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~ Asian Adventures 1: Brill BA GLA-LCY, LHR-IST ~  
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19431 times:

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Preamble


Flying between Asia and Europe? Or really anywhere for that matter? 34,000 ft up; ever wonder what’s down there? Who are the faces behind that twinkle of house lights seemingly in a land so close to purgatory, and nowhere? What is the topography of that snow-capped mountain in deepest darkest…. ? I love unravelling this type of mystery.

Reading my last report series of my time in Saudi Arabia, you would be forgiven for thinking I was somewhat of a masochist. Allay such fears, as this three-part series of reports is going to explain why I did my time in the Kingdom. It was merely the modus for me to earn sufficient dosh to back my next ‘adventure’.

On about the same day as I filed my resignation with my company in Saudi, I came back home and did some big thinking… strategic thinking. Long-term, big-boy thinking, thinking in my mum’s so often heard tone of consternation. Gulp.

We all, like it or not, resist it or don’t, tend to be funnelled down one big highway in life. I have thought of this as a highway of conformity. It is the sensible route, it is the stable, direct route, and it is the one we are warmly familiar with. Some take detours, some take back-roads and, mid-way down this highway is a bit of a black spot where a lot of (mostly men) crash off entirely. I knew I was keen to avoid getting on this mainstream route into a career, 2.4 children and a subscription to Ships Monthly. I suppose I fear it, the inevitability. By 2011, most of my friends were cheerfully on cruise-control into a world of careers and sensibilities. How many slip-roads onto this metaphorical highway was I going to choose to ignore?

The answer is - at least another one, after all, I was enjoying these unexpected side-roads. With that unnecessarily metaphorical thought firmly gone over, I booked myself a single flight for 6 days after my brother’s betrothal (to be set in the Lake District no less). I would fly out on a single ticket to Bali on the 16th October 2012. And thereafter?

I’d been plotting my comeback into Asia, which had grown up into somewhat of an ambitious teenager since our last flirtation, for some time. Those familiar with my travelling will know that my ethos tends to lie in long, arduous ‘journeys’. Not that I would sniff at a city break to Budapest by any means! Once at the start point, oddly enough, I also tend to exclude aviation in my ‘journeys’ to provide some sort of continuity and transition between the various places I travel through. And here I am… on an aviation forum.

So, here was my aim. Beach myself on ‘New Britain’ (an island part of the Papua New Guinea archipelago in Oceania ), and wind, trip and slog my way back overland to ‘Old Britain’ (Blighty – the UK). It had a ring to it. New Britain to Old Britain by begging, borrowing and stealing.

What did create a discord in all this fanciful planning was the value of the Papua New Guinea kina (currency), and then the realisation that I would probably have to hack through the rainforests and swim some channels if I was to complete this route.

A little rethinking later, and I decided it would be enough just to start from Papua New Guinea, specifically the Sandaun Province… where the sun goes down on Asia. I entered the trip largely blind, and would hopefully emerge with eyes wide open…


I shan’t dawdle any longer; it is my very great pleasure to welcome you to my 15th Trip Report on Airliners.net;




Asian Adventure Series; From Papua New Guinea to Scotland, by hitch-hiking






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The report will be divided into three parts as detailed in the cover photo above. The aviation and the non-aviation parts do not run chronologically.


Those of you familiar with my reports know the drill. The reports focus on the non-aviation world (yeah, it’s out there) as much as, if not more than, the actual flights. You, the reader, pick and choose what you elect to take in. I tend to write a lot of text, but the majority of readers find it useful in setting the tone, environment and mood of my trips. I am extremely grateful to Anet for providing me a platform (but not a decent search-engine) through which I can ‘publish’ some of my trips, as I am cold to the idea of blogs, books and bragging.


The model of this trip had been set by my last adventure, which was the African Safari series as covered in 2010/11 where I hitch-hiked from Cape Town to Scotland (link at end of report). In short, I was attracted by the idea of getting myself to somewhere mildly outlandish and setting my aim to get home. Each kilometre would be a kilometre closer to my homeland, to my steady parents and my other life as I knew it. It is a splendid sort of motivation. I do all my long trips by hitch-hiking too, which undoubtedly enhances and adds an element of the unpredictable to the trips, as well as plenty of glorious anecdotes.




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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
60 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19703 times:

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Booking and Lead-Up to Departure

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I was in Saudi Arabia when I went through the necessary pledges to book my ticket. I’ve often said that this seemingly inconsequential moment is what really begins the momentum of an adventure. It is the guarantee that, come the fateful 16th of October, I’d be soaring off into the unknown.


Booking was done in two stages. First my longer-haul Malaysian Airlines flight between Istanbul and Denpasar. Please, don’t harry me about why I was leaving from IST, but I think it must have had something to do with price. DPS/ CGK were priced the same. I used Skyscanner to source the various flight options and dates (a broad search net) and Ebookers to complete the booking. It was all easy and functional and a bit exasperating how such money can be spent with such ease.

I then went onto BA.com and completed my booking for the sector GLA-LCY, LHR-IST. Since I was keen to try BA out on something a little more substantial than VCE, and I like LCY. Search and booking functionality was excellent.


The month or so I had at home was just sublime. It was that eerie time of year where the seasons change, the palette of the tree’s begin to morph into warm, golden hues at contrast with the severe and cold winds that blow in to make Scots retreat to in front of their fires. My brother’s wedding went very smoothly and was set in an estate in the Lake District. It seemed to only pile implicit pressure on me to get hitched up sooner rather than later. But, my family seems quite at ease now with my reputation as the wandering black sheep.



Home looking lovely the day before leaving.





Out onto the Clyde


Such a wealth of things to get done before departure day. I had told myself it wouldn’t, but it inevitably became a bit frenetic on the run-up. The promise of uncertainty in Asia made my stomach feel leaden, and my parents were making it more difficult by being absolutely delightful and lovable (a change to the standard bickering) and the incredible comfort of ‘home’ pulling me close.


But then it was….


16th October 2012 – Departure Day





‘What’s in your backpack? ‘What I would need to scootle around the world for the next 10 months.


I was up at the usual Sparrow’s fart this morning in order to complete the final scrunching and wrestling with my backpack. Mum even had to nestle on it momentarily for me to clinch victory. Dad did his usual understated preparation of a fried breakfast me, and the dog looked at me imploringly.



Standard dog shot. Imploring looks from Meg? Maybe not.


I had never left with such a tinge of sentimentality, hugging my father sturdily. My loyal Labrador Meg jumped up on this occasion. I suppose leaving is the hardest part.


You know the protocol. I live on the Cowal peninsula, which means I must take the little red ferry across the girth of the River Clyde Estuary. The sky here almost always puts on some sort of performance, which gives me material for photos which I can look back on sentimentally in far-off climes. This morning it was pishing down with rain however, typically.



Slight change from yesterday.



Passing company ferry with Royal Navy RFA in background. The fjord-like sealochs of the Clyde are home to the UK’s Nuclear deterrent (in a hollow mountain no less) and numerous RFA depots.


I feel sick with nervousness. What am I embarking on here?


Mum drops me at the familiar drop-off area outside Glasgow. She is initially sceptical of the pre-mixed vodka and slimline (that’s all there was) tonic bottle I conjure from nowhere, but I reassure her it is mostly medicinal, since I need to ‘settle my stomach’. Goodbyes are said, before mum heads off into Glasgow for an overpriced hair treatment of some sort.



Terminal advertising



Brave face for mumzy



Outside GLA terminal.


Perhaps it’s their absolute dependableness of getting a good Gin and Tonic, but BA has created something of a loyalty in me in recent years. I’ll never forget the day a huffy Anet member called me a ‘BA Pom-Pom Girl’… This morning I have turned up after the melee of business travellers and all is calm at the BA desks. These desks BA have occupied since forever…



Self-Check-in Machines. If you use these, there is almost a member of staff there to assist.


A friendly agent types scattily into her computer at retrieves my details. Having pre-selected my seat and checked-in, this is all merely a formality and a fulfilling of criteria I like to judge an airline on. She speaks with a Glaswegian lilt that could be incomprehensible to some.



“Sir, you are aware that your later flight will depart from a different airport, aye?”

“Happily aware yes.”

“Ok-dokes, I can give you your boarding pass for your onward flight to Istanbul, but please do be aware you will have to re-check your baggage in at Heathrow”

“Excellent, no problem. Have a cracking day!”





Tickets and passport, ready to rock.


I am getting less and less cagey about my pre-flight drinking (which traditionally used to go on seedily in some public toilets, ever fearful of the over-observant cleaning attendant), and so sit happily in the static of departing passengers, swigging away, listening to Desert Island Disks on my Ipod.



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Celtic store. I think there is a Rangers one somewhere too…



Towards the new security areas that have been expanded


Security is very fast, friendly and thorough. So in that sense it ticks all the boxes it ought to. GLA have relocated their security, and rather re-laid Glasgow Airport passenger flow, but I have gone into this drudgery before, and will resist it a second time.


Needless to say, I am though with plenty of time. There are good views out onto the apron and runway (which used to be accessible land-side, but are now air-side). My boarding pass slips from my pocket, but a man in a bar with beady eyes spots this and rushes over to me with it. Cheers pal.



Rainy scenes, but a nice message from BAA (prior)



Good views if only there were more activity.



Large ceiling struts of the main terminal. This also used to be land-side.



Recognise CX from bringing me up from MAN the other day!


Latterly I proceed down onto BA pier. A place well-known by me, and where the BA Lounge is located for the upper part of society. It is just a finger, but lingers on in my memories of heading off with BA through the ages.



BA gate area for many a year. All quiet now.



Charles Rennie MacIntosh design bench



First glimpse of LCYO. She looks spanking new.



Fokker!



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First Choice blasting off to some beachy place


I watch as a LGW 737 is dispatched, which coincides with a TOM flight heading off to Cancun.



BA’s ancient LGW fleet, which I should fly on in a months time.


Absolutely on time, the boarding call goes out for the LCY bound Embraer. I am quite excited, as it will be my first flight into LCY with BA, and my inaugural flight on an Embraer. Not that it makes too much difference, but Gabriel has been spouting compliments for the aircraft, so I felt inclined to give it a try.



Great selection of newspapers.




Here we go.....





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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19591 times:

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British Airways Cityflyer GLA-LCY


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GLA-LCY

Airline……………..British Airways Cityflyer
Aircraft…………… Embraer ERJ-190-100LR
Flight……………….BA8725
Registration…….....G – LCYO
Seat………………. 22D
Departure time.......10.25 (10.41)
Arrival time…………11.45 (11.39)
LF: 70%............. Y
Distance….. …….354 miles (1hrs 20 min)

Price……………. £121.80 (combined ticket with LHR-IST)




View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Patrick Simon
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © The Flying Dutchman





I was warmly welcomed on-board by two flight attendants, and a young male ground supervisor. I find myself with ease to my seat towards the back, and take stock of my surroundings.



