Terbang (2)

You may remember a few months ago, I “bought” a return flight to Istanbul for next year using my Krisflyer miles.

That was just Phase 1 of my intended Europe adventure. I never intended to stay in Turkey for two weeks. I will spend some days in Istanbul, but it is also going to be my transit point to other parts of Europe.

So I began to plan my epic Europe adventure. Well it wasn’t really that epic to be honest. My plan revolved around:

  1. Fly from Istanbul to Monte Carlo,
  2. Rent a car and take a 3 days drive along the French Riviera from Monte Carlo to Perpignan (French-Spanish border),
  3. Take the train from Perpignan to Barcelona,
  4. Fly from Barcelona back to Istanbul.

It was a good plan, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, the Malaysian politicians and American economy had other plans for me. I was just about finalizing my plans and getting ready to book the rest of my trip when they decided to conspire and screw our forex rate and plunge it from US$ 1 – RM 3.10 to US$ 1 – RM 4.30, all within a couple of weeks.

Do you know what this means? This means I’m phucked! If I stick to the plan, I will be spending 30% more than what I have budgeted for my trip. I know, most people would say: “Aiya! Just spend that damn 30% more lah! Since you are going to Europe already!

But no. I am NOT most people. I am NOT going to succumb to instant gratification. So instead of spending 30% more, I have to find ways to avoid spending that 30% more.

It took me two months of checking here and there, comparing this and that, before I finally accepted the fact that there is only one way to make this happen. No French Riviera drive for me this time. And that royally sucks. But there’s just no other alternative.

And no, hitchhiking is NOT an alternative. I want to DRIVE along the French Riviera, not watch someone else do it. I want to be able to stop wherever I want at my whim, not at someone else’s convenience.

Now you might be wondering, if I drive, I could sleep in the car. If I don’t do the drive, I save on the car rental, but I would have to rent a room (hotel/airbnb) for more days. Could I not just sleep in the car to save cost, since I have done it before in Scotland? Well, my original plan was really me sleeping in the car for two nights.

You might now ask the follow up question. So if I am not renting a car anymore, I would have to sleep somewhere. I would not save much because the money I saved from car rental would go to renting a room. To answer this question, I will show you what I booked and paid for last night.

airfrance

The two nights I was supposed to be sleeping in the car, would be spent in Paris CDG Airport. Yes, I am going to do what most tramping backpackers do, what I think I will never be doing again. I will be spending nights in the airport. Gosh, just thinking about it makes my back sore. But it is too late to change my mind about this now. 洗湿咗个头 无得返转头 sai sap jor gor tao, mou tak fan zhuin tao. I’ve already wet my hair with water, there’s no going back.

And you know what’s even more frustrating? I’ve ranted about this in FB last night. This flight path that I am taking, I checked it out a few months back and it was US$ 189. Yesterday, when I finally purchased the tickets, it was US$ 161. But due to our “strong” ringgit, plus baggage and protection and whatnot, I had to pay more than RM 200 more than what I would have paid a few months back! But I did it anyway, because there were less than 10 seats left for the return flight. If I let this slip, the next cheapest option would be US$ 280. So, well… Phuck!!

So now, all that is left is for me to plan my time in Istanbul and Barcelona. Actually, I don’t think I will have much plans at all. I’ve been thinking, the only thing that I must see in Istanbul is the Topkapi Palace, and in Barcelona the Sagrada Familia and Camp Nou (football stadium). I won’t be able to watch a live football match because that weekend, La Blaugrana will be playing away from home. Other than that few must sees, I plan to just wander around and get lost and carve my own experiences.

So basically, the only thing else is to get my accommodation sorted. I am wondering if our ringgit will bounce back this month, or if it will slide further down the drain. Thinking about this frustrates me to no ends. Pissing me off…

30 Comments

  1. Hey, my friend went to Barcelona a few months ago and was very satisfied with Airbnb. Another site which I have used is VRBO. Loved Istanbul and do take a couple of hours to take the ferry across the Bosphurus. You actually go from Europe and end up in Asia! The ferry ride is maybe 20 mins, but the Asian side has quite a few restaurants and seem cheaper. Excellent baklava there. Re: driving the French Riviera, it sounds very romantic but I’d suggest a more reality based way which is taking a bus. I did the Nice to Monte Carlo ride which was very reasonable. Word of advice: bring snacks from Nice, everything is incredibly expensive in MC. The principality is fairly easy to walk around and you might want to pop by the palace and Napoleons museum which is next door.

    • Thanks for the tips and advice! I will take note of your Istanbul suggestion! Unfortunately I have already decided no French Riviera for me this time. I guess we all have our preferences. I am a car guy, so I always prefer driving over bus. For me, it is not the destination, but the drive.

  2. Actually may I suggest something different? If you must see only one palace in Istanbul, I would definitely make it the Dolmabahce Palace. I was not at all impressed by the Tokpapi Palace. But the Dolmabahce… it was seriously the most amazing, opulent thing I have ever seen!!! Too bad pictures weren’t allowed in it. Of course, I would also say to go to the Hagia Sophia & Blue Mosque (they’re right next to each other). Try to go during prayer call… it will be one of the most magical moments you experience in Istanbul. Just hearing the prayer calls from both of the mosques bouncing back and forth… it literally made me teary eyed.

