Normally the worst thing about a holiday (apart from flying with small children) is when it comes to an end. But when you have to fly all the way back around the world just to arrive at your own front door, it’s even worse. A healthy dose of jet lag is enough to make you look and feel like you’ve never even been away.
Our epic trip began last Sunday – starting with the pleasure of a two and a half hour trip on a jam-packed National Express coach, where I passed the time pinning a hyper 3 year-old to his seat and listening to the woeful bleating of a driver who felt his job description shouldn’t actually involve any driving. Especially on a Sunday.
Next came the lipstick coated power freak at check-in, who demanded we extract 2kgs worth of stuff from one ‘too heavy for the conveyor belt’ suitcase. Have conveyor belts suddenly grown weaker over the years or are they now simply exercising their civil rights? The 2 kg was of course simply added to the already overloaded hand luggage. Right there on the floor. In front of the power freak. The logic of this blatant redistributing is lost on me.
Having already completed the lengthy flight at the start of the holiday, what now lay ahead of us was hardly much of a surprise. But, just like child-birth, the mind has a habit of erasing the true extent of the ordeal involved, just to make sure that you will ever contemplate doing it again. Quite a handy thing, when you have a return ticket to use up.
For the first 11 hours I sat wedged between 2 children – covered in the crumbs of a rock-hard bread roll and wrapped from head-to-toe in the wires of 6 headsets. Why we even had 6 I’m not sure, there were, after all, only 4 of us.
As a flying parent you are faced with 2 possible scenarios, neither of which it has to be said are particularly pleasant.
The first option is to make the most of each and every inch of your seat, and to achieve the maximum level of comfort – granted, this isn’t much, given the blood clot inducing foetal position you are now in, with your knees wedged into your rib cage and your feet tucked into the magazine holder in front. This does however allow for the possibility of a few hours sleep for yourself, if the restless and wriggling children on either side of you would allow it. Which, as a general rule, they don’t.
The second option – the more selfless and painful one – is relinquish both arm rests and allow your uncomfortable children to stretch themselves out across both your seat and your lap. So resigning yourself to the knowledge that you will get no rest at all. Like I said, neither option is designed to really appeal.
I went with the second, though more out of necessity than choice I admit. When faced with a choice between crying, whingeing children, and a mind-numbing night of pain, I opted for the lesser of 2 evils.
By the time we had located our lost stroller at Hong Kong airport, walked several kms through duty free (without even getting within sniffing distance of any shopping), gotten lost and caught the necessary train to find our connecting flight, I was quite happy to snap the head off the unhelpful ground staff who told us off for being late. If I’d had the energy or a free hand I’d have smacked him round the face. Like I said, I was tired.
Within minutes of the next plane taking off I went into self-preservation mode, pulled on the blindfold and went to sleep – until I felt the eyes of my tired husband boring into me, so resigned myself to waking up and giving him a chance to pass out.
Arriving back in Perth would have been a welcome relief, if we’d actually come back to the comfort of our own home. But we couldn’t and we didn’t. Instead we had to stay in a hot and basic rental for a week, battling jet lag and fighting flies. With mornings starting around 2.30am, 2 over-tired kids to entertain and no car to even escape the cabin fever, I think it’s safe to say the end of the holiday was far from perfect.
Post holiday blues wouldn’t even begin to cover how I felt. I was in a completely different colour spectrum all together.
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