Thursday, 24 April 2008

on the road - episode 2

we flew out of singapore at 2.20am local time for 10.5 hours, mostly in the dark to joburg. everyone punched out for the first 5 hours or so. after that our bodies decided that no matter how knackered we were it was about 7.30 am singapore time and we should be awake. the discomfort of economy class seating certainly does not encourage sound sleep. also the flight was pretty bumpy in places.
best part of flight was about 45 mins out of joburg. we came through some high cloud and got bumped around a bit. as we flew out of the cloud bank we looked back and could see lightning flashes going off every few seconds in the clouds we had left. really cool to watch, but i'm glad we didn't see it until we were out of it.

arrive at joburg expecting african heat and getting 5 degrees. i was also expecting to change $600NZ into local currency. without my wallet, that's just not going to happen. shit. so i scamper back to the international terminal to find the singapore airtlines desk to see if the plane can be checked before it's filled up and flown away again. 15 mins hunting and NO singapore airlines desk. i go to lufthansa [also star alliance] and get directions to local handling agents for SIA. first desk sends me to second desk - which is helpful, but a bit hopeless. they know where the SIA agent has a desk, but it is in the middle of an area undergoing refurbishment and they cannot find site access. another 15 mins schlepping around the concourse. back to desk 2 and a chap there knows the way to SIA desk. 2mins later and a helpful chap on the phone to plane crew. 2mins after that and reply comes back - no luck.

so i am in joburg. i have no cash or credit cards. only 5 weeks to survive in africa without money. Liam owes me about 65 rand so i will not be destitute once i call in that debt. for the record $1NZ = approx 6 rand. i start to budget a spending plan of $2NZ/week for the next 5 weeks.

i still have my cellphone and all cards are cancelled before we leave joburg for durban [final destination for uwh].

Matt and Rowan get 5 min massages in those crazy water-jet massage booths in the departure area.
I spotted the argentinian squad slide through the domestic terminal, but all the others [who have money] are distracted by food and miss them.

on to durban. pilot tells us to expect 15 degrees. we get hosing down rain, about 10 degrees and no airbridge. 50 yard dash in the rain from the plane to baggage collection, then on to more, african-style, hassles.

out of baggage area to be met by local accomodation organiser [cheryl] who appears to be jsut about the most switched on person on the continent. our hire vehicles are in another town. well, of course they are - why on earth would we expect them to be waiting for us at the airport when we have already paid in advance for them?

Cheryl has already solved the hassle AND organised a van for all our luggage to get to our accomodation. this is good because we have 320kg of luggage and it was never going to fit in the back of 4 toyota yaris's. also we can follow cheryl to where we are staying, which is good too, because none of us had any clue how to get where we were going.

on the way the car Ben & I were in, driven by Pig, started to wobble alarmingly. the luggage van driver pointed out we had a flatty, so we wobbled to nearest servo and applied the pump. tire valve was stuffed, so we changed wheel and kept on going. rest of party and cheryl now long gone into the distance, but van driver said he thought he knew where we where staying, but he had been following cheryl too. we got here o.k.

accomodation is holiday flats for families which are rented out when owners do not want to be here. there is a swimming pool and direct access to the beach. an enormous shopping mall is 5 mins drive away. the pool is about 10-15 mins drive from here.

our rental vehicles are crap, but they are being replaced. getting them sorted has been quite a saga. but it's way too dull for a blog, even one as dull as this.

right, that's all the travelling out of the way. from here on in it's about uwh.

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