Hello again fellow travelers, it has been almost two years since my first trip report. This time around, I'm doing a trip report of a trip I did earlier this year, from Dili, Timor Leste (East Timor) to Melbourne (Australia).
I had all intentions to do a trip report for the first leg, which was Melbourne to Dili, but um... I took pictures with my iphone and when I updated the IOS, it wiped the lot and I hadn't backed up the pics, and the apple tech support said "yeah its not supposed to happen, but it does" oh well that's life, add to that #FirstWorldProblems.
Back to the trip, the Melbourne to Dili via Darwin flight was uneventful.
Saturday 12 January 2013, Virgin Australia flight DJ1457 Boeing 737, business class.
This is a red eye flight to Darwin and I picked this because it had the shortest layover, approximately 2 hours, at Darwin "International" LOL airport, so the flight leaves Melbourne at 1:45AM and arrives in Darwin at 04:35AM.
Check-in was swift, since its midnight at T3, found out there were only 2 of us, my companion and I, on the flight, so the desk agent offered to have us sit separately.
We proceeded to the Virgin Australia Melbourne lounge, which is open until the last VA flight leaves Melbourne, 01:45AM. That's pretty good in my books. There are lots of pictures of the lounge, so I didn't take any. There were a total of 5 of in the lounge, including three elite frequent flyers of the Velocity programme.
They had some hot food, like soup still out, and the attendant ask us if we wanted some. But we declined, so she asked if she could clear it up, because they cleaners were coming in to clean.
I had some biscuits and madamme flavour tea and waited until boarding was called.
On board it was very standard, the head purser or flight attendant Tim, was looking after our cabin. Oh lordd... it is always really awkward being the only business class passengers, because you get looked after "extra" well lol. Because it was red-eye and oh yeah... we had driven from Adelaide to Melbourne, earlier in the morning and that took 7 hours. So all we wanted to do was sleep, so we declined breakfast and other things.
Arriving at Darwin, luggage came out first because it was tagged (it worked! sometimes it doesn't).
Saturday 12 January 2013, Darwin to Dili (Timor Leste) Air North TL512 Embraer E170 Jet, economy class, no premium cabin.
This flight departs at 06:30AM and arrives in Dili at 07:15AM.
Check-in took about 15 minutes because we were inline behind 4-6 American law enforcement agents, which has its own TV with the title of agency and stars agent Leeroy Jethro Gibbs. As well as Australia defense soldiers heading to Timor Leste. So the desk agent told us they might have to put our luggage on standby (whaaaaa??) because the army and the agents had a lot of cargo. I'm not asking questions. But I was worried, since Air North only flies to Dili once a day, with the exception of Monday, and no Sunday flight. So if my luggage went on standby, I wouldn't get it till Monday. Thankfully, that didn't happen, because when I arrived in Timor, my luggage arrived too.
Once we checked in, we proceeded to passport control, but.. it was not open yet. So we waited for about 15 minutes. Once we cleared that, we went to the gate. There are no lounges at Darwin well only one, but that's for Qantas domestic which is on the other side of the glass divider wall, separating domestic from international.
Once we boarded, the Americans were seated upfront and once said "dude this is business class" LOL.
The seat pitch for Air North's Embraer E170 Jet all economy is approximately 30-31".
Anyway I can't tell you much from this flight, because I fell asleep and missed all action.
Arriving in Timor Leste, foreigners need to pay $30 USD per person for an entry visa which lasts 30 days, unless you are Timorese or have a Portuguese passport.
Here are some pictures from a camera I took of Dili East Timor, the iphone photos are all gone.
Timor Leste is a really nice country, there are western style hotels, villas, apartments and everything comfortable for the western traveler. I've stayed at a number of places from $40 USD a night to $110 USD a night. There are restaurants along the beach road. The weather takes some getting used to, there are two varieties, hot and hotter. But the hotels have air conditioning, so you can sleep at night when it is about 34 degrees Celsius outside. lol
When we were there, the monsoon raining season was approaching, and that's when roads and streets get flooded because Dili has poor drainage. There aren't many touristy activities like Thailand or Bali, but there is a scuba diving and the coral beach is beautiful and the diving is operated by Dive Lorosae. There are also hiking groups, going into the jungle. And about 4-6-8 hours drive at 40KM/h on bad bad roads, you can reach the west side of Timor Leste and take a ferry to Jaco Island, which is AMAZING. I don't have pictures, but if you Google Image "Jaco Island Timor" you will find the beautiful pictures. You can't stay at the island, its not allowed, but they take you out on a boat in the morning, you swim, walk the island, and the fisherman go catch the fish and if you like, they will grill it and that's lunch. Then late in the afternoon, you go back to the main island.
