Travel Diary 101 : Kakadu Missed, Litchfield Take Over

I planned my adventure in northern and western part of Australia before my visa expired last February 2017. I returned to Australia after 1.5 years and had my last travel in the said country. After having a free tour in Singapore last September 29, 2016 as my worthwhile layover which described in my post entitled Free Transit Tour in Singapore , when  I was on my way to Australia I thought everything that I planned as my adventures will be happening until something went off on that day. I arrived in Darwin, the capital city of Northern Territory on September 30, 2016 few minutes earlier than its scheduled arrival time of 5:25 AM in the morning. The plane was not full of passengers, it was not the same of my previous flight to Sydney nor my previous flight to Melbourne. From the time that I disembarked the plane until I retrieved my luggage, I kept looking in my watch because I need to catch-up my tour around 6:20 AM in Darwin Transit Centre.

It still dark when I left the airport past quarter to 6 AM in the morning and I felt at ease while inside the taxi as I thought that I will be able to catch my tour. The cab driver dropped me off in bus terminal in the city. I asked the driver if its Darwin Transit Centre and he said it was. So I got off the taxi and waited a bit. I looked around and I felt there was something off in the terminal where I was at that time. I knew that I was in bus terminal but there were no people around. Time was passing, I felt uncomfortable and suspicious. I had a feeling at that time that I was in a wrong place. Since I don’t have internet in my phone yet as I just arrived in the city less than an hour ago, I was not able to verify if I was in the right pick-up point based on the GPS of my phone.

I was alone in the terminal and I waited, hoping that it was the right one, but the time of pick-up point was approaching and it’s almost 6:20 AM. And when I saw two Asian women, I approached them and I asked them if the bus terminal is Darwin Transit Centre but they responded to me that they were not sure as they were new in the place too. There was a tourist vehicle stopped near where I was standing, a guy got off the vehicle and he looked liked a tourist guide because of what he was wearing and I approached him and asked him if the terminal was Darwin Transit Centre and he responded to me that it’s not and its few minutes drive from where we were. I felt desperate because I knew that I will be left behind by the tour that I booked since I was not at pick-up point yet. The man who I asked offered me to dropped off at Darwin Transit Centre. An old man approached us and he asked which place I was looking for and I said to him the same place I responded to the first guy. They seem to know each other and the second man instructed the first guy to dropped me off in Darwin Transit Centre. I learned from them that the terminal I was dropped off was Darwin Bus Interchange Terminal, at that time, I thought that the cab confused it with Darwin Transit Center terminal. I also learned that I need to walk at least 10-15 minutes to reach the transit center.

At that time, I was sad because of what happened of my first day adventure after I returned to Australia. After the conversation with two men that I barely knew, I trusted them and accepted the help offered of the first man who I talked to. I hopped into the front seat of his vehicle and my luggage inside the car. On the way, we talked a bit and we conversed how the cab driver didn’t even knew or familiar with Darwin Transit Centre where in fact the said terminal is tourist affiliated center. We drove few minutes, then we reached the said location and I was very thankful to the man who helped me. After I got-off the car, I looked around and I saw the tour company office that includes in my email from Viator. I went inside and I asked about the tour that I suppose to join though the pick-up time has already passed, it’s almost 6:45 AM at that time. They told me that the bus already left which did not surprised me at all. They asked my name and they mentioned that they were actually looking for me. They received some of my updates in the email about my pick-up location. I explained to them what happened. They talked to me and told me that they don’t reimburse payment of any tour. They asked me if I was available the next day and I told them that I was not. My only option that will be a bit fair for me was to join their another day tour. I asked what are available options. The tour that I booked was higher than what they were offering me and the famous one but at that time I didn’t have a choice but to choose a tour that I can still join to maximize my first day in Northern Territory. The tour that I chose to avoid ruining my day was Litchfield National Park Day Tour.

Until then.

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Travel Diary 101 : On My Way to Guam

I experienced a bit of traffic on my way to Manila International Airport Terminal 3 around 12:30 AM of Sunday morning but after struggling for 30 minutes of slow movement in specific part of Aguinaldo Highway, the overall travel was smooth and I was thankful for it.

