My Australian Journey #1

This is the first of my throwback posts looking back at the two years of my Australian adventure, I am adding all my favourite photos and stories to my Instagram account linked below. I will also be updating my blog daily with the pictures I use on Insta, and the links to the posts I published at the time.

I hope you enjoy!

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My first A380 experience, September 1st 2017. This was a great flight and more can be read here.

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Changi Airport is my favourite airport so far and great to wander around. You can read why I think this and what can be discovered here.

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Singapore, September 2nd and half way through my journey from London to Sydney. This was a mini trip within my travel journey to Australia, see my night shots of the city here.

I don’t want to add too many words to these posts, I think it is better to leave that for the posts I typed at the time. Plus with my busy Instagram schedule it will be much more manageable to upload this way. Quick posts, plenty of pictures and a few links in each page for you to read as you please.

Let me know what you think!

 


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

 

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Travel Diary: I’m so pleased I did the Free Singapore Tour at night!

This could also be named Changi Airport part two as it was arranged within the airport, where this fantastic tour starts and ends.

What an awesome experience!


Requirements you need to meet to be eligible for this tour? A layover of six hours or more in Changi Airport. Also, flight times that work with the six set tour times daily. Passport, boarding card, stamp of approval to leave the airport. The staff were lovely as is Singapore. Just don’t mess with drugs or the government will kill you. Literally.

I was waiting in the terminal, right next to the tour stand as instructed to, along with a lovely family of four. I made sure I was there early, I have had this planned for a while and this layover was too long to not do the tour. Despite being a very fun airport, 17 hours is just too long. A little insight to my experience in the airport can be seen here in my most recent post.

The tour lady called us over and we started to make our way. We boarded the Sky Train to Terminal 2, the meeting place for the start of the tour and the rest of the group. There were many more people waiting in this terminal, what seemed like a very small tour group turned into a bus load. Probably 20 or so, some heading to Europe, some Australia.

The Tour Guide that walked us there stayed within the airport, the one rounding up the troops in T3 took over. He was from Singapore, no surprise there. A very bubbly character and proud to be Singaporean. He also had a great urge to shout ‘ole ole ole’ every now and then, which caught on and spread throughout the bus on route.

This is a bit of a rushed tour, at least ours was as we left a little late waiting for someone. I don’t know what happened but we probably waited an extra 15 minutes at the airport exit before boarding the tour bus. With people waiting for seperate flights at seperate times, time is valuable and we were often shown where the taxis were whilst in Singapore if we were to be one minute late for the bus. I liked that though, it made the trip flow smoothly and it was for our own benefit. Who wants to be late for their own flight?!

We made two stops. First, Supergree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. More info on this area can be read here.


Supergree Grove has 12 of the 18 super trees in Gardens by the Bay. A 128 meter long Skyway connects two of these Supertrees. They all come alive at night with lights and sounds, the reason I was pleased to have changed my tour time from 6pm to 7.30pm.


Our second and final stop was Marina Bay Sands. Travelling up the motorway to this place was pretty cool, the skyscrapers emerged in the distance, the Singapore Flyer looked impressive all lit up (I had no idea it was bigger than the London Eye, 30m in fact) and the Formula One racing track for the Singapore Grand Prix carved it’s way through the city centre. Then, we arrive at our stop, crossing a bridge to get fantastic views of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the city skyline.


Both of these stops allowed roughly 15-20 minutes to walk around, take some pictures and soak up the atmosphere. It isn’t too long, however it was long enough to get a taste of this great city and get a fresh stamp in my passport. Would I come back? Possibly. If I have another long layover in Singapore, this tour has given me a great taste of what to expect and I would probably put more effort into going out myself and travelling independently.

Thank you again to Changi Airport and Singapoge Airlines for a unique tour and experience.

Travel Diary: Changi airport, the best for long layovers!

After a long 14 hour journey from London to Singapore, I had an even longer 17 hours in Changi airport. If there was ever an airport that I would want to be stuck in for so long, I can safely say it is this one.


It is very green, that’s what I noticed straight away after entering the terminal. There are plants everywhere! It felt relaxed and that is the vibe I got walking through the airport. Everything was chilled.


I did not realise how quickly my 17 hours would fly by though. I spent the first thirty minutes in the Cactus Garden with a couple of beers, sitting under a fan chatting to the bartender after having a stroll around the differing species of cacti on display.


