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Philippines

Post-mortem. Long trip but worth the trouble


View The one trip where I spent more nights on a plane than in hotels on NT01's travel map.

Flight details CX907 J 747-400 Dep 0750 Arr 0940HKGMNL 702 miles

Finally, I am back in Manila [Manila-travel-guide-885524] after being away for six nights. This was my shortest (in terms of trip length) but longest (in terms of distance) long haul flight.

In the end, the trip was worth delivering the proposal in person. The client signed the contract about a year after our first proposal (kinda late, but better late than never).

Fast forward to today, I know trips like these are highly unlikely to be repeated. For one, email can now easily handle tens of megabytes of file sizes, sometimes even in the gigabytes. Second, not everyone sends a proposal by "personal courier" anymore (usually it is emailed and the discussions are conducted over video-conferencing, phone, and sometimes in person). Third, who would want to spend over $6,000 dollars to risk a proposal which one is not 100% sure of winning? And finally, there might not be as many people like me who are willing to be single day couriers to fly halfway around the world and return as quickly as possible (we are a rare breed).

But in the end, this was one trip that had the least amount of planning, and yet had the most feeling of accomplishment for myself. I won't mind having a few more of such trips :-)

Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Getting the Argentinian visa in record time


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After preparing my documents for the Argentinian visa, I had to apply in person. Good thing my employer had significant clout to arrange for an appointment on Tuesday and the visa to be processed extra fast. I got my visa one day afterwards, on April 16th. This is it - will be flying out in the fastest route available.

Since I used to work in the travel industry, I put my skills to great use. The unrestricted business class fare to Buenos Aires was about $6,200, any route notwithstanding. The following were my options at that time:

1. Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur, Johannesberg, Capetown, and then Buenos Aires - flying in a westerly direction

2. A combination of airlines via Los Angeles, Miami and then Buenos Aires

3. Any combination of airlines via Europe - Manila [Manila-travel-guide-885524] to Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam, then Buenos Aires

4. A combination of airlines from Manila to New York via Tokyo, then south to Buenos Aires.

5. A combination of Cathay Pacific and Canadian Airlines/Air Canada via Hong Kong and Toronto

I had to go with the fourth option even though no.1 had the shortest flying time, the schedule didn't jive. I also couldn't go through Europe because I didn't have a transit visa. More so the United States because I didn't have any visa since the last time I lived there. Option number 2 would be the most hassle - Filipinos without visas were not looked well upon by Immigration officials back then (no need to elaborate, but many Filipinos back in the 90s know what I meant). So I had to risk the fourth option, even if that meant transiting in New York without a visa. I already had a Canadian visa (having visited earlier that year, during my Vancouver and Calgary trip), but the route via Toronto was too northerly and had the longest flying time.

So I calculated my itinerary and dictated it to the travel agent. The final outbound route was the following:

* Manila-HongKong on Emirates
* HongKong-Tokyo on United
* Tokyo-New York (JFK) on United
* JFK to Buenos Aires on United

Or roughly about 36 hours travel time.

On the way back, I had more flexibility with time. So I decided to route via Toronto, as I haven't visited the city yet. The return leg would like the following"

* Buenos Aires to Toronto via Sao Paolo on Canadian Airlines
* Toronto to HongKongvia Anchorage on Cathay Pacific
* HongKong to Manila on Cathay Pacific

Good thing our business travel policy required business class due to the duration and distance of the flights. The beauty of travel back then - nowadays, many companies require employees flying longhaul to get the cheapest fare, never mind if it is a 16 hour non-stop flight. Only the highest level employees are usually allowed to fly business or first class these days.

Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

The proposal I had to deliver in person in Buenos Aires


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During the week of April 14th, my team was rushing a proposal to be delivered to a French client who was based in Argentina at that time. The absolute deadline was Friday, April 18, 1997. If we missed the deadline our bid would not be considered anymore. It is Monday and they still are piecing together the proposal. On Monday afternoon, my colleague Raffy approaches me and tells me that we might have to deliver this in person if the proposal is only completed by Wednesday.

For those of you who grew up with email (and not snailmail), we were not as backward back then as you might think. There was already Windows 95 and MS Office was already present. But remember, I did not work for Microsoft. So our proposal was drafted in another office suite application. And despite having a high end email system, we could not send emails larger than 3MB. Our proposal ran way above that limit, so email was out of the question.

So the next option was to send by air courier. I checked out Fedex and UPS but they said the earliest they could deliver (if the documents were given by Wednesday) would be Monday, April 21st. So that still won't make it.

And there were no other faster options - except to fly somebody out to deliver the proposal in person. And among my team, my colleagues had to stay behind to complete writing the proposal, which left me as the only person who would be available with the time to personally apply at the Argentinian embassy and get the visa. Well, who am I to refuse a trip of a lifetime? :-)

Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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