Posts Tagged ‘airport’

Funny Photo: How to Avoid Checked Baggage Fees

Posted in Fun on April 21st, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

Brilliant! Why hasn’t anyone made a jacket like this yet?!

Layover in Beijing

Posted in China on March 29th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

A heavy blanket of snow covered Beijing, China on Sunday, March 14th. My flight to Beijing out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the morning of Monday, March 15th, was delayed 6 hours. I had a 6 hour 20 minute layover in Beijing, so we landed 20 minutes before my next flight left, not enough time to catch it.

Upon leaving the gate in Beijing I followed the mass of other people who had missed their flights to a counter where they were putting us all on the next flights to wherever we were going. I was headed to San Francisco, and the next flight wasn’t for 24 hours. They booked the flight for me and then put a sticker on my passport and told me to go through the diplomat line at customs.

At the customs desk they stamped a full page of my passport with a “stay visa” saying I was allowed to be in China until the 16th. Normally you can’t get into China without arranging a visa in advance, so if you accidentally get stuck in China like I did this is what they will give you.

I proceeded to the Air China ticket counter on the Departures level. There they had me wait with 8 or so other people to be taken to a hotel that would be paid for by Air China since it was their fault we missed our flights.

A van took us to the Jinhangxian International Hotel. It was just after 2:00pm when we were done checking in. Because of the time Air China would not pay for us to have lunch in the hotel, and none of us had Chinese money to buy food. Luckily for me I had purchased a bagel in the Kuala Lumpur airport, but everyone else was pretty pissed and had to wait for dinner. I was so tired I went to my (fairly nice) room, put the “do not disturb” sign on my door, and slept 13 hours straight, right through dinner.

On the morning of Tuesday, March 16th, I woke up at 5am and went to breakfast at 6. None of the hotel restaurant staff knew what “vegetarian” meant or which foods at the buffet had meat in them and which didn’t. I quickly learned that when a Chinese person has no clue what you are talking about they just say “yes.” I opted for lots of tea and rice for breakfast and avoided all the weird and unidentifiable Chinese dishes in the buffet.

The hotel also didn’t include drinkable water, but they did have a hot water pot in each room so you could boil your own. There was also free internet in the room, though lots of sites, like facebook, are blocked in all of China.

At 9am a van took me back to the airport and it was all smooth sailing from there. I arrived home in Portland, Oregon, on March 16th (I crossed the international date line so I got 48 hours of March 16th.)

This adventure is over, but soon there will be another. I’m already planning my next escape 🙂

Scenes from Kuala Lumpur

Posted in Malaysia on March 17th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Thursday, March 11th, till Sunday, March 14th. Below are some of my favorite pictures from my 4 days there. You can also check out my posts on the Islamic Art Museum and my visit to the Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge.

I flew with Air Asia from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was treated to a lovely sunset in the air:

Sunset from an airplane over Malaysia

Sunset from an airplane over Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and is home to almost 2 million people. Unlike Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital which has a higher population and only 1 significantly tall building, Kuala Lumpur is full of skyscrapers. It also has multiple rapid train systems which keep the various areas of the city well connected.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

While wandering around near Pasar Seni (Central Market) I saw some Graffiti I really liked:

Graffiti near Pasar Seni - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Graffiti near Pasar Seni - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

If you’re a shopper you should check out Petaling Street (Jalan Petaling) in Chinatown. There’s plenty to buy during the day, and a whooole lot more at night when the street gets so packed with stalls and shoppers it takes you 5 minutes to walk 50 feet. It was so dense I couldn’t even get a picture! I personally liked the markets in Phnom Penh better because I found clothes that were more my style there, but there is something for everyone on Petaling Street, and the prices are great! Bargain hard, though. The prices will start out incredibly inflated and you can usually end up paying 1/4th or less of the first price a seller gives you. The walk-away tactic works exceptionally well here.

Petaling Street - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petaling Street entrance - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Another interesting place to check out is Little India. There’s plenty of great food to try, and there’s decent shopping too, especially during the weekly night market on Saturdays.

Saturday Night Market - Little India, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In Little India I bought myself a Punjabi Suit (beautifully decorated colorful long tunic + pants + scarf). I had been wanting one for a while, and after trying a bunch of shops I found one that I knew was made for me as soon as I saw it. I got the price down from 280rm to 120rm, including adjustments done in shop to make it fit me exactly. I love it so much I want to go to India just so I can wear it all the time 🙂

So there’s this fruit called Durian that smells incredibly terrible. Like gagging when you smell it terrible. Apparently it tastes fantastic though; the saying is “tastes like heaven, smells like hell”. Anyway, durian is banned from most hotels and hostels because of the smell, so you see signs like this up all over:

No durian sign - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When it came time for me to leave Kuala Lumpur to go home I went to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and found out that my flight was delayed 6 hours due to snow in Beijing. Lame. I passed the time by walking around and taking pictures.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

People in Kuala Lumpur International Airport

People in Kuala Lumpur International Airport

People in Kuala Lumpur International Airport

People in Kuala Lumpur International Airport

I ended up missing my 2nd flight and getting stuck in China for 24 hours. Post about that next time on vagablonding dot com!

