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CV Travels

Holiday Ideas & Foreign Travel
TaurusTheBull
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CV Travels

#292221

Postby TaurusTheBull » March 19th, 2020, 9:14 am

Hi,

Travelling during the corona virus crisis has certainly been different. In general, it's been more pleasant, with noticeably less people travelling, but all air transport has been a pig in a poke, facing cancellation of any flight at any time. Here is a precis of events...

February 25th, Saigon Airport. Few passengers as all China flights were cancelled. The only hassle was getting a boarding pass (Air Asia), as the jobsworth at check-in (no machines) insisted I had to have a ticket out of Thailand. He only relented when I showed him a ticket out of Malaysia a month later. Very unfriendly, possibly exacerbated by CV paranoia. No temperature checks.

Plenty of foreign tourists in Hoi An, Nha Trang and Mui Ne, but undoubtedly not as many as usual, given the absence of Chinese. Hoi An old town was merely overflowing at dusk compared to how jam-packed it apparently was in January.

At the time Vietnam had 16 known CV cases, all recovered. My natural cynicism tempered this with the fact that Hanoi was due to hold it's inaugural Grand Prix on April 5th.

Bangkok (Don Mueang Airport, budget airlines). No temperature check, but taken to one side at immigration for a superior to go slowly through my passport, presumably looking for any Chinese stamps.

At the time South Korea, Iran and Italy were just starting to ramp up CV cases. Thailand had about 35 known cases, but only a dozen active. For a country of about 70 million people, even allowing for a ten-fold increase in undetected cases, that was about a 1 in 200,000 chance of catching it, though it no doubt helps to avoid crowds and wash hands regularly.

In Vietnam and Thailand perhaps half the locals were wearing face masks, but few western tourists.

This was one of those freak occasions when it was possible to be the only person walking across the Bridge on the River Kwai just after sunrise.

Travelling by bus and train in Thailand was noticeably quieter than normal, particularly the nearly deserted 50 baht morning train from Hatyai to the border at Padang Besar.

March 5th, Padang Besar railway station. No temperature check at Thai immigration, but there was on the Malaysian side. Hand gel on the Thai side. Declaration required on the Malaysian side for any visits to China, South Korea, Iran or Italy in the previous fortnight.

March 7th, Penang Airport. My Air Asia flight to Langkawi (40 minutes) was cancelled about 10 days before, and I was moved to the next flight, an hour later, the number of daily flights having been halved, to two. The flight was half empty.

Langkawi (March 7 until ?)

A lovely island, duty-free, but spoiled by haphazard tourist development over the past 20 years, not to mention the litter problem so typical of most of Asia. Langkawians, I have to say, are some of the most friendly people I have ever come across, and I visit regularly.

I have an apartment here.

There are fewer people here than normal, but it's always quiet when the March heat has turned the paddy fields brown and exposed the litter.

A few days after I arrived, Malaysia barred foreigners. On March 18, due to a CV outbreak at an end-of-February love-in at a mosque south of KL, attended by 16,000 acolytes, Malaysia went into lockdown. Takeaway meals and supermarkets are open, so no great drama, but all else is closed. In this CV age, I took it in my stride: the surreal has become normal.

My flight from Singapore to Athens on March 24 has not (yet) been cancelled. The only problem is that, as a foreigner, I'm not actually allowed to enter Singapore on a point-to-point flight, as that entails going through immigration before the next check-in. An inherent defect to budget travel. Scoot and Air Asia offered credit but no refunds (unlike Ryanair, who refunded my fares within a week of them cancelling my flights to and from Rome; and Easyjet), which is useless if they go bust.

So here I am, in sunny Langkawi. I like it here, despite the 36 degree C midday heat. I swim, cycle, read and catch up on boxsets. WiFi keeps me up to date, though I have to say that I am seriously going off the news these days. It's getting even more depressing and repetitive than Brexit...

Malaysia gives 90-day tourist visas, and I am in no hurry to leave. Whilst the World goes into paroxysms of xenophobic paranoia, why would I want to return to the current epicentre of chaos, even assuming I can get there without hassle, or contracting a dose?