This of course, made me pretty peckish. I will warn you now, this specific post isn’t for foodies. I grabbed quick bites when I could, on this occasion a chicken and cheese croissant’which from Burger King. Never had one before, and it got me through.

The Sky Train is very convenient, a fast and very frequent way to travel between terminals. The outside of the airport seems to be as pretty as it is inside!


I headed back to my terminal and to the Free Singapore Tours stand.

This, my friends, is the daddy of all layover actives.


That, or being made to ride a bike to charge your phone. That is up there too!


But back to the tour. The queue when I got there was probably ten people long but it didn’t take too long to get seen to. I told the lady at the stand that I was given a spot on the 6pm tour after emailing Singapore Airlines before flying, although the 7.30pm show sounded much more appealing due to the light shows displayed after sunset. I was worried about getting back after the 2.5 hour show and to my next flight, boarding at 11.45pm, taking into account the security checks leaving and entering the airport and the possible traffic issues.


After speaking to the lovely lady it was clear that 7.30pm wouldn’t be an issue for getting back to my flight, and that it was easy for me to change times. That I did.

By this time it was midday. I spent some of the next hour strolling through the airport and taking in the nature.


It was then that a couple of yawns hit me, and that I realised that I probably only had an hour tops of sleep on the flight. If I was to fully appreciate the Singapore Tour, I needed to find a spot and get my head down. I set my alarm for 5pm, enough time to get a decent few hours and make it to the tour before it got too busy.

What a glorious sleep I had.

So, this 17 hour layover wasn’t a bad one. In fact it was a great one. By the time the tour started it was 7.30pm, by the time I was back I had enough time to grab another bite to eat and leisurely walk to my departure gate. Some airports would have been pure hell for a long wait for my next flight, this turned out to be amazing with some lifetime memories along the way.

That memory was the Singapore Tour, my next post. I’ll see you then!

I wish I could have walked through walls today…

Tourists take pictures at Platform 9 3/4, Kings Cross, London.


I arrived at Kings Cross earlier this evening, this section is popular for Harry Porter fans taking pictures as they seemingly drift between worlds. I then spent the evening with two very heavy bags, wishing I could burst through the walls around me and wondering how on Earth I will carry them to the other side of the world in the next 48 hours.

Oh well, 6.30am alarm set. Next stop, Singapore!

My last month in the UK

So that’s it… the last 31 days I will spend in the UK for at least a year. I feel more should be flooding through my mind right now, however I have always been one that doesn’t feel it hit home until the very last minute. This could be a great thing, if it only ever hits me whilst on the flight, I have no other choice but to see it through.

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I think this is down to my family and friends being fairly relaxed about it. They have seen me travel before, they know what to expect and I do too. If everything gets too emotional, it makes departing harder. I am trying to show more excitement than anything and that is the feeling I am receiving in return. I am not departing on a ship in the nineteenth century on a four month journey, I will say goodbye to my family on the 1st September and say hello again on the 3rd. What a time to be alive!*


*Speaking of historical travel, I found the below isochronic map on 1843 magazine. A pretty fascinating map of the world from 1914, colour coded for readers to understand how long it would take to get anywhere in the world from the city of London.

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Simon Willis writes in the article:

IN 1914 JOHN G. BARTHOLOMEW, the scion of an Edinburgh mapmaking family and cartographer royal to King George V, published “An Atlas of Economic Geography”. It was a book intended for schoolboys and contained everything a thrusting young entrepreneur, imperialist, trader or traveller could need. As well as the predictable charts of rainfall, temperature and topography, it had maps showing where you could find rubber, cotton or rice; maps showing the distribution of commercial languages, so that if you wanted to do business in Indonesia you knew to do so in Dutch; and maps showing the spread of climatic diseases, so that if you did find yourself in Indonesia you knew to look out for tropical dysentery. It also contained the map you see here, which told you how long it would take to get there from London: between 20 and 30 days.

I guess for someone of this time, losing a book would like losing a WiFi signal. Can you imagine the horror?!

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Well, moving on from the days of ocean travel taking long enough to form a long term relationship (by my standards, at least), I am thankful to have a pretty short travel itinerary, relatively speaking.

1st Aug- 30th Aug:

Plenty of goodbyes, taking clothes to the charity shop, saving money by going to the gym instead of gin, blogging.

That is basically it really, a very uneventful last month. I like to see it as the calm before the storm.

31st August:

I make my way down south to London from Newcastle.

