Welcome Home – You Did It!

Congratulations to our Around the World adventurers for successfully flying their airplanes around the world! You can officially check an Around the World flight off your Bucket Lists!

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Seventy six days, memories for a lifetime, friends forever and a feat few have accomplished – you’ve flown your airplane to some of the most remarkable destinations on the planet and completed a full journey around the globe.

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We cannot thank this year’s participants enough for making this one of our best Journeys to date. You all are incredible and truly helped make this an adventure for the books. Thank you also to all of our friends and family for their constant support and especially a big thanks for those that joined us on portions of the Journey. Your coming and going brought new light to an already beaming group and kept us laughing the whole way.

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For you fellow aviators, here are some stats from the Journey pertaining specifically to the Citation Mustang (other planes were similar but I don’t have their full stats):

  • The Hobbs Meter shows exactly 100 hours to and from his departure base in Florida – departed on May 11 and returned July 31, 2014.
  • The average ground speed was 291.6 knots
  • Total nautical miles flown was 28,971 nautical miles
  • Minimal mechanical issues on board – only thing was the co-pilot windshield heater rheostat
  • 43 flights total, 43 take-offs and 43 landings. We lost 1 potential flight leg by flying commercial to Luang Prabang, Laos, otherwise it would have been 44 all around.
  • 28 countries – Canada, Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States.
  • Total to and from home base was 83 days for the Citation Mustang, but again, they opted for a stop in Oshkosh, WI.

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We did it! Bucket list item – checked!

One Last Stop – Seattle, Washington

We were able to sleep in slightly after arriving late into Anchorage but today we are continuing on to Seattle, Washington. We have a tech stop in Ketchikan, Alaska and then two nights in Seattle before our Around the World Journey comes to an end.

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Wheels up from Anchorage
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Anchorage Airport

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BACK IN THE USA!

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Unbelievable views in Alaska

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No more uniforms for us – back on US soil means we can wear our civilian clothing and have the luxury of true general aviation flying.

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You know your in Alaska when you see seaplanes all around

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Coming into Ketchikan, Alaska

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We have a busy day in Seattle planned with a visit to the Boeing Factory and some wine tasting at St. Michelle Winery.

The Boeing Factory is home to the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner production lines. We were kids in a candy store as we walked around this massive building watching these impressive birds being built.

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After the tour, we had a bite to eat to fill our stomachs with something in preparation for a fun afternoon of wine tasting at the St. Michelle Winery.

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Lunch at Barking Frog

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St. Michelle Winery

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Jimmy is thumbs up for wine

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All seriousness when talking about wine

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Bill and Corinna wine tasting

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Our fearless Journey Directors

Our final night in Seattle is an emotional one. We’ve done it – we are now officially earthrounders. All that we have left is to fly home to be able to officially say “I flew my plane around the world.” This is every pilots dream and a high point in any pilot’s flying career. It is also an emotional night as we prepare to say goodbye to an amazing group of aviators that have truly become amazing friends and surely lifelong one as well. We could not have asked for a better group – fun, adventurous, always up for something new – thank you for making this one of our best Journeys yet!

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Bill, Betty and G

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Jimmy

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All smiles from Laura and Corinna

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David and Betty

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Our last supper!

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Tomorrow we all go our separate ways as we launch on our final leg of this unforgettable adventure. Brad and Scott will fly the Turbo Twin Commander back to California, David and Betty will fly the TBM 850 back to Illinois, and Jimmy and Laura will fly the PC-12 back to Florida to officially complete their flying adventure Around the World!

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Heading home

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Out of Seattle, Washington

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Bill and Corinna and Thierry and G aren’t ready to let it end so they’ve added a stint at Oshkosh EAA Airventure before continuing home to Florida.

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The Aeroshell Team at Oshkosh

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Men and their toys

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Hello USA! – Anchorage, Alaska

One more stop in Russia, just a technical stop, and then we are States side! Goodbye Russia, Goodbye Niet and hello USA!

It is still raining in Magadan but the weather forecast is showing that once we launch from Magadan, it will be clear weather at altitude and rain in Anadyr. They were right! and to top it off we had the best tailwinds of the whole trip (and some of the only tailwinds of the whole trip, I should add). The Citation Mustang did a whopping 470knots at one point!

