Friday, October 27, 2017

Perth Day 8: We are not amused MH Airlines.

Dear Matt and Mar,

The return leg back to KUL then BKK was rather painful, haa haa haa. As we wanted to have a full day on the Saturday, meaning we decided choose departure time of 02:00 on the Sunday, with hindsight I don’t think we are going to take flight this late/early again.

From the last post, you were sleeping comfortably in a café near the check-in area, and the queue was building... so after my beer, it was time to go and line up. It must have been a full flight judging by the amount of people, but they had only 3 check-in counters opened... wow it took me almost an hour before it was my turn to check in (the lady at the check-in desk was superb, professional, polite, spotlessly dressed, well groomed).

After handing over the passports, I had to dash back to the café to carry Matt, while your mother carried Mar to the check-in counter. By then it must have been close to midnight, then there was a long walk to the immigration, Matt had already awoken and was stumbling around, Mar was still in dreamland, lol, and oh boy my arms were aching.

004Getting through the security was a real pain, having to wake up Mar was the last thing I wanted to do but it had to be done. Then it was the immigration, which went through without any issue, it was just awkward with one very sleepy and one sleeping child, haa haa haa.

By then we knew things were going to turn from inconvenience to bad as by the time we had settled next to the gate (you two were now sleeping comfortably once again on the seats) the screen said the dreaded word ‘Delay’... the flight was delayed by almost 2 hours, more annoyingly no airline representative came to us to explain what was the cause of the delay! We were now in fear of missing our connecting flight from KUL to BKK, from a rough calculation we had just a little over 30 minutes to transfer, certainly very possible.

Your mother spent the extra time buying gifts, whilst I just walked around and zoned out for a while (easily done with me, haa haa haa). Boarding was again difficult, but at least we were on our way, but once we landed in KUL it went from bad to worse, haa haa haa.

As soon as the wheels touched down at KUL, we were ready to run, and ran we did to the nearest transfer counter, but the queue was long, and we really didn’t want to miss the connecting flight. By the time we managed to talk to someone, we knew immediately that we had missed the connection. It wasn’t because of us, I mean the passengers transfer can be done quickly between planes, but the issue was the off loading and loading of the luggage, and with thirty plus minutes, it was not long enough for the bag transfer without delaying the other flight.

So we now found ourselves with around 3 hours and four food vouchers in hands, MH thank you so much for the food vouchers... haa haa haa ‘not’. On the back of the food vouchers was stated clearly the names of the restaurant who should accept the vouchers, and here comes the punch to the face, not many on the list did accept the vouchers! Can you imagine, lugging you two with all the bags, choosing the table, settling down all nice and comfy only to be told ‘NO’ we don’t accept the vouchers.

Here comes a second punch to the face, for the few who remains and would accept the vouchers, they all have put a limit on each voucher (I think 14 MYR, that is around 100 THB), WTF MH? We missed the flight because of your inefficiency and probably poor management and this is all you can do for customer care? No wonder you are in so much trouble, I had thought it was because of the awful and unspeakable horror of the recent incidents that was the cause of MH downfall, but now I know that my assumption was wrong. The reason for MH poor performance which continue to spiral downwards is more fundamental, it is simply that MH is just a terrible Airlines, with pricing as the only way to compete, how can you sustain this in the long term perspective?

The reason of the delay was never informed to the passengers, perhaps MH delay is so common that they just gave up on sharing any kind of information, haa haa haa, I could go on and comment on the cleanliness, state of the basic equipment (seats, table, etc.), age of the plane and so on.

Here comes the knockout punch, when we arrived back at BKK we rushed to the luggage belt, and we waited and waited and waited... until a staff came up to inform us no more bags were coming, and that we should fill out a form. In the meantime the staff were seriously looking at his monitor, pushing a button here, pushing a button there, finally he looked up and told us that our luggage will be arriving in the late afternoon and should be delivered to our apartment no later than 20:00.

In my entire life time of travelling, (knock on wood) I have never missed a plane, I have never missed a connecting flight (literally ran across Frankfurt Airport at full speed was not fun), and I have never had an airline lost my luggage... And from my first and only time with MH, I have managed to cross two off my list, MH made me missed the connecting flight and MH lost our luggage. At least one credit to them, they did return our luggage at precisely 20:00 (I know this because I was waiting), haa haa haa haa haa haa.

