I should have slept.
I got back from work at around 8am, and the plan was to crawl into bed for a 3 hour power nap so I’d be okay to get up, sort stuff out and be on the road before 3. However, despite being knackered I was suddenly seized by nervous excitement and restless energy, instantly began sorting stuff out for the trip, rechecking I’d packed everything and of course, the most important thing, sorting out my iPod.
Good tunes are vital for travelling. I found this out on the Morocco trip, the pod helped me to pass the time on the buses and buoyed my spirits when I was feeling low. Sure, I wouldn’t be alone on this trip but still, there were long trips ahead and who knows, by the end of the 3 weeks we might not all be talking. Three weeks is a lot of Chris exposure.
I also wanted some podcasts to listen to, as these would help me fill the siestas during the hot days (this has already been proven, although I now wish I had some proper iPod earphones as my massive headphones are essentially noisy ear muffs in 25+ degree heat).
Time got away from me and the morning passed quickly, but the excitement was keeping me going and so I didn’t feel tired.
This changed when I got in the car though as, like a child, I find it very easy to drop off in transit. I was out like a light.
I was awake as we (Llywelyn, Hannah and myself) entered London and sought out Heathrow, which should be easy to find due to its size but chock-a-block traffic and poor lane markings make it a bit stressful, but nonetheless we managed to make it to the car park okay and shuttled to the airport.
We met up with the rest of our party, Laurence and Ashley, and checked in.
Llyw and Laurence’s boards were taken off to be packed aboard, as was my backpack, as apparently rucksacks are dealt with seperately (I have no idea why, is it just a Qatar airline thing? Or is this now standard?).
Heathrow departure lounge is massive and we hung there for a while, leading to the first drama of the trip. Hannah’s attempt to withdraw money failed, as the special card she had put cash on had not registered her money. Things got a bit tense, but Llyw, in a big brother masterclass stepped forward and provided her the cash for the trip. I feel if this had happened to the Page family the results would have been different, and as my sibling turned to me with tear-filled eyes and informed me that their cash wasn’t available my reaction is more likely to be “Who am I going to lend money off now?” as opposed to stepping into the breach and solving the problem.
Crisis averted we wandered about and stopped at a bar, which was out of Bow and Corona, so I settled for a Beck’s. Wandering about after I looked for magazines, played with a Blackberry playbook and then sat down to wait to see which gate we needed.
When called we sat by the gate, the only white faces in a horde of Asian and Arabian faces all heading for Doha.
I was meant to be sitting next to Ashley, due to the lottery of seat assignment but agreed to swap with Hannah, meaning I was now between Llywelyn and Laurence. Ashley’s seat was broken however, in that it tilted back uncontrollably and this meant that the girls would probably be moved. Maybe even upgraded to first class.
That didn’t seem fair! I’d given up an aisle seat out of kindness so that the two friends could sit together and now it appeared as though I’d be missing out on the promised land of extra leg room.
As it was, only Hannah was moved, and this turned out to be just further along in economy.
I must admit I was nervous about the flight as I’d never been on a flight for more than 3 hours, and this first leg would be double that.
Long haul was a whole new world and luckily the time passed fairly quickly. I watched The Adjustment Bureau (little cheesy but enjoyable enough, carried by Damon’s likability) and some episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
Stepping off the plane at Doha was like stepping into a wall of heat. Dry, dusty and feeling as though it had been decades since the last breeze had blown through.
When I’d first heard about the plans for air-conditioned stadiums at the 2022 World Cup I’d thought “Pansies”.but now it made perfect sense. It was about 7:30am and already the temperature was climbing into the 30s. Walking from the plane to the bus was sweat inducing, so I could imagine that you’d have to be superhuman to survive even a kickabout in the afternoon heat.
I freshened up over a bathroom sink and helped myself to an Irishman’s bath at the Armani stand in Duty Free. Then we queued and boarded our second flight, a shorter, 4 hour hop to Colombo.
I slept for the first two hours of this flight and spent the rest of the time reading and following our progress on a frankly useless computer display, which had the plane displayed at such an out of scale size that it looked as though if I walked the length of the plane in Doha I’d have arrived in Colombo.
The second leg, maybe due to us being on a smaller plane was a lot bumpier. Of course, the PTB showed their usual cruel sense of humour in saving the worst of the turbulance for when I had gone to the bathroom. I’d only just closed the door when the Captain announced we should all return to our seats and fasten seatbelts. I was then bounced around inside the tiny compartment in an extreme test of my bladder control.
Finally, we levelled out and I was able to go about my business.
This experience did make me aware that the Mile High Club must consist entirely of anorexics, midgets and contortionists. I know I’m on the larger side and the kind of woman I like tends to be the curvier, Dors Feline type. so it would definitely be impossible, but I think even two “normal people” would struggle to couple in such a confined enviornment. Also, would you want to? It is a toilet, afterall. (He wrote, somewhat hypocritically)
Colombo was warm, but there was moisture in the air and so nowhere near as uncomfortable. However, there was some drama as Llyw’s board hadn’t made it and was still sitting in Heathrow. Llyw, too his credit, remained friendly, polite and calm, while I think had my luggage gone missing I’d have Hulked-Up in seconds.
It was set up that Llyw could pick it up the next day and we boarded our minibus and drove through the hot, sweaty streets with us all eagerly drinking in sights and marvelling at the daredevil style of the cyclists and tuk-tuk drivers.
We got to our hotel and headed out for some food.