Flights

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A “true” resort

Day 1: Long and so tedious. But we endured, because at the end of the road is apparently clear aquamarine sea, white sand and paradise unnamed. The flight was uneventful. But the boarding procedure was filled with well-dressed (if not overly so) Koreans, Japanese and Chinese with tons of branded shopping bags and fur coats – someone was even eating a whole cheesecake like a hamburger – , soon to be sweltering under the humid heat of the Maldives. A guy from the Czech republic stood waiting for TC and me, ushered us to the domestic terminal a couple of steps away and said goodbye, presumably to do the same for...

Copenhagen – Redux

The flight from Ilulissat to Copenhagen was a long, long one and getting back to the capital was like greeting an old friend again after a week away. I said goodbye to the rest of the tour group and was only a teeny little bit sad to do so, having learnt how to say goodbye (mostly permanently) over the last 2 decades. There was no plan TC and I had in Copenhagen apart from walking around aimlessly, eating the spectacularly New Nordic food, going cold meat shopping and getting used to the different time zone again. Thanks to what TC had seen in an episode in the Amazing race, stumbled our way...

78 Degrees North

A few months ago, I decided on a whim that I had to visit the Arctic during winter and thought Svalbard came the closest to it without getting close to the North Pole. Little did I realise that I was going to travel during a Polar Night weekend where hoards of merry-making Norwegians piled onto the plane from Oslo/Tromsø and onto the island, making the small airport like a bus stop gathering of neighbours. Everyone seemed to know everyone and bus after bus stopped at the front door of the Radisson Polar Blu hotel until there was a queue that stretched outside for check-in in minus 16-degree weather. The result...

Through the fog and mist

Many, many hours after I checked out of the hotel, I find myself in my own bedroom trying to recall the last hours I spent in Lake Akan and Kushiro. I draw a blank, mostly because tiredness and jet lag addle my memory, but also because I think I didn’t do very much at all even with the aimless driving around. Exploring the Kushiro Marshland was a total washout, quite literally so, when the most I could see was a few metres ahead. Kushiro city itself looked drab and grey in the early afternoon light. In desperation to pass the time, I decided that looking at cranes was in order...

Pans and injuries

In the time that I’ve been away, I’ve managed to: scrap the knees and shin on the same leg twice, cracked half a toenail, somehow contract an infection of a nail cuticle (probably caused by hang nail) that made the finger swell, got a gash across my hand from the toilet door (!), grew numerous blisters and ankle bruises from walking too much, suffered a mild heatstroke and a sunburn on the face in the Australian sun. Also got my hiking shoes ripped good, tore some other parts of my clothes. The maladies of travel, as small as they are, remind me that I’m still partly enjoying myself and still...

Sydney the great

Ah, Sydney, the consummate city, to which I was introduced not via its famed beaches and tacky surfing stereotypes but via the bad traffic and even bad-der drivers. “I don’t have to give you any way, you’re in my lane,” the old lady driving the van vented defiantly at another van as she wove her steady way through Sydney’s frustrating crawl. The ready expression of frustration was a welcome reprieve after screaming children monsters (indicative of stupid parenting as well) on the way-too-long 3 hr flight into Sydney from Christchurch. I laughed and thereafter, she launched into a rapidfire list of sights to cover, ending with a certain place that she thought...

An eternity in …

An eternity in hell, I swear, is akin to sitting for an interminably long time in a plane to goodness-knows-where. Forget the fire, brimstone and the false preachers folks, the aeroplane, the A380, the 777…cattle class, coach, economy, is the new hell. An eternity in the plane later with no sleep and a rushed stopover in Sydney, the sprawling city of Auckland came into view as a series of inlets and bays that have cut deep into the land, housing what appears to be a sizeable Asian and Polynesian population. Tired and jet-lagged (accompanied with the typical symptoms of gritty eyes, a generally bad disposition and stinky armpits), there was very little...

Down Under in Winter

A 6-month layover and I’m ready to roll again – to a destination that I visited nearly a decade ago. For one moment, it appeared that there were no air tickets available under $1900 – whether to Europe or Canada, or anywhere down Down Under. A listless search on the internet one Saturday morning last week had me quivering in excitement when Scandinavian Airlines offered a ridiculous price for a 2-week sojourn in the far north, while Qantas offered – only with a 3-week advance booking – something similar price-wise for a traipse through New Zealand with a stopover in Sydney. It was surprisingly, a very difficult decision to make:...

Shifts and re-thinks

The first days after returning are always hard (I got back a few days ago after spending an abysmal time in the plane); perhaps it’s what many people jokingly mean when they talk about having a holiday to recover from their holiday. It’s more than physical tiredness; it’s a narrative of my own life that I’ve always needed to revise each time. I’ve noticed some sort of cognitive shift that always happens each time I return after some time away; there’s always a sense of overwhelming tiredness and jet-lag (that could be combated using Melatonin). More than time difference, there’s also a cultural re-think and reshaping that the mind’s got to...

From the Blue Lagoon to the Alsatian flats

A 12-hour journey that began at 4am in the morning in Grindavik, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon clinic ended on a whimper (literally) in Strasbourg, a city sitting at the edge of the German border, tiring enough to erase a near-perfect day yesterday spent in the Blue Lagoon and soaking up the silica mud. We joined busloads of tourists for the 45-minute shuttle from Reykjavik, driving to snow-covered lava moss with the distinct advantage of staying over at the clinic for a night – which simply meant we got free entrance into the Lagoon and more time to dally. Situated 5-10 minutes walk down a winding path from the actual building through flammable...