Thursday, June 07, 2007

Frugal Bastard's Hawaii Trip 2007 - 19/5/07

The Hotel Ibis Sydney Airport is perhaps home to the world's noisiest toilet. The shower handpiece had a split in it, air filters were blocked with lint, the drain had broken off the basin and you could hear other guests moving about, but, the bed was comfortable. I'd still stay again though.

Busy day today. And we were lucky with the weather. The past few days in Sydney had seen major disruptions due to a pea soup fog. Walked down to Mascot train station and bought a day-trip ticket. Took the train to Circular Quay and walked to The Rocks to have breakfast at Löwenbräu - Aussie breakfast and rucola. Miky finished early and went for a walk to the markets and lost her camera bag. I waited for Yu-Jin to finish and then got a nasty surprise to see that they had rung up tips worth $4.10 without even asking. The cheek.

The Rocks in Sydney.

Breakfast view of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Wandered around the markets for a while and then took photos of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Looked at Cadmans Cottage from 1816 and a gallery.

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Miky and Yu-Jin.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Harbour Ferry.

Cadmans Cottage.

Had a quick snack at McDonalds before walking to the Sydney Opera House. Then caught the train to St James to see Sydney Tower. Miky only gave us 45 minutes before wanting to meet up and our ticket included OzTrek and the tower. OzTrek itself took all of our 45 minutes. Met Miky and had enough time to go back up to the tower. Fantastic view although the Opera House and the Bridge were partially obscured.

Sydney Tower.

Sydney Tower view of Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House look small from up here.

Just tall enough to see.

Grabbed a spinach and ricotta pide for lunch. Yum. Caught the train back to the hotel. Free baggage storage and free phone for the taxi was a bonus. Taxi collected us within four minutes.

Arrived at Qantas check-in and lined up for 40 minutes before being served only to discover that we needed to go to the Jetstar check-in. Well, I was taking a Qantas frequent flyer rewards flight so how was I supposed to know? Had to line up for another 10-12 minutes and Miky spat the dummy. As we were checking in the guy left his post and we found out that it was to check Miky's visa requirement. It had seemed a tad strange that he just left us.

Miky bought a camera bag from the duty free shop. We split up after wandering through the duty free are and Yu-Jin and I went to the waiting lounge next to our gate. There was a random search area just before the gate and we were able to walk past. Miky, who came later, had her bag searched. A fifteen minute wait before boarding and a game a I-spy.

Our Jetstar flight and the Sydney skyline.

Unfortunately, even asking to be placed away from screaming babies we had two babies in the row in front of us. Oh no! Disaster looms. And on an overnight flight too.

A bit of crying was evident, more so than service. Jetstar appears more of a jet and less of a start. Very disappointed, I was, to say the least. We sat at the second o front row of economy and so were one of the last to be served at mealtime. By this stage there were no full meals left. I was informed that most of the meals had been pre-booked. The flight attendant would ring around when she finished to see if anyone else had meals left. The attendant on the other aisle wasn't doing well for meals either. Then I explained that I was a Qantas frequent flyer and had booked this flight in December and I hadn't been told about the service or pre-booking the meal. She looked at my boarding pass and then found three beef meals, although Miky wasn't happy with having beef. Add two drinks and it cost A$49.00!! And to top it off my beef and pasta had three slices of beef and almost all rubbery pasta. What rubbish. The salad wasn't nice at all either.

It was really interesting to land in Hawaii on Saturday morning after leaving Sydney on Saturday evening. Try explaining that to a seven year old. The wife found it a bit hard to understand too.

We had a Korean as our immigration officer and, after exchanging cash as I was unable to locate my travellers cheques in the suitcase (just one disaster after another), we then caught a taxi to our hotel and our driver was a Korean. He lives six months of the year in California, which has been his home for 32 years since completing his military service, and six months driving a taxi in Hawaii. There were a noticeable amount of Korean shops around Waikiki.

We arrived at Aqua Islands Colony at 9am only to find that check-in was 3pm and the hotel had been full the night before. But, the person who was in the room set aside for us had already checked out. Before we could store the baggage we were informed that the room had been cleaned and we could check in. Something starting to go right on the holiday.

All had a shower then went out for lunch at a Korean BBQ place. Had a look around Waikiki Shopping Plaza. Across the road was DFS in the Galleria centre which is a Japanese store where almost all of the assistants are Japanese, the public announcements are made in Japanese and everyone speaks to you in Japanese. And, to get to the duty free shopping is more onerous than entering into the United States through immigration. Spent a bit of time there but wasn't too interested in spending US$250-345 for a purse. Looked at more shops before Yu-Jin and I went to Waikiki Beach whilst Miky went to Waikiki International Market Place (WIMP).

We both visited WIMP before finding a supermarket - Food Pantry. Royal gala apples from New Zealand (can't get those in Australia due to quarantine restrictions) were US$1.69/lb, orange juice US$3.89 for 946mL, and bananas US$0.99/lb.

Back to the hotel for a sleep and then watched Heroes which was a few episodes in front of Australia. Played cards with Yu-Jin after tea then we headed down to Waikiki Beach for a wade - the water was nice but too rough for a swim at 7:30 when it became dark.

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.

Diamond Head up close.

Diamond Head again.

Waikiki by night.

Honolulu becomes busy in the night. From the hotel lobby I phoned a tour company for Hanauma Bay snorkelling tour and my 50c went very quickly. The guy at reception rang from the hotel phone for me. It was 8:45pm and I was still able to book for a 9:30am pick-up.

Yu-Jin had so much energy for someone who went to sleep on the plane after us and didn't have a sleep in the hotel before going back to the beach.


A few weeks after returning home I provided feedback by way of email to Qantas Frequent Flyer relaying the message that I wasn’t happy with our treatment on the flight to Hawaii. I also explained that I had receipts for $72 for meals that I had been forced to purchase even though as a Qantas passenger I was entitled to.

All I received was an automated response thanking me for my feedback which said that not all emails were responded to. A couple of weeks past and I hadn’t heard anything. So, Friday last, I decided to send some more feedback. Just before doing so I thought that it required a phone call this time. I spoke to one guy who then put me through to a lady. This lady, his supervisor, listened and offered to refund the charges that I had receipts for. This resolution made me much happier.

The next night on the way home I dropped in at Harvey Norman as they were having a special of 15 cents for digital prints up to total of 200 photos. It’s not far from the post office so I wandered over there too. To my surprise there was a letter from Qantas. Surely they couldn’t have posted a letter the same day I had complained again? No, they hadn’t. It was a letter nearly two weeks previous apologising for the experience. Enclosed was a Qantas Gift Voucher for a total of $150 which I could utilise in the next 12 months.

One annoying part of the letter stated, “While I can appreciate your disappointment with the difference in service provided, all information about product and services is available online when you make your booking.” I failed to notice the terms and conditions that stated outbound flights wouldn’t be serving meals and inbound flights would be. They just had to have the last word – we’re apologising but we’re still right.


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