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Asia-DownUnder-A-Thon 2013!

Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
After three flights and three landings (it's always good when the number of landings equals the number of takeoffs!) and about 36 overall hours, we checked into our Singapore hotel that will be home for us for five nights. That was at 0230 local time the night before last! We flew a United comutter jet from MIA to Wash DC/Dulles on Friday morning and made the easy connection to our United Air Lines Boeing 777 wide body that would arrive in Tokyo, Japan in "just" 14 hours! Jenn is allowed to travel in Biz Class on International flights over 5 hours while on corporate trips and she was able to cash in Miles, Freq Flyer Points, etc to allow me to sit up there with her on all but one flight, so that worked out great for us! A BIG thanks to her for spending endless hours working this intricate itinerary out on this 28-day trip! :angel

As we settled into our seats in Biz Class at Dulles, I wandered up to the B-777 cockpit to introduce myself and to say "Hi" to the guys as they were doing their pre-flight cockpit checks, etc. This soon led to conversations about "Did you know so and so when he was at Zantop on the Electra"? or, "When were you based in Chicago"?, or, "How do you like flying the triple 7 (as the Boeing 777 is called)?" The US airline Community is a small one and it's always easy to find common aquaintances whenever you get a few pilots together...... They were gracious enough to allow me to stop by and I was smart enough to know when to go back to my seat. It was a fun way for me to start my trip.......

United and Continental have recently "merged" but we found out that on the WashDC-Tokyo leg it was an all-United crew, yet from Tokyo-Singapore it was an all Continental crew in an ex-Continental 777........ only the paint job on the outside was the same. Both flights were nice though and all three of our flights arrived early which was nice.

Going into Tokyo's Narita Airport, as we descended, we were slightly offshore and it was ROUGH down below!! I saw a huge freighter smashing into waves and putting out huge waves of spray! The sea forgives no ship......

The final leg down to Singapore was a mere 6+55 so we were airborn for about 26 of those 36 hours total from MIA-SIN. I enjoyed a wonderful Japanese seafood appetizer and dinner on the Tokyo leg and down to Singapore I followed that with Sea Bass which is one of my favorite fish to eat. "I know what you're having" Jenn said just 10 seconds after we were handed our menus on the Singapore leg! Vanilla ice cream with hot fudge for dessert both times! Biz Class is nice! I did not sleep much but knocked off nearly 100 pages of my new book so that was good. Jenn can sleep through a Cat 5 Hurricane but I can only nap on airplanes....... I'm still a bit whacked a few days later!

The airport at Singapore is HUGE! We had about 4 story-high ceilings as we went down to Immigration! Super-clean too. On our Sing Immigration Card is the warning in Red capital letters...."WARNING....... DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW!! Wow! Maybe we ought to be more serious as well!

Also, I do love my US airlines but after seeing a crew of Flight Attendants from Thai Airways in the terminal at Singapore
> W-O-W! Young, slender, gorgeous, not a hair out of place! And this was at 1 in the morning! Can't wait until our next flight which is on Singapore Airlines later this week! :grin

Checking into our Singapore hotel at about 2am local time, we decided to only sleep for 6-7 hours and then get out and around town in order to get our bodies back "on time" and that worked great. Call us "old fashioned" but when we travel, we almost always take tour buses, tour boats, etc. It's the best way to see a LOT of a city/town and then to have an idea of where we might want to go back to later. It's also nice to be driven around while someone tells you about their city.

So, on Sunday morning, we walked down about 6 blocks to a nice Mall as we needed new electrical plug adapters for our room. The "universal" ones that we bought in London last fall weren't as "universal" as we thought! Being near the Equator, it was HOT out so we popped into a StarBucks for a cold drink before we hopped onto an open-air, double decker bus for a ride around Singapore. Singapore is a city/nation on an island and it's basic background is Southeast Asian but having been ruled by the Brits for 150 years or so, it's also easy for English speaking visitors to easily enjoy this very International and growing city/nation. As I look out my window now, I can see the civilian Memorial that was built to honor the civilians "That were slaughtered by the Japanese during World War Two"...... as we heard on the tour bus.... Early in the war, 30,000 Japanese troops were able to run over 90,000 British Army troops and cause the largest surrender in British military history!

We quickly noticed that Sing is booming! Growth, expansion, construction projects all over the city! No slow economy here! We also were fascinated to see the very diverse, unique and beautiful architecture in the city. Influences from all over the world for sure! They have a "Little India", "Little China", etc.

Let's get to some photos to show you what I mean!



Yet, it was easy to image that it was the 1950s or 60s as we saw a lot of this......