(Taken on disembarking)



Sleek E-jets


The BA Embraer interior was funky fresh, airy and roomy. Having 2-2 is so much more preferable. It felt sumptuous almost, enough legroom to do a wee jig. Although BA insist on that blue chequered flooring which I dislike. Loads are looking quite light which is some sort of godsend, as I get a little uncomfortable having to photograph the various strange things that make up a report when I am sure my seatmate is giving me quizzical side looks.


The two flight attendants come through the cabin and secure the aircraft for take-off. One has a striking perm, the other a tight bauble. Both are middle-aged and deserve a medal for the service they manage to accomplish on our little shuttle south this morning.


Flightdeck do come over on our taxi to the runway, as I would expect with BA. This still makes a big difference in my opinion, the strange rapport between pilot and passenger.


Our take-off is from Runway 5 off to the North East. The weather is typically pish as a nice send-off from Scotland. I get some last, fleeting grips of the industrial Clydebank area and accompanied shipyards, before we punch through some heavy rainclouds and emerge into blue skies that brighten the spirit.



Lifting off Scottish terra firma for the last time in a while



Industrial Clydeside



Braehead shopping centre (right) and BAE Systems dockyards (left)



Breaking out above clouds; great wing-tip.



Seat-back contents – is it LR or SR? PH?



Ample legroom


The two FA’s disappear and the waft of cooked breakfasts (no finer waft it might be said) permeates through the cabin. Surely not I ponder to myself, but, 18 minutes later they are distributing wee cardboard trays with a cooked brekkie. I’ve gone on record to say I am not a fan of breakfasts on planes, but this was an unexpected surprise. I thought it was a little late in the day to get a breakfast.



Staff good at interacting with Passengers.


Still, I gladly get to grips with it. A simple affair; crisp hash-brown, thick rasher of non-fatty bacon, beans (which suggests this is a Full English breakfast, as the Scots tend to avoid this), a pork sausage (little cheap tasting, not Cumberland anymore, but not anaemic at least) and a decimated tomato. A roll and butter, and utensils accompany this. The FA’s don’t miss a beat, and pass back through the cabin with tea and coffee after this.



Dinky tray, but great on a domestic hop. Walsh would have faced backlash if he had tried to cut this.



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View over breakfast – cloudy UK



Coffee is served on little trays.



Decide to push my luck and ask for a G&T, saying that I am just off on my holidays. Scald myself after saying this, as there is really no need to excuse a G&T in a civilised world. Whilst this is brought to me without issue, the absolute faux pas of G&T culture is committed when it arrives with a swizzle stick plonked in a plastic glass with no ice.


Something is clearly missing. ..



Any guesses for this airport? Middle-England somewhere.


I get another 2 G&T’s in before we get a quick update from the flightdeck giving our routing and approach into what he calls the ‘choppy air around London city’. Hurrah, I tightly grip my G&T and watch as we glide down above the M1, skirt the redeveloped East of London, make a wide ark above the Dartford crossing and bear down for runway 27 at London City.



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Time to get below the clouds



London coming into sight.



Lining up.


Choppy was a nice British euphemism from the pilot it has to be said, since we were bouncing all over the joint. My G&T which I had cunningly stowed from the FA’s prying eyes was splashing all over the place. Great fun!



Very windy down there!


Was hunkering for a go around as we were approaching unsteadily, but we touched down and hard braking was applied.



Chasing our shadow.


LCY is still a little gem in my calculations. Takes but a minute to pull up at a gate, file off onto the breezy apron and be in the dinky little terminal.



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LCY is very central.



Leaving aircraft on foot.



Baggage out very quickly.







Connecting to Heathrow.



BA had given me plenty of time to make the slog across to the West of London, to Heathrow. Who knows how many people are tripped up by this odd scenario of changing airports? It bothers me not between LHR and LCY as both are accessible by public transport, but I’d feel somewhat cheated if I had to transfer between LHR and LGW.



LCY DLR station



Through Canary Wharf.


Regardless, plenty to do in the big smoke. The sun is shining on it, seemingly as ever.

I go and exchange all my Saudi currency, get a stash of $200 which will spend the next year or so under the floorboards of my shoes as my ‘contingency cash/ visa fund’. Also buy some bit and bobs, close some bank accounts (I have lots but sadly with very little in each). 4 beers and an M&S Meal Deal and I head out towards Heathrow.



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Sun is ever shining on London



50 minutes on the Pic line, and I arrive at;


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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19546 times:

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Terminal 5. Home of British Airways.



Aaaah. London Heathrow, snipe and whinge to your heart’s content, this place really is just wonderful to me. It has got quite a unique buzz to it. I think it just wouldn’t be the same either if it weren’t shouldered by East London suburbia. I.e. if bonkers Boris had his way at it was relocated to the middle of the Thames. I despair at our indecisiveness about the third runway. It is essential it goes ahead I feel.



This transparent floor could be a bit risqué I suppose.


This place also has it’s loyal following of haters. But I’ve always loved its cathedral like qualities, high spaces, spanning steel skeleton flying skywards, polished veneer, free flow of passenger movement, branch-like support and canopy roof. Each time I enter I feel unhurried and in awe of the architecture here, my journey has begun. BA being the only airline here (except when its poor cousin from the South comes calling each day), also allows them to dominate the functionality of the desks etc. I have not once had to queue landside in Terminal 5.



The echoing inside of Terminal 5


I go and check-in. I use one of the desks and am seen by a very cheery attendant, with a lyrical Londoner lilt. She checks my bag in without issue and issues my baggage tags in no time.



A lot of space land-side of BA’s home.


As an afterthought, I go to one of the assistance personnel mulling about, on the off chance the flight to IST is overbooked tonight. If it where I would offer to defer to their flight the next morning, and milk the compensation of such a move.


‘Naah luvvie, plenty of seats left on tonight’s flight, but fanks all the same. You not in a rush eh?’


No bother! Feeling leisurely, I go out into the last frail rays of October sun. I have a four pack of Carling and some packets of Qatar Airways biscuits which I had hoarded and am now keen to get eaten.



Classy man, clearly. We can’t all get into lounges sadly ;-(



Daft purple ‘Olympic Tree’



Love the hard-edge architecture.



Ample space


I watch aircraft soaring into the clear skies and making their turns towards faraway destinations, and begin feeling a bit melancholy. Unable to put it off any longer, I take one last inhalation of Great British air and head into the terminal.



Nice livery on MS



And along journey ahead for NZ, dedicated to Nicholas on the receiving end!


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Road outside T5 is called Washington Road, not really sure why. Very busy though.



Full-body scanners, with no scan, no fly policy which I support (as per MAN)


I’m fairly pissed off at security. I pass without issue, but my bag gets diverted onto a slip-way of the x-ray belt. I stand there, having redressed, and wait and wait. Exhale. Inhale. Decide to phone my family members for final goodbyes (somewhat a tradition now before I board my flight). And still my misunderstood hand luggage is sitting there. Exhale. I watch as other passengers guiltily unlodge value-packs of Tres Seme hair products, an African lady pulls out two glass bottles of ketchup no less. The mind boggles. Takes no less than 20 minutes before a security lady finally plucks my bag out and roots through it.

Largely polite though can’t resist to ask what the hold-up; answer is ’Sorry luvvie, a shift change is slowing things up a little for us. I’ll pass your feedback on”.



Justifiably impatient people at security.



Some of the departures this evening.






Airside definitely a little more congested.

The good news is that the IST flight is not yet boarding. So, I can poke about T5 a bit. Decide to wait at the busy gate area, and allow the entire flight to board and the sign to flash onto Gate Closing before I go on. Still plenty of people in the jet bridge.



Nice DNA/ Fish skeleton above the seafood bar.



Final boarding 10 minutes before take-off.



I like the boarding area’s at LHR – they are well spaced out.



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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19565 times:

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British Airways LHR-IST




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LHR - IST

Airline……………...British Airways
Aircraft………….... Airbus A320-232
Flight……………….BA680
Registration…….....G – EUUF
Seat………………. 18A
Departure time........17.45 (16.53)
Arrival time………… 23.40 (17.44)
LF: 100%............... Y
Distance….. ……....1563 miles (3hrs 55 min)


Price……………. £121.80 (combined ticket with GLA-LCY)




View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Fred Seggie - WorldAirImages
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Szabo Gabor





Boarding-pass checked. You descend down an elegant elevator twixt metal and glass to the level of the air bridge. Newspapers in the air bridge, although I had stocked up already at GLA.



There is UUF for todays long run to IST.



Stairway down to jet-bridge.


Not one of the super-long ones today.



Frontage of T5


There is the personal touch from a bespectacled FA at the door and welcomes me. That said, it is bottlenecked. Wish they would stagger this procedure.



Welcome onboard.


When I do eventually get to my row, I stow my luggage and have to squidge into the window seat. My seatmates are a mother and son team, Turkish by my estimations. Plenty of dodgy side-looks to follow.

Flight deck comes on to apologise for the slight delay. No reason given, but assurance that we should arrive into IST about on time. It is 18.05 before we begin our taxi to the active. LHR is blushing in the light of sunset, and looks really brilliant. Argh.



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Visitor from the Emirates



T5 again.



Slowly but surely LHR is getting a very convincing facelift



Always think the trail of landing-lights is very amazing at LHR


We queue in a sandwich of heavies, before it is our turn to power down the runway. Up, up and up into the London sky. We make a sharp-turn to go down-wind of the airport, with nice views. Pushing on into the East, a full hastened dark soon befalls the land.



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Goodbye LHR


Overhead screens emerge. BA isn’t giving into seat-back IFE on its narrow bodies yet sadly. Strange on routes where they push their ranges. As compensation, Highlife is a very good IF-Mag and they give you enough drinks to get sufficiently sozzled not to give a damn for mediocre films. In any case, the BBC News pipes up with George Alagiah’s boring drone, and 15 minutes after take-off the first drink’s service is conducted by an efficient Turkish FA.



Thames.



First drinks run, done by this single FA.


A great G&T to settle down to this time. This is a smooth move in my mind, because it just settles the passengers, so there are none craning their neck to see where the grub is. It sets a leisurely mood.



Much improved with plenty of ice.





In any case, only 20 minutes later, two FA’s commence distribution of the catering, from the front. They are a muscly, camp FA (who it seemed had purposefully ordered a BA short-sleeved shirt three sizes too small) and a lady with a shock of blond hair and BA sash. They conduct the service very efficiently, taking time to politely ask each passenger their selection.