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Weather in Magadan, Russia

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Our route to Anadyr

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Weather in Anadyr, Russia

Our route today takes us from Magadan, Russia, up north to Anadyr, Russia, and then over to Anchorage, Alaska – where our feet will touch USA soil for the first time in 74 days. It is a long day of flying, a total of 1600 nautical miles to be flown.

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Grey skies out of Magadan

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A breath of fresh air after 3 days of rain and gray skies

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On our way to Anadyr, Russia and then onwards to Anchorage, Alaska. The International dateline is depicted on the G1000

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Rainy landing in Anadyr, Russia

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Hello Anadyr, Russia

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Some impressive material on the ramp

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As we were taxing, a few dogs were running around the runway and tarmac, luckily airport officials shoo-ed them away before anyone got hurt

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Anadyr in the distance – a ferry ride is required between the airport and city

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We are States bound!

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Blue Skies and Tail Winds….Always!

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Check out those tail winds! A whopping 439kts in the Citation Mustang

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Thierry and G always find time for a selfie

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Cruising at FL410

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Approaching Anchorage

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Hello USA!

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Light skies even at 10pm

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On approach into Anchorage, Alaska

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We arrived in Anchorage at around 11pm local time. In the past 3 days, since leaving Japan, we’ve experienced a 7 hour time difference. We have also crossed the International Dateline – so we actually arrived in Anchorage the day before we left Magadan, Russia – confusing, I know but we technically time traveled. We are tired but are ready to keep going. We have this one overnight in Anchorage and then its Seattle, Washington bound for our last stop on this trip of a lifetime.

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Cheers to being back in America!

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Brad and Scott are all smiles!

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Wohooo! We’re in the USA

Lower 48, we are coming for you!

Flash Flooding in Magadan, Russia

Our overnight in Sakhalinsk was uneventful, just the way we like it! In the past, today’s flight would have taken us from Sakhalinsk to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (UHPP) on towards Anchorage, Alaska through Anadyr, Russia, the most common route for this part of the world. However, this year, Petropavlovsk cannot accommodate our group. They have finally decided to repave the taxi-way and tarmac area (much needed) so they are only operating between 3pm and 6pm week days and are not allowing overnight parking. Therefore, we had to find an alternative.

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The route from UHSS to Anchorage, Alaska via Petropavlovsk (UHPP) is 2515 nautical miles

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The route from UHSS to Anchorage, Alaska, via Magadan (UHMM) is 2525 nautical miles – only 10 nautical miles difference!

In 2010 we used Magadan, Russia (UHMM) in Siberia, and we’ve decided to make it our stop this time around as well. A slight issue is the weather. For once, UHPP is showing VFR conditions (so very rare) but UHMM is showing MVFR (Marginal Visual Flight Rules) on the charts. We need to keep in mind that this is from Russian reporting systems, slightly outdated, and their readings should always be taken with a grain of salt so we compared with other weather forecast applications.

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The winds were also not indicating the actual

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We reviewed numerous weather outlets and received similar readings with the exception of the predictions from WSI. The WSI weather chart, which is very nicely done and, we’ve noticed, quite accurate throughout our travels, is showing quite the wet flight (possible icing???).

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WSI to the rescue!

We made it safe and sound but what a flight. We were scattered between FL250 and FL390 and in the soup the whole way, regardless of our altitude. The turbine aircraft at FL250 had icing. We did a full ILS approach and an impressive one nonetheless! The ceiling was at 700 feet, beneath the clouds visibility was at 6 miles and there was heavy rain. One thing we weren’t expecting was the 65knot wind shear we were experiencing at a 90 degree right angle (crosswind) at 3,000 feet. Luckily as we continued to descend so did the wind until we reached 110 feet and only experienced 14 knots of crosswind. We all agree, we were happy to be on the ground.

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Our route

One thing is for sure – we are SOAKED. This is probably the worst weather we’ve experienced on the entire trip!

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Welcome to Magadan, Russia

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A little wet – and by a little – I mean a lot!