Perth Day 7: Final Day :-)

Dear Matt and Mar,

The plan for our final day was simple and scary, haa haa haa, get up, have breakfast, check out and stay out all day before heading to the airport around 23:00, to catch the flight to KL around 02:00. If we had followed this original plan our family would definitely be a bunch of walking zombie by the end.

So at the very last second your mother came to the rescue. Because she is the member of the Accor group, she’d decided to use the one night free thingy, so at least we had a room to relax before going to the airport, and that was perfect. After breakfast we’d decided to do something light, and so we visited Swan Valley town, our first port of call was the Swan Valley Visitor Centre, we then attempted to do the heritage walk, which we did but to much protest from you two, haa haa haa.

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Along the walk we found this great secondhand bookstore, Matt ended up getting 2 very old Snoopy books whilst Mar was just happy playing around. We were also on a mission (like a treasure hunt), following the map from the visitor centre, we had to drive across Swan Valley to find these plaques with clues on them, all the clues would make a sentence to solve the puzzle, haa haa haa, we did not finish.

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But on the treasure hunt we did find Mondo Nougat- Factory & Café, a great place for a coffee break, and then it was lunch time, as this was going to be the last lunch before flying home, I’d decided to find something that your mother would like, and ended up at Fillaudeau's Café Restaurant and in short your mother was not disappointed (10 points to me, haa haa haa).

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I wanted to be at the airport around 22:00, as our flight wasn’t due to depart until 02:00, but I needed the extra time to return the car and so on. After lunch we drove back to the hotel, I was hoping you two would sleep for a bit (obviously that was a no) before checking out and driving to the airport.

Even the A Team could not have executed the plan better, left the hotel around 21:20, found one of the three recommended petrol station (recommended by Avis), filled up with petrol (got a huge bag of crisps), then drove just a little further to the airport. I thought it was going to be a nightmare returning the car, where do I park, where do I go and so on.

All the worrying was in vain, much gratitude to the city or airport planners, the signage for car rental parking was clear and concise to the point that Google Map became my second choice. After parking the car, the Avis booth (among other brands) were at the car park, making it super easy to return the car, however the only difficult thing was you two falling asleep, imagine all that luggage and 2 sleeping kids, haa haa haa.

So instead of needing forty minutes to return the car, it literally took less than 5 minutes, so we were at the airport a little early (even after I got we all lost a little), my priority was to find a place for you two to continue sleeping. On the check-in floor there was a cafe with great long comfortable bench seat... hooray!!! There you two slept while I had a glass of beer and your mother a glass of wine :-)

Soon the queue was gathering at the check-in counter, and from here on, are the reasons why we shall try to avoid MH (Malaysia Airlines) as much as we could in the future. It was time to say good bye Perth, we’ll be back again soon, next time we are going to focus on South of WA, should be fantastic.

Perth Day 6: Never wanted to leave :-)

Dear Matt and Mar,

Today was Friday the 11th, and we had to change slightly from our normal routine, of just get up, have breakfast and leave to have some fun for the rest of the day, before returning for a pint and bed, lol, for today we had to check out and change hotel. So on the previous night all the bags were pretty much packed, and soon after breakfast all our luggage were packed into the boot of the car and we were off to... Tree adventure @ Lane Poole Park.

I was a little apprehensive the night before when I was making the booking (in the pub, over a pint of gorgeous Guinness), as it was a longish drive (almost 90 kms away), even when we arrived there, although the view was spectacular, we were deep in the national park with huge trees all around and it was stunning. Then I saw all the platforms and various metal sling crisscrossing way up high in the trees, honestly my first thought was, I had just wasted a bunch of money on something that none of you would enjoy, or even attempt to do.

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I could not have been more wrong! All of us had to go through some induction training, mostly on how to use the equipment, I never knew that the equipment was that advance (Mar had a slight different training than the rest of us). Mar was limited to the 2 yellow courses whilst Matt was limited to 2 green and 2 blue courses.