Meal service begins


What can I get for you this evening sir, Veg or Non-Veg? The non-veg is a chicken Masala (that much loved British bastardisation of Indian food). – Sure. There we are



Covered



Uncovered

The meal-tray turns out to be excellent, very well proportioned and very fresh. Let’s inspect the various elements. Presentation is very neat, and it fills the small tray comfortably. All foods are sealed – even the four slices of fruit have an overkill atrium to keep it all fresh.


The ‘main event’ is a chicken tikka masala, which I have noticed BA quite often wheel out. Well, it is a crowd pleaser. This comes with pilau rice. The Masala is rather yum; creamy, buttery, enough spice to leave a tingle to the tongue (which calls for another G&T) – very well balanced indeed. The rice is aromatic, moist and well cooked, and the dish is given texture by a smattering of peas and lentils.





It comes with a fresh focaccia of bread, and some country life. The focaccia has Italian herbs through it. Whilst the country life butter, is… Country Life, in butter form!


For dessert is a pre-packaged, branded mouse/ soufflé type desert of coconut and pineapple. It has toasted coconut sprinkled on top, and is light and melty to eat. Sublime.



Mousse


The meal is concluded with the tang of citrus, with an orange, white and red grapefruit slice. This ornate 4-slice-of-fruit scenario is a little vexing, but provides a nice finish.



Four segments of fruit!



What really brings a smile is that half way through my munching, the crew conduct a second drinks run, and I am handed a double G&T. Things are going swimmingly.



I catch Mr Muscle’s eye and dilate my pupils kitten-like, to request a second meal tray. Which he brings without a fuss. Great stuff.



Second-tray conquest


This is where things do slip a little. With everyone finished their meal, they are effectively trapped by their trays. I see a lot of people bursting for a pee, and eventually giving in. In most cases the person on the aisle seat has to get up holding two trays, and it all becomes quite a kerfuffle. Some people take trays to the galley. They really should have cleared trays by this stage.



While we’re all gagging for a pee in economy class, Club Europe shmoozes with the Captain

Trays are eventually cleared. I get out and head to the back, where there is quite a bottle-neck for the toilets. Perhaps some of the limitations of operating a narrow-body on such a long route. The FA’s have barricaded themselves in behind the curtain.


Toilets are largely clean, floor a bit mucky. No rogue pissers or anything to get excited about.


Upon exciting I pop my head round the curtain and ask for another G&T. Mr Muscle fetches me a double without hesitation. I retreat back to my lock-in and watch the IFE overhead, which is some trashy mid-length generic American comedy starring that butter-scotch-haired fool Owen Wilson and all his cronies.


The long day catches up on me, and a drift off into sleep, spilling G&T down my trousers. Silly goose. I awake to a flight deck announcement and update. We are just about to begin our descent and are somewhere above Greece.


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Aircraft bad-habits; an encroaching foot and hand.


Totally disorientated on approach, except for that I know we are over water. Landing is smooth and we park up at an isolated stand, where I suppose this aircraft might overnight? Anyway… Ground response is organised, and buses are waiting and I am on my way to the terminal in no time.



Coming in over the sea.



Parking up



Cabin empties out



My comfortable seat.



Cleaning staff heading onboard. They are all searched before boarding with a metal detector.



Bye BA


I join the rush of passengers in IST. This airport has shot right to the top of my top most traumatic airport transfer experience, well, behind DOH at least. Traumatic is a bit rich, but it is a real guzzle and there are massive crowds of people all pushing along. It is clearly running well over-capacity. A snaking queue for Visa on Arrival. I get talking to a rather lovely English girl here, and latterly guard her luggage for her. She chooses not to invite me back to her 5* Hotel when I say I will sleep in the airport. The screening for visa issuance is done, and I am soon in Turkey.

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IST guzzle



Countries needing visas which shrinks each time as Turkey negotiates bi-laterals



Should be more personnel on.



What else is coming in.

I waddle around a little, and then find a bench where I can get some shut-eye. It is 00.31 and I am keen to optimise my sleep in preparation for my MH flight tomorrow afternoon.



And what’s going out (I would love to try the China Southern to Urumuqi! )




That is the end of the Aviation part of Trip Report 1.

A Non-Aviation section will now be tagged onto the end of this report. It will cover the beginning of my Asian Adventure series, commencing in Papua New Guinea, then passing through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and then across the entire length of China, the middle Kingdom. If you have time and interest, feel free to peruse.



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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19510 times:

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Conclusion.


I thought British Airways, BA in their funkified regeneration, performed commendably on these two sectors. The whole experience was very smooth for the customer – they succeed well in their soft-ware functionality, and friendly reminder e-mails before your flight and user-friendly My Flight function and seat-selection.

All staff, including check-in personnel, where very attentive and had warm personalities. FA’s in particular did not shy away from their duties (over and above the slow clearing of trays), and were largely pro-active.

Catering was probably the highlight of these flights for me. I thought it unexpected, and very welcome, to get a full breakfast on the GLA-LCY run, and thought the meal on the LHR-IST was of a very high quality. Both main courses were flavoursome and piping hot. The coffee was abhorrent, but I expect nothing less. It is sad, but true, that liquid refreshments are an important part of a flight for me (and some other users i.e. Mr Chew). Perish the thought of the no-ice incident, but otherwise, drinks were free flowing and high quality.

Aircraft were good overall. The Embraer is really a delight to fly on, and I think it will fit very well into BA’s customer base flying to and from LCY. Did think the A320 was a little cramped when the load was as high as it was on the IST run, and it made moving around really a bit chaotic and uncomfortable. IFE clearly lacks, though Highlife is a good publication and will normally amuse me for a good hour or so.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first instalment in this series. I know the flights are fairly insubstantial, in stark contrast to the reams of writing which I get down, but hopefully it has given some incite.


Question, comments and corrections are all warmly welcome.


Best wishes,



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Luke




Previous reports


BA And Cityjet - Scotland To London (DND/GLA/LCY) (by lukeyboy95 Mar 31 2010 in Trip Reports)

(by Dec 31 1969 in Trip Reports)

An Indian Summer; The North – BA And IT (Part 1) (by lukeyboy95 Jun 11 2010 in Trip Reports)

An Indian Summer; The South – S2 And IT (Part 2) (by lukeyboy95 Jul 15 2010 in Trip Reports)

~A Promise Kept; To France For Chicken AF A380~ (by lukeyboy95 Oct 23 2011 in Trip Reports)

Pivo In Bratislava ; A Day With FR (by lukeyboy95 May 6 2010 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)

My African Safari (i) ; The Beginning (EZY/ QR) (by lukeyboy95 Feb 27 2012 in Trip Reports)

African Safari (ii) ;The Interlude QR LXR-DOH-KUL (by lukeyboy95 Apr 13 2012 in Trip Reports)

Africa (iii); The Medivac QR Rtn& A3 TLV-ATH (by lukeyboy95 May 19 2012 in Trip Reports)

Kingdom Calling;Exceptional Emirates (GLA)-DUB-RUH (by lukeyboy95 Aug 29 2012 in Trip Reports)

Saudi Internals; Nas Air (E90) Vs. Saudia (743) (by lukeyboy95 Oct 2 2012 in Trip Reports)

QR (Qatar); The Falling Star RUH-MAN & FlyBE->GLA (by lukeyboy95 Aug 2 2013 in Trip Reports)

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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19373 times:

* PLEASE NOTE SOME PICTURES IN THIS SECTION MAY BE INAPPROPRIATE TO VEGETARIANS/ and those of a nervous disposition about the killing of animals*



Non- Aviation Write Up (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and China.

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The part of the route covered in this first part.



I shan’t endeavour to go into any great detail for this part of the report. Prose wise, at least. But the text will just be to outline the sort of routings I did when I set off on the trip. It will be divided into countries, through which I will give some overarching opinions about the place. Please, no sensitive Sally's: opinions expressed are purely my own, cynical and on occasion warped views. I suspect it’ll only Laotians that could be offended by this report.




Indonesia

I touched down in Denpasar with a somewhat devilish hangover from over-cooking it on the flights. Sadly the place had turned into some sort of overseas Australian territory. Perhaps if I had turned over a few rocks, I might have found something I like, but I quickly gave up and backtracked to Surabaya where I got the first overnight ferry to the oddly K-shaped island of Sulawesi.



Sulawesi bound


Indonesian youths.


3 weeks in Sulawesi were absolutely thrilling; there is a noble amount of variety packed into that little island; from Islamic Makassar (the buzzing hub in the South), to the Toraja people of Tana Toraja (and their off the hook funeral ceremonies), the nirvana that can be lived in the Togean Islands, and the gracious and warm people of Manado and Tomahon, and their penchant for Cap Tikkus (Mouse spirit for the bite it inflicts as it goes down your throat).



Coto Makassar, which is a really great dish in Sulawesi. Beef broth, to which you add lime, salt and other yum flavours.



Fishing



They eat dog in Sulawesi. I didn’t eat it, given it’s hounds of Baskerville reflection, but did eat dog finally in Kazakhstan!



Tana Toraja Funel ceremonies. I was just in time to witness the ceremony for a maritime officer who had spent his later years out in the Netherlands. As such, over 20 heads of Buffalo were slaughtered that morning.



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Witnesses


It all happens very fast indeed. If you can’t take this sort of photo, then you don’t have the right to eat meat IMO



Bloody


One of the thrashing beasts was so close to knocking me out in it’s struggle for life that it splattered my leg with bloody from it’s neck.


Prudent also to consider Indonesia not quite the Islamic heartland I had often heard Arab’s boasting of. Yes, it is largely that. But there are vast sub-group of people of other faiths, in Sulawesi, Bali, Maluku Islands, and Papua. And even where it is Islamic, it is all very mellow and tolerant. I (sadly) seemed more shy than many of the flirting girls that asked my marital status, or pouted outrageously in photos with me.



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A little after all the slaughtering, I saw a woman tending to her garden with a large bauble of hair. When I asked for a photo, I was amazed at the hair she unfurled. Seemingly uncut for many decades. Seems in one of the photos she thinks she has momentarily misplaced it.



For the Torajans, it was a question of status how many horns they had infront of their distinct houses



Important to note, that when the Bufalo are not being used to shuttle the diseased up to heaven, they are leading the life of Riley in this absolute Utopia, drinking milk and being well looked after. Just makes it all the more confusing.



It is only by Day 12 that I have summoned up the confidence for my ‘first hitch’



Not a bit of the Buffalo goes to waste.



Beautiful Tentena, where there has been much Christian/ Islamic fighting in days gone by


Hitch-hiked to a waterfall, as was ‘guided’ by these naked kids, who were very excited to see a bule




Absolute heaven for me.


Beautiful Lake Poso


Three banking Auditors got me to Ampana where a ferry would take me to the Togean Islands.


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Ferry to Togean. These are very beautiful Islands. Well worth a visit, and even close to a Silk Air route.


