Friday, 31 August 2012

The journey: Part I

Hour 48...and we've just taken off from Seoul when we should have been arriving in Suva... Actually I can't finish that sentence because I have no recollection of what are original plans were.

Casting my mind back to Sunday - while supping cups of tea in what was going to be our third to last morning in our lovely bed for a few years, I asked John to email the e-ticket to me. Panic ensued when we realised that the itinery that he'd agreed with his secretary to leave on Tuesday, had been ignored and she'd booked us on flights that were to leave in three hours time. Flights were hastily rearranged for the next day as our original itinery was no longer available.

Of course we still had a houseful of girls, but they looked after themselves. Between packing boxes and making runs to the tip, we got dressed up and went to a fabulous party for Helena and Georgina's birthdays.

Anna, bless her, was brutally forced out of the denial stage of grieiving about leaving England. She proceeded to quickly cycle through the other four stages before we were sent off with proper bon voyage by her friends at the airport.

Arriving at Heathrow, we were rudely met by the transfers board stating that our London-Seoul flight had been cancelled. Quite why were were allowed on the Newcastle-London flight when everyone in the airline industry knew that two typhoons were bearing down on the Korean peninsula is anyone's guess. We had a nice dinner and a reasonable night's sleep at Korean Air's expense before getting up at the crack of dawn to board our rescheduled flight - with promises that our connecting flights to Fiji would be sorted in Seoul.

The flight was uneventful except for the really yucky rice porridge for breakfast until the landing. The pilot's English was obviously a little limited. When he said on his announcement that it was "a little breezy" in Seoul, what he really meant was "it's blowing a ****ing hooley". Because they had the straight-ahead-pilot's-eye-view of the runway on the video screens we all watched in horror as the plane veered from right to left while aiming for the straight glowing white dashed line. Scary.

We arrived at Incheon airport at 3am and the exhausted Korean Air staff told us that we could get a connecting flight to Fiji - in September! We were the last people at the customer service desk and our bags weren't in the luggage piled up near the carousel. Miraculously, a KAL man made our bags appear up the conveyor belt almost immediately when we asked about them.

Of course, 2000 people had had their flights delayed so there were no empty hotel rooms at any airport hotel so we rang a downtown hotel to organise a room. Fortunately Anna noticed that the taxi driver had taken us to the wrong hotel before he drove away. Another 20 minute taxi ride and we checked into our hotel at 06:30, woke up at 11:15. Back at the airport at 14:00, we finally boarded a flight to Auckland. Yes, Auckland. In New Zealand. More about that later.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

I hope the rest of the trip is smoother...

Two days until we leave for Fiji and as I walked down the stairs this morning, the house looked alarmingly chaotic. It doesn't help that there are 14 (or was it 15?) girls asleep in tents outside, belatedly celebrating Anna's 16h birthday. My third to last sleep in my comfy bed was punctuated periodically by giggling packs of them trying to get upstairs quietly to use the bathroom.

Since John left for Fiji in April, I have been sorting through every item accumulated over our twenty years in Hagg Bank and making the decision: store, sell, bin, give away or ship? We have a lot of stuff, some of which I didn't know we had and some of which I didn't know what it was. I laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time, while going through old papers and keepsakes. I came across postcards from my late sister Ruth, who always wrote postcards to everyone who might handle it throughout the postal journey ("Hello Looters|" she put in a postcard to us after Hurricane Hugo).

I'd love to sit and chat, however, we've just found out that there has been a mistake when they issued the tickets (suggested itinerary does not equal flights booked), so we're leaving tomorrow rather than day after tomorrow.

Deep breath. Keep calm.....

View Larger Map