Sunday, 24 June 2012

Day one: on the plane.

This post was written on the plane, but it has taken me six days to get access to the internet to post anything. So belated post below:

Date: 19/06/12
Location: In a plane somewhere above Australia.
Time: NZ (home): 1700,
Sydney (departure town) 1500
Kuala Lumpur (destination:  1300

 It finally happened. After nearly eleven months of counting down, the day of our adventure finally arrived. For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling increasingly surreal. It seems very strange that it is really happening, up until this last week it still felt hypothetical… “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” rather than “won’t it be cool when…”

But now the point of no return has been and gone. Our families, and some of our closest friends, came to see us off at the airport – particularly sweet as our flight was boarding at ten past six so we had to be there at 04:30. Because we had to be up so early I had decided not to sleep the night before, in order to encourage me to sleep on the plane.  Tiredness added to already heightened emotions, which resulted in rather a lot of tears being shed.  

It really was hard to say goodbye. I’ve only ever really lived in Wellington, it’s hard to say goodbye to all that is familiar as well as to the people that I love so much. But for this sort of adventure you have to leave everything you know behind. Besides it’s not like its forever.  I will be seeing you all again, you can count on it. 

After tearful farewells and the mothers taking the requisite photos, we headed off through the “Passengers only past this point” sign and into the unknown. International flights in Wellington are no more intimidating than domestic ones, and domestic flights are barely worse than catching a train. So apart from a little juggling to put everything through the scanners the boarding and first flight went off without a hitch. 

We arrived in Sydney tired and very hungry, but not at all stressed as we had been told on the plane and by the check in staff back in Wellington the transit in Sydney would be simple; just get off the plane, get our bags, and take them to the bag dump for Air Asia, we didn’t have to worry about customs, or filling in the forms or anything like that. Or so we were told by three different people. Not so, as it turned out. We did need to go through customs to be able to get to the check in counter to drop our bags, and to get through customs we needed to fill out the declaration form that we had been told we didn’t need to fill out. To make things slightly more complicated they had run out of these forms and no one was sure where to get some more. Eventually we got some, beginning to be very thankful that our flight had arrived early, we’d been cutting it quite fine between flights, and I don’t think we would have made it if the flight had been on time. By the time we got through customs, checked in, arrived at customs again, got told to fill in another form, queued in the mother of all queues, got through customs again, loaded and unloaded everything for the scanner, it was roughly ten to twelve NZ time, and we had both been up for well over twenty-four hours and not eaten anything since the night before. The need for food was distracting us from just about everything else. We had ten minutes before the flight was supposed to start boarding, so instead of looking around in duty free we went and found the nearest food location, McDonalds.  Due to some annoying circumstances beyond our control the first meal on our big OE is McDonalds.

I’m sorry; I promise it won’t happen again. From now on the food we eat will be a mix of old and new flavours, regional dishes and experimentation with new things. But you will excuse us this one little slip, particularly given that it was only in Australia and we all know that doesn’t really count anyway.  

After our meal we got to the gate just as the plane started boarding.  The plane is the biggest I’ve been on in a very long time, but the seats are cramped and packed in together in a similar style to Jetstar, or any other really cheap airline. But our seats are right near the back and for some weird reason there are only two seats per section per row down this end, instead of the three at the other end. They don’t have any extra leg room, but they do certainly seems like we have an easier place to sit. 

There is not really anything much else to say. The food is alright, but they charge for water, albeit only the nominal amount of 3 MYR, but it still strikes me as a bit cheeky. If you fly Air Asia, I do suggest getting a comfort pack, it’s a neck pillow, eye mask and blanket that come in a nice little drawstring bag for you to keep. We booked it with our flights and it wasn’t very much from memory, about 25 MYR from memory, but more if you buy it once you are on the plane. 

If there was a little more leg room it would be good, but it’s not too bad as it is. Otherwise bring your own entertainment because this is flying old school. No screens in the chairs, absolutely no unnecessary luxuries, and for this flight at least not a hell of a lot to look at out the window.  Although now that we have left the Australian desert and are instead flying over the sea, it has become a little more interesting.
I’m beginning to feel that it might be time for another nap, I’ve still got rather a lot of missed sleep to catch up on so, I might just go and do that.

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