I was actually unsure of the best way and because of how much I needed to save, I felt bus travel would be much more cost friendly than rail or air. That was until I received an offer from Virgin East Coast, offering me a first class ticket for £30. As you can see from the map below, I hit a goldmine. The image is actually from a news article stating how a man found a private plane offering to fly him down to London for much cheaper than a train ticket that day. It certainly isn’t outside the realms of reality.

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Then, one night in the Crowne Plaza at Heathrow Airport before my flight on the 1st September. I haven’t considered the route from Kings Cross to Heathrow just yet, however I am sure this will make it into my blog. Will it be a breeze or a nightmare? Regardless, you will find out as much as I will.

1st Sept:

This is it! I am on my way! 13 hours and five minutes of beer, movies and music before arriving in Singapore. A long journey that is only half way…

If you have done this trip, any recommendations on how to stay occupied would be appreciated.

2nd Sept:

17 hours and 15 minutes of layover :/

The whole day is spent in Singapore. Mainly the airport, which thankfully is very impressive. I will most definitely blog about my experience of the Free Singapore Tour that is offered to travelers with a layover of five hours or more. As far as long waits for connecting flights go, this is one I am too excited about.

3rd Sept:

I arrive in Sydney, however this is pretty much all I know so far. I have no current accommodation or a job, but that will be part of the experience. Finding my feet with the money I have saved, enjoying this new city and country as I blog about the new experiences. I don’t want to have too much to say in this post, what will I have to blog about then?

I am as excited to blog about the journey there as I am arriving. There is something about the travel that I do not want to go to waste. I don’t really like sleeping at this time, can you imagine how amazed nineteenth century travellers would be to be able to travel such vast distances in such a short space of time?

I don’t know what they would do on a flight, but I am willing to bet my plane ticket it wouldn’t be sleep!

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Opera House: Photo by Liam Pozz on Unsplash

Window with a view: Photo by Pat Taylor on Unsplash

Siri-ously!

I haven’t been home for 24 hours, work was looooong yesterday. The only time I have had to put a post out there was whilst walking through the city centre and it poured with rain. 

That’s summertime here, you’ve all watched Wimbledon on TV at one point, right?

In the mean time, I am in the waiting room to see if I need any vaccinations for my upcoming travels… And whilst I wait I would love to share with you what I was told to say to Siri last night…

If you have an IPhone, do it. I think it’s the best Siri easter egg to date! 

I love Singapore! (And I haven’t even been yet)

The journey to a destination doesn’t have to be the boring part. Apparently there are adventures between connecting flights and I’ve found a great one with Singapore Airlines.

It makes me sad that we often miss out on these, I for one have made this mistake and I’m trying to avoid doing this on future travels. I want to squeeze as much experience out of life and travelling 35 hours from London to Sydney is a heck of a long time to see nothing but in-flight movies and airport terminals.

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I’ve just got back from my mums, I went back to see my goddaughter and felt it would be a good time to take some of what I won’t be taking to Australia back to her place. That is probably 99% of all things I own. Judging by how messy my flat can get I assumed I had a lot of stuff that needs emptying before I leave. It turns out I don’t have too much stuff, I am just messy.

I’ve also learned that I have been stupidly paying more for my train journeys than I should have been. Instead of buying ‘off peak’ on the touchscreen ticket machines, I should have clicked ‘more options’ and purchased a specific time. This is my own fault, as my train journeys are roughly every couple of months it is something I haven’t thought about. Now that I need money more than ever, that extra couple of quid each way is welcomed.

Here I am waiting for the train yesterday. Drifting off topic a little, I have an ever growing fascination with castles. They never bore me, a constant reminder that the closest we can currently get to time travel is looking at what has been left for us. It seems from this view that the line runs right into the castle. Very platform 9 and three quarters, that. It doesn’t, the Victorians didn’t seem to care how close to the castle they got, clearly appreciating a carriage with a view.

Whilst all this was happening, I emailed Singapore Airlines as I was told that they offer hotel packages for travellers with long layovers. What did I have to loose? With the good customer service I was told to expect from this airline they emailed back pretty quickly, offering to book me in for their Ambassador Transit Hotel, paid for in 6 hour blocks. This didn’t really appeal to me, however they also offered to book me onto one of their Free Singapore Tours (FST), offered to those with long layovers. How cool is that? It can be found on their website, by clicking the link or heading for Plan Travel- Privileges- Free Singapore Tour.

