...I suspect I may be the luckiest kid in the world

Friday, June 11, 2010

Toto, We're Not In Europe Anymore. Part 2:

On Returning home.

Out of the bajillion of flights I've taken on this trip, the last one was the worst. It's a 4 hour drive from Sydney to our family home and so I decided to fly, rather than beg my parents to be waiting for me at 6AM in Sydney. I should have been on this domestic flight at 8AM and then glided in sometime around 9AM and been home in time for a coffee. Should.


With thanks to

ChinaAir for their tardiness, Sydney Airport for their exceptionally long customs and baggage line at 7AM in the morning(!), the Sniffer Dog for thinking my nail polish was delicious (thus requiring a search of my luggage for non-existant food), and a broken Qantas plane,

for making this not possible.

Instead my family went to the airport and waited for an unaccounted-for missing daughter (sorry! but I did try and call!) Heartfelt apologies to the any disembarking female passengers in the 20-24 age bracket who may have been swamped by a loving but foreign family.

Thankfully, they did come back and fetch me later that afternoon when I finally got in. Go here for my Mother's Side of the Story.

During the wait, where they shifted us between planes, buses and waiting gates I drifted off to sleep so many times. Each time waking with a shock and having to think about those essentials - who am I? where am I? why am i drooling? what am i doing here? why does everyone here have that strange accent?

Someone's gotta provide the entertainment.

But now, I'm home. Spending time with my fam. Shocked a lot by the local-yokel-ness of Australians. Finding myself out in the bush helping chop firewood (ok let's be honest, Dad uses his chainsaw and I collected the logs - why chop when you can chainsaw!?). Eating Mumma's food again. Taking family pictures. Freezing. Hunting down my old Uggboots. Catching up with friends. Baking Swiss bread --

What can I say? Old habits die hard.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Toto, We're Not In Europe Anymore, Part 1

I took myself off to the Airport and waved myself off. After a bad experience the week before-
(On the way to London - this included finding lines 100+ metres long - NOT normal for Zurich Airport! I had to beg, borrow and bribe my way through to the front of each line - I have NO jewelery left now, and then running for my life all the way to the gate which happened to be (of course) on the other side of the airport)

...I allowed plenty of time. I was maxed out on luggage allowance and would not-could not, be running anywhere.

After a brief sprint through the Frankfurt Airport, I was drooled on by a Chinese man most of the way to Beijing. I should have seen this as a foretaste of what was to come.

Beijing: Probably one of the craziest experiences of my life. In my whole week in China I probably saw only 20 other "white" people. Which meant that I was a walking sideshow freak attraction to all the Chinese.

Stared at?
Spat on?
Sat on?
Sneered at?
Shocked by?
Sized up?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

It was like going back to the beginning again. I couldn't read anything or understand anyone.

But after a good sleep, I felt like I might be able to cope and had an amazing trip. I got a wonderful glance of the Great Wall and finally was able to beg my way into buying a train ticket (an experience all of it's own) to visit my friend Aimee up in northern China.

I took a Night Train (they would only sell me 1st class-and I had to pay for the privilege) and arrived in Harbin. Here, I finally got to eat some real, good, Chinese food, explore miles and miles of underground shops/markets, take a million taxis, and even practice some Chinese on said taxi drivers.
It was very fun to see Aimee again (I actually caught up with her last when I was passing through Singapore on my way to Switz) and to tag along on some of her classes (she's teaching English).

The night train back was, ah, different, as I managed to buy a cheaper 2nd class ticket. Let's just say that the people who designed the bed size were very skinny.

But, actually, I really liked China. It couldn't have been any different from Europe. It's probably been a good transition spot for coming home. At least, home couldn't be any stranger than China.