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Fueling in the rain

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Captain Bill trying to stay dry

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After the refueling of the airplanes, we all set off for the Hotel Magadan, our home for one night. This is definitely Siberia! It is surrounded by mountains and is so remote that no train or roads reach it, you can only get to Magadan by sea or plane.

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Cheers in Magadan

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Arrived at Hotel Magadan – barely any English is spoken here

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A far cry from what we’ve become used too but it gets the job done!

This area is rich in history, cruel history. Magadan served as a major transit center for prisoners sent to Stalin’s labor camps. The whole area is steeped with memories of the GULAG times when between the 1930s – 1950s, when gold was discovered, the Soviet government developed a large network of labor camps which exploited more than 2 million prisoners and exiles.

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Downtown Magadan

That evening we had our usual pilot briefing, reviewed the weather and decided that we would take another look in the morning all together. We had a good nights rest and set out for the airport at 8am.

As we drove along, the sights we saw were nothing we had seen before – Magadan was under flash flooding! Three bridges we tried to cross to get to the airport were closed due to high water levels, we didn’t try for a fourth. Thierry cancelled our departure and we headed back towards the hotel. Luckily the airport is on higher ground and outside of the main city so our planes were safe but there was no way we were going to be taking off today. Instead, we opted for a visit of the area and the famous “Mask of Sorrow” monument commemorating the many prisoners who suffered and died in the Gulag prison camps.

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Departure day 1 to the airport

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Well that bridge is out

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On our way to the next bridge

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yup, I think we’ll stay another night

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A Sukhoi Su 24 from Magadan’s military open air museum swept into the Magadanka River

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Don’t worry, this didn’t come from the airport – but still impressive!

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The “Mask of Sorrow” Monument

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Touring the town

Next Stop Russia! – Sakhalinsk, Russia

We are nearing the end of this amazing Journey and the indication of this is our upcoming flight into eastern Russia. We’ve said it before, but this Journey has zoomed by, we can’t believe its already Russia time. We are off to Sakhalinsk, Russia for an overnight.

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The final group as we start our trek home!

We had a wonderful send off from Nagoya Airport and Mickey-san and his team. The edge of the airport was lined with fans and long lenses!

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Paparazzi taking our photos as we taxi to take off

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Mount Fuji from the sky

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Russia uses the metric system, different then what we are used to but luckily the G1000 does a great job in converting the necessary altitudes to meters on our behalf.

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The Citation Mustang’s windshield heater connector on the Co-pilot’s side failed, a portion of which affects the pilot’s side so Thierry and G decided to play a friendly game of tic-tac-toe.

The weather into Sakhalinsk was VFR conditions but we were still required to do the full arrival and the ILS. As we descended, prior to the intercept, the Mustang had their G1000 stop working. They continued for a visual and reset the WAAS to non-WAAS with no incident.

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UHSS from the above

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On approach into UHSS

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UHSS from the ground

Once all on the ground we transferred to the Mega Palace hotel, our home for the night. Interesting name for this hotel, not sure we would compare it to a “palace” but it got the job done and we were well rested for our flight tomorrow.

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We flew our planes to Russia!

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Our home for our overnight

Nothing on the agenda for this short overnight except to rest up for our next flight – more of Russia in the morning!

Sumo Wrestling in Nagoya, Japan

After our discovery of Kyoto, it was back on the bullet train for our overnight in Nagoya.

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Ready for the bullet train

Once we arrived at Nagoya Station, our morning was free to explore the surrounding area on our own. Nagoya Station is within a huge mall with tons of shopping and restaurants – a shoppers paradise.

This afternoon we are attending the World Championships of Sumo Wrestling. This 10 day competition draws in locals from all over the country and seats often sell out months in advance. As we pulled into the arena, crowds were awaiting the arrival of their favorite athletes. Lucky for us, we were dropped off right at their arrival zone – so we walked down the path with the fellow sumos standing out like soar thumbs – although with all the eating we’ve been doing on the Journey, we may have been able to qualify for todays event (only kidding, we all still look great!). The locals were a lot of fun and cheered us on while taking pictures as we walked through the Sumo’s welcoming path.

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The Sumo Welcoming Path

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G is excited for the Sumo Wrestling

 

We were greeted by Mickey-san and Eri who are here to join us for the Sumo festivities. The bleachers are not the same as we have for our sporting events in the USA, here we sit in “boxes” but we are sitting on the ground. It makes the whole experience that much more authentic. It was a great ending event to our time in Japan.