These aren't my pictures, they are from Coral Triangle, and shows you the beauty of Jaco Island.
More on their website http://www.thecoraltriangle.com/medi...ste-supporting-coastal-communities
There are also Eco-resorts as well. at $40 USD a night. You live in a hut, on the beach.
But the main reason we go to Timor each year is assist with fund raising for the orphanage. My friend's website www.tedmcdonnell.com has more information. Did I add that the Timorese people are lovely.
Return flight Dili to Melbourne via Darwin.
Monday 21 January 2013, Dili (Timor-Leste) Darwin Air North TL515 Embraer E170 Jet.
There were two flights on Monday, and we were on the second and last flight out of the country for day. Departing at 11:15AM and arriving in Darwin at 01:00PM.
The check-in was pretty standard, we were handed our forms, filled it in, proceeded to the airport taxes desk to pay for the exit fee of $10 USD per person. Then proceeded to passport control, security and to the departure terminal.
Now. I did see a sign saying VIP Lounge...but.. um I don't think thats for the public and its for the politicians or foreign dignitaries.
Here are some pics I took from the lounge.
The flight was delayed for about 30 minutes, but I was not worried since our connecting Darwin to Melbourne flight was 6 hours away. Boarding was called eventually, there is only one departure gate.
Here are snaps of us leaving.
Dili International Airport and the hangar.
Turning the corner and ready for take off
Take off, looking back at Dili airport ad dili.
Dili from above and Ataoru Island
The edge of Timor, bye.
Some obligatory inflight shot of the Air North flight.
The meal for the 1:15 flight between Dili and Darwin and Dili, not bad for a $670 return ticket! LOL this is what happens when there is no competition.
Arriving into Darwin
Plane spotting at Darwin Airport.
Twin sister, Air North E170 Jet
Turbo prop Air North and Alliance airplane
After arriving, clearing customs and immigration. We had 4 hours to waste in Darwin, so we took the taxi into the CBD which cost like $40!! WTH Thanks mining boom, for turning Darwin into one of the most expensive cities in Australia. Anyway we went to Darwin Waterfront, and spent the next four hours eating before heading back to the airport at 4:45PM.
The check-in was empty and we proceeded to the business class check-in. luggage tagged, we proceeded to the departure lounge. Virgin Australia is building a new lounge in Darwin, but not sure when it will be open.
Our flight home.
Darwin to Melbourne Monday 21 January 2013 Virgin Australia VA1464 Boeing 737.
Depart 6:15pm arriving at 11:59pm.
Priority boarding was called, we boarded and were offered the mocktail. There were 4 of us in business, so I moved after take off in row 2.
Here are some shots of Darwin and the flight. It was monsoon season, so the captain warned us there might be some turbulence. But it also provided for some beautiful sunsets from the sky.
Taking off and making a turn around Darwin city.
The sky over Australia's red earth.
Onboard service was top notch. After only eight business class flights on domestic Virgin Australia, I have not had a bad experience. I like the big seats but could they please put in a foot rest, or an ottoman or something. I'm a midget at 5'9, but i found my legs dangling, so I ended up in a yoga position, because I felt more comfortable. The cabin supervisor, Natalie, was fantastic. The dinner service began, there were no menus, the entree was a sweetcorn and ginger soup, loose leaf salad with Italian vinaigrette, and its a choice of two mains, a vegetarian spinach and ricotta cannelloni and a lamb meat ball pasta, I went with the lamb meatball and my friend went with the vegetarian. He didn't like it at all. My lamb was alright, but lacked flavour, the sauce needed abit more flavour, you can see the parsley and oregano, but couldn't taste it. Which is a shame, because I love meatball pasta. Anyway, I ask for a Pure Blonde beer (low calories cuz I'm getting fat in my old age), but Natalie suggested I try a boutique beer, Fat Yak.
After 2, I was tipsy but Natalie kept checking up to make sure whether I have had enough to drink and eat. Then I had dessert, which was an ice cream biscuit cake.
Thorough out the flight, Natalie kept checking up on everybody, water, snacks, anything else? I was stuffed like a pig.
Virgin Australia uses samsung galaxy tab for entertainment, so I watched two movies:
- The Bourne boring why did they make this movie to ruin the franchise
- Taken 2, not as good as Taken 1, why is this family so popular that they are kidnapped all the time?
Natalie was a fantastic host, as with other Virgin Australia crew. They are so tentative and she said she enjoys her job so much, and it shows.
Arriving in Melbourne at midnight.
That's the end of my zany journey. Thank you friends for taking your time to read my TR. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Especially if you want to visit Timor Leste (East Timor)!!!
[Edited 2013-02-23 05:19:50]
[Edited 2013-02-23 05:56:16]