Plans Change – Biting the Bullet on Hong Kong

So, a little earlier than I thought I would, I bit the bullet and decided to change my plans to visit Hong Kong in a short stopover at the start of my upcoming trip. I did a little consulting, and although I the feedback I got back was that it ‘should’ be okay, and that protests only happen on weekends and that they publicise where the protests are, I decided that it was something constantly in the back of my mind and I wasn’t prepared to wait any longer.

The main reason for that was simply that it was getting closer to the departure date, and the closer it got the harder it would have been to make changes. Also should there be a crackdown by China it could make it an eerie place to visit, and the people there may not be happy with a bunch of tourists visiting during times where things are strained.

I’m okay with how it’s played out. Although it could have been better too. It all depended on my flight from Hong Kong to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

The reason behind that is that there aren’t many options into Dushanbe, and I was happy enough already I was flying Air Astana. I was surprised to realise I had booked a semi-flexible ticket on Air Astana and thus would be able to change with minimal charge.

However, the process was not 100% smooth. I initially tried to gain information on the ‘bot’ that helps you on the Air Astana website. I started my query on three or four occasions, explaining what I wanted to do which was to change the origin point to Kuala Lumpur. Every time I started I received a message of ‘lost connection’ and had to start again.

I was changing to Kuala Lumpur because I had gone through the Air Astana list of cities and this was a direct flight to Almaty. From Singapore there was a stop in Hong Kong. I hoped that by visiting Flight Centre they might be able to make the alteration there. As it turned out, I had to call Air Astana as I was the one who booked the flight, however they were kind enough to let me use their phone to call – after all, I was called Kazakhstan where the company is based.

I called several times. The first time, there was a problem with the connection and I could hear them but they couldn’t hear me. After finally connecting though, and I was impressed not to be put on hold but get straight through to someone, I was happily surprised to find the whole thing was going to cost around $120US, which I think was a $40US fee for the change and the price difference in the ticket.

But then paying was a hassle. I used a credit card, but they needed what they called an authorisation ID’ before they could issue the ticket. I had to call the bank to get it, then call them back with it. First time I was told the transaction had gone through, and thinking that that was all they needed I called Air Astana back and let them know. NO – they needed an ‘authorisation ID’.

So I called the bank, I received an 8-digit code. Called back Air Astana. No, this was not the right code, it should be a SIX digit code. Then the bank had no idea what I was asking for. I went from one operator to the next. In the end I got the code, and now have my ticket. It was not without hassle though! Very impressed by not having to wait on the line (Air Astana) to speak to someone. Although a greeting wouldn’t have gone astray – when you call someone you don’t expect to be the one to speak first!

Kuala Lumpur from above.

The important thing is, it got done and wasn’t that painful. Changing my flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur was a little tricky. The flights to Hong Kong were with Krisflyer points on Singapore Airlines. Obviously the most desirable thing was to rebooked with those points. However, options were severely limited and I couldn’t find one all the way to Kuala Lumpur. So I settled on Singapore and booked with Qantas points from there to Kuala Lumpur the next day.

I had to change my flight to Singapore too, as the one I was previously on didn’t have any seats remaining despite me giving up mine for myself. Yes, that does sort of make sense! Anyways, I now leave at 5pm or so. Because of a late arrival time into Singapore, I have to stay there one night before moving on to Kuala Lumpur. A night there and onto Almaty and Dushanbe.

Reception Area Sama-Sama.

It’s all worked out and hasn’t cost that much all up thankfully. I’m booked into the same place (Sama-Sama) as last time at KL airport, however I am yet to book for Singapore. It’s all awfully expensive. I might end up in the ‘Yotel’ at Changi, close to the new ‘Jewel’ thing (not 100% what that is) but for around $200AUD it looks a lot like a slightly bigger-spaced Capsule Inn. Still, it could be an experience and apparently has robots delivery room service. But I’m not 100% on this one. For another $80 I could stay at the Crowne Changi. But that’s getting very expensive…

This is the way it goes, sometimes plans have to change! Thanks for reading today – May the Journey Never End!


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