It has been some time since I last posted my travels (2014 Siberia) on this blog. Somehow I got lazy, although I have been travelling, at least once a year. But they were with the-wife-kind ie not 4×4, but by group coach tours, or cruising. That’s luxury travel, most pleasing but not much fun or adventurous. I still want to do the 4×4 type while I am still healthy (I am 79 going on 80 in July 2019.)
Early last year when I was browsing through the photobooks that I wrote about each travel, I noticed that four major items were still there in my “bucket list” namely Central America (Maya & Aztec civilization,) the Balkans (Ottoman civilization,) the Arctic and the Antarctic (white worlds.) So when the opportunity to go to Antarctica in November 2018 came, I didn’t hesitate to register. I had some savings enough for the USD 10K for the trip, but would still need to raise a few more dollars for air travel to and fro Argentina and personal expenses. No problem, there was about 10 months before the trip.
Antarctica It is
There’s plenty of reading material on Antarctica, in books and the internet. So there’s no excuse really about not being well informed on what to expect of this out-of-the-way continent, its environment and wildlife. I used both, more so the internet; and the briefing notes by Quark Expeditions, the outfit that will take us there by their cruise ship Ocean Endeavour.
Flights to Argentina
I can’t say I enjoyed the long flights to Buenos Aires (EZE) — 13+ hours to London (LHR) and another 13+ hours to EZE plus some six hours waiting time in LHR — made worse by the sub-standard service on board BA’s old Boeing 777 aircraft. (I already started dreading my flight back to KL when I’ll have some 15 hours of loiter time in LHR.)
Anyway, I arrived EZE quite safely, got through Immigration and Customs after queuing for quite a long time; and took a taxi to the hotel Sofitel arriving well before lunch. I was quite impressed with Buenos Aires (meaning Good Airs or Fair Winds in Spanish) where the buildings are low rise and parks plentiful. (So I decided I’ll stay an additional day before leaving for London at the end of this trip so that I can explore the city.)
A Reunion of Sort
My friends from the group that did the Trans-Andes 4×4 came to the hotel in time for lunch. That was great and we had quite a bit of stories to tell and get to know each other. There were 17 of them; men, women, sons, daughters and wives. Another couple from Malaysia (via Emirates flight) will arrive in the evening. That makes 20 of us, the biggest group from Malaysia for the Antarctica trip. Thomas Foo, our group leader has done Antarctica before and his briefings and tips are as good, if not better, than the Quark man. So after all the formalities, I went back for some needed sleep in a comfortable bed. The next morning, after breakfast we left for the domestic airport for the 2 hr flight to Ushuaia by MD 80.