01 March 2008

Greetings from 37000 feet!

As I write this, Scott has just spotted Australian land from the plane – somewhere west of Darwin. We’re about 3 ½ hours away from Sydney now.

The flight up to Joburg was pretty uneventful. Joburg airport was an absolute breeze! From what we’d heard, we were expecting complete chaos. This wasn’t the case at all. From the time of landing, it took us 45 minutes to taxi to the gate, disembark, collect our luggage, walk to the international departures (a bit of construction here but everything was well signposted), check in with Cathay Pacific, get through the security check and then through passport control. I thought that was pretty impressive – I suppose if you go expecting the worst, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The only hassle we had was with a bottle of Diemersfontein Pinotage that we took along in our hand luggage which was confiscated. My stupidity really – I’d done all my homework and all our gels & liquids were in their required 100ml containers in a reseal-able plastic bags. I somehow seemed to forget that wine is actually a liquid! J Needless to say, some security official at Jhb international is going to be enjoying a very special bottle of wine with his buddies!

Our 747 Jumbo being moved to our boarding gate.

After we got through passport control, we wondered around the stores and duty free – didn’t buy anything - we were thinking of replacing the bottle but then we didn’t know if they would let us through security in Hong Kong so we didn’t take the chance. Each of us took a turn to take a long walk through the terminal as we knew we had a long “sit” ahead.

As to our emotional state… I have absolutely no idea – I think we were both operating on auto pilot and trying not to think of leaving all our family & friends behind. One thing that did show through was sheer terror!!! And at that point I think we both just realized that there was absolutely no turning back – which of course induced more terror! We know we’ve made the right choice but that doesn’t make the choice any easier.

Scott & I on our way on the Jumbo!

Cathay Pacific are amazing!!! We flew from Jhb to Hong Kong on a 747 Jumbo – it’s enormous! Unfortunately neither of us could wangle getting upstairs into First Class but we did manage to get hold of a leftover first class supper for breakfast. It was actually quite bizarre and I’m still battling to get my head around it. We took off from Jhb and were given menus for lunch and breakfast – we completely skipped supper and went straight -through to brekkie. Scott managed to get a little shut-eye during the 12,5 hour flight but I didn’t manage anything more than a light doze. I’m not sure if it was nerves or the blinding headache that attached about halfway through the flight.

Coming in to land at Hong Kong airport was pretty amazing even though there was quite a lot of mist and cloud cover. But we did manage to get some shots of the airport. It’s enormous!!!!!

Landing in Hong Kong

The Discovery Channel documentary and anything else you see on TV about this airport just does not do it justice. My mind just boggled at the fact that that entire land mass is re-claimed land. Getting off the plane was completely surreal for both of us. We kept asking each other “ Do you realize we’re actually in Hong Kong???” The airport terminal is huge but everything is so well signposted and there are heaps of helpful staff around who speak enough English to answer your questions. We thought we were going to be really late for our connecting flight as we were half an hour late - 08h00 - arriving at HK and were scheduled to take off again at 09h00. We were given all the info we needed for our connecting flight before we disembarked which made it really easy to find our way to our next boarding gate. We even had a few minutes to spare and went looking at a couple of the shops – if I remember, I’ll attached a pic I took of a sunglasses & luggage shop. It was very strange seeing all these really expensive pairs of sunglasses (Gucci, Ray Ban, Tag Heur, etc) just displayed on tables – not behind locked glass cupboards, no security cable looped through them all – just lying there!

The tables of sunglasses at Hong Kong airport - these were Dior!

Just as well we hadn’t bought any wine at Jhb – no alcohol allowed through the security checkpoint in HK! There were 3 people working at the security checkpoint – all wearing smart uniforms and white gloves. Everything was checked thoroughly and it took minutes for us to get through – everything was done so professionally and all the passengers were so orderly – no pushing or shoving or arguing with the security people.

Taking off from Hong Kong Airport
Notice all the high rise buildings - each one is between 40 & 50 stories high (I zoomed in & counted!)

This flight that we’re on now going to Sydney is on a smaller plane and the seats are a bit narrower. The nice thing is that it’s quite empty and there was space for Scott & I each to take double seats to stretch out and get a bit of sleep. We each got a few hours’ sleep – not too much or we won’t be able to sleep when we arrive tonight at 21h00.

Yikes! Just seen that the temperature outside at the moment is -46˚C and we’re flying at 900km/h at 37000feet! We’ve got 2159km to go until we reach Sydney at 21h05 in 2hours & 35minutes!

Sunset over the Outback


Nubud said...

Great Blog! Love the pics - save us some Tim Tams.
luvya and miss you lots

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys

Super Blog. Well done. Feel as if I am there with you. Thanks for all the info, please keep it coming. Would love to hear more form you guys on life "down under" Chat soon. Be safe


Anonymous said...

Hi guys - its tuesday evening and Lilly and I have just opened a bottle of wine and having some chill time in our study reading your blog! So good to hear from you - glad you are both doing well- Mands - Lil says well done on the job and fabulous about the car - if
not why not!!!! so a 2 bedroom flat - so we CAN come visit after all hey??? Hope your stuff arrives soon!! We love you both and miss ya
madly- keep sending pics and updates - and we will keep posting... Scott once again thanx so much for all your help and presents - will be popping in at the folks tomorrow to collect the last one you left for us . Miss you man , so much we still need to do - just have to make a plan soon ... LOL