Den (dewhitton) wrote,

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A Longish Trip

We left Dubbo station at 2pm, Thursday. Aaron's mum and aunties turned up to see him off. They cried and wailed (not exaggerating) as though they'd never see him again. In fact, one of them dressed in black for the occasion. They made my mum look very composed; she held her hanky and dabbed at her eyes a little, and waved. Aaron's rellies clustered at the end of the platform and cried and waved as we went past.

We were off. We saw the ugly side of Dubbo. Why is it the worst view of a town is the one you see from a train? The rows of overgrown vacant blocks and industrial yards ended and we left the town. The last thing I saw before the farms was an aluminium fence with a row a peewees perched on top, watching the train. I suspect they were after me.

The XPT took 7 hours to reach Sydney. Express Passenger Train, my bum. We rarely exceeded 100kph, and around Bathurst we sat on 5kph for 30 minutes due to roadworks. I told Aaron the cramped seats and boredom it was a trial run for the plane. I read my book about the space race, called "Space Race." Werner Von Braun was building rockets, and they were being launched at London. The bastards! We reached Parramatta at 8pm,and uncle Val met us. We slept at his place that night.

Friday was a late start and a long breakfast. We didn't have to be at the airport until 2pm. At 4pm we boarded the Virgin Atlantic Airbus 340-300. There were rumours that the new Airbus 300 was at the airport but I didn't see it. Virgin have divided their seats into Upper Class, Premium Class, and Cattle</strike> Economy Class. We were, of course, in Economy,in row 45, seats H&K We were 2 rows from the lavatory (surprisingly handy on a long flight) and almost next to a galley, also handy for later on.

And we were off! Aaron was amazed by the acceleration. In seconds we were over Botany Bay, circling around Port Hacking, and heading North West. I settled in to watch a movie of my choice (Batman Begins) but about 20 minutes in my screen started skipping and finally turned into a blank screen with a red cross. I stabbed at some buttons to see if it would clear, then Aaron pointed at his screen and asked me what to do. He has a command prompt. I noticed the people in front of me had the same screen I did, and the bloke behind us was grumbling. I paged the flight attendant and showed him our problem. He went away, then there was an announcement that the entertainment system needed rebooting. I wondered if Richard Branson was going to come down from the cockpit and tell me off.

The reboot took almost an hour. "Hey cool! They use Linux!" I said but I couldn't get anyone else excited about it, so I went back to my book about the space race. Werner Von Braun was captured by the Americans. That was lucky. Aaron was looking out the window. "What do you see?" I asked.

"Brown." We were still over Australia.

In the time it took to boot the system, watch Batman Begins, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and Kung Foo Hustle, and eat 3 rather tasty meals, we were in Hong Kong airport. We were rather tired, but a HK$10 coke woke me a little, partly from the sugar but mostly from the price. Then I remembered that AU$30 got me HK$158, so it wasn't too bad. An hour later we were back on the plane and trying to sleep.

I tried to sleep until I actually succeeded. And then I woke. 4 hours had passed. I kept trying to sleep but it never really happened. I wandered in to the galley to see about a drink, but the flight crew had vanished. I wandered the plane but I couldn't find anyone, so I returned to the galley. There were jugs of tomato juice, orange juice and water out, as well as a supply of soft drinks and bickies. I helped myself to some juices. Then I returned to the seat and failed to sleep for another 8 hours. I even tried my noise-canceling headphones but they didn't kill the noise enough. In the end I used them to listen to Madagascar and War Of The Worlds (The crap new one by Spielberg) and a documentary with Michael Palin. If you intend traveling by plane, grab yourselves a set of headphones like this. Your ears will thank you.

After a meal of something horrible I checked the map and discovered we were over the Channel. 22 hours had passed since leaving Sydney. Less than an hour later we were in Immigration. The journey was over! you'd be thinking. I know I was. It took us over an HOUR to get through. He questioned us for 40 minutes, asking the same questions over and over, trying to get us to make a mistake in our story. Why are you here? Who do you work for? What is your business? How are you paying? Who is meeting you? What is your company name? How much money do you have? We handed him our cash and he counted it. "That's not very much" he said. I had £250, Aaron had £450. I had credit card and we both had an ATM card that would work. During this questioning some rather large women moved to stand behind him, and I had a horrible feeling the rubber gloves were coming. We waited on uncomfy chairs while they found Steve and questioned him about us, then the head of Immigration came to question us again. We didn't have any proof because everything was done through the internet, even the airline tickets. I wrote the name, address and phone numbers of the company offices at home, then we dozed off in the uncomfy chairs for about 30 minutes and worried that there was the very real possibility they wouldn't let us in. A bloke from Malaysia who arrived without an entry visa had less trouble than we did. Finally the Immigration officer returned, stamped our passports and that was it.

We were in England! Steve met us at the gate and drove us to Offord Darcy.

I'm a bit tired.
Tags: europe 2005, trip

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