It’s almost but not quite, the end of our Asian adventures, and what a fantastic time we had. We went to Thailand and:
- I gave you some tips on how to go to Bangkok on the superior cheap, and take the family with you!
- I’ve been to Bangkok three (3) times now, but that didn’t stop me from letting you know that 3 days in Bangkok: A walking tour isn’t what you think!
- We were fascinated by the street food in Chiang Mai and so it has to be said that Thai food is going to kill you: Eat it or die!
- Street food in Thailand was so delicious and enticing that we went one step further because Thai food is going to kill you: Cook your own!
- We couldn’t just be eating and drinking so we decided to participate in ethical tourism because we need to talk about the elephants!
- So many people have strong opinions about Thailand. Some love it. Some hate it. Whatever the case, if you’ve never been perhaps it’s prudent to see for yourself, so go to Bangkok or go to Chiang Mai. Just do it!
We also went to Bali. It’s one of the most famous islands In Indonesia and such a wonderful place regardless of the Eat. Love. Pray generation. it’s a good book, and the film was fine. It didn’t disturb me in the least. I first went to Bali back in ’99 and I absolutely loved it. I went back again with family in tow, and my feelings haven’t changed. I loved it even more!
As a result of being back on the lush island, it was time to do more activities as well as chilling out a while, as The Music Producer was distinctly unwell and spent most of the time recovering in bed, and so:
- We booked an adventure cycling tour which took quite a lot out of me, and so I told you how I went on a bicycle tour and fell in a ditch!
- I have trouble walking up five flights of stairs but like the idiot that I am, I still decided that climbing a live volcano was going to be the highlight of our summer holiday. It was a disaster and so I wrote you a beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!
- I’m afraid of monkeys, and no wonder, when you think of what I’ve been through all because of how I was attacked by monkeys and I screamed!
Goodness! We did have some interesting times, and after a jolly month, it was time to return home and sweep the cobwebs off my academic books!
Remember how I told you at the beginning of our adventure that the most economical way for us to make this trip was by using the services of STA – the Student Travel Agency in Berlin? This was mainly because we wanted to go from Berlin – Bangkok – Bali – Berlin.
In August, the prices of travelling to anywhere, not to talk of Asia, are quite usually outrageous. Yes, Bangkok is much cheaper, but we wanted to move around and so we got return flight tickets from Berlin – Bangkok – Bali – Berlin for just a little over €800 or $1100 each! I’ve been booking with them since I graduated, and they’ve always come up trumps.
We ended up with using a scheduled airline called Qatar Airways. I’ve never been on a Middle Eastern airline before and we were a little nervous. And then a fortnight (two weeks) before we were due to leave, the flight schedule changed. Qatar Airways, with the help of STA, organised a hotel, transfer, food, etc. for FREE! We didn’t have to do a thing.
Fantastic! I hear you say.
You lucky thing! I hear your jealous hearts boom.
We had checked out from the wonderful Alam Shanti Hotel in Bali, organised a private car to take us to the airport in Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar), and left enormous tips with staff members, and waved our last goodbyes. Apart from The Music Producer being unwell, we had had a fantastic time.
We hadn’t been scammed; although the tuk-tuk drivers tried their best.
We hadn’t been robbed because our walking tour in Bangkok gave us tips as to how to establish ourselves, where to go, and how to get as best a price as possible.
We hadn’t broken any bones although The Music Producer became ill and I ended up with weird bites on my hands and feet which cleared up exactly a week later, back in Germany!
And then it happened.
As something always has to happen.
We missed our last flights!
I can’t tell you the details. It’s too embarrassing, and such a rookie mistake!
Suffice to say, we couldn’t take our lovely Qatar Airways flight back to Berlin.
We couldn’t check-into our lavish 5-star hotel waiting for us (at no cost to ourselves) in the capital city of Doha.
We couldn’t cruise down the Arabian streets whilst in the cool air-conditioned executive car.
We couldn’t stroll casually through the airports with our appointed driver and guide, paid for by the airline.
We couldn’t do a whirl-wind visit to the Museum of Islamic Art, lose ourselves in a traditional souks, jump into a cool swimming pool, and undergo exotic spa treatment.
We couldn’t marvel at the skyline and wonder of a fantasyland of dream-like proportion, and leisurely stroll along the palm-lined Corniche.
