Friday, 21 October 2011
So here I am, in transit again, waiting for another international flight to take me back to the motherland for another visit. This has been my longest time away from “home” (UK home, i.e. Essex/friends/whanau) ever, 13 months. The circumstances are quite quite different since the last visit, but then, aren’t they always.
In some ways, I’m very glad to be here. This week … let’s just say, if you’d had the week I’d had, you would have wished you’d had a different week. I might talk about it once things have settled.
In fact it’s not even over yet – 36hr flight (4 hours down!), stag party the next day, not to mention THE RUGBY. I’m not a sport person but you’d have to be cruel not to want the All Blacks to win. Apart from the French simply playing badly this tournament, NZ has had a shocker of a year and deserves something to cheer it up.* I wonder if Prime Minister John Key is having very serious discussions with the French rugby board.
Christchurch airport is as artificial and soulless as any international airport, but for some reason I don’t mind it so much – perhaps it’s part of becoming used to waiting. This is the 7th mega long-haul flight**, i.e. 28-40hrs, that I’ve made in my life, and while they don’t get any less exhausting, coping with boredom does become easier. Also modern airports have shops and if you sacrifice enough money to the Airport Gods, you can keep yourself watered and fed nicely and pick up some essential items you forgot. (Personally I wouldn’t waste money in the gift shops though.)
I was here once before in April 2003, leaving New Zealand after 31 days. I think I’d overdosed on scenery and was fairly happy to be moving on. Can’t remember anything about the airport – I assume there were less flat screens around then. At the time, SARS was scaring the shit out of everyone, and the US and UK were busy blowing up Iraq. There’s no particular travel scare at the moment, yet security measures are tighter now I think.
Edit – I wrote this entire blog post out before remembering this city has had not 1 but 2 massive earthquakes in the last year or so (along with all the 7000ish medium and little ones). Needless to say, the fact I hadn’t even thought about it illustrates how reassuringly normal everything seems. In fact the only clue was a very large construction area which I hadn’t even considered was to do with the earthquake.
I have a lot of hopes and goals in the next few weeks. The biggest one is just being there for my brother’s wedding next week. Then there’s seeing friends and family, including some I didn’t manage to catch last year. Another one is just chilling the hell out – it’s been a pretty stressful month. I’m keen to see people, but if I don’t respond well to being ordered to meet up somewhere, that’s why.
However, right here, right now, my wish is simply that AirAsia are on time and that I catch my connecting flight in KL – particularly after last years’s debacle with Aeroflot and Fortress Moscow Airport. Given the number of Russian women employed to shout “take off your shoes!” at passengers, it’s not a high bar!
Over and out for now
*I realise it’s just a game, and my cynical self would laugh at the idea of a nation’s entire mood being dependent on a sports result. That’s what Australians do. But NZ winning the rugby world cup would be a damn sight more important than the royal bloody wedding.
**March 2003: Heathrow -> LAX -> Tahiti -> Rarotonga
October 2008: Heathrow -> Hong Kong -> Auckland
September 2009: Auckland -> Hong Kong -> Heathrow
October 2009: Heathrow -> Hong Kong -> Auckland
August 2010: Wellington -> Auckland -> Shanghai -> Moscow -> Heathrow
September 2010: Heathrow -> Moscow -> Shanghai -> Auckland -> Wellington
October 2011: Wellington -> Christchurch (right now) -> Kuala Lumpur -> Stansted