The Year of Travel

Over the past twelve months I have done a lot of travel, enough to get me to gold frequent flier status.

Being a numbers and lists geek, I have broken all the travel down into the following summary:

  • Air NZ's 777-200

    Air NZ’s 777-200

    10 trips taken: 4 domestic, 3 to New Zealand and 3 long haul.
  • 26 flights flown: 7 for work, 4 for free on airpoints.
  • 6 airlines travelled on: Virgin Australia (7x), Air New Zealand (6x), Delta (6x), Air Canada (1x), Etihad (4x), Scoot (2x).
  • 11 plane models flown on: 737, 767-300, 777 (-200 and -300), 787-9, A320, A330, A340, ATR-72, CRJ-200, ERJ-145.
  • 16 airports transited through: Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Auckland, LAX, Orlando, Boston, Montreal, Quebec, JFK, Abu Dhabi, Munich, Amsterdam, Singapore.
  • 8 countries visited: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Singapore.
  • Delta's ERJ-145

    Delta’s ERJ-145

    27 cities visited*: Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Auckland, Wanganui, Ohakune, Orlando, Boston, Montreal, Quebec City, Munich, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Leipzig, Berlin, Potsdam, Osnabrück, Wuppertal, Bonn, Cologne, Aachen, Maastricht, The Hague, Singapore.
    (* I define visited as having deliberately gone to that city for work or leisure. Transiting through a city is not counted.)
  • 16 train journeys taken between cities in four countries (Canada, Germany, Austria, Netherlands).
  • Experienced jet-lag in 7 time zones: AEST, AEDT, NZST, EDT, CET, SGT.
  • Virgin Australia's 737

    Virgin Australia’s 737

    15 hotels slept in for a total of 36 nights and 14 nights spent staying on friend’s couches, floors and spare rooms.

Finally, some good and bad highlights from the year:

  • Missed connections: 1 due to late inbound flight.
  • Best Airport: Gold Coast – due to Virgin Australia’s fantastic ground staff
  • Worst Airport Terminals: Abu Dhabi terminal 1 and Boston terminal B.
  • Best food: Etihad Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi (dinner) and Eithad Abu Dhabi to Sydney (breakfast).
  • Scoot's 787-9

    Scoot’s 787-9

    Best flights: Etihad Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi and Scoot Singapore to Sydney (both red-eyes!)
  • Worst flight: Air Canada Boston to Montreal – grumpy cabin crew.
  • Best planes: Etihad’s A340 and Scoot’s 787-9.
  • Worst plane: Air New Zealand’s 767-300.
  • Best ground staff: Virgin Australia at Gold Coast.
  • Worst ground staff: Delta at JFK.

I have now caught the travel bug, nine years ago I had never been on a plane, six years ago I’d never been outside of New Zealand, less than three years ago I had never been outside of Australia or New Zealand.

I’m unlikely to repeat this much travel in the coming year, or years. But I’m scheming plans for more amazing places I now want to visit. Returning to Europe remains high in first place in those plans.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari


This gallery contains 27 photos.

On my visit to Singapore I went to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

As we arrived quite late in the afternoon we only had a little over two hours to quickly race around quite a large zoo. Overall the zoo was quite interesting with lots of animals that you don’t generally see in Australian zoos. However I left feeling that the zoo was a little over-hyped.

Below are some of my better photos from the zoo. Continue reading

Three Days in Singapore

In mid-April I went up to Singapore for three days. This was my first time in Asia and the decision to visit Singapore was mainly made because of friends who live there and great airfares on Singapore Airline’s budget carrier Scoot.

The flight from Sydney to Singapore left just after midday and arrived almost an hour early around 6.30pm local time. By the time I had collected my bags, cleared immigration, and caught the MRT to my hotel it was quite late in the evening so I had an early night.

The next morning I met up with an Australian workmate who was also visiting Singapore and we explored around Little India. This was a little bit of a culture shock as it was not what I was expecting Singapore to be like.

After getting lost a few times we found a MRT station and headed through to the Marina Bay area which is a complete contrast to Little India. At Marina Bay we met up with another friend at the Merlion and walked around Marina Bay to Marina Bay Sands where we had lunch.

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Previous and Next Month Links in Archives

It has just taken me around an hour to try and insert some previous and next month navigation links to the blog monthly archives. It seems that WordPress doesn’t have any real native support for this time of navigation which is odd.

