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Sexta-feira, 27 de Junho de 2008
Cebu Pacific Hong Kong-Manila-Hong Kong

Airbus 319 of Cebu Pacific Airways (click on the picture for the name of the photographer)

Flight Details

Cebu Pacific

Date: 20 January 2007
Dep: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Gate: 1
Boarding Time: 0655
Dep Time: 0800
Load: 100%
Seat: 25A
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Hong Kong International (HKG)
Arr Time: 0945
Weather during landing: Broken clouds

My first trip abroad with my parents. My parents availed of Cathay Pacific travel package while I went for the cheaper Cebu Pacific (or is it really cheaper??). I only bought the airfare and stayed at the hotel where my parents stayed, lol.

We went to the airport early at around 3am because my parents' flight was scheduled to leave at 6am (although my flight with Cebu Pacific left at 8am). With Cathay Pacific, check in was a breeze though the outsourced check-in agent could have put some smile on her face even a little. She did not even key in the Finnair Plus numbers of my parents correctly. Apparently she was arguing with someone else before she sat at the check-in counter to attend to the passengers.

Anyway, check in at Cebu Pacific was OK; agent was cool.

The take off was smooth and we climbed up quite fast. It was a sunny day and the view from above was quite impressive. The pilot was a bit chatty (I like it this way actually) and he informed us about the places and interesting points that we saw such as Hundred Islands and the mountains near Manila before taking the route to China Sea direction.

The in-flight service was like any other budget airline; you have to buy your food. But there were games though and some prizes were model aircraft and some T-shirts. But one good thing happened when the plane arrived in Hong Kong airport: the 4 Embraer 170's of Hong Kong Express were parked near the runway and it was a sight to behold! It was my first time to spot some Embraer E-Jets (I was supposed to go to Laoag Airport simply to spot an E170 of Hong Kong Express but they no longer fly to this northern Philippine city so I had to see them in Hong Kong! And now, these E-Jets are now being operated by Air North in Australia and some went to Kenya and now operated by Kenya Airways).

My parents arrived at their hotel first and I met them (with another cousin who is working there) at the hotel room. I changed my clothes and we went to the harbour area of Kowloon; walked around for a while and bought some food to eat while exploring the other parts of the city.

Victoria Peak

We went to Macau in the afternoon and took the ferry. When we got there, we immediately went to the city centre, at the Largo do Senado. This plaza seemed to be transplanted from Portugal and the surrounding area was bustling with activities. Remember that Macau is a centre for gambling. Too bad, we were not there to gamble. No money, lol.

The weather was chilly and I liked it. I felt it was even more chilly in Macau than Hong Kong. And of course, Macau is a former Portuguese colony and some vestiges of Portuguese culture still can be seen and felt. Even the passport stamps were in Portuguese and Chinese, and English.

We went back to Hong Kong late evening. After hurdling the long immigration line in Macau, we got another 14-day stay in Hong Kong and another stamp in Portuguese, heehehehheeh.

The next day we explored Hong Kong and met up with some friends and former students of my mother who are now working in Hong Kong. Nice reunion.

Cebu Pacific

Date: 21 January 2007
Dep: Hong Kong International (HKG)
Gate: 42
Boarding Time: 2116
Dep Time: 2200
Load: 100%
Seat: 22F
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Weather during take off: Rain showers
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Arr Time: 2345
Weather during landing: Hot



Hong Kong International Airport is without doubt one of the best airports in the world. I always enjoy using it. It's the first airport I travelled to.

The check-in agents were nice and efficient. I requested for a window seat and they gave it to me. And when I was about to go to the designated gate, I was interviewed by chance by an airport staff asking me things such as my impression of the airport. Well, I said nice things about it which was actually true. I went to my gate and did some plane spotting. The boarding gates of HKG are good places to plane spot.

The flight

The equipment was an Airbus 319 which had surprisingly more legroom than Airbus 320. I just slept and had to be ready again during approach Manila. It was a night flight so there's not much to see. That's what I hate about flying at night.

