Lucid Dreaming in London

So I didn’t sleep on the plane, and more or less haven’t slept since landing at Heathrow at 5am. There was maybe an hour in the afternoon before a fire alarm went off. It’s all lent the day a surreal quality.

A few trains got us from the airport to Westminster, and we dropped our backpacks at the hotel at 7am, but couldn’t check in till 2pm. Which meant wandering around for hours. More like sleepwalking.

But! Good sleepwalking. Caught some of the usual sights – Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, etc. They were fine, but it was the little things in between that were the real highlights. Opposite Buckingham is a bunch of sculptures, one of which is a big bronze labourer with a sledgehammer standing next to a lion with life-size testicles poking out the back, entitled: “Gift from New Zealand”. Possibly more importantly, today I had a squirrel stand on my hand take a nut from me.

London highlights so far mainly about nuts.

It took me a while to work out why London feels so familiar. At first I thought it was a bit of similarity to downtown Wellington. Then I realised. There’s construction everywhere. It’s annoying as all hell, switching sides of streets, scaffolding all over things. It’s like Auckland was for most of the last year, frantically preparing for a massive international event. I wonder if Parliament will have to seize control from the City of London if the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony doesn’t go according to plan.

Ooh! Also, first random old lady scamming me today. Told me she was raising money for the ‘ospital. The ‘ospital. For Christmas. The ‘ospital, you see. I gave some change and she looked me in the eye and said, “They usually give notes.” Bless her scammy old soul.

Sleep now, I think. Also, photos tomorrow.

Hiatus in Hong Kong

It’s probably about 2am in New Zealand. Clever iPads detect their location and give you the local time, which sounds helpful, but now I can’t be bothered actually researching what time my body thinks it is. Here it’s almost 10pm.

A few twists of fate have resulted in Diana and I enjoying the use of a business-class lounge at this airport in Hong Kong. We’re here a few hours before we cruise on to London. So I’ve got a bit of time to jot down some thoughts.

So let’s see.

I haven’t traveled before, so this is all new to me. First things first. I received all kinds of advice on how to survive the hassle of 24 hours of being stuck in a plane. Sat down prepared for the worst. Somehow, no one had ever told me that international flights are magical lands where dreams come true.

It is awesome. I just spent 11 hours sitting in the same seat, watching everything from RED to Captain America to Community, while the closest anyone came to interrupting me was to feed me and offer me drinks. I guess it’s something like sitting at home, watching TV shows and movies, with all of the phones disconnected and a manservant bringing me things. You don’t have to know me too well to know that the only thing I’d like better than 11 hours of that is 12 hours of that. And the next leg is 13 hours.

I’ll have to sleep a bit this time, probably, out of raw biological necessity, and it sucks to waste that awesome plane time on sleep. But the theory is we’ll wake up for a 5am start in sunny London, kicking off eight weeks in Europe and a week in Thailand.

I’ve been taking advice on Europe and Thailand too, and have some fairly cartoonish notions in my head of what to expect. Mainly at the moment I picture Europe as a large, very old obstacle course in which one does nothing but dodge a never-ending stream of Gypsy pickpockets and soccer hooligans.

I’ve been writing for 20 minutes now, since I got out of the shower. Diana hasn’t surfaced yet, but while that may seem just generally unsurprising, it’s utterly forgivable here. The showers don’t so much have showerheads as a massive section of ceiling that rains hot water on you. If it wasn’t for the lure of sitting in a dark metal cylinder flying through the air and watching Alan Partridge, I probably would never have left the shower myself.