Lovely Laura took a day off work to help with the packing, tidying and generally ease my passage. When my bike and I flew with British Airways before, they let me take one piece of baggage in the hold + the boxed bicycle for free. This time, on the short flight to London there would be a 30 pound surcharge for each additional item, so we stuffed everything into the box (clothes, bike tools/accessories, electrical equipment, some toiletries and the flattened down panniers). Later I stressed about losing everything if the bike was refused entry. I could buy a new bicycle, but all the other would be a major pain. I weighed in at 12 st 1 lb and Laura took a photo of me in my underpants so I can see how my colour and shape change over the next two months. It rained on the way to the airport. Hurrah! We said our sad goodbyes. Then I was on holiday. Hurrah! Both legs (Glasgow to Heathrow & Heathrow to Shanghai) have been OK, although all flights to the former were backed up due to fog and I was put onto an earlier flight which left later than the original one. Also, it was a bit of a hassle lugging the box between terminals at Heathrow (via a tube train). Sat next to a British lady who worked in publishing and had lived in Shanghai previously. She was friendly and helpful to someone who's never flown so far before - until she donned her 'body blanket' and left me to take advantage of two empty seats elsewhere. This afforded me an extra seat, yet even with a sleeping pill I only slept four or five hours of the 12 hour flight. I found an Australian movie on the in-flight entertainment, so of course I had to watch that. Every Oz/NZ film I've ever seen has at least been watchable... except this one. Mad Bastard was all about a ne'er do well boy and his ne'er do well father, with a deeper message about men's inability to communicate (didn't really help the dialogue) and aggressive behaviour which seemed part of the fabric of life in Outback Western Australia, where it was set. The one good guy (a cop) set up a men's group to address these issues, but because the attenders couldn't express theeselves, at several meetings none of the men dared open up. The cast were mostly aboriginal or mixed race and at the end the actors (spruced up and trendily attired) did at last open up about their own emotional issues. We had two meals, which were both like dinners, and to eat a second dinner, after waking up, seemed odd. That's long haul flying I guess.
It was foggy in Shaghai as well! My first sight of the terminal was up close and, even taking the poor visability into account, it was so enormous that its sleek, utilitarian lines appeared to go for ever in both directions. I left my bumbag on the plane... with all my money, passport, etc, etc... The first of many such incidents no doubt... I can hear my Mum's high-pitched remonstration, "Keep it on all the time Adrian!" I tried to go against the flow of human traffic coming down the connecting corridor, but an official yelled at me to stay put and a member of staff brought it to me. It felt colder than back home, eventhough Shanghai is about the same latitude as Cairo. Not that I experienced much of China, stuck inside the huge, grey barn of Pudong Airport - and yet I still had to fill in an immigration card. Now I'm waiting for the Melbourne flight, sitting in a cavernous lounge with oases of palm trees and stalagtite forms projecting through the sloping ceiling.