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One of two tours can be picked. The Heritage Tour or the City Sights Tour. The Heritage Tour seems to be more of a tour of history and culture, taking us through areas of historical importance and the ethnic enclaves of Singapore. The City Sights Tour seems to be more of the modern sights, such as Marina Bay and the amazing Avatar-like Supertrees. I love the historical and cultural aspect of any place I go, however as each tour is 2.5 hours, I feel I will be able to digest the sights a little easier than the history. Also, the City Sights Tour is only offered to those with a six hour layover or more, the Heritage Tour is available to travellers with a 5.5 hour layover. As I will be there for a whopping 17 hours, I was lucky to be offered both. The City Sights Tour appeals to me a little more with this in mind, like a forbidden fruit. Sorry, 5.5 hour layover people!

Reading the descriptions it seems like they may cross paths, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. I struggle with choices of this nature. I have decided on the City Sights Tour and have been booked in. It seemed very quick and efficient, all I have to do now is experience it first hand. Afterall, I can always book the same airline back and choose the other tour!

For the time being, my blog will be focused on my travel planning. It helps keep me organised. After I arrive in Sydney, I will mix it up a little with my usual inputs on anything and everything. Whatever reason you decided to follow my blog will hopefully be justified with a post you can relate to. Of course, travel and photography will play a huge part.

Which of the tours would appeal to you? If you have ever been, I would love to read your stories and if there is anything I should look out for in particular.

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

 

 

First class for £30!

Yesterday was different. Not only did I find myself in a vegan restaurant eating a falafel and hummus wrap (it was delicious by the way) I almost spat it out when a naked bike ride cycled right by the window. Sadly for them it was a pretty cold day..

Cleansing my soul

At the minute my routine is:

Eat.

Blog.

Work.

Prepare for Australia.

Sleep.

Repeat.

Not that I would dare to complain, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is not the lack of free time that I would change, it is the time spent doing things that I have to do that isn’t what I want to do. We wouldn’t spend our lives wanting as much free time as possible if our lives outside of that free time were spent doing what we enjoyed.

I’ve been considering how I will get to London in September, as the only travel I had booked up until last night was from London to Sydney. Flight would be the easiest, taking under an hour and would mean I didn’t have to spend time getting through the hectic traffic in London to the airport for my next flight. Trains would be a (still pretty convenient) three hour trip and it is much easier for me to get to Central Station than Newcastle Airport. Coach would be the cheapest by far from only £8, however I hate sitting on a coach for 8 hours knowing that it would take the same amount of time to get to New York City. Madness, huh?

This thinking process ended with one email. Virgin East Coast sent me an email warning me that their sale was ending at midnight. A sale I didn’t know was even on! £30 train tickets from Newcastle to London. Not only that…
FIRST CLASS!!

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My first ever view of London was this one, after stepping out from the Underground.
This may not be as much of a surprise to my readers outside of the U.K., depending on how cheap your rail travel is. Here it is in no way cheap. Looking at tickets today the prices range from £36 to £121, without the free upgrade. As I opened up the email at work I assumed the £30 fare was the cost of an upgrade with clever wording, however as the pages loaded it seemed like the real deal. 


And here I am, £30 poorer but increasingly more organised, starting a tiring three day journey to Sydney with a smile, free beers and meals for the first leg of this epic journey. Thanks Virgin!

Have you ever been first class? Did you get a great deal, get it complimentary or simply like more luxurious travel?

This is a first for me, I will be sure to blog this experience on route to London come August 31st.

Choices

Long haul flights, window or aisle seat? I guess I have answered the question by scrolling through my camera roll, not one picture of any trip is looking down the aisle of a plane at the sunburnt legs, toilet queues and mothers singing to crying babies. I’d do however, have some lovely shots from the window.


I’m travelling on an Airbus A380 800 from London to Sydney via Singapore for the first time and to get myself in the mood, I logged in and looked at the available seats. There wasn’t many. I did check on this great site called Seat Guru which is a big help finding which the preferred seats in almost all aircraft and airlines and the ones to avoid. I highly recommend a browse before flying, if you care that much


I looked down at the seating map and wondered who I would be sitting next to. The first 13 hours to Singapore will be a window seat. The next 7 hours flight is an aisle seat on the upper deck. It’s fascinating to consider how many awesome people we must sit next to from time to time, conversations wasted as we indulge in our own personal interests that keep us from chatting to our fellow passenger.

Have you ever sat next to someone with an interesting story, or try to start conversation? I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to gain one on this flight.