Phnom Penh: Colorful Cambodia’s Capital City

Posted in Cambodia on February 13th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

Mom and I landed in Phnom Penh late at night on Friday, February 12th, after many hours of flying. The immigration process was painless; the visa cost $20 and customs stamped a lot of stuff I couldn’t see and took my picture. Unfortunately the official taxi stand closes around 10pm so we had to hire a random taxi which cost $9. From the taxi I saw a guy getting the crap kicked out of him by two other guys on the side of the road. Ouch.

We stayed the night at the Town View Hotel where we had a room with two twin beds, air-con, hot water, mini-fridge, and tv for $17 a night. It was very nice.

On the morning of Saturday, February 13th, we went to the top floor of our hotel and enjoyed the view before walking to a restaurant for breakfast.

View from hotel - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Buildings - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For breakfast we got bread and jam for $1, Chinese fried noddles with veggies for $1.50, coffee for $0.70, and free tea. It was yummy; the bread here is delicious thanks to the French influence.

Breakfast - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After breakfast we decided to wander in an arbitrary direction and we ended up coming upon a market full of fruit, flowers, meat, fish, and tons of people buying their food for the day.

Vegetable stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Meat stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fruit stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the market there were many beggars. I gave this lady a dollar because she let me take her photo.

Beggar in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We stopped to look in wedding shop with lovely dresses and over the top tiaras inside. There we met the people who own the shop. The man knew perfect English because he escaped from Cambodia to Australia during the massacre. He told us about the places he had been in the US, and introduced us to his wife and daughter. They invited us in and gave us cold bottles of water and a banana. The wife and daughter are learning English. The wife was too shy to practice on us, but I chatted with the 13 year old daughter for a while and her English was quite good. I exchanged emails with her and told her she can write me and keep practicing her English.

On the way back to the hotel for a rest we passed a celebration for the Chinese New Year. Men and boys dressed in red played music while men in dragon costumes danced into the temple.

Chinese New Year celebration - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Chinese New Year celebration, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There were lots of locals watching the celebration as well and when the kids saw me taking pictures they wanted me to take their pictures too.

Local kids - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Also I saw this sign near our hotel, I think it’s hilarious:

Rambo sign - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the late morning we rested before checking out and taking a tuk-tuk ($3) to our new hotel, the Sokha Heng Guesthouse. The guesthouse is near the Royal Palace and the waterfront where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet, a much more touristy part of town. Our room has all the same amenities as the Town View Hotel. I don’t know how much it costs per night because it’s included in the trip cost of the Intrepid Travel tour we are about to start.

Family - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After checking in, mom and I wandered down to the waterfront to get some lunch. When we passed a Lebanese restaurant called Le Cedre I knew I had to get a falafel sandwich ($3.50) because they’re tasty… and also to make Ryan jealous 😉 it was very good, but I think the ones in Costa Rica were just a tad better.

Me at the waterfront - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Flags - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There were more Chinese New Year celebrations going on at the waterfront. People were burning incense, leaving flower offerings, and releasing little birds into the air over the river for good luck. We sat in the shaded grass and people watched until it was time to go back to the hotel for our Intrepid welcome meeting.

Fruit seller - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This guy wasn’t celebrating, just sitting on his motorcycle looking intense:

Man - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For dinner we went out with our Intrepid group to a restaurant that employs orphaned kids, helps them learn English, and teaches them food service skills they can use to get jobs later in life. I was still full from lunch so I had a small plate of fries for $2 and an Angkor beer for $1. The kids that work there and also the beggar children know our group leader well. One little girl aged maybe 7 or 8 who was selling copied books started making fun of him saying ‘no way you don’t have a girlfriend!!!’ It was too cute. Not cute enough to get anyone to buy a book, though.

In the restaurant were THE most annoying tourists I have ever been around. This drunk middle aged fat Australian guy, along with his obscenely loud and equally pudgy daughter, was causing quite a scene when he very loudly and repeatedly asked the waiter if he could buy a marijuana cigarette from him and got douchy when told no. Apparently they are staying at our guesthouse because as I am typing this they are here in the lobby. His daughter is telling her brother about how he apparently crashed a bar playing music after leaving the restaurant, sat at the drum set and tried to play, then tripped over a stage light, broke it, and refused to pay for it, and finally got kicked out. Now he is eating a banana I just saw him pluck from the Buddhist shrine. What. An. ASS. I am trying to be all Dalai Lama and see this as just an opportunity to practice my patience but man is it hard.

