September – October 2011
Mombasa, Kenya is one of my recent destinations. I was supposed to take a MNL-DXB via Emirates. But I needed a stop in Hong Kong to meet some friends on my return flight and attend their Special Assembly Day. The trip took place right after our Circuit Assembly. I’m glad it did not interfere with the assembly days.
This trip turned out to be a bit costly…I had to book for the MNL-HKG roundtrip flight plus the travel tax and terminal fee, which costed me over Php11K. As usual this is a grueling travel. I had two last-minute appointments prior to my flight – meet a Turkish friend in the morning and have lunch with a German friend visiting from Munich. I just had enough time to take care of my personal stuff. It’s good to be busy, yeah? I hope I did not forget telling my mom my whereabouts in the next two weeks or so.
I took the afternoon flight to HKG via Cebu Pacific. I arrived at the airport barely an hour prior to departure. I think I did check in online. Check-in was a breeze. This will be my first time to take an international flight departing from Terminal 3. Check-in staff asked me to pay for travel tax first before she hands me over my boarding pass. So I did. But the travel tax staff forget to hand me back my passport. Imagine running late and having to do all of these stuff and going through all these hassles.
Come immigration, the junior staff started asking me a lot of questions. He asked me about my job, my company, what my company does – the last one is a strange follow-up question from somebody working at the airport. I patiently answered all of his questions. I am anxious at the same time because my flight will be leaving any minute from now. A fellow passenger, an Indian businessman, possibly taking another international flight, became impatient. He started to answer the staff’s question. That’s when he hastily stamped my passport and let me go. Relieved, I smiled at the passenger and to the staff. I am not in the mood to get into any kind of discussion. I usually don’t. Especially for a flight that has not officialy started.
The gate is at the left wing of the airport, a bit far from the main building. Then I heard my name being announced over at PA. I am the last passenger to board. But hey, I can’t let this opportunity pass. So I took out my cam and snapped some shots:
Cebu Pacific flight 5J118 an Airbus A320 will fly us to Hong Kong. One of Philippine Airlines’ 2 B77W and NAIA Terminal 2 are visible on the background.
Cebu Pacific departs for Hong Kong
Unlike most of PR and CX flights I’ve been to, this flight with Cebu Pacific is surprisingly not full. There’s only me in my row. The flight is packed with western and regional tourists. Most of my PR and CX flights are full of Filipinos. Perhaps most tourist in this flight are backpackers. I guess the flight is only 60% full.
Bye, Manila. I will see you back in 2 weeks.
The densely populated Metro Manila. I wish there are more open greens and less pollution.
This is a no-frills LCC airline. So I am not expecting any food to be served. They sell some food stuff on board. I haven’t had hot noodles in months. So I opted for this. Costs Php100. Overall, cost is still cheap compared with what I would have paid for PR or CX.
Given the choice, I would fly on a widebody aircraft than a small one like an A320. However, after flying domestic several times, I started to appreciate the advantage of flying with the small A320s and A319s – faster boarding, less crowded cabin and usually operated by LCCs who offer cheaper flying options. For mid to long haul flights, I would still prefer the big birds for less turbulence
We arrived in HKG just in time – just before 7pm. That’s around the same time PAL’s Boeing 744 departs for Manila. This PAL flight is usually packed with OFWs and some business passengers. Hardly any tourists. What surprised me is that this PAL flight usually occupies a gate close to the main building – Gate 15 if my memory serves me right. This time, it’s on a gate farther away from the main building. I’m guessing this is around gate 70.
While KLM is having troubles with its MNL route over tax issues, it seems to be very comfortable with its HKG route. A KL B744 sits at the apron, possibly waiting for its late night departure to Amsterdam.
My next flight with Emirates (EK381) departs a little past midnight. I still have to get my luggages and clear immigrations and then check-in again. Still, there will be plenty of time left before my next flight. So I decided to check the Aviation Museum at Terminal 2.
Hallway connecting T1 and T2.
HKG Terminal 2 where PAL has its check-in counters
Pathway leading to the Aviation Museum. Despite having visited this museum couple of times in the past, I just found out this pathway is actually painted like HKG’s runway.
Is it too late? Or visiting museums does not interest people anymore?
Even this broken plane model (which I guess is a B787) does not seem to get a fix anytime soon.
A visit to the museum will not be complete without climbing up to the Skydeck. It has a bird’s eye view of the actions going on on two runways (soon to become 3). Unfortunately, there’s a persistent drizzle. There’s nobody else up there other than me.
A collossal airport, and it keeps on expanding! Is this not Skytrax’s Best Airport for 2011?
Truly one of the best airports I have been to. It may be huge, but transitting between terminals is a breeze.
From left to Right: Hong Kong Asiaworld Expo, Skycity Marriott Hotel (I would love the view of the airport from this hotel), and part of Terminal 2.
There’s plan to build a third runway and new terminal building at this side of the island by reclaiming some part of the sea.
