In this introduction:
- a stage play
- a map too complicated to read
- the beginning of the end
If, one day, I went missing, then there are only two possibilities: either, my body has embarked on a journey, or, my soul has embarked on a journey.from a corner of Chinese Internet
Aw shoot, here we go again
Well, you know the drill by now. After 2 trips around the world in 2016 and 2017, the Voyager Series, and many others, you know how it goes. Cheap tickets, a lack of self control, and lots of free time, and bam, another mega trip. Except this time, I also brought my parents down to town.
- Part 1: Hong Kong
- Part 1.5: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Review
- Part 2: Madrid Ⅰ
- Part 3: Porto
- Part 4: Madrid Ⅱ
- Part 5: Sevilla
- Part 6: Marrakesh
- Part 7: Madrid Ⅲ
- Part 7.5: Alitalia A332 Business Class Review
- Part 8: New York
- Part 9: Taipei
- Part 10: Hakodate
- Part 11: Osaka & Himeji
- Part 12: Shodoshima
- Part 13: Takamatsu
The Beginning of the End
Sometime in late June, 2018, somewhere in Iberia’s publicity department, Madrid.
Employee 1: Hey, what if, we, like, we give everyone miles when they fly?
Employee 2: Yo Jose you dumbass, we already do that! That is the point of our frequent flyer program, duh!
Employee 1: Nah, bro, I mean, give them a significant amount of miles regardless how much they paid for the flights, and does not limit how many miles they can get! This sure would get a lot of people to buy tickets!
Employee 2: Yo Jose you genius! We need people to buy tickets right? Let’s go get this new thing approved by the boss!
Narrator: As you may have deduced, these two guys were flying high on marijuana, as high as a pair of kites rejoicing in the spring winds, and they busted their superior’s door without knocking, if you do not count the numerous potted plants they knocked over while stumbling down the corridor.
Employee 1: Yo! Janine! Uh I mean, boss! So sorry to bother you at such important times! We came up with a great idea! Just, just hear me out, okay? What if we give everyone 9000 miles for each ticket they buy? Like, everyone would come to buy tickets from us if we give out 100 Euros worth of miles each time right? Right?
Boss, after snorting a long line of cocaine: WOHOO THAT WAS TIGHT! Oh yeah your guys’, uh, *sniff*, the thing. That sounds like the greatest, *sniff*, idea, *sniff*, ever! No restrictions, no caps, no expiration, nothing! Ahahahaha get the boys! Iberia is going to blow the fuck up!
And this, is how it all began. They were not technically wrong, it worked. The national airline of Spain released one of the most busted, least thought-out promotion I have ever witnessed, and everyone went bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. The entire frequent flyer community blew up like a group of piranhas fed with a fresh water buffalo carcass. (Yes, just like what I saw in the Amazons.) People were signing their fucking dogs up for Iberia accounts. I quickly nabbed 10 cheapest tickets each for me, my mother and father, since they later put a restriction of 10 per person on the promotion clause as the situation were getting out of hand, but we each got 90000 miles for the cost of barely 350 dollars, and don’t you forget we got 10 flights each! Those are five roundtrips to the following cities: Porto, Sevilla, Marrakech, Toulouse, and Palma de Mallorca. Once the miles were in place, the purpose had been achieved: we got a ton of miles with a fraction of their worth, but I intended to use most of the flights people regarded as throwaways. I would use Madrid as a mini-base and launch all my expeditions into these cheapskates. I thought I mastered the art of cheap flights by getting business class flights on Qatar Airways across the world for less than $750, or on Japan Airlines across the Pacific for about $200, or on Hong Kong Airlines from Los Angeles by paying $550, but this is on another whole level. The mileage game is like kung-fu: there is always deeper levels of mastery to achieve, even though you are already a white-bearded shifu.
To get to Madrid to start flying, I first had to get there. As you might have guessed, it was never a straight flight from Shanghai for me, never. I used my miles to get to Hong Kong, had a few nice cups of Yuan Yeung, and took my favourite little ride across Victoria Harbor on the Star Ferry.
After stuffing myself with dim sum the 4059th time, I flew Cathay Pacific Business Class into Madrid, where I got to explore a bit more after last time being here 2 years ago. Of course, a proper, nice little clay pot of paella was definitely on my radar.