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This is the most fun thing I’ve done in a very long time, haa haa haa haa. We split into 2 teams, Matt and I would do the one of the green route, whilst your mother stayed with Mar to do her 2 yellow routes. After only a few seconds I knew everything was going to be superb.

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Zipping from tree to tree, climbing over obstacles, over and over, but it never got old, every second was a joy. After my first green route, I swapped with your mother, this time Matt was the leader literally showing your mother the ropes, haa haa haa, Matt was superb and very confident. I was having an equally great time, watching my little princess clearing all the obstacles all by herself.

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The Blue route was higher, I think on average 10 metres above the ground, and it was amazing... we were supposed to be there for an hour but ended up being there close to three hours, and the only thing that took us away was because it was time for a very late lunch.

We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but managed to find a great local restaurant, 24 Carat Restaurant (at Dwellingup), it was superb, traditional western and Indian menu (with a real fireplace). By the time we had finished it was late into the afternoon, and we had another long drive to the new hotel, Novotel Swan Valley Vines Resort, in fact we didn’t check in until after 18:00.

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We tried to keep the unpacking to the minimum, as we were only going to be here for one night, after settling in it was the matter feeding your little tummies, haa haa haa. I was out of it, and instead of driving somewhere we decided to take our supper at the resort, and to be honest I think all the guests had the same idea, haa haa haa.

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Tomorrow is going to be a very long day, our flights leave something like 1 am on the following day, so you can imagine how much I was looking forward to that, haa haa haa.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Perth Day 5: Meeting the Icons :-)

Dear Matt and Mar,

I don’t think you two would let me hear the end of it, if we had left Perth without getting to see Kangaroos or Koalas up close, haa haa haa. So this morning we drove North for almost an hour to ‘Caversham Wildlife Park’, I think Mar never wanted to leave, haa haa haa. At Caversham, for some species we were allowed to be quite hand on, and fantastically, one of those species were the Kangaroos.

I thought we got there quite early-ish, but the crowd was already building up, feeding the roos was definitely one of the highlight for you (and probably for everyone else too), and somehow we’d managed to find a quiet spot with hungry roos, Mar was so adorable that a lady asked me if she could take a photo of Mar feeding the roos.

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As for the Koalas, I didn’t expected them to be that big, haa haa haa. Walking our way through the huge ground of Caversham Wildlife Park took time, adding to that there were a couple of shows to watch, you two even participated in one of them, haa haa haa.

One of the show was about farm life, we were lucky to catch the end of a sheep shearing demonstration (what skills), then the man said to the large crowd that he was looking for 5 assistants, of course you two wanted to help but were too shy, lol. For the first few seconds no one put up their hand, so I encouraged you two to go for it, haa haa haa, and you did. By then about 10 hands went up, luckily both of you were chosen :-)

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5 children were led down the stairs to the main arena, where a small bench was set up, the bench was perfect for 5 children, the each of you were given a bottle of milk... I was getting worried. The gentleman said, ‘now let’s see who can finish their milk first!’, haa haa haa, I thought this is going to be interesting, as both of you have never really been into drinking milk, lol.

I could see that Matt was puzzled and so was Mar, haa haa haa, then suddenly 5 lambs came out of nowhere and ran to the children... haa haa haa haa haa haa, the whole audience erupted in laughter. To be honest I don’t remember who won, I was just relieved that you two didn’t have to drink the milk. By the end I have never seen you two with a bigger smile, lol.

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Somehow, four hours had gone, and it was time for yet another late lunch. Google map’s lunch recommendation have been invaluable, haa haa haa, and once again we had a list of where to eat right in front of us, and this time we had chosen Penny Garden Restaurant... (Google what would I do without you?), Penny was fantastic, with us being there so late, there was only one other table there, the food and the service level was excellent!

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After lunch with quite a lot of time on our hands, your mother wanted you two to pick fruits from a farm, and the nearest one was a good hour and a bit away... so off we went, with full stomach soon Matt went to dreamland, whilst Mar, as usual, was enjoying the scenery. Well, we don’t always get what we’d like, lol, as this was Perth’s winter all the farm were pretty bare, but the lady there was super nice! Matt got to use the restroom, Mar had an ice-cream and I enjoyed driving here so all was not that bad.

