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My Definition of Well-Traveled

well trav·eled -
adjective – a person who has been to over 100 of the Travelers’ Century Club ”countries” and has, on several occasions, been the only one on the overnight bus (mini-van) who was fluent in English and not be able to hold a conversation in any of the local languages.

American Long Distance Bus Companies

There are more than a few American long distance bus companies. There are also a few bus booking websites that can be of assistance such as Busbud.

Australian Airfare

My experience with booking complicated airfare combinations for moving around Indonesia taught one great lesson – different booking websites can mean a huge difference in terms of whether booking is easy or hard. I wondered if I might have the same experience booking other flights. My current issue is booking airfare in booking airfare in Australia. I decided to experiment a little to see if some sights were clearly superior to others. My findings:

Jetcost: Found a lower price than Skyscanner or any other website by about 4%. It searched a variety of websites and showed them. It transferred me to eDreams for the booking. No service charge or fees. BETTER.

Cheapflights: Did a good job searching other websites. Returned best price with eDreams as the website that I needed to go to to book. BETTER.

Skyscanner: Found best options and price. Took me to airline’s website. GOOD.

BookingBuddy: Just opens up windows for other booking sites. It does, however, make it really easy to check a lot of sites relatively quickly. Unfortunately, most of them just return bad prices. Useful, but not for really booking.

Justfly. Found even worse prices than OneTravel. EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY BAD.

OneTravel: Did not find anything that was anywhere near the lowest price. EXTREMELY BAD.

Kayak: Easy to use. Found the same prices as Webjet. Had a Travelfusion Service Fee of $13.33 AUD. BAD.

Webjet: Does multi-city. Good presentation. Easy to understand. Has a Webjet Booking Price Guarantee $12.95 AUD and a Webjet Servicing Fee $ 21.95 AUD. VERY, VERY BAD.

Flight Centre: The presentation and the information were quite good. Some prices were higher and there was a $9.95 AUD booking fee as well. BAD.

Wotif: Incredibly bad prices.

CheapOairIncredibly bad prices.

MakeMyTrip: Could not find any flights.

Zuji: Sporadic service. Long wait times. Found OK prices when it worked but had a $20 AUD Service fee. Good for finding flights when it worked but not good when it did not. BAD, BAD, BAD.

InsanelyCheapFlights: Just another site with not good, not terrible prices. BAD.

Vayama: Ridiculously bad prices.

Sorong Indonesia

Strategy: Sorong will just be a transit location. Note that 13,000.00 IDR = 0.996752 USD.

Airfare: Route maps for GarudaLion Air and Sriwijaya Air show routes into and out of Sorong. on Sunday, Oct 1, 2016 I’m looking at booking a flight at Traveloka to see what the current fare for tomorrow’s flight would be. What I’m trying to find out is whether the flights that will take me from Bali to Makassar to Ambon to Sorong to Yogyakarta are hard to book at the last minute. Inititally, I check the next day’s flight from Sorong to Yogyakarta. There were 21 flights available on five airlines - GarudaLion AirSriwijaya Air, Batik Air and Wings Air. Many of the flights involved more than one airline. Prices ranged from about $150 to $350. There were no direct flights. The number of stops ranged from one to three. Next I looked at booking one week away from the current date and found that there were 52 total flights. That’s because may of them were of code shares or they used a variety of airlines to form different combinations of changes for transit times from layover stops. Transit times ranged from 5:30 hours to 32 hours. Prices ranged from $144 up. Going over 30 days out got about the same results as going one week out. The prices were actually a bit higher. The best route was using Sriwijaya and changing to Garuda at Makassar. This route took 13 hours and cost $144. The 5.5 hour flight cost $203 and went through Makassar using Garuda only. This caused me to wonder of I could get  a flight from Bali to Ambon, picking up Makassar on the return this completing my trifecata of the “countries” of  Sulawesi, Moluka and Papua (Irian Jaya) . I could and it would cost $70 and I would not have to stay overnight. I could also go from I could also go from Bali to Makassar to Ambon to Sorong in 15.5 hours for $150 on Lion Air, Wings and Garuda. Note there are lots of options and it appears that they get cheaper to closer they get to the actual travel date. Cheapest time appeared to be about a week out. It appears that the booking website Traveloka may be my Indonesian airfare salvation.

Ambon Indonesia

Strategy: Ambon will just be a transit location. Note that 13,000.00 IDR = 0.996752 USD.

Airfare: Route maps for GarudaLion Air and Sriwijaya Air show routes into and out of Ambon. As of today. Sep 30, 2016,  a flight from DPS (Bali) to UPG (Makassar) leaving in less than a week costs about $30 USD on Lion Air. It costs $49 on Garuda and $38 on Sriwijaya. Flights from UPG to AMQ (Ambon) during that same period cost $42 on Lion Air and  $57 on Garuda. The flight is not available on Sriwijaya as it appears all the flights that close in are booked. Later flights on Sriwijaya cost $79. It seems that the UPG to AMQ route is more popular. The AMQ to SOQ (Sorong) cost $52 on Lion Air and $45 on Garuda and $113 on Sriwijaya. This means that there may be a good reason to book at least a month out. Think Traveloka for tickets.

Makassar Indonesia

Strategy: Makassar will just be a transit location. Note that 13,000.00 IDR = 0.996752 USD.

