Hi all, this is the continuation of my Turkish Airlines Singapore-Bangkok-Istanbul leg. Now if I remember correctly, I left off where I arrived at dawn in Istanbul Ataturk Airport for my onward connection to Tunis , Tunisia.
If you have not read my SIN
leg , you can go to http://pachome2.pacific.net.sg/~jeffrysky/singapore-istanbul/
( my Photobucket bandwidth was exceeded within 3 days thanks to the incredible number of views ). You can post comments for that leg on the A.net original post itself http://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/53017/
19th December 2004
THY Turkish Airlines / Turk Hava Yollari TK
Equipment : Airbus A310 ( scheduled to be Boeing 737-400 )
Route : Istanbul-Tunis
As we arrived at Gate 223 and filed out from the aircraft, I was pleasantly greeted by a rather familiar looking interior of the new Ataturk terminal. It has been 10 years since I had last been to Istanbul, and the new terminal decor was very much modernised , in sync with the same "space-age" style of Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong's.
We filed through an extremely long and empty corridor towards the transit/transfer area that would link us to the Departure Level ... Gate 223 was at the far extreme end of the terminal. Believe me, after a 14-hr flight from Bangkok/Singapore with surly faces galore and abysmal inflight entertainment, even 34" of legroom couldn't make me smile and that long trek seemed infinite.
Of course, the nice thing was that the huge windows lining the corridor offered good views of the apron. I got a shot of a TK
A340 "Istanbul" amidst some other colourful regional tails.
We went past the Turkish Airlines Transit Desk. As the boarding pass to Tunis was already issued in Singapore, there was no need to re-checkin and we went straight up an escalator just next to the Transit Desk after a surly-faced official did a cursory inspection of our passports/boarding passes.
Wow ... I was truly impressed by the somewhat "fusion" style of architecture of the Departure Hall. The individual shops were encased in traditional white-washed Roman columns, while the ceiling/flooring/lighting gave a futuristic effect. I was somewhat very enthralled to see Roman columns in an airport departure hall.
I was rather thirsty, and I immediately changed about USD10 to get some lira to get a bottle of water. Hey that bottle of water was about 2.5 million lira (2-odd USD) and it wasn't even Evian .. gosh i wonder if the excessive profit margin goes towards building those magnificent Roman columns.
A very nice Turkish lady saw that we were rather perplexed with the millions of lira we had. She was the first smiley face I saw from a Turkish local since 14 hours ago. She gave us a short arithmetic lesson and we felt a lot more confident with the currency. We got a light kebab snack at the food court ( where coffee is about 6 USD ... !!!!... james ! stop complaining .. the columns remember ??? )
Checking our departure time .. 1030hrs .. plenty of time to walk around and do some spotting..
I took a walk around the Departure Hall ... rather busy morning with a planeload of pilgrims huddling around a Saudia boarding gate. The broad windows offered some good views of the tarmac , and here's one of THY's domestic fleet.
No Roman columns here .. but very Kuala Lumpuresque a la space age ..
The boarding call for Tunis passengers came , and we took an escalator downstairs to Gate 310. The 30X gates serve domestic flights, and instantly we saw an instant transition from the spacious, glossy flooring of the International terminal to memories of the cramped old-Ataturk terminal. The terminal was nearly choking with local travellers ..
At our boarding gate 310, a very peculiar scene was occuring. A huge gang of Tunisian/Turkish travellers carrying huge plastic bags was shoving and pushing towards the gate upon the boarding call. Then the ground staff member would shout very harshly at one passenger, drag his bag and toss it out of the queue. The passenger would then immediately drag his bag back into the queue and start frantically digging into the bag. The ground staff member would then start to raise his voice even louder , and literally screamed at the passenger to move to the back of the queue. This event happened again and again, with almost each passenger.
Witnessing the chaos, we Singaporeans , being good robotic beings as we were trained to be, decided not to join the boarding queue and huddled together like an organised pack of SIA cabin crew at one corner of the waiting lounge. When the sea of madmen and plastic bags disappeared, we gingerly moved as a pack towards the queue. Not surprisingly, the ferocious ground staff member did not give us any of his lioness-temperament , thanks to our robotic smiles of unease and our orderly-arranged passports.
Phew ! We boarded the bus that took us to our aircraft. I was so tired and shocked by that terrifying boarding process that I did not even notice the registration of our plane ! It was an Airbus A310 , substituting the scheduled Boeing 737-400 thanks to the huge load of passengers today and their gargantuan plastic bags.
The flight was very uneventful, and it was most unfortunate I did not manage to get a window seat.( Not to worry , plenty of them to come for the return leg. )
The meal was passable ; some sludge-like substance with Chinese-style fried rice.
I was honestly very tired, and was comatose for most of the flight , hence the dearth of pics. ( not to worry, pLenty of them on the return leg ) I went into a deep sleep, with horrific dreams of Anatolian madmen trying to suffocate me with giant Ataturk Duty Free plastic bags.
It was soon that we were on our descent into Tunis-Carthage International Airport... i was still rousing from my coma as I was taking this shot ..
Nice and sunny weather greeted us in Tunis !
A view of the Arrival building .. the sun was so beautiful that day !
Alitalia , a Tunisair bus , a palm tree and lots of sunshine ! I feel I am already in an oasis !!
We awaited our visas to be processed. The airport arrival section seemed very basic .. no frills.
The queues looked so long , and they seemed to be growing by every minute. Thankfully we arrived as a group , so we did not need to have our visas processed. We did not need to clear immigration , and we went for lunch first. Later, we would return to the airport to collect our processed passports.
Collected our bags from Belt 4.. my luggage was half-open , held only by some accessory buckles. Hmmm rather fishy .. what interest does some kinky baggage handler have with my 2-weeks' worth of underwear ? I believed I answered my own question.
Cheers , and hope you didn't find my report too boring !
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