Sunday, 29 November 2015

YES : Again Avianca have an offer 

this one is short but sweet yet again

US$33 will buy you 1,000 LifeMiles costing just under AU$46, with this offer you will get 2,400. Bring this back to dollars per 1,000 LifeMiles in AU and it sits at $19.15 - putting it at the upper end in value. I consider this to be a little expensive if you are not going to use them straight away. The AUD/USD conversion is just crap right now for this sort of thing. I have written to LifeMiles and asked if my credit card can be charged in Colombian Peso and at what value per 1,000 and am waiting for a response. This may make the choice to purchase a little easier. I just don't like purchasing in USD...

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hashira Cafe & Deli

If you are in Narita Japan this is a great little cafe to go to. It would be one of the few places I would definitely have a coffee - they make it and they make them good.

Lunch is also great, they have a little deli cabinet to choose you lunch set from, always an interesting and makes it hard to decide. But you get there in the end and enjoy this cafe hidden on a side street really close to the JR Narita train station.

Matcha or Coffee

what will it be

Matcha for me this time

This is where to find them

Street addressNarita, Chiba Prefecture Hanazaki cho 839-30
Nearest stationJR Narita Station / Keisei Narita Station
Directions toJR Narita Station than a 1-minute walk 
from the 2-minute walk Keisei Narita Station 
to the east exit of the Rotary of JR There are alternating. 
It is a short around the way of that aside.
phone number0476-22-0789
business hours7:00 to 19:00

Monday, 26 October 2015

Planning a trip to Japan

Way back in June Jetstar had airfares out for about A$500 return which included checked luggage and credit card fee. A short think, I like Japan - People, food, culture & countryside, I took up this offer. Part of the catalyst was I always tell my mother about this country and whats there and she seems to always hear about it and that's as far as it goes. My farther has no interest in going, a quick decision and a ticket was purchased. The stars must have aligned as cheap fares from Adelaide to Cairns also came up so that go mother to Cairns for the little adventure at a good price as well.

I travel independently but in the last few years I also do it well organised - all accommodation and travel is prearranged and booked before I leave. So when we get to our destination there is no time deciding where and when to stay saving a hugh amount of time particularly if your time is limited.
We were set to travel in November. All internal accommodation is booked  mostly Ryokans some with Onsens (one of those little pleasures, I look forward to in Japan). some with meal plans (breakfast and dinner). These Ryokans are small and family run so real Japanese home cooking. 

I used this website to plan all train travel : And it is a brilliant tool. I worked out the cost of all travel we would do including reservations and I found that it was nearly the same as a 7 day ordinary JR Pass. 
So I decided to buy the passes as this must be done before you enter Japan and you must have a voucher to exchange for the pass when you enter Japan. So I did my hunt around the web to find the best priced authorized agent to buy the pass from. The price quoted on the official Japan Rail Website was 29,110 YEN which is about A$332.00 per pass. the company I eventually purchased from was :

A UK based company, the passes are sent via FedEx International Priority and so far the purchase system and delivery is running seamlessly. The passes have boarded a plane in 
and they are on there way..
27 OCTOBER : 5:12 pm - In transit - DUBAI AE
28 OCTOBER : 11;23 pm - Shipment released - ALEXANDRIA AU

Attempted delivery 1 November by Startrack 
which was not really attempted just carded as I was at home all day.!!!
Australia Post are so UN reliable & UN trustworthy

A trip to the local post office on 2 November to collect 
Great service until FEDEX gave it to STARTRACK
The postage was FREE but the service provided was suppose to be premium door to door

Free delivery, JR map, timetable & travel guide

All this for A$330 per pass

When I have them in my hand I will update this blog


Thursday, 8 October 2015

Email from InsideFlyer

This is the email I received recently to clarify the confusion that came from the Lifemiles Website


The best thing that came with this is the price. I logged into LifeMiles and found that the price per 1,000 miles to purchase was US$33 NOT US$38.94 

My lifeMiles membership is based in Australia

On todays exchange rate US$33 cost AU$45 per 1,000 miles you purchase but with the bonus miles you get 2,500 so the real cost per 1,000 is AU$18

And I think the 1st trip I will take is with ANA Sydney to Tokyo on there 787 and do it Business Class of course

Cheers and happy travelling

LifeMiles Update.
* Elimination of the 24-hour purchase rule and an extension of the date to register by.
Greetings and thank you for your early support of the relaunch of Milepoint >> InsideFlyer. It seems you like what we are doing for our members so please encourage us to do more.

