Despite it being 1.30am when we left Jakarta, I was too excited to sleep on the 4hr flight to Manila. This was the first time that I’d flown business class and I was going to make damn sure that I took full advantage of the experience and, the champagne. Before we had even taken off, Irishman and I necked an entire bottle of Moet Chandon and the thoughtful steward had put another bottle into the chiller ready for us to imbibe the instant that the seat belt signs went off once we were safely air borne.
By the time we touched down in Manila it was dawn and we then had 9 glorious hours to endure in a transit lounge before our onward flight to Hawaii. It’s amazing how much food you can pack in if you are killing time. All my hard work making orange coloured soup for the past 3 weeks or so was undone in the space of just a few hours as being bored witless and my laptop out of battery, I kept finding myself wandering back to the self-serve buffet and filling my plate with tiny delicious dim sum, sushi, Chinese buns and fruit. My stepsister maintains that anything consumed in airports or on planes doesn’t count calorifically, but I’m not so sure.
The next lap of the journey was an adventure for neither I, nor Irishman had ever flown over the Pacific before. The plane took off and then started it’s ascent in an arc over Manila and out over the surrounding deep blue waters of the South China Sea before circling back round eastwards and making for the Pacific Ocean. Although we had been warned of some turbulence during our 10-hour flight to Honolulu, mercifully it wasn’t the bumpy ride that was expected and we were able to doze for much of the journey. In my dreams, I imagined the vastness of the ocean beneath us and the whales and mysterious marine life lurking in its depths. On waking from sleep in the now dimmed cabin, I peered out of the tiny airplane window and gazed at the myriad stars studding the inky black sky and the silver slither of the crescent moon casting its iridescent glow down upon the waves below. I spied Neptune to the south, and the twins, Pollux and Castor to the east but the brightest star of them all was Sirius, seemingly guiding us towards Hawaii like an usherettes torch to ones seats in a darkened cinema.
Airborne at 39,000 ft and by now miles from home, we crossed the International Date Line, an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north to the South Pole and which demarcates one calendar day from the next. I found this short film on You Tube should you want to know more about it. It certainly helped me to get my head around the fact that when at last we arrived in Honolulu after 14 hours of air travel and a 9 hour transit, that we had in fact moved back to the previous day of our departure.
On our arrival, we were not greeted with garlands of lei from bare breasted, hip swaying beauties but rather the sombre tones of the USA immigration and visa police asking if we had any bananas or red peppers in our luggage? With nothing remotely exciting to declare, we made our way to the car rental and then onwards to our hotel for the first taste of our Hawaiian adventure.