And so it began with an unexpected email from ICIEA 2015 saying my conference paper had been accepted. Of course, the email would never have come had I not been fed up with work and suddenly requested my university advisor to submit my paper to any conference really, in the hope of getting a publication to support my PhD application so I could escape the factory. And of course (yes, there has to be another of course…) I all but forgot about having submitted the paper since my factory escape came much earlier in the form of a job change this March. And so it was, that my acceptance letter came a few days before the start of my new job and I, of course (you see saying of course three times proves just how much of a coincidence this really was), assumed that my advisor, being co-author, would present the paper. However, that was not to be as he had already completed his absymally dismal quota of one paid conference a year by going to Japan earlier this year. Despite the new job, I figured I’d be able to go until I realized that I only get 2.5 days off per month and that I was only eligible to take leave right after my probation period ended. There was that, and then there was the unescapable fact that it would be a 20 hour journey and the ticket along would burn a giant black hole in my savings. I spoke to my manager at work and he didn’t object (I was leaving a few days after my probation and I’d have saved up juuuuuust enough leave days for the trip) so I was left with just one final task… getting my mum to come along for the ride.
It was a tough week, the last week before leaving, trying to reign in the building anxiety and IBS related what if’s, so much so that I didn’t even have time to practice my presentation. But I suppose that’s what a 20 hour flight is for- to refresh memories of a too soon forgotten thesis defense. Also, it didn’t help that living in the UAE means you have absolutely zero warm clothes. The weather forecast for Auckland was cold enough to warrant a massive search for winter wear to prepare for a flight from 50C to 5C. I had looked into some tours before but had only enough time to find gaps in the conference schedule where potential tours could fit in, not enough time to actually book anything. And we didn’t really know how jet-lagged we’d be seeing as how this was the longest flight we’d ever taken.
We got on the plane at 10am and unlike our flight to Sri Lanka, this time we actually had some leg room. And…we didn’t freeze to death. So these are the perks of an A380. Along with these benefits, we were blessed with no crying babies and a very nice seat-mate, 63C. 63C looked really exhausted from the moment we took off which makes me think he was actually transiting from somewhere else. So out of special consideration to the tired 63C of the aisle seat, mum and I ended up becoming stalkers, in the nicest sense. We’d just wait for 63C to go the toilet and then follow him so that we wouldn’t have to disturb him when he was sleeping.
So how does one keep oneself occupied when confined to a single, not-so-comfortable-after-a-few-hours seat, in air? The key lies in being well-prepared, much like our neighbour across the aisle was – armed with an arsenal of toys and activities for her three tiny tots. In my case, I took my diary, a book to read and a colouring book – that and watching 드근드근 내 인생 is about enough to wile away the time.
And so Day 1 came to an end mid-flight, on route to Melbourne, our only stop-over on the way to Auckland. Stay tuned for Day 2… when we actually reached Auckland. ^^