Ferry Flight 7: Vietnam to Bali

Another long fight today from Vietnam to Bali – 6.7 hours all up.

(As an aside:  flightaware.com has started tracking us – we must be close enough to their Australian coverage area at this point, so you can find our flight today by searching for ‘VH-TCP’ at that web site; I hope the site will now keep tracking us from here through to landing at home!)

The weather forecast today was a little foreboding, in terms of the potential for significant thunderstorm activity mid way through the flight today, combined with forecast strong headwinds. The combination set up a significant potential for us to have to land somewhere else to refuel on the way.

However, it turned out that the forecast was more pessimistic than the reality turned out to be.

We did have to fly around one storm cell, but that was ‘it’ – otherwise, while we spent a fair bit of the day in and out of cloud layers, but they were otherwise benign.

The (very nice) hotel in Hi Chi Minh City (The Intercontinental) prints newspapers from around the world on an ‘on demand’ basis for guests, so Pete and I took a couple of printed copies of ‘The Australian’ as in-flight entertainment!

Today the flight took us from Vietnam, over Brunei, Malaysia, and then into Indonesia (and landing in Bali as intended). This included flying over Borneo (which straddles Malaysia and Indonesia).

Much of the day had no visibility to the ground, and for the middle of the flight, we were out of range of VHF radio systems and we had to stay in touch using our “HF” radio. Like old Single-Side-Band CB radios, HF sounds quite ‘unreal’… as voices get bounced off of the ionosphere to carry them huge distances, and the audio gets distinctly ‘bent’ in the process.

The HF radio in the PC-12 is an optional extra, but installing it is pretty much a no-brainer; Especially because in the middle of the outback of Australia, its common to need HF to stay in touch. Clearly for international trips, as we found out today, its invaluable in that regard as well.

We also got directed to climb up to 30,000 feet today (which is the service ceiling of the aircraft, and the first time I’ve taken a PC-12 that high). The ‘cabin altitude’ (equivalent altitude maintained by the pressurisation system) at 30,000 feet is exactly 10,000 feet, as you can see from one of the photos I took today.

We approached Bali and (not having been here before) I was struck by the rugged (and volcano-created) terrain of the mountains on the island, and on neighbouring islands to the east and to the west.

We flew another ILS approach, into Runway 27 at Bali. It was immediately apparent that the handlers and re-fuellers here are very used to handling PC-12’s (unlike pretty much every other airport we landed into!). The aircraft was rapidly refuelled and packed away for the night.

The handlers here also handed us ‘Beer on arrival’ (!). That was an unexpected surprise on a hot afternoon (and quite unique in my experience of landing an aircraft anywhere, really!). We hung on to those, and got to enjoy them on the drive back to our hotel after we had refuelled and cleared customs (a process which was very smooth, and very quick, here).

The hotel we are staying at is the Grand Hyatt Bali, and it is a big, sprawling, very comfortable and relaxed place, right on the beach. I could very easily come back here for longer 🙂

We checked in, had a walk down the beach for a while, and then did the tourist thing – enjoying a huge smorgasbord meal accompanied by a show of traditional Balinese dancing and music.

Its been a while since I’ve had a meal served with Sambal Chilli, and I had forgotten just how excellent that is 🙂

(…though my taste buds are only just recovering from it – in a good way !)

All in all, a highly successful day. I video’d the approach and landing into Bali and I hope to edit that down to something watchable (and/or to do the same with some other video footage from this trip) once I’ve got back home and found my feet again!

Speaking of that, we’re really not far away now… tomorrow will be a relatively short (circa 3.5 hour) flight from Bali to Broome (and Cable Beach). That will see us back in Australia with the shiny new plane at last, with just one more flight day left to get home to Adelaide after that.

Once we clear customs and immigration and get to our hotel tomorrow, I’m intending to see if the guys at the Cable Beach resort are still doing the Camel-Ride-On-The-Beach thing. If so, I definitely intend to try that out 🙂

I hope you enjoy the photos from today.