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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Jaro and his bike are now in New Zealand.....

In late October, Jaro flew to New Zealand, and is staying on the North Island, in the town of Whangarei.  Here is his blog:
Why I picked Whangarei was the warm weather, and lots of little roads all around.  That is one of the problems with a place like San Diego (Solana Beach) - with a straight coastline, you only get roads on one side, because the other side is the ocean. With Whangarei being at the end of a long narrow bay, there are roads almost 360 degrees around.

 I was also looking at the South Island because of the famous mountains, but after following their weather on-line for some time, I decided it was too cold there to spend the whole six months. Their max temps in summer were barely in the teens (C), and night time lows close to freezing (for the city of Dunedin).  Also, not as many small roads around, like Whangarei.

With a bit of luck (no injuries, etc.) I should be here until mid-April.  When I was leaving Montreal, the Air Canada people at the check-in did not want to let me go because I didn't have a return flight ticket.  I had to argue with them about having a 6-month visa, and that it made little sense to buy a return ticket that far in advance.  They only let me go when I showed them a copy of my apartment lease in Whangarei.

Bike arrived in great shape, but it cost a bundle -- the two fees added come to $200 (one-way).

Nights are fairly chilly here actually - had to buy a little heater (the house has no fixed heaters, other than a radiant light in the bathroom ceiling).   Nice modern library in downtown Whangarei, complete with internet.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Memories of Mandalay cruise....

We followed this cruiser last year on "Disappointing Cruise to South America".   Now we are going to follow him on a cruise and land trip to Bangkok/Myanmar.  He lives in Florida, and went on the cruise between September 17 - October 7th/2014. 

In his own words, "Overall, I was pleased with the cruise".   Here is his blog:

When I made a tentative reservation for this cruise, Viking gave me three days to finalize it.  After thinking about the price, I intended to let the reservation go; it was more than I wanted to pay.  Shortly before the reservation lapsed, about 11:30 at night, Viking called me and I explained that the price was too high.  Viking put me on hold for what seemed like five minutes and when they returned, gave me a price of  25% less than the original amount.  The trip seemed special to me, and much more inviting at the lower cost. 

Here are the costs - remember, American money:
Air:  $1795   Land:  $3000  Cruise:  $4275
Pre-extension 2 nights:  $449   Post-extension 2 nights:  $449
Myanmar Visa:  $91    Travel insurance:  $665  
Foreign immunizations:  $192                                 Total  $ 10916 

 Yes, I had a single cabin and room during the entire trip. 

Viking used United Airlines (UA) and their partner airlines for the flights. On September 17th,  I departed from Jacksonville, Florida, early in the morning to Houston, and then  to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.  This aircraft was a modern Boeing 777, and there were only about 60 passengers on board.  

Then I waited for a little over 5 hours.  I boarded an All Nippon Airways (ANA)  bound for Bangkok;  just about 7 hours.  The aircraft was another modern Boeing 777, and the flight was totally packed.   ANA conducts a much better flight than UA - better service and better food with complementary wine.   We arrived at about 11 pm, and didn’t get to the Shangri-La Hotel until after midnight


Total flight time was more than 22 hours plus another 5 hours waiting at Narita; the total miles were 10,347.

Now let's follow the cruise.....  

Photos belong to Phil Bianco.