Monday, June 9, 2008
my eyes are saucers
So I'm in London! It's 25 Degrees Celsius, sunny, and totally not stereotypical London weather. I arrived at 4.45am this morning, and the enormity of what I've done still hasn't hit me. I spent most of the first leg of my trip reading the new James Bond book which was probably not the best idea (in true Bond fashion, he ends up on a plane and you can guess the rest), listening to Youthmovies, Voxtrot and mixes made by Libby & Laura. The man next to me alternated between swearing at how long it was taking (nine hours) and snoring. The headphone socket for my inflight entertainment was broken, so I got given lollies by Charles the air steward, who also rescued me when I wanted to get things out of the overhead locker and couldn't reach. He was trying very hard not to laugh. I wasn't. I think it's hysterical, my hight).
Landing in Hong Kong was sticky and dark, but the skyline is fantastic (although slightly ruined by the profile of my still snoring seat mate) We were given stickers to prove we were transfer passengers, and then let loose. At 11pm Hong Kong time, not much was open, but I wandered around, nearly locked myself in a toilet permanently, and looked at their "Innovation Invention" displays, which included a weird floating radio shaped like an anchor, and some sort of sperm shaped thing designed to open and heat cans. After ninety minutes of that, back on the plane, different seat (exit row aisle! oh the leg room!) but next to a baby who wasn't impressed about being on a plane for 13 hours. Well ducky, neither was I, but I didn't scream and holler and try to steal other people's teddy bears, did I?? The baby's mother decided the way to calm her baby down was to go "tchk tchk tchk" at it repeatedly. I watched Horton Hears A Who and read Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell, before trying The Other Boleyn Girl, which I tired of as quickly as Henry VIII did of both sisters (oo, historical joke). So back on with the ipod, Editors, Sigur Ros and The National doing their best to make the 13 hours go as quickly as possible. Unfortunatley the deep voice of Tom Smith didn't drown out baby, so I escaped to the back of the plane and made friends with one of the stewards, and talked about first time travel and airplane food. Then I managed to catch a bit of sleep, before waking up and being told we were over Amsterdam and due to land in about an hour and a half.
When we did land, it was textbook. Apparently landing is the easiest part. I suppose it isn't that hard to hit the ground. I managed to tug my bag from the overhead locker and get off the plane, then walk the eighty bajillion miles to the baggage carousel, wait for half an hour for my bag, catch the Heathrow Express (best train trip of my life.) to Paddington, where I was met by my grandmother's second cousin Hazel, who I'm staying with. She gave me a warm welcome, and I stood in Paddington, thinking "holy fuck, what am I doing here?" (a repeated thought of the past twenty hours). London is huge and complex and I haven't even seen much of it yet, but I'm overwhelmed. It's sunny and green. We caught a black cab (Hazel's car has been stolen) and went past the infamous Abbey Road. The traffic was non existent, a rarity for London. Hazel's house is like a dream - every possible surface is covered in books and paintings. I can hear kids screaming and it's starting to hit me, just how real this all is.
I can't quite believe I did it. Claudia, Mum, Emma and Lizz saw me off at the airport, and I didn't cry that much, honest, only because I was too busy thinking "oh shit oh shit oh shit" but I'm so glad I'm here. I can't wait to explore. Tomorrow I think I'll take it easy and have a bit of a wander around. Hazel is taking me to meet her mum this afternoon, and has promised a tour tomorrow evening. We've already booked a flight to Amsterdam on June 21st, which is going to be awesome. Now that the nerves have dissipated, I'm full of excitement.
I'm in London, and it's a long way from home. But that's what this trip is all about really, isn't it? It's about being scared. It's about being excited. It's about seeing new things and new people. It's about making a new home that I can carry around with me all the time, as wanky as that sounds. It's about taking risks and making mistakes. It's pretty fucking awesome, now that I think about it.