My flight out of Copenhagen departed in the leisurely afternoon hours, allowing me the time to wake up slowly, hug a few more friends that I had yet to salute, and arrive stress-free at the incredible place we call an “air-port”, where you can show a few papers to a few uniforms and up in the sky you go!
Since I was a child, and my family was based in Greenland, I have been flying in and out of Denmark (and around the world) more than I would like to admit to my environmental conscience. Some years I have counted 15 flights or more, and sometimes I can’t help wondering if any amount of resources I manage to decrease in my everyday consumption will ever make up for the giant size carbon footprint I have already made…
I Can Fly!
Still; it is an incredible thing to fly. And every time I sit on a plane, I always wonder how the hell it is even possible, not only to move through the sky in a tin-can with 900km an hour, but also to find the time to complain about the temperature of the coffee. For god’s sake mate: YOU ARE FLYING THROUGH THE FUCKING SKY! Would you just sit back and enjoy it!
Having said that, being a seasoned air plane passenger, I do value a good on-board service. And having flown with everything from Air Greenland helicopters and Air Laos’ propeller planes ( dating back to the Vietnam War) to the largest top-of-the-line commercial air crafts, I trust my own judgment when it comes to picking out the best available options. That doesn’t mean, of course, that my finances allow me to chose them.
But on this particular journey; from Copenhagen via Qatar in the United Arab Emirates, on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and finally arriving in Coolangatta Airport on Australia’s East Coast, the first two legs were wonderfully luxurious (Qatar Airlines is the bomb, just letting you know…). The third and last leg of this incomprehensibly fast migration, however, was spent on yet another dirty, no-frills Air Asia machine, complete with broken seats, exhausted stewardesses and cramped leg space.
I spent quite a lot of air-time wondering where and how to go, once I touched down in Australia. Hoping to hit the ground running I had yet to receive any news from the random connections I had on the East Coast. Then, as I was watching the tell-tale mix of Indian labourers and Saudi Arabian oil sheiks lemminging through the gates of Qatar Airport, I suddenly remembered a particularly random connection: Radhesyam, or just Rad. 5 months before, I had made friends with Rad in the outrageously utopian, and slickly spiritual, intentional community of Auroville in South India.
Over a cup of masala chai one day, she had told me to drop her a line if I ever came Down Under, saying that she would for sure hook me up. So in the midst of Qatar’s commuting commotion, I sat down to drop Rad a few lines. And thank god for that! She has hooked me up with a deeply spiritual and joyful festival, transportation, a job and hours of fun and interesting conversation. You will hear much more about her later…
A Close Shave
In Malaysia I had a 12-hour layover, and for once I had actually pre-booked a hotel – knowing that I wouldn’t be up for hanging out on an airport-chair for a whole night. On the Net I had found what seemed to be a convenient yet slightly pricey option which I settled for – not getting any younger after all. Turned out to be a block of concrete sitting right next to the low-cost carrier airport terminal, like a turd looking at brick. Owned by Air Asia, of course.
Already tired from the first two flights, I still decided to take a bus into Kuala Lumpur (gotta love that name) since I’d never been there before. I had just enough time to see the wacky and world-famous KL-skyline from a mono-rail train, get a dish of street-kitchen chicken chow (try saying that out loud) and buy another 1GB of RAM in one of the many typical Asian electronics shopping centres. Just another day in the life of a modern nomad.
Of course I couldn’t sleep most of the night anyway, and ended up watching two mediocre films on my 10 inch screen, all the while dreading that I wouldn’t wake up in time for my flight. And guess what? I almost didn’t. From the moment I opened my gravelled eyes to the moment I stood in line at the Air Asia check-in counter, I doubt that more than 10 minutes went by. I ran like a rocket and I might have knocked over a few smaller travellers – but I made it!
Lost And Found
Next time I woke up, I was suspended 10.000 feet over a massive arid, burnt orange-red canvas of sand, dust and rocks, with scar-like cracks running parallel for hundreds of kilometres. My first sighting of Australia.
People had told me of the anal customs officers in Australia’s airports. Absolutely nothing organic, which hasn’t been sterilised and sealed, is allowed into Australia, seeds of any kind in particular. I was prepared to lose the small bag of Copal my dear friend Philip had given me as a parting gift, but I didn’t see this one coming: They took my bloody juggling balls! Filled with seeds they were, so that was a no go.
Got my stamp. Got my bag. Got a bus. Got a hostel (thank you Philip again, sweet place!). Got a bed. Got there. Before I nodded off that first night, I remember wondering how long it would take for my soul to catch up.
Retrospectively I can confidently say that it took just about 6½ days.