November 24, 2010

Indo-Pacific Tour 2010 - Toward Asia (Day 1)

In the summer of 2009, my aunt told us the good news – my cousin was to wed in Dec 2010. Since my cousin’s wedding would be in Hong Kong, and the fact that I haven’t visited my parents in a few years, I budgeted for flights to Hong Kong the following year. Around Dec 2009, I called my aunt and informed her that my sister and I would be coming back to Hong Kong to attend the wedding. She surprised us by saying that she will be happy to pay for our flights to Hong Kong. Wow! sister and I each had an extra $1500 in our budget. We put our heads together and thought…it would be a great idea to travel in Southeast Asia a little since we were across the Pacific already. The itinerary soon snowballed from just one country to a multi-borders Indo-Pacific tour!

Nov 24 – The start of a great journey

After 8 months of planning, the highly anticipated day finally arrived. We boarded our Air Canada flight in the morning. This would be a 15-hour direct flight from Toronto to Hong Kong. We were very fortunate that at the time we booked the tickets, we caught a seat sale. To make that deal sweeter, Air Canada gave customers a one-day 10% off bonus to celebrate one of our Canadian Winter Olympians getting Gold that day. We basically managed to pay only $1000 for our return flight. Score!

We would arrived in Hong Kong on Nov 25th just before 2pm (we lost a day crossing the International Date Line). Our parents met us at the airport where we had lunch and spent a few hours catching up. Closer to 6:30pm, we dropped off a couple pieces of luggage off with them, and prepared to check in again for our 8pm flight to Phuket, Thailand. This would be our start to a 2-week tour of the Indo-Pacific region.

This tour was only made possible thanks to Air Asia. This low-cost airline was a great option for the budget travelers. My sister and I also decided to stay at small and lower rated hotels to save as much money as possible.

Our short 3 hours flight to Phuket was smooth. Air Asia, although being a budget airline, was quite pleasant with good service and comfortable seats. Really, that is all that I needed. I’d rather save some money than spend it on the luxuries.

We arrived at Phuket at 10pm. Through internet research, we learned that it is important to bargain for anything in Asia. We stepped outside of the airport and we were immediately swarmed by taxi drivers. We had an idea how much it would cost for a ride to Phuket Town, so we bargained for a similar price quickly and made sure the price was agreed upon before we get into the car.

A 30-minute ride later, we arrived at our budget boutique hotel. It was really nothing to brag about, but it was clean, quiet and comfortable. We were only there for 2 nights so it was just want we needed.

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