Friday, August 27, 2010

The Long Journey South

I'm back home after my fifth equator crossing (the third in a year). As long as the whole journey takes (flying plus travel to/from the airport and waiting for connections - approx. 24hours. Actual flying time between Vancouver and Sydney 13-16 hours) I actually don't mind it too much. You kind of have to get into a groove and have a system.

First of all you have to come to terms with the fact it's going to take as long as it takes and nothing you can do will make time go faster. The quicker you accept that you will be in a plane for at least 13 hours (more if you are flying from further east) the quicker you will be able to do things other than obsess about the minutes.

Research the entertainment options you will have on your plane. Most planes these days have individual seatback TVs - especially on the long flights. This is probably the best idea anyone has ever had. They load them with tonnes of movies, music and sometimes games. Go to the website of the airline you're flying with and check to see if they've posted what movies they'll have while you're flying. I like doing this because then I can reassure myself that I won't be bored stiff. I count all the movies I'd like to watch and make a mental list of the top ones I'd like to see.

Bring other things to do just in case there isn't anything you want to watch. Nintendo DS and games, a book or two, crossword puzzle, portable DVD player with your favourite watch again movie, knitting or other small portable craft project.

Sleep aides. My goal on these long haul flights is to sleep as much as I possibly can. I never travel without my eye mask, ear plugs and some sort of medicine to help me sleep. Some people are snickering at the thought of an eye mask and ear plugs but trust me, you will get a MUCH better sleep with just these two things alone - not having to hear the baby three rows up screaming for 10 hours? AWESOME. I've only taken an Rx sleeping pill on one of my long haul flights and it worked like a charm. Be aware of side effects though - sleep sex might not be so great if it happens in public! So besides that, I use Gravol most times. It lets you get a pretty decent chunk of sleep. I only took one Gravol this last flight and spent a good majority of it napping. A long haul flight isn't the best time to try a new medicine though so I'd suggest using something you're familiar with.

Travel pillow. Make sure you have one of these. My favourite by far is the contour twist pillow. The girl on the commercial doesn't make it look that comfortable but trust me, it's awesome. You can twist it to all sorts of shapes which makes it easy to get it into the perfect position. I usually have it folded up onto one side to lean my head onto - the inflatable ones don't seem to give enough support and can deflate and get sweaty/hot.

Slippers. I bring a pair of slippers or thick socks with me to put on basically as soon as I can. It can get pretty chilly on the plane and it's better than walking around barefoot or in your regular socks.

Snacks with no import restrictions. Pack a few granola bars or other sorts of portable snacks. Be aware of import restrictions in the country you're travelling to and either plan to eat it all or throw it away once you land. You generally won't need the snacks but it makes me feel better knowing that if I get snacky, I have something in my bag.

Order a special meal. On every flight I've been on, people with special meals get theirs first. If you don't like waiting or are worried your preference will be gone (especially if you're stuck at the back of the plane), save the stress and order a special meal. There's all sorts to choose from and generally they're all pretty good. The only downside to this is the dude in front of you may keep his chair reclined while you eat only to put his chair up as soon as he gets his meal (and you're done yours).

A few other things I pack but aren't 100% necessary: A facecloth in a ziploc bag (it's nice to get up and wash your face a few hours before you land and having it in a ziploc means you don't have to cart around a soggy cloth in your bag), toothbrush and toothpaste, brush and elastics (I usually re-do my hair before we land since it's usually a mess after 13+ hours), spare pair or two of undies (firstly, you just never know and secondly, just changing that one piece of clothing makes you feel not so grungy), small cosmetics bag (nail clippers, tweezers, small mirror, pain killers, lip balm, lotion, face wash).

This is how my typical long haul flight shapes up:
First three hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
Middle 3 hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
Last 3 hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.

So basically, as soon as the first meal is done, I try to sleep until they hand out the next meal and then repeat. On the way back I actually only managed to stay up long enough to watch one full movie. I ended up falling asleep through all the others I started.

So there you go! It's not so bad when you break it down into it's individual components. If you are able to sleep on a plane then you've got your biggest problem solved. It also helps if you don't mind watching movies!

Next post: Sneaky Glen and the awesome surprises.

