Entry Info

22nd (Mon)
Mar 2010

[day47] Sydney to Dubai 2

Sydney to Dubai2Sydney to Dubai via London. 24 hours from Sydney to London, 15 hours at London and 7 hours from London to Dubai. Considering the other waiting times, it was a huge trip taking more than 48 hours. Although everybody told me something wrong with this itinerary, for me this was the one of the chief event of "first class backpacker". The 2 nights & 3 days trip is long enough to saver what First Class is. (This entry is continued from the previous entry)

Heathrow British Airways Concorde Room

Sydney to Dubai2T5 is the newest terminal of Heathrow Airport and at near the normal first class lounge, there is a very special room named Concorde Room which only first class users can enter. Like Sydney Qantas first class lounge I stayed before, first class lounges are usually accessible to premium mileage members as well. However, this Concorde Room is different. Only those who have the actual flight ticket of BA first can enter the room. My eyebrows were raised at the very beginning when a staff asked me for the first drink. She said "Would you care for any drinks?" Who would ever talk to me such a ultimate polite term!?

Sydney to Dubai2In fact the interior was absolutely gorgeous. The lounge in Sydney was simple and modern but on the other hand here in London is classic and luxury. Many chandeliers are dangling from the ceilings and even a set of fireplaces is there though the fire is just a dummy. I thought this is the Great Britain. What's more, there is a sort of half private space at the restaurant which can be on a par with luxurious hotels' ones. Yet, their taste was sadly so-so. Indeed it was still nice but far below than my expectation caused by this premium atmosphere. I know I'm expecting bit too much but honestly they could improve the quality of the foods in order to be equal to the quality of the space.

London to Dubai

Sydney to Dubai2I stayed Concorde Room for 13 hours drinking fresh juice, organising the photos and wiring the blog entries. When I became slightly bored with the room, the boarding time had come. The flight departed at 21:30 with London time which means very early morning with Sydney time. Therefore I was already half asleep as if I stayed up until morning. What's more the arrival time was 9:30 with Dubai time but 4:30 with London time and 15:30 with Sydney time. So confused was my body that I went to bed without eating any in-flight meals except for a glass of white wine. As a result, I woke up very easily in the next morning and could eat breakfast in the airplane. This is my first time to eat a decent in-flight breakfast indeed.

Entrance to Dubai

It is said that to enter Dubai is very easy. They don't require visa to Japanese and in fact just showing the address of the accommodation, I got a stamp at the passport control. However at the custom, an unanticipated trap was there. I had nothing to declare and tried to go through the gate but an officer stopped me and dragged me to the table nearby. He asked me, "What have you got in your backpack?" I answered "Just my personal belongings for daily usage." "Well, can we open and check the back", responded the officer. From then taking more than an hour, I had to explain all the things in the bags one by one. What's more, their English is not really good, for instance they don't understand "Medicines for hay fever" and I had to use a lot of body languages. Eventually, I was forced to enter a small room for a body check and all the procedures have done.

Observing the gate carefully, I found that mainly people who rear a backpack were caught there. Well, this is not the country the budget backpackers easily call in. Though I gently cooperated with them as they seemed to just obey their mission, not to have any malicious thought I hope this kind of thing would never happen again.

Entry Info

17th (Wed)
Mar 2010

[day46] Sydney to Dubai 1

Sydney to Dubai1Seven days I stayed in Sydney and restarted the life as a backpacker in a hostel as I had been staying friends' houses at each places for a month. However, I just did sightseeing only one of seven days because the hostel was bit too far from the city. I had to switch my round the world ticket to an e-ticket and went to JAL which is located in a very central area. Using this opportunity, I also visited the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, amongst other tourist spots and soot some photos. Apart from the day, I spent my time just relaxing like writing journals at cafes and cooking steaks by myself.

In fact, the highlighted event at Sydney was the flight to Dubai via London. Although it was possible to fly to Dubai directly, the flight between Sydney and London is one of the longest haul of the world. It is almost a 24 hour flight and what's more it is operated by A380 well known as the newest and biggest, most luxurious aircraft. This should be the best flight to savour what the first class is. Though this single flight would have cost more than 13,000AUD if I'd purchased with a full-fare rate, the round the world ticket allowed me to book the flight as just one segment of 16 allowances. It's a damn good deal indeed.

Sydney Qantas First Class Lounge

I'd have preferred staying at the lounge than the cheap hostel and checked out of the hostel early but I made too much haste. As the check-in luggage procedure was available 4 hours ahead of the boarding and I arrived 2 hours earlier than start, I had to wait on the couch in front of the counter. Anyways, the soft couch was much more comfortable than the hard bench at the hostel.

