Diario - 11 July

Feeling deceleration: 20 minutes to landing. All passengers seated, cabin crew prepare yourself, you know the drill. Dubai by night from on high is a sight: orthogonal streets outlined by yellow lightglobes, white lights marking houses or plants (not sure which). Front camera shows the approaching lane, rear wheels touchdown, front touchdown, brakes brakes brakes, down we are, get out of the way, do a nice parking, it's been a pleasure to fly you, now get out of my plane! and take every thing yours out with you!

So out we go, to the warm welcoming of Dubai International Airport: 0200 local time, 37°C outside temperature, and rising. Warm indeed.

Transit passengers this way (how do some people accomplish to get confused by ONE, SIMPLE, LARGE sign? how do they expect to survive in a foreign country without knowing this much of either English or the local tongue?), transit desk gives me (as an Emirates transit traveller with more than 4 hours wait in front of me) a ticket for refreshments (more below). Baggage screening, and the airport is all mine!

They said Dubai Duty Free is impressive. That's an understatement. 40 meters wide, about 150 long, it comprises so many shops: you can buy anything you'll ever need while traveling, and most of what you'll need not. My Newton, after deceiving me with the local time (which is one hour ahead of what Mr.N thinks) tells me he never knew the exchange rate for the Dirham (UAE currency). A cashieress (is there such a word?) tells me 1 USD = 3.6 Dh; couple of mults give me 1 Dh ∼ 500 ITL. I need some batteries for my CD player, so I go exchanging some liras. Walk many a hundred meters to find someone willing to buy liras, discover 1 Dh = 588 ITL. Not bad for a quick estimate. Buy batteries, buy Pink Floyd - The Wall live (because it's there).

Go find where to reclaim refreshment ticket. Info desk. MacDonald. Oh great. Actually, it's a french-sounding croissanterie and-the-like-erie. Get a tea and an apple-filled whatsitsnameagain. Microwaved. Ten minutes to recover use of tongue. Another ten minutes to reduce tea at acceptable temperature.

I'm boarding at gate 7, take off about 0730. I'll listen to some music now. It's another two hours before gate opens.

Fog! And I was thinking about asking 'which way is north?' to see the sunrise on the (quasi) desert! No chance: sun is probably rose by now, but I'll not see it till I am well above fog and clouds. Oh hell.

Countermand: Ek 463 to Johannesburg is late, so I board at gate 18. Thanks me I asked.

Regular boarding, no problem till taxing. I'm 25G, that is, right-hand side aisle is on my right. Emergency exit is right beside me. R3 (flight assistant Iutoi) is uncomfortable: he notices a clunking sound coming from below. Captain is notified, crew members come and go. Captain drives the plane back to dock, for examination. In the following hour and a half we get to know that: no problems exist with the hull, none with the cargo, but: one of the cargo shells is broken. Cargo gets down the plane, changes shell, gets on again. OK, taxing to the lane. Uh oh, same sound. Captain says ignore it. So we do. Take off two hours later than due. Captain announces he'll try to make up for the time lost, but the atmosphere is not of the same advice: we encounter turbulence right after take off, and never really got out of it. Fasten seat belts sign is often alight, the plane rises to 37kf from the 33kf promised (to speed up the flight: we're running on an arc with a radius of roughly 6Mm, what's 1Km more or less gonna do?! He's the Captain, he knows better. I hope). More: my TV screen goes on strike: it doesn't respond to touch, it doesn't show controls or messages. Later I discover where they hid the hand control, but there's no way to control video params (and they're quite out of their senses). Food is not so good as the first flight: chicken with mashed potatoes and some vegetables, salad, some unidentified fish. Nice sweet piece: some kind of candied fruit with (probably) milk-based cover.

We're nearing Singapore, where a one-hour stop was programmed. Don't know how they'll manage it, since we should have been here two hours ago! And probably we'll not arrive to Sydney before 0800 local time (due 0605). Will the guy (gal?) from Wollongong wait for me? After all, they have my flight number, they can check. Even thought about faxing them (this plane has a satellite phone system), but is full night there, and they'll leave to get me before even noticing the fax. We'll just have to wait and see. And hope my baggage is here, in the cargo area...

I've slept most of the flight, and my bio-rhythms are quite screwed up. If they expect me to start working the same day I arrive, I'll ask Markus how he felt after making the opposite trip. What I want when I get there is a shower, know my hosting family, then I'll go and look around the campus. Not the other way round. They sound like sensible people, after all.

Oh, I finally made sense of a picture in the air show (where they tell you nav infos and show you nifty maps with a plane in the center): draw a plane, draw a black box somewhere around it, and a black arrow pointing from the center of the plane to the box. What is it? Bingo! Have a cigar! It tells you where Mecca is! Remember this is a Islamic airline! (no pork in the meals, if you were to ask). So, using the Mecca-arrow as a compass, I quickly recalc my orientation, and discover I was looking for sunrise facing west-south-west. Would not have seen it anyway. Oh well.

Landing: I'll pack the Newton.

Changi airport (i.e. Singapore)... not much time to visit it: just got off, and that lady tells me to be back in half an hour. No problem: I'll just go look around. Around is a half-a-kilometer hallway, then some shops, then start coming back because time is running out.

On the plane again. Getting tired of this; luckily it's the last take off. To comply with Australian regulations and such, we are sprayed with some pesticide, just to make sure we don't get nasty insects to land. They have plenty already.

This time I get to watch some movies. The screen is still not working properly, but I'll make do. So I select channel 1 and watch The Tigger movie. It's not my kind of cartoon (Disney: songs & good feelings), but it's not that bad either.

Dinner. Sleep. Not so well, actually. Succeed in a two-hour near-sleep. We're over Australia mainland, but still two hours and a half ahead prior to landing (yes, 7 hours between takeoff and landing): another movie. Mission to Mars, understading one word out of four. Finale cut out by Captain saying we're landing. Finally! Another spraying, just to make sure.

DatesCreated: 2003-01-29 10:51:59 Last modification: 2009-08-18 13:10:59