The Long Journey Home
I was awake by 1.30am way before the alarms I had set. It felt like I had hardly been asleep at all. We were very efficient in getting up, showering and putting the last things into our cases.
As usual I struggled to get on my prescribed stockings for the long haul flights. Not only are they uncomfortable and very tight but they mean I feel forced to wear trousers to cover them up whatever the temperature. They are a necessary evil in order to allow me to travel hopefully safely with my leg problems. It is always such a relief when I arrive and can peel them off.
I walked to reception to check out and collect our breakfast boxes. It was all very efficient. On the way back to the room I met Karen who was walking with the Bell-boy with our luggage. Our taxi was waiting and so the bags were loaded for us. The receptionist checked all the details with the driver and we set off at 2.30am.
There was very little traffic to start with. After 30 minutes though the driver pulled into a service station. As he didn't speak any English (and us no Thai), this really spooked Karen who though we were about to be robbed or worse. Turned out he just needed the toilet.
We carried on the journey and made such good time that when we arrived at the airport at 5.00am I did wonder if we are actually at the correct one to start with. We were so early that we had to wait 30 minutes for the Emirates check in to open. By now we were hungry and nervously opened our breakfast boxes whilst we waited expecting noodles or something and were rather pleased to find fruit and some plain sandwiches. The only annoyance during check in was that some Germans who were obviously far more important than us pushed rudely ahead of us in the queue. I may have accidentally walked into one of them when we saw them later.
Security and Passport Control were quiet at that time of day and we breezed through.
We had some hot drinks and bought some snacks for the flights and waited. We knew we had only 95 minutes between flights in Dubai and so we were rather nervous when we took off some 40 minutes late.
The flight itself was fine and we both dozed and watched 3 films. By the time we landed though we had lost more time and that left us only 45 minutes before our next flight. I persuaded the stewardess to allow us to get off before the Business Class passengers and we legged it through the airport. We had to go through Security again but made it with minutes to spare only to find that the flight had a delay in boarding. We were relieved as that meant the chances of our cases joining us on the flight increased.
The next flight seemed to drag on and on. More films and dozing followed. By the time we landed we had been up 24 hours and still had to get home from Gatwick. We were through UK Passport Control in under 3 minutes which meant an even longer and more anxious wait at the baggage carousel. I was so happy when I eventually saw Karens case and just mildly relieved when mine then followed.
By now Karen was desperate for a coffee so we got one from Costa and some sandwiches from M&S in the terminal before wandering out to collect the car from valet parking. This was also very smooth and easy and a real bargain at £109 for over 5 weeks.
The drive home was straightforward apart from the fact I was tired, so very very tired. We were having to sing songs and keep the car cool in order to maintain my concentration. Eventually we got home tired but safe at 11pm, some 29 hours after waking up in Thailand. Needless to say, I went straight upstairs to bed.
Reflections on the trip to follow.