Sydney to Beijing – Qantas A330-200
Boarding 11:45, everyone on board by 12:02, for a 12:10 departure. Pushing back 12:12 Take off 12:27
Airline food is getting better but the fact they serve it up to you in a metal tray with a thick aluminum lid does nothing for the quality of the food inside. I get what the chef is trying to do but often there is too little of one thing and too much of another and what you finish up with is slop in a tray. Sometimes it’s edible sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the meat is tender and other times it’s like boot leather. As it is today. I think it’s pork, I should have had the chicken. Or perhaps it was chicken. I hate it when you can’t tell what it is that you’re eating. But, the drinks were good.
Rest or Sleep, maybe
It’s going to take 11 hours and 20 minutes from Sydney to Beijing, a long time to sit in a plane with nothing much to do other than crosswords, read a book or newspaper or magazine, listen to music on your own device, or the in-flight entertainment, watch a movie again by the in-flight entertainment – if it works – or try to get some sleep. I started with the crosswords but got bored quickly. I fiddled with the in-flight entertainment, looked at the movies and tv shows but none really interested me, not then at least, so I set it to the flight path. Not exactly stellar entertainment, but it’s always interesting to know where the plane is. Or is it? If we crash, what good would it do me to know it’s somewhere over the ocean, not far from Manila, or somewhere else. It’s not as if I could phone someone up, on the way down, to let them know where we are. But, just after dinner, we still haven’t left Australia
However, by the time I’ve finished fiddling with and dismissing all of the entertainment alternatives, it’s back to the flight path and now we are…
Somewhere approaching the Sulu Sea, which I’ve never heard of before, so it looks like I’ll have to study up on my geography when I get home.
OK, Manila looks like somewhere I’ve heard of, so we have to be flying over the Philippines. Not far left of that is Vietnam. Neither of those places is on my travel bucket list, so I’ll just look from up here and be satisfied with that.
Working, or not
Chronic boredom is setting in by the time we are just past halfway to our destination. We are over 6 hours into the flight and there no possible way I’m going to get any sleep. I brought my Galaxy Tab loaded with a few of my novel outlines, and planning for missing chapters, thinking I might get a little thinking time in. Plane rides, I find, are excellent for getting an opportunity to write virtually unhindered by outside interruptions, if, of course, you discount the number of times people brush past, knocking your seat, the person in front lowering the seat into your face, or people around you continually asking you to turn off your light because they’re trying to sleep. Sorry, I say, but you can suffer my pain with me. It’s one of the joys of flying with over two hundred others in a claustrophobic environment. Besides, aren’t the lights supposed to be slanted so only I get the rays of light? Except, I guess when the fixed light doesn’t line up with where the airline has fixed the seat (usually so they can squash more people in). So, sorry, not sorry, take it up with the airline.
Back to work, and I put in some quality time on a part of the story that had been eluding me for a while. I knew what I wanted to write, but not how I was going to approach it, so that blissfully quiet and intense time worked in my favour, something that would not have happened back home. I won’t bore you with the synopsis, just suffice to say it’s finally down on paper, digitally that is, and it’s a huge step forward towards finishing it. There is, of course, the end play, the reading of the will but not before there are a few thrusts and parry’s by some of the players, but all in all the objective was to showcase a group of people with their strengths and weaknesses pushing their characters in various directions, some at odds with what is expected of them. But enough of that. A quick check of our position shows we’re still over water but closer to our destination, so much so, we might start the pre-landing rituals, starting with food.
7:00 – Dinner is served, well, the lights go on and a lot of tired people try to shake the sleep, and sleeplessness, out of their systems. Then flight attendants that are far too cheerful, and must have beamed in from somewhere else, serve another interesting concoction that says what’s in it but you can’t really be sure of the ingredients. It comes and it goes.
9:10 – We begin our descent into Beijing, you know, that moment when the engines almost stop and there’s a sickening lurch and the plane heads downward. 9:56 – We touch down on the runway, in the dark and apparently it has been raining though from inside the plane you’d never know. 10:10 – the plane arrives at the gate, the usual few minutes to open the door, and, being closer to the front of the plane this time, it doesn’t take that long before the queue is moving.
Early or late, it doesn’t matter. After clearing customs and immigration, we have to go in search of our tour guide, waiting for us somewhere outside the arrivals terminal.