A lot of intricate work on buildings as well.......


We guess that these are lit up a night which would be spectacular to see!! This "dragon" went on for about four blocks!




Okay, you know that I usually save the best for last so here we go! As Jenn first looked out of out 15th floor of the Intercontinetal Hotel (first started by Pan American World Airways in 1946!) Sunday morning, she blurted out, "There's a big ship on top of some buildings"! It was an amazing sight, I'll easily admit as I first saw it! We "knew" right then where the day's travels were going to take us!!

Our tour bus was going to stop near the "Marina Bay Sands Singapore" hotel and we quickly hopped off and were soon in the Lobby of Tower One. We hopped into an elevator and headed for the (top) 57th floor....... Since we were not staying there we soon found out that an "Observation Deck" was available to the public in Tower Three on the 56th floor.

From any view or angle, this is "impressive" to say the least! This was taken from the tour bus.........


And from just before we got off the bus....


And from the ground after we got off the bus....


I was only able to take this one through a window but it shows the infinity pool and the Observation Deck off in Tower Three in the background. Being in the pool and seeing "how" the water just disappears over the edge of the 56th floor must be a bit unnerving to most folks who are in the water!


We had to pay to go up to the Obs Deck but it was well worth it! The harbour just offshore must have had 200 ships of all sizes anchored out there! Photos don't cut it but it was "impressive" to say the least!



Looking back towards the city...... Why do the Ferris Wheel when you can have a view from the 57th floor?


Looking back at Tower One and the main sea port.



All this excitement left me thirsty so we moved over to the outdoor bar up there!!


This is what about $12 will get you in Singapore........ :hairraiser


On a side note, I was happy to see that safety precautions were in effect up there as you can see by the opaque wall near some of the bar tables that were out there....... sorry that this lady is blocking some of the view.........


Finally, it was time to head back to the Hotel but overall we were very impressed with the Marina Bay Sands. I mean, look at the glossy shine on those floors!


We were too pooped to go out for dinner but the Hotel had an amazing, Asian Seafood Buffet downstairs so we we grazed there for an hour or so and then turned in early. It was a very fun and a very "interesting" day to say the least!

The lady that reports to Jenn from their UK office is here as well, so perhaps they will have some fun dinner plans for later tonight.... I'm ready for some reading and nice nap today! Just 25 more days to go!


  • Bimini DreamBimini Dream Posts: 407 Deckhand
    Incredible, I can only imagine what the views must have looked like in person!!
    A Part Of Paradise
  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Posts: 1,842 Captain
    Cool pics Gary the last picture looks like she is getting ready to shoot you a moon.LOL
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    Cool pics Gary the last picture looks like she is getting ready to shoot you a moon.LOL

    Actually, she had been bending over right before I took this one of her as she had just rolled up her jeans........ then she pushed her mom/grandmom away in the wheelchair.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    as always, thanks for the report. you are a very good narrator and i look forward to the next 25 days of reports.

  • nuevowavonuevowavo Posts: 6,824 Admin
    20 pics and no food-****?
    You're slipping, G-mon!
    Federales, bring my baby back to me!
  • Venture Ho!Venture Ho! Posts: 47 Deckhand
    nuevowavo wrote: »
    20 pics and no food-****?
    You're slipping, G-mon!

    I agree. You couldv'e at least gotten an appitizer with that $12 beer. While you're there, try to find some sannakji (and don't forget the photos).
  • testerman28testerman28 Posts: 1,329 Officer
    good on ya! safe travels and thanks for the updates..
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Awesome start Gmon, any idea what the rates were at the boat hotel?? One of the pilots wasn't from Lauderdale named Wes was he? Good friend flies that route for Continental
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    dpdash wrote: »
    Awesome start Gmon, any idea what the rates were at the boat hotel?? One of the pilots wasn't from Lauderdale named Wes was he? Good friend flies that route for Continental

    Did not check the rates at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore...... check their web site I guess. Jenn looked over at it from our room this morning and said, "I still can't get used to seeing that thing"! Pretty amazing.

    Did not know any of the Continental pilot's names. They were a Newark based crew. A six day trip that takes them to Tokyo first, then Singapore, then Tokyo, then home. On our own leg from Wash/Dulles to Tokyo, we went over the very northern top of Alaska and then down the length of Japan to Tokyo. Wish that it had been more clear over Japan for the great view but I only saw a decent view once we were lower and working our way into the airport......
  • copout@castaways[email protected] Posts: 5,779 Admiral
  • GT FishGT Fish Posts: 9,448 Officer
    Sweet keep us informed!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    nuevowavo wrote: »
    20 pics and no food-****? You're slipping, G-mon!

