I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.


PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Hello Tomorrow

Aboard an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. 3-stage flight path.
First two stages:

London-Gatwick to Dubai .....5,480 km - 7 hours
Dubai to Kuala Lumpur .........5,549 km - 7 hours


"Monday, May 14th

On arrival at Ngurah Rai International Denpasar, totally knackered of course, at half-past six in the evening; dusk was eclipsing into the full dark of night, yet it was still a very balmy 29°C. The tropical Bali ambient was just starting to cool down from the heat of the day.  A contrast from the 16°C we left behind on the London-Gatwick runway twenty-one hours earlier."

 [reference: the above text]

Well, that was the original script! The course of events, however, that eventually concluded with our arrival in Bali did not quite turn out that way!

The revised actual version

We didn’t get the best of starts when our pre-booked taxi failed to show at the allotted time of 7 o‘clock on Sunday morning (13th), which meant a last minute dash to the local airport in order to catch a domestic flight up to London-Gatwick and connect with our long-haul one that afternoon.

The first two legs seemed to pass almost without incident. After which, surely two hours would be more than enough transit time to connect with our third and final flight, operated by Malaysia Airlines..?

 except ..
  • If only the second flight from Dubai had taken off on time, instead of being 20 minutes behind schedule so that ground crew could cram a couple of  laggard suitcases into the rear hold, and
  • If only that steady and constant easterly 29 km/h headwind across the Sub-Continent → the Bay of Bengal and → the Straight of Malacca → all the way to Kuala Lumpur hadn’t been present, which held-up our progress by a further 20 minutes, and
  • If only the pilot (or co-pilot) had been concentrating just that bit more, then he wouldn’t have over-taxied beyond his marker, which in turn meant a further 15 minute wait for a spare push-back tractor to turn-up, connect and shove us back, just a couple of metres, to our allotted disembarkation point.
All told then, a series of events had conspired to cost us nearly an hour of valuable time .. completely wasted.

But there was more: because then, of course, we had to queue for a further 15-20 minutes to clear Malaysian Customs, so that we could access the main KL Airport concourse in order to re-check in with Malaysia Airlines, who would carry us down to Denpasar Bali .. and
  • If only the main concourse was closer to the arrival gates .. instead of being located a 7-8 minute shuttle ride away .. and
  • If only it was made clear to us that our checked-in luggage could take care of itself .. all the way to Bali. Instead, we pointlessly wasted another 20 minutes in the KL carousel hallway watching the world go round; just to end-up like the guy in the Hamlet cigar advert. In short, we were bag-less (and humourless) in Kuala Lumpur .. with not a hope-in-hell, by this time, of making the 45 minute pre-departure check-in deadline.
In summary: Bugger! We had missed our flight to Bali, by slightly more than a whisker.

30 hours with no sleep, and no accommodation arranged in KL (why should there be?); all our essential possessions, very soon after this point in time, would be cruising in a south-easterly direction at 35,000 feet .. with no-one to greet them at the other end of their long journey.

With no local currency in our wallets, and not a toothbrush nor razor blade in sight; we were stranded in Kuala Lumpur .. and all of a sudden, we had a few problems to solve.

Our adventures in Southeast Asia had started a little prematurely!

 Late into the afternoon

[To-ing and fro-ing between the Emirates & Malaysia Airlines’ offices – and the Baggage Control Unit]

With the 08:10am flight fully booked we nevertheless managed to secure the last two seats on the outbound 12:05pm flight the following day (Tue-15) on a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 down to Denpasar –– at no extra cost .. nice one Emirates / Malaysia Airlines.


After a restless night in a downtown Malay hotel located 20 minutes north of the airport, and sporting more grey stubble on my chin than I had seen for quite some time, at midday, we stepped aboard Flight No. MH851 .. and finally after another three hours:

Final fight: Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar.....1,962 km

.. we landed in Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar Bali, twenty-one hours later than expected. Best of all, we straightaway discovered that our wayward luggage had been given VIP treatment by the Balinese baggage handlers the day before; and not lifted by some thieving chancer, as we had feared.

What a relief .. what a great feeling to be here at last. And just for a split second, I felt like getting down on my hands and knees .. and kissing the ground .. Pope-style.

DÉJÀ VU .. we were right back where we finished-up last October. Back in the southern hemisphere - East of Java .. HOORAH! 

After the momentary, orientating pause outside the airport's main entrance, reunited with our checked-in luggage, we made a beeline across the warm tarmac towards the head of the awaiting rank of beaten-up blue, orange and yellow-coloured cabs. A dark-brown, equally unshaven face peered up from behind his steering wheel and enquired, "You want taksi Meestir?"
"Yes please, how much Rupiah to Kuta-Legian?" I replied.

A brief exchange of pigeon followed .. and a fare bargain was struck. 40 minutes later and we're checking into the very same hotel we stayed at last time we were in the area, very same room too. Ah yes .. familiarity breeds content. And where we met-up with our ol' cobbers .. 
Brett and Tracey, who had flown up from Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, to meet us .. and with whom we have established such a great friendship over the last couple of years. We met B&T on the road up in northwest Western Australia, back in April 2010, and have kept in touch ever since. We've stopped over with them twice now in their home in Darwin. Good guys - bikers, of course. Fair dinkum.

A couple of days recuperating from the tension and stress of the travel down from England and we'll be 'good to go'. And what better place to relax than the exotic Island of Bali?


Wednesday, May 16th

Remember - Don't sweat the small stuff. Everything is small stuff!


So here we are. After another seven months of planning and anticipation, the talking stops ... and the cricket begins.

More adventure and surprise is now just around the corner. Tomorrow (Thu-17) the four of us (T&B and Ellen & I) will rent a car and head to the northern end of the island.

Thank God for the unknown tomorrow.

[.. and I hope that doesn't sound too cliché]

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