Temperature: +10C (feels like +7C)
Sunrise: 6:50am
Sunset: 5:54pm

Friday, August 20, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Just popping in to say hi. Things have been great here so far and I have just under a week left. My brother did some magic on his router and my wireless works great here (WAY better than at home actually!). We've been fairly busy most days, the first week I was here was spent helping my sister-in-law (!) sort out all the final details for the wedding. She had things mostly under control so we didn't really need to do much. We folded and filled favour boxes though.

We also took a few runs to the next town over to do some last minute shopping and after all the agonizing over finding a dress, they found me a really cute one. I had actually bought a dress before I left but mum wanted me to get a new one (?) so she bought me one. I wasn't sure about it at first but everyone loved it so I must have bad taste or something haha

(Me with my little (!) brother taken by my mum)

The wedding was beautiful. The ceremony was outside at SIL's grandma's and then the reception was at the local yacht club (Yacht Club sounds posh... It was like a nice community hall near the water with boats. "Yacht Club" makes it sounds like it was a big bucks kind of place. Their whole wedding was outrageously affordable and I'm really proud of them for doing it so cheaply. They actually refused to do things like hire a limo because they couldn't justify the cost for the hour or so they needed it. They were perfectly happy to borrow one of the shiny rental cars family had). It was great that a lot of our out-of-town family came and we got to spent time with a lot of them outside the wedding. We have another family wedding this coming weekend so we'll see even more family (this is a very convenient way to get all the visiting out of the way!).

I got to play photographer for part of the day and that was a lot of fun. The photographer that was hired didn't have an assistant so I offered to take the shots of the guys getting ready since the paid for photographer was out getting SIL getting ready shots (and we were over here where the boys were getting ready anyway).
I'm ridiculously proud of a few shots I got and I'd say they're quality enough to fit right in with the rest of the shots from the day (or at least I'm hoping the paid for photographer got some great shots!). I got an incredible shot of my brother's best man (this guy was his best friend growing up and practically like a brother - he calls our mum, mum - and he just happens to be SIL's cousin! SIL didn't know him growing up and it was only about 6-7 years ago they found each other online and have reconnected). Anyway, I might have to post that another day, but it's been getting a lot of attention of facebook.

I've also been trying to get my fill of Canadian things before I go home. I've been really shocked at how easy being back is. The whole driving on the right side of the road thing, going back to having pennies and quarters, French on all the packaging etc. I was expecting to have a bit of culture shock coming back but there hasn't been any. I'm not sure whether I should be happy or sad about this (does it mean I still haven't fully assimilated into Aussie life?). I've done a little bit of driving and besides having to ask if I'm on the proper side of the road and accidentally going for the turn signal on the wrong side of the steering wheel a few times, driving has been remarkably easy and stress-free. Not something I can say for driving down under.
I've had my fill of kraft dinner and a few pizza pops, I've been sampling some of the chocolate bars I left behind and I'm making a list of what I want to take back or more appropriately a list of things that people can send me if they're feeling generous enough to send a care package. My king sized pillows and wide-mouth thermos have been bought. I've been to Canadian tire a few times and I've set foot in the major big box store more than once.
I'm also enjoying being able to wander around this great little town that my brother and SIL call home. It may be full (and I mean FULL) of tourists in the summer but they have so many great little shops, I'm kind of jealous since they only have to walk up and down a few blocks to visit these great stores instead of having them spread across a massive city.

This has turned into a rather long "just popping in" post but I wanted to fill everyone in on how things are going. We're really having a great time and this is the first time it's felt like summer in a LONG time (y'know those lazy summer days during school holidays, the air had a specific smell and feel to it, didn't have any agenda and just did whatever was happening... My favourite time of year).

Temperature: +22C (feels like +29C)
Sunrise: 6:18am
Sunset: 8:08pm

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Be Back Soon!

Just letting everyone know that I'm off to Canada for 3 weeks for my brother's wedding. Not sure if I'll have time to post or not or if my computer will even work on my brother's wifi connection (he has some sort of crazy setting and my laptop is too old to recognize it or something?).

I arrive back in Australia on August 26th.

So! Off to the land of kraft dinner, rice-a-roni, poutine and king sized pillows!

(taken at LAX in 2007 on our way to Melbourne for Glen's sister's wedding)