    Okay, you win....... here was dinner last night!

    We walked across the street to this incredible mall that was 4 stories high with all the restaurants on the third floor. Tucked into one corner was "Rocku"..... a Japanese Barbeque. It was sort of a night club and a self serve Benihana type place. Long tables that have private grills built in about every 6 feet. We had the guys on one side and the girls across from us. First up was an order for a "Tower" of Asahi beer! It's 3 liters which is about 100 ounces! This young kid has no clue how to pour a beer from a tap so I banned him from the Tower for the rest of the night!


    We ordered a mixed dinner for four (about $100 US total), that included miso soup, salad and then two platters of uncooked tiger prawns, beef, pork, chicken and a type of mackeral. Claire and David had a go with their platter and Jenn and I had ours. Once this was all delivered, they brought in a metal pot that had about 4 glowing bricks of charcoal in the bottom and they dropped this into a receptacle that was built into the table....... the grill was on top and we were on our own!

    First up were some mushrooms, veggies, salmon sushimi, salad, etc....... a nice bowl of some type of fried rice too......


    Then our platter showed up!


    The beer was a flowin' and the food was a grillin'........... nice!!


    People got a bit too excited with the food and the grill and I think that we overloaded the little grill rack with cold food and it wasn't long before the food was cooking very s-l-o-w-l-y. Add in that the coals were slowly dying out too. Finally we gave up and asked for more coals and this time it went the other way! Stuff was cooking so fast that I didn't dare stop to eat for fear that some meat would get burned! Yeah, we ended up with a very h-o-t fire near the end!


    By this time the Beer Low Quantity Light was flashing and the girls ordered up another Tower of Asahi!! :drink

    Oh well, David and I didn't have to work the next day, so we certainly were not worried!! Claire was a little slow getting downstairs for breakfast this morning!


    Finally after almost three hours, we were "done"........ in several ways!

    007_zps5048d462.jpg :rolleyes

    It was a very unique dinner for sure! Not something that I want to run right out and do again, but it was still fun for all!

    It's now coming up on 11am on Tuesday and it's a bit drizzly, overcast and of course pretty warm and muggy. Not too sure if I want to step out into that sauna or just hang out in the cool room, read my book and do some research of some potential places to get out and see tomorrow as it will be our last day/night in Singapore before we shove off for Sydney on Thurs morning. Claire and David are also taking some vacation days in the middle of this trip (she's based near London but reports to Jenn) so they fly out to Sydney tomorrow night to catch up with their next "ride" the Queen Mary 2!! From Sydney, they cruise across the usually rough, Tasman Sea and over the top of New Zealand...... which they have never visited before. We've overloaded them with suggestions on where to go, what to see, etc. They will dock in Auckland and I'm not sure of when the QM 2 will be there and when we will be in Auckland ourselves, but it would be great to see their ship which is one of the most amazing in the world from what David has told me. We'll see how the various schedules unfold as most of next week Jenn and I will be on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf..... just outside Auckland Harbour.....

    They own their own boat which is docked in Southampton, England..... on the southern coast. They have a 42 foot Sealine with twin Volvos..... a cabin cruiser similiar to a big Sea Ray...


    It's interesting to talk to boaters from other parts of the world, but I still come away with how lucky we all are to have the Bahamas, South Florida and the Keys right on our doorsteps for our boating! :hail

    Tonight's dinner out? My "vote" doesn't count but I'm game for whatever the others want to do!! I'll bring my camera though.........
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    really cool, love the tower of beer!
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    thanks gary. keep reporting.

  • 2amigo2amigo Posts: 6,527 Admiral
    I think I know that girl from the grandma in wheelchair pic, had a massage from her at the Oriental massage..........
  • treetopflyntreetopflyn Posts: 3,937 Officer
    Keep em coming Gmon. Looks like you are having a blast.
  • gtrfred27gtrfred27 Posts: 63 Deckhand
    what does Jenn do that she gets to travel to all of these awesome places?
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    gtrfred27 wrote: »
    what does Jenn do that she gets to travel to all of these awesome places?

    she's married to Gmon

  • treetopflyntreetopflyn Posts: 3,937 Officer
    gtrfred27 wrote: »
    what does Jenn do that she gets to travel to all of these awesome places?

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    gtrfred27 wrote: »
    what does Jenn do that she gets to travel to all of these awesome places?

    Good question.......