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Nagoya World Championships of Sumo Wrestling Arena

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Ouch

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Prior to entering the ring, the Sumo Wrestlers through salt in the air above the ring to purify the playing field

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Some of the big shots have sponsors – these flags are like commercials, they show the sponsors names

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I love the facial expressions in the background

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These large men literally go flying through the air – its unbelievable

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Checking out the competitors

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Our Around the World adventurers taking in the matches

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The main event – the highest ranked sumo wrestlers competing

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great view

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The group is getting smaller as we start our final legs back to the United States. Anais is leaving the group after leading us throughout the whole Journey for all things land related – hotels, tours, dining, etc. Debbie is letting Brad and Scott tackle Russia on their own and Danny is heading back home after an extended stay allowing him to join us for the majority of the trip. We were so happy to have them join us, they were a great time and are sad to see them go. We had a final dinner in Nagoya at the Italian restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri that offered stunning views of Nagoya below.

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Back to reality with a pilot briefing

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Tomorrow we start our trek back home as we fly to our first stop in Russia – Sakhalinsk.

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Prepping today’s flight to Sakhalinsk

 

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Evening shot of the planes at Nagoya Airport

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Air Journey was frontpage in the Japanese Newspaper!

The City of Ten Thousand Shrines – Kyoto, Japan

We are off from Jeju Island, South Korea, to Nagoya, Japan. We have a scheduled route of 570nm, we have slots to respect, the weather along our route looks great and the grey ceiling we are experiencing in Jeju is lifting – all together a recipe for a great flight!

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Grey skies clearing in Jeju

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Tom’s in charge

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wheels up in Jeju

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David focused on today’s flight

We are greeted in Nagoya by our local friend – Mickey-san and his amazing team at Nagoya International Airport. Through the past 4 Around the Worlds, they have all become dear friends and always go above and beyond for us.

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Mickey-san and his team greeted all the ladies with a beautiful bouquet of flowers

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Pilot and Co-Pilot Bill and Corinna

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The TBM850 in Nagoya, Japan

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The TBM850 being resourceful on the ramp

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The crew of the PC-12

After clearing entry into Japan, we are off to the Nagoya Train Station for our bullet train ride to Kyoto, Japan. After a short 35 minutes, which totally snuck up on us thanks to the 160 mile per hour train ride, we were disembarking at Kyoto Station and heading to the Ritz Carlton Kyoto, our home for the next 3 nights.

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Bullet train to Kyoto

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Greeted on the platform by these friendly faces

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quick moves off the train!

The Ritz Carlton is a new hotel in Kyoto. It just opened in February of this year but what perfection! The hotel is stunning and the staff goes above and beyond your every need. They are always there to greet you and ensure everything is set to your liking – what a place!

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The Ritz Carlton Kyoto

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Rooms with a view!

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Our first evening in Japan we enjoyed dinner at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant – Mizuki. We sipped on some delicious sake, ordered some adventurous dishes and left feeling satisfied – it was a great first meal in Japan. G, from Air Journey, is joining us for the remainder of the Journey. We are very excited to have him join us!

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Jimmy, Brad and Laura

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Sylvia and Tom are leaving us in Kyoto – we are sad to see them go!

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Yummy sake anyone?

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We dined on some unusual food – when in Japan, right?

The following morning we set out for our full day tour of Kyoto. On the agenda was a full day of temples and shrines – the well known highlights of Kyoto. Our first stop is to the Golden Pavilion, or officially named Rokuon-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple famous for its gold leaf protective layer over the expensive Japanese Lacquer paint. It is stunning when the sunlight hits the glistening gold leaf.

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The Golden Pavilion

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We spotted numerous Herons

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We then set out for Ryoanji Temple, known for its Zen rock garden, where it is impossible to see the 15 rocks within the sand garden at the same time – there is always one missing! It was then to Arashiyama district for a walk through the bamboo forest and lunch at a delicious Udon noodle restaurant. We then drove across town to Fushimi Inari Shrine, well known for it’s hundreds of orange gates – they go on forever up and around the surrounding mountain.

