Hey Milieu Pals,
I am finally in Australia! Despite a few, or perhaps many, complications I have finally made it and in one relative piece!
Since my departure from Johannesburg International yesterday (18/11/05) at 16:45 till now (19/11/05) I have not slept a wink! That is a total of 15 flying ours (stopped in Perth than got a connecting flight to Melbourne) and a total of 19 hours since I last woke up. The strange thing though, is that I do not feel tired at all and it is currently 11pm as i write this entry in Australia (there is a 9 hour time difference).
Also during that time, I have called my parents at least 4 times… thank goodness for roaming! I will however probably be switching to a ‘pay as you go’ sim card within the near future to try and alleviate the overall costs of roaming.
Let’s start from the beginning:
Friday morning was incredibly hectic. My entire family and I were running around like blue arse fires trying to sort out all the tiny last details of my trip. The worst part, however, was the final packing of my bag.
Now our luggage is apparently not allowed to be over 20kg, so after packing my bag we weighed it to see the final weight. To my horror it was 33kg’s! From then onwards it was a real mission to determine what to take and what to leave behind. Needless to say, we cut down my luggage by removing items that seemed unnecessary. The funny thing is, according to Murphy’s Law, I know need those items. Also, my ‘ companions’ each had luggage that averaged about 26kg… imagine how miffed I was at finding this out since I left most of my stuff at home to accommodate the 20kg rule. On top of that I left my laptop behind (this is what I’m most sore about) because we were certain that individuals were only allowed to take one piece of hands on luggage. It turns out that I could have taken it and worst of all I do have an internet connection in my dorm room… but have now been reduced to typing on an ‘oil’ based decrepid-KFC like keyboard! Now I know what its like to be a ‘real’ student. LOL!
After meeting up with my African Comrades, we made our way onto the plane. The first flight was on or local carrier, SAA (South African Airways). We were rather disappointed with the plane itself, particularly because it was lacking the usual standard features required to enjoy an international flight, such as personal monitors. Regardless we accepted our fate and tried to make the best of it. As projected, seat complications arose with SAA booking some members in really odd places around the plane. Then there was the whole "I’m sorry but you are in my seat"… obviously I was in the right seat, but you know how those things are.
The flight seemed to be rather acceptable, you know… the usual baby crying, someone snoring over there and there, and the gossip between the flight attendants about ‘what this passenger said and did’ and so on and so forth. There were, however, two rather unrelated yet unexpected events that took place.
The first was that some man, who apparently sufferered from high-blood pressure, fainted and was rushed oxygen. There was even talk (from over hearing the flight attendants) of landing the plane to get the guy off. But, after the nurse/doctor sorted the guy out and changed his seats, all was well. The other event was the occurence of a very sweet old ‘african’ lady who was classified as handicapped due to her age and thus frail body. I took it upon myself to help her out where I could, offering her things to drink, getting her a blanket and continously calling the flight attendants for support. In the end she was very grateful amd continously thanked me. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the less fortunate and have high levels of respect for senior citizens.
During the transfers to the different planes which were necessary (SA -> Perth -> Melbourne) my ‘African’ comrades came under some unusual spotlights. Several of the guys were stopped and searched for drugs and hidden explosive in true ‘African’ style! LOL! There was only one major problem with the tranfers and that one of our group members were without luggage… yes… SAA had lost one of our members’ luggage… Typical African Carrier. Anyway we made the transfers with Quantus taking over the finding and retreival of the lost luggage. Once we boarded the ‘internal’ Quantas flight (Perth – Melbourne) we were wowed by the impressiveness of the plane. It was adorned with LCD monitors, the attendants were friendly and always wore a smile (unlike SAA attendants who thought they were doing you the favour), the cutlery was metal and glasses were actually made out of ‘glass’, lest not forget how delicious the food was (SAA food was rubbish… tasteless and kind of like rubber)!
We finally made it to Aus, after more members were searched again… and made our long 45min trip to Monash Australia’s Clayton Campus. The Campus itself is very old, over 60 years I think, and hasn’t been updated. Staff are friendly and courteous yet the facilities and technology available are no where near the standards of the South African Campus. I am so proud to be apart of Monash South Africa now… and will no longer moan about inadequate facilities. Our University is so Modern compared to the Aus one that its scary.
Anyway, I’ve got to try and go to bed now as we have another long day tomorrow… well, that’s if I can walk. Of all the things I manage to do, I decided to get blisters on the heels of both of my feet. My right heel was actually so bad that it was bleeding and I didn’t even know it. Thankfully, I had bought some blister patches (thank goodness for a sixth sense) and have now applied them. I will now need to go and buy new shoes as I only took two pairs to wear and now one has caused me bodily harm. Also its dead cold here, especially in the evenings, and I know wish I never took out my Diesel jacket from my bag.
Well Milieu Pals, check back soon as I will try to write as much as I can when I can!
(P.S.: Aus land is so awesome and safe… walked for over 30km today, after 9pm, and not even a hint of a mugger, psycho, druggy, beggar… you know, the usual SA crowd! LOL!)