Riding the Quaint Beautiful Jiji railway in Taiwan

There is something magical for me, about train rides whether slow steam hauled locals  or super high speed expresses that criss cross parts of Asia and Europe. Today’s seven train ride on three separate railway lines managed to combine slow and fast trains, scenery and amazing food into a beautiful day trip on the Jiji Railway. Verdict: My Overall Rating: 81% Why it should be visited: Nice scenery, a glimpse of “real” Taiwan, friendly people, easy to find great foos Negatives: Lack of coordination of train and bus timetables Would I return?: Yes Location and Orientation…

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Happy 50th Birthday to the 747-the first plane I loved!

On the 9th of February 1969, the first 747 flew for the first time, a nearly two-hour flight from Everett, Washington and back again. My first flight with the 747 was on my birthday on a Pan Am flight to Sydney, Australia in 1971. My parents had organised for a birthday cake on the plane. I had already fallen in love seeing the plane from the Hong Kong airport window. Every second of that journey felt like magic (Pan Am was still a great airline at that time). For months afterwards, I would pretend I…

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Air NZ Worst safety ad -pulled. What went wrong?

I have not met anyone who has disliked the highly creative Air New Zealand safety briefings until now. After hree months of criticism from NZ Politicians, celebrities, and the public, the airline has pulled their latest $2.5m safety ad: The video took American hip hop ground Run DMC’s 1987 hit “It’s tricky” and replaced “tricky” with  “Kiwi”. The jingle was “It’s Kiwi to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s safe and fly,” It starred Kiwi actor Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Deadpool2), local musicians Kings, Theia and Randa and talent from 30…

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HK Airlines Trip Report -good airline -lousy Business?

  There is an old adage about Australian airline Ansett before it collapsed that it was “a great airline, but a poor business”. Virgin America, Kingfisher, Malev and Transaero have all been similar examples which have all finished up providing good and/or innovative service but which did not last financially.  In 2019, Hong Kong Airlines airlines has the same feel. My flights with them were highly enjoyable but the carrier, part of the cash strapped HNA group is rumored to be on the brink of closure.  The HK government drew up contingency plans in case HK…

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The Phenomenon of Begpackers: Backpackers, do not beg

As I turned the corner toward Ben Thanh Market, the Central Market in Saigon, Vietnam last Friday, I was stunned to see two European backpackers sitting by the side of the road with a sign written on cardboard. One was singing a song while the other was playing a small set of drums. The sign invited people to give them money to finance their further travel. They call these people beg packers and I have now seen them in Auckland, New Zealand; Berlin, Germany; Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia; Bangkok, Thailand; Pnom Penh and Siam Reap…

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Cambodia’s Lanmei Airlines – Review and Trip Report

The driving distance between Siam Reap and Phnom Penh is just 314.7 km (200 miles) but the roads are so bad the bus trip between the two Cambodian cities takes around seven back breaking shuddering juddering hours. I have done it with a newly relocated dislocated shoulder and I had no wish to recall that memory. While there is now one train line in Cambodia operating and a second one about to be reopened, there is no train from Siam Reap. The flying distance from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is about 231km (143 miles).…

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Joon, the airline searching for purpose, to shut down

Air France in 2016 unveiled its new low cost subsidiary which they called Joon. It’s aim was to win market share back. The word “Joon” is meant to sound like “jeune” which is French for “young“.  Rolled out as a “new generation travel experience”, a low cost carrier for Mellinials, It therefore aimed to attract a new market to flying -at a cheap rate, it aimed to attract a new market to flying -at a cheap rate. On board, Joon offered VR-headset entertainment, allowed access to inflight streaming, had cabin crew dressed in “trendy” clothes made…

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HiFly moves to Eliminate Single Use Plastics

Hi Fly is aiming to have a single use plastic-free policy on all its flights by the end of 2019. This is welcome news for me. I cringe at how much plastic I  see get disposed of on planes. And I am mortified at how much I have contributed to. On 26th December 2018, HiFly operated the world’s first plastic-free flight from Lisbon to Brazil. The carrier replaced plastic cutlery and containers with bamboo and compostable alternatives made from recycled material. They are going to test the process on three other flights: I just need…

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2019 Plans

What are your travel plans for 2019? Mine seem to be centred in Asia, Europe and Pacific. At this stage I will go to 15 countries. In Asia, I will spend a few months travelling to eight countries (none of them are new destinations) and in the Pacific: Australia and New Zealand (not pictured on the map below). I want to see if I can finally try either ANA, Eva or Garuda, airlines that have been ranked five star by Skytrax. Every time I get close to trying them, it does not happen! This may…

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