Wednesday 20-Thursday 21 December 2017
The hours between 7 & 9pm dragged. We’d made lists, checked them twice, decided who was naughty or … no, wait … that’s the old fat dude in the red suit!
We’d made lists, put together an itinerary, forgot to send it to Mum, got caught in a whirl of activity at 9pm as it hit us that this was really going to happen.
We showered, found backpacks, packed them with those things we’d need in the next 30 hours – passports, entertainment of all kinds (movies, TV shows, music, books all downloaded), snacks, toothpaste – and then it was time to go.
Our Uber driver was non-communicative, the car was rattly and old, and the traffic was at a standstill miles before the airport, but we made it, checked in, felt the thrill of excitement walking through the yellow doors to international departures, passed through security without being explosives tested or body scanned, slid my passport into the scanner then looked into the camera (how it ever matched my face with my hideous passport photo I’ll never know- although that suggests I actually look as bad as my passport photo and that’s not a good thought), and we were into the world of duty free.
We passed through that world unscathed and make our way to the gate. I sat and tried my best not to fall asleep.
12:30am – we boarded and before too long were on our way!
Nine uneventful hours flew by – literally. I slept intermittently, and watched the sun come up over the South China Sea.
The number of boats in that sea surprised me, although when I think about it, it makes sense. China makes a lot of stuff to send out into the world.
The number of islands also surprised me – Hong Kong is like a fishtail jutting out of the water, a thin slice of mountain poking up from the ocean. It has a dystopian feel – the height of the mountains, the number of them, and then the concrete tower blocks on the mountain side of the airport. Strange. And strange to think that many (many) years ago people made their way here without the help of social media and mass communication. How did they find it and how (and why) was a massive shopping island constructed here?
Three hours later and we’re in the air again – this time for 13 hours. We fly over China, Kazakhstan, Russia … I fall asleep and wake up moments out of Paris. The clouds are low, and we’re just out of them before we land. The Australian pilot says a cheery ‘welcome to Paris’, we collect our things, and before we know it we’re on the shuttle and heading into the city. Almost two hours later we’re at our hotel, which as we’re soon to discover is not far from Republique Square.
It didn’t mean much to us either at first, but we were quick to find out it meant lots of restaurants – and a metro station. We ate, then caught the metro to the Trocadero, watched the Eiffel Tower twinkle, then desperately tried to stay awake on the train so we didn’t miss our stop on the way back.
I was asleep within nano seconds and 10 hours later woke up feeling refreshed and ready for our first proper day in Paris.