I arrived at the airport around 1:30AM, I found lots of passenger in the terminal, probably thinking the same thing I was thinking, many people trying to avoid travel rush for the Holy Week which is a major holiday in the country as it is used to have long holiday aside from Christmas.

I checked the information in the monitor screen that I passed on my way to travel tax desks. After I saw the check-in counter information, I queued and paid my travel tax and walked towards the entrance of my check-in counter. Because of too many people, I fall in line in the queue thinking that it was the same line to enter the check-in counter for my flight. That decision was based from my past flights in that airline. The said airline tends to make one line for all their flights regardless of your destination and time of your flight. I didn’t notice if there was sign that separates Guam flights to the rest of their flights.

I got nervous because the queue for check-in was crazy, it even passed the whole counter area. But I had some doubts because I have this impression that US flights will not have that many passengers compared with other flights. I went to the entrance of the counters and I asked the airline crew for check-in counter of Guam flight. The crew confirmed my suspicion that queue for Guam is different. I wasn’t able to see the sign immediately because it was partially obstructed by people queuing near the entrance. I felt relieved and was glad that it’s at the opposite side. I showed my printed flight itinerary to the crew and she allowed me to go inside the counter area and queued along with few other passengers. I queued for few minutes and it was my turn to check-in, the process was finished without a hitch. Since it was still early, I spent hours waiting at the boarding gate.

Then boarding time came and I followed other passengers to board the plane. Inside the plane, I was sitting in window seat and alone in 3 seat row at left side of the plane and there was another passenger at the right side window seat, same with me alone at his row. The flight in overall was smooth except for sometime that I felt a turbulence outside the plane. I napped from time to time since I didn’t have enough sleep before my flight. I woke up and saw my meal has already been served.

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After more than 4 hours flight, we arrived at the island which is a USA territory not really far from my country at the right most side in the Pacific Ocean. After disembarking the plane, I walked straight to immigration and queued the visitors lane. My lane was slow since it’s only one officer assisting us at first. When all USA residents passed immigration, visitors lanes moves faster as other immigration officer helped out until I reached my time to face one of them. I had my face captured, my finger print recorded and after few questions, I passed the immigration without glitch.

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First thing to learn when I went outside the airport was the transportation was not immediately available as most likely other passengers went out before me took all those waiting cab outside. I walked to the taxi kiosk’s counter near the entrance/exit of the airport but it was closed. I tried to enable my data roaming and started browsing but nothing happens like no internet in my phone. It’s good thing that they have some employees in the ground and someone asked me if I need a cab and I responded in agreement.

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I waited only few minutes, the cab arrived and I jumped into it. I was very thankful that he was a Filipino and we talked at bit on the way to my hotel. The fare was $18. We arrived in the hotel that I booked around past lunch time. I asked the hotel clerk if I can check-in at the time that I arrived but the hotel clerk said it will be at 2 PM. I asked the hotel if the pocket WiFi that I rented in Guam has arrived in the hotel and I was glad that it was already there. After I received the pocket WiFi, I used it to browse where can I go while in Guam. So technically I was browsing internet at the hotel lobby while waiting for my time to check-in.

After I checked-in to my room. I stayed there to prepare my adventure plan in the island for the next coming days. I decided to rest since I haven’t had enough sleep the night of my travel. I had my dinner to fill me in and down to bed with my first day in Guam.

Until then.

Travel Diary 101 : Flight Bound to Taiwan

Today is my flight bound to Taipei I decided to work from home to avoid too much traffic from the city since its Friday and to give me a chance to prepare my stuff as I am avoiding to miss anything in my backpack. While I am packing, I’m still working, monitoring all incoming emails from time to time. I am lucky as not much work for me today since it’s just few days after New Year, most people at work has still hangover from recent major holidays. It is a quiet day for my work life which is great.

I left home 5 hours before my scheduled flight. I traveled at least 1.5 hours from home to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, to Terminal 3 to be exact. I withdrawn few cash to pay for my travel tax. There are self check-in kiosk available at the front of Air Asia counter, which is my airline for my travel. I felt at ease at first since I don’t have luggage to checked-in. After checked-in at the kiosk, I got my boarding pass from the machine, but when I checked the boarding pass printed, I saw that there is travel document verification mark on it and instructing to go to document verification counter. I inquired in one counter of Air Asia about it, I was advised the travel document verification is the same as checked-in counters. This means the self checked-in I did earlier in their kiosk is useless because I have to queue in the long line too. I wondered why they put those self checked-in kiosk, when they cannot provide a counter that only checks travel documents. It’s one of the disappointments that I experienced today.