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lily pads for days

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How many rocks do you see?

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The only way to see the 15 rocks at once – a smaller mock up of the layout

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Selfie at Ryoanji Temple with the “selfie-stick”

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A different type of carriage ride

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Sylvia exploring Kyoto

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The Bamboo Forest

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sub-floor seating

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The rest of the group chose the traditional seating arrangements

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Cheers to a great day in Kyoto!

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Tempura

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Udon noodles

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Always time for an ice cream

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cleansing of the hands before entering the shrine

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offerings for well wishes

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colorful origami

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Orange gates as offerings

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Group shot at Fushimi Inari Shrine

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The gates go on forever

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Each gate has an inscription

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Bill and Corinna

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Jimmy, Laura and Danny, and Bill (on the phone screen)

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Foxes for well wishes

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strolling the gates

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A map of Fushimi Inari Shrine – hundreds of orange gates

We have joked throughout the Journey that we are eating our way around the world – which is an understatement! The food we have experienced throughout our travels have been exciting, unique and most importantly delicious – our waistbands prove it. Tonight’s dinner is a perfect culmination to our fine dining – we are off to ITOH Dining restaurant for some Kobe beef. If you are not familiar with Kobe beef, it is considered by many as the epitome of fine dining. For beef to be considered real “Kobe” it must fulfill specific guidelines, some of which are a Marbling ration, called BMS, of level 6 and above and a Meat Quality Score of 4 or 5. It is considered a delicacy renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Prior to 2012, Kobe beef was not exported so it was a must to try while in Japan. Since 2012, there have been some exports of this beef to the United States, as well as Macao, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand – but still, when in Japan – try some Kobe beef – It melted in our mouths!

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Kobe beef dining

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ready with their chopsticks

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brings on the Kobe beef!

The following day was free for us to explore Kyoto on our own. Many of us opted for some shopping in Nishiki Market. Corinna and Bill, Thierry, G and Anais decided to try a conveyor belt sushi restaurant for lunch and had a blast. They sure stacked up the plates. Others opted to relax at the hotel or explore the surrounding area – our hotel is well located for strolling the streets, exploring on our own.

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strolling through Nishiki Market you encounter a variety of foreign delicacies

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The pickled section

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Thierry and Bill shopping in a kitchen store? I had to snap a picture

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Knife carvings

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Corinna is in heaven

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Engraving our names on our new knives

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More of Nishiki Market

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The infamous poisonous puffer fish – we chose not to try it

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Rum grapefruits – where do we sign up?

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Cheers!

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Bill and Thierry are re-styling themselves in Kyoto – lucky us!

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Laura bought a Kimono

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Sushi conveyor built coming through

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Thierry and G grabbing the sushi quickly before it rolls by

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Conveyer built sushi

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The plates are stacking up

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I think Corinna reached her max

For our final evening in Kyoto, we had a traditional Geisha dinner in the Gion Quarter of the city. We had a private room for our group and were joined by a Maiko, a Geiko (or Geisha) trained in music, and a Geiko (or Geisha) trained in dance. It was a wonderful evening filled with many questions on a Geiko’s famous lifestyle as well as plenty of laughter as we told them about our Journey Around the World. All in all it was a wonderful end to a beautiful city, Kyoto.

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Air Journey Geisha Evening

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Betty and David are ready

 

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G, David and Betty

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Bill and Corinna and Laura and Danny

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Shabu Shabu dinner with the Howards

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Geiko Mamefuji

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David and Geiko Mamefuji

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Men shot with the Geiko

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The Maiko (musician) and Geiko (dancer) performed for us – what a treat!

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The Geiko does her own make-up and hair. The hair style lasts one week

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David showing the Geiko where we’ve been so far

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Laura and Danny with the Geiko

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Our final group shot in Kyoto

Tomorrow we are back on the bullet train for our overnight in Nagoya, Japan.

A Visit to Las Vegas – oh, I mean Jeju Island, South Korea

After the hustle and bustle from the last few stops, we have chosen a new destination for this Around the World in order to relax before starting our trek back towards home – we are off to Jeju Island, South Korea. In the past we have flown direct from Taipei, Taiwan to Nagoya, Japan. This is just what we need to prepare for our Pacific crossing and flight back home.