I arrived first in Manila and I waited for my parents for some minutes. Taxi ride was expensive (made expensive by the drivers actually) so we took a bus to Cubao and a taxi going home.

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:20
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Sábado, 26 de Março de 2005
Bordeaux-Paris-Istanbul-Amsterdam-Manila with Air France/KLM

I was not able to have my coat (dry)cleaned because of a simple ... miscommunication. So I had to settle for a dirty one. Thought of not using it...but talked to the receptionist and told me she had been to my destination and at this time of the year (it was March), the weather was cold and snowy. No choice now. I had to bring with me my dirty jacket and protect myself from the cold weather in...





Flight Details

Air France

Date: 26 March 2005
Dep: Bordeaux Merignac (BOD)
Gate: 25
Boarding Time: 0615
Dep Time: 0645
Load: 95%
Seat: 04F
Class: Monoclass
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Cloudy
Arr: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Weather during landing: Sunny but cold


I had to wake up early in the morning. I have been waiting for this one actually. Though I really hate doing this early but this one, I did not mind. After all, I was a few hours (by flying of course!) away from the city that has been fascinating me all my life!


Back in Manila, I planned to go to Copenhagen, Denmark to see my Spanish friend who's married to a Dane and sure to revisit one of my favourite cities as well. This would be possible after my training in France. But on the last minute my friend sent me e-mail informing me that he would not be able to join me in Copenhagen because he'd join the family trip out of the city. I had to change my itinerary fast. I chose Cyprus but ticket conditions would not allow me to. And then there were several other choices.  Finally, I chose Istanbul. This means I would apply for a visa in an almost limited time (same with Cyprus though the Cypriot Consulate is near my home so it would not be that complicated as far as time was concerned). Thank God, after three days I got my Turkish visa and on the same day I got the French one.


Anyway, fast track to Bordeaux, me and my colleagues took the same van to go to the airport: destination Paris. Most of them were going to Athens, Greece and two others would stay in Paris. And I was going to Istanbul. That means one group with several destinations.


Sad to leave Bordeaux. I have learned to love the city. I spent 2 weeks here and I found it a short stay (if you love the place, staying there for two weeks is not really be enough). 


The airport of Bordeaux is small but practical. Nothing to write home about though. Check in was a breeze and after waiting for almost an hour, our plane was ready for take off. It was a cloudy day and it was drizzling. But this condition did not prevent us from having a nice take off. Minutes before arriving in Paris, the weather was wonderful: sunny and cold!



Flight from Bordeaux with Air France Airbus 319. We were approaching Paris CDG Airport when I took this picture...




Air France

Date: 26 March 2005
Dep: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Gate: not indicated
Boarding Time: 0925
Dep Time: 1000
Load: 85%
Seat: 02F
Class: Business
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Istanbul Ataturk International (IST)
Weather during landing: Sunny but cold


We have arrived in Paris without any problems. This was a connecting flight to Istanbul. Said bye to my colleagues and since I still had 3 hours to spare, I accompanied my team leader to go buy her ticket  to go to the centre of Paris. Everything seemed fine. Time to say bye bye to her when I noticed I did not have my...guess! Not only that, it seemed I did not have my pouch with me! That would passport as well! And no frequent flyer cards! No visa! WTF!


Suddenly, things started to be a bit clear to me...


-no visa; no Turkey visit

-secure another passport at the Philippine Embassy in Paris


We searched all over the airport. At that time, I felt nothing. Don't get me wrong. I felt nothing simply because opf extreme fear. I honestly thought somebody stole my pouch. Or maybe after some hypnosis I voluntarily handed my stuff to someone!?! Oh my...


After 30 minutes of asking people (!?!) and searching from one trash can to another (?!?), my team leader thought of going back to the train ticket centre where we bought her Paris pass. When we were about a few meters to the counter, a lady shouted: "Mr. Gonzales?!?"


That was one of the happiest moments of my life! She told me I forgot the pouch on the counter so she had kept it. Her name is Margareth. I thanked her without end. If you read this, Margareth, I thank you so much!




