Planes, Some Including Snakes

Last night, my friend Kara told me that for as many hours time difference as you have changed, it will take as many days to recover from the jet lag. That means I should have another week or so of this lethargy.

Fortunately, it’s not hampering me too much. I can crank up a burst of energy when I need it for, say, a job interview or the first chance I have had to see some of my Calgary friends in more than seven months, or of course, for some snakes, on planes.

But first, my journey here, because it involves planes as well. And considering how miserable one of my flights was, I would have probably preferred to have some pissed-off venomous snakes on board.

My flight to Singapore was uneventful. My time in Singapore’s Changi airport was as good a time as one can have in an airport. With an early check-in under my belt, I got to wander the busy terminal to browse the stores, taste plenty of food and even watch a free movie in a small theatre. The flight to London was as pleasant as an 11-and-a-half hour flight can be with a good selection of movies to choose from on the Qantas flight.

I stopped in Frankfurt for a transfer of planes and then touched down in London where I promptly squirted through the overwhelmed Heathrow airport and into Chelsea to see Caroline for a day. We mostly lunged the day away and went for a wander in her neighbourhood where my fondness for London and the UK burned bright and bid me to return to the country as soon as I was able.

The next morning, I headed off early to Gatwick where a flood of people stood shoulder to shoulder waiting in endless cues and sharing in a collective exasperation at the scene. Though no one was moving any faster than a tectonic plate, everyone seemed to be in decent spirits and we were all able to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

Since I couldn’t take all my camera gear and laptop onto the plane with me as I would normally do, I headed over to the oversize and fragile luggage line and said goodbye to my precious cargo. When I asked the attendant if he was going to slap a ‘fragile’ sticker on my bag, he reassured me that everything would be taken care of. I worriedly left it behind and headed through security and to my plane.

On board, I soon discovered that there was a misbehaved infant convention soon taking place in Calgary and all the delegates happened to be sitting in the rows ahead of me. A lot of moaning, crying and stomping filled up the next nine or ten hours of the transatlantic flight. Combine that with having coffee spilled on my by a flight attendant (who promptly wiped my seat then scurried away), and the flight wasn’t the happiest way to return home.

When I arrived in the baggage claim area, I immediately began my search for my camera bag. When I couldn’t find it at the oversize carousel, I hoped that it was yet to arrive and headed over to the normal carousel to retrieve my other bag. There, to my horror, I witnessed my camera back tumbling down the ramp towards the carousel. In a panic I charged towards it through the crowd to catch it before it went slamming to the base of the conveyor belt. Fortunately, everything in it seems to be functional.

The final absurdity came when, having exited the plane, all passengers had to clear immigration. But since no pens were allowed on the flight, there was a sizable bottleneck as we all lined up for the use of the three available pens to be able to fill out our immigration cards.

Since then, I have mostly been unsuccessfully trying to get into a sensible sleep pattern while reacquainting myself with Calgary (and overcoming a bit of reverse culture shock).

But yesterday was a bit more interesting since I had my first job interview for the position that drew me home. I thought it went well and the job seemed like something that would keep me more than content. I really have my fingers crossed for one and I’ll be pretty disappointed if I don’t get it. I did, after all traverse a few continents to get here for this job. It really is perfect for me, so if anyone out there happens to have any good luck they aren’t currently using it, I will happily accept it. Thanks!

After the interview, I wandered downtown and found myself soon gravitating towards Chinatown. I miss Asia. As I wandered the Calgary streets, no tuk-tuk drivers offered me a ride. No sleezy suit salesmen suggested I might look better if I was wearing their wares. No durian smell met my nose. And yes, I actually missed all that.

But Chinatown here has a fantastic little restaurant called Veggie House that caters very much to both my vegetarian side and that part of me that pines for the Far East.

With some veggie dumplings happily swirling in my stomach, I decided to walk across downtown to pay a surprise visit to Mark and Kara. I like surprises (both giving and receiving), so I reveled in the confused look on Mark’s face when he opened the door. Few people knew I was going to be home, so the word had not spread to Mark’s ears yet.

We went for a drink then hopped over to Brian and Janice’s place for a barbecue. Later, Kara showed up after a CPR course and I got the chance to surprise her too before we set off to see Snakes on a Plane.

And despite the astronomical Internet-fuelled hype, it did not disappoint. Though I suspect, if you don’t see it on opening in a busy theatre, you may miss out on a lot of the fun. Our Friday-night trip to the film included plenty of patrons donning plush snakes on their heads and a large group of rowdies tossing out rubber snakes to every member of the audience.

With every ludicrous death scene we waived our snakes above our heads in salute to the makes of this magical film and when Jackson uttered the film’s climactic line, we all shouted along to the line that we, the citizen’s of the Internet, helped to pen.

I giggled all the way home reminiscing about cobras, anacondas, chihuahuas, the mile high club, the rest of the totally ridiculous spectacle I had just witnessed. I only wish my flight from London had been so entertaining.

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