Friday 31 July 2015

Plane Observations and Other News

And so the new adventure has commenced! This post is about a week old and a month later than the last one but with my track record I say that's not half bad.

 I entertained myself on the various flights by taking notes about them, these were my impressions:

Well, here we are on the first leg of the journey. I have over packed on the snacks in order to avoid overpriced plane food of questionable edibility. Said snacks seem to provide a modest amount of intrigue to my nearest neighbors as they cast surreptitious glances at what will next emerge from my voluminous Ziploc bag of sundries. The last item was a baguette sandwich featuring haloumi, ham, avocado and capsicum, so they are snacks worthy of some interest.
I am relatively certain my seat is shrinking almost imperceptibly with every passing hour and I have read almost half of my book, begun at the commencement of this flight. I recently tried to do some stretching in the lavatory which I can now, with authority, advise others to avoid. It involved an acrobatic little dance which necessitated putting my face closer to the toilet than I feel was wise from a sanitary standpoint and I believe the process may have pulled something important that I will want to use at some later date.
The most exciting thing to have occurred thus far was when I breached the curtained, inner sanctum of the flight attendants to request water and then carried the full, open cup back to my seat during some turbulence. There were elderly and children in the splash zone, shit could’ve gone down. It is uncomfortably warm on board though, so maybe it wouldn’t have been entirely unwelcome. Except for me, I really was very thirsty.

Otherwise, I have watched two movies and observed the man across the aisle from me who sleeps with a hoodie over his face and wakes up only for more Jim Beam and the man behind him who has either a cough or a sneeze (I can’t tell which it is) which sounds exactly like the on board toilets flushing...a very forceful sound.
There is gravel churning about in the sockets where I used to keep my eyeballs. The eye drops I cleverly packed for this eventuality are, I now realize, in my checked luggage. I am ready to be there. <-- This bit was written an hour and twenty minutes before the end of this flight.        


Laura and I’s three days in Thailand were lovely, though a bit disorienting for me. The change from -1.5 degrees in Hobart to 30+ degrees in Bangkok was something of a shock to the system. Add that to the time change and the fact that extreme heat and humidity generally lead to a shutting down of many of my faculties, coherent speech and movement any faster than that of a snail for instance, and it was something of an adjustment. Laura was well acclimated after five weeks in Cambodia and almost three weeks in Thailand before I arrived, with the glowing skin of a person grown accustomed to prolonged, cleansing sweating. She even moved at a normal speed and didn’t cry out triumphantly whenever we entered an air conditioned building or train, unlike certain other people... ahem. Fortunately, however, she was happy to join me in much sitting by the pool at The Atlanta, chatting, catching up and drinking the occasional chilled Sprite from a glass bottle, which somehow just makes it better.

It’s a great thing they do in Thailand, serving soda in recycled glass bottles. I stopped to take a photo of a bunch of them stacked up for collection at the side of the road one day and Laura calmly informed me “Apparently it’s hard to do that in Cambodia, because of ghosts”. Upon further discussion of this baffling statement she explained that the Cambodian people believe that small spaces like that, once emptied, are the perfect spaces for ghosts to move into, so you can’t re-fill the bottles, because they’re already filled with ghost, and that would just be rude.
Activities we did manage to leave the inviting coolness of the pool for included a visit to a night market and getting a Thai massage. I had forgotten what a great style Thai massage is. Nothing like being put in a little smock/suit outfit and having a person walk around on you, elbow you in the neck (Laura’s masseuse got especially enthusiastic about that bit, she thought she might be smothered in the pillow for a moment there) and pull your body into complicated pretzel poses to really work the kinks out. Sadly, I think much of their hard work was then undone by the long journey to the U.K., but it was nice to start the trip relaxed.

Upon arrival in the U.K. it took Laura and I a couple hours to get to our hostel via the tube and walking a distance google spitefully informed us, for reasons known only to it, was nine minutes but was actually 35 minutes. It was nearly midnight when we arrived at the hostel but it was fortunately above a pub and someone was there to let us in. Our brief time in London, just a day in fact, was nothing to write home about, as it were. We did laundry at Roy’s Laundromat in Tottenham, run by the sociable Roy and his family, all lovely people. I saw a child roaring at a pigeon in the High Street and rode a bus where I’m relatively sure the driver’s primary goal and source of enjoyment was to break unexpectedly and hard enough to knock over any passengers who were standing. Then we caught the train to Edinburgh. We’ll go back to London again at some stage, but for now we just feel Edinburgh is more our scene, and apparently the feeling is mutual, as we have been here just over a week and have already secured a flat share and job offers. Our Edinburgh future is looking bright!    

Friday 3 July 2015

Up, Up, Up and Away!

The time has come! Visa to work in the U.K. for up to two years? Check! My passport came back to me with its British visa inside precisely three weeks after my biometric appointment in Melbourne, heralded by a very formal e-mail the day before informing me that ‘a decision has been made’ regarding my visa application. They wouldn’t want to tell you what the decision was in the e-mail and put you out of your suspenseful misery of course, were would be the fun in that? When my passport arrived I tore the envelope open and to bits with my teeth in my eagerness to get into it because that’s how I comport myself as a lady receiving news, naturally. Then I did a silly little dance of joy around the living room.

Plane tickets booked? Check! I actually booked my tickets before my visa had even arrived. The airfare prices were steadily going up and up so I just went for it and hoped for the best. I fly out of Tasmania on the morning of July 8th, also known as less than a week from today, up to Melbourne where I board my nine hour flight to Bangkok (I’m pretty pleased about that, for a while it was looking like I was going to spend 22 hours wandering around the Singapore or Kuala Lumpur airports so nine hours straight through to Bangkok will feel like nothing!). Upon my arrival in Bangkok I get to spend three days catching up with Laura poolside at The Atlanta, a retro little gem of a hotel, before the two of us fly on to London together on July 12th.

Packed? Check-ish.... So I’m not packed per se, but I do have shoes in a suitcase, so that’s practically the same thing. Normally for an expedition such as this (or any expedition at all really) I would do most of my packing the night before into the wee hours, accompanied by tears, much gnashing of teeth and much sitting on bags to close them. However, I’m trying something new this time. My last trip, to the States, I set off with a backpack and a large-ish suitcase. “I’m going away for years” I said “There will be many seasons and I must pack for them all because they don’t have stores or clothes in the U.S.” I was apparently thinking. When I returned to Australia from that venture it was even worse and I managed to have the large-ish suitcase, the backpack, another large suitcase, a medium sized bag and a lap top bag. Plus one ski boot in another suitcase. To this day I’m unsure how I managed to physically carry all of that luggage through the various airports and by the time I got back to Australia I would have quite happily set it all on fire just to never have to look at it again. So yes, I’m trying something new this time, it’s called packing light, perhaps you’ve heard of it? Back in the fabled time of my eighteenth year of life I set off on a five month trip through Europe and Asia with only a backpack and it was glorious. So this time I’m aiming to bring that same backpack and one truly tiny suitcase. That is all. I’m given to understand that they have shops and an abundance of clothing in the U.K. so I think it should all work out.

Now I must go and put other things besides shoes in the tiny suitcase, because I’m also trying out packing early and this blog post has actually just been an elaborate procrastination ruse. But mainly I’m packing early because I’ll be away until almost right before I leave. I’m about to head down to Bruny Island for a few days because, you know, I like to try and squeeze in a trip before my trip.