We are about to pass the 20,000 nautical miles flown mark! We have roughly 6,000 nautical miles left before we reach Seattle and then varying nautical miles until we are home since we are all spread out across the country. To think that we are already towards the end of the Journey is unbelievable! At the start, you think to yourself – wow 76 days to go! Its exciting but also daunting – it seems like forever. Yet, here we are, with only 5 more stops before the end of this Journey. We haven’t seen the days pass and time has flown us by!

Arriving in Jeju gave us a bit of a surprise. We were not expecting a busy airport – we had pictured a small terminal with a few airplanes – boy were we wrong. Jeju Island is the Hawaii of the Far East. The amount of airplanes coming and going is close to Hong Kong traffic…ok, not as bad but the traffic into Jeju was impressive.

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Some weather enroute to Jeju Island, South Korea

The weather on arrival was hazy and foggy so making an ILS intercept at 220kts and having to keep our speed up until the FAF was interesting to say the least. Thierry recalls calling VREF +50 at FAF!

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The PC-12 coming in for landing

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On the ground in Jeju

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Amazing shot of the TBM850 and a Korean Air 747

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Fueling in Jeju among the big birds

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Hanging out on the ramp

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Bill fueling the Cessna Citation

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Jimmy is all smiles in Jeju

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Bill looking sharp on the ramp

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Danny and Laura reorganize under the wing

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Jimmy fuels up the PC-12

Jeju Island is home to one of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites, the same list that contains Halong Bay, Vietnam. This small island, south of the main Korean peninsula, is home to a 180meter high tuff volcano named Seongsan Ilchubong, or literally translated to “Sunrise Peak.”

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The famous “Sunrise Peak” from the air

Our home for the next 3 nights is the Shilla Hotel. To say this was a relaxing destination would be farfetched. The hordes of tourists at all attractions and in our hotel is unbelievable. The hotel staff is very friendly and accommodating but it is not the relaxing beach location we had envisioned. Not to mention we had overcast weather and fog throughout our stay.

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The Shilla Hotel – our home for the next 3 nights

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The beach below

We had nothing planned for our time in Jeju. The following morning some opted to visit the famous “Sunrise Peak” this island is known for. As we drove towards the other end of the island, thicker fog rolled in. We all were thinking the same thing – “will we see anything when we get there?” We kept going and to our luck, the thick fog was even thicker at our final destination “Sunset Peak.” We decided to go for the hike anyways in hopes that the fog would clear or with any chance the top of the volcanic crater would be visible. We made our way up the over 700 steps to the top of the Volcanic crater, some of us having to stop to catch our breath, others just pushing through thinking that if they did stop, they may not start up again. We climbed and we climbed and we climbed until eventually we made it to the top. To our dismay, the fog didn’t break and there was absolutely no view from the top but for what its worth we had fun during the hike and laughed our way through it. We were all happy we did it.

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The side view of “Sunrise Peak”, which we climbed but unfortunately not the view we saw.

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our view of “Sunrise Peak”

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Corinna and Anais “waiting” for the others, definitely not resting.

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On our way up – not much to see

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We made it to the top!

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All smiles on the way down

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At the bottom of the volcano was a small food market

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dried squid anyone?

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Bill was a taker for the chips on a stick

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“J” shaped ice cream cone for Jeju

That evening we enjoyed a Teppanyaki Dinner as a group, very similar to Hibachi. We ate everything from shrimp, abalone sea snails, scallops, wagyu beef, fried rice and more – it was pure deliciousness. We had a great time throughout the night.

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Thierry tried to cook

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Bill and Corinna and Sylvia and Tom ready to eat

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Jimmy, Betty and David, Danny and Laura, and Thierry

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Thierry, Scott, Debbie and Brad

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Thankfully the real chefs showed up

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yummy shrimp

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Abalones

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Wagyu beef – it melted in our mouth

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Somebody call 911?

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wonderful chop stick usage by Debbie

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Group shot at Teppanyaki

The following day was free for us to relax. Once again, the weather wasn’t great and fog moved in fairly early in the day so most of us just opted to relax and catch up on some work in our rooms. A few went out and explored the surrounding attractions like a Live Art Museum where you are able to interact with the displays and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.