Togean Islands


Most of the time, Asian police were excellent to me. I actually wound up at this on duty officer because a communication breakdown; ‘Saya mencari tempat kemah’ (I’m looking for a campsite) was interpreted to mean ‘take me to the town called Kemah’ which ironically was nearby. The police officer was bemused.


Informal Internet Café


The mighty Sinabung comes into call at Bitung, before making the epic voyage to Papua.



For 7 hours she is (over)loaded with perishable produce for the islands.


From Bitung, I took a four day Pelni public ferry until the very end of Eastern Indonesia. These Pelni boats absolutely have to be experienced. They flout most maritime safety and pollution laws, and are a complete riot of activity, commerce and characters. The dynamic changes after each port, as well as the ethnicity and curious stares.

I was the only whitey, or bule, as the local lingo goes, on board. There’s a name for pigmentaly challenged people around the world I suppose. Ekonomi class was a riot; always a wild atmosphere, below deck with the rats and roaches, your daily meal was a boiled, ungutted fish on rice with boiled cabbage! We all lived off their inventive Indomi noodles.



Cruising through the stunning, and pristine, Spice Islands (Maluku), where I’d call with Malaria 2 weeks later.



Never failed to make friends on board: like this Tomahon dance troupe who were really wonderful and sand into each night.


Ah! The sunsets as we cruised day and night through the pristine Maluku Islands. It was about that time that I noticed the ships company were disposing of all rubbish and detritus (from over 4000 passengers) over the side of the ship, into pristine waters in which dolphins frolicked. This was jarring and wrong for me to watch.



M.V. Sinabung disposing of her tonnes of rubbish. Pelni, you should be ashamed.



The islands


The rubbish


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The sunset


When Papuans started getting onboard (a wave of squat luggage porters at Sorong), it was quite amazing. They were so far removed from Asians, and not discernibly African. Melanesian to be precise; but squat, strong, solid people with hair so curly they could comfortably balance their substantial loads on.



First sights of Papuans at Sorong port.


When I stepped out on deck next morning, I got my first views of the coastline of Papua Island. My breath was knocked out; such mystery, such a wild richness of rainforest with a mist that licked and added enigmatic qualities. A huge swell swayed gently rocked our liner, and in the water were tree stumps and fragments of forest, washed down from great rivers. I really felt I was pushing the envelope. We forged on for 2 days along this coast, and deep into the night, arriving at Indonesia’s last bastion, the Port of Jayapura. Final call.



First glances of cloud-licked Papua.



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Incredible Papuans.



There is a dead bird on this man’s head.



Eerily pushing on into the night and Jayapura ahead.



Jayapura


Papua is a spectacularly ignored case. In every respect (from a visitors point of view), Indonesia ought to have no dealing with this place. Jakarta is thousands of miles away, part of an entirely different continent and people. Papuans are ethnically, religiously and spiritually different. Jakarta’s game has been to flood the place with Javanese, throw up hundreds of mosques and flex intimidating military muscles in the area. Freedom Fighters are dealt with swiftly and with finality. There are obvious advantages and prosperity seeping into the region, but it just feels all wrong, and the mighty resources have already begun to be plundered.



If anything the Javanese have brought great food! Medan noodles



But locked up many innocent Papuans (this man had just been released from 6 years in prison for independent fervour)



Beaches close to Jayapura



Super flirty young local girls. Blush.


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Jayapura, with a young Papuan parking attendant.



Dramatic skies always


And funky-ass tribal dancing.


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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19322 times:

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To Papua New Guinea




There is a dinky little PNG Consulate in Jayapura, with gaudy Christmas decorations and a wonderfully cheerful security guard. Visa secured (5 days), I can proceed into PNG, some 40km’s away. From this point in the trip (I had used some buses till here); I swapped to hitch-hiking, and wouldn’t stop hitching until I reached Scotland. Over and above ferries, for the rest of the trip I paid not a penny on transport. Customs officials gave me a lift to the border, in return for me starring and endorsing them in their ‘Anti-Corruption’ promotion video. Witnessed such blatant corruption at the border later that day (for my sins).



Thanks to Indonesian Customs for the lifts to and from the PNG border.


Wow. To enter PNG! That place is so other-worldly! Everything is bigger, and it’s all got spirit. An enormous woman parked her arse on top of me in a mini-van, we passed over turquoise waterfalls with naked old ladies bathing, kept afloat by huge bosoms, kids running about in ecstasy at their verdant playground, the road forded rivers and after 40 minutes, I arrived in Vanimo Town, which is the first and last settlement of Papua New Guinea. It is the Sandaun Region, and certainly had a rather Wild West feel about it.


The airstrip at Vanimo sees a few lifeline planes a week.


As mentioned earlier, it had been my objective to try and get to New Britain Island, but the astonishing value of the kina had stopped me dead in my tracks. This place was more expensive than Scandinavia! Also, sporadic transport meant the only way out of Vanimo (over and above the irregular flight) was by once fortnightly ship.



Schoolgirls – maybe not the bonniest, but very friendly.



200m up the beach, one of these boys, having studied me curiously for 10 minutes, had asked my name. When I came back down the beach, they had written it in the sand, and asked me to their village for a coconut.



Fresh coconut fetched from the trees behind. No fee expected. Glorious people.


But Vanimo was microcosm of PNG. It had all the characters, all the social problems, all the aimless youths, all the proud people, all the wonderful Pidgin language; the PNGer’s ‘tok pisin’. (What’s your name? My name is Luke = Husat nem bilong yu? Nem bilong mi emi Luke). Having submitted my passport to the Indonesian consulate, I set out on a four day walk down along the dramatic coastline. I got about an hour in before a man saw me in the rain and invited me into his home, where he insisted I stay with him and his family.

I learnt so much from Loa about Papuan values, standards, customs, and land issues. He learnt (and was fascinated by) how to put a contact lens in from me. 7th Day Adventist, but fortunately not too converty. I helped him with his business of illegally smuggling Indonesian (subsidised) fuel across the sea border, and reselling it here for 5 times the amount. Each day the local kids would pick me up and we would explore a new waterfall or rock-jump up in the rainforest. I got my first leach in a sort of Stand By Me moment of terror.



Papua New Guinea gets the booby prize for worst food ever. They adore canned goods (legacy from WWII) – here is rice, plantain, instant noodles and canned tuna. Yum.



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Local boys on a trip to the waterfall to ‘was-was’ (wash) each day. This place was their playground!



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Nights spent by the fire, watching storm clouds rumble off distantly.



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Adventures upstream; If I had known there were leaches!



Fresh Cocao beans. Really yummy even before the chocolate process.


It would be remiss of me to not mention the Malaysian logging company that was in town; Nasty Sarawak-based Rimbunan Hijau. I saw first-hand the devastating damage that resource exploitation can do in this sort of traditional community. Promises broken, bribes made, vast tracts of hardwoods clear-felled for palm plantations, the company had, in a sense, used the delicate social fabric of this community, to wipe its arse. They had put every single shop keeper out of business, and now sold their imported goods. They even imported all their own fuel and flew in their workers. Just criminal. I’m not so naïve to think that the UK doesn’t pull these stunts, but it was pretty wild to see first-hand. Here is a link (courtesy of Mr Airpearl) to the company (see http://www.wrm.org.uy/countries/Malaysia/RHreport.pdf).



Vanimo Bay with Malaysian logging companies vessels.



Vanimo tombola; note the airfield!



Vanimo bay



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Papuans are obsessed with can goods e.g. eating tinned fish when there is bountiful fresh fish on their doorstep. Bit warped.



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Coastline looking towards Malaysia



So; this is quite a seminal photo (despite the blur of a self0timer) as it was me toasting the most Easterly point of the trip, taken on pretty little Vanimo beach, 5 minutes after picking up my Indonesian passport from nearby consulate (19th November 2012 – Day 35)




Christmas was encroaching.



Delightful Loa and his many girls. His wife was solid as rock too!



Not wishing to outstay my welcome, I bought Loa and his family some essentials and headed back across the border to Jayapura, where…. 22 hours late, the familiar sight of M.V. Sinabung came into view having completed a return trip to Jakarta since I had last seen her.



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Travels down the PNG coastline.



Very quickly, as the third horn blew and we pushed off for the 6 day voyage, I got an odd and familiar fatigue through me and an unusual ache in my knuckles. It was my old friend back to ravage me once more; malaria.



Leaving Jayapura



The worst food of the journey. For breakfast, lunch and din-dins.


It almost makes me teary when I think how those Indonesians (who knew me not) came to my rescue, showing the most honourable and selfless compassion, generosity and caring (ness?). For 2 days I was nursed by total strangers, carried to the clinic (I was more qualified than the baboon of a ship’s doctor in any case), massaged me to divert the pain, given a bed to rest on in First class. I was constantly sick and delirious.


Fortunately it comes in waves, and it had subsided enough for me to get off in the marooned islands of Kota Ternate in the Spice Islands and get myself to a hospital. There I was given the news I had plasmodium falciparum i.e. the most deadly strain of malaria. I was tended to by Christian nuns, surreally. I was very scared initially (as I wasn’t responding to any of the meds), but made my recover and was discharged in a week. A friend from Jayapura had phoned some contacts on the island, and they (not knowing me), kept a vigil by my bed every day, brought me guava juice, held my sick-bucket. I am eternally grateful to these people.



Keeping up the Asian fingers faith.



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Can’t say I wasn’t hospitalised in a super-cool place; Kota Ternate!



Heading back to Java; I would chill out on the life-rafts each evening for sunset. Here Borneo slips out of view.



Making friends with the catering supervisors on M.V. Doro Londa was a grand idea.


Fully recovered; I took a ship back to Surabaya. Oh, I lie; I took a train to Jakarta. I couldn’t be faffed with hitching on Javanese roads. On the train I passed through Anet user Akhmad’s hometown of Semarang. The Indonesian photos of this report are dedicated to your wonderful home country!



The highlight of Surabaya was visiting the Sampoerna (hand-rolled) clove cigarette museum. Where else do you see all the board of directors posing with ciggies in their hands?


But I did hitch the entire length of Sumatra! It was totally bonkers for me! The going was really slow, and I was a little confuddled by the road. But, I got my equator photo, and met a lot of really brilliant people on my way up.



Ancient ferries link Java and Sumatra.



Fairly typical of hitch-hiking is the idea that you never know what you are going to get. As an example. On Sumatra I was picked up by two female reports who were off to cover the ethnic violence between natives and Balinese settlers in a local viliage. There had been wholesale murder. I got to sit in as a peace accord was signed between two dull dignitaries!


And invited to weddings… !


And riding on top of cement trucks down narrow mountain roads!



