January 8, 2015

The journey home

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 12:46 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Today was the day I finally got to leave Madagascar. Sure, I was glad I went and I’d largely enjoyed my 5 weeks away, but I was sure glad to be going home too. I guess a few things just added to one another, making it a holiday I was glad to be finishing. Before I made it home though, I had a 4 day journey, including a 30 hour stopover in Nairobi.

IC Hotel Balcony

IC Hotel Balcony

The IC Hotel is about 3 minutes from the airport, the airport is fairly small and there’s nothing to do there. Reception kindly informed us the night before that our transfer would arrive some 3 and a half hours before the flight. We asked nicely why so early… traffic, just in case, that sort of thing. We asked them to change it, they said they would, although at 10pm that night we were a little doubtful. So no surprises next morning when at the original time they knocked on the door and told us our transfer was here. They just shrugged when we asked what happened to making it later.

We kept them waiting for a while, while we finished our packing, but we decided there wasn’t much point, may as well hang around the airport… We made it to the airport with oh, 3 hours til our flight. No surprises that we had no traffic problems given that we were 3 minutes away and 1 minute of that was getting out of the hotel gates…

IC Hotel

IC Hotel

At the airport we were greeted with – wait for it – A NEW TAX!!! Can you believe it? A day before they’d introduced a new departure tax. It was so new, they had caravans out the front of the airport making you pay it. Even the airport staff weren’t entirely sure what the process was and confusion reigned. Ok, at least it filled in about 10 or 15 minutes and I got rid of a few of my left over Ariary. But what kind of country introduces a new tax in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month!

The 3 or 4 airport shops were initially closed (it was after 10am), but finally they opened and I was able to spend my last few remaining Ariary on a couple of postcards. Then the flight was delayed. I couldn’t even leave the country easily! But, if you’ve got a 4 day transit coming up, it’s important to not let the little things get to you, so while it’s easy to get annoyed at those things, at the time you do your best to not let it bother you and instead find the funny side to it.

We arrived at Nairobi, got out of the airport easily enough, met the Bishop (who is a friend of Mike’s) and then spent the next 3 hours stuck in traffic getting to our hotel. Ahh, the joys of other countries!

Nairobi Traffic

Nairobi Traffic

Our hotel was in the centre of Nairobi, forget what it was called, but it was rather noisy until the early hours of the morning, and there was a trick to the hot water – which I didn’t master, I called reception for help (the last few nights at the IC Hotel had been cold water showers). They had a rather nice restaurant attached and included a nice continental breakfast with our room.

The next morning the Bishop met us at our hotel, we walked to meet the driver who was late. That meant we spent ages in Nairobi traffic and missed out on things we were meant to do. Never mind, it was good to spend some time with the Bishop and his family. If you think Kenya is warm, we drove past miles and miles of tea crops, some of which were still covered in frost!

Kenyan Tea Fields

Kenyan Tea Fields

We went to a tea making factory first. That was fascinating, seeing how a real working factory in another country operated. It was a private tour, organised through a contact of the Bishops, so it was a rare treat. I did take some photos, but it was on the condition that they were kept for private use, so obviously I won’t post them here. We got to watch the whole process, from the drying through to the packing and sampling. They have a whole lab set up and a few professional tea tasters who took great delight in showing us how to properly sample tea. It’s so funny, you kind of gulp it up, then snort it out, nothing delicate like they show wine tasters doing.

Nairobi Lookout

Nairobi Lookout

From there we went to the look out over Nairobi, dropped the bishop and his wife off and headed for the Nairobi Safari Walk. We ended up stuck in traffic, we were getting so hungry… First thing we did at the National Park was grab some lunch! The safari walk was good, with some good information boards on the animals and the steps being taken to preserve them. I finally got to see a Rhino, they are rather large. Not sure if it counts towards completing my big 5 given it’s in captivity though!

Up close with the rhino

Up close with the rhino

After the safari walk, back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, then off to the airport. Due to traffic, it was already rather late (still plenty of time before our flight though, we were going to be there about 3 hours early again) so we stopped at a local restaurant for something to eat. Dispute over pricing didn’t help the day, then just as we were trying to leave it absolutely bucketed down- typical equatorial type rain. A big thanks to Bishop and his family for organising everything for us on our stop over.

We got to the airport again with hours to spare, and surprisingly Nairobi airport hadn’t changed much since we were there about 12 days ago.

When we got on our flight, we found it was actually going via Dubai. Sure no problems, we didn’t have to get off or anything, but it was the first we’d realised we were going via Dubai and was going to add hours to our time in the air. Never mind, it wasn’t going to change the time we got home, it was just how we spent it. Turned out that the leg from Dubai to Hong Kong was the best flight I’ve* ever had. Most people got off at Dubai, so the rest of the flight was virtually empty and I stretched out over a few seats and slept most of the way to HK.

I’d had fond memories of the Hong Kong airport – last time I was there I spent the time watching Popeye cartoons! I found the restaurant again, but they weren’t playing Popeye 😦 So… no cartoons to watch meant I spent the nearly 6 hour stopover looking at all the shops, having a bite to eat and walking from one end of the airport to another. In fact, HK airport is so huge, they even have trains that take you from the main part of the airport to your terminal in another part of the airport. You could spend 25mins walking, or you could catch the train… We can’t even get a train TO our airport, but in other places of the world you can get a train around the airport. But you know, Melbourne is not behind the rest of the world at all…

Leaving Hong Kong

Leaving Hong Kong

Ever noticed when you’re on flights that most people will not say no to the meals when they’re served? They’ve paid for it, so they’re going to get their money’s worth! Well, I’d got over that earlier on, on the trip to Dubai. I just asked for extra nuts. No worries they said. Seeing as I’d already eaten and it was fairly late, I said the only thing that will make me eat anything is if they serve ice cream. Now, on all the flights I’ve been on, I have NEVER EVER had ice cream served. NEVER. What did they serve that night? Yep, you guessed it, ice cream. I couldn’t say no. Then the flight attendant asked if I wanted two seeing as I wasn’t eating. Sure…! Then Ev didn’t want hers… 3 was too many and the rest of that trip was not pleasant… I’m blaming the Maccas from the airport!

So, after 5 weeks, 4 countries officially visited, 14 take offs and thankfully 14 successful landings, that last of which was Melbourne, I sailed through customs and got met by family who’d kindly brought a jumper down for me (my only real jumper was stolen in Uganda). Another trip done and dusted.

* It was the worst flight Ev had ever had. Unbeknown to me, she was sick for most of it…



  1. Thanks for sharing! I’ve enjoyed seeing your photos and reading about your adventures!

    Comment by afpalermo10 — January 8, 2015 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

    • No worries! Glad you enjoyed it. Sorry I haven’t always replied to comments, I’ve had a few things happening.

      Comment by pearsey — January 8, 2015 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

      • Oh that’s fine! I understand 🙂
        I would like to chat with you sometime about the culture in Madagascar and what types of things would be helpful to know ahead of time! My friend who is there now has always lived there so she does not know what things will be different from what I know.
        But you’ve just gotten home! Enjoy being home!

        Comment by afpalermo10 — January 8, 2015 @ 2:33 pm

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