We couldn’t gorge ourselves on “real” Middle-Eastern nosh, whilst wandering through the dhow harbour.
We couldn’t snap away at the beautiful exotic wonder of an island country, and it’s enormous pearl, in sultry weather.
We definitely couldn’t relax and sleep!
I’m not a celebrity, but I’ve just gotta get outta here!
You know when you have the feeling that you’ve over-stayed your welcome. Well, this was it!
The airport staff were as helpful as they could be but it was 20:00, and the Qatar Airways desk had closed and Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) was still under renovations, so most of the airline offices hadn’t completed their move.
We ran to the old office, that was thankfully nearby. There was one officer left. He tried his best, but it’s a busy time.
“Oh yes, I’ve got a flight for you.”
Fist in the air. “Yeeeeees!”
“It’s on Wednesday.”
“In six (6) days time?”
“Seats for the three (3) of you but good news, we’ll still throw the hotel offer in as you’re a direct customer of our German partner – STA – the Student Travel Agency in Berlin!”
“But, but, but… In six (6) days time? We’ve got to get to school on Monday!”
What do we do?
WHAT DO WE DO?
We had spent most of our money. Batteries were all out, and we actually had to use the mobile phone of the Qatar Airways officer! Oh, and the airport was closing down for the night.
Go back to Ubud?
Oh yeah. Let’s call STA – the Student Travel Agency in Berlin! Thankfully, although it was night-time in Bali, it was the middle of the afternoon in Berlin!
We called them, and told them what had happened.
They were marvellous!
We tried to shuffle things around as the iPad was still working. Indeed, it was true. No more Qatar Airways flights at “reasonable” prices, and we didn’t want to take a Chinese airline, and then Eureka. We found Korean Air.
We were going to Korea.
Yep! We managed to get the next flight leaving at 01:00 and flew 12 hours to South Korea via Korean Air. It’s a lovely airline and the staff and passengers were all perfectly quiet and calm. A necessity when you’re panicking inside!
We got a few good meals on the flight. The one above was Asian noodles with shrimp and seaweed, croissant with jam, yoghurt, water, a fruit bowl and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I had a few cups of tea, and many more bottles of wine!
We had a few hours to kill when we got to Seoul so we spent them rushing around and taking it all in. The furthest I’d even been to that part of the world was Hong Kong. And it was totally different!
We took in some of the culture at the Traditional Korean Cultural Centre.
We watched a traditional Korean performance at the Cultural Centre and watched the Walk of the Royal Family. I don’t think they were the real Royal Family.
That would be weird!
We wanted to go on the free Korea Transit Tour but they leave at fixed times and the one that we wanted to take was a 3.5 hour tour, which would leave us in a tight deadline. After what had already happened. Better not!
However, if you have about 5 hours, you can do it comfortably.
And most amazingly. They’re completely and utterly free of charge! You can find out more information here. The tours are not on the website. You must book them at the information points at the transit airport itself.
We snapped a few photos. Quite a few photos in fact as we also visited the Korean Cultural Museum, the Traditional Craft Gallery, the Korean History and Culture Gallery, and the Korean Cultural Street.
We were quite sticky and grimy as you can imagine and I discovered that the transit lounge also had hot shower facilities. For free. Wow! Soft towels were provided as well as shampoo and shower gel. We indulged. Man, we so indulged!
And then it was time for some food. Spicy, exotic Korean food so different from Thai or Balinese food.
I actually found it spicier, and I wasn’t expecting that! Lots of beef though!
Thankfully, it was time to move on again and our next Korean Air flight was nine (9) hours to Frankfurt, a few more hours at the airport there and a 45 minute flight with Air Berlin that brought us safely back home.
We made it!
We should have been comfortably back on a Friday morning. We arrived home close to midnight leading to Saturday morning instead. Almost 24 hours later; but nevertheless, we made it!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions and spicy strips of Korean beef and noodles, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you, so next week I will be ending the year with Germany.
At the beginning of the New Year I will reveal some of my plans for 2015. So many things are going to happen.
Have a great Merry Xmas and Happy Holiday!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to Qatar? Have you ever been to Korea? Were you as foolish as we were, and missed a flight?
See you in Berlin.
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