If it comes to pass that, by the end of May, no country will accept me, I guess Malaysian immigration will have to throw me in prison as an overstayer with nowhere to go.

When the surreal has become normal, what else could I expect?

Best wishes to all for the coming onslaught.

Taurus

dspp
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Re: CV Travels

#292253

Postby dspp » March 19th, 2020, 10:27 am

TaurusTheBull wrote:Langkawi (March 7 until ?)

A lovely island, duty-free, but spoiled by haphazard tourist development over the past 20 years, not to mention the litter problem so typical of most of Asia. Langkawians, I have to say, are some of the most friendly people I have ever come across, and I visit regularly.

I have an apartment here.


Taurus,
Thank you for the update, as always most interesting. May I ask if you own the apartment, or are renting it ?
Regards,
dspp

TaurusTheBull
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Re: CV Travels

#292527

Postby TaurusTheBull » March 19th, 2020, 11:34 pm

Hi dspp,

That's a moot point. Technically, I bought it off-plan more than 8 years ago, and am fully paid up, but still await strata title being issued (when I'll have to pay stamp duty). Before that, the developer has full title so, in theory, if the company went bust, I may not in fact be the owner at all. But it is well managed and I don't foresee any problems other than the glacial speed of local bureaucracy.

There aren't many people here now so the pool is often empty. If I ignore what's going on in the World, it's actually very tranquil and relaxing here, watching the white-headed munias flit between palm fronds..

Cheers
Taurus

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Re: CV Travels

#292583

Postby redsturgeon » March 20th, 2020, 8:49 am

Interesting perspective through a slightly different lens as always.
Thanks Taurus

John

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Re: CV Travels

#292997

Postby stockton » March 21st, 2020, 6:42 pm

One of the dafter aspects of the coronavirus response are some of the travel restrictions.
We have just crossed from Morocco to Spain (via Ceuta) accompanied by hundreds of elderly Europeans in their campervans, who have returned to a far more dangerous continent because the EU is apparently talking about closing its external borders.
To add to the idiocy the number of ferries had been halved so that those who had been staying in hotels were at risk of spending the night in the car.

TaurusTheBull
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Re: CV Travels

#293153

Postby TaurusTheBull » March 22nd, 2020, 11:49 am

Hi,

Whilst I consider myself to be liberal, it's obvious to me that every country in the world, bar perhaps those east Asian countries that suffered the brunt of SARS, has under-estimated CV, and hence has been behind the curve. I dread to think what is going to happen in the next few weeks as a consequence.

Today, our swimming pool has been closed. There are perhaps 20 people in residence here, and I've never seen more than 3 people in the pool at one time. Governments are now over-reacting because they failed to react adequately when they had the chance.

I travelled through Morocco early in 2018 and saw many "grey nomads". Whilst now may seem their pre-programmed time to return home, there is probably an added factor this year, and one that I've faced here: should I stay or should I go?

Not only may they have worries about their 90-day Moroccan visas expiring, they might not want to run the risk of being trapped there, rather than at home.

The Malaysian lockdown runs until March 31. No-one seriously believes, unfortunately, that it won't last a whole lot longer.

Cheers
Taurus

TaurusTheBull
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Re: CV Travels

#316189

Postby TaurusTheBull » June 7th, 2020, 7:33 pm

Hello,

An update may be very cathartic for me at this point.

My planned 2-week stay in (on?) Langkawi eventually turned into nearly 3 months! It was very pleasant, but it became time to leave. Malaysia has had, from March 18, a "Movement Control Order" in effect, whereby any interstate travel has to be officially sanctioned by the local police. That is the simple part, because they know that foreigners need to leave and so getting the stamp isn't a problem.

The problem is and was cancelled flights. I was twice booked to return to UK, and twice these flights were cancelled. Even getting to Kuala Lumpur was iffy because the only regular (3 times a week) flyer was Firefly, operating small turbo-props that needed to be half-full to justify economy but not full to justify distancing.

