Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our Safari Itinerary

Our safari itinerary took us first to Tanzania. Landing at the Kilimanjaro Airport, we travelled by road through Arusha city and on through little towns  of Karatu etc before entering the Ngorongoro Park, ascending to the peak of the Ngorongoro crater and descending on the opposite side into the Serengeti Park. Our first stop was the Lobo Wildlife Lodge  - located at the far end of the Serengeti Park almost quite near to the border with Kenya. It was a long 400km drive - first on metalled road but subsequently for almost half the journey on rocking red-earth road which was bumpy and dusty.

On to Kilimanjaro

Sunday, 19th August 2012

The flight from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro left at 8 am. The service was operated by Precision Air, which flies the route using the 50-seater ATR twin propeller aircraft. It was a full flight and the journey took about 1 hour.

We were told in KL that we wuld have to pay a USD50 visa fee at the Kilimanjaro Airport but to our pleasant surprise, we found out that Malaysians actually do not need a visa to enter Tanzania.

Our driver-cum-guide, Noel, was waiting for us at the arrival hall. Our luggages were loaded into our land-cruiser and our long road journey to our first destination began here.
 the ATR aircraft of Precision Air
 tired faces after flying almost 15 hours
 the interior of the ATR aircraft
 arriving at Kilimanjaro Airport

 our bags being loaded into our land-cruiser

Hemingway on Africa

A few days before leaving for Africa, pakdokter found this book in pakdokter's library. So pakdokter threw it into pakdokter's bag and started  reading the book on the flights from KL to Bangkok and later from Bangkok to Nairobi.
The first few chapters of the book taught pakdokter a bit of history of these African states. Being British colonies, the British had sent a large number of Indian soldiers to East Africa to fight the natives for them. At the same time, the British had also done this so that the numbers of Indian soldiers were much reduced in their own homeland so as to minimise the risk of them causing a successful uprising against the colonialist.
Many of these Indian soldiers stayed on in these African states and became wealthy and prosperous. They sent home their newfound wealth and brought in more of their family members and relatives. Up to the present times, the migrant Indians in East Africa dominate the economic activities of these countries.
The economies of these states are largely based on tourism, agriculture/horticulture and mining of precious stones. Recently oil has been found in northern Kenya.
Hemingway spent quite some time in Kenya. This book is a travelogue of the times he was there. He was a keen 'hunter'. He wrote about his expeditions hunting rhinoceros etc. However pakdokter did not like the style of his writing and gave up on the book after just about 5 or 6 chapters. 

The Jomo Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi

 pakdokter's partner doing a 'stretch'
after the long 9-hour flight

Sunday, 19th August 2012

We arrived into Nairobi to a cold Sunday morning. After the modern and relatively new airports at KLIA and Bangkok, the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi was totally from another world altogether. Duty-free shops lined the already narrow corridors and the toilets were from another era. We decided to adjourn to the First Class Lounge and at least we had a fairly clean and fresh washrooms there. We spent a good one hour there, helping ourselves to coffee and savouries.
The Sunday papers had pages and pages of Eid Greetings which told pakdokter that Kenya has quite a sizable Muslim community. In fact the airport was quite busy with Muslim travellers from ?Zanzibar, Somalia, Sudan etc. These folks must be returning home after spending the Ramadan in Mecca.
 at the Lounge of the Jomo Kenyatta Airport
 the cougar pose like Jamaican sprinter, Blake...
 the Nairobi Airport First Class Lounge
 narrow and crowded corridors of Nairobi Airport

 pakdokter and heart-surgeon, Dr Ben Haron

waiting to board the plane to Kilimanjaro,
and no, pakdokter did not cause the ceiling to collapse

Destination Africa

 pakdokter and partner in transit
 at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

18th August 2012

Pakdokter's partner has always wanted to do the safari in East  Africa - at Serengeti and Masai Mara - where she would be able to make full use of the cameras she had collected all these years in  pursuit of her interest in photography. Pakdokter had come across the promotion of 'safari holidays' in Kenya and Tanzania earlier this year and had booked the tour then. The long Eid holidays happened to co-incide with the months of the 'animal migration' in Serengeti and Masai Mara. So we picked this holiday period to make it to Africa.
Our journey started on Saturday evening - leaving KLIA on the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. At Suvarnabhumi Airport, we checked in for the Kenya Airways flight to Nairobi which left just after midnight. The almost 9 hour flight took us to Nairobi - arriving at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport at around 6 am on Sunday morning. It was quite chilly in the early hours - with temperatures around 15degrees celcius or so.  

at the First Class Lounge
of the Jomo Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi
with fellow travellors, Ben Haron and Sandra

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bye Bye Hua Hin

having lunch on the bus
with Kaem, the Leisure Golf hostess,
giving a peek-a-boo pose....

After the game, the group drove on to Bangkok for another night there and an optional golf game the next morning before going to the airport. Lunch was served on the bus as the drive to Bangkok would have taken an easy 3 hours. Pakdokter was sent to pakdokter's hotel at Chaam as the earlier plan was to leave for Bangkok only on the next day. As such pakdokter had booked to stay on at Hotel de la Paix for another day. 

Korean golfer, ThomasChun, lunching on the
rice with black pepper chicken


pakdokter joined the family for a light lunch at the hotel
pocket pita bread with tuna

Black Mountain Golf Course, Hua Hin (2)

It is difficult to describe how beautiful the Black Mountain Golf Course is. The pictures below are not able to do justice to the golf course. Several holes were undergoing repairs and reconstruction but it did not take away the breath-taking scenery of the entire golf course.

However the same could not be said for pakdokter's game. Playing to a revised handicap of 21, pakdokter only managed a miserable 25 or 26 stableford points. Perhaps the scenery was too distracting and pakdokter was more focussed on trying to capture the scenes on camera instead of on the game. And this turned out to be expensive for pakdokter. Zaher Zainul, who that day also played to a handicap of 21!, grossed in the low 40's for each Nine and took his dues from pakdokter. So did the othe flight-mates, Kamal Nor and Fakhrunnasri.


Black Mountain Golf Course, Hua Hin (1)

the caddies waited for our arrival and  retrieved our golf bags
an impressive efficient organisation befitting the premier club

The next morning, pakdokter was picked up very early and driven to the Black Mountain Golf Course, perhaps Hua Hin premier golf course and the home course of Thailand's foremost professional golfer, Thongchai Jaidee. The Black Mountain was also the host to the Royal Cup - the Ryder Cup type of competition between the European team and Asia.

Below are a series of pictures highlighting the first-class facilities of the clubhouse.

wall decor in the locker room

a skybar overlooking the course