It was yet another beautiful day for flying this morning. 77 degrees when I departed Yangon and flew the 315 nm to Bangkok International Airport for a flight which would take me over the Andaman Sea. Landed at 9:30 a.m. on runway 3L. I stayed at the Landmark, a 5 star rated, 31 story, Bangkok hotel. $140 night for a deluxe corner room. The hotel is right across from a Sky Train station. The Sky Train is an elevated railway system that is only eight years old.
Bangkok is one of the most traffic congested cities in the world. So for transportation in and around the city I used a combination of the Metro underground rail, water taxi or sometimes I just walked. I tried the Tuk Tuk open air rickshaws but I felt like I was choking to death on all the fumes so mostly I just stuck to the Metro .
Some of the activities I undertook included a Chao Phraya River cruise. A visit to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. A boat trip to the Temple of Dawn. I stopped into the Grand Palace, which was formerly the official residence of the king of Thailand. However I forgot to remove my shoes before entering, and the guards physically threw me out of the place and told me not to return. They also said some things in a language other than English, but I'm certain they weren't telling me to have a nice day.
I tried a delicious rice soup called Khauw Tom and in the evening I sat sipping a real Italian cappuccino while watching the sights of the city from the 31st floor of the hotel bar.
4: View from hotel bar.
3: The temple of Dawn.
2: Bangkok traffic.
1: The royal barge.
It's a 782 mile flight from Bangkok to Singapore, which is located at the southernmost tip of the Malaysian Peninsula, where I landed on the 13,200 ft runway 2L at Changi International Airport. I didn't do anything special while in Singapore. No excursions. No trips. No museums. Mainly I relaxed by the pool and enjoyed the facilities at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore hotel.
I explored the city in the early morning and evening and found some interesting, out of the way places to eat, but for the most part I was working on planning the remainder of my trip and just enjoying a good rest. The one unfortunate thing to happen was that my camera was stolen, so I regret that I have no pictures to post for this leg of the trip. What happened was I had been eating breakfast at a little place in the city and I had put my camera on the window sill next to my table while I ate. I got up to use the bathroom and had forgotten that my camera was there and a few minutes later when I returned to the table, it was gone. Guess I'll have to buy a new one soon. Better my camera than my laptop I suppose.
Bandung is the first of my three stops in Indonesia. The small Husein Sastranegara airport lies in the Bandung valley and is surrounded by mountains, which can make flying into and out of the airport quite challenging. But I had good flying weather and the plane performed flawlessly. The runway is 6,361 ft length with an elevation of 2,436 ft. For people flying commercial airlines here, as in many of the airports I have been to on this trip, it's a bit like going back in time. There are no enclosed jetways for boarding the planes, just stairs that are pushed up to the plane by the airport workers. Reminiscent of the Beatles descending from their 707 at JFK in 1964.
After parking the plane and getting things secured, I took the 4KM taxi ride into the city, which cost me all of $1, to the Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers. I didn't do much for most of the afternoon other swim in pool and have a relaxing dinner at the hotel.
Early the next morning I hopped on the train for Jakarta. The ride was almost 3 hours but it was a nice change of pace to be a passenger after 16,079 miles of flying my own plane. The scenery along the train route was beautiful, with a lot of it being tropical rainforest. In Jakarta I stayed at the Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers. Had a great stay in Jakarta. The local food was good, and I was warned to stay away from the food-stalls and eat at the more established restaurants. The Satay was wonderful. If you'd like to know what Satay is, click here. One place of note is Jakarta is the Taman Prasasti Museum, which is an outdoor museum with lots of tombstones and a bunch of wooden carriages that were used to transport the coffins. It's sort of like visiting a graveyard. The Next day I took the train back to Bandung and stayed one more night at the Bandung Sheraton and continued on to Surabaya the next day.
4: Indonesian rain forest.
3: The Prasasti museum entrance.
2: The Bandung airport terminal.
1: Bandung from the air.
Bandung to Surabaya was over land the entire 312 miles, but I had a good view of the Java Sea to the North and the Indian Ocean to the South. Christmas Island was way off to the South in the Indian Ocean, about 200 miles of the coast, too far too see, even from the air. Landed at Juanda Airport, runway 10. The runway is 9,843 ft long with an elevation of only 9 ft. Unlike the airport in bandung, Juanda is more modern and uses jetways for the larger planes.
Not much to say about the city itself. I found it to be quite similiar to Jakarta and Bandung. Stayed at the Majapahit Mandarin Oriental hotel, a truly magnificent hotel, which was about a 25 minute ride from the airport.
4: Mandarin garden.
3: Mandarin Hotel pool.
2: Mandarin Hotel.
1: Juanda Airport.
Surabaya to Kupang took me over the java Sea, Flores Sea, Sawu Sea and a series if islands know as the lesser Sunda Islands stretching from the Southern tip of Java to the South-Western shore of Timor, where lies Kupang. Beautiful mountains, crystal ocean, undisturbed coral reefs and hot and humid. The Scuba diving left me speechless. An absolutely gorgeous island.
