Two young women were also up and about early, catching taxis. Not sure if they were leaving or starting work. All I can say is they did not look like office workers or cleaners, Wink wink, say no more.
All the roads were quiet, especially the new super highway taking us to the brand new airport. And what a stunning looking airport it was too. It only took five years to build. Back in the UK we would still be arguing over the planning.
Scott, our guide, took us to check-in. For the last few months, I have been boasting to family and friends about my forthcoming business flight. Well, you know what they say about pride and fall ....we were demoted to economy. I couldn't understand it. Dave was wearing his brand new shirt!! I pointed out the word 'business' and smiled sweetly. The check-in guy went off in search of 'the director'. It wasn't long before he returned. Unfortunately, the airline had changed their ratings. The Z rating had been consigned to economy. It could have been worse. They could have cancelled the flight!!
The first section of our flight was domestic to a place called Nanning. That being the case, we didn't have to go through visa leaving procedures or customs. We waited, as told, at Gate 19. We watched passengers board planes, carrying some weird and wonderful packages. I think one had bought an Olympic flame from somewhere. The rules for hand luggage seemed out of the window.
The airline company name of the day went to .......Lucky Air !!!! Wouldn't you just want to fly with them?
I looked at the board by our check-in gate. Our flight had not appeared, yet we were due to board in five minutes. I raised my concerns to hubby. He merely thought I was worrying. I do sometimes, well most of the time actually. I heard an announcement. Our flight gate had been changed. Just when we had hot a seat too!
So, over to number 22. Plenty of seats here. The two gentlemen to my left took a great interest in me. They peered at my boarding card too. I expect they were hoping to sit near such a charming person. I just nodded and smiled at them. They reciprocated with almost toothless grins. I can pick them.
A young mother walked around with a baby in a red and gold velvet papoose on her back. The child looked snug and happy. I wished I had photographed the but it felt intrusive.
Our flight was called and we climbed on board the single deck bus ....., and waited. The driver revved the engine so much, it sounded like a jet. Diesel fumes poured in the open door. Passengers coughed and spluttered politely. A second bus load came on board. Now playing sardines, we set off.
The hostesses were immaculately dressed and made up. The usual safety routine was demonstrated. As instructed, I read the card. Glad I did because you have to take your seat cushion if you land on water. That is your flotation aid. I would have been looking under my seat for the yellow flotation aid as the plane went down otherwise. I can never understand why those things have a whistle. I would be too busy gasping for breath if I was in the water. I couldn't see a whistle on my cushion. Puts a whole new meaning on whistling out of your backside.
Clinging on to hubby with one hand, my St Christopher with the other, I went through my ritual prayer at take-off. It was really foggy so I prayed twice as hard. No problem. We were soon soaring high in the sky. Please note, I put my iPod in airplane mode for the following:-
Breakfast was served. A chicken and lettuce sandwich. Our eyes lit up. We hadn't had a proper sandwich for weeks. We savoured every mouthful. I cannot explain just how lovely and crisp it tasted.
Landing at Nanning, we went to board the bus. We were not allowed on. Like naughty children, we were ordered to the second bus. With the dozen other passengers who were transferring onwards, we were led, like lemmings through the airport. At passport control I stepped forward with hubby. None of this couples lark here. I was sent back behind the line. He was allowed through. My turn. The official kept looking at my photo then me. OK. I have a different hairdo. I have aged in the last three weeks. But, it IS me!! After an age, he stamped twice and waved me on, grinning to his comrade.
Round two flight. Same seats. Almost. Hubby wanted the window seat. He is good most of the time, so, just this once, I let him have his own way. He picked up the magazine and looked at the sports car section. Chuckling, he pointed out the wording 'sports car can not only trigger man's hormone into burst, but also demonstrate the distinguished aspects apart from the speed'. I understood the first part.
Take off and more food. Even better. Chicken and rice or beef noodles. Inside our little boxes, we had a variety of other items. Some pictures on the sachets looked like mushrooms. Didn't open those in case it was just sauce and I made a mess. The peanut brittle was tasty. Hubby wanted me to try the tablet shaped sweets. He thought theyight be the female equivalent of Viagra. If they were, I'm sorry. One second in my mouth and I had tasted enough.
Time to land and then time stood still. We filled in our visa application form and joined the very slow moving queue. Most of the other travellers could not have received prior information regarding visa requirements. Some had no photos, others no money. A lady from Greece, who had visited three times before, was having real problems. Just guess who we were behind. Yes, Nana Maskouri (how do you spell that singer's name?)
Having acquired our visas for 35 dollars each, we had to pass through immigration control. The poor Greek lady was still having problems. We were in a roped off area. Other officials sat at desks with no customers. 'Hello,' shouted Hubby. 'Can we come over?'
Success. Our photos taken (who knows why?!!). We were on our way. Two forlorn red and cream bags stood waiting by a pillar. They must have hopped off on their own. Pleased to see us, we hugged each other. Hubby could wait no longer and spotted the nearest conveniences. Relieved, in more ways than one, we found our guide, Yen, was still waiting to meet us.
And so, my body is resting this evening in a four star hotel. Hubby had been scouring the map to get his bearings. We are just going to drink a well earned coffee and eat our last shortbread biscuits. Wherever you are, it's great to be back with you. Hope you feel the same.