100,000+ miles to 9 countries-Overview of My 2017 Travel Year

Only In Japan…at the top of the Tokyo tower

I remarked recently to a friend that this had been a very quiet year for me for flying. “A quiet year?”, he repeated with a wry smile noting this year I visited nine countries- mostly in Asia. Four were very familiar: Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and five were new for me: China, Finland, Japan, Lao and The Philippines. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them but would be less likely to return to Lao than the others.

I flew 50 times this year -around once a week. This is lower than my average 88 flights per year over the past decade and felt about the right amount. My longest flights this year were Melbourne-Shanghai ( 8,026 km) with China Eastern which was a surprisingly enjoyable flight and Bangkok-Helsinki (7,916 km) with the delightful Finnair on one of their shiny new A350s. Shortest flights were between Coffs Harbour and Sydney (422km) with Qantas and Vientiane to Bangkok with Lao Airlines.

In my lifetime I have had 1230 airline flights with an average of a flight every two weeks through my life!

My overall flight experience for the year was 82% which is consistent with the last decade and I had no unpleasant flights this year. Emirates, Singapore, Cathay Pacific and Finnair delighted me with their service throughout 2017.

I experienced good solid service with Virgin Australia, Qantas Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways and (new for me) JAL Japan Airlines.  

Trips with China Eastern, Lao airlines (my 1200th flight ever) and Jetstar were surprisingly pleasant. My first flight on Cebu Pacific and a return to TigerAustralia after a long period of avoidance were basic but acceptable.

A boyhood dream of riding the Japanese Hgh speed Shinkansen was fulfilled. Two personal bucket list goals also were ticked off this year with my first ride on the maglev train in China and riding the rails from Singapore to Laos. In that I got to experience the delightful high-speed ETS trains in Malaysia and the Chinese built Thai sleeper trains. I also rode the train to the town in Thailand where the train runs right through the market! 

While I was a little more careful about my travel, the highly publicised terror attacks did not thwart my plans. I do however send all my sympathies to those whose lives were lost or who lost their loved ones in these cowardly attacks. People who target civilians especially children belong in the lowest depths of Hell.

The treatment of tourists by the US immigration was a concern which has reduced the appeal of visiting that country. Australian children’s author Mem Fox, a highly regarded national treasure wrote of her harrowing detention earlier this year. Frankly, this, increased racism and the random civilian shootings put me off the idea of booking any US flights for a while. I am not alone in this as US tourism numbers began to slide. All security and immigration personnel need to be reminded that they are here to protect and not traumatise the public.

Sobering were visits to the nuclear bomb site in Hiroshima and the Jewish refugee museum in Shanghai. Relaxation was by the beach in Coffs Harbour, Australia, a resort in Cebu and the beach n Hua Hin. Inspiration came from the Finnish Design Museum, the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, Catholic Mass in Lao, rallies in Australia to support refugees and running in Hobart, Australia. Fun was the Moomin shop in Finland, the Hua Hin Markets and cable cars in Hat Yai, Thailand and Arthurs Seat, Australia.

Food highlights included: 

leche flan (like a creme caramel on steroids in Cebu, Philippines

Afghan feast

Jerusalem style Knafe

Korean Chicken

a Japanese pancake cooked by a hilarious half drunk chef in Hiroshima

I got to fly the A350 for the first time enjoying two flights with Finnair 350s and one with Cathay Pacific.  I had one 787 flight and one 380 flight. Almost half of my flights were on a 737 which I dislike. A chunk of flights were on A320s A330s and 777s.  I have always enjoyed the 777 but having flown the 787, 350 and 380, the engine noise is noticeable.

So that was some of my year. Where did 2017 take you

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