In transit - Australia to London

Dubai Travel Blog

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A big plane sits in the smog at Dubai airport.

Hmmm, I am still behind in my blogging and trying to catch up so bear with me... Righto, still in transit:

Our trip to Dubai was long. That’s probably one of the better ways to describe it. Sure, playing Tetris on your own screen can be fun for 10 minutes. Working out how to work your eating tray takes another 5. Pulling faces at the kid across the other side of the plane can entertain for over 3 minutes. If you get really creative you can also play capture the lettuce flag with your leftover meal. Other wastes of time include changing socks, making up other lyrics for Brittany Spears songs, and planning your next half hour. Try to repeat that process 30 times and you get a little bored.

Dubai from the air. At least... it's part of Dubai.
It's even hard to get excited when you manage to sleep for 10 minutes and wake up with a crick in your neck which you can complain about to the cabin staff about for another 10 minutes. Needless to say, they don't get paid as much as they should. And at the end of the day... there's another day. The flight was about 17 hours. It took about that. Seemed longer at some points.

Once we landed in Dubai I was getting out of my seat and I saw this steamy gassy stuff coming out of vents in the ceiling of the plane. My first thoughts were of terrorism and I gave myself mental images of me diving to the floor and commando crawling all the way down the aisle. Luckily, both peer pressure and personal pride got in the way of that exiting idea and instead I took it all in my stride and acted like I knew exactly what was happening.
White mountains out the plane window. Hannah took this amazing photo. :)
Isn't it interesting how ignorance can lead to you interpreting a harmless chemical watery temperaturey thing as something actually dangerous. It's almost the same as saying that everyone who drinks water dies so we should ban water.

We hopped off the plane onto the tarmac (which looked darker than the tarmac in NZ) and walked towards a bus. It took a solid 10 minutes for Hannah to convince me that it wasn't actually hovering and the wheels just couldn't be seen. Even when it moved it didn’t seem to be moving on wheels. I may sound crazy but I was just willing to believe that New Zealand was just so far behind the rest of the world that I had just stepped into a real first world country.

The eerie quietness of Saudi Arabia's major airport belies its busyness.
A badly taken photo of a highly attractive woman who's had little sleep at Dubai airport.
It was amazingly quiet. Part of the reason for this may have been that half of the people populating the terminals were curled up asleep on the floor or across the seats. Hannah and I felt slightly guilty in this environment when we found a couple of free seats and actually sat in them. Every time someone who looked tired walked passed us and gave us a glance we felt as if we should jump up and ask if they wanted to go to sleep.

Anyway, we decided to go to the toilet and freshen up. If you get the wrong one you may have to end up squatting over a hole in the ground (not so difficult after a couple of tries - at least you can see what you are doing). Incidentally, it was pleasing to see that the lavatories in Dubai have very strong customer service representation.
Some guy with an alien ship behind him. Reminds me a bit of Will Smith and Men in Black.
You join a line waiting for a toilet.  There is a permanent waiter who cleans the floor and ushers you into your cubicle. It’s almost like the business branch of a bank. When I left I half expected the cleaner to say: 'Thankyou for your deposit sir, please come again.'

Another interesting thing about Dubai was the really long treadmill they had. I seem to remember seeing these in movies. You stand on it and move much faster than anyone who is not standing on it. In this way, with minimum effort, you can get a long way and beat other people going to the same destination as you. We decided to go up and down it a couple of times to get the experience (as any good tourist would). Funny though, we were the only people on it for most of our trips.
Hannah beside the treadmill that we went on a couple of times for fun and free exercise.
Everyone else was sleeping and missing out on a great opportunity.

Well that’s Dubai in a turtleshell. It really was a lot more fun than I'm giving it credit or than I experienced. Bear in mind that we had just endured a gruelling flight from New Zealand. Playing on the walky thing was almost as much fun as waggling my head back and forward with reckless abandon because of how it felt after having no sleep for 2 days. You know.... when your head gets really floppy and doesn't stay upright. Don't really know why I went into detail but there you have it.

The next flight was not too bad. When you experience 17 hours then 7 doesn't really cut it. After you've realised your toenails are cutting holes in your brand new travel socks, and you have managed to shave them down with your plastic knife from the meal you just finished, the trip is almost over.
London Heathrow from the air. It's certainly bigger than little old Auckland airport.


We had heard a lot of horror stories of customs in Europe. People told us to 'declare everything and you'll go through really fast.' Others told us to 'leave everything behind so you don’t have to declare anything.' Someone told us to keep an apple from the plane so that we would be pulled out of the cue by customs because they would suspect us for bringing in illegal fruit. All this advice was very good and we are very appreciative. The only thing was that we feel as if we didn't even go through customs. I walked to a desk and asked if my marmite and the wooden handles on Hannah's bag were counted as contraband (please note that we hadn't even opened our bag'. They guy said no and told us to go through the door to the other room. Off we went to see what lay beyond and before you could say 'but this sounds crazy because you should always have to go through customs and the fact that you didn't just proves how the tightest plan or system becomes fallible simply through human error' we were acting like celebrities and waving to all the people who were waiting with cameras on the other side.
A poet once said London was built on bricks and misery. I wonder whether that's why one of the first things you're encouraged to buy when you get off the plane is alcohol.
Well, at least it felt like that for a moment. I had to wave graciously myself because Hannah felt too embarrassed. For anyone who wants to be a celebrity for a moment this is a good way to do it. If I had been by myself I may have even been tempted to make a fool of myself by doing a little dance or something.

Once again, as dutiful tourists, our first stop was the bathrooms. At any point we expected armed guards to come swarming in and knock the door down and say 'don’t flush that because we have to search everything you customs avoider!' I have to say that I have never been under quite the same amount of pressure when doing business before or after this moment.

Funnily enough for the 96 million people who go through Heathrow every year, there wasn't a lot of noise.
A black cab. This is not a photo taken in the 60s. Funny that the older the cabby the more kudos they have.
Maybe it was because everyone was wondering how to get home and they didn't want anyone else to know how nervous they were about the fact that their bags hadn't been checked by customs and any minute someone would come and inquire about their personal business. Whatever the reason it was, it was certainly very odd.

Just so you know, we got a black cab. It was expensive. Try not to take a black cab if you can avoid it. The piece of mind is not worth the piece of your pocket they take with them when they drive off. There are a lot of other decent cab companies out there. The cabbies in London need to pass a very very hard exam before they can get their cabby licence. This amounts to about three years plus of driving around on a scooter trying to find the quickest way to get from one destination to another (Just make sure you do not get an illegal cab because they are normally people who have not been able to pass so they will cost you more coz they'll get lost). If you have already booked a hostel or accommodation already ask them whether they have deals with cab companies. We should have - we found out as soon as we arrived that we could have paid a third of the fare because there was a special arrangement with the hostel and a cab company. There goes our food money for a week :)

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A big plane sits in the smog at Du…
A big plane sits in the smog at D…
Dubai from the air. At least... it…
Dubai from the air. At least... i…
White mountains out the plane wind…
White mountains out the plane win…
A badly taken photo of a highly at…
A badly taken photo of a highly a…
Some guy with an alien ship behind…
Some guy with an alien ship behin…
Hannah beside the treadmill that w…
Hannah beside the treadmill that …
London Heathrow from the air. Its…
London Heathrow from the air. It'…
A poet once said London was built …
A poet once said London was built…
A black cab. This is not a photo t…
A black cab. This is not a photo …
11,660 km (7,245 miles) traveled
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Dubai
photo by: vances