I would firstly like to thank all of my friends and family who have wished me well or spent time with me in my final month in Australia. I have realised I am truly blessed to have so many caring and amazing people in my life. It made me very grateful for the love in my life and the knowledge that I have a wonderful home to return to when my adventures end.
I was looking forward to my first big international flight as an adventure in itself, as the longest trip I had taken was four hours to New Zealand. People warned me about the problems with sleeping, and screaming children, but I feel I am generally lucky with such things as I can sleep anywhere. My first issue came when I arrived at the airport to find I could only have one bag for carry on, which was quite a surprise as I have often flown in Australia with two. So I hastily unpacked important things from my backpack into my laptop bag at the counter, leaving me with an overflowing laptop bag with cords and books sticking out everywhere, stubbornly refusing to close as I had overstuffed it beyond the brim.
I had a coffee then tearily made my goodbyes with Mum and Teneale. Three to five long hugs later it was time to begin my adventure. I quickly got through customs and security and headed for the bar to down a double vodka surrounded by noisy South Africans as I waited to board. I don’t love flying, especially take off and landing, so was hoping to subdue my nerves. On board I discovered I was sitting on the centre aisle near the back of the plane, which turned out to be a good spot as I went to the bathroom several times throughout the flight without disturbing anyone. I was quite jealous of the guy across the aisle from me who had three seats to himself, which he promptly laid across and fell asleep after take off. I got up and walked around a lot during the first two flights as I didn’t have much room to stretch out and my legs were cramped up. On the way to Amsterdam I was blessed with a front row seat in the back section so I had ample leg room, but had to put my video screen away for take off and landing. By the time I touched down, I felt like going for a run, just to prove my legs could still do it.
I was flying with Emirates (www.emirates.com/), and I know many people are interested in the food and the blankets which have a high reputation. I was most impressed with the individual video screens in the back of each seat which included a USB port so I could charge my ipod. I had a selection of 100 new movies, 100 old movies and a range of TV shows. After 20 minutes of trying to navigate the controls, then realising I can just touch the screen I was set. Across my three flights I never had to read a book or use my ipod, which made entertainment easy. For those who are interested, I watched I am Number Four great sci-fi with decent action and a few surprises plus superpowers – loved it, can’t wait for a sequel; Pirates of the Caribbean 4, following the same formula of the earlier movies, had some laughs but was more predictable and less entertaining that the earlier films – I hope they don’t make another; Scream 4, combination of the witty parodies from the first film with ridiculous plot of the sequels – this needs to be the final one; Transformers: Dark of the Moon, agree with the critics that it was too long and drawn out for a movie with a fairly simple plot, the interaction between Sam and his new girlfriend was boring – but really, who doesn’t love watching the Autobots and Decepticons destroy an American city; The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon trying to cheat the ‘powers that be’ was full of twists, turns and entertainment – will definitely watch it again; Limitless, very clever movie about power, drug addiction and the limitless potential of the mind – really enjoyed it. So I lucked out by watching more new movies on my flight than I have seen this entire year, for free and totally enjoying myself.
We also received a warm facecloth after each take off. While I didn’t understand it at first, this was very much appreciated by the third leg of my flight where I was feeling a little dirty after travelling in the same clothes for more than 24 hours. The blankets were thin and small but very warm, and I regret not taking one with me in case of colder times in my journey. Each seat had an adjustable headrest that moved up and down and the corners moved in and out, rendering my neck pillow unnecessary. They also gave us a mini travel kit that included mini toothbrush and paste, eye mask and socks. I preferred my own socks and diva face mask just to be different. I found I could sleep for an hour or two at a time, before getting too uncomfortable and needing to move again, or being woken up by the smell of dinner. Leaving Australia we had chicken stir-fry or lamb with mash peas and gravy which was delicious. We also had smoked salmon and potato salad, some sort of lemon and berry cheesecake and a roll. The bread rolls were the only disappointing part of each meal. They were small and hard and cold, but the rest of the meal was so filling they were never necessary. For late night snack we had cheese and crackers, apples and muffin bars. Each meal also came with complimentary drinks so I made the most of wine and vodka available. For dinner from Bangkok to Dubai, I had chicken stir-fry with a prawn salad and another berry cheesecake, plus cheese and crackers for later. For breakfast was omelette stuffed with a spicy tomato and vegetable concoction with a side of hummus, and babaganoush with Lebanese bread. Unusual for breakfast, but also very tasty. There was also fruit, muffin bars, coffee and more alcohol. The vodka made it easy to sleep, and navigate through turbulence with little concern. For breakfast from Dubai to Amsterdam, we had croissants with cheese or meat deli platters, which felt very Dutch. Again I enjoyed vodka for breakfast to make the trip sail.
We touched down in Bangkok for two hours to refuel and reload passengers. I opted to stay on the plane as it was 12:30am local time, 28 degrees and pouring with torrential rain outside with little to see at the dark airport. I curiously watched the 100 strong brigade of Thai cleaning staff, setting up the plane for the next section of our voyage. On landing in Dubai at 5:30am local time, I watched the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen, over the famous buildings in the distance at a warm 30 degrees before the sun was fully up. We were quickly shuttled onto a bus for the fifteen minute ride to the main departure terminal, many kilometres away due to the airports enormous size. As we drove by the hundreds of planes I looked on in awe at all the Emirates logos, as they have sole control of Dubai airport, arriving and departing to the four corners of the globe. Unfortunately my camera was too difficult to access at this point, and the sun had completely risen by the time I disembarked at Dubai terminal. After going through security, I witnessed an amazing building, which looked more like an enormous shopping centre than an airport. The walls were lined with reflective silver, platinum and gold, and we rode giant shining escalators that rose three to four storeys at a time, watching the lifts scale ten floors to the top to the backdrop of a blue lit water feature several stories high in the centre of the building. Dubai has a well deserved reputation for opulence, and I tried not to stare as I passed the many shops filled with Louis Vuitton, Swarovski crystal and Armani goods, imagining myself coming here for a shopping trip in the future when I am wealthy. After a brief snack, I went to the restroom, and observed toilets that were filled with water, nearly working in reverse to our system of flushing, with warmed seats. Then I spent half an hour in the constructed garden in the centre of the departure gates, listening to music and catching up on the world’s news. We then boarded for the final leg of our flight, and I slept little, waiting with anticipation to touch down in my final destination.
Although there was a map on the plane to show how far we had travelled, it doesn’t really sink in, since you have spent the entire time in one seat. The best part of take off and landing was watching the on board video cameras at the front and the base of the plane so you could watch the city below, or the airport ahead. I think being able to see where we were going made take off and landing much gentler for my nerves. Even during turbulence, the plane ride seemed a lot smoother than any I have experienced before. As it was 1:30pm local time in Amsterdam, I enjoyed looking out the windows across the aisle, observing the coastlines and flat fields of the Netherlands, broken into squares by the numerous canals. I laughed as I thought to myself, “we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.” After landing I plugged in my ipod to while away my time in lengthy queues at customs, where they checked only my passport, and bounced my way through the airport, happily listening to David Guetta, realising I had finally arrived on the other side of the world. I marvel at the world of modern aeronautical engineering, that we can fly halfway around the world in a day.