Instead of heading back to Perth, we let Matt help to find a coffee shop for us to hang for a bit, and I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to find ‘Chipmunks Play-land and Cafe’! Trust Matt to find a play-land right in the middle of pretty much nowhere, and after a short drive we found ourselves in another local shopping oasis. Unluckily the espresso machine at Chipmunks had broken down, haa haa haa, so after checking you two into the play-land, your mother and I left to wander around, and it was great :-)

That night back in the city, your mother and I gave in and so we found ourselves having supper at Pepper Lunch (I call it ‘smelly hair restaurant’), to be honest I was drawing a blank on what to do tomorrow and during supper I was frantically searching and by some miracle what we were about to do tomorrow would be the highlight of the holiday for me and you two too!.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Perth Day 4: Too much walking and talking, lol

Dear Matt and Mar,

Our first day we went to Rockingham (Penguin Island - wildlife), and yesterday we started off in the City (Perth Zoo - Captive Wildlife) and ended up in Hillarys (Aquarium - Captive Ocean Life), so last night we’d decided that today was going to be about ‘history’... haa haa haa.

Fremantle prison was on our ‘to visit’ list since the very beginning, Australian history is fascinating (like many countries, history could be both disturbing and uplifting in the course of a country’s development). What we saw today was just a small glimpse of the past.

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We rolled up to Fremantle prison at almost a quarter to ten, and the rain was heavy. The prison was cold and imposing, it was mostly stoney grey add that to the darkening sky, made it even more forbidding. Of course the tour guide was super friendly, and by chance we were there just in time for the start of the first tour (no waiting time, hooray). When we were buying the tickets we were given a chance to buy for the ‘normal’ and the ‘escape story’ tours, being unsure how you two would react we decided to just give the normal tour a try first.

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The history of this area and the prison (opened 1855, and was Maximum security class prison) was fascinating, and to be able to walk around as we were in the prisoner's’ shoes was eye opening. At the end of the first tour, we immediately booked up for the ‘escape story’ tour as well (most of the same people from the first tour also joined too, it was all quite cosy), much to Matt’s delight, and Mar made her gem of a comment of the entire trip, “Papa, we are going again? But Papa, it is just ‘walking and talking’” haa haa haa.

The escape tour was fascinating and a little harrowing at times, as part of of this tour, we also visited the gallow, which was eerie. Your mother and I totally enjoyed the morning, as it turned out we spent close to 4 hours here, haa haa haa. After which I got a small fright, as I walked back to the car I realised I did not pay for parking (pre-paid), haa haa haa, the question ran through my mind... have I been spotted and fined? Well, there was no point worrying now, I went to the machine bought a ticket and then promptly left for lunch :-)

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And what a lunch we had, full marks to your mother, after seeing her fiddling on the phone, she said let’s go to Kailis Fish Market. I don’t quite know why, but I was a little confused with the restaurant, wasn’t quite sure where to go and order, but after a short while it was all quite simple, haa haa haa, and by the way I can not recommend this place enough, it was superb.

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Another place we had to visit was the WA Maritime Museum, I think by then you two have had enough of ‘walking and talking’, haa haa haa, but for me the WA Maritime Museum was absolutely gorgeous, it wasn’t particularly that big but the exhibitions were out of this world, not to mention the outside view... it was just an endless ‘wow’, after ‘wow’.

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Day 4 Perth-09284The only regret I had for today, was not visiting the WA shipwrecks Museum, perhaps next time then :-) For supper we headed back to Perth City Centre, by the time we left the hotel again it must have been close to 19:00. By chance we walked past ‘Pepper Lunch’, your current most fav. place to eat, haa haa haa. Of course there was no way we were going to fly thousand of miles and still be having supper at Pepper Lunch, haa haa haa, so instead we went to the Korean place next door, haa haa haa, (very Australian indeed, I can hear both of you moaned, haa haa haa). But when we’d left I’d wished we went to Pepper Lunch instead, haa haa haa (perhaps we ordered the wrong menu).

Anyway, a pint of Guinness at the hotel made everything better, haa haa haa, but what should we do tomorrow? The answer came late and from a pile of leaflets on our table, for tomorrow we are going to Caversham.