Anyway, tomorrow we are going on a cyclo tour around the city in the morning. In the afternoon we are going on what our group leader has dubbed “the misery tour” where we will see evidence of Cambodia’s very dark and recent past at the Tuol Sleng torture centre and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

Surf break in Puerto Viejo and going home via Alajuela

Posted in Costa Rica on February 5th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

I was still really sick on Monday, February 1st, so after arriving back in Puerto Viejo via the bus and checking back in to Hostel Pagalú we took it easy for the rest of the day, swimming at Playa Negra and enjoying falafels from Ali Baba for lunch. By the end of the day I decided it was time to go ahead and medicate with immodium, pepto, and lots of water.

Playa Negra, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, February 2nd, we rented surf boards from Sunrise Backpackers for $10 for 3 hours. This was a way better deal than anywhere else in town. One place wanted us to leave $100 or our passports as a deposit! Sunrise Backpackers only asked me to leave my driver’s license, a much better deal.

Road - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We surfed at Playa Negra and had a great time! It was my second time surfing and Ryan’s first so we didn’t do very well but we had tons of fun. I could definitely do this every day. Later we went back to Playa Negra for sunset and saw wild horses again!

Wild Horse - Playa Negra, Costa Rica

Sunset - Playa Negra, Costa Rica

We had to head back to San Jose on Wednesday, February 3rd, because our flight home was leaving at 7am on the morning of the 4th :(. We took the bus which cost us 4290 colones each and took 3 and a half hours. The bus was stopped at a police checkpoint between Cahuita and Limón. We all had to get off and have our passports checked before we could get back on the bus.

Police Checkpoint, Costa Rica

When we got to the bus station we hired an official red taxi to drive us to Alajuela (the town closest to the airport) which cost $25 total (talked down from $30). There are much cheaper ways to get to Alajuela, but since we don’t know spanish we figured a cab would be the easiest way.

In Alajuela we stayed at Hostel Maleku. It was alright. We had a double room with a shared bath and a communal kitchen for $35 a night. After checking in we went to McDonalds and a grocery store where we bough coffee cereal and I had cafeteria food for dinner. Then we got ice cream from the McDonalds stand outside. Yum.

On the morning of Thursday, February 4th, we took a free taxi ride to the airport provided by the hostel at 5am. Ryan felt ill in the morning and got progressivly sicker throughout the day, making the flights very rough. By the time we got home he had a high fever so we just went to bed. Not a good way to end our trip, but we had such a great time overall that we are planning on going back in a few months 🙂

Street - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Check back later for posts from Cambodia!

Layover in Narita Japan

Posted in Japan on August 11th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

After leaving Indonesia we had a 10 hour layover in Narita, so we decided to get out and see Narita city rather than spend more time in the airport. On the plane to Narita we filled out immigration and customs forms for Japan. In the “reason for stay” and “address in Japan” sections we wrote “transit” and listed our length of stay as one day.

narita airport

Narita is a small temple town that provides a nice peek into the quieter side of Japanese life. The main attraction is the Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple, a large Zen Buddhist temple complex with awesome pagodas and lovely lush grounds.

We arrived at the Tokyo/Narita International Airport at around 7:00am. There we stored our bags in the airport lockers. We fit both our bags in one large locker which cost us 500 yen for the day, but lucky for us someone left their 500 yen coin in the coin return slot so we ended up storing our bags for free. We then withdrew some yen from an ATM before heading to the train station on the lowest floor of the airport terminal. There we discovered vending machines with canned coffee drinks. We each bought one which started a day long canned coffee trend that went a little far and left us uncomfortably wired by the time we returned to the airport that afternoon.

japanese canned coffee

We caught the Keisei Line train towards Narita city, rode for around 10 minutes, and got off at the first stop, Narita town.

narita train

From the train station we walked straight out the door, past the bus station which lead us to the main town square. On the other side of the town square near the Japan Rail station is a Tourist Information Center where we headed to get maps of the city.

narita street

narita street

Armed with our maps, we headed for the Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple. There are many signs pointing you in the direction of the temple, and the winding road you walk down to get there is lined with shops and restaurants.

narita street

Before going into the temple, we hit up another coffee vending machine. At this point in the day the coffee was still needed to shake the xanax we’d taken for the flight. It wasn’t until two coffees later that we started to regret our consumption.

narita coffee

The Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple was quite lovely and I enjoyed the few hours we spent wandering around the grounds.

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple entrance

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple turtles

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple hand washing

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple map

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

After the temple we headed back towards the main part of town. Along the way we stopped at a grocery store where I bought a huge apple and a pack of peanuts for lunch. We then went to McDonalds so Ryan could eat. I snapped a few pictures while he ate.

japanese woman with face mask

japanese schoolboy

We bought more coffee… just because.

narita coffee

Next we went to the 100 yen store where we bought a couple souvenirs and… more coffee!

narita street

We headed back to the train station and chatted with some travelers from Hawaii while waiting for the train back to the airport. Here’s one final picture from Japan: the women’s toilet control panel. Look at all those fancy options! I totally tried a few out… it was kinda weird.

japanese toilet

And so concludes this installment of my vagablonding adventures. I’m not sure where I will be headed next, but I’ve got the travel bug and I know it won’t be long before I’m off again. Until next time, friends!