And eating amazing Padang food (in which every dish on the menu if brought to your food, as you pick and choose and the bill is given for what you eat). I didn’t know this ‘system’ the first time, and though it not polite to eat all the food ordered by my host. Clearly couldn’t read the look of horror on his face.


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Crossing the Equator at Bonjol! AirAsia has all but decimated overland travellers in these parts; the novelty T-shirt sellers looked very dejected.



Getting a nice ride with a Pertamina Fuel truck.


Stopped in Danau Toba. By the time I reached Medan, I had absolutely fallen head over heels with Indonesia. The people were great, so curious and gracious, they were always polite. It also had this feel of a country that, whatever you needed (barring perhaps uncongested roads and drinkable tap water), it was right there, cheap and normally with a smile. I had also picked up a modest amount of the logical language. Sadly, Indonesian Immigration was not so willing to feel the love, and booted me out.



Volcanic Danau Toba Lake region… which is Christian, and a little diluted by tourism. Still beautiful place.



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Mie Ayam, and a sate dish, both served by this friendly young vendor for mere pennies. Be mindful of overcharging though!



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Or, empowered Tutik, who told her driver to pull over for me, and was a manager in Bumi Resources and let me sleep in her penthouse that night. She was a DELIGHT!



Tutik’s drivers family also put me up for one night!


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Wonderful Medan, bit of durian in the lower photo



As a nice measure of how liberal they are here; I stayed with Marina and her female family.



Her mum was a third generation Beef Rendang master, and created this masterpiece. So yum! Final meal of Indonesia.


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Taking the dicey ferry from Tanjung Balai to Port Klang! Whoop whoop.



Entering the modern world. The amazing straits of Malacca from the bridge of my unstable ferry!



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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19309 times:



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Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, Tis the Season.


Can’t say I was overly enthralled to be back in Malaysia, a place I consider good for transiting. However, I met some friends and had a gas coming up the highway into Thailand. I met each of the ethnic groups of the country, and explored what each had to say about the other. No transport quite gives you a cross section of a country like hitch-hiking.



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K.L.



Invited to an amazing Chinese Malay feast which was so wonderful and buzzing. This is how meal times should be!



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And saw a Chinese Opera (the most interesting part was seeing the Smoking musicians and changing performers at the side)


That’ll wake you up in the morning! Stayed with this Hawker and his family at Matang



Friendly Malaysian police!



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First taste of delightful Thai hitches!


My modus had been that I would get to Thailand to be surrounded by ‘my own’ during the Festive Time of year, as I wanted a festive spirit. So I hitched to Ao Nang, for Rai Leh. It had been hopelessly romantic of me, as what I found was a bunch of debaucherous teeny-boppers, high as kites (although, I don’t disagree with this), balancing of tight-ropes, dancing to drum and bass, an unhealthy appetite for fire and on some sort of warped quasi-Thai/European cuisine. I actually felt totally alienated.



The Teeny-Boppers


So un-Festive, Grinch-like, was I feeling that I had to set an alarm on my phone.



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No doubting this part of Thailand is very beautiful, just a tad over-run!



Had to look twice before I got in this ride, mistaking it for ‘Erotic Voyage’ for just a second.

By New Year I had migrated up the coast to the once devastated by the Tsunami beach area of Khao Lak. This was much more pleasant, as I latched on to a group of eccentric German over landers, who let me boil instant coffee, noodles and eggs on their stove. Passed a great week here, and a very calm and refreshing New Year.



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New Year featured a lot of Lanterns and fireworks. This part of the cast was reduced in 2004.



Sunset each day! And this was absolutely free with a tent!


I hitched up north to Bangkok in a day, which was pretty good going, with five wonderfully foxy Thai students. The girl, Chew, will remain as the most aggressive driver of the entire trip, and probably the sexiest too. They invited me to some sort of funky club as a little bonus too.



Wind in your hair, sun in your eyes; hitching in Thailand!



The girls that got me to Bangkok! Chew on the right… one of a kind!



Swept into BKK



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Win, can you help? This was about the best soup I ever had in my life. Peppery and delicious.



Chao Phyra



Gourmet food for a song; only in Thailand.


I went off to ‘make paper’ out of sugar-cane (god knows) and eat hash cookies for a couple of weeks on the Southern beaches of Sihanoukville. Sin-ville was about the most feted, wretched place I came across on my trip. The locals despised the foreigners and vice-versa, there were so many screwed-up characters (my American neighbour threw a cherry (?) bomb at the local kids who were taunting him), it was polluted and generally messed up. I stuck to my cookies and paper-pressing. I held the Koh Krong conservation corridor in much higher esteem however.


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(Battembang)



Often slept in Buddhist temples, Wat, on the trip. They were always really curious and welcoming, and very kind. Thanks…




This old boy had just died. Not a 100% good character.



Paper-making and Cookie eating. I did use the parchment I made for the rest of the trip!


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Noodles and smoke



Scottish whisky industry competition ($00.90 at bottle!)



Hitching the beautiful Southern road from Cambodia to Thailand. Had a steady stream of European sex-tourists (on visa runs) pick me up.



Nostalgia and planning



Camped here one night and had a great omen when, in the middle of the moon-lit night, the river had risen almost to my feet. When I woke I saw a snake slithering through the water straight for me. Threw a rock infront of it to put it off on another trajectory. It had just gone the Year of the Snake. Infact, I saw a lot of snakes on this trip come to think of it.



A total of 14 motorbikes picked me up(without charge) on this trip! So cool… thanks!


And everything else in between (getting to Thai border!)


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Super Thais! And yes, that is a taxi driver who have me a 200km ride to Bangkok with absolutely no charge. Shocked.




** Side trip to Sri Lanka ***
Carefully marking the spot at Hualamphong Station, I took a ‘diversion’ which is allowed in the imaginary rule book off my trips (did the same last year in Egypt). A year without getting above the clouds is just too much for me, I begin to get twitchy, so I planned a side-trip to Sri Lanka. I took a train down to the Hat Yai, and flew … well, you’ll see it in the next report. It was a delightful trip, well worth it.



Waiting for the snow to melt in South East Asia – Thailand and Laos.

Having returned to my ‘spot’ in Huamlamwhgp, Bangkok station, I could continue with a clear conscience.
Now I was ‘treading water’ in effect. The reason was such; as soon as I entered China, the clock would be ticking as all the following visas were orchestrated and for a month only each. I didn’t want to cross the high passes of China too early, as they would be under snow, or simply too cold for this fatally ill-equipped traveller. I also had numerous passes in Kyrgyzstan to get through. So….



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Some noodle dish of the Thai Muslim population. Yum!


I headed north into Thailand. I must say, hearty congratulations for the proud Thai’s, who have just about managed to bag every type of tourist there is in the world. Although, commiserations on getting so many Russians in thongs. But yeah; High-End luxury, Mid-Range schemies, Budget hippies (I’ll take this category), Culture Vultures, sleazy Subcontinent businessmen, Ecotourism idealists etc. etc. all enter the boiling pot.



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Heading north in Thailand! Companions in the back of a pick-up! Happy days…


With this potent pot on the heat, I had low expectations for Thailand. However, I stand severely corrected! Hitching in Thailand was some of the most thrilling of the trip! I think it is the thing of being exposed to people not in the tourist industry by standing by the road, and a lot of them really still are curious. I met delightful, warm and charismatic people this way. Never happier than in the back of a Thai pick-up trucks, sweeping along their dreamy highways. You’ve got to get a hold of your crop burning though, please!



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Friends made in Thailand!



Asked to a funeral which was an amazing experience (5 days no less)


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Crossed briefly into Burma (dedicated to AirPearl for all his efforts and passion for this country)


I was loathe to leave Thailand. The Chang, the smiles, the scents, the strong women, the phenomenal cuisine.

Into the Golden Triangle I go. There is actually a direct ferry between Thailand and China from here, but was expensive. So headed over by land!



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A last Chang and it was time to head across the Mekong into Laos.


I was left underwhelmed by Laos, really. It was in stark contrast to my first visit some 6 years ago. The smiles seem to have been wiped off the locals faces. Perhaps I was just meeting all the wrong characters, or perhaps tourism had already begun its rot and decay of the warm, welcoming culture. (more than welcome that I am part of ‘tourism’ hot-headed people). It can’t have been helped by the fact that Lao was undoubtedly the worst country of the trip to hitch-hike in (along with Greece and Hungary).



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Higher and higher through Laos. By this time I was very apprehensive about China!



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Made it to the border in this peach of a vehicle. And just to show he was the shit, the driver had two hats on.



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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19276 times:



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The Middle Kingdom; Big, Bad China

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The trepidation and nervousness I had about going into China was intense. I had been here previously, 7 years prior (walter). But since then, China had been repeatedly villainized in the Western media; it had become a secret society, a bit totalitarian, a powerful threat and an essential friend. But it was the size that perturbed me. I went in fearing the worst.


I downed my final bowl of steaming Pho at the Laos border (have scootled out after only 3 days there), and crossed into the ostentatious, showy Chinese border facility. A man scuttled up me to show me the new technology for filling my immigration card automatically. This sort of crap never impresses me much. A humble hut does the same job.



One last bowl of Pho to steel me for China!


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The Laos border pagoda looks like a bloody candle this morning. Fantastic pissing away of money!



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Chinese border. Completely ridiculous.


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These two (photographed) pieces of information were literally all I had to get 900km to Kunming!


My learning curve for China was near vertical. Landed in a town that had not a single English speaker (snort, what was I expecting!?), not a single RMB (and not having looked at the rate), not a dickey bloody Chinese phrase, no map. NOTHING! I washed up in that country with nothing. It took me 20 minutes of pleading for an internet café to give me access (they require a Chinese ID card (Big Brother) from each person &can’t fathom that a tourist wouldn’t have one).



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My first ever hitching on Chinese roads!

It took two days to hitch to Kunming. I actually don’t know how on earth I managed it. Big smiles! On the first night I tried to sleep in an unopened fuel station, and the police were called on me. The next morning I tried to hitch on a (largely safe) slip road, and police arrived shortly. Somehow, I made it to a mate in Kunming, where I buckled up with phrases, letters, maps, advice, inspiration, guide-books and adventure, ready for battle!



.

Police being called after I tried to sleep in this unopened Sinopec fuel station… haha.


.

.

Day2 and more Chinese police, an insane road that leads into the Yunnan foothills and some kind businessmen giving me my first tastes of huge Chinese food!


After the sultry South East Asia, arriving in the spring city of Kunming was such a breath of fresh air. And almost immediately, the Chinese society and model started to slowly make sense to me. I washed with very hot water from a bucket in a cold, tiled bathroom and felt rejuvenation.




.

Kunming in it’s spring chill


I had conspired an audacious plan after conferring with my Chinese speaking friend. I would now route up through Yunnan, Sichuan and then into Qinghai. It would be over some of the highest, most untouched regions of China (barring Tibet, actually, let’s try and stay away from that hotbed).