Paris CDG was a mess and there was a long queue at the passport control. I was going to Turkey and it's out of the Schengen zone. We took the bus to board our plane. We were flying on an Airbus 320. This is an opoortunity to do some planespotting but at that time, I was still thinking about my misadventure...


I was flying business and I expected a little bit more from the usual. But on the contrary, no pillow for the 4-hour flight.  When I asked for it , the steward told me there's no more pillows. Mediocre service for a biz class and FA's had a difficulty smiling. That's about it.


Aboard Air France Airbus 320 with a view of the Austrian Alps.


Arrival in Istanbul. I took this picture while we wait for the airbridge to be connected to the aircraft


Istanbul Ataturk International Airport:

Good points:
- not too far from the city centre
- modern and beautiful airport
- plane spotting is possible
- helpful staff
- security is tough

Negative points:
- long lines (re: immigration counter) for foreigners entering and exiting the country
- getting crowded so I think the country should build another international terminal for the growing number of tourists


I had earlier arranged with my hostel for a van to pick me up at the airport but it seemed nobody was there to meet me. I had to go to the information counter and requested the staff to make some announcement (Believe me, I did not want to do this but I had to!) that I (stating my complete name) was waiting for someone from the hostel (name of hostel) to pick me up. But the announcement was like this:


"Attention Mr. Gonzales, please go to the information section because somebody is waiting for you!".


Errrrrr! Of course that's not what I meant! Or maybe I was not clear about it. I went back to the booth and explained that Mr. Gonzales wa actually "me" and that it was "me" who was waiting for the airport pick up service. They did it again, this time, correctly. But still, no hotel representative to pick me up.


After half an hour, I decided to go to a phone service booth and bought some phone cards from the guy who was attending to me. I phoned the hostel and finally they sent someone to the airport  and I got to the hostel safe with some joy ride from the airport to the hostel and seeing a bit of the city as well.


When we passed by the Aya Sofya, I was so happy. I could not believed that structure was in front of me! It's amazing!


I took a shower in the hostel and then went out immediately. I saw some record stores and went in to some. I went to Taksim and walked and walked and walked. I bought two CD's. One is Ismail YK and the other one is Cem Adrian. I played those two CD's while exploring the place. It was fun. I sampled food and some nightlife in Taksim and then went back to Sultanhamet with two Spanish ladies I met. 


At night, the Sultanahmet Aquare with the lighted Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque is beautiful. After relaxing on one of the benches, I went to sleep at the hostel because it was already 12 midnight and I still have to wake up early the following morning for a quick ferry ride on the Bosphorous.

Interesting information about Istanbul:

- Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia, and its name changed from Constantinople in 1453, about 550 years ago.

- Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine Empire(395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922).

While going around the city, this was one of the songs I'd listen to:


Highlights of my trip:

-I've always had good impression of the people and places I have visited and every country has its way of being hospitable to travelers. And Istanbul is not an exemption. Nice, helpful, and hospitable people (at least those that I met during my 24-hour stay but really the Turkish are famous for their hospitality). I got lost how many times on the streets and people were just helpful.

-Beautiful scenery (Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen)

-Boat ride from the European side of th city to the Asian side. It's cheap! So I've been to 2 continents in one trip; 2 continents visited in 2 hours!

-Bought some t-shirts and other souvenir items at the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered marketplace in th world



I took some photos with my disposable camera. Not quite happy with the results but here they are. At least, I've got some souvenirs of this beautiful city!















KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Date: 27 March 2005
Dep: Istanbul Ataturk International (IST)
Boarding Time: 1614
Dep Time: 1700
Load: 100%
Seat: 02A
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 737
Weather during take off: Sunny but cold
Arr: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Weather during landing: Broken clouds, scattered rain shower


During my second day, I woke up early to make the most of my visit. I went to Uskudar on the Asian side and took a ride in the ferry that plied the Bosphorus. But then again I had to hurry because at around 4PM the plane will leave. And because of too much security measures at the airport, I had to be there at least 3 hours before departure. That means I had only 4 hours to go around but I think I saw a lot.


I took a taxi to the airport. I had a fast fast we almost crashed!


