Flying home: As late as a Thai train


You know that you are back in Australia when there’s a women in the train scraping her toenails clean over the seat.

B asks “Can we eat in this train?” I remind her that this is CityRail. How sensibilities change when you’ve been overseas for a while.

There was a older Australian man and his similarly aged Asian wife who queued ahead of us at the airport and continued on with us all the way until Wolli Creek. He was wearing mauve trousers and a purple shirt, almost matching his wife’s outfit, which looked far more sensible on her. There is something wrong with this.

I took an instant dislike to the older Australian couple seated across from us on the flight home, especially the woman. When the flight attendant asked them to raise the blinds for take-off the woman, in a schoolteacher voice, says “Please.”


“You didn’t say please.”

They then complained, complained, complained all the way in loud voices.

“We weren’t told of the delay!”

(No, you didn’t bother reading the sign, did you.)

“The sandwiches were stale.”

(They are always stale on Jetstar. It’s a low cost carrier. Live with it)

“How do I use this?”

And so on.

I was listening to my MP3 player most of the way so I couldn’t hear the specifics of most of their complaints and demands, but I was half hoping that one of the many toddlers on the flight would cry loudly and cause the old couple to complain about that. I could then respond that their constant loud talking was keeping me awake, which it was.

Alex fell asleep almost as soon as we boarded the aircraft. He lay flat across the seat on our own pillow and an Jetstar blanket that we’d brought along from an earlier flight. We were seated in the middle set of seats on this almost full flight. Luckily not quite full, despite having eight families with young kids on board. The Japanese girl next to B offered to move back into the almost empty row behind us, which worked out well for all. Alex, at full stretch, takes up two seat widths.

We had a bit of trouble at take-off as you need to keep the armrests down (in case they slam down with heavy braking) and we had put them up to allow Alex to lie across the seat. But he was so dead to the world it didn’t really matter.

He did wake up in the middle of the night from a dream. I know what he was dreaming about too, but he kept crying out “Catch lift! Press button!”

I only slept fitfully, mainly shutting my eyes and listening to music. In one small way this was fortunate, because there were leftovers from the StarClass’ dessert run. A flight attendant came back with plates of yummy strawberry mousse cake for those of us awake (including, unfortunately, the whinging couple besides me).

It was a fairly bumpy ride, though no seatbelt light switched on, so I’m glad that I don’t break out in sweats anymore from turbulence. I missed being able to look out of the window, especially seeing the sunrise from up high.

Entertainment played almost continuously on the overhead screens, though I didn’t bother listening in. The entertainment card said that the movie was “Dinner with Shmucks”, which made me laugh only because Jetstar usually shows Steve Carrell movies. Instead they actually played “Morning Glory” which achieved similar critical acclaim. Which is to say, not very much.

I’m very glad that “Two and a half men” has been canned. I wish someone would tell Jetstar though because they played the same episode three times.

Not sure that an episode of “The Simpson” is particularly appropriate considering the nuclear situation at Fukushima.

Which inspires me to be inappropriate. Regional specialities are a big thing at Japanese train stations and airports. Tokyo chocolate Cakes, Yufuin Custard Cakes, Kobe Cheesecakes, why not Fukushima Yellowcake for sale?

Without the window seat and thanks our late arrival we missed out on the gorgeous sunrise of our last landing at the Gold Coast. We had already missed our booked connection, so were in a hurry to get through customs and reach the Jetstar desk.

Unfortunately, the quarantine line was slow. All we had to do was tell the inspector what we have, I think they could see that we were being honest. Then, over Alex’s vending machine, x-ray machine, lift and toilet protestations (we’d taken him, he just wanted to play with hand dryers), we quickly ran over to the Jetstar check-in desk.

We were soon rebooked on to another flight leaving in half an hour’s time. Not enough time to check out the lounge where we had prepaid access, but the sooner we got home the better.

It was a very pleasant one hour flight back to Sydney. I enjoyed looking out the window, Alex slept again in between B and I. We cross the northern suburbs of Sydney and I told Alex to wave at his friends as we flew over his childcare centre.

Landing under blue skies I saw the other aircraft parked at the International Terminal, even a Thai Airways A340, and thought to myself “Yeah, I’m ready for another trip.”

But at the same time it was good to go home, despite the toenail cleaning and trying to keep hold of luggage and child in the bus. Our dog returned thinner (yay!) but happy and it was good to stay somewhere without a lift, hand dryer, vending machine or other distractions but his own toys.

And something I forgot to mention in the previous post was that Alex taught himself how to use chopsticks, picking up bits of octopus during our meal at Dotombori street in Osaka. I always wondered how they get kids to learn them in Asia…

I really enjoyed this trip. It’s a pity that it wasn’t longer, especially in Japan, so that we wouldn’t keep hitting 10am checkout deadlines. Travelling with a terrible two proved an interesting challenge. The constant refusal to listen and obsession with certain machinery was tiresome, but at the same time it was great to see him interested in the world around him. I loved sharing experiences like elephants, playgrounds, tuk-tuks and the Anpanman train – we knew that he was also enjoying something new.

For as many times as he was a handful, Alex was also very well behaved. How we survived that long Thai train ride is unbelievable. It was great to travel with a toilet trained kid, no more hunting for nappy change locations, and he ate most of the food. He even learned a word or two of the local languages. What more can you ask for?

I can’t wait to travel with my family again.

Additional note: I should make it clear that I do not hold all Australians in disdain, especially being one myself. But it’s funny how you look at things differently after travel overseas. After a trip to China the locals here seem paragons of cleanliness and politeness. After Japan you notice the graffiti and the angry machismo of youth here. Also, being a local you are forced to interact more and see all sides rather than the face put on for a guest.

I should also clarify that the Jetstar flight was not bad and they did accommodate the schedule disruptions with efficiency. For a low cost airline I have no complaints, I just don’t have as high expectations as I do for a full service airline. That’s okay, because I’m not paying for full service either. That’s why I continue to fly with them quite frequently.

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