Aaaah, back in beautiful Bali. It feels like coming home. I wish it was home.
As predicted, yesterday Saturday 22 November was a long hard day for me. Up at 5.30am (I woke early) and packed ready by 6.45am for the van to the airport. Saying goodbyes to the lovely staff. This hotel has been excellent.
Ugh, the van to the airport was pretty grubby and old. Bench seats for small Vietnamese. But the drive to the airport was really interesting, seeing much more of Hanoi than I had before. A huge flower market, for example, and buffalo in the fields. Plenty to see, in other words, at 40Kmh in the traffic. Nice drive.
The airport only has one terminal and it was packed. We had a long wait in a queue, the reason seeming to be simply that everything took so long for the computer to respond.
Once finally checked in (my case came in at 19.5Kg) we wondered where to go next. We thought we should go through doors marked B1 something. A woman in army uniform smiled and beckoned us in. We found ourselves in a room with a giant X-ray machine, big enough to put a couple of bodies through at once. I hefted my stuff onto the conveyor, but was then told no, no, and we were shown out again. Why were we in there? Why had she beckoned us in? We’ll never know.
We finally realised that we needed to find Gate 5, and after getting through the crowds, there it was. Immigration and we’re through. Not as friendly this time, no smiles. That’s OK lady, I’m leaving.
More security checks and we’re through into a different world of high class shops and duty free shops. We had a fair while to wait so I bought a bottle of vodka for US$17 to use up my remaining dong (dong!). I still had a wad of about 350,000 left and as it’s useless outside Vietnam, I handed it to the duty free girls and said, “Here, for you, buy a dinner for your family.” That got a surprised and pleased reaction. It made me feel good, so …
Phew, that bottle made my already heavy carry-on bag even heavier. I carry my camera bag with three camera, plus my CPAP equipment in my carry-on. This time I had my laptop in there too, so with the 1litre vodka it really added up. Finally we were past the boarding pass check and down the tunnel. But then it was down four flights of metal steps to a waiting bus! Uuuugh, this is hard for me.
Then we had to climb a stairway into the aircraft. I was last up because I really battle with steps and my heavy bag made it very hard going. I got there, puffing and panting. It was a 3hr 20min flight to Singapore and we got a full meal, very nice too. Airbus A330 I think.
Singapore at 3pm and a rush to the toilet. I was busting! Just made it. Bloody immaculate toilets, Changi Airport class. This has to be the world’s best airport. Everything is just top of its class. It makes Perth look like a country airstrip terminal.
Skytrain to change to terminal 2 (Jan had gone on ahead) and more long walking even to reach a travellator. Bloody hell, these places are big. Got to Gate E11, then found I didn’t have my boarding pass so had to go back again to the transit lounge to check in again. Bought something for my persistent cough and chest gurgles as well.
Finally onto our plane, and it was bloody huge, and crowded. I realised it was a Boeing 777-200. I’ve never been on a 777 before. I can’t say I liked this one, not at all. There are no individual air vents and all the power went off for about 5 mins, aircon and all. Ugh! The seat pitch was noticeably tighter than Vietnam Airlines and both of us felt cramped. We were over the wing and had no window, just a blank wall. Not too happy. At least my seat belt fitted, no extension needed. And I could just get my tray table down. We got a full service meal, even though it was only a 2hr 10min flight. With that number of passengers, 10 across and absolutely full, that was pretty fast work.
The in-seat entertainment device was hopeless again, constantly stopping and going blank. The picture quality is execrable for a digital system. Very poor effort, Singapore Airlines.
Arrived at Bali airport around 9pm and it was into the new terminal building, new since I was last here in about May 2011. Time has flown. My cardio problems have stopped me travelling, but it seems to be a non-issue now. I hardly get any palpitations or flutters, thank goodness. If I didn’t feel so weak, I’d be well OK. But if I could lug that heavy bag up those steps without any chest pains at all, I must be OK. Visa on Arrival is US$35 now. Hmmm.
The hotel is a disappointment. That’s what I get for choosing a cheapie, I guess. It’s A$57 a night, versus A$110 for one I’ve stayed at before and liked a lot. This one is basic, clean but old, no frills, old towels, clunky hand shower that won’t stay in place, only a stool, no chair and so on. Breakfast was basic, a tiny glass of fruit juice, fruit, no choices, two eggs and only one small rasher of bacon. Boring coffee. Not a good start.
And it’s 400m walk to the beach! I thought this place was right on the beach. Bugger. It’s almost enough to make me want to change hotels, but then I think of the packing and lugging of bags again. No, it’ll have to do.
So now it’s our final laid back rest from our big trip before home (next Sunday 30th). This has been a huge trip, an amazing trip, but gee it’s hard going at times. It’ll be easy this week. I must look up my friends in Bali with another surprise visit.