I’m getting bored so I played with my cam and the wet glass.
Emirates EK381 from Hong Kong to Dubai
With nothing left to do at the Skydeck, I decided to go back to Terminal 1 and check-in my luggage. My flight will be departing at around half past midnight. I am expecting a long queue as this will be on an Airbus 380. My first time with the superjumbo (which I made an article about few months back).
I was greeted by this sight:
Some passengers, especially the more senior ones are getting irate and impatient. Apparently, they are not aware they are flying on the world’s biggest commercial aircraft!
I was sure there is a dedicated lane for those who checked-in online. And sure there was.
There are good reasons to check-in online. Especially when taking an airplane that can fly over 500 passengers and when you are booked on coach.
Clearance at immigration was pretty fast. After delighting my ailing tummy with a hot seafood-rice noodle soup, I headed to my gate quickly.
The superjumbo that will fly us to Dubai.
And her sister – another superjumbo will fly ahead to Dubai but with a short stop in Bangkok. Emirates must be getting a lot of premium passengers from these 2 superjumbo flights.
Boarding was done swiftly and smoothly despite the immense number of passengers.
I am not sure if somebody else in this crowd is as excited as I am to be on an A380! They probably got used to it and could not care less. Two passengers were taking photos of themselves on the gate signage. I offered a help. Hopefully, the photo turned out nice.
I did not hear any arrangement as regards to sequence of boarding. I was one of the last few passengers to board.
Almost everybody has settled in.
After some chat with my rowmates, I recoiled and checked what’s new on ICE. Mind, this is Skytrax best IFE! Hands down. This is truly the best in-flight entertainment I’ve ever experienced.
One of the things I like about Emirates is its multiracial/multilingual cabin crew. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like flying with airlines who employ local crew. I liked my seemingly all local crew experience with Air France, Korean Air and Thai Airways. Although some of the Korean crew were having a hard time speaking English, they were as happy to serve the passengers. Air France crew, dominated by males are cheerful and sincerely happy doing their job.
We flew over Indo-China and India and over at the Indian Ocean.
One of the best features of the Airbus 380 – the tail camera.
View of runway on final approach…
We arrived in Dubai before dawn after about 8 hours of flight. The transit hall at Dubai Terminal 3.
Around this time, several other superjumbos are leaving for N. America and Europe.
My next flight is at 1045, so I still have a lot of time to do some planespotting.
More of Emirates. One of these is an A380 which flies to Jeddah. I think this is the only regional route of EK employing an A380.
And the reflection of the earlier photo.
Technicians make final checks on an Emirates Airbus 330
A nice artwork at Concourse 1
Unfortunately, those palm trees aren’t real.
Passengers wait for departure at Terminal 3 Concourse 2
From Dubai to Nairobi, Kenya
This is Emirates Airbus 340-500 flight EK719 that will take us to Nairobi, Kenya.
I believe that’s terminal 1 on the background (?) Edit: I think it’s a train terminal. If you look closely, you can see Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest skyscraper, obscured from afar.
That will be lots of food!
Passengers wait for boarding to Nairobi
The flight is almost full, if not full. Most passengers are middle-eastern and locals of Kenya.
The expansive wings of Airbus 340-500
Typical dry lands of Africa.
There were some turbulence prior to initial approach.
Jomo Kenyatta Airport at Nairobi, Kenya. I had to clear immigrations. Filipinos are allowed to get visa on arrival. But I want to be sure, so I secured the visa in Manila. After taking my luggages, I made my way to the domestic terminal for my onward domestic flight to Mombasa.
The Kenya Airways Boeing 737 that will take us to Mombasa. There are no aerobridges in the domestic terminal of the airport. We had to walk our way to the airplane. There are several other smaller planes parked on the tarmac. It was a bit chaotic. The old B737 was packed. Mostly with western tourists (most likely European). Most of them are mid-aged to elderly couples. It was quite a sight. A different set of tourists from what I am used to seeing back in the Philippines. They’re probably headed to some of the natural game reserves East of Kenya or somewhere near the Tanzanian border where Mt. Kilimanjaro is.
The flight to Mombasa was very short. The crew hardly had finished distributing the light refreshment when the cockpit crew announced descent to Mombasa airport.
This place is tropical…and humid. It is not very different from the climate of the Philippines. The people are nice. But most of them speak English, so I did not learn much of the local language.
The hotel was surprisingly cheap. I think it’s only over USD25 per night. Breakfast included. Hotel rate in a smaller hotel in Western Africa was over USD100 a night. Breakfast not yet included.
This is the view from my room.
A view from the penthouse restaurant of the hotel.
And the restaurant itself.
On the right is a tuktuk, similar to the ones in Asia. A driver said they were imported from India.
I took the tuktuk several times. I find the streets and the driving style quite dangerous. We had had several near misses during a one-kilometer journey.
Scenes from a public beach in Mombasa. The beach is facing the Indian ocean.