Anyway the code below is my very hacky version of how to do it. I placed this in my theme’s archive.php file

<?php //twentyeleven_content_nav( 'nav-above' ); ?>
<nav id="nav-above" style="display:inline">
$archive_year = get_the_time('Y');
$archive_month = get_the_time('m');
$archive_month = $archive_month - 1;
if ($archive_month == 0) {
$archive_month = 12;
$archive_month_next = $archive_month + 2;
$archive_year_next = $archive_year;
if ($archive_month_next &gt 12) {
$archive_month_next %= 12;
echo '<a href="' . get_month_link( $archive_year, $archive_month) . '">Previous Month</a>';
if ($archive_year_next.sprintf('%02d', $archive_month_next) < = date('Y', strtotime("now")).date('m', strtotime("now"))) { echo '<a href="' . get_month_link( $archive_year_next, $archive_month_next) . '" style="float:right">Next Month</a>'; } ?> </nav>

A Day in Melbourne

On Easter Monday I went to Melbourne for the day to see some kiwi friends who were visiting from NZ for Easter.

With no firm plans for the day we ended up nearly identically repeating the first trip I made to Melbourne in 2009 (which come to think of it is six years ago – time really does fly).

After meeting my friends at Fed Square we walked along the Yarra through to Docklands and then caught a tram back into the city, getting lost in the shopping malls until we found lunch.

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Site Meter Rewriting Links on WordPress Sites

This afternoon I discovered that a number of relative links on this site were being redirected through

At first I thought that this site may have been compromised. It hasn’t. After a quick Google search it turns out that the Site Meter tracking code has been changed and now silently rewrites links.

Fortunately for me I haven’t noticed any of these links inserting or redirecting people to ad sites, but there are stories online that suggest these actions may have happened.

The way in which this script has changed is really inappropriate and annoying. The offending script has now been removed from this site.

Thoughts on Bali 9 Killings

Yesterday Indonesia murdered two Australian citizens convicted of drug smuggling.

The two Australians have been in prison for over 10 years and by all accounts were completely rehabilitated. The killings are unjust and show complete arrogance on behalf of the Indonesian government to the social norms regarding crime and punishment.

Almost ten years ago I blogged on how inhumane the Indonesian execution process is and over the last four months we have seen it in all its torturous glory. The process over the past few months has been even more horrible than first described.

The Indonesians have ignored all international pressure to stop the executions, this is their sovereign right to do so. However, they have also made deliberate choices to offend the Australian and international community. The President and the government have deployed army commandos and fighter jets to transport the prisoners, they have deployed naval frigates to patrol the small island on which the executions took place, and police chiefs have taken smiling photos with the masked condemned men.The worst of this was the announcement of the date of executions on ANZAC day.

In response to the killings Australia has withdrawn its ambassador to Indonesia. While this is a very strong action in political terms in real action it seems like so little. The damage left behind by the Indonesian government is more than two dead bodies, there are geopolitical wounds that will take a long time to heal.

iTunes not saving credit card details

For over a year now each time I buy music from the iTunes store I am informed that “Your account has been accessed from a new computer or device”. I am then asked to renter my credit card information.

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The first time this happened I thought that it was possible that my account had been compromised so I got iTunes to deactivate all my computers. But then this message came back again and again and again. I next wondered if it was happening when I was switching between computers and downloading music on two different systems. But no this wasn’t the case either.

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I have finally figured it out. iTunes is not allowed to store the CVC2 or CVV2 code from your credit card (the 3 numbers on the back of the card). In fact no provider is allowed to store the three number code. But some credit card providers require this code for purchases (such as my bank). Because of this each time you purchase something on iTunes you are asked to reenter this code.

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The problem remains that iTunes prompts for handling this situation are completely wrong. First you are asked to confirm your purchase, second you are asked to verify your billing information, third you are told that you have accessed iTunes from a new device – which is wrong. Finally you are emailed that your recent purchase was made from “a computer or device that had not previously been associated with that Apple ID” – again wrong.

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Clearly iTunes knows and is correctly not storing the CVC2/CVV2 code but its messages for handling this situation are not only wrong but completely misleading and worrying. The fact that it has been over a year and they haven’t fixed the problem – or even have any help on the problem is also alarming.

Deutscher Trip 2015 – Part Sixteen: Departure

After exactly two weeks on the ground in Europe it was time to fly back to Australia.

Over the previous two weeks I had seen so much. From skiing on the highest mountain in Germany, to exploring medieval castles, reformation churches, and war memorials. A plan that came together in less than a week allowed me to see every friend who is currently in Germany. I have also fallen more in love with a country whose rich history, vibrant culture and lovely people makes me want to keep going back for more.

Trip log

Trip log

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Deutscher Trip 2015 – Part Fifteen: Den Haag

The final city I visited in Europe was The Hague. My host and I arrived into the Centraal station quite late on a wet evening. We then quickly took our bags to my host’s apartment and headed out for dinner. After a few beers we called it a night in preparation for a big final day in Europe and a very long flight home.

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