I’m now back in Canberra after another great adventure, this time to Kamchatka in far, far, far east Russia, one of those off-the-beaten track places that I so enjoy exploring.
The peninsular of Kamchatka is north-east of Japan and is part of the Pacific rim of fire… a wilderness of many volcanoes and, I hoped, of many plants I had not seen before, and maybe a big brown bear or two.
Before I left home, I did as I always do and took a photo of my bag, just in case it gets lost. It’s far easier to show a photo to the lost bags person than to try to remember and describe your bag in detail. I do that every trip and it has paid off on more than one occasion. On this trip it was perhaps an even more important precaution… after all, I was going to Russia.
Getting to Sydney airport was the first hurdle. Jennie took me to the airport and we were both surprised at the long bank-up to get into Sydney International Terminal, especially as it was just after 07h30 on a Sunday morning. That’s just one reason why Sydney needs a second airport, let alone others like the half hour wait we had on the tarmac due to congestion on the runways before we could take off.
Australia always looks good to me as I cross it by plane. It takes something like four hours to fly from Sydney to the north, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the view.
My Air China A332 had completely flat, horizontal-to-the-floor beds. They are certainly different plane seats from any I’ve sat in before. They were very comfortable and I managed to get some sleep, on and off, for around 4 hours of the 10 and a bit it took to get to Pudong Airport in Shanghai.
The flight was quite bumpy over the Philippines with lots of cloud at 30,000 feet. I felt as though we were bumping over each and every one of the islands that go to make up that country. There was even higher cloud that we were under so I doubt whether those on the ground saw much sun during the day. There was too much food on the flight as usual but I managed with only a couple of knock-backs!
There was a refuelling stop in Shanghai. Amazingly that airport appeared deserted. There was virtually no traffic on the roads and much the same in the terminal. Not what one expects for a huge city like Shanghai in a crowded country like China.
The signage for transit passengers was not good and a number of us got lost. We went through Customs and Immigration, unnecessarily.
It was just a 110 minute flight to Beijing where again the signage was not good. Somehow or other, the Chinese seem to think you know where to go. I was eventually put on the right track by a cute lady. I thought she was an airline person but she turned out to be anything but when she demanded a tip! She was quite angry when I told her I only had a USD50 note and she certainly wasn’t going to get that!
Beijing airport was rather quiet too but it was after midnight on a Sunday night/Monday morning.
I had to wait in Beijing for my flight to Khabarovsk which was to leave at 02h10. That flight was a three hour flight with a three hour layover there before the final flight to Petropavlovsk and that took almost another three hours. It was a quarter past three in the afternoon when I finally arrived at the place where the tour was to start. And by then, I didn’t half need a shower and a sleep in a proper bed!
More anon David
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