Saturday, September 27, 2008

Part 1 - landing in Perth

I’ll start this story with the trip to Perth.

The date was 17 September 2008. We stayed over at my brother-in-law’s place in Cape town, and early that morning started packing his bakkie (ute, as they are called down under). We booked in with Singapore airlines, and had our final greeting session with the family. All our baggage was glad-wrapped in the good old South African tradition – you don’t want Sipho opening your zips and sending off your shampoo bottles to his mother in Zimbabwe...

Singapore airlines is great. You have your own TV screen in front of you, and enough movies to keep you busy for the whole trip. We flew 11 hours to Singapore, then stayed over for 4 hours, and finally embarked on the last stretch of a long, looooong trip from Windhoek to Perth.

We took off at 12h00, and landed at 05h50 Singapore time. This was, however, around 24h00 SA time. I couldn’t sleep on the flight, and watched two movies about American football. I recently read John Grisham’s “Playing for pizza”, which is also about American football, and now I know what the game is about. Great sport, I just wouldn’t want to play it myself. It seems that the quarterback is the Main Man in this sport, and he is the guy who has to be protected by the big forwards, nearly like a fly-half in rugby. Only difference is that if your team doesn’t protect you well enough, you will get spear-tackled and murdered easily without anyone getting a yellow card…

Anyway, we landed at Singapore airport 11 hours later. When you disembark, you walk directly onto a little hallway – looks like a hotel when you walk out of the plane’s door. No stairways down to the tarmac like we’re used to.

The airport itself is amazing – like one large shopping mall. There are free internet Terminals, you can access them for 15 minutes at a time. We found a little playground area, and the children broke down the place.

There is a thing called a Skytrain that takes you to Terminal 3. You land at Terminal 1, and you take off at Terminal 3 – don’t forget that trick. You wont make it if you realise this 15 minutes before take-off.

The Singapore Airline hostesses are great-looking in every sense of the word. They wear sexy pajamas and have the nicest, slimmest bodies you can imagine. You feel guilty when they smile at you – feels as if you’re in some naughty place. (Not that I would know, of course!)

Landing at Perth was something that escaped my memory slightly. I can’t remember really feeling all whoopy-whoo or dancing on the ceilings. We were so tired after more than 20 hours of flight, that I couldn’t really take everything in. we had to stand in long queues, and our baggae took a while for us to locate. With three kids, it takes quite an orchestration to get 6 large bags together, and finally enter the line for customs. This last point of entry before you finally enter Australia, is made just a little difficult – just for old time’s sake. The rows are long, and these guys thoroughly check everything. This is the first country I’ve entered, where they scan your baggage and hand luggage when you enter the country.

When the lady finally said “Welcome to Australia”, after crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s, that was music to my ears.

When we finally exited customs with all our baggage, my friend Dewald was there with my new boss Dennis, ready to take us to our temporary home at Mounts Bay Waters. It was great to see a familiar face. We took some pictures, and then took off to the city.

We landed on a Thursday. Thursday nights are late-night shopping nights, and Dewald grabbed me and my dead body into the streets of Perth to do some shopping. We walked around a place called “London court”, and there was just so many things to see and consume.

We bought hamburgers at Hungry Jacks, and I nearly fainted when I made the currency exchange calculations for the cost of 4 hamburgers, cool drinks, and a small portion of chips. My credit card couldn’t be used here, and I had to borrow money from Dewald. We also went to Woolworths and bought some groceries. Here, I had no problem with the credit card, and the $40 was swiped through. Many shops here let you swipe you own card – they don’t grab your card and disappear into the back room while you’re stressing about your card.

When I went to sleep on the avo of 18 September, I wondered what the hell I was doing in this place, thousands of kilometres away from the land of my birth. I was tired, bewildered and thoroughly in shock. The next day this all faded away quickly, and I‘ve never had that sinking feeling since then.

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