Airfare: Route maps for GarudaLion Air and Sriwijaya Air show routes into and out of Makassar. As of today. Sep 30, 2016,  a flight from DPS (Bali) to UPG (Makassar) leaving in less than a week costs about $30 USD on Lion Air. It costs $49 on Garuda and $38 on Sriwijaya. Flights from UPG to AMQ (Ambon) during that same perido cost $42 on Lion Air and  $57 on Garuda. The flight is not available on Sriwijaya as it appears all the flights that close in are booked. Later flights on Sriwijaya cost $79. It seems that the UPG to AMQ route is more popular. The AMQ to SOQ (Sorong) cost $52 on Lion Air and $45 on Garuda and $113 on Sriwijaya. This means that there may be a good reason to book at least a month out. Think Traveloka for tickets.

Kyoto Japan

Strategy: Kyoto is even more of a Japanese attraction than Tokyo. Fly into Osaka from Seoul and take a train to Kyoto. It saves a trip from Tokyo and you can spend a day in Osaka if you want. Plus, you’ll miss the transportation problems of Golden week by spending your last 4 days in Tokyo.

Weather: Temperature averages for lows/highs is 52/70 with about 6 inches of rain in April. Oklahoma City gets about 3 inches of rain in April.

Airfare: Fly from Seoul to Osaka for $103 on Jeju Air. I could not find any direct flights to Kyoto from Seoul because there is no airport in Kyoto. The one in Osaka is closest.

TransfersThere is an airport shuttle bus from Oksa airport to Kyoto Station for $13 USD. This same shuttle also goes to Osaka Station if you want to stay in Osaka for a day or two. Think seat61 for train transportation from Kyoto to Tokyo.

Hostels: HostelWorld. Hostelbookers. Kyoto Hostels. Lonely PlanetCapsule Ryokan Kyoto.

Attractions:  Map – Japan WondersGoogle. TripAdvisor. VirtualTourist. Lonely Planet. Planetware.

Food: Article. Article II. Article III. Article IV. Article V. Article VI.

 

Tokyo Japan

Strategy: Get to know Tokyo.

Weather:  Temperature averages for lows/highs is 50/71 with less than 1/8th inch of rain in April. Oklahoma City gets about 3 inches of rain in April.

Airfare: Think less than $90 USD from Seoul. Lots of flights and interest. Note that you might want to fly into Osaka and then on to Kyoto and then on to Tokyo. Save one trip from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Transfers: 100.00 JPY = 0.989756 USD. I leave to come home from NRT. Transportation is expensive in Japan. Narita Express ($25?) is the high speed train. Tokyo Shuttle and The Access Narita are the bus services ($10?) to NRT. Good bus article is hereKeisei Limited Express ($10).

Hostels: HostelWorld. Hostelbookers. Lonely Planet. airbnb.

AttractionsMap – Japan Wonders. Google. TripAdvisor. VirtualTourist. Lonely Planet. PlanetWare.

Food: Article. Article II. Article III. Article IV. Article V. Article VI.

 

South Korea

Strategy: It’s a new country and I’d like to spend a little time there. Visas: U.S. citizens receive a 90-day entry permit on arrival. Jeju Island stays are visa free for 5 days. Jeju Island get me another country.  Note the flights to Jeju and back.

Weather: Temperature averages for lows/highs is 46/65 with less than 1/8th inch of rain in April. Oklahoma City gets about 3 inches of rain in April.

Airfare: Inchon is a good place to sleep. Seoul flights from Okinawa look to be $85 USD on Jeju Air. I checked Jetstar Japan and found there were no flights listed from Okinawa to Tokyo in April but there were flights listed in March for $85 USD. I’m thinking that it’s too early (09/2016) to book flights out in this area for April.

Transfers: 1,000.00 KRW = 0.906110 USD. Lots of ways to get to Seoul. Excellent guide is here.

Hostels: HostelWorld. Hostelbookers. Over 100 hostels listed in Seoul. Prices in the teens.

Attractions: TripAdvisor. VirtualTourist. GoogleLonely Planet. The Hillman Wonders of South Korea are the Bulguksa Temple (blue) and 8 reds: Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden Seoul), Jongmyo Royal Shrine (Seoul), Haeinsa Temple, Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul), Kyongju Tombs & Museum, Mt Sorak Hiking Trails, Beopjusa Temple and Sokkuram Grotto. Think N Seoul Tower, Namdaemun Market, Myeong-dong, Fortress Wall of Seoul, Lotte World, Insadong,  Cheonggyecheon Stream, The War Memorial of Korea, Bukchon, Noryangjin Fish Market,  Gwangjang Market, 63 City,

Food: Tosokchon Samgyetang, See this article for more. And here. and here.

Okinawa

Strategy: The primary reason to go is that it counts as another TCC country.

Weather:  Temperature averages for lows/highs is 66/76 with less than 1/4th inch of rain in April. Oklahoma City gets about 3 inches of rain in April.

Airfare:  Tigerair (and Peach) also flies from Taipei to Okinawa for around $65 USD. If I want to do Japan before Golden Week, the airfare to from Okinawa to Tokyo is around $30 – $100 USD in March but jumps to $200 USD in April. Seoul flights from Okinawa look to be $85 USD on Jeju Air. I checked Jetstar Japan and found there were no flights listed from Okinawa to Tokyo in April but there were flights listed in March for $85 USD. I’m thinking that it’s too early (09/2016) to book flights out in this area for April.

Transfers: There appears to be a monorail and the fare seems to be between $2-4 USD.

Hostels: HostelWorld. Hostelbookers. Lonely Planet. Not a lot of options (10-20) and prices ($12-24) looked good. Apparently, location matters here.

Attractions: TripAdvisor. VirtualTourist. Google. The list does not look terribly inviting.