    She's in her 30th year in International Accounting/Finance and has a CPA equivalent from the Universityof Auckland. Every company that she has worked for, you've either bought their products or used their services except for one. For the last 14 years she's been at the VP/SVP level and her current job has her as a sort of International Accounting/Finance Gun-For-Hire in that her company has her visiting their overseas Finance offices and helping to streamline them in order to be more efficient. Being basically a "one-woman" department, she's able to schedule her own trips, select her own hotels and flights, etc. A good gig for sure! Just in the past 8-9 months she's been to London (many times), Buenes Aires, Sao Paulo, Bogota, Chicago, NJ, Toronto and now Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong. I was lucky enough to go with her on the two UK trips and now this one.

    Our NZ part of this trip is "vacation" and because Auckland is not on her Biz Trip, we have to fly to Sydney tomorrow, overnight and then pay our way to Auckland and back and then will resume her Biz Trip. Obviously the company does not pay any of my expenses, so for dinners out, we spilt the bill between the two of us.

    Tomorrow, we fly to Sydney on a Singapore Airlines B-777 and this is the one leg that she was unable to use Points to get me upgraded to Biz Class with her for the 8 hour flight. Now, if Biz Class is not full (which is rare), we might be able to wangle me a seat up there at the last minute as she did coming home from London on British Airways last fall. On that one, she came back and got me after we had taken off and leveled out after asking the Senior F/A if I could take one of the empty seats on that day! It pays to be polite and nice most times....We'll see what happens tomorow.

    It will be mostly a daytime flight and although I normally prefer an aisle seat in Coach, I'll ask for a window seat for this leg as there should be plenty to see down below!

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    2amigo wrote: »
    I think I know that girl from the grandma in wheelchair pic, had a massage from her at the Oriental massage..........

    I used to fly with a guy who flew light attack aircraft (OV-10s) for the Navy in South Vietnam during the war. We were out somewhere on a layover (late 80s or so) and one day we had a nice, young oriental lady as our wiatress. After she took our order, Pete leans over and says, "Pal, I think that I had her Dad in my gunsights one day"! :grin

    Pete was a "Black Pony" from VAL-4...........

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    0600 local in Singapore. Almost ready to check out and begin a big travel day. While I have enjoyed visiting Singapore, I'm in no rush to run back.

    Lucky for me, only yesterday did I pop into the hotel's bar, the "Victoria Bar" which is very much like a British pub. Jenn met me there for a beer after getting back from the office and we later had a wonderful gourmet Chinese dinner here at the hotel.

    We arrive at Sydney at 8:35 local tonight so by the time we clear Customs, get our bags and get over to the nearby hotel, it's going to be 10pm or later and with another early flight out tomorrow over to NZ, I doubt that I'll be able to enjoy a few Aussie beers......... unfortunately. I'll make up for that later in the month when we come back for four nights! :dance

    Off to "Down Under"!!
  • Conchy CrackerConchy Cracker Posts: 10,454 Officer
    Just wonderin but... did you ever have any problems with announcing on a public message board to tens of thousands of registered and unregistered readers from around the world that you aren't gonna be home for a good long while?
  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Posts: 1,842 Captain
    Just wonderin but... did you ever have any problems with announcing on a public message board to tens of thousands of registered and unregistered readers from around the world that you aren't gonna be home for a good long while?

    I have a man standing gaurd at your house 24/7 and he is also
    keeping the birds off the fans.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    Just wonderin but... did you ever have any problems with announcing on a public message board to tens of thousands of registered and unregistered readers from around the world that you aren't gonna be home for a good long while?

    he's got half the forum keeping watch over his houses . . .

  • restlessnativerestlessnative Posts: 2,555 Captain
    Awesome thread as usual, thank you very much for taking the time to post them.
  • copout@castaways[email protected] Posts: 5,779 Admiral
    alacrity wrote: »
    he's got half the forum keeping watch over his houses . . .
    the other half building them...
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    Just wonderin but... did you ever have any problems with announcing on a public message board to tens of thousands of registered and unregistered readers from around the world that you aren't gonna be home for a good long while?

    Why don't you try to break in and see what happens? Maybe you'll enjoy meeting my "house-sitters"...... When I get back, I'll come visit you in the hospital.......
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    Okay, back to some photos and an update!

    Blasted out of Singapore the other day and the flight was crammed so I had my window seat in 49K next to a quiet, older Indonesian lady. When checking luggage, it's important to have a name tag on each item, as I have here! (No, Intrepid 377, I do not have any more of these!! :grin )


    Looking at the map a few posts above, that's exactly what our route of flight looked like. As we climbed out, down below was a massive, four column oil rig being very slowly towed by a huge tow ship! Lots of oil in this part of the world which is why the Japanese captured this entire part of the world during WW 2. Speaking of the war, ironically, as we flew down the Java Sea and crossed over the Indian Ocean to Aussie, I happened to be reading the chapters in my book "Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan", that pertained to that part of the war that occured in that very area! It was pretty cool to look at a few maps in the book and then look down to see Java, etc "live" right out the window!

