Thursday, October 9, 2014

Journey Across The World - A Canadian Maple Leaf In The Outback: The Flights

Okay everybody let me take you back in time to when I hate the pleasure of taking the flights from Vancouver to Melbourne.
The first flight was not bad. I was still excited at the thought of going to another country so everything seemed great at this point. The plane had rows on either side that sat two people and a middle row that sat four people. Bradley and I were in a two seater so already things were looking up. They played a great arrangement of movies and even had video games, all though the best video game was bejewelled and that’s not saying much.
I spent most of the flight watching american horror story asylum on my iPad and listening to my top rated songs on my iPod while playing the hell out of bejewelled. The meals were obviously horrendous but for some reason the meals on the first flight seemed not as repulsive as they did on the second flight. I slept for about an hour and half on the first flight and we arrived in Shanghai at about 6 pm. You could see the cover of smog illuminated by all the lights as it was dark out and humid as all hell. It was 35 degrees with 100% humidity so it was like stepping into a sauna. You could feel the moisture break away as you walked through the air and entered, the worst airport ever. 
When I entered the airport I actually thought that we had died on the plane and I was entering purgatory waiting for judgment. The walkways were old and the walls were falling apart at the seams. The airport seemed like it was in a state of constant repair. Bradley and I grabbed two trolleys and loaded up our extremely heavy bags. We walked for about 10 meters until this asian lady yells at us “no trolley”. I asked why but she just kept repeating no trolley. So Bradley and I start unloading our bags and she goes over to bradley, grabs the trolley and starts yelling no trolley. God bless his soul, Bradley starts trying to explain that he’s not taking the trolley but just unloading but to no avail she just kept yelling no trolley. We make our way over to the counter to transfer over onto our next flight. The line up is pretty long, with about 30 people in front on us and ONE attendant. One attendant, who was the first day on the job, the first day being born, the first time reading, the first time doing anything she was that slow. I think it took almost an hour and a half to move that line. A couple of attendants came and went, to help I think but they seemed to make the process slower if you can imagine that. 
We get through the check in and move to the most pathetic looking security check, there are two people there and what looked like a make shift metal detector. I was a bit nervous taking the silver through and possibly having a language barrier but they didn’t even mention it. I didn’t have to take off my jacket, my boots or my hat, they just waved me through. They just waved everybody through. We get into this open space where there were the check in desks and the gates. I thought I was at a check in counter previously but it must had just been a transfer counter because all the check in, flight boards and gates were now in this area. Everything was blocked off with giant white walls and it was absolutely desolate. Besides the no trolley lady, there was almost no one in the airport. It was deserted and only a few souls lingered around. This didn’t help my thoughts of purgatory. We walk about 5 feet and our gate is right there. After a 12 hour flight, we were both rooted and decided that only one of us would sleep at a time so that the other person could keep an eye on our things. Bradley was the lucky one who was going to get to sleep as he wasn’t able to get any sleep on the flight before and I was going to watch our stuff but before he slept I decided that I wanted to get a tea and water. I found this little cafe, grabbed a SMALL bottle of evian water and got a hot peppermint tea. The cost was 118 RMB’s. Looking back it was my fault for not knowing the conversion rate but I thought that the most it could possibly is $10 seeing as that would be even more expensive then the Vancouver airport but when I brought the receipt back to Bradley and we looked at the conversion the total cost in Canadian dollars was, drum roll pleas, 21 DOLLARS. OH MY GOD. I’m still pissed about it. Now I’m kind of in a bad mood. Bradley lays down trying to sleep but pops his head up about every 5 minutes for something or another. Can I say one of the worst decisions was wearing my UGG boots on this journey. My feet were literally roasting the whole time. I was constantly taking them off to try and cool my tootsies off. It was like having two roast chickens at the bottom of my ankles. That should be UGG’s new slogan, “It’s like having two roast chickens at the bottom of your ankles!” We waited there for about an hour and a half until we boarded our next flight. Our flight from hell.

