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Another summer in Estonia, heading to Asia.
Tokyo, October 8th, 2004
We have just arrived in Tokyo, for the start of a 7.5 month trip through Asia, that will end in Muscat, Oman. Besides Japan and Oman, we also plan to visit Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the United Arab Emirates.
But first a short update of what we did this summer.
We spent most of the summer in Estonia. Yet again we rented an apartment in Tallinn for 2 months. I worked on a project to build a freeware package for the analysis of website traffic.
We traveled around Estonia as well, which suddenly seems to have become a very popular destination. Surprisingly also for people from Southern Europe, such as Mariapaola and Roger from Italy and Spain who we met in the youth hostel in a small town on the island of Saaremaa.
On Saaremaa we also re-visited the Kaali meteorite crater and the leaning lighthouse of Kiipsaar on the Harilaid peninsula. The continued existence of this lighthouse is threatened as the sea slowly eats away the coast.
To the north on the island of Hiiumaa, we explored bunkers the Soviet Army built during the occupation and together with Mireilla, a friend of Maris visiting us from Holland, we traveled to the North-Eastern part of the country and peeked across the border into Russia.
The photos of all these places and others that we have visited this year and in previous years can all be found on my Estonia page.
To get to Estonia, we normally drive through Poland, which is also the way that I arrived in Estonia this summer. But this time we decided to drive back over Sweden so that we could visit Jessica, a friend who we know from Guatemala. In order to go via Sweden you must however first cross the Baltic sea by ferry.
The last time we did that was on the 18th of August 1994 when we took the Estonia ferry from Tallinn to Stockholm. A little more than 1 month later in the night of the 28th of September 1994 the Estonia ferry sank and 852 people died.
During the crossing in 1994, we slept in a cabin below the car deck. It may not surprise you that we had to get an above car deck cabin this time.
Once on the boat we could not sleep. Not out of fear of sinking but because of drunken Swedish karaoke singers, as our above car deck cabin was within earshot of these "performances".
After our arrival in Sweden we spent two days in Stockholm, with Jessica. We found Stockholm to be quite beautiful, but outrageously expensive, especially drinks.
Back in Holland, I started to organize the trip we are now on. This took a lot more time than I had bargained for.
After asking several travel agents for a multi destination ticket, none of whom managed it for a reasonable price, I turned to piecing together my own flights via the Internet. Which saved us at least 500 Euros per person.
After nearly a week of research this is the schedule I finally managed to arrange:
Wed 6 oct 2004 - British Airways BA 393 Brussels 12:10 -> London 12:15 (Duration 01:05) Wed 6 oct 2004 - British Airways BA 5 London 13:40 -> Tokyo 09:10 (Duration 11:30) Tue 2 nov 2004 - China Airlines CI 17 Tokyo 14:25 -> Taipei 17:15 (Duration 03:50) Thu 4 nov 2004 - Cathay Pacific CX 401 Taipei 19:10 -> Hong Kong 21:00 (Duration 01:50) Mon 29 nov 2004 - Cathay Pacific CX 466 Hong Kong 13:40 -> Taipei 15:15 (Duration 01:35) Tue 7 dec 2004 - China Airlines CI 693 Taipei 09:25 -> Bangkok 12:25 (Duration 04:00) Tue 8 mar 2005 - Indian Airlines IC 956 Kuala Lumpur 09:35 -> Chennai 10:35 (Duration 03:30) Tue 10 may 2005 - Indian Airlines IC 895 Delhi 20:00 -> Dubai 21:40 (Duration 03:10) Sat 21 may 2005 - British Airways BA 72 Muscat 00:10 -> London 06:50 (Duration 09:40) Sat 21 may 2005 - British Airways BA 402 London 11:00 -> Brussels 13:05 (Duration 01:05)
So it turned out that it was cheaper to fly from Brussels then from Amsterdam (at least for this particular destination). However these tickets could only be sold in Belgium, hence I turned to a Belgian online travel agent.
An airpass from AllAirpass.com helped me to find the 4 flights we needed to get from Tokyo to Dubai. I then asked the Belgian travel agent to book that airpass for us.
The final item, a return flight from Taipei to Hong Kong, was booked online via Cathay-Pacific's Taiwan website, which incidentally was only available in Chinese (which I can't read, but I had managed to decipher the characters that stood for Hong Kong)!!!
Fortunately Fiona, a friend here in Holland who is originally from Taiwan, helped us to book this particular ticket.
At times like this you realize how helpless you are if you can't read the local language. In South America this problem never occurred, not only because they use the same alphabet but also because we had learned to speak a decent amount of Spanish. I guess Asia is going to be an interesting challenge!
Once I used to be able to recognize about 200 Chinese characters (you need more than 2000 to be able to read a newspaper). Flipping through my old books, counting what I still recognized this number has now dwindled to about 70. But I guess that is better than nothing...
The next update will be about Japan, a country where I did a 2 month internship back in 1992.
If you would like to be notified or no longer want to be notified of travel updates send me an e-mail.
e-mail Otto de Voogd
See the Estonia section of this website.
To my knowledge the information provided here was accurate at the time of our visit. However time passes and things can change.
Estonia - Kroon, fixed rate: 1 EUR = 15.6466 EEK
Driving from the Netherlands to Estonia via Poland
and Lithuania: petrol/diesel is cheaper in Poland
than in Germany or Holland, and cheaper still in
Lithuania. While Estonia is the cheapest.
Find a hitchhiker to share costs at
Flights for Asia - Prices including taxes.
The British Airways flights (the first and last flight) cost 788 Euros, the China Airlines and Indian Airlines flights cost 925 Euros together (this is the Asia airpass) and the Cathay Pacific flights cost 160 Euros.
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