Sunday, 1 March 2009

A Virgin no longer

After many years of being loyal to QANTAS and receiving , in recent years, constant disappointment, I decided to try flying with Mr Branson’s outfit to get to Port Vila and back. This is being typed in Sydney airport on the way out, having flown from Canberra, so I guess I changed status as the plane passed Brand Depot. Passing Brand Depot is probably a good thing, whether walking, riding or travelling in a car or (particularly) an aircraft. Actually the same applies to Canberra Airport but I couldn’t be bothered driving – although I suspect I wouldn’t have had to get up any earlier to do so.

The flight was quite acceptable, with lots of nostalgia since the last time I flew in an Embraeur was going from Houston to Aguas Calientes in Mexico. The scenery wasn’t as interesting this time. Anyway the plane went up and down in the appointed places and (QANTAS please note) times. Transfer to the International terminal was painless and quick (QANTAS please note).

On getting to the Terminal there was a brief period of pear-shapedness since the only way to find the gate seemed to be joining a check-in queue, which I didn’t need. Of course I guessed the wrong way to go through immigration – on reflection the bus paid for by Virgin seemed to drop me off at the QANTAS shop. ‘Twas fixed reasonably quickly.
It was interesting that the drive around Sydney Airport to get where Virgin had parked their aircraft was about as long as the flight from Canberra, but I guess that is how you save costs. I found I had three seats to myself and the flight was pretty good. Everything in the food department was for sale, which is a tad rude for an international flight but I chose not to partake. Oxymorons from the menu were "organic salt" - I actually prefer salt to be just sodium and chlorine, no carbon atoms thanks - and instant capuchino!


The flight was good with just a few patches of bumpiness due to cloud. For the first time we landed at Bauer Field (named after a WWII USAF pilot who made it back 99.5% of the times he took off) in daylight.







This gave som
e great views of the coast just to the East of Port Vila as well as making me thankful that the coconut palms on the final approach were no taller. I quite like coconuts, but prefer not being able to count them from a 737!






As well as the coral atolls, Vanuatu is also famous for it's beef. One could also count them as we went over. I am looking forward to having a close encounter with the parents of some of these later in the week.

Arrival at Vanuatu was good, and two folk from the Stats office were there to greet me. On checking in to the hotel I found that as a repeat guest I got a basket of fruit for free! Really nice papaya, bananas and pineapple! I then went out for a walk to look at birds adding one to my life list (Yellow-fronted White-eye) and one to my Vanuatu list (Buff-banded Rail - sort of like a coot with attitude).

Getting back towards the hotel I headed for the Bon Marche Nambatu to get some thirst quenchers. Buggrit, but possibly in recognition of the title of this page, they are still taking the missionary position on booze on Sundays. Oh well the minbar giveth (beer) and taketh away (money).

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