.


Not far to go now! My friend who ‘fixed’ me ready to take China on!


I set off in earnest. I found hitching to be largely a piece of cake. Communication was a different matter altogether. China is an enigma in as much as there are no common grounds when it comes to communication! Not even gestures seem to match up. Unlike any other language I’ve known, where if you say what sounds very close to a fitting word, common-sense, logic and guesswork prevail and they can sort of ‘autocorrect’, Chinese is tonal, and it can result in dangerous confusions. Well, anyway, I had about 25 pre-scrawled ‘key’ sentences – everything I could need ‘I don’t have any money’ ‘I have a girlfriend’ ‘Don’t shoot’ etc.




.

Dalian Old City (great place) and writing my diary at the end of the day with weak Chinese beer.



Unique hitch! Gatecrashing another wedding!



If you are ordering food in China, the usual way is to pick a bunch of ingredients and confer with the chef beforehand. Impossible for tourists.



Cheers! About the best hot-pot I have ever had in my life.



After a boozey lunch with local government officials.


What I like about Chinese dinner tables is it usually looks like someone has thrown a grenade into it by the end of a sitting.


Absolutely delightful Miss Cheng and Miss Chung, who picked me up and drove outlandishly, put me up in a 4* hotel and took me out for dinner twice. Love these two…


Trekking Tiger Leaping Gorge


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The start of the snow mountains.




I think this is allegedly the rock from which the Tiger leapt from the hunter!


The story goes, from Shangri-La I wanted to route along this magnificent back road into the South of Sichuan. A Tibetan man invited me back to his home in some isolated valley, and it was about the most remote and unspoilt place I had even been in my life. Just astonishing. His wife cooked me great noodles, local Baiju mixed with egg, butter tea and I slept under heavy yak wool blankets. I think that man, Shwee-Pee or such like, just about saved my skin as the high-ground in which I had planned to camp was frosted , snow-covered and magical next morning when I returned.




.

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Getting higher, and more Tibetan at Shangri-La (which is a marketing ploy, it is called Deqen really) but is nice enough.



Monk



.

The insane road I hitched up north into Sichuan.



Erm, literally just missed this landslide




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Schwee-Pee’s Isolated valley and village. The most remote place I have ever found myself in.

Waited 3 hours for a hitch on this crazy old road, eventually resorting to a clasped hand, pleading gesture which stopped a young truck-driver. These passes were such a thrill, up to 5000m which made me wheezy



.

Hitching on the insane S217 ‘Highway’ – absolutely freezing and very high altitude.



Young driver Wussan who takes me over the high passes.



Other-worldly views on the other side! This is Tibet in all but name…


Sadly, on arrival at Xiangcheng, the first police check-point in Sichuan province, a phone was handed to me ‘ Hello. Listen me. Stay right where you are. We will be there to pick you up in 15 minutes. Do not go anywhere’ Mysterious, anyway, 10 minutes later, the Police Chief of the town and his interpreter officer turned up. Apparently, with catastrophic timing, I was here at around the anniversary of the Tibetan riots some years ago. The Chinese politburo had put an absolute blanket ban on any foreign travel near Tibet and in the regions which are still ethnically Tibet.



The innocent little town of Xiangcheng was on police lockdown (note the cyclists being apprehended in the background)

.
I’d got this far because I didn’t come on the bus. I was pretty gutted to be cut-short on my planned route in towards Litang and on. But, there was little I could do to stop this, and there was no point being grouchy with the officers. So, I struck a little deal, and managed to get a full dinner, a bus ticket back to Shangri-La and a night in a hotel all paid for. That night I went back to the translator’s Tibetan house and spent a lot of time with his charming family.



Dinner with Xiangcheng’s really friendly police chief and interpreting officer.


I mean, China sort of shoots itself in the foot with this paranoid type of behaviour. It gets them nowhere, and it adversely affects the grassroots tourism. Bit sad, bit paranoid.



2000 times around they go!


Back at the home of officer Stanley and his family!


To confound the situation, I was also told that I had been granted a business visa, instead of the usual tourist visa, and this meant it was non-extendible. Shit. This now turned things into a race against time. I had a huge detour to make, and still 6000km to make in less than 10 days. Shit!



A small novel I wrote on the Business visa situation.



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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 10, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19262 times:



.(from above)


I wasted no time, and in the very day I departed, managed to get all the way to the Disneyland that is Lijang (Dali is much nicer I feel). Next day I got one of the best hitches ever. I was in an old bemused farmers car, when a police car pulled in and asked him direction for the very place I was headed (the absolute polluted hell-hole of Panzhahua for reference). Amazing stroke of luck. It got better, when the officers told me they were continuing to Chengdu, so I notched 900km with these legends.



Desperate to avoid the big-cities of China, which can suck you in and prove impossible to escape


They took me under their wing wonderfully, and fed me well. We communicated as best we could. We crashed into the back of a hysterical woman’s car. We bullied wayward trucks off the highway with our flashing lights. Really such fun. Then they put me up in a hotel room and took me out on the lash. It seems to take not a lot of light beer to get a Chinese man drunk, and as such they were trying to impress many ladies of the night upon me. Next morning, they put me on a train! For free!


.
.




One of the best lifts of the trip was my 900km epic with the three police officers! Dan Jin Fei (right) spoke a little English.


Chengdu


It all got a bit confusing with the police thereafter. They were a little confused by my hitching. And then I dug myself unintentionally into this tall tale about my ATM cards running out, and getting to a friend in Lanzhou. Anyway, the police insisted on paying for a train for me. They went further, and bought me food and looked after me excellently. This was pretty good, as I managed to avoid some of the major population centres. At the station, the police talked to the station mistress and let me wait in the lounge for the night.



Couldn’t seem to shake the (very friendly) police on this trip


Chinese police were without doubt the most helpful, kind and caring of any police force I have ever come across. Perhaps it was just luck, perhaps it is an order to make a good impression from the higher ranks, perhaps it is my hopelessness, but they were just a dream. So wonderful. And such misunderstood people! Got this perpetual image of Chinese police blocking cameras with their palms?



More police dispatched to buy me food and get me to the train station safely!




*problem formatting hence small break in report. Please bare with*


[Edited 2013-08-15 19:44:08]


Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1258 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19210 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

I know what I'll be doing this weekend!!!! Wow this is up already....nice!! Thanks and here I was thinking this was going to make it's appearance here some six months down the line.

I can already tell you, your photographic style is back!! You've redeemed yourself. lol

Too bad I can't read this now, I have to get to bed, but honestly this is my weekend read  


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 19259 times:

.





Foxy lounge attendants.


Interesting to note that trains were booked solid (for three weeks) between some cities on account of the huge population.


By now I was pushing deep into the West of China, and things were changing fast. The outer limits of the Great Wall had petered out into rumble amongst a desert. I was entering Gansu, which funnels the main highway up towards the Xinjiang region of China.



Late in Lanzhou.


This is an area that has piqued my curiosity for many years – since it to all intents and purposes is not China (comme Papua/ Tibet). The people are ethnic Uighurs, holding more in common with Mongoloids, and following the Islamic faith. The region is harsh desert and towering mountains. It is a place of great allure and has an illustrious history as a result of its association with the Silk route. It is an absolute jewel.



Chinese disabled toilet.


The food had begun to change too!


Hitching was good fun here. I covered my ‘day’ record of 1100km in a day with a man who shared half a boiled egg and a carton of milk me, whilst extolling the virtues of the socialist system. The landscape was striking. I spent some time in Turpan, a bit more out in the desert, and then made a fairly bold crossing of the Taklimakan desert (right through the heart) and slept the night in the desert.



Progress!


The End of the great wall of China!


.

Mr Lee-Yuan picked me up in his knock-off Hummer and invited me back to stay with his lovely family. This was a great slice of normality for me!


.

Chinese toll booths!


Longest hitch of the trip; a Mr Ugang.



Delirious



Of all my favourite toilets (few) in China, this one was great. Male and Female, and all it is is a pile of rubble which you should squat behind!



Grandad who perked up his daughters hat for my photo. Kind!



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Turpan, and lots of Chinese unity propaganda on the walls all about.



Jialong ancient city, which was once a thriving stop on the Silk Route



Lamb kababs and Naan… very yummy food the Uighurs have!



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The beautiful highway that follows the Silk Road.


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Hitching the 600km Trans-Taklimakan with wonderful Ahmed, who doesn’t look very Chinese does he!?



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Camping out.



Next day was Hotan’s Sunday market and was undoubtedly the most vibrant, fascinating and thrilling market that I have managed to visit. And, I’m a bit of a market collector. The food! Argh!!!!!!



Hotan Sunday Market


.

My diary describes this as "a glob of aromatic rice, cooked inside banana leaf triange with a cherry inside. This is pressed down, and a sugary syrup, with a distinct honey sweetness, is ladled on. Upon which fresh, cold yoghurt (from under a cold linen) is spooned ontop. From two congealed and crystalised pots are added an apricot jam (warmed and with fresh bits of apricot through it) and another sweet jam with hints of nutmeg and warming spices. " Incredible.



.

Young and old. Watched these two hold friends embrace for a good 5 minutes amidst the hubbub of the market


erm, 'scuse me sir, I think you may have got a bit of your product on your face...'... no doubt an earlier ill-timed sneeze.




A note about Uighurs. I wouldn’t say they were really the most friendly ethnic group I came across on my wonderings. But this can be put down to a deep-seated suspicion of all outsiders that has arisen because of the callous way in which China has moved in and cracked down, fanning heavy migration and decimating the Uighurs ancient and beautiful culture. Yarkant has the most unspoilt Uighur feel of all the cities I visited.

One day there was an innocent enough fire in an apartment in Hotan city, and the Chinese put it out with incredible efficiency. Then they proceeded to put the entire city on military lock-down, with riot police, tanks, undercover officers… it was disgusting, wreaked of paranoia.



.

Hotan City lockdown (as above)


A confused Uigher lady watches the Han Chinese ball-room dance, and infront is a patronising statue of Mao meeting and Uighur elder.


So, erm, no hard feelings there… I had one very funny family pick me up in fact, and they all ate plentifully, gorging themselves on lamb kebabs and steaming bowls of noodles – 9 of them – and then at the end, gave me the bill! Haha, don’t think they knew who they were dealing with.



Clearly I am a curious thing to have picked up by the road.






.

Ancient Yarkent, which is a great surviving Uighur city.


Child labour,


Yeah, another thing. China’s control and monitoring of the people within her borders is absolute, heavy-handed and astonishing. It makes me feel a bit cold really. All internet usage has to be through special ID cards, so they keep tags on content. All social media is banned, even plane Jane stuff like Couchsurfing.org. On the roads, cameras constantly take pictures of and track cars, and every so often you have to get out into a building, swipe your ID and be questioned. The propaganda runs as freely as the baijou spirits



Above a urinal .