Qatar Airways cancelled a whole route from Langkawi to Penang to Doha to Gatwick, but I got my money back within 2 weeks. Turkish Airlines cancelled 3 days after I booked. A BIG problem getting a refund. Even if I hadn't booked via BudgetAir.com (who don't respond), Turkish Airlines have said that I can only reply for a refund 2 months after "normal flights" have resumed. And yet Turkish Airlines are now flying Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul to London, so what does "normall" mean, and how are airlines allowed to do this? We live in a world were regulations mean little when these things happen, risk and potential loss gets socialised to the masses. Whether I get my money back or not, I will never, ever, use Turkish Airlines or BudgetAir.com again (in fact, all agents seem a risk too far).

I overstayed my 90-day visa by 4 days, eventually flying back yesterday on Malatsian Airlines, less than half-full, so always a cancellation risk. Firefly fly to Subang Airport in KL, so it's a 35 km taxi ride to KLIA, a tenner, cheap.

The deal was that foreigners have 2 weeks beyond the MCO (currently due to end on Tuesday, but probably to be extended) without problem, and thus it was with me. But that doesn't stop the worry of potentially getting grief at airport immigration.

Finally, due to flight timing, I spent a night at KLIA and a night at Heathrow terminal 2. As expected, the former far exceeded the latter in terms of comfort and lack of hassle. Britain just doesn't seem to like air passengers, from security hassles to paying witb cash.

However, due to the ONE ticket seller at Waterloo refusing to sell me a train ticket to Dorset because I offered cash, I took offence at his attitude and denied that I had a card, thus enabling free passage on the £57.90 train ride, as rail employees seem unprepared to expose themselves to risk by checking train tickets.

Cheers

Taurus

AF62
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Re: CV Travels

#316658

Postby AF62 » June 9th, 2020, 10:16 am

TaurusTheBull wrote:However, due to the ONE ticket seller at Waterloo refusing to sell me a train ticket to Dorset because I offered cash, I took offence at his attitude and denied that I had a card, thus enabling free passage on the £57.90 train ride, as rail employees seem unprepared to expose themselves to risk by checking train tickets.


Not sure I would be boasting about evading a fare by lying about not having a card to pay for a ticket.

barchid
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Re: CV Travels

#317087

Postby barchid » June 10th, 2020, 10:52 am

Taurus
A very interesting resume of your escape from UK winter.
Our situation was not dissimilar, having a house in S Africa we usually spend most of a 90 day visa there from late Dec to mid March & this year was no different. We were booked back with SAA on 24 March & all was good up to a week before when they announced due to low loads they would halve their flights to London, it transpired that ours was one still running so were feeling pretty smug until 2 days before when they cancelled all international flights.SA lockdown was announced that week which blindsided everyone, especially the severity of it, no alcohol/tobacco sales allowed, for instance.
We finally managed to buy seats 2 weeks ago on a repatriation flight programme of 10 flights organised by the High Commission in SA, who were superb, despite many complaints on social media I fail to see how they could have thought it through any better. Both the High Commissioner & the Air Attache were at Cape Town to see us off & had staff airside at the airport in case there were problems with overstaying our visas, happily it was smooth in our case.
All tickets on the chartered BA 747 were sold at the same price but business/premium economy seats were given to the oldest or most infirm, every single seat on our flight was taken.
Very nice to be home again after 5 months.....

TaurusTheBull
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Re: CV Travels

#318290

Postby TaurusTheBull » June 14th, 2020, 10:29 am

AF62,

You've woumd me up now, so I'll tell you EXACTLY what happened.

My debit card was out of date, and as I only ever use my credit card online I didn't recall my PIN. However, both of these things are immaterial when I tell you what actually happened.

The ONLY ticket seller saw my cash and told me, literally, that it was no good. My reaction was surprise, I thought he was joking. So I asked him how I was supposed to pay. He then refused to serve me because he said I had raised my voice.

So, you see, the combination of an unhelpful ticket seller and the Covid-inspired exhorbitant train fare, coupled with ticket inspectors on the train not interested in doing their job, meant that I didn't pay for my essential journey home.

What would you have done? Tried hitch-hiking?

Taurus

Moderator Message:
RS: I have changed your description of the ticket seller since your own description seems hard to justify


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