Sydney to Dubai1At length, the lounge's gate was in front of me. As Sydney is their home airport, Qantas puts the best effort on this lounge. The ceilings are very high and the spacious room makes an absolutely luxurious atmosphere. Yet the interior design keeps a very simple and modern Australian style. I actually used some Qantas and in general I like their sense of design styles. When I sat a couch, one of the staff walked by me and asked "What would you like to drink?" For the time being, I ordered fresh juice and started browsing the internet with my iPhone. There are many airplanes going and coming in front of me through huge bright windows.

Sydney to Dubai1As it was lunch time, I decided to eat meals as well. Though the lounge has some self service snack counters, basically we order from the menu. Thanks to its descent kitchen, they have quite nice range of menus from a daily full course to a la carte plates and the quality is indeed very high, probably higher than in-flight meals. And of course all meals and drinks are free of charge for the visitors. Though in terms of wine lists, in-flight menus of first class are better than the lounge, as presumably the lounge is accessible for not only first class flyers but also high ranked mileage members, it can be a good idea to eat good amount of meals on the ground. The boarding time came when I was eating ice cream after having a shower.

QF44 Sydney to London

Sydney to Dubai1With a quick glance of the aircraft I found strangely an old Boeing moored there. The interior was identically the same as the one I used before from Hong Kong. I asked CA where A380 was and the answer was "it's working in Melbourne today". Uh, when I booked the ticket, I definitely saw the letter of “A380” on the display. Well it was long time and half a year ago and the schedule must have been changed without any notice. We can't trust flight companies for such a long scheme. Of course the old Boeing which had full flat seats and a lot of private spaces looked amazing. Nevertheless, I couldn't stop myself feeling disappointed with it as I had used it already and anticipated a far better one. Maybe someday I should try A380 on my own.

However, the wine list more than consoled me. As I wrote here often, I have lived in Australia for a year and got some knowledge about Australian wines. And I found a superb item which wiped out my discontent. "Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay" This is the best Western Australian white wine which once won a blind tasting competition of the world, surpassing other renowned world class wines. I didn't find any unpleasant smells and it's very easy to drink. Last time, from Hong Kong to Sydney, I had only a few hours to enjoy in-flight meals but for this occasion literally a whole day was available. Paying attention to not drinking too much, I fully relished the beautiful meals and the wine.

To be continued to Dubai.

Entry Info

8th (Mon)
Mar 2010

[day39] The Day I Flew

the day I flewMy last day in New Zealand was a day to remember. I flew. I mean, I took a trial flight in a small Cesena. As New Zealand has quite a few aero clubs and we could try the introductory flight at a very reasonable price, Grant took me to the one of the airports nearby with his family.

This time I tried a double seat Cesena which has a pair of control sticks and pedals. I took one side and the instructor took the other side. As soon as I'd finished checking in, we entered on the cockpit and the instructor gave me a simple lecture about pedals and other controls. And turned on the engine. "Well, can you go to the runway? I told you how to use the pedals." How easygoing he is! Japanese driving instructors would be stricter.

Anyway, I managed to drag the aircraft to the runway and the instructor made the engine at the full throttle. After some seconds of running, he just told me "O.K. Could you pull the lever please?” and so I did. I felt a sort of sensation of losing gravity and off we went. I might be addicted with this feeling.

the day I flewThe aircraft passed the sky of Auckland city and arrived over the ocean. Now we could start playing without the risk of falling into the residential area. Actually controlling the aircrafts is totally different from cars as we are require three dimensions of space recognition. Coincidentally, I knew the words of "yaw", "pitch" and other special words thanks to 3D graphic software. I'd never imagined making use of these words in real life. At the very first, I was quite nervous but flew well after I relaxed.

After getting used to the flying, I asked the instructor to switch the control to him as I wanted to shoot some photos from sky. He agreed but went too far and started an acrobatic flight. Oh man, it's too much service. I just wanted to get some nice photos. Due to the unusual gravity, a little motion sickness attacked me and if we'd flown longer it would've been quite disastrous.

the day I flewAs landing is too difficult for a beginner, it was the time for the instructor. Somewhat surprisingly he landed on the grass not using the runway but his landing was very professional. I felt little impact and the plane landed very smoothly. He showed me the aircraft after this and the analogue meters and structures were surprisingly simple though considering the year of manufacture it was obvious. I suppose the recent hybrid cars would have more complicated structures.

I asked the instructor how much it would cost if I tried to get the real license and his answer was "no more than 10,000NZD". It's a quite good deal indeed. If I tried it in Japan it would cost more than 5 times this. Later, I googled the details of flight licenses and found that we can easily switch the license from other countries to Japanese. Actually not only New Zealand but many countries have flight training programs for foreigners with competitive prices. Well, maybe I'll try it in the future.

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