That said, when I compare China and India, I wonder perhaps if this slightly totalitarian, one-party rule is probably the best thing for Chinese. Most, even young and worldly types, live in a Disney-land world of Chinese bias. They are actually so unconcerned about the outside world (barring Japan), that things seem harmonious. I don’t think such rapid growth and power-gain could have been managed under any other system in these modern times. I feel mostly at peace with China after my month here, and was amazed that, despite communications being near-impossible, I managed to feel a warm connection with the Chinese people.



Hitching my very final road in China! Whopee…


When I got to Chinese Immigration on my way to the Irkeshtam Pass (where the mountains raise up out of the desert), they were playing funny buggers, and saying I needed to get a $120 taxi over the border. Conducted a little sit-in protest, and camped outside their gleaming office until the next morning (having almost gone hypothermic), they capitulated and put me in a civilian truck to the border.


The Immigration Facility of my protest.



After 140km, the mountains emerge out of the desert, you are at the frontier of China and Central Asia.


The border opens according to Beijing time, which since we are so far West, is very strange. This is the final Immigration post, over there lies Kyrgyzstan!

So yeah, sorry to yabble.


That takes you to Central Asia. In the next report I will cover Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Armenia.


Ciao for now.




No-mans land….


.

p.s.

Was too slow to edit earlier post and include Great Circle Map. Cheers GCMap


.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6758 posts, RR: 77
Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 18329 times:

Hi Luke,

what a great new adventure you presented to us! I'm stunned by all these nice pictures, well done! At the end, I almost forgot that you also wrote about two flights!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Out onto the Clyde

Beautiful!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Sleek E-jets

The E-Jets aren't bad in general, but I have started to hate these overhead ventilation slots which cannot be closed. So ice cold air often blows straight onto the head which I find extremely unpleasant.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Seat-back contents – is it LR or SR? PH?
SR for short runway.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Dinky tray, but great on a domestic hop.

It never ceases to amaze me that BA offers that on a domestic flight - while serving only chocolate bars or other small items between MUC and LHR.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I join the rush of passengers in IST. This airport has shot right to the top of my top most traumatic airport transfer experience, well, behind DOH at least. Traumatic is a bit rich, but it is a real guzzle and there are massive crowds of people all pushing along. It is clearly running well over-capacity.

Welcome to IST!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):

Fortunately it comes in waves, and it had subsided enough for me to get off in the marooned islands of Kota Ternate in the Spice Islands and get myself to a hospital. There I was given the news I had plasmodium falciparum i.e. the most deadly strain of malaria. I was tended to by Christian nuns, surreally. I was very scared initially (as I wasn’t responding to any of the meds), but made my recover and was discharged in a week. A friend from Jayapura had phoned some contacts on the island, and they (not knowing me), kept a vigil by my bed every day, brought me guava juice, held my sick-bucket. I am eternally grateful to these people.

That's bad to hear. What's your future strategy against it?


PH

[Edited 2013-08-16 04:19:27]


Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3245 posts, RR: 12
Reply 14, posted (1 year 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 18327 times:

Super report Luke! I’m really, truly in awe of your backpacking skills! You have to write a book. Looking forward to the next parts. I won't comment on the length  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Absolutely on time, the boarding call goes out for the LCY bound Embraer. I am quite excited, as it will be my first flight into LCY with BA, and my inaugural flight on an Embraer. Not that it makes too much difference, but Gabriel has been spouting compliments for the aircraft, so I felt inclined to give it a try.

I hope I didn't big it up too much. Still, seems you enjoyed it

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):

The two FA’s disappear and the waft of cooked breakfasts (no finer waft it might be said) permeates through the cabin. Surely not I ponder to myself, but, 18 minutes later they are distributing wee cardboard trays with a cooked brekkie.

Excellent, great to see on a later flight. I'm keen to try one of these, but getting up early doesn't entice me much.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Decide to push my luck and ask for a G&T, saying that I am just off on my holidays. Scald myself after saying this, as there is really no need to excuse a G&T in a civilised world. Whilst this is brought to me without issue, the absolute faux pas of G&T culture is committed when it arrives with a swizzle stick plonked in a plastic glass with no ice.

Oh dear. I hope the later ones came with ice?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
BA had given me plenty of time to make the slog across to the West of London, to Heathrow. Who knows how many people are tripped up by this odd scenario of changing airports? It bothers me not between LHR and LCY as both are accessible by public transport, but I’d feel somewhat cheated if I had to transfer between LHR and LGW.

And you chose LCY just for the E jet? Cool!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I’m fairly pissed off at security. I pass without issue, but my bag gets diverted onto a slip-way of the x-ray belt. I stand there, having redressed, and wait and wait. Exhale. Inhale. Decide to phone my family members for final goodbyes (somewhat a tradition now before I board my flight). And still my misunderstood hand luggage is sitting there. Exhale. I watch as other passengers guiltily unlodge value-packs of Tres Seme hair products, an African lady pulls out two glass bottles of ketchup no less. The mind boggles. Takes no less than 20 minutes before a security lady finally plucks my bag out and roots through it.

I had similar ion T4 recently, where my bag was held hostage for a good 25 minutes, while other staff just floated around.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I join the rush of passengers in IST. This airport has shot right to the top of my top most traumatic airport transfer experience, well, behind DOH at least. Traumatic is a bit rich, but it is a real guzzle and there are massive crowds of people all pushing along. It is clearly running well over-capacity. A snaking queue for Visa on Arrival. I get talking to a rather lovely English girl here, and latterly guard her luggage for her. She chooses not to invite me back to her 5* Hotel when I say I will sleep in the airport. The screening for visa issuance is done, and I am soon in Turkey.

Ugh, I just hate IST. Shame on missing out on that hotel!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Togean Islands

Beautiful!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I was tended to by Christian nuns

How 18th Century of you. You really need to start taking anti malarial…..

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Had to look twice before I got in this ride, mistaking it for ‘Erotic Voyage’ for just a second.

Well, it is Thailand!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 9):
And just to show he was the shit, the driver had two hats on.

Haha

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 9):
It took me 20 minutes of pleading for an internet café to give me access (they require a Chinese ID card (Big Brother) from each person &can’t fathom that a tourist wouldn’t have one).

Oh yes, the Chinese and their love of tracking your every move. I’m surprised they were so happy to see you travel though without ever having registered properly at a hotel or police station (as one is supposed to do every night on ones trip).

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 9):
Dalian Old City (great place) and writing my diary at the end of the day with weak Chinese beer.

I think you meant Dali Old Town. Indeed nice, but not a patch on what it was before it became famous.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10):
To confound the situation, I was also told that I had been granted a business visa, instead of the usual tourist visa, and this meant it was non-extendible. Shit. This now turned things into a race against time. I had a huge detour to make, and still 6000km to make in less than 10 days. Shit!

Normally you need a lot of documents to get an F visa. Very poor of the consulate to get that so wrong

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 11):
Chinese police were without doubt the most helpful, kind and caring of any police force I have ever come across. Perhaps it was just luck, perhaps it is an order to make a good impression from the higher ranks, perhaps it is my hopelessness, but they were just a dream. So wonderful. And such misunderstood people! Got this perpetual image of Chinese police blocking cameras with their palms?

I’m impressed with how much help they gave you. Certainly wouldn’t have happened anywhere near the East Coast.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 12):
Interesting to note that trains were booked solid (for three weeks) between some cities on account of the huge population.

The Chinese seem to have forgotten to order any new trains that aren’t bullet trains. There has been a sever lack of capacity of many routes for years now. China Railways just keeps buying the fast trains for the key city routes in the East, while ignoring the backroads.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 12):
Late in Lanzhou.

Ah, one of my favourite Chinese cities. Did you play beach volleyball on the banks of the Yellow River, or enjoy a watery beer in one of the beach bars?



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:STN-SNN-STN,MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-
User currently offlineseansasLCY From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2007, 858 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 18015 times:

Brilliant trip report. I'd love to go backpacking with you. I always kind of get shy and end up paying for things!

Can't wait to see the next part.


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 16, posted (1 year 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 17689 times:

Hi Udo

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13):
Hi Luke,

what a great new adventure you presented to us! I'm stunned by all these nice pictures, well done! At the end, I almost forgot that you also wrote about two flights!

Yeah, I know... it is a bit disjointed since I finished the flights in Istanbul and finished the pictures in China, but I thought this was the best way to construct the report. Less travel photos in the next two installments (whenever they may be) so should be somewhat shorter.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13):
The E-Jets aren't bad in general, but I have started to hate these overhead ventilation slots which cannot be closed. So ice cold air often blows straight onto the head which I find extremely unpleasant.

I hadn't noticed. They just seemed much roomier and comfortable which was the main thing for me.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13):
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Seat-back contents – is it LR or SR? PH?
SR for short runway.

Haha! You saw that then?! That makes sense,,, just the photos on the Anet database had it listed as LR

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13):
It never ceases to amaze me that BA offers that on a domestic flight - while serving only chocolate bars or other small items between MUC and LHR.

Yeah, it is all a bit confusing I suppose. And with Walsh's axe a swinging, I am surprised they are still doing them. They have been downsized it must be noted.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13):
Welcome to IST!

Haha, yeah. Well I prefer it as it is normally where cheaper single tickets go from.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 13):
That's bad to hear. What's your future strategy against it?

Well PH, I am resigned to it. I was taking all the proper precautions this time, but no vaccine is 100% proof against the blighters. Slap on a bit more repellent I suppose!





..............................................................................................




Hi Gabriel

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Super report Luke! I’m really, truly in awe of your backpacking skills! You have to write a book.

Not too sure Gabriel! As a matter of interest, how long did that report take you to read matey? If you can find me a publisher! When I have finished the next trip I will see what options there are, as I enjoy writing about the people I meet...

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Looking forward to the next parts. I won't comment on the length  

You don't need to! I couldn't have possibly broken it into smaller really!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
I hope I didn't big it up too much. Still, seems you enjoyed it

Oh no. Quite the contrary. Well worth it.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Excellent, great to see on a later flight. I'm keen to try one of these, but getting up early doesn't entice me much.

Nah, that is the thing. You feel guiltier with the G&T's too - well, maybe not you sir!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Oh dear. I hope the later ones came with ice?

No. Do you think perhaps they just don't load ice on those morning flights?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
And you chose LCY just for the E jet? Cool!

Well, I think alot of my friends wouldn't term this as 'cool'! But yeah, and I like LCY and always a bonus to pass through London.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
I had similar ion T4 recently, where my bag was held hostage for a good 25 minutes, while other staff just floated around.