Some colleagues – the ones from JHB, South Africa and Mozambique headed for the waters right away. The ones from Mauritius stayed behind. I think I know the reason why.
This is one of the things I liked about this place! Hmm…yummy!!!
A Somali man took us to a short stroll along the beach! For a fee of course. Somalia, according to him, is just about 5 hours by boat to Mombasa. These are nice fellows. Although around the same week, two British tourists were abducted by Somalis in Mombasa.
Football is very popular in this country! (And rugby too! Rugby World Cup is being held in NZ around this time)
Before we left Mombasa, we were treated with a sumptuous meal in a fine Chinese restaurant by the bay. We hadly knew how to use the chopsticks. But enjoyed the foods nonetheless.
After two weeks, I have to leave Mombasa and head back home with a short stop in Hong Kong.
Kenya Airways (KQ) has several flights between Nairobi and Mombasa. So one can get to an earlier flight if seats are available. I got a flight change from 8pm to earlier flight at 7pm. I did not have problem with that. The 8pm flight was on an old B737-300. The 7pm will be on the newer B737-800. It’s a treat!
A B737-300 departs for Nairobi. The conspicuous winglet at the left is of the B737-800.
This is probably the shortest flight I had on a jet airplane. Most of my short flights are on turboprops.
The flight is not full. Sharing my row was a muslim man who is flying back to Nairobi after attending the funeral of his mother in Mombasa. We had a lengthy discussion about the topic. Unfortunately, the flight is very short.
Nairobi is a busy airport. It holds several domestic, regional and international flights even at night.
We had to hit tarmac once again and take the bus on our way to the terminal.
I am actually delighted when I do this, instead of taking the rather viewless aerobridge. I can feel all the actions, I can hear the engine noise – probably the only noise that I wouldn’t complain about!
In Nairobi, the domestic and international terminals are connected to each other. But a transitting passenger will be required to go out of the terminal to get to the other. Halfway between the two terminals, somebody offered me a help. Which only means showing me the way – which by the way is pretty obvious. Afterwards, he asked for some cash for the “service” rendered. I gave one bill, which I don’t remember now how much. Just to spare myself from stressful arguments.
There was a short queue to get through the airport. Just like MNL, this airport does not allow wellwishers inside the departure hall.
There are several European airlines flying to and from Nairobi. Kenya’s natural reserves must be a big draw for foreigners.
I think a good market is certainly what brings airlines to fly to a country.
After buying some African memorabilias for my friends back home, I headed to my gate. The same Airbus 340-500 will take us to Dubai.
While waiting, I decided to talk with a fellow passenger. He’s German and he works with the United Nations. We had some nice and lengthy discussions. He came to Nairobi to give a conference about topics such as renewable energy and sustainable development. He’s a natural speaker. I can tell he’s got some more to tell me. Unfortunately, we were seated separately. I asked him what is his outlook of the future. We saw each other again upon arrival in Dubai. Unfortunately, he’s heading to Germany and me to Hong Kong.
We arrived in Dubai before sunrise. Again we had to step on the tarmac and take the bus to the terminal. So again, I have to quickly snap some shots. Just in time before a ground crew apprehended me for doing so. Lol
I have a five-hour layover in Dubai before the next flight to HKG.
Indoor garden at DXB’s Concourse 2 of Terminal 3.
Passengers transitting here are really into shopping.
The flight back was on a B777-300ER (77W). This flight was originally an A380. But I don’t really mind the equipment change. I find the legroom of EK’s B777 more generous than its A380.
Wake up. It’s boarding time.
I shared the row with a nice South African lady heading to China for business. I think she took an A380 from Johannesburg. See, most people don’t really care what aircraft are they flying with. Meanwhile, the Phil government should pay me for promoting the Philippines to her. Lol.
We arrived at night in HKG.
Unfortunately, I had to wait up until morning before heading to the hotel. Check-in time is around noontime. So I spent the night at the airport. Fortunately, this airport is sleeper-friendly. So I don’t really mind spending the night here. I can catch up with mails as there is a good wi-fi connectivity within the terminals.
Come morning, I had the chance to take more shots.
What a busy airport! Notice the cancelled PAL flight. This is around the same time the employees of PAL are on strike.
I don’t think these Airbus buses have something to do with Airbus.
Some Morning departures
Air France departs for Paris
The familiar Airphil Express baby heading back to Cebu
JAL sporting its old sunny livery
Cebu Pacific baby…
…with a happy disposition.
A heavy take off by a Cathay Pacific B773
Dragon Air A330
KLM B747 Cargo
Then a nicely clad bus parked in front of me. I wasted no time and snapped a couple of shots. I was told Turkish Airlines now have over 190 destinations. Flying with Europe’s Best Airline remains a dream to me!
I spent some time in Hong Kong mainland. I will post more stories about this and the last sector of my trip on second installment.
Edit: Here’s the link to the second installment of this trip.