Farewell to Europe
This evening I said farewell to Europe at the same place where I first greeted it: London's Heathrow International Airport. A bit different to Luton airport; and flying Qantas again is also totally different to (and a welcome relief from) flying with Ryanair. So long Europe; Thailand, here we come.
First up, I popped back into my hostel in Piccadilly, to collect my bag from their storage room. Before I left for the airport, though, I remembered that I still have my gas cooker from back in Italy; and that the daym thing is still half-full of propane gas. I managed to get this baby through my flights within Europe — although you're not allowed to take flammable substances on any flight (including in your checked baggage), clearly they don't check properly around here — but I wasn't prepared to take my chances again, on a Qantas flight from London to Bangkok. I tried removing the propane tank from the gas fitting: but since it was still half-full, I'd barely begun twisting it off, before compressed propane started spraying out the top. I quickly twisted the tank back on, before I asphyxiated myself (along with the rest of the building). Having no better option, I conceded to simply abandoning my little gas cooker in the common room of the hostel. Hopefully someone else will find it useful during their travels.
Since it's the only cheap way there, I caught the tube to Heathrow airport this evening. And boy, was it not fun. The tube was absolutely packed: after the first three stops or so, we were literally unable to fit any more passengers at all on the train. And nobody seemed to get off for an awfully long time. I think the main reason for the crowds (which were ridiculously thick, even for London in peak-hour) was that there were delays on the line — it was a very slow journey. Anyway, at least it's a direct line from Piccadilly to Heathrow; and at least I had an enormous backpack which I could sit on :P. A few stops before Heathrow, another Aussie got on (a woman from Hobart), and she had the same backpack as me — first time that I've ever seen someone else with an identical big red monster to mine!
I arrived in Heathrow at about 8pm, which gave me more than enough time to check-in for my 10pm flight. The Qantas / BA check-in was quick and pleasant, especially after what I've gotten used to lately with Ryanair. After check-in and security (where they made me go through some "special" experimental x-ray system — I didn't mind, they let me skip the queue once it was done), I had quite a while to wait in the terminal.
All went fine on the Qantas flight from London to Bangkok. It was nice to hear Aussie voices over the Intercom, and from the passengers all around me — although really, hearing Aussie voices is nothing new; where the hell haven't I heard them?! As this flight was going straight on from Bangkok to Sydney, most people actually weren't stopping in Thailand at all: it was (for all practical purposes) a direct flight between England and Australia, and hence I didn't really feel like the adventure had begun yet. I was unlucky enough to score a middle side-seat: I'm not too fond of this seat, as it has all the combined disadvantages of the window and aisle seats next to it (i.e. you're both unable to easily get out and use the loo, and unable to properly see the view outside), with none of their respective advantages. Flanking me to the aisle side was a French guy who now lives in Sydney; and to the window side, an unknown woman.
The Qantas in-flight entertainment system rarely fails to disappoint, and this trip was no exception. I kicked off the flight by finally watching The Simpsons Movie, which I've been dying to see ever since it was released 6 months ago, but which I haven't had a chance to see before now. No complaints — it's a great movie, and if you haven't seen it yet, then you're missing out. I also saw "Rogue", a b-grade Aussie horror flick about some tourists in the outback who get eaten by crocs — not recommended, I fell asleep halfway through it. Finally, I also saw (most of) the last movie in the action-packed Bourne trilogy, "The Bourne Ultimatum": not nearly as good as its predecessors, and I could have sworn that several scenes of it were exact dupes of scenes from previous Bourne movies.
I got plenty of sleep on the 10½-hour flight — too much, in fact; I would regret this the next night, when jetlag was to get the best of me. We arrived in Bangkok at 4pm the next day, where the weather was sweltering hot. I've still got my enormous coat, that my uncle Mark gave me to keep warm in Europe: what am I going to do with it, now that I'm in Thailand? Oh well — good to be somewhere warm again, at long last.