Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just Nine More Days!

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve! That leaves just nine days till we begin our trek around the world...hard to believe it is so close.

The last couple of weeks have been crazy! You may have noticed a little change in the map. The craziness all started when I got a call from SAA that our flight from Bangkok to Johannesburg had been canceled! It was the only non-stop flight to Johannesburg and it was on Thai Air. The agent said that Thai Air was working on a new route and would get back to us. I already knew from the planning stage that we now had two options, neither that great. One was to back track to Hong Kong then to Johannesburg which was a much longer ordeal and the other was Bangkok to Singapore and onward which only added two hours flying time and a three hour layover. So, I told the agent that we wanted to go through Singapore and she said OK. The next thing I hear is that we are going back to Hong Kong with a long layover and on to Johannesburg! Needless to say, I spent several days burning up the ether with SAA getting the route we want. So now we have added another flight, country and airline to our adventure!

We will leave Bangkok at 19:30 to fly to Singapore on Thai Air getting there at 22:45. Then fly Singapore Air leaving at 02:00 and arriving in Johannesburg at 07:00, in time for our original connection to Victoria Falls. If we survive this marathon without a hitch, I will be amazed! We have time to spread it out by leaving Bangkok early, so that may just happen. Another little glitch happened last Saturday. We were going over the itinerary checking reservations and other details including sending emails to the people doing the private tours in the various cities.

I got an email back late Saturday evening from the company providing our GBR helicopter dive tour. They have a private group booking to their pontoon so they had to cancel our booking! Sorry, he thought he had contacted us! The group booking happens to be the ship’s own GBR tour which is going to the pontoon by a 90 minute boat ride which I don’t really want to do. The pontoon is Marine World on Moore Reef and is a good site. That is why I picked them to begin with!

We may ultimately do this tour with the ship. But, I am talking to Great Adventures about a Helicopter trip to Green Island and then on to their pontoon on Norman Reef which would give us two GBR experiences. Although Green Island is a very popular site, it does have some things of interest. The other option is Down Under and their half day helicopter trip to meet up with their big boat, Osprey V, anchored somewhere on Hastings Reef. All three options offer a semi-submersible ride, snorkeling and diving, just at different sites. Great Adventures offers another island and Down Under’s afternoon trip gives us a chance to maybe do the Kuranda train ride in the morning. I need to decide soon!

The last thing that crawled out of the emails on Sunday was from our guide for Cairo. Originally she didn’t want any money until the tour. She has had some no shows and now wants 20% down. That is no big deal as it is not that much money, but she wants it sent by Western Union. Having never sent money by that method, Dick had a bit of fun, or should I say frustration, trying to send the money today.

The DHL paperwork from Seabourn finally came right before the holidays started. As soon as I get the last of the dry cleaning and meds, I can finish the packing. Things seem to be working out OK. I have decided to take one more small bag with us to start. It will have some things that we will use up before we get to Africa where the luggage is aproblem. That has made things much simpler. It is amazing how heavy medicine is! We can just leave that bag at some point as we use up meds and send travel books back in the shipped luggage. Right now our carry onbags are at 15 pounds each and the extra bag is 12. The bag being shipped to Sydney is 27 pounds and the one to Dubai is 39 pounds.

Christmas was nice. Dick had a long weekend so we had plenty of time for good visits with friends and family. We also got some things done for the trip. We have a New Year's Eve party tomorrow so that will be a fun way to celebrate Dick being officially retired! Friday we go to the Travel Doctor at our clinic for typhoid shots and malaria meds plus what ever else we may need. Some of the time we will not be close to medical services. On Saturday we will go visit Robert's family at their lake house for some fun with the grandkids and some hunting for the guys. Then Robert will check our teeth before we leave on Monday. Tuesday, late, after we close up the house we head to Houston. Wednesday and Thursday are for last minute details there. We fly to San Francisco early Friday morning. When we post again , we should be in New Zealand....!

1 comment:

Rick said...

Have fun on your trip!
I have located the nearest Western Union office, so I can wire bail/bribe money just about anywhere you might run afoul of the Geheime Staatspolizei.