14.07.2010 - 14.07.2010 15 °C
It is now 1:30am GMT and we are flying over the edge of the Caspian Sea, close to Baghdad. Outside, impossibly, I can see the dawn that has stalked us all the way around the globe beginning to stripe the horizon with yellow and orange colours to welcome the sun. It's all very surreal as I look at my watch and read 2am. Fred is asleep still, as is everybody else and even the attendants seem scarce at this time. The uncomfortable nature of air travel is ever-present in these kinds of flights unless you have the money to fly first class but as I wander around the economy cabin I am amazed at the sheer variety of horrible positions in which human beings can force themselves to sleep. Arms and legs protrude over seats at strange angles and bare feet stick out into aisles where packaged blankets lay waiting for you to slip on them - it's like an obstacle course.
I reach the back of the aeroplane without tripping over anything or anybody and after a small personal celebration I watch the sun come up. First just orange and blue, then yellow, then finally the sun comes over the cloud bank underneath the wing and the sky is all a shades from tangerine to dark mauve. We are over the desert by the time it has fully risen at about 2:30am GMT and become dazzlingly white. We are also over clouds now - I am ever fascinated by the sky as viewed from an aeroplane so I content myself taking pictures from the windows until Fred wakes up about 3am and we play Worms HD (the wonders of modern technology). As we pass over northern Russia I can see a storm below us, whirling patches of stacked cloud nearly as high as our plane occasionally flickering with lightning.
It is about 4am now, and we have two and a half hours still to go to get to London, where Heathrow will doubtless be full of queues and guards with huge automatic weapons. Below us is the barren landscape of Minsk, featureless apart from the clouds. I find myself unable to pinpoint the end of our trip. Did it finish when ewe left the apartment with our bags? When we took off at Sydney? Is it even over yet? I doubt very much there will be a defining moment or final 'scene'; a 25 hour journey serves only to let the experiences and learnings dissolve into you slowly, like sugar into tea. It has all sunk in - I have organised my thoughts, I have absorbed my learnings, I have as much clarity as a red-eye flight halfway around the world will allow and I am truly, completely ready for a cup of tea.