I’m out of Africa – mission accomplished. That was more than a week ago.
But rather than recovering at home from a 4-week trip to Africa, I never even got back to Germany: from Cape Town, Heidi and I flew to London together in Virgin Upper Class then she flew British Airways back to Basel and I flew United back to Los Angeles.
Divorce already? Not at all, instead a long work trip to gather content for this blog that I hope will fill it well into 2015.
Back when US Airways first started imposing fuel surcharges on British Airways flights, I booked a first class RTW award trip that included five long-haul flights on various oneworld carriers in first class for 120K miles (six if you count transcon F on AA’s new A321s). I figured I’d be able to find an agent who had not yet been trained to impose the fuel surcharge, and it only took a few hours to find one and save over $700 since two segments are in British Airways First Class. The routing is, to put it mildly, very creative.
The trip is in progress, so I will not divulge the entire routing now, but after flying all the way to Los Angeles, I turned around two days later to fly back to London, this time in British Airways First Class on the A380.
I spent only a few hours in London, then continued onward to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class. Only enough time in HKG to check e-mails and have lunch at The Wing (Cathay’s First Class Lounge), then it was on to Bangkok on Sri Lankan, that segment booked in economy class. While the A330 was showing its age, I experienced great service and even printed menus on a sub-three hour flight.
A couple days in Bangkok…a bit of a Christmas shopping trip…then on to Brunei, a previously unvisited country that was very different than I what expected. I have been opting for Air BnB over hotels lately, and my host was simply wonderful. My 18 hours in Brunei turned into three days thanks to a stupid mistake on my part…I can be so forgetful. No border hijinks this time, just a lost camera (that was eventually recovered). I did get to experience two flights on Royal Air Brunei, which were interesting.
Next stop was Manila, where I stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which is in a shockingly depressing neighborhood, which filled with hundreds of homeless people as darkness settled as well as prostitutes and their pimps aggressively working every street corner. The hotel itself features a seedy casino filled with smoke and life savings going up in smoke. It is no wonder Hyatt is abandoning this property at the end of the year…not a very nice hotel room either. But, I met a friend for dinner last night at the Peninsula and now I know where I will stay next time.
It was time for the return and I had to get to Osaka to catch a second award trip back to LA, this one booked with pre-devaluation United miles. Next up is Thai First to Bangkok on the A380, then a few hours to enjoy the first class lounge and Royal Orchid Spa, then right back north to Seoul in Thai business class, and finally back to LA in Asiana First on their A380 tomorrow.
In order to get from Manila to Osaka, I flew United…via Palau and Guam. I’ll admit, I wanted to add Palau to my country list and I have different criteria for adding tiny island nations to my list than other countries. Layovers count. I was a bit worried about a 50-minute connection in Guam, but it was a breeze and the connecting flight to Osaka was lightly filled. I love the Guam and Tokyo-based crews you find on these Air Mike routes.
Once I get back to LA, I will only collect my checked bag (which Virgin Atlantic lost on the way back from Cape Town and found only five days later) then continue on United back to Frankfurt…where my upgrade has not cleared and it is not looking good. A reroute through Washington might help, but I need a 747-400 with internet. I miss my wife and I am really tired, yet I’ve now got 48 hours of flying ahead of me.
But this is my last trip of the year.
Or so I tell myself…
In all seriousness, I must put the brakes on this. I already have half the African trip report written, but that merely scratches the surface. There is so much to share with you; so many flights and trips that you know little or nothing about. Hotels in Paris, Bermuda, and San Diego…trips to Cuba, Easter Island, Iraq, Cambodia, Malaysia, Burma, Micronesia, China, Vietnam, and the Balkans.
If I could only now make the time to write about all the travel I’ve done, I really could justify staying home for all of 2015. But that was my goal this year, and thus far I’ve traveled nearly as much as I did last year and have not published many trip reports.
So you can all help me by encouraging me to stay home and write instead of jet setting around the globe. I’m sure Heidi would not mind either.
And yet I am already thinking about the next trip.