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Debbie strolling the grounds of the Shilla

 

Although Jeju Island wasn’t exactly what we had expected, it served its purpose in that we had time to relax and just chill with nothing on the agenda. Tomorrow it is back to the grind of things as we fly onwards to Nagoya, Japan before taking the bullet train to Kyoto.

Discovering Taipei, Taiwan

After a wonderful discovery of Hong Kong, we are ready for our next stop – Taipei, Taiwan.

Flying into one of the world’s busiest airports was thrilling but we are just as excited for our departure. Again, we have slots to respect, a specific sequence for start-up, taxing and then in line with the big guys for our departure. Half of us took off as predicted but due to a delay prior to departure, the Mustang and TBM needed to refile their flight plans. By the time this was done, weather had moved in and Hong Kong airport had switched the runway. Between clearance and start-up, they waited roughly 45 minutes before taking off behind a 777. ATC requested a climb speed of 210kts – doable in a Mustang but a slow climb.

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Today’s flight

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Tom is finally wheels up and happy

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Climbing to our cruising altitude – FL330

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In no time we were off the departure and given radar vectors. The ISA was at plus 18/19 during the climb (only +17 in cruise at FL330) so we were on our merry way. It was then radar vectors for the intercept into Taipei.

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Coming up on Taiwan out the right hand side

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Taipei’s main international airport located outside of the city

We are excited for a different exploration of China as Taiwan is still governed by the Republic of China (ROC), unlike Hong Kong, who is currently a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – with its own different political system from mainland China.

After arriving in Taipei, we transferred to The Regent Taipei, our home for the next 2 nights. We enjoyed dinner at the Silk House restaurant for some authentic Chinese cuisine family style. We clearly ordered with our eyes because the amount of food that came was enough to feed a small village – but boy was it tasty.

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rooms with a view! views of Taipei 101 in the distance from The Regent, our hotel

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Dinner in a private room at Silk House

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world’s largest lazy susan but boy did it come in handy

On the agenda the following morning is a half day city tour of Taipei with visits to the Long Shan Temple, Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall for the changing of the guards, a quick introductory visit to the National Palace Museum and ending with a ride in the world’s fastest elevator located in the world’s former tallest building (thank you Dubai) – the Taipei 101, for spectacular views of Taipei from above.

I am sure you are all thinking – “another temple?” – because we all were! But in reality, each temple we have visited has been different from each other. This one was vibrant with colors and filled with people since it was being used at the time of our visit. It was very interesting to see how the temple is used, the different rituals and offerings the locals rely on.

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Long Shan Temple bustling with people

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intricate details and vibrant colors

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Offerings at Long Shan Temple

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Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Entrance. Chiang Kai Shek was a Chinese political and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975.

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The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

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We caught the changing of the guards at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

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Can we say tourist?

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watch out!

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Taipei 101 – formerly the world’s tallest building from 2004 until Dubai’s Burj Khalifa opened in 2010, but now only holds the record for the world’s fastest elevator and the world’s largest damper sphere (let’s see how long that lasts)

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To pass the time, we each posed with a green screen

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Scotts ready to go

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Jimmy and Thierry

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Brad and Debbie

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“The Journey that’ll change your life” – are they talking about Air Journey’s Around the World?

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Overlooking Taipei from Taipei 101′s 89th floor

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The observation deck

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The world’s largest damper sphere serves to offset movements in the building and stabilize it during earthquakes and typhoons. To get an idea of its size, it is suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor.

The afternoon was free for us to explore on our own. Most of us chose to visit, drum roll please, the electronics mall! Big shock there but this place was beyond impressive. Over 6 stories of electronic stalls selling every gadget and gizmo you can imagine. Thierry was even able to get his iphone screen fixed in less than 15 minutes! If you are into electronics, this is one stop you don’t want to miss.

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Tomorrow we’re off to Jeju Island, South Korea for some relaxing beach time before starting our Journey back home.