We board onto our next flight and lucky again, Bradley and are in the two seater row but that is where the good news ends. We stay grounded on the tar mac for about an hour and a half due to severe lightning. So instead of this being the shorter flight, it has now turned out to be the longer one. Everything that was shiny and new just seemed old and tainted. It was a bit of an older plane but I was becoming bitter so everything seemed horrible. The meals really stood out to me on this one:
-Cardboard pork with vanishing noodles that fell apart when you looked at them.
-Cold edamame and mini scallop salad.
-Strawberry flavoured sweetened condensed milk.
-American breakfast of grey sausage, wet eggs and a steamed tomato sitting in a pile of grease that you had to drain out.
-Cold packaged pork buns.
-Sweet and sour spaghetti with carrots.
-Liquid Tofu dessert.
-Scrambled eggs with broccoli and mushrooms.
We tried to pick around what we could but in the end our meals consisted of a dinner roll they handed out at each meal and orange or apple juice. Picking around the food didn’t help tho, Bradley got sick and ended up throwing up at some point. 
The flight seemed to take forever. It was so hot and stuffy on the plane and that was without my UGG’s on. It felt like we were breathing in the same air from the last 100 flights. My nose was stuffed, my eyes were dry and I was flushed. Miss Canada over here. And at some point my underwear broke. I don’t know how to explain it. I went to the bathroom and noticed my underwear had broken apart. Maybe my hot roasting body literally disintegrated the fabric but whatever it was, it was like adding insult to injury. It was almost like an oasis when attendants would come by with water but you only got about a half a cup every hour or so, so you had to make that liquid gold last. Bradley was fading fast and needed to get some sleep so I gave him about 1 mg of Ativan. Bradley is very weary of medications and drugs so after about an hour of convincing he takes it and goes in and out of sleep for the next 2 hours. He woke up and found out there was still 10 hours of the flight and I have never seen someone look so sad. 
We tried sleeping in every position but unless you were completely sprawled out with no limbs touching each other, you were sizzling hot. I tried curling up in the seat and sleeping but as soon as my skin was touching itself my temperature gage just rocketed. It didn’t matter anyway, it was so damn uncomfortable, there was no position that you could had gotten into that would had been comfortable.
During the flight I looked behind me to see these little 5ft asians stretched across the four seater rows, which is just unfair. When you book a ticket on a flight you should have to state your height and if there are empty rows the tall people should be able to go to those rows to lay down. Which brings me to first class, which is just complete bullshit. Just because people have more money means they get to be more comfortable? So if you have less money you don’t deserve to be as comfortable as those with money? What kind of caste system are we supporting here. It’s sick! 

Towards the end of the flight it seemed like the seconds were sticking and didn’t want to budge. I felt like I was watching a million episodes of the television series but only 5 minutes had passed. It got to the point where you just turned off all he devices but kept your headphones in and stared at nothing, hoping that you would fall asleep or drift off mentally until the plane landed. I felt every second, every minute and every hour of that flight. I could give a play by play if I wanted to. Eventually the ride from hell lands in Melbourne and as Gandlaf once said, “This too shall pass.”


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Journey Across The World - A Canadian Maple Leaf In The Outback