The flight to Amsterdam with KLM was nice. The staff were more accommodating and friendly.


When I arrived in Amsterdam, I met up with my colleague who just flew in from Athens. We would fly together to Manila.

KLM Royal Dutch airlines

Date: 27 March 2005
Dep: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Boarding Time: Not indicated
Dep Time: 2030
Load: 95%
Seat: 02A
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Weather during take off: Cold
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Weather during landing: Hot and humid


Nice experience that I'll never forget. Thanks France and Turkey.


I felt bad that my first trip to Istanbul was only for 24 hours (though the Turkish Embassy gave me a visa for 15-day stay in Turkey) because it was only a sidetrip so I had to rush back to Manila to work. Istanbul deserves at least a week. But will visit it again...

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:18
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Quarta-feira, 17 de Julho de 2002
First vacation in MNL with BA and CX

Flight Details

British Airways

Date: 17 July 2002
Dep: Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD)
Load: 100%
Seat: 15F
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: London Heathrow Airport (LHR)


The night before we went out with my friends and went bar-hopping. So the following morning, I was kinda lazy to do things. But of course, I would not let my laziness control me on that day because I had to get moving...after all, it was first vacation to the Philippines after spending 10 months in Madrid for my studies!


Days before this, while browsing the BA website and trying to find the convenient flights for the forthcoming vacation to MNL, I was quite surprised to know that pulled out its flights to MNL! So I thought what would happen to my ticket?! I immediately went to the airport and got my ticket validated. Yeah i was right, Cathay Pacific (CX) would do the Hong Kong-Manila segment. nice cos I that would be a chance to fly CX!


My flight from MAD to LHR was ordinary. I was so excited that I did not pay attention to flight details. When we arrived in London it was gray and raining. Oh well, it's always gray in London. I had some 5 hours to spend at the airport. 


British Airways

Date: 17 July 2003
Dep: London Heathrow
Load: 99%
Seat: Aisle
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Weather during take off: Cloudy
Arr: Hong Kong International (HKG)


There's one incident though I would not forget in LHR. Since I had 5-hour layover, I did not know what to do. I used the not-so-user-friendly PC with Internet connection to send e-mails to my friends. And I just stayed there chilling out until time to borad the plane...or so I thought.


One hour before departure, I decided to go to the gate just in time to board the aircraft. I triend to look for the gate but nowhere to be found. I started to feel nervous. Wow, I got less than an hour go board the plane! I had no choice but to ask only to find out that I was on the wrong terminal and going to the correct terminal would mean taking the bus. The airport guy told me: "Go there as fast as you can!"


I started to run literally as fast as I could. With only 10 euros in my pocket, would I survive if I missed my flight?


When I got to the terminal, I heard an announcement that a plane bound for Hong Kong was waiting for 3 motre passengers and if these passengers would not arrive in 5 minutes, they will be left out.  Unfortunately, i was one of those 3 passengers, hehehehehe. I felt I was running out of energy for running. I thought I was about to collapse right there. When I made it to the boarding gate, everybody seemed to have boarded the plane. I shouted: "Hong Kong, Hong Kong!"


When I boarded the plane, the window seat I reserved on the bulhead I was already occupied. I was still offered a window seat thought but I felt I said no because on that row for three passengers, 2 were already occupied and it was way there at the back.  So I choose the aisle right behind the seat I had reserved (bulkhead). There was only a passenger there so it would be more comfortable. He was a Filipino seaman going home to the Philippine for a vacation. He asked me if I was Filipino because he said I spoke English, lol. Of course I was...and still I'm!


We arrived in Hong Kong early evening. My ears were hurting because of the pressure. For the next hours I practically could not hear well. But excited I was though!


Cebu Pacific

Date: 18 July 2002
Load: 100%
Seat: Window
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 330
Weather during take off: Cloudy
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport (MNL)


I walked around the airport and bought some keychains of Hong Kong. It's a nice airport. After 10 months, I was in HGK again.


Time went fast and before I knew it the plane was landing in MNL.


My sister came to meet me at the airport. Happy!

música: Portuguese folk songs by various artists

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 00:08
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