There was some confusing instructions for this program at its beginning and for those of you who clicked to the LifeMiles website, you know that the confusion started there ... we were just the messengers! SO, InsideFlyer worked almost all day on Monday to negotiation some better terms for ours members. Effective immediately LifeMiles has agreed to rescind the 24-hour purchase rule. This means that you will have until October 12 to pay for the miles you are interested in. This is a bonus for members like me that are waiting for the loan papers at the bank to come through to pay for these miles. AND we have more good news. We were able to get an extension of the date for which you have to register with us for this promotion. Initially they wanted us to only make available registration for two days. We argued the point that with all that was going on with the relaunch that we thought it fair to have a total of four days which they finally agreed to and now we have been able to get them to six days. If you know a member (or a fellow traveler >> this is your time to be a best friend to someone) who was on the fence for purchasing these miles, please let them know that through Thursday they can register with us to purchase LifeMiles and still be eligible for the discounted Star Alliance partner awards.

For your patience, things got better for you.

As for payment, once LifeMiles has you in their system as registered by InsideFlyer (we send files twice a day to LifeMiles), they will contact you with confirmation and payment instructions. InsideFlyer does not get involved in that part of the promotion.

We hope this helps clarify and update a few things for you. As always, we stand by to assist you and feel free to contact us at any time about any thing.

You can contact us HERE.

the founders and the members of InsideFlyer

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Insideflyer have done a deal with LifeMiles


How will it work out with the Australian Dollar the way it is?

LifeMiles are bought in US dollars so it does hurt with the conversion right now.

From lifemiles & Insideflyer sites the buy price is US$38.94 per 1000 netting you 2500 miles (there is a minimum purchase amount of 100,000 miles or US$3894.00 approx AU$5525.00) 

A few things to take note of if you are interested:

#1 - Only registered InsideFlyer members are eligible. So signup now

#2 - You must purchase between 100,000 & 150,000 LifeMiles.

#3 - You have from now until Tues Oct 6, 2015 to register for this launch promotion on InsideFlyer

#4 - You must be a registered member of LifeMiles by Tues Oct 6 to be eligible.

#5 - You will be able to buy LifeMiles thru Mon Oct 12  (there are restrictions)

There are other terms and conditions on Lifemiles (*I have included the link below) which make it a little confusing as to the time limitations on purchasing. 

I will update when I have access to the deal:


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

What would you do ?

Stay a night in Cairns or catch a cab from Cairns Northern Beaches (Clifton Beach) to the CBD?

In my case it's $5 difference
and thats staying as the Rydges Tradewinds 
$155 for the night

Hey it's like a mini holiday and only 15 minutes away... Make a night out of it. Get there early check-in take a walk and revisit the place you live in, grab a drink on the way, and then got to a show. It's finished now but what a show..!!!
 I had been before in late August and just had to go again because this cabaret was truly brilliant and loads of fun. Entertainment the way it should be - sitting with people you don't know, having a laugh, watching and feeling like you are part of the show, seeing something exceptionally good. The man, Jason Coleman made this show happen from getting his hands on a fabulous tent : The Spiegel Zelt. In itself it was so good to see.

Dinner was at :

Vivaldis Restaurant

Upstairs at Mantra Esplanade

53/57 Esplanade, Cairns Qld

Location & Setting :  Hidden away up a small set of stairs - we people in Cairns need to learn from the bigger cities explore up those stairs and find something great..!!! This place has only been open under this name for 4 months. The location is great, just far enough away from the busy strip of the esplanade. Nice and cozy restaurant - just go there. 

Food  / Menu : A nice sized menu - I easily had my decision made with one scan of them menu. With a second lined up for the next visit. Yep that good.....
Drinks : Rymill gt (Dry Gewurtztraminer) good commentary on this wine by the wait staff, and they were spot on
Special : Location, Size & Setting of the restaurant

Service : It was a quiet night for the restaurant, they should be busy, they deserve to be busy. The waiter was just brilliant, he knew his job, knew his wine, knew his food and most importunity provided quality service.He knew when to be at the table and knew when to engage in conversation. A professional art that is lost in a lot of places. 

The show :  Click here --->>>> This was my blurb earlier on 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Are you an 4WD owner?
 who doesn't use it as it should be used?
 Like Me...
4WD should spend time in the dirt

I bought a 4WD with the view that I was going to make use of its capabilities and go off road.  Ye ha : first  test drive was short trip from Mount Garnet to Irvinebank (click to se the map).

Great 1st adventure!!! - a few KM's out of Irvinebank and crossing a dry river bed we hit a road and busted and bent the underside of the new 3 month old 4WD. Got  to Irvinebank had lunch got back in the truck and limped home to Ravenshoe. Rang the insurance company and they said it would be uplifted to be repaired and 4 weeks later it returned. 

