(see disclaimer at top of previous post!)
During the stopover in sydney I felt very lethargic. I was nearly asleep in the First Class Lounge at Kingsford Smith Airport, but managed to keep myself awake by daydreaming about the new life I'm about to start. When I arrived in the lounge, I found a seat quickly, as the lounge was quite busy, and I was one of the first off my flight. I did not want to have to search around for a seat, as having to wait for service, or not being able to find what I expect to be there is one of my pet hates. I found a seat near the window, but not at the window. When searching for a seat in an airport lounge, there are 2 key things for me. Security, and electricity sockets. Luckily, I usually find what I consider secure and powered seats. In Auckland lounge I usually have to unplug a lamp, but in other, better equipped lounges, most seats have power and phone jacks built into the "tables" between the seats.
I was sitting near a couple; the wife was clearly South African, and the husband was English. She was wearing teal tracksuit pants, and a white blouse, and he was wearing black, pleated, dress trousers, and a tweed jacket. Shocking. The husband disappeared off and allowed 2 of his colleagues into the lounge, they certainly did not belong in this lounge. There was a large man who mispronounced "Sudoku"; mispronunciation is one of my pet hates, The word is su-do-ku, not su-du-ko. Japanese, like Maori and German, is a very easy language to pronounce. In Japanese and Maori (and to a lesser extent, German) are always consonant-vowel pairs. There are also long vowel sounds, as well as the inevitable exceptions to the consonant-vowel rule (shi, n [and in maori nga] for example), but on the whole, they are very easy languages to pronounce. The other fellow was an Australian/Asian man who thought he was the Sudoku king - he was advising the South African lady on which digits could fit where. The last part of their conversation I heard was her telling him he was wrong because that box could be one OR eight.
In the lounge I consumed a bottle of apple juice, 2 cottage cheese and spinach Filo parcels that were coated with poppy seeds, a roll filled with ham, eggplant, mayonnaise, cheese and lettuce, and a chocolate and raspberry tart. On the way out of the lounge I took a bottle of Summit Australian Natural Spring Water.
Heading towards the plane I contemplated my visa dilemma. I concluded that if I arrive in England and they will not authorise my visa (as I am 2 days too early) I will enter as a visitor, go to France on the weekend, enter the country again and then they will authorise it, and I will legally be allowed to work in England. I also had a sense of dread wash over me as I thought about my seat number. 61A. To me, this did not sound near the front of the plane, nor upper deck. To my relief, as I entered the plane the steward said to me "to your right and up the stairs sir." Upper Deck, my favourite place for long haul flights.
Seat 61A was one set of seats forward of the emergency exit on the upper deck. The seat on this flight is facing backwards, which is a new experience for me. There was a lady in 61B, but she moved because seats 62A and B are free.
Predictably, I had the champagne when I arrived at my seat. The crew up here are friendly and talkative. After the champagne I had a G'n'T and Kenyan roasted and salted Macadamia nuts and Cashew nuts. The packaging for the nuts could not have been written by someone with a masterful grasp of the English language. The package claimed that the nuts were unsuitable for children under 3 years of age (which is OK), but there was an Allergy Alert on the packaging. There were apparently nuts in this packet of nuts - just in case someone who was allergic to nuts accidentally opened a package of nuts and consumed them. The nuts and G'n'T were accompanied by a menu.
On the menu for a starter was a confit of duck and rocket salad, Green asparagus and artichoke salad, or a fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette. I chose the confit of duck and rocket salad, which oddly was itself accompanied by a fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette. For the main the options were Grilled fillet of beef with horseradish mash and mushroom duxelles, Pan-fried snapper with a red wine jus and baby potatoes accompanied by seasonal vegetables, Fresh pasta with ProvenÃƒ§al vegetables and Stilton cream, or a Main course salad of marinated seafood on fresh salad leaves served with lemon vinaigrette. I was tempted by both the Pan-fried snapper with a red wine jus and baby potatoes accompanied by seasonal vegetables and the Fresh pasta with ProvenÃƒ§al vegetables and Stilton cream, as I am a big fan of fish, pasta and stilton. However, I reevaluated how I was feeling, and I eventually chose the Main course salad of marinated seafood on fresh salad leaves served with lemon vinaigrette, as it was the "Well Being" selection, according to the in-flight magazine "High Life". The salad arrived with six or so baby octopus, olives, beans, rocket, and two large prawns. It was a very good salad. It did not however come with lemon vinaigrette, it arrived with 2 containers of caesar dressing, which I certainly did not mind.
For dessert the options were a chocolate and strawberry sponge cake, or a selection of cheese. I again choose the cheese. The cheeses were a very good, soft, creamy camembert, and an above average strong blue. The crackers provided were average, being brittle and dry oat based crackers. Seven below average grapes were on the plate, as well as two celery sticks. I also ordered a Port and a Coffee. The hostess poured me the largest port I've ever been served, and then asked about my earring. She asked if it was in my ear to combat air sickness. I said, "no, it's just for fashion." She proceeded to tell me about people how get parts of their bodies pierced as a form of permanent acupuncture. The pretty hostess then joined in on the conversation, asking if it hurt to get it done as apparently the top of your ear is one of the most painful places on the body to get pierced. Either I have a very high pain tolerance, or the pierceist I used was very skilled as it did not hurt at all to get the top of my ear pierced. My nose hurt more when I got that done, but that was also done with a gun, and not a needle. The nose ring had to be taken out, as the wound never healed and was infected for 9 or so months. The hostess who initially started the conversation then informed me that she was considering getting the same place pierced on her to help her with dieting, but I just did not understand that and decided it would be best not to pursue that line of conversation further.
During dinner the view was spectacular. The sun had just set over the Great Artesian Basin in the centre of Australia, and the sky colours gradiented from a deep, deep blue, through all colours of the spectrum down to yellow, then red, then the black of the desert. Now it is pitch black outside.
We are now north east of Alice Springs, over the Great Sandy Desert I think. We are flying at 34000 feet, at a speed of 863km/hr. I will be in Bangkok in 6 hours and 17 minutes.