Friday, January 07, 2011

Big, Big World

I'm not too shabby at planning. But when my choices include the entire world, I get as overwhelmed as your average non-passport holder looking at a map of Cancun.

A few days ago, I was definitely going to take a Star Alliance Round-the-World flight on my mileage. This means six stops and only one open-jaw (meaning I have to fly in and out of the same cities except for once, which enforces a hub system on me). I have to fly in one direction which means no flying west.

I was looking at this:

1) NYC-Spain
--ferry to Morocco, overland to Cape Town via West Africa over 14 weeks (that's the open-jaw leg). It's more-or-less this route that Mali's Sleeping Camel/Surfing Camel trips follow, without the southern Africa legs.

2) Cape Town-Singapore.
--using Bangkok as my base, I'd spend at least 3 weeks sleeping, catching up, and going to doctors for whatever illnesses I've acquired in my travels by then.
--Loop up to Tibet via Thailand/Laos/China and then come back via Nepal, making my way to Bhutan, and maybe Bangladesh before using a one-way budget flight back to Singapore.
--Rest up for a few weeks in Ubud, Bali.

So far so good, right? But...what about Madagascar? I'd like to go to Madagascar. What would I do there? This? These? Does Star Alliance go to Madagascar?



How does one get to Madagascar? More research required.

Planning an extended trip requires persistence. Links lead to links, clicks to new ideas, and wham, there I go down the damn rabbit hole again.

Let's say I found a way to Madagascar outside of the constraints of my RTW flight. It could happen.

So then we'll change #2 above to this:

2) Johannesburg-Singapore. We're making that change because JNB is the regional hub. If I end up paying for a flight to Madagascar, it's going to be out of and into JNB.

Back to Asia now. We've rested, recuperated, seen the $13 dentist, zapped all my excess parasites, and I've slept for several days straight. Let's pretend I've gone to the Thai massage pavilion at Wat Po 20 times in July and eaten so much mango and sticky rice that I've got a distinct orange sheen. Then, we've made the loop north and come back south and we land in...


--Singapore to Borneo and back on I've been admiring some group trips in Borneo. Some with my old friends at Intrepid Travel, and a few with Canadian operator GAP.
--Singapore to Denpasar, Bali by budget airline. Round-trip. Because after that loop around Asia, I need to sleep some more. I know it looks like I'm sleeping around the world, and I am, but I promise you it's needed. It's on my list of most important planning items. Quit job. Sublet apartment. Get vaccines. Remember passport. Plan to sleep a lot.

And when I'm done sleeping and fighting with pesky monkeys, I use the budget airline to go back to my hub of Singapore and resume my RTW ticket.

3) Singapore-Fiji. Or Singapore-Tahiti.

The Fiji thing is a bit of a whim. People like Fiji and recommend it. If I have a stop left after all this, it's on the top of my list of spare stops.



I don't need to go to Tahiti itself. Tahiti is a regional base. My local hub.

From Tahiti, I want to go on a trip freighter-cruise to the Marquesas island on the Aranui 3 ship. I initially thought I couldn't afford this ship, and then I looked at the costs of doing the same trip independently.

I can afford the ship.

Then I'll use my BA or AA mileage to get a roundtrip ticket to Easter Island.

And finally, I'll get to the end of the trip. If I went to Fiji previously, I have only one leg left, and that's from Tahiti to New York.

Damned if I can't make the Star Alliance booking engine do that though. Maybe it isn't possible. Which would throw a wrench into the works, to put it mildly.

At the end of all this, I have another thought that I can't quite shake.

What if I went from Tahiti to South America? And threw away my last ticket, and just went overland, including sailing around the Darien Gap?

Or...wait. I'm down the rabbit hole again, aren't I?


Peter Moore said...

Hi Marie - you've got to go to Madagascar. A real mix of Africa/India/Europe and strangely little visited. (Except for the resorts in the north full of French vacationers). Reasonable airfares out of JoBurg so I reckon it's a no-brainer.

Ed Ward said...

I've got a friend here who was in Madagascar in the Peace Corps for several years. Bad fighting there, last I looked, but she's in contact with several of her friends and would have more up-to-date info. Say the word and I'll put you in touch.

Marie said...

holy smokes...$819 roundtrip JNB to Madagascar. What the hell? The ship isn't much cheaper....