    I enjoyed an amazing sky as the sun set over western Australia! Stupid me, I didn't have the camera. :nono Soon after crossing the nothern shoreline of Aussie at "Derby" I was soon looking at miles and miles of complete desolation in the "Outback" of Australia. Not even a dirt road....... nada. On a clear night, the stars out there must be incredible.......

    Got into Sydney on time and we had a very short overnighter at an airport hotel but as we cleared Aussie Customs, a guy in front of us dropped and broke his bottle of Duty Free gin! As the puddle spread out onto the floor, an Aussie Customs guy said, "Quick! Somebody get some straws"! Aussies and Kiwis all have a great sense of humor and they rarely get wound up about things......

    We soon were back at the airport for the "short" 3-hour flight on an Emirates A-380 double-decker jumbo jet over to Auckland! Our first ride on that type and our first ride with Emirates. Both did a very nice job! Although we were in Row 50, we actually were only 7 rows from the front of the airplane! The upper deck is all First and Biz Class and the lower deck is 400 seats of Coach Class!


    The Grand Stairway up to the upper deck!


    Tracking our progress across the Tasman Sea.


    The plane has three "live" cameras for you to view. From the nose looking ahead, one looking straight down and one from the top of the tail!! Here we are on very short final into Auckland......


    Auckland is near the top of the "North Island" as you can see here. We normally get out of town when we visit here but Jenn decided to stay close to "home" on this one......


    What turned out to be a huge stroke of luck was that our flight was brought in right over Auckland and we had great views of downtown, the harbour and the outlying islands just outside Auckland Harbour in the Hauraki Gulf. The bad news is that not all of my photos come out very well. I'll borrow this one off the Net to show you the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Westhaven Marina which is probably the largest "Marina" that I have ever seen.


    Jenn's Dad used to have a 33 foot cabin cruiser (that I was lucky enough to have spent many nights aboard) and when he needed to do any bottom work, he'd take the boat to Westhaven Marina. Along one seawall there are boat bunks like you'd find on a trailer. You pull in at high tide, carefully tie off and get off the boat. You come back in a few hours and the tide will have dropped below the boat, leaving it high and dry on the bunks! You then would have a few hours to get your work done before the tide refloats your boat and off you go! I wish that I had brought my camera that day! The tide here runs about 10-13 feet or so and all docks are "floating docks".

    Here are a few more photos as we made our approach to AKL airport.


    Where this road "splits" you can see Jenn's Dad's old marina, "The Outboard Boat Club" which was members only. As you can see, it's inside of a fixed bridge and Stuart had to pay very close attention to the tides in order to get under it with his 33 foot Vindex, "Caspar". One evening, we were a few minutes late, so he pulled over to a wharf and Jenn and I hopped off and walked across the street to the marina. Stuart and Jenn's brother, Grant, tied the boat off to a public bouy outside the bridge and then used the "rubber ducky" as Stuart called his highly patched up 8 foot inflatable, to get back to the marina. They came back at low tide the next day to get the Caspar back into her slip! Looking down on the marina yesterday brought back lots of great boating memories.....


    Sorry for the fuzz....... another island just outside the harbour....... The tip of the island to the right is "Waiheke" and that's where Jenn has us booked to stay next week. It's a very cool island that's about 20 miles from downtown and we'll take the car ferry over.....photos to follow of course!


    Boating in this area is a blast as there are dozens of private coves, beaches, islands, etc as well as some good bottom fishing!


    There is very little "flat" land in NZ!


    At the top/center of this photo below is a long row of white buildings off in the distance. That's Ardmore Airfield and I always get Jenn to take me there for a few hours. There, they have 3-4-5 companies that specialize in restoring old warbirds and they gladly allow you to walk around the hangers and talk to the guys. I once asked some guys if it was okay to walk around and in typical Kiwi humour, one guy said "Have a boot full mate"! Photos to follow......


    Jenn had us booked into a downtown/waterfront hotel/apartment so after getting the Rav4 rental at AKL (with Garmin GPS!), we hit a grocery store and were soon in our home for the next few days! The first thing I told Jenn when we walked in was "Can you imagine the awesome party we could have here for the Forum guys"? This place is A-Mazing!


    Time to re-fill the coffee.......
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    I have a man standing gaurd at your house 24/7 and he is also
    keeping the birds off the fans.

    Tell him not to tease the "Dovinator"!
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