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France 2011

And the End (for this year)

SINGAPORE | Monday, 7 November 2011 | Views [494]

Within 1 1/2 hours, we are on our way to Helsinki then immediately onto our flght to Singapore. The Air Hostess we have on the Finnair flight we recognise as the one we had on the trip over. I recognise her face and Ro recognises her eye lashes which Ro thinks were long enough to sweep the floor. Maybe helpful for rapid turnaround.

Saturday 5 November 2011: Singapore.

At Singapore we have prebooked a hotel. The two requirements are (a) close to the airport and (b) must have a swimming pool. We are looking forward to a dip after our 16 hours flying from Paris.

The hotel provides a minibus from the airport and we think it should be a few minutes. It turns out to be 15 or 20 minutes! We arrive at 5.50 to find the ground floor pool closes at 6.30 and the 8th floor pool is closed due to a function. We change into bathers and dash down for a quick swim, but another function on the ground floor and a glass side on the pool would have meant we were the unplanned entertainment. Ester Williams and partner we ain't so we return to our room and have a shower instead.

Sunday 6th November 2011 : Singapore.

A good night's sleep is appreciated and followed by a superstuffer buffet breakfast. We have a day to fill in for our 11 pm flight and we need to vacate our room by 2pm.

You may recall the mobile phone and the fool-and-his-money saga. It transpired that the money part was correct and the parting part was accurate but identification of the fool may have been in error. Following this bitter realisation, I decide to take a ride on the Singapore rail marvel into the city to discuss my purchase and its continued lack of charging with the vendor.

The easiest way to get to a station is to take the courtesy bus to the airport and a train from there. The train system is clear, clean, efficient and cheap. The trip involved one change of line and there is more than adequate signage and spoken instructions to complete the journey.

At the shop, another charger and battery is installed and the device left to charge for half an hour. The display claims it was charging so I leave it with them for 1/2 hour and return. As I have to get back to the hotel in preparation for our flight home, I have to accept the solution and hope it is correct. The battery, charger and cable have been replaced. One would have to be pretty unlucky for it to something else. Only time will tell.

I reverse my trip and arrive back at the bus meeting place just a minute or so  too late. When I ring the hotel to inform Ro of my later arrival, a recorded message says the number is not connected. or it is outside hours or something similar. While I know the information to be incorrect, I have learnt that to argue with a recorded message is doomed to failure.

Eventually I do arrive at 4.40 and Ro is waiting in the lobby. A check of our flight itinery convinces us the flight leaves at 10 not 11 as we had thought.
A little while later we are discussing flight times and something does not add up.Checking the departure time we realise that QF10 departs at 7.55 ! In fact we need to be in the next bus to the airport! A few minutes earlier we had been deciding whether we would go to the 8th floor for a swim. Had we done so, we may have been able to wave to our departing flight!

For some unknown reason, we had misread our itinerary. Few things concentrate the mind more than realizing one's flight leaves two or three hours earlier than one was expecting. But all goes well and we board the A380 and take off by 8pm.

Amongst our  cabin crew are two guys who are as gay as all getout. Not that that matters, I hastily add. But their theatricals do provide some light relief, as did those on our outbound flight.

This time our amusement is created by our seating. On the outbound flight, Ro had a seat one from the aisle in a group of four in the centre of the plane, with me on the outside. However, some obstruction at her feet, a designed part of the plane I should add, made her not want the same seat on the inbound flight. We were pre allocated so we  will have the same seats. Gallant as I am, I volunteer to take the inner seat, much to Ro's delight.....until she discovers the outer seat does not recline, which causes the entertainment monitor in the seat in front, when reclined, to be far too close. At first analysis, operation of the touch screen using one's nose may not seem so impractical, but it does require very good short sight.  But on the right side, I am quite comfortable.

A procession of hostesses comes to dissemble the seat and push and pull but the seat refuses to recline. The solution is to move us to a new pair of seats which ,unfortunately are still in economy, but after we have moved the gayer of the two gays comes to Ro and says with a lot of excitement that he wants her to select a product from the duty free, another item of which  Ro had already ordered, and that he is authorised to give them to us to compensae for the trouble we have suffered. He points out to her some handcreams which he really loves, all the time resting the duty free catalogue on my leg as he excitedly flips through the pages. A little later he returns   and theatrically withdraws the two items from a Qantas duty free bag. But then for the piece de resistance he says extatically "But I have also added another little surprise" as he withdraws with a great flourish, a box of chocolates. He beams at us as he awaits our overjoyed response. An entertaining and well done job on his part as we are sure to remember the gesture rather than the broken seat.

After that little bit of pantomime, the rest of the flight goes smoothly and quickly. At 6am we touch down at good ol' Tulla and we mentally break into "I still call Australia home" as we enjoy the familiarity of our surroundings.

Monday 7th November 2011: Tullamarine   , Melbourne.

We are delighted that Scot and Jacinta both come to the airport to pick us up and we share some of our more recent experiences with them. But we need to set aside a little time to view our 5000 photos with them. 

Our odessy or oddity is over for this year. We have travelled 8000 km in the van and visited 8 countries. We have seen buildings and cultures in Europe with which Australia cannot compare in terms of European history although we have seen cave paintings which compare agewise with our Aborigines ancient cultures at Ubir in Northern Territory.

We have marvelled at engineering feats of building by peoples without the aid of today's engineering equipment. We have observed the different cultures of countries which meld the personalities of their citizens. We have experienced different driving conditions, techniques and psychologies. But the overwhelming experience is that people are the same everywhere. Most are pleasant and helpful, some are not but we all share a common world which we need to protect for future generations.

It has been a wonderful experience, never dull .....  sometimes challenging. We are changed irreversibly but for the better and now have broader horizons.
Roll on next year's adventure..... and life.

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