Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Airport to End All Airports

13 November 2013
We left Gizo yesterday, back to Honiara.  The airline (Air Solomon) cancelled our noon flight and put us on the flight that should have left about 10 AM.  Except it left early.  Have you EVER been on a flight that left EARLY?  Wow!  I don't know if the airline was being super-efficient, or if everyone with a ticket was on, or what.  It was just so unexpected.  So was the fact that they sent both of us emails re the schedule change, then proceeded to call our hotel to make sure we knew of the time change.  Because there was no way the airline knew what hotel we were staying in, no paper where we wrote that information, zip, zilch, nada, nothing.  Gizo is small, but not THAT small - we can only imagine they called several accommodations to find us, finally finding the Rekona Lodge.

Anyway, we caught the boat out to the airport, and it was a gorgeous morning - clear blue sky, barely a cloud visible.

The caldera at the top of the volcano on Kolombangara Island was clearly visible from the runway.  (The runway runs the length of the tiny island, which is almost more like a coral atoll.)

Our plane came in, unloaded, refueled, reloaded - all while the passengers stood around and watched, while getting a little more tanned.

Just a perfect day for flying!

We weren't given seat assignments, and this plane held more people than the one we took from Guadalcanal, so Richard and I both took window seats so we could see everything.  We actually were able to nab the exit rows, for a little more leg room.

The flight attendant came over and asked if we're willing and able to assist in case of an emergency.  Yes, yes, all that.
And then I notice - the emergency exit signs and directions are in English.
And Greek.

Now I ask you, HOW MANY people do you think speak Greek in the Solomon Islands?

We haven't met one.  Not that we've met everyone in the Solomons, but still!

And just in case the Greek emergency exit signs/directions weren't odd enough, the sign for the actual exit was in German.  As was the sign for the front door.

Yes, the Ausgang was clearly labelled.

Left us rather baffled.

But we had great views of the swirling blues and turquoises and aquas as we flew, and even had a little light refreshment served in our one hour flight.  (Do you hear that, all you cheap US airlines?  One hour flight!  Choice of tea, coffee, juice.  And a cookie!  Well, a creme biscuit.  And then water!  On a one hour flight!  Take note of this, US airlines!  We have a choice!)

And then we were "home" in Honiara.  Great views flying in!  And back to our hotel, the Iron Bottom Sound Hotel - I'm not sure if I included their link, we really had a great stay here, and I'd totally recommend them for travellers:  http://www.ironbottomsoundhotel.com/

We stayed here our entire time in Honiara, and left our luggage while we went off to the Northern and then Western Provinces.  

Everyone was happy to see us back, it really does feel like home!

A quirky thing about the Solomon Islands - I noticed that the license plates aren't all the same - some are white on black, some black on white, with different fonts, and a few are maroon.  And NONE have the name of the country, a slogan, a year, nothing.  I asked a taxi driver about this, and he said that people take their car to DMV for registration - then that registration number is the license plate number.  (Brilliant!  Easy!)  However, the country doesn't issue license plates - people take the registration to a business (one of several) who makes the plates - and the car owner gets to choose what font to use.  They're supposed to be plain and easy to read, but we've seen some very ornate and curly lettering on a few plates.  Black in privately owned; white background is for public vehicles (trucks, buses, taxis, etc.)  No one knows what the maroon is for.  Quirky, huh?
Anyway, we're doing our normal catch up on stuff, as well as getting ready to leave for Bali tomorrow.  Yup, that's right, we've off to Indonesia, beginning with Bali.  We'll stay in Indonesia just short of two months, and will establish "home base" and travel around a bit.  At this point we have our first five days booked, and then we'll see.  Plans include visiting temples, monkey forests, more temples, more diving, white water rafting, and maybe the Carnival in Kuta for Old Year's Day. 

That's the update!  If anything exciting happens tomorrow, I'll blog at the airport, or in Brisbane where we have a brief layover.  Otherwise, look for a Bali blog!

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