Look at the route map of your typical Asian low cost carrier. Isn’t it amazing how many destinations you can fly? There are more added all the time. And some of those prices - get in at the right time and they can be so cheap!
That’s what I was thinking when I began planning this trip. The first segment booked was Taipei to Narita, taking advantage of the sale surrounding Scoot’s announcement of these destinations. Yes, Scoot. After my first two experiences with Scoot I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the airline, but the fares were cheap and I wanted to lock in that we were off to Japan.
Vietnam was strongly considered and dropped (when will Jetstar Pacific be let out of the country?) and other destinations sorted through many nights of research and a spreadsheet of times and prices. We ended up with:
BKU-TPE: Malaysia Airlines
No Tiger Airways included (don’t think I’m missing much) and a non-LCC was in the form of MH (fine by me).
Maps generated by the
Great Circle Mapper -
copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
So join me, my wife B and 4 year old frequent flying son Alex on our 3 week trip around Asia.
I had no wish to book Scoot. My first trip with them had been highly uncomfortable. Even my wife agreed that we shouldn’t fly back to Australia at the awful time of 2 am out of Singapore. But the fact was that they were by far the cheapest and we were trying to spend as little as possible. Would they be as bad as last time? Let’s find out.
No rush in the morning. We were catching a taxi with the mother-in-law and her friend who were headed to Kuala Lumpur on the earlier AirAsia flight. The taxi driver was relatively new. Sydney's roads were typically choked and we crawled along the M5. I agreed with the taxi driver's desire to take the southern scenic route instead, but we weren't the ones paying and trying to check in early.
The oldies returned to us after checking in, having scored an upgrade to a lie flat seat, a feature not even available on Scoot.
Sydney Airport. It gets a pretty bad rap, but I actually like it. Eight years ago I caught my first international flight, also to Singapore, from this terminal and despite the many renovations since the check in area still has that dark low-ceiling feel about it. And because we are going to places new it does feel like the beginning of an adventure once more.
Mother-in-law is hungry, so we take her to court. The food court, that is. Her court orders are noodles of course. Well, it's either that or rice. Let's be fair, she was hoping for hotcakes from Maccas, but that's on the other side of security.
From the food court you can peer outwards through big glass windows at aircrew and passengers walking to the southern gates, then beyond at the aircraft parked in the inner bays. For some reason it evokes a distant memory of a 1970's Tullamarine airport, when I was very young. My earliest memories are of sitting in an aircraft to Adelaide when I was two years old. After the return I didn't fly again for another fourteen or so years. This is Alex's 43rd flight and he's only four, proof if anything of a different world.
After saying goodbye to MiL and friend we took the elevator up to the observation deck, if only to let Alex ride an elevator at the airport (and I'm not permitted by him to refer to them as lifts). Of course, I am lying and the real reason was to let me photograph aircraft with our new camera. But the elevator and a run around the wooden deck were happy consequences.
|A loving relationship (and Garuda)|
We waited for Scoot's check in counter to open. Alex was busy playing with a touchscreen game at a small kids area near the counters. B walked off thread some magazines at the newsagent but was forced to return when the solid metal strap attachment on her supposedly thief proof Pacsafe bag snapped. I stuffed her bag into my daypack.
Check in soon opened. We queued behind an Indian couple with far too many giant suitcases. I hate to think of their excess baggage fees as Scoot ain't cheap, especially if you don't prebook.
We had two relatively small and light bags to check in. The backpack has actually travelled as cabin baggage before. The lighter the better, especially when catching public transport, as we usually do.
A replacement bag cost $80, but B ingeniously found a carabiner at the Lonely Planet shop to replace the hook.
Alex was so excited about seeing x-ray machines again that he couldn't wait to pass through immigration and on to security. My bag if electronics and a trainee operator slowed us down, then B was picked for a patdown and bomb residue swipe.
"No thanks, I've done one before," doesn't work.
It was our turn to go to McDonald's. Not for the food, but for the children's playground. Anything to burn off energy. We had a mostly free meal of Monopoly voucher food while he played, then he joined us, hungry.
The others' AirAsiaX flight backed out of the gate. Alex waved to his Poh Poh.
|What I would like to have been flying on!|
We intended to eat lunch at one the cafes and restaurants further along, but a glance at their prices drove us back to the Golden Arches. $27 for pasta, $17 for ramen? You must be joking!
Our yellow Scoot aircraft landed, 15 minutes late. Time for us to go too.
Alex and I take photos of the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200. It's his first flight on a 777. This one looks a little stumpy compared with the longer and later models. The much derided livery reminds me of bananas and yoghurt.