A Travellerspoint blog

Heading Offshore

Luanda to Soyo and beyond

overcast 21 °C
View Angola on Jase007's travel map.

Waking up at 4:30am isn't my idea of 'having a good time' and neither was it, with sleep still filling our eyes we dragged ourselves out of the pit, shower and headed to reception.
Pick up was at 5am, the sun's still hiding and not due up for another hour. the reason for getting up so bloody early is the traffic, our flight to Soyo isn't until 7:00, but if we don't go now it'll take us 3hrs to travel from the hotel to the airport. We arrive at the domestic terminal of Luanda airport, it's not much different from the international.
We are escorted to the 'VIP' area, seems we have a private plane to take us the short 45min hop. I'm not sure what VIP stands for, but it wasn't exactly what you'd expect. 7:00 comes and we are wisked off to our awaiting plane, in reality we could have walked the 50m to the plane, but we were bussed.
The plane is a 14 seater twin prop, we clamor in and I manage to get the back row of three seats to myself. Now this is luxury, a whole plane for six of us (now we know how the rich and famour travel in their private planes :-))
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The flight goes well and coming into Soyo airport I get my first look at the Congo river. Even a few months ago I'd never thought watching documentaries and reading books did i think I'd be here.
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Soyo airport is just made up of two buildings and we are ushered in one for passport check and baggage check. On exiting the airport the agent asks for our passports, these will be held until we leave the province in a months time.

Soyo is a breath of fresh air compared to Luanda, smaller, cleaner and much less poverty stricken. As we approach the port again we go through another bag check (easy access luggage is a must here) . At the port our ride awaits a 30ft surfer boat, it'll take 2.5hrs bouncing along the 2.5m swell to reach our final destination the pipelay vessel.

Ok we arrive at 11:30 just in time for lunch, i'm on shift at 18:00 here we go night shift !!!

Posted by Jase007 08.10.2007 14:38 Comments (0)

Angola pt 2

We arrive

sunny 27 °C
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Well the flight on what could only be described as "well used" aircraft went by quite quickly. I managed to get a seat beside a French guy with a sense of humour. So, we spent most of the trip taking the piss (much to the amusement of the air hostesses).
Fair credit must be given to the cabin crew here, they were polite and we actually got 'metal' forks & knives !!!!

Luanda beaconed and as we approach the runway I get my first sight of Luanda, Angola.
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I've been to North Africa before so it looked pretty much as i expected for this heady height. the landing on a dust covered runway shared with the Angolan airforce came as no surprise. The plane pulls up near the terminal after waiting for what seems like an hour (only one runway and there are a few flight leaving as we have landed).

Now, I'd asked people at work about the place & was now glad i had taken their advice. Make sure i've got all my paperwork sorted out, something to read & a bottle of water - immigration was going to take a long time.
it's not that hot, but the humidity is getting up, and those damn bugs keep wanting to take a bite.

It was one of those days where every other line seems to be going faster than the one I was in. Three others who I was traveling with all were up the front of the line and being asked to goto the 'waiting area' (a fenced off zone for those waiting for visa's to be issued). 2hours later I am now a proud holder of a STV, allowing me to work for the next 15 days (i'll only be about 10 days onshore so this give's me 5 spare).
Outside in the baggage hall we meet the agent, this is a god send. the agent is responsibe for getting us through customs and to the office then to the hotel. Here one of the guy's finds out that his bags have not found their way to Luanda, seems they could be anywhere between Newcastle, London,Lisbon - another couple of hours waiting whilst the forms are filled in.

Once out, the reality of Luanda hit's us like a baseball bat to the head. it's only been about 5 years since the civil war finished and the aftermath of this is still very much in evidence. The building are in a state of, well it's hard to fathom just what you see.
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We pile into the van, and the journey begins to the office. It's only two miles but takes 90mins. As we drive along there is a mass of street sellers walking in between the cars offering just about everything possible, from DVD's to gas regulators, the driver never gets out of 1st gear.
We arrive at the office to be informed that the road to the hotel has just re-opened. Seems there was a prison break a few days previously and there is still a few eventful things happening around the area.
Hopping back into the van we are informed that it will take a further 3hrs to get to the hotel. Now this is for a trip of only 5miles !!!
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Yes, we made it !!! and what a contrast it's a lovely hotel in a gated compound. The poverty seen on the trip is the conversation of the night, it seem guilt has hit all of us when we reflect on the surroundings. But one note seems to break though, the people we saw on out 5hr trip to the hotel were smiling. There is redevelopment happening in Luanda, and slowly this may help those who are living in the slums a chance to get out.

It was quite an eye opener looking around Luanda, I wouldn't want to go without the agent present though - maybe in a few years.

Next stop, Soyo and the mighty Congo river.

Posted by Jase007 06.10.2007 17:31 Archived in Angola Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Getting on site

The flight to where?

sunny 26 °C
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Ok, well there are some perks to the job. This time it happens to allow me to experience West Africa a bit and get paid for doing it.
The first hurdle was getting a visa, Angola isn't the easiest of places to get a working visa so off goes one passport whilst my other gets scanned for an STV (short term visa) invitation. And the jabs, hell I hate needles at the best of time and now I had to get a series of them.
OK the day arrives to pack and get my sorry ass to the airport, the flights as 18:30, so I have to spend the day in the office, yeah like there is going to be lots of work done.
TAP airlines we are flying, Heathrow T2 to Lisbon then onto Luanda.

[map=75741 lat=22.7272727272727 lon=-2.8421709430404e-14 zoom=1.98]

TAP is the national airline of Portugal, and they are the only ones flying to Luanda that will get me there for the crew change on the boat. First impressions - not that great, but it's a short haul flight to Lisbon so i'm not bothered. We get to Lisbon airport after an hour delay at Heathrow (no surprise there) with 1.5hrs until departure of the Luanda flight.
Now you'd expect a national carrier to have the best parking spots at the airport, but this seems to have bypassed TAP. We park in the aircraft equivalent of a car park and get on the bus to the terminal. I made a comment to one of the guy's at the time that I bet the plane to Luanda was next to where we parked , after 2hrs in the terminal we get shipped back by bus to yes, you guessed it the bloody plane next to the one we landed in. So we've just spent 2hrs on what could have been a 1min stroll.

Jumping on the plane the thought comes, "are we still in Europe & I didn't realise that AIrbus had been around for this long"

Posted by Jase007 07.10.2007 01:11 Archived in Angola Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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