Thats the best it's done as a 4WD in its 8 year life now a mature aged truck.

It nearly became a so-called Toorak tractor, unknown to dirt roads, from a suburban residential area.

Recently it took an excursion from Cairns northern beaches to Hughenden via Mount Garnet on the Kennedy development road (click to see the map) with real dirt roads...

Great trip, the 4WD made it work. I Made a booking at the Hughenden Allen Terry Caravan Park and asked the manger the best way to get there and he said he does Hughenden to Innisfail via the Kennedy development road and it takes them 6 hours as long as you keep a good pace!! 

So we did just that and kept our average speed around 80 km's per hour or better and did the trip in just over 7:30 hrs from Trinity Beach to Hughenden. It did involve getting off the road completely when a road train was coming at you and coming to an near stop. The dirt roads are very bumpy with soft edges and when transiting between dirt and bitumen it can come with a Hugh thump and then the occasional corrugation and buffeting a little sideways
But the Dogs loved it....    

There were travelers attempting this road with a normal sedan pulling a caravan or camper vans ... !! Good luck to them - I would expect that if they had crockery and it wasn't stuck down there could be issues.

The two main shires we drove through were Etheridge and Flinders and you could tell as soon as you drove out of one and into the other. Flinders shire roads were well maintained particularly the dirt roads were much better and the verges were cleared well back so you were able to see if ROO's were about to cross. 

Big day of traveling :

The trip back 3 days later we decided to clock every piece of dirt to see how many Km's of fun were had..!! 0 to 73 km's got us from Hughenden to the 1st section of dirt road and then the dirt went like this .. with a total of 100 km in total. 
On Dirt - Off Dirt

On the way back we made one stop before lunch at Bundock Creek to give the dogs a swim

There was a pretty special memorial in Hughenden that you should take you dog to  

What makes this road fantastic : There was so little traffic

Great drive - Great fun 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Life Miles are back

Yep - just got my email today and did a quick calculation : If I were to buy 150,000 LifeMiles I would get an additional 202,500 LifeMiles totaling 352,5000. This is at a cost of USD$33 per 1,000 block. Working on todays conversion from USA to AUD that is about AUD$20 per 1,000 block over the entire 352,500.  

Now that would get you 4 return trips on ANA's band new 787 from Brisbane to Tokyo in Business Class.

The only critical criteria is the following:

Applies only to members enrolled in the program prior to September 7th, 2015.

If you miss out this time join up, it's FREE and hope they do it again. This is the most bonus miles I've seen since I have been a member and it certainly helps with the Oz dollar buying US dollars right now. 

Click Me : This takes you to a page that shows how I have used Life Miles so far 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

40 Hours in Auckland 

All because I had China Southern (CZ) frequent flyer miles due to expire in January 2016 

All flights and accommodation were booked 3 weeks prior to travel

The prices shown are all in AUD

Traveled solo 

Virgin Australia (VA) Cairns to Brisbane 
- Economy Class 

2 hr flight time
Booked though Orbitz and paid for with a 28 Degrees MC which attracts no international transaction fees. The ticket was purchased in $USD and was cheaper than buying direct on the VA website. Jump on the free bus from domestic to international airports and got me there about 2 hours before the flight departed. Ready to check-in for my business class flight. A seamless check-in with China airlines, with access to the Qantas Club Lounge. Salinger was the drink of the day before I boarded the flight. 

China Airlines (CI) Brisbane to Auckland
- Business Class

2:35 hr flight time
A little bit of Chaos getting this ticket sorted. China Southern (CZ) website does not allow you to redeem other skyteam alliance airlines, you have to ring there customer service in China (Thanks to Skype the cost is minuscule). Then being advised that I must pay the taxes with a Chinese credit or cash in China. A little difficult when you live in Queensland. Eventually I was directed to ring CZ Sydney office, they were fantastic and made all the arrangements from there on. They took payment is $AUD and emailed an E-Ticket. This charge went onto St George Amplify Card as they provided the best frequent flyer points return at 0.75 per $ spent. 

Auckland Accommodation - Auckland city hotel Hobson 
2 nights
Booked through HotelClub. Used NAB Amex. This was one of 2 charges that went towards the $500 spend required on the trip for the complimentary travel insurance to kick in. NAB charged $3.28 int transaction fee. I did a quick web search to see what promotional codes were around and found a valid one for HotelClub that gave a further 15% off which brought it in at just under $95 per night, I thought this was great for a nice inner city hotel with walking distance to everything. 