    • I will take note of your suggestions. Actually the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia is in my subconscious itinerary too! But Dolmabahce Palace is definitely new to me. Looks great!

      I’m not too sure if I will enjoy the prayer calls though. I hear enough of them in Malaysia already, and it is not something that we particularly enjoy. I wonder if things will be different if I hear them in Turkey..

  3. I once spent the night at Vancouver Airport, not by choice though – it was awful. But, then again, I had entire week of bad luck that time in terms of flying.

    30% more is actually a lot of money. I am all for enjoying myself, but it has to be reasonable in terms of finances.

    • Exactly. Being smart financially is more important than instant gratification, that’s my motto of life.

    • Yeah, they’re in deeper sh*t than me. They are bearing with it for a few months already, and who knows for how much longer.. 🙁

  4. Sounds like you are totally Fxxk by the currency. Anyway….like cantonese say….ship arrive harbor will auto correct. A bit more research sure you can work out something. Jiayoh

  5. A drive along the French Riviera, with the wind in your hair, sounds more like a trip for two….so, no lost for you! Kekeke! 😀 I still can’t fathom going on such a long trip alone (will be too scared to do so) >.<

    • There are different enjoyments to be derived from driving alone as well as driving with a hot chick. I want to try both ways! 😀

  6. it’s never easy to plan a trip, especially if you have many constraints.. things change every minute and we just have to make adjustments.. but seems like yours is not just adjustments, but total change else you are really phucked up!! anyway, all I can say is, good luck and have a great trip!! 🙂

    • You are right, if I don’t change, I will really be phucked up! I guess now is a good time to sing “I love PM! I love GST!” >.<

  7. Eh, why wana hide departure date? But we will know when the time comes, coz you will not be updating your blog that time rite.. I know you have very good planning, but some things hor, sure out of planning or budget geh, due to currency, no choice lor..

    • For privacy purposes la. If I reveal all the details about my whereabouts, I might get kidnapped by stalkers. Not likely, but possible. 😛

  8. Good luck with your planning. I wonder if you’ve ever used Air BnB? I haven’t, but I’ve heard friends that have had great experiences with it. Maybe it will be cheaper than other types of accommodation?

    • I haven’t, and I will try it this time. It is cheaper than hotels, that’s for sure, but not compared to hostels. But then, it will be more comfortable than hostels. I guess it is something in between hotels and hostels in terms of comfort and price.

  9. Good that you taking actions on your plans while trying to save as much as you can. Too bad about our currency. I really wonder what sort of plans you have with all the money you are saving, putting away now. Use it to care for your parents when they are really old and unable to.care for themselves?

    • I certainly hope so. This is my first ever long vacation using my own money. Those business trips do not count..

  10. I have to give it to you for choosing not to do the drive along the French Riviera. Spending 30% more sounds a lot, and in all honesty we’re not made of money. There are certainly other ways to feeling gratification… Ringgit no value 🙁

    I look forward to hearing about your nights sleeping in the airport. Show us all how it’s done.

    • Sounds like a lot? It IS REALLY a lot! 🙁

      You make it sound like sleeping in the airport is very exciting. I’m actually dreading it. Hopefully CDG is half as nice as Changi airport.

      • Well, first time for something or something you haven’t done before is often exciting. I suppose you’ll have the choice of sprawling across a set of empty chairs or on the carpet at the airport for the night. Take your pick. Or perhaps there might some massage chairs around like Changi airport. Sounds like you should do resarch into camping at airports 😀

        • Now that you mentioned, I HAVE spent a night in Changi airport before, without using the transit hotel. But that night did not involve me sleeping. I was drinking coffee, having supper in the food court, and staying online using the free power and wifi connection. It wasn’t too bad… I don’t expect Paris’ airport to be nearly as wonderful though, after all it is Europe we’re talking about. I would be surprised if any shops or restaurants remain open at night.

  11. You were a student when you slept inside the cars in Scotland. When I was a student, I even slept on the bench at Gurney Drive till sunrise and slept inside my car after my ex boss made me too drunk to drive home. Those were the years. We are working adults now and should just close one eye to pamper ourselves sometimes, you could well afford a decent hotel with land tours for sight seeing with your very fat handsome salary today. Anyway the choice is ultimately yours. Good luck Buddy!

    • I will not heed the type of advice that you are dishing now. I have plans for my money, and I hate deviating on my money plans, much more than I hate cutting back on my travel plan.

      Anyway, I’m distressed that you think engineers like me are very well paid to be honest. Engineers in my generation is not like engineers of your generation I suppose. Gone were the days of double digit increments and big fat profit sharing bonuses. If we compare 5 years progress with other profession, engineers are probably one of the lower paid groups in Malaysia. Put it another way, if I am really rich from my so-called fat salary, I wouldn’t even be doing freelance works.

      If there is one advice I could give to my juniors, it would be: DON’T TAKE THE ENGINEERING ROUTE. 😐

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