 All tho there is such a story before leading up to Australia and such a story being in Australia for a month, I had to decide where to start; where and when in the story to let you all in. I have written quite a lot since being here as I don’t want to forget a minute of it so I will being posting stories from here and there, that time line wise might be all over the place but I will start with the current and jump around after that.
It had been a month on the farm and Bradley and I decided it was time to make a plan what to do. I personally did not want to work right away. I have worked two jobs for most of my adult life and feel about 50 years old. After deciding our end destination to live and work would be Brisbane, we thought that a road trip to Brisbane would be a great idea. A road trip to Brisbane turned into a road trip to Cairns and then back down to Brisbane. We were both very much on board with this idea. The only decision was how we do it. Do we back pack and get the hop on hop off greyhound bus pass that is about $600 that allows you, once purchased for 6 months to get on and off of the greyhound heading in one direction as many times you want and staying in hostels along the way or pull out Bradley’s old car from the shed on the farm, get it running and have unlimited freedom. The bus pas/back packing idea is convenient in a sense but also not that convenient because you have a certain schedule and path the bus goes and anything outside of that is extra money and not easy to do. Tough choice but the car option won so we pulled his old 88’ Holden Astra out of the garage and began to work on it. When I say work on it, I mean Bradley worked on it and I vacuumed and passed wrenches. The car was actually in great shape, not one dent or scratch but the Mazda in my hands for 2 years had dents and scratches both! Please don’t tell me the quality of a driver is based on how the car looks.
I became determined to make the car as clean as possible because I feel that old cars automatically feel dirtier, I don’t know if it’s because of the older colours or the fading but I wanted to feel like I could put my hands anywhere in the car and not be scared of what was in a crack. Like a giant spider or a kangaroo. Not a bloody roo! We removed the back seats so that we would have extra room and took the car to be serviced. During our Adelaide trip we bought everything we could think of that we would need because we would be camping for 1-2 months, with hostel stays here in there in major cities like Sydney.
-Easy to assemble tent $250:
Boy have things changed since I was a kid. I was used to fighting with poles that were kind of too long for the tent so during the second hour of assembling the tent you were cursing the sales associate convinced that she had given you the wrong poles but what we got was the plaza of tents. First of all, it’s tall, over 6ft tall. It’s kind of like a pyramid shape with an outer layer that goes over it and a canopy that extends out of the front. The poles are attached to the tent and you just snap them into place so assembly is less than a minute. Sure, we could had gotten a cheaper tent. They had mansions there for $130 but made out of what looked and felt like cheap rain jacket material that could had barely survived a strong breath. Quality every time!
-A tarp $30. Apparently you have to buy a tarp to put under your tent so that the tent is protected but why don’t they just make the bottom of tents more durable? Money!
-A Queen Foam Mattress $135. I personally don’t mind air mattresses, it feels like you’re sleeping a cloud but according to the sales girl they’re kind of out of date and are “okay if you have a friend staying for one night”. So we brought our attention to a foam mattress you roll up really tight and when you want to use it you undo the valves roll it out and it fills with air by itself!
-Sleeping bags $140 for two. With two drawstring compartments so you can really cocoon yourself.
-Folding chair $20. Yes the pocket has already ripped but it was only $20. And in defense of my quality theory, the chair was originally $70 all though now looking back that may had been a lie.
-A stainless steel Billy teapot $30. Their teapots are called a Billy and I don’t know why.
-A flashlight/lantern $50. Bradley insisted we could just use our iPhones but I wanted a lantern to hang at the top of the tent in order to tell scary stories but not Wolf Creek scary kind of scary stories.
-A Waeco Cooler for $70.
-Extra poles to secure the tent $6.
-A gas burner $15.
-6 cans of Propane $6.50.
All up together it was about $730. Which is not bad for two people to camp themselves around Australia.

Bradley being who he is decided that we needed some camping practice before we embark on our journey so we practiced at the farm for three nights. Each night we put the camp site up and each morning we packed it away in the car. I will say that we have gotten pretty quick and efficient at the assembly and disassembly of our little home. The good thing about practice is that problems come up that you would never had thought of and if you’re somewhere you know and not on the open road at a national park you have a much easier time solving these issues like condensation in the tent. Coupled with the warm days, cool nights and our water vapour from breathing, condensation builds up in the tent which can cause odour and mildew. I sound like a commercial! Quick fix, crack the windows when you’re sleeping so that there is ventilation. Too easy! Might I also say that, that foam mattress we bought is so comfortable that it almost feels like a bed and that quick set up tent is a miracle that anyone who camps needs to buy. We figured that if we were going to spend possible months on the road that it had to be as easy and comfortable as possible. We leave for our adventure on October 7th to the Grampians national park and I couldn't be more excited to see as much as possible and do as much as possible in these next few months. I plan on recording everything I do and posting regularly. Until then my friends and loved ones. May the force be with you.