Exploring the Concrete Jungle – Hong Kong

Our flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong will be a total of 875nm, with no hopes of any short cuts since we are not allowed to fly in Chinese airspace. Since Hong Kong is one of the most exciting approaches we will have on our Journey and calls for a fast intercept over 40nm for the ILS at an indicated speed of 250knots, as well as the likelihood of “holds” from past experience, we have decided to make a tech stop in DaNang, Vietnam, before flying onwards to Hong Kong.

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Captain Bill ready to take on Hong Kong

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refueling in Hanoi

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Da Nang Airport

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N7EN wheels up heading for Hong Kong

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Sophie, Danny, Arlette and Thierry – crew of N15GJ

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Arrival in Hong Kong – VHHH (should not be used for navigation purposes)

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Hong Kong views on arrival

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There was quite a bit of traffic

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Hong Kong airport diagram (should not be used for navigation purposes)

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A happy crew in Hong Kong

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Upon arrival in Hong Kong, we jumped into our Rolls Royce transfer, Air Journey style, to the stunning and recently renovated Peninsula Hotel, on Kowloon Island. This beautiful hotel has been electronically upgraded! Everything is run by iPad and is thoughtfully planned out to accommodate all of our needs – a job well done!

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Jimmy and Laura give a thumbs up for their ride

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traveling in style – Air Journey style

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The Peninsula Hotel – our home for the next 3 nights

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Brad and Debbie all smiles for their arrival in Hong Kong

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unbelievable harbour views from our rooms!

We fell right into the Chinese culture with dinner at the delicious Spring Moon Restaurant, serving Cantonese cuisine, where we welcomed Tom and Sylvia, from AOPA, who will be joining us through Nagoya, Japan. We are very excited to have them along for the ride!

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Traditional Peking Duck

 

The following morning we set out on a half day city tour of Hong Kong. Our guide, Harold (a self-chosen English name), did a great job showing us the highlights of this bustling city. We first visited the Man Mo Temple where burning incense rings filled the room with smoke and well wishes, we then headed towards the Peak Tram, climbing 1200 feet up to the spectacular views of Hong Kong’s Victoria’s Peak. We then drove down past picturesque Repulse Bay on our way to Aberdeen, the famous fishing village, to see the junk dwelling floating community and board a “sampan” for a close up view of waterborne life. Then it was off for some shopping in famous Stanley Market before returning home just in time for lunch.

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inside Man Mo Temple

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burning incense ring

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waiting for the tram up to Victoria’s Peak

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and up we go

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There were so many stunning butterflies flying around on top of Victoria’s Peak

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scenic views of the Concrete Jungle below from Victoria’s Peak

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Tom and Sylvia taking in the sights

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touring the waterways of Aberdeen to gain a glimpse into the lives of these floating communities

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Our traditional Sampan boat

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Fisherman busy at work

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The world’s largest floating restaurant

That afternoon, Air Journey had organized a private visit to the Peninsula’s Clippers Club and Helipad – what a treat! The views of Hong Kong Island from atop the Peninsula were breathtaking!

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One of the suitcases used by “Traveler’s Century Club” founder – Bert Hemphill – to qualify you must have traveled to 100 countries! We are on our way to joining…

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Our private visit to the Peninsula Hotel’s helipad

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Group shot on top of the Peninsula

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Amazing views over to Hong Kong Island

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Artistic shot through the helicopter

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Bamboo scaffolding on the highrisers – very impressive

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Thierry and Bill enjoying the views

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That evening, we enjoyed dinner at Felix, offering stunning views of Hong Kong Island all lit up at night and a first row seat to the city’s evening laser show. It was our farewell dinner to Arlette, Sophie and Matt, who are leaving us after this stop.

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Scenic views from Felix Restaurant

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iPad menus!

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and iPad wine list – don’t mind if we do

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Romain joined us at Felix for our farewell dinner

 

Our second full day in Hong Kong was left free for all of us to explore on our own. Many set out to the electronics street to try and catch some deals on the latest “it” items. Others went and had clothing made at some of Hong Kong’s famous tailors – ready in 24 hours! And others just took it easy and explored the Hong Kong on their own.

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Electronics street in Hong Kong

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More bamboo scaffolding

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bustling streets of Hong Kong

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World Cup spirit along the board walk

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Tomorrow its off to Taipei, Taiwan for some more exploration.

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