While Kupang is the largest city on the island and the capitol of West Timor, the island itself is only about 12,000 SQ MI, and is relatively quiet and laid back and is not a big tourist stop. I landed at El Tari Airport on the 8200 ft long runway 7.
I booked a room at the rather small Kupang Beach Hotel which has only 26 rooms. Mine was on the 2nd floor, overlooking Kupang bay. The people here seem very poor and try to sell you anything and everything. Anytime I would throw something in the trash, someone would rush over to pick through it and take it. East Timor, which I did not go to, is undergoing civil strife at the moment, and is in even worse shape than West Timor. It's quite sad actually, and it makes one feel almost guilty at having money to spend on a vacation like this or a around the world flight, when so many people here have nothing.
But I have the uncanny ability to put things such as this out of my mind and focus solely and selfishly on myself. So I went back to my hotel and relaxed on the balcony, enjoying the view of the bay and nearby islands. Then I went down to the sports bar and threw back a few beers. Later on, I had dinner at the beach restaurant, enjoying the see breeze as I ate. Very, very good Indonesian food. In center of Kupang City I found an internet cafe called Semangatcom where I wrote much of this journal entry.
The next day I visited the Crystal caves, which is a labyrinth of freshwater underground caves. Kupang was the final destination of William Bligh of the British Royal Navy, who was set adrift in an open boat during the Mutiny on the Bounty. I also went to Komodo island, located between Sumbawa and Flores islands and is famous for its giant lizards, the Komodo dragon
4: Boats on Kupang bay.
3: A Komodo Dragon.
2: Rice vendor in the city.
1: The coastline of Kupang.
I get to the airport around 8:00 am. and did my usual inspection of the plane and the pre-flight check. I used to refuel on departure day, but after that experience in Chad, I have taken to refueling the day I land. Temp was 67 degrees at takeoff. This trip is to take me on a direct course of 105 degrees at a flight level of 5,000 feet. After receiving takeoff clearance, I get airborne and proceeded on course. The moderate length 445 nm trip from Kupang to Darwin takes me out over the Timor Sea. It's a beautiful view of the Timor Sea and the approaching coast of Northern Australia.
Looks like I got here in rainy season, as the rain started coming down as I drew closer to the coast. After receiving clearance to land on runway 11, I touched down at Darwin Int'l airport and taxied to customs. I was met by the quarantine officer, who proceeded to to spray the interior of my plane with a some sort of disinfectant. Then he took all of my garbage (saved me the trouble of throwing it out) and inspected the aircraft. It cost me $130 U.S. dollars. After a thorough inspection and paying of fees, I am allowed to taxi to parking.
I refueled and parked the plane, then took a taxi for the 4 miles to the AU$235 per night Novotel Atrium Darwin hotel on the Esplanade in downtown Darwin, overlooking the harbour.
After settling in at the hotel I went to the Darwin Wharf and had a fabulous seafood meal, washed down with a tall glass Fosters. The next day I couldn't resist going to the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre. They had a B-52, Spitfire, Zero, B-25 and lots more historical aircraft on display. What a great way to spend the day for an aviation buff like myself. Stopped by the Internet Outpost in the Transit Centre on the last evening here to upload this log.
4: Final to runway 11.
3: Timor Sea from 5,000 ft.
2: Darwin from the air.
1: The Australian Coastline.
Today I was at the airport fairly early, as the flight is 1,000nm and I wanted to fly the whole thing in daylight. Rather warm today, about 80 degrees at takeoff, wind 6kts out of the north. Took off around 11 am from the 11,000 ft runway 11 and I flew at a cruise altitude of 18,000 ft. This leg from Darwin to Lae takes me out over the Arafura Sea for most of the time. After another uneventful flight I receive clearance to land on the 8,000 ft runway 27 at Lae Nadzab Airport in Lae, Papua New Guinea.
I stayed in the Huon Gulf Motel in Lae, $204 / night ($78 U.S.). Very nice mid-priced hotel. I didn't do much while in new guinea, as I just wanted to rest up for the rest of the trip. Mostly I just relaxed at the hotel and made frequent use of the pool and the gym.
4: Closer view of Port Moresby.
3: Lae from the air.
2: Lae, Papua New Guniea.
1: Picturesque Port Moresby.
Took off at dawn from Lae, on the 8000 ft runway 9. 68 degrees at departure. This trip is 809 nm and will take me over the South Pacific and Solomon Sea on the way to to Honiara Int'l Airport on Honiara in the Solomon Islands. This was not the greatest day for flying, as I ran into thunderstorms about halfway there.
After receiving clearance to land, I touchdown on the 7200 ft asphalt surface of runway 6, where it's 85 degrees and rainy. Honiara is located on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, which was the site of some fierce fighting between the Allied forces and the Japanese during WWII. Honiara is the only international airport in the Solomon islands. This airport has a tower and a terminal and can accommodate some decent sized commercial planes. The airport used to be called Henderson field, after a marine pilot downed there in battle of midway. It's about 8KM from the airport to the Honiara proper, which is the capitol of the Solomons. I stayed at the Honiara Hotel. A nice mid-priced hotel with a very large duck by the pool.
4: A road in Solomon.
3: The Honiara hotel duck.
2: Solomon the paradise.
1: Solomon from the air.
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