Saturday, September 01, 2007

On the Road Again: Middle East Diary

Some unexpected travel came out of the trip to London last month so here I am on the road again. Heading this time into the Middle East, a part of the world that has grown on me.
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Departures, especially those on long trips are now to be dreaded, regardless of how glossy the brochure extolling the destination, or the claims an airline makes via is model stewards about how much you are going to enjoy the trip. The maxim that the journey is more important than the destination might be good for your chicken soup guide for life but has zero relevance to long haul flights. Emirates seem to have slipped in a couple of extra rows since I flew with them last and I am unable to stretch out, testing my claims that I can sleep anywhere. We bore out of Sydney and head for Dubai via Bangkok where I now sit after a brief walk around Thailand’s new airport. When I came through here for a couple of days last October we missed this new building by one day. Nearly a year on and it already shows wear and tear. Sadly it is another modern airport with nothing startling about the shiny chrome and glass and new concrete. The holding pens for all the seething, crying, bored, irritable stock are no different to any other holding pens in any other airport trying to attract then quickly churn as many passengers as possible. Here we all sit at 2 o’clock in the morning, badly wanting to nod off and not really able to in the plastic seats they have for us. This flight seems to have a lot of kids on it so our gritty eyed fatigue is accompanied by a symphony of sniffles, grumps and outright dissenting wails. I feel sorry for these parents who are stoic in the face of the assault. If I find the place drear, they must hate what it doesn’t offer for small kids trying to work out what is going on. But the diminutive Thai staff are good humoured and see us though and reboarded all with a semblance of good humour. For which we are all thankful.

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