would never have had the courage ev
26 Post contains images sultanils : Hi Luke, Great sequel of your epic transcontinental journey! Excellent footage and narrative all throughout. All praise from me for that The one thing
27 gabrielchew : Hey Luke! me again Oh, let them advocate all they want, please don't change for anybody else! Ha, it makes sense now! Saudi or South Africa? I'd love
28 okapi : And our privilege to be able to read this great story of yours! Stunning, really. This is probably one of the most interesting report I've read in a
29 Post contains images akhmad : Hello Luke, Brilliant! I love your epic all the way and I share your emotions! You are the man of the world! Priceless. Luke, you are one of a kind. W
30 Post contains images OA260 : Hey Luke , Firstly its very alarming to read about your experience on QR. A stark reminder that all these flash adverts on Sky News and marketing stil
31 Post contains images SuperCaravelle : Thank you very much for documenting your truly epic (the word is overused, but totally justified in this case) journey. First of all, QR looks lovely,
32 Pe@rson : To be honest, I scrolled down the page and saw your brilliant photos and descriptions that I didn't even look at your flight report! Terrifically exci
33 lukeyboy95 : No time like the present to respond to a some of the very nice comments on the report. Many thanks... Hi Alex, and honour to see you drop by my report
34 Post contains images planejamie : Well, having lived there for 2 years it is truly Arabian, you have to go there to experience the bizarreness of it all, but it was a good experience.
35 NZ107 : Luke! Your narrative writing seems to improve each time. Always a pleasure to read these amazing journies you take. So far, it seems like you're far m
36 Post contains images akhmad : Not at all. Besides Semarang is my hometown. Oh dear, I have never been to Mount Bromo myself. Could one of them happen to be the tarsiers in North S
37 Post contains images CaptainRed : Hi Luke, what an amazing report. Thank you very much for sharing your adventurous travels through Africa. Your report is so comprehensive that I reall
38 lukeyboy95 : Aaah...the weekend is upon us. Let the records show that I have just started writing the final instalment of the Africa report. . Hi Jamie Thanks... t
39 NZ107 : Yep, I think I skipped that extremely basic level somewhere.. Oh well! Well I sure hope you'd still be alive at this point! Though I would wonder whe
40 lukeyboy95 : HI Nicholas. My report is dying.... but... It isn't always a bad thing to skip this! Most sane people do... It would be pretty straight forward to sli
41 Post contains images N178UA : Hi Luke A tremendous TR. Now I feel faint after reading your excellent TR i really enjoy reading it and seeing all the fantastic pictures. Especially
42 palmjet : Hi Luke Sorry for the delay. I really enjoyed your report. It was fascinating in so many ways. Your pics are illustrative of a truly amazing adventure
43 Post contains images abrelosojos : = Hahahaha ... I am flattered . = Iran and Yemen are in my top 10 country list . Thanks again. Saludos, A. PS: I have never been to Scotland, so migh
44 lukeyboy95 : Time for some Friday-night replies... Many thanks for continuing kind comments. Sam, yet more Anet Royalty! haha... returning the favour. Yes, Sudan i
45 deltamartin : Hello Luke! Again a very well written (and long!) trip report from you, it sure was enjoyable to read. Too bad about the transfer hassle in DOH. That'
46 flightsimboy : Hello Luke, I can only agree with these two A.netters. You are truly one of a kind, a real world traveller, without prejudice, embracing the people, t
47 eastafspot : A fantastic new chapter of your series, Only superlatives would described this perfect report, many fellows A.net stated this before. The price paid l
48 lukeyboy95 : HI there, some Friday night replies; HI Martin, many thanks for your reply. I am glad to hear it was a long read! It is, I suppose things will get bet
49 tobbry : Thanks for a great TR and fantastic pictures! I have heard so much bad stuff about Doha airport that it makes me not to choose QR even though QR seems
50 lukeyboy95 : Hi Tobbry, and thanks for the reply! Much appreciated. My camera has just gone on the blinker sadly... It is a great airline, so if the fares are chea
51 win1290 : Hi Luke, Thanks for the fantastic trip report. Your photos are amazing! Thanks for sharing your experience, absolutely enjoyed reading it. Sorry to he
52 lukeyboy95 : HI WIN! Many thanks for your kind comment... Good to hear. My next report won't quite have the same quality of photos... however! Hopefully it will be
53 BA319-131 : Hi Like, It's taken me a while to get around to this, huge report! - but wow, just amazing! - That was a bit brave! - Sounds like my kind of ground cr
54 lukeyboy95 : Hi Mark... Many thanks for 'resurrecting' my report... I thought it was lost! haha, you haven't been reading it all that time have you!? Yes, it was a
55 Post contains images ba319-131 : - Yes Luke, read it one morning, took ages! - Note yet, on the list of things to do in my life - I'm about to start that with Gin.... Cheers Mark
56 lukeyboy95 : Nice! My mother makes a rather potent sloe gin. How I miss a G&T out here. Good luck with it. Be generous with the juniper! Luke
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