It was then did I began using the virtually free tickets. First stop: Porto. The scenic little town is probably one of the most beautiful in the world, as it sits on two steep cliffs overlooking a tranquil harbor, while straddling the river that is famous for delicious wine, as well as almost-overzealous local folks.
Upon returning to Madrid, I met my parents who shuttled across the pond named Atlantic, and we explored the imperial capital for the first time together. Of course, we ate at the oldest restaurant in the entire world, since it was the only shared passion in the family: unhealthy eating habits derived from poor nutritional income during early years in Asia. Apparently my parents start getting migraine the moment I begin dictating their basic mile and point strategy. Come on, it is just 12 programs sharing 9 currencies that have about 20 or so sweetspots for redemption, keep up!
Together, we hopped on the freebie flight to Seville/Sevilla, the beautiful sunshine city in the region of Andalucía. Here, we witnessed the power of the sun, and the cultural heritage left by the different rulers that commanded these fertile lands in the past millennia. Additionally, we roamed around the olive fields further south, as well as took a little look at the world-famous Ronda. This otherworldly village sits on top of one of the most impressive bridges that simply blew my little limited mind.
We returned to Madrid just to hop on another flight to the beautiful nation of Morroco. Marrakech had so much to offer: the largest market I had ever seen, with thousands upon thousands of shops selling things ranging from gold Arabic lamps to hemorrhoid cream, all in a crowded pedestrian-only area of about 100 blocks in city center. We also checked out impressive imperial palaces, large gardens, as well as the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.
Upon returning to Europe, the family spent some nice time in Madrid region, especially in the nearby city of Toledo. It is the most impressive Spanish city in terms of its astonishingly great position. At the top of a roaring river and sitting on the high ground, it seemed to be the definition of a “shining city on the hill.”
After seeing my parents goodbye as they hopped on an Iberia flight in their first long haul business class experience ever to Shanghai thanks to the 90000 miles awarded by the genius promotion, I hopped on my own flight to New York on Alitalia Business Class. You can find the review here. Oh and about the destination, I almost forgot. Yeah, um, New York, of course, is a city. Yep, that is all I am gonna say for now.
From New York, Alitalia ferried me back across the pond to Rome, where I caught a flight to Taipei. This was my old childhood home, so I would not have too many touristy things to share, but it would be my first time featuring my hometown on this blog, thus it will be a different kind of journal. If you want to know me more in depth, and know the place that I used to roam around when I was merely a child, then you should definitely not miss this.
If you think the journal would end just here since I was really close to where it all began in Shanghai, then you definitely need to know me better. I am the type who would turn a 2 hour domestic flight into a 7 day, 20000km torture, so of course my next destination would be Japan, northern Japan just to be specific. I had never been to the far flung island of Hokkaido before, so why not take a little look at the frozen version of the most interesting nation in the world? Introducing the second largest city in the north of Japan: Hakodate.
I spent about 24 hours there, as the cold was killing me. Who willingly goes to step on snow in April? From there, a quick hop brought me to Osaka, good’ol Osaka. I was there to meet my yearly requirement to see cherry blossoms, and nothing beats cherry blossom in front of one of the very few real castles left over from the Edo period in Himeji, just 2 hours from the Kansai capital.
A ferry ride later, I landed at the largest island of Seto Inland Sea: Shodoshima. It is probably one of my least expected moves since I simply picked it as it was between my point of origin in Osaka and the point of my last flight departure, Takamatsu, but boy was that a correct choice, because it was the most authentic, rustic yet elegant Japanese experience I have ever had.
After some quaint days with nothing but cherry blossoms in my hair to worry about, I hopped on another ferry to Takamatsu. My first time on Shikoku Island in Japan in 15 years! Woohoo! Let me rapid fire the rap sheet of great things here: insane cherry blossom scenery, beautiful islands, large night castle lightshow, make-your-own udon noodles, 1500 steps up a misty mountain looking for gods, Michelin 3 star cuisine, Michelin 3 star gardens, and nice local folks to boot.
From Takamatsu, I flew directly home. This is it, another nut job trip by me, a nut job. 4 continents, 8 countries, 40000km, and a whole lot more stories to tell. Let me take you yet again, into a world of wonder on the road, where your drink lasts all night and the sun never sets, where happiness is perpetual and beauty is forever. Welcome to my world:
Welcome to eternity.