Daily Diary » June 23, 2008 - July 11, 2008

06/23/2008 - 06/24/2008
Luxor, Egypt / Bahrain

We took off from Luxor to Bahrain at 7:00 AM because we were heavy with fuel for the long flight. Over Saudi Arabia, the scenery changed dramatically to desert, mountains and sand dunes. Every once in a while we saw a settlement with a few houses or large tents. As we continued our flight eastward, we saw a huge area of massive green circles which seemed to look like agricultural farms. At times the visibility became very poor and hazy. We weren't certain, but it seemed the cause may have been sand storms. We landed in Bahrain after 5.50 hrs and the heat was unbearable at around 115F/46C degrees. They say it's a dry heat :). The next day we hired a tour guide to take us around the city. We went to visit the Bahrain Museum for some culture, and the grand mosque. At the mosque, we received a guided tour from an Egyptian-English teacher and a discussion about Islam. It was very enlightening, but I don't think we are converting just yet.

06/25/2008 - 06/26/2008
Bahrain / Dubai

We arrived at the airport at 6:30AM, nice and early, in order to take advantage of cooler air for take-off (Ha! 80F/27C). At the plane, we waited for the fuel truck, and to our surprise, the fuel truck was a pick-up truck with a barrel of fuel in tow. We had to use a "HAND PUMP" to pump the fuel out (See picture of Mike pumping fuel). When we were done pumping, we took off, landing in Dubai after 1.30 hrs (a short flight for a change). The next day we took a tour of Dubai. The "NEW CITY" that has been built in the last 5 years on a desert and sea was astonishing. From man-made islands to skyscrapers, it was amazing. Nearly half the horizon of modern buildings had cranes atop their unfinished structures. The people of Dubai were nice and accommodating and the FBO Executive Flight Services was great.
Tomorrow we are off to Ahmedabad, India.

06/27/2008 - 06/30/2008
Crossing India
Ahmedabad, India / Patna, India, Kolkata, India

The FBO Executive Flight Services at Dubai International airport is a five star facility with excellent service and very reasonable costs. Flying from Dubai to Ahmadabad India, we flew via FIR "Qatar, Tehran(Iran), Karachi(Pakistan) and India". At one point we had no communication between Tehran and Pakistan for about 30 minutes and this also happened between Pakistan and India. We landed in Ahmadabad and were met by Mr. Shridhar from Ahmadabad Aviation & Aeronautics. He provided us decent service but tried to charge for each individual service. For handling he wanted of $1000. We had to negotiate down to $500, and that was even too much because there was no FBO or office. For fuel he charged $3.00 a liter and we found out that prices in India are around $2.00 a liter. Be aware of this if you fly to Ahmadabad.

Next was Patna and the service by the ATC and airport authority was excellent. They assisted us in every possible way.

Next was Kalkata and the service by Indian Airlines was very good.

Flying IFR in India is no problem if you can understand the accent (No offense meant, it was just difficult at times to understand). Most of the time between radar control stations at 9000 feet there was no communication, but as long as you stick to your flight plan there are no problems.

Visiting India on the ground - Well, in this case, pictures say it all.

07/01/2008 - 07/05/2008
Kolkata, India / Chang Mai, Thailand / Phuket, Thailand

The flight from Kolkata to Chang Mai was mostly in IMC conditions with torrential rain for long periods of time. Lucky for us the Storm Scope was very helpful in avoiding the CB's en route. The Radar controllers of Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand were very accommodating with our weather deviation along the route. When we landed in Chang Mai after four and half hours we were approached by Mrs Opinya from the Information Center and she helped guide us through the immigration, customs and hotel reservations. The next day morning we took off to Phuket and again upon arriving we did all the administrative paper work ourselves with the help of the Information Center. We met a nice local guy by the name of U-EAD who took us around Phuket with his car. He was a very nice guy, and if you happen to need a guide next time you're in Phuket, you can contact him via email at U-EAD@hotmail.com Overall, Phuket was very nice. The people were very helpful.

07/05/2008 - 07/07/2008
Phuket, Thailand / Singapore

At Phuket, despite the information we received about the acceptance of BP fuel card, after fueling they insisted on cash. Following payment, we took off for Singapore. The flight was good but as we approached the airport, CB had developed over the airport and the controller switched our approach from runway 21 to 03 due to the below minimum condition for runway 21. When on final approach we only saw the first half of the runway. The rest was not visible due to the rain. After landing we had to stay in the airplane for over 15 minutes for the rain shower to pass. The next day we toured the city of Singapore by foot, taxi and by boat. The city is beautiful and located by the water, very westernized with many modern buildings and to our surprise we found out that the city is not as expensive as we expected.

We used Nimal Aero Ground Services and were able to negotiate the handling charges from $450 to $300.

07/07/2008 - 07/11/2008
Singapore / Bali, Indonesia

After landing in Bali we were approached by Mr. Abdulla from Subbaair Perdana Handling and we decided to refuel the airplane immediately since we wanted to take off very early on the 11th to Darwin Australia to avoid over time charges on arrival (after 5 PM local time). After an hour of waiting the fuel truck arrived with barrels of fuel, and lucky us, the pump couldn't produce enough pressure and it took us an hour to fuel 70 liters when we needed 700 liters. We gave up and decided to come back a day before take off just to be on the safe side (we were promised the pump would be fixed). When we came back to refuel it took us about 4 hrs. The pump was fixed (HAHA) but operated very very slow. On average we paid $2.00 a litter but in Bali it was $3.00 a liter. When it came time to pay, of course they wanted only cash and in US currency only so we paid $2140 in $100 bills, and that's where the problems started. They didn't accept money dated below 2003 (completely unheard of). We tried for an hour to convince them that the money was indeed real and useable, but it didn't help. Abdulla our handler helped us by taking us to his bank, allowing us to switch the money to bills that the fuel company accepted. We were picked up by Arik Azulai (a friend of Tal Shmueli) and he arranged for us a beautiful villa with a swimming pool and a very reasonable price. The villa is owend by Mr. Bogdan Braucici. His email is braucic@yahoo.com and Cell # 08179735622. Arik also arranged for us a driver/tour guide, Mr. Nyoman Crocodile. His email is nyoman_crocodile@yahoo.com and Cell # 08123920895. Nyoman drove us for two days in his van all arround Bali and we highly recommend him. Arik and Maya invited us to dinner at their house for Morrocan Falafel and Hummus. We thank them for their great hospitality. Overall Bali was a great place to visit. Very friendly, nice people and inexpensive.