Monday, 28 March 2016

Phobjika School in Wangdu

It is one week and four hours until I head off.

I will be at the Phobjika School in Wangdu. It is about 3,000km above sea level, so it is just as well I will be stopping in Kathmandu for a couple of days (1,400km) and I think we will be spending at least a night in Thimphu (2,330km). That will be enough to adjust to the altitude, right?

I'm guessing that we will be spending a night in Thimphu. So far I only know the name of the school. I don't know what age I'll be teaching, or when exactly we get there, or where I'll be staying...

I have seen some pictures of the valley, though. From the potato sowing a few weeks ago.


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Don't buy through bestjet. Even if it seems cheaper, it's not cheaper.

I searched for flights to Kathmandu on Skyscanner which linked me up with Bestjet for the cheapest price. It all got a bit dodgy when they sent me multiple emails to verify my credit card and I told them I didn't want to go through them. They refunded my money - less a 'fee'. I managed to get the 'fee' back as well. Their final email tipped me over the edge, though.

This was their email:
Sent: Thursday, 10 March 2016, 17:55
Subject: Re: Booking Cancellation
Type your response ABOVE THIS LINE to reply
Subject: Message from Your Order - Colquhoun-King - 4Apr16 - BJT145731672121

MAR 10, 2016  |  04:55PM EST
Bestjet Customer Support replied:
Hi Celia,
We have refunded your merchant fees however if you please go back through the reservation process you will note that our PAYMENT PAGE is secure and your payment most certainly is secure
Customer Support
And this my reply:
Hi there. 

Thank you for refunding the fees.

I do have to disagree with you on the security of the reservation page, it is not completely secure. And it was that, coupled with the complete lack of security on the page where I was to re-submit my details, that made me concerned that you were some sort of phishing operation and made me choose to go and buy direct from the airline, even though it cost $250 more.

Going back through the initial reservation process I get this:

Firefox - warning symbol:
Inline image
Firefox - explanation:
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Firefox - further explanation
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Then when you click on 'Learn More' it takes you to a page that explains the risks of using the site

Including this information
Inline image
I decided to go ahead with the purchase because in a moment of foolishness, thinking that I could just be extra vigilant to people trying to acquire sensitive data about me.

Then I received this:
Inline image
Which at this point you must agree, seems pretty dodgy. And if you open any of them you get an email that looks pretty suspicious if you are already concerned about phishing
Inline image

The link from that email takes you to a page to fill in personal details that has no security on it whatever
Inline image

Inline image

At that point I called your help line and was told that the only way to verify my details was through this website, so I changed the http to https myself and set about doing what I was asked, even though all the alarm bells were ringing, and THEN the photos wouldn't upload and the website had a pop up message saying I had to email them. I called back to find out about this and the person on the phone wasn't sure about it and I decided I'd rather pay an extra $250 dollars to buy from the airline and pay whatever this has cost me in time and telephone calls than go through with the purchase.

Also, when people answer the help line they don't use their name, they just say 'hello, how can I help you' which adds to the impersonal spam/scam like feeling of the whole process. 'Hello, this is Sally speaking, how may I help you' would be a big improvement. 
I was going to go back through and show you the whole process in Google is the same, but the fit of pique set off by 'your payment most certainly is secure' is fading. 

I can't believe I've spent this much time trying to help you appear less dodgy.


Moral of the story - read the reviews on Bestjet before you next search for flights so that you are not tempted to buy through them. I did get all of my money back, but the whole process was a giant, anxiety-ridden, pain in the bum.

Friday, 4 March 2016

A month in Bhutan

I've applied to go teach in a rural school in Bhutan with the Bhutan-Canada foundation for a month. I know almost nothing about what is going to happen. It is going to cost a fair bit and it is going to eat up all everything I saved to go on an overlanding tour in West Africa later in the year.

Do I remember how to teach? Will there be electricity? What if teaching wipes me out again? Why am I doing this?