An ion? Nicely done Gabs. Yeah, they have to speed this process up. There never seems to be anybody managing the staff properly.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Ugh, I just hate IST. Shame on missing out on that hotel!

Yeah!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
How 18th Century of you. You really need to start taking anti malarial…..

haha... I do! I did it in Africa, and I did it in PNG. Even had a mozzie net, impregnated and all. But, not of it is foolproof, and this strains in PNG are very resistant.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Well, it is Thailand!

My thoughts exactly.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Oh yes, the Chinese and their love of tracking your every move. I’m surprised they were so happy to see you travel though without ever having registered properly at a hotel or police station (as one is supposed to do every night on ones trip).

No, that is interesting. Never had any of that registration tosh. Did in Central Asia however. Well, I had to have hotel bookings for my entire stay to get the visa

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 9):
Dalian Old City (great place) and writing my diary at the end of the day with weak Chinese beer.

I think you meant Dali Old Town. Indeed nice, but not a patch on what it was before it became famous.

I did indeed. Was just off my head. No, I shouldn't think, but it is SO easy to elude the Chinese tourist!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Normally you need a lot of documents to get an F visa. Very poor of the consulate to get that so wrong

Very poor show! Perhaps I should have taken it as a hint. And isn't it expensive too?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
I’m impressed with how much help they gave you. Certainly wouldn’t have happened anywhere near the East Coast.

No, that is what I had been told. On the East they are not nearly as charming. Was so impressed. Again, don't think they saw alot of tourists, but most spoke some VERY basic English. All careful to return my passport and be polite etc.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
The Chinese seem to have forgotten to order any new trains that aren’t bullet trains. There has been a sever lack of capacity of many routes for years now. China Railways just keeps buying the fast trains for the key city routes in the East, while ignoring the backroads.

Yeah that is what I had thought, since I see plenty of investment. The Chinese have also taken all the joy out of travel by train, with their torrid holding rooms. I was given a row when I wanted to watch my train depart one day after alighting.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Ah, one of my favourite Chinese cities. Did you play beach volleyball on the banks of the Yellow River, or enjoy a watery beer in one of the beach bars?

No Gabs, just had a limited time really. Enough to pick around a little bit. It was also really cold there! It gets a bad name, but didn't think it was too terrible!



*****************************************************************




Hi Seansas

Quoting seansasLCY (Reply 15):

Brilliant trip report. I'd love to go backpacking with you. I always kind of get shy and end up paying for things!

Can't wait to see the next part.

Haha. I am sure I probably ought to pay for a bit more on my travels.

You really should get out there and do some backpacking. I personally have learnt loads on my trip and have really great memories from them!

Also, cool to see you have LCY in your name. Is this your home airport?

.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineTUGMASTER From Northern Mariana Islands, joined Jul 2004, 690 posts, RR: 9
Reply 17, posted (1 year 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 17499 times:

One word mate......



WOW.


Please continue.


User currently offlineseansasLCY From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2007, 858 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 17435 times:

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 16):
Haha. I am sure I probably ought to pay for a bit more on my travels.

You really should get out there and do some backpacking. I personally have learnt loads on my trip and have really great memories from them!

Also, cool to see you have LCY in your name. Is this your home airport?

I've done a bit. Yeah I live really close to LCY and work in London (the flag is wrong and wouldn't change. I'm British) so if you're down this way let me know and I can buy you a drink. Where is your next journey?


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 19, posted (1 year 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 17433 times:

Hi Tugmaster!

Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 17):
One word mate......



WOW.


Please continue.

Haha, thanks for your short and sweet reply.

Sadly the second part will not be up for another good 2 weeks or so! Will try and get on it ASAP though.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1258 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (1 year 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 17360 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 11):
I know what I'll be doing this weekend!!!! Wow this is up already....nice!! Thanks and here I was thinking this was going to make it's appearance here some six months down the line.

I can already tell you, your photographic style is back!! You've redeemed yourself. lol

Too bad I can't read this now, I have to get to bed, but honestly this is my weekend read

I knew my comments, smuggled in between your reports as you were posting would go unnoticed lol....See Reply 11

 


User currently offlinejetblast From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 1231 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (1 year 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 17318 times:

Really enjoyed reading this - while this IS airliners.net it's still really a neat thing to read about the journey itself outside the airplanes and airports. Looking forward to the next installment.


Speedbird Concorde One
User currently offlinevisualapproach From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (1 year 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 17295 times:

You are a mad bastard Luke! There is travelling, and then there's travelling. There are trip reports, and then there are your trip reports!

You can always sum up your trip reports with your excessive alcohol consumption and x2 servings of the inflight meal. Keep up the good work.


User currently offlinejoacocifuentes From Argentina, joined Sep 2012, 122 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 17067 times:

Hello, your report was simply amazing. I enjoyed reading it, especially the non-aviation part, while flying.- I think it's amazing how you survived through all this journey.- You should plan your next hitch-hike in America, from the top to the bottom.-

Thank you and keep writing please!

Joaquin


User currently offlineardian From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 544 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (1 year 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 16977 times:

What an awesome trip! Very captivating! Oh my, this really is the best tripreport I've read in years on this site. Thank you so much for putting the effort in sharing it with us, together with the breathtaking pictures you've made.

25 Post contains images lukeyboy95 : Hi there, I need to keep on top of these reports! Hi Sean I thought as much! You never really know on this site. Often down, so will give you a shout
26 joacocifuentes : Great! Here in Argentina you can count on me.- Tandil, Buenos Aires, Argentina.- There is where I live.. Joaquin
27 Post contains images Rogerbcn : Hola Luke! Speechless man, speechless... I am fascinated by your trips. It truely proves that the world, no matter how far we can travel, is still qui
28 knightsofmalta : Hi Luke Look, I really don't mean to sound like a patronizing old fart but I really do think you have a lot of talent. Your style of writing is simply
29 767747 : Wow, what a trip! Amazing stuff, and great photos! Very organized! Great looking meal. Yum! I'm getting hungry now. All best, Matthew
30 elephantboy : That's an amazing trip and wonderful report. I think that is "Guay Jub". It's a Chinese kind of noodle. Did you take it at Chinatown (Yaowaraj) in Ban
31 BFS : I never normally comment on reports like these, nor am I someone who gets into travel journals, but I absolutely loved every minute of reading this an
32 Post contains images eastafspot : Hey Luke Absolutely amazing and clearly unique! ( even if i had to read it in 3 stages ) It looks so easy through your eyes! PNG is a so beautiful eve
33 Burj : Wow....took a while to read but worth it! LOVED all the photos and your observations... Where are you going? Why are you dreading it? Will you be hitc
34 Post contains images SloAir : Hi Luke, what a brilliant trip and what an awesome trip report ,I enjoyed it even more than the African one. Great pictures and great writing. I have
35 j77w : Hi Luke, I was just flitting through the trip reports before bed. Then I came across yours .... that was about nearly half an hour now?! Brilliantly w
36 timboflier215 : One of the best trip reports ever posted to this site - thank you so much for taking the time to write it up, Luke! Cannot wait for parts 2 and 3; ins
37 crablin : Luke, mate, what absolute treat of a read. Usually I read but don't necessarily digest the non-aviation bits but this was incredibly interesting, well
38 lukeyboy95 : Well, I suppose I have got a little behind with the replies. But please don't let that put you off as they are most appreciated! Yo Joaequin Perfect!
39 Post contains links and images eastafspot : Hey Luke, Did you not hitch a ride at all in your side trip in Sri Lanka? Hmmm no, but in "your" Scottish airline operating for CityJet on a EDI-LCY,
40 MSS658 : Hey Luke Great review of your hitchhiking expercience. Really loved the pics. Greetings Marc
41 lukeyboy95 : . . Hi EastAf! Haha, now you got me thinking. I was hitching in Sri Lanka indeed (well recalled) and that worked out at 745km. Then I also flew from A
42 Post contains images theaviator380 : Luke, What a cracking report mate ! stunning pictures and wonderful summary of your bag-pack experience ! That grilling of Dog is so awful..yak..can't
43 MIAspotter : Wow dude! what an amazing report. You certainly got big cojones to do this kind of trip, I love travelling and seeing new places but going so out of m
44 lukeyboy95 : Hi Aviator 380 Cheers buddy. Glad you enjoyed. Yeah. I mean, when I tootle about I separate all feelings of morality and Western values I suppose. I
45 jwhite9185 : Hi Luke, You weren't joking when you said this was a long report - wow! What an epic adventure you embarked on. BA looked pretty standard really - goo
46 Post contains images sultanils : Hi lukeyboy95, Totally astound by this wonderful piece of travel writing and picturing. Not only the flights, but also the road trip. You really went
47 Andriyko : WOW!!! You really have to write a book! Amazing report. Thank you for sharing!
48 lukeyboy95 : Yo James No, deadly serious. In brighter news though! It will be the longest of the three! Really. I wonder why you just think that is standard? I me
49 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Hi Luke! What a remarkable piece or work, once more, by your hands. I regret not finding time earlier to read it but I was on the road myself. I can't
50 lukeyboy95 : Yo Stojan Thanks for an extensive reply. Most welcome! Ach, the road takes priority over the internet at times. I left the forum for a good year on t
51 Post contains images adamspotter : Hi Luke! What an amazing report you made here! It took a while to get through it, but it was well worth the time. Amazing pictures! Your travels sure
52 flightsimboy : Hi Luke, One of the last to reply to your awesome trip report and glad I am doing it now!! Big question, do you plan to write a trip report on your MH
53 Post contains images lukeyboy95 : . Hi Brendan Yo! My pleasure, thanks alot as always for stopping by. I am sure you are due some TR's soon! Yeah, not a bad offering! Haha, they put so
54 Post contains links and images flightsimboy : Hi Luke, Thanks for responding to my comments...appreciated. May I indulge you to spend time with my first love lol http://www.airliners.net/aviation-
55 IH8BY : *chortle* A most entertainingly-written report, with great pictures to boot. The trip's a fascinating idea - though I couldn't cope with it myself. W
56 AI121 : HI Luke, I think the images in first two parts needs to be re-uploaded. Not loading.
57 lukeyboy95 : . Well, sadly my Picassa account unsynced my photos from my computer, so the aviation photos are no longer attached to this report. I think most peopl
58 Post contains images win1290 : Hey Luke! It seems I am too late to see all the photos damm! but nonetheless your travelling photos are amazing! Thanks Luke. Well - I know that kind
59 lukeyboy95 : Hi Win! Sorry for a slow reply..., I am away traveling at the moment... Yeah, it was a sad old thing but picasa mysteriously deleted that album, or un
60 luv2fly : Can't wait for the rest of the trip to be posted. Thanks, like always it has been an enjoyable read.
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