I queued more than 1.5 hours just for travel document verification. When its my turn, I only spent around 5 to 10 mins. I was advised for the gate for my flight and instructed that the next step is immigration. If there was separate counters for verification check, the 1.5 hours may have been spent to other things than queuing and waiting, but that is reality of life when dealing with budget airlines.

I went to the immigration gate and passed easily without questions. Then, I passed the last scanner and I walked straight to the gate for my flight. One hour to go before my flight and I thought all will be good and then, as we approached the time of the flight schedule, there was announcement that the plane is being serviced and therefore the flight will be delayed for at least 40 minutes. Like other passenger, I can’t do much about it but to wait.

Next announcement was past quarter of 11 PM that night and they mentioned that we will be boarding soon. Then after few minutes, boarding the plane has been started. The plane took off past 12 AM in the morning. Estimated time to arrive Taipei was almost 3 AM, 2 hours delayed than scheduled time.

The usual experience inside the plane happened, the flight crew checks everything, demonstrated safety procedures and evacuation process during emergency. Then, the plane took off, after we were stabilized in the air, the crew started to do their chores, since I booked my flight with food, they served the food to the people who ordered it prior to the flight. I know that we cannot expect too much quality of the service in a budget airlines, because customer service comes with a price nowadays. That’s why I have to order my food together with my booking so that I can take advantage of serving the food at the earliest. Ordering food on the spot while inside the plane, can be daunting, as most of the time, your order will take sometime and if unlucky, the food you wanted to order is not available anymore.

My food served at the earliest and I ate and finished early, while the other crew still serving the other passengers. Because the flight was not too long, I just closed my eyes and took a nap. When I woke-up, the crew announced to prepare for landing to Taoyuan International Airport and I knew that in a matter of few minutes, I will be in Taipei,  Taiwan, new city and new country for me. Until then

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Written this diary last January 6-7, 2017.
Updated, June 8, 2017

Whatever… : Traveling and/or Reading?

I usually post photos and tell something about it in this site but for this specific theme I just really wanted it to be free, like telling stuff about anything. Since this will be the first post under this theme, I just wanted to say something about learning our world and our life through traveling or reading.

We usually heard that “traveling is better than books written telling about our world, history, politics, cultures and even its economics”. I maybe biased on my opinion as being favor on the saying. But I think traveling has some points it wanted to emphasize why the said epitaph is quite commonly heard not only from explorers, travelers and adventurers but also to common people. Because right now our world are getting smaller and smaller and a lot of people in our time has the capacity to move around and more options are available to travel.

On other hand reading is one of the most inexpensive way to know about our world and the life on it. Reading materials continue to give us great knowledge because it is a great medium to open us in our very complex society. Yes there are other means of learning such as recorded video and audio. But most of the detailed information are  recorded in books and other reading materials, though it takes more time compared with watching videos and listening to audio.

So what special with traveling? If reading gives us the idea, traveling gives us experience and memories that is more profound and powerful learning experience. Yes, maybe we can missed some detailed things but we learn other things which most of the time very unique to every individual.

Reading can give us an overview or introduction of a lot of things, experience through traveling gives us hands-on or actual culture experience and because we had done  it understanding is more attached to us.

We have different reasons or purposes every time we travel but even its different, the unique learnings help our rationalisation become better. Traveling is similar to experimenting, our world thought before that it was flat until someone traveled the world and proved it was round. Most of the time we break the theory through experience and reading sometimes can’t help us on that.

Reading materials are free form materials for facts, opinions and even imaginations. But travel experience is 100% facts because it actually happened. We can immediately forget what we had read but our experience stays longer and most of the time stays forever.

I actually both love reading and traveling, to let the time passed while on the go I tried my best that there is something to read on. For me they are both important. I read to learn some guidance specially to foreign land, without reading it feels like going somewhere in the dark, reading is half percentage of learning and traveling is the other half. They compliment with each other.

Note: I thought this post will be just few lines until I realised its been a little bit long. I have to finish it here.

Until then.