Friday, April 24, 2009

In Transit

I don't usually take photos in transit, but I did this time for some reason. Usually I'm organizing the kids and checking my watch to see if we're there yet!

I have the good, the bad and the ugly!

To start, here is the good:

Looking fresh and happy on the 3-hour flight from Hong Kong to Fukuoka. We'd all slept well the night before, the girls had a new magazine and a new Barbie doll each to play with, and Erica had her Wiggles on the DVD player and a purse full of coins. We also had the bulkhead seat, so lots of room, as you can see. It wasn't all smooth flying however, Amy filled up an airsick bag, but at least they let us use the business toilet to dispose of it. Did you know that air hostesses do NOT take away your airsick bag for you, and you have to sit there and nurse it while the goddam seat-belt light is on?? Oh, sorry, this was supposed to be the 'good' picture. Well, it was the magic seat-belt light - you hit a bump, the seat-belt light comes on, a recorded announcement comes on telling you to 'refrain' from using the loos, and the 'turbulence' miraculously stops while you sit there busting, or with a bag full of sick in your hand, waiting for the seat-belt light to turn off again!

Okay that was just bad, but this is downright ugly, and I don't mean just my muffin-top. Four people squeezed into three tiny seats in the second row. You can see how close the seat in front is from us. This rivals Jan 2002 for the 'flight from hell' award - either the flight was totally full or the girl who checked us in (who was new, as she kept having to ask her superior what to do) did not know what I meant by 'block the seat next to us'. Either way, a rather large man turned up to sit in that seat, leaving us with only three for the four of us. It was also a daytime flight (eleven hours), or at least the first half was in the daytime. And Amy had a fever, which came on as we went through security and immigration. She lost her stomach on this flight as well. By the time I got the camera, everyone was asleep, trying to get comfortable as best they could. The final straw was a steep descent into Hong Kong that made them all squirm in their sleep as their noses/ears hurt, and I got needle-prick pains in the bridge of my nose from the pressure, making me nervous about the next flight (for no reason as it turns out, the next flight was fine)

Hong Kong airport, and we're looking happy to be off the plane! We were only just into our journey to NZ, and excited about being on the way, so we look pretty fresh and happy. The arms of HK airport are about a mile long! We took these travellators all the way, the kids enjoyed it even if it was a bit repetitive. There is a train to the hub, but I couldn't find it (I found it on the next transit on the floor below us).

Check out Erica's angel wings - that's a baby leash, which didn't have quite the effect I was supposed to enable me to put her on the ground, and stop her from wandering off if I needed to do things with my hands. In reality, it became a marvellous game for Amy and Lena as they let her run away, and held the leash, pretending she was a dog, and ending up miles away from me! I should mention here that I FOROGT the stroller. I could have used the ombo-himo, but she seemed pretty cosy in the trolley. However....

the did not allow passengers to use the trolleys in the shopping hub! Hence the turtle effect Amy is modelling in the photo on the right with the plastic-covered carseat on her back - I was carrying the baby, a backpack, my handbag and pulling one carry-on wheeled bag, Lena was pulling hers and Amy's and Amy was carrying the carseat, which was a big white elephant that we used not once during the whole trip.

I decided to take the carseat on board with me because the fourth seat in the row was blocked on the HK-NZ leg, and I thought I could use it. However, the new seat design with bucket seats and airbags on the seatbelt (yes, airbags on the seatbelt!) meant I could not use it on that plane, even though I had the spare seat! Then, in NZ I used my brother's carseat. So I took the damn thing and didn't use it once! Even my friend, whose place I stayed at the first night in Auckland, had a carseat ready in the car for us to use on the way back from the airport. At least on the way back to Japan, I was able to check it in. Fancy bringing that white elephant - and forgetting the stroller, which would have been a little more useful than an annoying, if amusing 'turtle' shell for Amy.

A word about the girls' entirely inappropriate tights and dresses. Tired of the whole business of packing on the morning before we left, I relaxed my usual hyper-vigilance about the contents of their bags and the exact items of clothing they are wearing. I let them wear their dress and tights "to the airport" then at the VERY last moment, as we walked out the door, I let them wear their 'clockle' shoes (small strappy high-heel shoes for kids). Consequently, Amy forgot her sneakers, and Lena forgot, well, everything! Her entire, well-planned, layered flying/transit outfit was found intact on her desk after we got back. So they flew in pretty dresses, tights and shoes. And they didn't care.

Here's a photo of me at the same time, with my load of baby, backpack and purse. I'm standing right in front of the Starbucks that I stopped at to have a coffee and waste money on chocolate milks that the girls didn't drink.

At least HK airport had a play area. Not as good as Singapore's because a) there was no TV and b) it was not enclosed, so I spent the whole 2-3 hours transit chasing Erica as she ran away over and over and over and over. One time she got away from me, and managed to get on to the travellator. I only knew because the mother of the Chinese boy she was playing with came and 'told' me so, not in English, but in the international language of panicking mothers! Later she gave us some yummy Chinese plum sweets.

Finally back home. I made the effort to look presentable, and we all changed out of our travel-soiled clothes into their bright new Pumpkin Patch gear just after picking up our bags, and just before going through the arrivals gate. I also had on my new jeans and top. We kept Kanji waiting - I was expecting him to be running late, as he was in Osaka last time, when we came out of the arrivals exit to find Nobody waiting for us! But this time, he'd made up for that oversight by arriving about two hours early! Oh well, what's another twenty minutes while we change our clothes, then?

Only two hours to get home from here, but it feels like five minutes after the huge trip beforehand.


illahee said...

oh, erica is such a doll-baby, i want to eat her up!!

welcome back!

Rachel said...

Hi illahee, feel free to eat her all up in Miyazaki next week. I'm bringing Tamah!

anchan said...

That first photo is gorgeous! But your post has reminded me why I will NOT be flying with all 3 children to the UK without my husband!

Rachel said...

keep reading Anchan as I'll be posting much more upbeat holiday photos over the next few days. It's a hard slog, but it's SOOOOOO worth it! I would never limit myself by saying 'never'! If I had to rely on hubby to help me, I'd go much less often and for not anywhere near as long. All that pain is worth it for my freedom to come and go.

Gina said...

My older son once threw up during the meal service during flight. He never did it before or after. Lots of stares from a few fellow passengers. *sigh* made me all the more nervous. But I went to the toilet cleaned him off switched his clothes. Almost didn't want to come out of the toilets, but I did.: ) But we did and the meal tray was taken away thankfully (had vomit on it, yikes, I know, I know).

Reading about your story made me remember that. I think you travel with 4 girls really really well. I take my hat off to you for that because I know travelling with kids isn't always so easy. : )

PS, didn't know the attendants didn't take the vomit bags away.: (

Rachel said...

Wow, Gina. The thing about travel horror stories is that someone can always top them! I was already thinking 'at least she's old enough now to get it in the sick bag and not all over herself' so now I can add 'at least she didn't do it during, or ON, breakfast!