As I compose this entry we are aboard our Thai Airways 747-400 aircraft about three hours from our arrival into Madrid. So much has happened in the time since we departed Sydney some twenty six hours later…let me fill you in.
After some initial stress caused by some later arriving pilgrims (you guys know who you are, and I still don’t accept your reasoning…but you’ll keep!) the check-in, border clearance, and boarding of our first aircraft went very smoothly. What followed was a nine and a half hour journey to our transit point of Bangkok. I spent much of the time watching movies and some comedy shows on my individual entertainment screen, but was also treated to some wonderful meals.
We actually arrived early into Bangkok and so we had a little over two hours to wander on the departure side of border control. After another momentary scare with a possible lost pilgrim, we managed to meet up and then go our separate ways for our transit time, with many of us taking the opportunity to wander the sprawling terminal building, which was very much alive late on a Wednesday night (to my surprise). It was a remarkable building architecturally, completely unlike Sydney’s more functional design. Our time in Bangkok Airport also gave me the chance to grapple with the complexity of the Thai Baht…another first for me!
Our boarding of our second aircraft – the one in which I am currently seated, surrounded by fellow pilgrims from across Australia (and beyond) – was slightly delayed, but the spirit among the pilgrims gathered in the departure lounge was still upbeat…although I won’t speak for the “ordinary” travellers who were exposed to our upbeat and joyful exuberance.
The second leg of our flight is the longer twelve hour stretch, and we have been racing the sun as we head westerly around the globe. No sooner had the undercarriage found its way back into the fuselage then we were once again served up a very delicious meal. The surprise came at the end of the meal though – after a very quick clearing of trays, the cabin lights were dimmed and the inflight entertainment was turned off. I think the cabin crew may have been trying to tell us something.
I managed to achieve a good amount of sleep during this second leg of our journey, and am currently awaiting – quite eagerly – the serving of breakfast in a short while. By the time breakfast is eaten, and the trays cleared away we should be approaching our arrival in Madrid.
But that’s a story for my next entry!