Yes, we’re moving to Perth, Australia (not Perth, near Glasgow!).
The date was finally agreed. Yes, it’s 26 November. Lots of emails went back and forth about how we get there (they sent us a booking with Qantas, I wholeheartedly refused – one bad experience is one too many – because we’d travel for 2 days non-stop and arrive at 1 in the morning, which is insane. I suggested SQ and showed it’s cheaper, but they said it’s not possible because they have a special deal with certain airlines and SQ are more expensive. It took more than 5 emails to settle which carrier and time of departure and arrival we would take), where we would stay temporarily for one month (they gave us four options, all in the CBD area), who will be in charged of packing and removing our stuff, what we shall do with golf clubs and bicycles, and so on.
About a month prior to our departure, just like in any other situation, suddenly we had to do everything at once.
We had to prepare the house to be rented out. We had to sell the car. We had to arrange Tilly cat back to GM. We had to terminate our contracts with our mobile provider and made sure our iphone can be used in Perth. We had to notify the royal mail to redirect our mails. We had to notify our GP, bank, solicitor, and so on. Like it wasn’t enough, in between countless goodbye dinners and lunches, we decided to take our last trip around Scotland, and chose to go around Highlands and Moray area. I found out I had to go to London to get my visa, because Australian government doesn’t release electronic visa to an Indonesian, and because of the current postal strike, I couldn’t risk my passport get lost or delivered late. By then I realised it would also be my last chance to enjoy London until next year, so I dragged myself away from my usual ‘tourist spots’ – namely Selfridges and Harrods – and finally went to visit Westminster Abbey, where Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were buried, and to The Temple, where the famous Temple Church is located. Mr. mck’s aunt took me to see (my first) ballet performance in Royal Opera House Covent Garden and to two restaurants with unusual menu (for example, I had star anise martini and frogs legs with salted duck egg in Champor Champor).
Happy but tired, I went back to Aberdeen and started to pack our things away. Actually the movers will do it for us, but I will be the one who will unpack everything and I don’t want to open all boxes at the same time in our new house and still can’t find things I’m looking for, and I want the same things packed in together. If I leave everything to the movers, they might pack, for instance, a bread bin with CD collections. We also have to decide which stuff we will need immediately and which stuff can go with sea freight. Time was running out fast, but I was adamant that everything must be packed neatly. Lucky we wouldn’t take our furniture with us although it doesn’t make my job less stressful.
Exhausted of nonstop traveling and packing, we had a surprise when the movers turned up a day earlier, a mixed-up schedule done by their stupid office staff (a quick phone call to confirm the date would have saved everybody from this hassle). But they came back the next day and did tremendously good job, all done in less than one day. We then moved to the hotel 2 days before departure, but turned out the hotel that we chose (I don’t remember now why on earth we chose Carmelite?) doesn’t even have a parking area so we had to unload our suitcases in a hurry because the road in front of the hotel is marked with yellow line. Like we didn’t suffer enough carrying loads of suitcases in the dark, wet, and windy weather to the hotel, I had to go through a tiny revolving glass door, probably almost broke the glass in an attempt to squeeze me and the suitcases in the door compartment, until some staff realised I needed a help – and a bigger door! They excited us buy ‘upgraded’ us to a designer suite, only that the suite doesn’t even have a descent size mirror in the room (only a tiny, cheap portable mirror that is smaller than my palm size), and even though they’re kind enough to provide a hair dryer, they don’t provide the power point anywhere near the dressing table (I had to sit on the floor next to the bedside table, drying my hair using a tiny mirror. Agony!). Yet, they mount a giant LCD TV on the wall (where the mirror is supposed to be, on top of the dressing table! I wonder if the designer is a man?). The room is very tiny with a wee wardrobe, but the bathroom is large with freestanding bath up and enormous shower room. It’s a confusing concept, to say the least. Did they expect us to store our suitcases in the bathroom? It’s all ok if we didn’t have to pay quite a lot for all this uncomfortableness.
So, scruffy, grumpy, sleepy all the rest of seven dwarfs combined, we hopped in the taxi at four o’clock in the morning to go to airport. For some reason we couldn’t do online check-in, and we stood patiently at British Airways check-in counter until someone came in to serve us. One lady turned up, but she, despite looking alert and fresh, was even more grumpy than her customers and told us to go to the check-in machine (then what’s the point having her in the counter?). I protested, but of course she thought we were just a stupid couple who probably traveled the first time. We did as we told, with the supervision of her colleague, but no matter what information we put in the machine (passport, ticket number, booking reference, you name it), it – hallelujah – kept telling us to go to the counter. Ha, told ya! Looking defeated, probably because now she had to actually work, she then typed some information in, produced our boarding passes, and told us where the lounge is located. Not even a single smile, although she managed to look serious by frowning a lot. Only that the lounge wasn’t open and we had to wait. Again. Being business class passengers doesn’t mean we get a different treatment on board either. I retained my coffee cup and one staff had to fetch it once I was done, looking absolutely unhappy with a darker mood than Aberdeen weather and an expression like “how dare you press the button to call me?”. Jeez. I don’t understand why BA staffs are collectively grumpy. Lucky it was only from Aberdeen to London. If it’s all the way down to Perth, I’d kill myself.
But when we arrived in Heathrow, things started to get better.
The Emirates lounge was fantastic, and even though we had to hang around for 5 hours until our next flight (thank you, dear travel agent), we were entertained enough. Before long we drank Veuve Clicquot from wine glasses (sorry, normal champagne glass is too small!), ate expensive dates and some fruit, and came back to hover the food again at lunchtime. Mr.mck thought he spotted Hellen Mirren, but I think it’s the champagne talking. The bitter taste of sour coffee in a cheap plastic cup at BA flight was quickly forgotten.
Then we saw the most beautiful, gigantic, enormous, monstrous plane approaching our lounge window and stopped there. It was ours, the new A 380! The plane looks so huge it makes other planes look like toys. Excited, we went to our seats, admired the whole space provided, tried all buttons and touched-screen TV, checked on the minibar next to our headrest, and tried every massage and position the chair could provide. One attendant came and introduced himself, he will be attending me during the flight and made sure he pronounced my name correctly. Champagne and French wine kept being refilled. Another attendant came and chatted with us, explaining about all the buttons, and told us just in case we were bored, there’s a bar at the back of our section. There are movies, TV series and musics provided, as usual. There is a power point for charging our laptop and USB point in case we miss home want to see the pictures of Tillycat. We could send SMS from the air by pressing another button. Meal was served with real cutlery and in real china. We had to stop over in Dubai, giving me a chance to change to my summer attire. The lounge was enormous, full of people, and very busy, despite it was 1 o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately our next plane to Perth wasn’t A 380, albeit almost as nice. It’s not as fancy as A 380, the attendants didn’t introduce themselves (one almost forgot my breakfast, actually), but the whole journey was still very comfortable. I must say now that Emirates becomes my second most favourite airlines.
We landed in Perth last Friday afternoon, and both of us anticipated a rude treatment from the custom officers – as normally we get it when we land in Australia. But the one who checked my passport just stamped it after several seconds, gave my passport back, and managed to say “welcome back”.
With huge amount of luggage, we came out of the arrival, and were instantly bitten by the hot and dry temperature and blinding sun.
Finally, we’re in Perth!
(to be continued)