Saturday June 1 - London England
I fell in through my friends front door after a gruelling long haul from Australia, to a cup of tea, a roast chicken dinner, wine and a shower. I'm not sure in which order or what was the best. Just stopping moving was really good - there's something about travelling at close to 1000 kms per hour that alters and shifts the way your brain works... Arriving in London was fantastic - another part of my journey had begun, but the trip from Dubai bears mentioning.
What can I say about the A380 airbus except FUCK ITS HUGE HOW THE FUCK WILL IT EVER GET OFF THE FUCKING GROUND!
Dubai... Nothing could have prepared me for the monstrous glass and metal maze of the airport. The opulence was staggering and the size of the place made my brain go into convulsions... We landed, along with a queue of other big jets from all over the world, in a roar of noise and jet fuel. I was so relieved to be off the plane but I stopped smack bang in the middle of the first corridor after disembarking and, like some colonial yokel, my jaw simply dropped. I think my eyeballs bulged out too. And as I walked and walked, and walked, my eyes grew bigger and rounder and my brain simply gave up trying to process any of it.
The miles of Arrivals. Marble and glass stretching on seemingly endlessly. I walked a long way to the train that took me to the connecting flight and walked again. The opulent Aladdins cave of Duty Free shopping awaited. Again with the open mouth and boggling eyes. Acre after acre of luxury goods and chocolate... By this time I was hot, sweaty, tired and thirsty. And busting for a pee. Finding a toilet at Dubai Departure Lounge was a trek. The queue was long and the stalls were lacking in paper. There were antsy women waiting :D
I went back to the lounge with a cup of evil coffee and a bottle of water to wait the four hours before the connecting flight. By 5 am the city was bathed in light and I could see through the frosted windows to the flat arid city beyond the runways, including the famous tower thingie. And right in front of our lounge was one of the, no the BIGGEST fucking plane I have ever seen! I didn't think anything of it at first. I went and took photos of things around the airport and then I looked at the plane again and took some shots - showing the teeny man next to the massive turbine of one of the jets and then, as I panned the camera down the side under the teeny tiny pilot cockpit windows I saw the A380 symbol on the side of the plane...
I nearly dropped my camera. I struggled to contain the sheer panic bubbling up inside my already overloaded brain. How the FUCK did these things, laden with approx 600 passengers, crew and cargo EVER get off the ground and how the hell did it stay in the air? And then it hit me - that was MY plane! I think I went white.
So I sat, watching it being loaded. The years were peeling away from me. I was starting to feel like I'd been reborn. There was no place for fear in the new me that was starting to emerge.
Finally the call to board came and we all rushed to find our places. And there, sitting by the deeply recessed tiny window in cattle class, I got a real idea of the sheer size of Dubai International Airport.
Line after line, row after row of plane tails.... And these the 380's only! Seems they have their own terminal! I watched with incredulous disbelief as one after another of the behemoths were backed from the gates and onto the tarmac where they taxied off - destinations unknown.
And then it was our turn and we trundled off to join the queue as one after another jet lined up for take off. What a sight. I couldn't stop taking photos. And then we commenced our run up and the POWER of that massive aircraft slammed me back into my seat. My heart was beating wildly, my hands wet with sweat as we hurtled down the runway. The roar! The noise! The feeling! And then there was that moment where the wheels lifted from the runway and for a moment in time we were suspended above the earth before ascending to the waiting heavens.
Banking, I saw Dubai disappear in a thick dirty cloud as we wheeled and turned towards our destination. The city was choked with smog. The land and sea for miles similarly choked in a dirty yellow blanket. High banks of brown sludge obscured everything.
Over the sea we flew. Higher and higher. Up, up and away. Much later, cruising at 38000 feet and doing an impossible to comprehend 980 kms per hour, I was forced to close the blind on the window and seek refuge in sleep. The raw sunlight reflecting back from the thick white cloud below was blinding. We had climbed way above the roof of the world and were roaring through Air, my element, to the green lands of England. I sat back and dreamed.
We came down through the clouds 7 hours later and the sight of the lush, verdant impossibly green landscape brought tears to my eyes. I had made it! I had arrived! The bouncy landing didn't bother me, I couldn't wait to get my shit together, find my luggage, get through customs and get to my friends place in London!
The next step of my journey was about to begin...