Now the Tweener:

Booked the airbus online $25.30 return 

To absorb my time in Auckland I : Walked, ate, consumed loads of NZ wine and beer and caught a ferry.

Food: (sequenced in order from arrival to departure)

Dinner -The Federal :  Casual, sit at the bar, good honest simple food &  great wine - loved the fried cauliflower.
Breakfast - Best Ugly Bagels : Great spot, wood fire burning and the bagels were fab
Lunch - Botswana Butchery : Bit flash!!, could die of thirst waiting for the 1st drink to arrive, food was great.
Dinner - Depot Eatery : Sat wedged into a corner at the bar, busy as, great staff and loads of fun. Most importantly the food was fantastic. Over indulged in there wines by the glass though..! My big spend for the trip.
Breakfast - Fond(ou) Cafe : Just coffee today inside the hotel and good
Lunch - Food Alley : NZ has a great array of food halls and mini shops selling fantastic food : picked a winner here too.

Take home treat: took the ferry to Devonport to explore and spend up on Devonport chocolates  great chocolate fish & chips for fathers day.

Pubs: That I visited once or twice
The Shakespeare Hotel
The Occidental
Vultures Lane

China Airlines (CI) Auckland to Brisbane 
- Business Class 

3:50 hr flight time
Ticket purchased on China Airlines (CI) website and charges in NZD. For me this was WOW 392 bucks business class. This also went on the NAB Amex which made the insurance effective.  NAB charged $7.84 int transaction fee. Stupid error on my part, I didn't have the credit card I charged with when checking in as it was a requirement to site this as part of the check-in process, I was then required to fill out indemnity forms which added 10 minutes to the check-in process. Handled very well by the check-in staff and then I was on my way to the lounge. In this instance China Airlines (CI) used the Priority Pass Emperor Lounge. 

CI is a great way to go if you want to take a quick trip to NZ. The flight I took was a continuation service from Taipei going over and the return service via Brisbane to Taipei. While on the CI website I did play around a little, looking at buying both directions and found it was much cheaper to buy one-way tickets instead of a return flight if you were flying out of Australia. At check-in in Brisbane I also saw that you could upgrade from economy to business at the counter for $149. 

Brisbane Accommodation - Clayfield Motel 

1 night
Booked direct with the motel. I stayed overnight in Brisbane because the scheduled arrival of CI0054 arrived to late to connect with flights to Cairns and a good reason to rekindle my affection for Brisbane city river and the River Cats. I chose this motel because it was only 10 minutes away from the airport and they had done a deal with Alpha cars - $10 each way airport - motel - airport. Train station was very close so next day it was easy access to the city for lunch. checked out in the morning and left my bags at reception. I found Great coffee and Italian sweets nearby which I had to have before I left for the city and after I returned but before catching the shuttle back to the airport. 

For anyone who is interested lunch was at Harajuku Gyoza - Southbank. 3 items, 1 beer $32 loved it

Jetstar (JQ) Brisbane to Cairns 
- Economy Class 

2 hr flight time
Booked on the Jetstar (JQ) website using the the direct deposit method to avoid all fees. This booking took several attempts because I initially saw and missed a cheaper price with VA as I would prefer to travel with them and accrue Velocity points. So I booked a JQ service with the direct deposit method as it allows 2 days to pay, I then looked for the same flight the next day and the price had dropped so I booked it again, I watched for a day and then payed. 

Theory: the Qantas / Jetstar sites must monitor your interaction with there website and track your IP address, they seem to know what you searched for previously and the system price manipulates and then moves on after a certain amount of time.

NAB insurance cost $11.12 effectively due to the international transaction fees incurred using these cards 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

may I present to you

A performance I saw last night in Cairns as part of #cairnsfest

Performed in the "Speigel Zelt" tent by the lagoon in Cairns.

 A brilliant show 

It was a cabaret show put on by exceptionally talented bunch of entertainers with great voices and dance moves to match. The core of the show was the history of the tent itself "Spiegel Zelt" a 95 yr old amazing tent. A choreographed, singing, dancing & trapeze show. Brilliant Brilliant one of the best thing I've seen for years. So much fun to be had.... The Choreographer was Jason Coleman, One of the best at what he does. It was a wildly entertaining show.

Oh Yeh this show was so good I am going back to see it again..

Don't be shy - if you are going to go get in line at the door and make sure you sit in the front row by the stage. this makes the show that much more exhilarating.

All I can say is "JUST GO"

was delicious 

A must see cabaret at BRILLIANT