It seems we have been planning the BBA-V4 for ages and that we would never get it underway. But today was D-Day and the Great South African Adventure is on its way.
A typical, beautiful, sunny morning greeted us after less sleep than usual as we woke early in anticipation of the day ahead.
Our daughter Erin with grandson Brayden arrived ahead of time and we loaded up and headed for Tauranga airport and the first flight of the day, a short 25 minute hop to Auckland.
After a tearful goodbye it was time to board and let the all women crew wing us to Auckland.
It is a well marked walking route between the Domestic and International terminals at Auckland. The green line twisted and turned with most of the route under at least half cover. With all the money the Auckland Airport company are making it really is time for a shuttle train or a travelator as you find in most other airports of cities of the size of Auckland around the world.
On the flight to Singapore we had been allocated seats that
were across from a galley and with a view to a bit of quiet to get in as much sleep as we could we thought it best to try and swap them for the centre aisle. This was easily done and now we would just have to wait to see if there was a third person in the middle row where our newly allocated seats were.
Daughter, Leigh took a quick trip away from work to farewell us and another tearful session was had before we struck off to join what turned out to be a queue of hundreds(or so it seemed) to pass through customs and have our hand luggage checked.
Was it a shortage of staff or just lunchtime? We will never know and it didn’t seem appropriate to ask the serious face customs staff.
Sometimes though when you have to queue to get to where you need to be you meet people and today was no different as we discussed ‘home town Wellington’,’Silversteam Retreat’ among other things with an elderly woman and her two daughters returning to Sydney after a holiday around the North Island, as we snaked our was along the queue former to have our photo taken and passport electronically checked.
This process used to be a breeze a few years ago when New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to have e-Passports but now the rest of the world have caught up and all the popular countries from which tourists to New Zealand come from have e-Passports too, hence the long queue.
We mused over whether our 40 minutes in the queue would have provided Michael McIntyre with a subject for one of his comedic skits to have his audience rolling in the aisles.
We were a bit like stunned mullets after spending all that time waiting and then emerged into the departure area only to be swooped upon by a very nice young woman urging us to stock up with duty free for our trip.
We would have ended up with more than the gin and vodka had we said yes to the very pleasant young man with the Irish accent handing out samples of Coole Swan, an Irish whiskey and cream liquer.We declined for the outward journey but took a card to remind us it would be a good addition to the liqueurs cupboard on the way home.
A short wait was all we had in Gate 15 departure lounge (the 40 minutes at customs had seen to that. Then our area on the plane was called and we trundled down the air bridge and turned right
It seemed clear that there would be even better pickings for a row of 3 seats to share between the two of us and as soon as the aircraft doors were closed we were up and moved across the aisle. I swear the Indian gentlemen who had already been seated on the end of the middle row didn’t even notice that we had sat down for two minutes and then moved camp across the aisle. Perhaps he had been in deep contemplation about the long flight ahead.
Departure was right on time and we were soon climbing steadily to our cruising altitude, heading west towards Australia and then north west towards Singapore.
The TV screen showing all the flight details threw up something we had never heard of before.
‘The East Tasman Trough’. Now there is a unique question for a Pub Quiz, we bet very few if any will have heard of this undersea ‘landmark’ east of Tasmania!
The miles ticked by, drinks came, then food and then the eastern coast of Australia and despite what seemed to be strong headwind we were scheduled to reach Singapore half an hour early.
Time then started to slow as one realises just how vast Australia is and how long it was taking to reach and pass by landmarks including Ayers Rock underneath the aircraft. At last we reached the north west coast of Australia and Singapore came onto the avionics trip map on the TV screen more frequently as we edged closer.
More drinks and then it was time for supper which seemed a bit odd seeing our body clocks were telling us it was 11.30pm!
Then we were on our way down to Changi airport and were duly delivered with a rather heavy landing which had most things in the cabin rattling.
With 4 ½ hours to while away we were in no hurry and were last off and heading for a quiet spot within the vast terminal to await sector 2 of the journey to Johannesburg and our eventual destination of Cape Town to get the real South African adventure underway for the BBA –V4.
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