RTW – The Final Rundown
Total distance travelled: 49,874 miles (80,264 km)
Total days: 42 (six weeks)
Equator crossings: Four
Continents: Six (all except for Antarctica).
Countries: Eight (plus an additional three went through in-transit, so I did not officially enter those countries)
Total photos taken: 8,900 (plus or minus a couple).
Weight gained: 10 kg. Not me, but my luggage.
Illness received: One cold from New Zealand. Didn’t totally recover until South Africa.
Items lost: One pen (freebie hotel pen) lost on board Bangkok Airways somewhere between Phuket and Bangkok. Another one was reacquired at the next hotel stop.
Balls dropped: One. I forgot to reserve a rental car for Montreal. Oops. Did it real quick on my phone while waiting to board the flight.
Most impressive sight: Iguazu Falls, Argentina
|Inside the Blue Mosque|
Got tricked by all the tourist traps: Istanbul. Taxi drivers claiming not having change, taxi drivers going the long way, restaurants giving me extra stuff I didn’t order and then charging me for it. All of the above happened more than once as if it was normal there.
Best food: Buenos Aires, Argentina (but – see next item...)
- Argentinean beef steak
- Fresh empanadas that ate like a stuffed sandwich.
- Pacu (Amazonian river fish)
- Alfajor (chocolate covered cookie sandwich with dulce de leche)
Mustard bomb received: Two in Buenos Aires. After the second one in two days, I wanted to scream (I had washed the same pants and my camera bag the previous day only to get hit again). Luckily, nothing was stolen either time. See second paragraph in this State Department travel information.
Best hotel: I can’t decide between these four – take your pick.
- Kamala Beach Resort at Phuket, Thailand for the junior suite, ocean view, beach access, and easygoing resort life.
- Sheraton at Iguazu Falls, Argentina for the awesome at your room fall view (and sound), and the in-park convenience.
- Mohalebesti Lodge at Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa for my own bungalow and intimate, personalized service.
- Marriott Montreal Airport in Canada for the luxurious new room, grand airport view all around, complimentary breakfast, soft drinks, and evening meal at the lounge. Did I mention I stayed there for free on points? OK, I paid $22 a day for valet parking.
Most scary moment: While on the safari, an elephant staring me down less than 10 feet away, looking like he is ready to charge at any second. In the car, the guy in front of me asked the guide maybe he should move away a bit, which I wholeheartedly agreed. The guide just ignored us.
Best twisted use of the English language: South Africa. Where else do they call signal lights “robots”? Or have phrases like these printed on stuff?
Won’t make that mistake again: Connecting through the U.S. from overseas to another country. I had to go through customs and immigration for the U.S. just like as if I was coming back home - even though I was connecting to Canada. Dealing with the crowd at arrival (Mumbai flight arrived at the same time as my flight from Buenos Aires) and then going through security during the morning rush was a horrendous experience.
Airlines and Spotting
Total flights: 20
Aircraft types: 14
Special color schemes flown: One - South African A340-300 in the 2012 Summer Olympics scheme.
Oldest aircraft flown: South African Airways Museum Society Douglas DC-4 built in 1947. (See trip report.)
Best airline meal: Bimibop on Asiana. The flight attendant gave me instructions on how to mix and eat it.
Worst airline meal: Crispy fish on Thai. Slimy fish was more like it. I don't remember the exact name because the flight attendant flashed the menu in front of me for a brief second before taking it away. The fish was soggy, bland, and over steamed. It looked like something you get served in the back of the 'bus.
Best airline service: Singapore Girl – you really are a great way to fly. Followed closely by Asiana.
Best home airport check-in: Thai in Bangkok. You sit in a soft comfy seat while being checked in. An exclusive express passport and security check right around the corner whisks you straight through to the lounge.
Best home airport lounge: Two way tie.
- Thai in Bangkok (can’t beat that free foot massage at the Spa).
- Turkish in Istanbul (it was like a buffet in Vegas. OK, maybe I am exaggerating, but I’m not far off).
Worst home airport lounge: Swiss in Zurich. Hot food limited to small hors d'oeuvres. In fact, selection of everything was small and limited. Unimpressive shower. Relies on the airport-provided free wifi which limits you to one hour (and I had used up my hour earlier in the day). Really, Swiss? Really?
Best sleep on board: Swiss from Zurich to Johannesburg. I really don’t remember much from the flight itself. I didn't even have dinner - I went straight to sleep.
Worst best sleep on board: Thai from Bangkok to Paris. Woke up from a deep sleep with an aching back. The massage function didn’t help.
Best worst sleep on board: United from Buenos Aires to Newark. Used two pillows and two blankets – no one sitting next to me, I was cozy, I was comfortable. I slept through breakfast, because the crew did not turn on the lights during service forcing everyone up (the only airline that did that, which was nice). However, I wasn’t able to fall into deep sleep the entire night.
Best amenities: South African. Thick duvets with thick blankets. How luxurious! Too bad it was a daytime flight.
Worst seats: In general, staggered cubicle style lie-flats found on Asiana and Thai (also ANA). Too narrow and claustrophobic.
Quietest airplane: Airbus A380.
Nosiest airplane: Boeing 777 (sorry Boeing). Did I mention there was a lot of vibration as well? It was really noticeable after flying on the A380 the previous day.
Best spotting location: Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP). 50mm through the fence (no ladder required), perfect lighting two-thirds of the day, no hassles. Need I say more?
- Ariana Afghan A300
- Iraqi Airways A320