Thursday, 1 June 2017

A long-expected journey

In a hole, in the ground, there lived . . . no, wait, wrong adventure.
Bloody hell, that was a long trip. around ten thousand miles - probably more, given the detour to Guangzhou (my thoughts on Guangzhou - its airport is most definitely a large area with lots of aeroplanes.)

But I'm here! Australia! The great frontier, land of sun, surf, sandwiches of the Vegemite variety - and the cause of some pretty bad jet lag that's been tormenting me for the past four days.

Where to finish? Starting to go on about all that's happened so far is a piece of piss - in my mind at least, it's all pretty interesting, and a fair chunk of it is worth going into with a bit more detail.

For now I'll focus on the actual journey itself - surprisingly, it was pretty dang pleasant. About a day and a half of solid travelling in all, with my arrival two days after setting off. Day one started with a coach ride of about two hours - relatively pleasant, really. Lots of staring out the window at sheep, eating sandwiches, and listening to music.

This was followed by seven hours of waiting around at Heathrow airport. This would be the point in this tale where, were I speaking to you in person, my voice would become dull and flat, edged with a subtle terror as I recount the events. There's a reason they're called airport terminals.

Thankfully, this was the longest point of stalling in my journey, as once I did eventually get on board my first flight, everything move pretty quickly. The airline provided blankets, food, in-flight movies, and those little travel packs with earplugs and a toothbrush and those little tubes of toothpaste that taste like wall grout. Flight ended up heading out at around eleven PM UK time, so I managed to curl up and watch a movie while eating my grub before passing out in my seat.

At this point, I need to state that I have no idea why people complain about airline food. Either I got exceptionally lucky, or the lot of you are whingy bastards, because the food on my flights was phenomenally good. Chicken and mash, pork and rice, and some lovely breakfasts complete with fruits and croissants. I felt spoilt.

Anyway, I woke up around seven hours later somewhere over Russia. Cue settling back into my seat, chewing thoughtfully on my breakfast, and listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I live a hard life.

We touched down in Guangzhou Baiyun airport at around five in the afternoon local time, and I felt surprisingly well-adjusted despite being around seven hours in the future. "Maybe this time-travel lark isn't so bad!" I thought to myself at the time. What a naive fool I was.

I was actually getting slightly worried at this point. My final flight was landing in Brisbane, and from there I was meant to be catching a coach to Byron Bay. Now, the last coach was the only part of the journey I didn't book for myself - my uncle Alex, who's been rather generously putting me up while I find my feet here, had booked the tickets for me, and promised to email them over. Logging on to the airport's wifi, I was more than a little concerned to find that I hadn't received that email. My concern was escalated to worry when I realised that I couldn't access Facebook to message him regarding this - I was in China, after all.

My worry was blown up to full-out distress as I realised that my phone was also sodding useless. In the end, I sent an email to my folks back home to get them to contact him, grit my teeth, and leapt on my next flight.

The second flight was much the same as the first, with a few small exceptions - the plane had a little more legroom, the selection of movies was slightly larger, and there was a short and sudden bump as we went over what I assume was a cloud full of rocks.

Eventually, we landed, at around half eight in the morning local time. Then it was the standard airport fun of passport checks, collecting baggage, and customs.

Now, I've never had anything to declare before, so naturally I was a little nervous. I was lucky though. The customs agent I spoke to was trying to make a stern expression, but had the face of someone who spent more time smiling than not. I think - surprisingly - it helped that I had bright blue hair; I could tell he was trying to supress a chuckle.

'So, what've you got, then?' he asked me.

'Couple of jars of marmite, some chocolate, and half a musical instrument,' I replied.

'Where was it made?'

'England,' I replied, not mentioning that it was cobbled together in my dad's garage out of scrap wood and spare guitar parts. He looked me up and down.

'Alright then, head on through. Careful with that marmite though, this is a vegemite country.'

Well, that was easy.

That ordeal out the way, I settled down in the airport cafe with my first cup of tea in nine timezones, and fired up my laptop to check my emails.

Huzzah! A response from Alex! Hooray! I can actually message him on Facebook! Harrumble! I have my ticket now - oh, wait, what's that? It leaves in fifteen minutes? Shit. Gulping down as much of my tea as I can as the coach driver, Geoff, spots me, I get my bags loaded into the trailer hooked up to the back of the minibus and huddle myself up in one of the tiny seats. My legs are too fuckin' long for this shit.

Anyway, two hours later I'm dropped off in Byron Bay, a little town on the Easternmost point of mainland Australia. Fortuitously, I'm dropped off outside a brewery, so I do what any sane Brit would do in the face of the great unknown - I have a beer. Alex picks me up maybe half an hour later, and we both head back to his house. To my shock, surprise, and delight, there's an actual bed to sleep on, with a duvet and everything - I was expecting to be curled up in a corner with my sleeping bag. I promptly fall asleep for around sixteen hours and wake up at four o'clock in the morning.

So, to clarify, I spent two days sitting on my arse and watching movies, then slept for over half a day. I love the busy life, me.
Not pictured: me, passing out from exhaustion.

2 comments:

  1. Good to hear you arrived safely! Looking forward to reading more of your adventures!

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    1. Thanks Lucy! I'll be sure to keep 'em well-documented :)

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