2005-08-11: On a wing and a Muslin prayer

With an early arrival to Sydney we were preparing to leave (yes, to Mum, your daughter can get people to the airline with plenty of time).

Our carry on baggage, carefully packed to lighten to load of our main luggage were found to be overweight but we were also told that we could have up to 28kg in each bag, not the 20kg we thought. This resulted in us spreading things over the floor as we madly repacked bags. Luckily a space is set aside for just this activity.

Once into the airport we just passed time till the plane came. I finally got to try out my wireless network capability, only to discover that you need to be with Telstra or Optus or buy time from Sydney airport. That didn't seem worth it, so the laptop was put away. The free internet booths were crowded, so no message from me before I left.

Our flight out of Sydney wasn't a problem. The seats Edyta and I were at had busted TV units (Linux software, what is to be expected?). They tried to reset the unit but it failed. Then they tried to reset the whole section and that failed. The flight was fairly empty so we were just given some other seats in a working section.

The first touchdown was Bangkok. That was at 1am local time and the temperature was a stinking 35 degrees. The biggest shock was horizon to horizon of roads and possibly large empty areas of slum without any form of light. We walked off the plane for a quick stretching of the legs and then got back on board. The people there were so tiny Edyta felt big! The next leg was crowded. We were lucky that some technicians had made a quick repair to the TV, so I could start on some movies.

It seems Emirates doesn't believe in censorship, so I didn't have to put up the lowest common denominator version of the movies (which is good when you are watching Kill Bill 2). I didn't sleep much at all on the plane, maybe a few minutes. Which was good, because it took me the whole flight to solve a single game of Patience.

From Bangkok we flew to Dubai. Dubai was warm but more surprisingly was fogged in. We didn't see much from the airport and I think I fell asleep briefly during take-off so I didn't see anything of the country other than desert. The toilets at Dubai were weird; the motion activated flushing on the toilets was a bit of a shock. I was not game to try the hose thing that they offered either. The funniest thing I found at Dubai was the "no smoking" policy they enforced. They didn't want smokers mixing in with the general people, so that made this small open topped enclosures in the middle of the walkway for the smokers to congregate in. It all seemed to defeat the point of having smokers separate from the others.

After this last take off I was able to start saying the end of the Arab version of the "please fasten your seatbelt" message.

During this leg of the flight I had my first sight of Poland. It was from the downwards camera on the plane nose. It was a bit hard to tell it apart from the Ukraine or Hungary (we couldn't decide which country we were coming over). By the German side it was just all clouds.

We finally made it to Heathrow. From there I got to lug a lot of luggage around to find the bus we wanted. It was a bit of a trek but luckily we came out just as the bus we wanted to catch was going to depart, so we jumped on that and traveled out to Oxford. We weren't even aware of the mess happening at the departures lounge with British Airways. We were aware that being dressed for a warm winter in Australia is still a little bit overdressed for a summer in England. But we had nowhere to store our clothes yet, so we just wore them.

One jet-lagged author.

The road out was the M40 I think. It just looked like any big motorway from Tasmania, Canberra or New Zealand. Lots of thick green trees on the side and rolling green country side. We got into Oxford, which looks like any old English college town should look like. Not knowing where to go we jumped into a taxi and were then driven twenty minutes back the way we had just come. It was ?30 from Heathrow to Oxford and then another ?16 for 5 miles back to the Oxfordshire Inn.

The Inn is at a little village (Heathfield Village). It is in the middle of nowhere. The Inn is set up like an old farm (although all the buildings are new). There are horses around and a golf driving range. Because the place is a village still there is a place to shove old people till they shuffle off the Earth.

The green of Heathfield Village

After a brief meal (which was okay, even if expensive) we went for a walk to find Bletchingdon, the nearby town. The road there I immediately dubbed the 'road of death'. Cars are flying past at 70mph and the road has no verge, just a thick mat of poison ivy or a wall of thorned brambles. The first time we tried to walk it Edyta was wearing thongs, which doesn't mix well with leaping into Poison Ivy to dodge hurtling traffic.

Edyta was in love with the green, I was just needing a sleep. I had barely slept on the plane, probably just minutes (except for leaving Dubai were I was asleep during take-off). When I hit the bed I slept, clean through till a bit after the sun was up the next morning (which is around 6am or earlier). And with that my jetlag was gone.