The 30 Hour May Day

I’m sitting in the transfer lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. I’ve had an 18 hour day, and it’s far from being over. I still have a couple of hours to wait until my third and final flight of the day takes to the skies. And since I’m bound for San Francisco, it means I’ll be adding another twelve hours and forty-five minutes to my ‘long’ day. Not to mention what awaits when I finally arrive in the U.S- immigration, customs, transfers, hotel check-in. But after all that will come the moment when I’ll enter my room and see a bed where I can stretch my legs and sleep like a baby for many blissful hours. I can already imagine what a glorious moment it will be.

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Leading up to my trip, I had this vision in my mind that I’d be completely organised well in advance, leaving me free to enjoy my final weekend in Perth for a while. Although I’ve become a lot more efficient with the preparation and packing process before a holiday, my intentions didn’t go quite according to plan!

Real life always ends up being busier than expected, so I can’t say I’m overly surprised that my weekend didn’t end up being as leisurely as I’d dreamed. (That Raffaelo milkshake I was looking forward to in my last post? Yeah, it didn’t happen.) Instead, I was wired on adrenaline and, on Sunday, micro-managing my time to a level I didn’t even think I was capable of.

Packing wasn’t a hard task in itself, but it was the little things I needed to get done before I could start packing that tested my patience. One trip to the shops to get some final supplies turned into four trips. My printer at home decided to malfunction just as I was set to print out my itineraries (which added a fifth trip to the shops). There was a heart-stopping moment when I thought I’d bought bus tickets to Los Angeles instead of Las Vegas.

With all the time wasted sorting out these unexpected dilemmas, I was not expecting to get much sleep at all, but in the end I managed to get five hours before my alarm went off at 3.45am. Getting this much sleep before an early morning flight is pretty much a miracle in my books, and I was glad for every minute of it.

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Flight 1- Perth to Singapore
After a breezy check-in with a friendly member of ground staff and a short wait at the gates, my first flight of the day departed just after 6.30am. All my flights are with Singapore Airlines, who I haven’t flown with since my trip to Barcelona in July 2013. I thought about all the travelling I’ve done since then, and realised that age is catching up with me because I was not as quick as I used to be at recalling my past adventures. I’ll always have fond memories of Singapore Airlines, though, as they were the first airlines I ever flew, way back when I visited my family in Poland for the first time, at the age of 11. Oh, how I’ve evolved as a traveller since then!

The actual flight was great. It felt so luxurious flying on a ‘big’ carrier again, since my last trip on a non-budget airline was back in 2015, when I flew Qatar Airways to Iceland. How nice to have a meal provided. Entertainment! A blanket! A pillow! I had a window seat and that, combined with the cosy blanket and pillow, made conditions about as perfect as they’re going to get for sleeping in economy class. After finishing some scrambled eggs for breakfast, I slept for about three hours, and the five hour flight flew by.

Flight 2- Singapore to Hong Kong
After a three and a half hour stopver at Changi International Airport, where I emerged off the plane directly in front of my next gate, it was time for my three and a half hour flight to Hong Kong. This flight also flew by- and I haven’t even watched any movies yet to pass the time. Despite how long the journey is, the timing of the flights is perfect, as I’m travelling ‘with’ the day.

There were some towering cloud formations at the start of the flight, and at the end, there was a ruby red sunset. The orb of the sinking sun looked tiny in comparison to the wingspan of the plane and for a while, it seemed to be suspended in a cloud. I almost expected to see the bottom half re-emerge as we descended. It was strange to see a sunset that, in the end, disappeared into the sky, almost as if it had been swallowed by the clouds, as opposed to sinking below the horizon at the beach.

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Flight 3- Hong Kong to San Francisco
My stopover in Hong Kong lasted four and a half hours. The last time I transited here was in April 2013, where I only had a three hour onward flight to Japan. If only it was such a short onward flight this time, too! However, I was pleasantly surprised when I boarded the plane and the captain announced the flight to San Fran would take an hour less than what was stated on my itinerary. Woohoo!

As we left the glittering lights of the Hong Kong skyline behind, I tried to calculate how long May the 1st would end up being for me. Trying to keep up with time zones is difficult at the best of times, but it was utterly confusing in my sleep deprived state, so after a hearty dinner (or should I say midnight snack) of chicken and fried egg noodles (where my exhausted brain also struggled to process why there was a mirror on the fold-out tray), I gave up and went to sleep. In the end, I managed to sleep for eight hours, which meant that this long flight did not turn out to be as tiring as I thought it would be.

At some point during my slumber, I travelled back in time. It was about 12.40am on May 2nd when I settled down to snooze, and I awoke at 2.20pm on May 1st, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and north-east of Honolulu. Of course, I’d already experienced 2.20pm on May 1st- in Singapore. Just as I was trying to wrap my head around the loophole that, technically, I had been in two places at once, the flight crew wished us a ‘good morning’. True, it was morning in Hong Kong, but it was amusing to think that in three hours, they’d be wishing us a good evening. The novelty of crossing time zones will never fail to amuse me, even though I think it’s best not to overthink them!

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And now, I’m finally in America!!! I’ve travelled over 17,000km to get here, and I’m still not quite sure how long my May the 1st ended up being. I have some impressions still left to share, but I’m well and truly spent now, and it’s time for this weary traveller to go to sleep.

A Game of Chasey

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My quest to see the Northern Lights in January 2015 began in Ivalo, where I was lucky enough to see them twice, and continued in Tromso, an Arctic city in northern Norway. Unfortunately, my three day visit was a cloudy, snowy, rainy and blustery affair which prevented any colourful night skies from being visible.

I flew back to Oslo, my quest of seeing the Northern Lights in Norway unfulfilled, but compensated, somewhat, by the absolutely spectacular landscapes unfolding below me. I was flying in the early afternoon for a change and as soon as we ascended above the clouds blanketing Tromso, I was greeted by a vast expanse of relatively clear blue skies once more.

One particular sight captivated me the most. I found it stunning in its simplicity. A divided line of light on the horizon, perfectly balanced between the golden glow of day and the oncoming shadow of night. Darkness would have already fallen on Tromso by this point, as it was still in the clutches of polar night. Looking behind me, a deep violet glow was spreading across the clouds. Slowly, it was creeping its way forward to extinguish the last rays of sunlight still shining over Oslo.

As it turned out, a thick blanket of clouds on our descent meant there was probably no sunset visible in Oslo that afternoon either. But up in the heavens, it was a different story. Day and Night are always running to new corners of the earth, always chasing after one another but never quite able to catch up to each other.

The Countdown Begins

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It’s taken me ages to sort out my itinerary for Sri Lanka. I booked an eight day group tour with G Adventures on Christmas Day, which will take me to some of the popular touristy areas such as Kandy, Yala, Galle, etc.

I couldn’t make up my mind how long I needed for all the other places I want to see on my own though- namely Adam’s Peak, Horton Plains, Ella, Sigiriya and the elephant sanctuary at Kegalle.

Usually I’m right on to travel research but there’s nothing like indecisiveness to bring out the procrastinator in me. Increasing flight costs finally motivated me to make up my mind this afternoon.

Now that flights are booked, my first holiday for the year finally feels real. I’ll be in Sri Lanka from the 30th of January to the 15th of February. I even scored a good deal with the flights. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

By the time I take off for Colombo, it will have been three months since my last holiday and I think I’ll practically be running onto the plane. 26 days to go!