April 24, 2006 GMT
Brisbane-London

Being new to this blog thing and being the Queen of Verbose I (Alanna aka Lan) am going to give this my best shot as John (aka Skill) has handed over the writing to me. He is in charge of bike stuff and technology, although he will edit and add to the Blog as required.

Many thanks to our good friends Kath and Sean for lending us their PDA and collapsible keyboard. It feels such a luxury to be typing this in the comfort of our accommodation listening to music and drinking a G & T. Life is good.
Lan typing

So I guess I will start at the day we left..............................My goodness, what a day! It felt quite surreal to hop out of bed in the morning knowing we were now on twelve months holiday and leaving the country for a similar period of time. The phone rings continuously, friends and family wishing us well and telling us to stay safe. We breakfast with my Mum, and close friends who have arrived from Perth on the early morning red eye flight. They then drive us to the airport where we discover our dodgy $15.00 suitcase has a broken zip (we bought them from a junk shop to get our gear to London, until we pick up the bike and panniers) After a few minor adjustments the problem is solved, bags are checked in and glasses of champagne are ordered.
Lan champagne

A lady sitting in front of us asks us if we are on our honeymoon? We have a bit of a giggle and say "No something even better, 12 months of holiday". She enviously tells us how lucky we are and when she retires in a couple of years she is going to take up travelling again. As I am walking down the skybridge I suddenly get emotional, my best friend hasn't had her baby (due on the 5th), my soul mate and usual travel buddy isn't coming with us, in fact it is her birthday and she is crook, my nephew has rung me to tell me how much he will miss us, Skill has spoken to his 92 year old grandma who is worried about us despite the fact that she lived in Iran for a short time in 50's when Skill's grandad was working at a sugar mill in Iran. I can feel a lump in my throat and get quite misty eyed. Well this is it are we doing the right thing?

And then just when you are having a tiny bit of self doubt, fate takes over. We sit beside a lovely, gentle man who lives in a neighbouring suburb, and as you do you get chatting about where you are going and what you are doing. He listens with great interest and offers us some advice. "What a trip. Travel now, do it while you can, my wife of 34 years and I were all set to travel next year, but she passed away last year after a very short battle with cancer. You just never know what life will deal you, she woke up with a pain one morning and was gone six months later". He said it with such sinceriity and sadness that any lingering doubts evaporated. Singapore here we come!!!

Made our connection to Singapore, onto a BA flight (very ordinary), had some dodgy six day old gnochi and 1 (yes we only got 1) beer. I must say Singapore Airport is amazingly efficient, through customs, stamp, stamp, stamp. They just love that stampy thing. Out into the cab cue and away, all of that took less than ten minutes. Oh forgot to mention one dodgy suitcase arrived minus a wheel stand, so it keeps falling over. We took up residence in the YMCA, which was marvellous, small but clean airconditioned rooms. With a huge all you can eat English/Asian breakfast thrown in for $80 Singapore Dollars. We were pretty tierd so we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow. In the middle of the night, about 3.30am there was this almighty bang, I leapt out of bed thinking, earthquake, gas explosion, terrorist attack, WRONG, an enormous thunder storm. Quite spectacular, Skill slept through the whole thing, so much for being my protector.

Singapore was Singapore. Incredibly busy and very, very humid. A city of such contrasts, one of the most successful financial cities in the world but in some places they still use bamboo scaffolding. BMWs, Feraris and traffic everywhere yet in amongst this chaos there are little old wisened up men still riding their rickshaw like bikes and not just for the tourists.

We walked down Orchard Road, then up into Fort Canning Park and over to Boat Quay. Back to the Y for a swim, a few beers then down to Raffles Long Bar for the obligatory $20.00SD Singapore Sling.

Skill longbar

The following day we checked our bags into storage and walked down to China Town where we spent most of the day, it rained on and off all day, the humidity was stifling, our clothes were soaked, so we decided to return to the YMCA where we spent the rest of the day in or beside the pool.
Lan singapore

Had dinner and our last Tiger Beer then caught the MRT (underground/train) to the airport. Checked our bags in all the way to Heathrow and waited, and waited and waited. Good old QANTAS, we were over 80 minutes late leaving. They fed us, the meatballs rivaled the BA gnochi in age. Then we all settled down for the night.

Once again a very uneventful flight until landing. We touched down in Frankfurt and I am not exaggerating the reverse thrust had only just been turned off, and we were taxing down the runway when a lot of the older Germans stood up and started to open the overhead lockers. The Aussie male flight attendant was yelling at them in German, some young guys were telling them to "Sit down, you bloody mugs" and I was not so politely saying "Sit Down", only because I could see my Bombay Saphire duty free Gin lurching from one side of the locker to the other. I had visions of it smashed all over the aisle. Sadly they did not pay any attention, until the flight attendant had to unstrap himself from his seat and threatened them. Mmmmmm Welcome to Frankfurt.

Our connecting flight was there waiting for us, so off one plane onto the next after being frisked, groped and xrayed by German Airport security.

We ended up in a holding pattern above London for 40 minutes, something we could have done without. Anyway nothing too eventful, except British customs didn't like the fact we didn't have a return ticket. We explained we would be riding our bike to leave and produced the carnet, which proved nothing, but it seemed to appease them. Then out to find Mo. There he was waiting for us complete with sign Alanna & John Skillo, just like in the movies.

We were invited to stay at family friends (Fred and Myra) vacant flat in the London district of Kentish Town. It is gorgeous, a brown brick house with an enormous black door nestled in amongst rows of similar houses distinguished only by their different coloured doors. The local pub is at the top of the street, 200 metres away, and the High Street and Tube station is less than 5 minutes walk. Unbelievable, Skill said to me "Don't get used to it, it's all downhill from here".

We didn't suffer from jetlag at all and have been on the go since arriving. Into Central London which is a visual feast of Spring colour, of course it is cold and rainy but I still love London. We went to the War Cabinet Museum and Churchill Museum on Wednesday and walked all the way down to Buckingham Palace and into Hyde Park.
spring flowers

Park Lon eye

The bike arrives on the ship today so the shipping agent believes we may be able to pick it up next Thursday. So we have another week to kill here in London which is not difficult to do, there is just so much to do. What is the old Samuel Johnson quote, "When a man is tired of London he is tired of Life" We plan on donning the wet weather gear, packing our lunch complete with our new thermos and heading off to Little Venice (near Paddington Station) via the Camden Lock and London Zoo.

Well I should have bored you all enough by now so take care.

Cheers & Beers,
Lan & Skill.

Lan big ben

PS Lan's Quote for the week: "There are many ways to read a map"

Posted by John Skillington at April 24, 2006 03:32 PM GMT
 
 

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