It was a much longer plane flight than we were accustomed to. 12 hours! half a day from your life is a big deal at 9 years old. I don’t remember being grumpy. I don’t even remember my 5-year-old brother being grumpy. Probably best I don’t ask my Mum for an adult recollection of the trip.
We were charmed by the care-package of strange fluffy socks, folding toothbrush, tiny tube of toothpaste. We’d had a smoker in our home until the previous year – so the drift from the aeroplane’s smoking section had a familiar comforting feel.
Mum had prepared us for moving to Singapore by teaching us to eat with chopsticks. Sliced banana in a bowl! No mere noodle, beansprout or shrimp was ever safe from us after that initiation. We were quite disappointed to discover there were forks…
So…finally the big plane lands. The doors open. A wave of soft warm moist air rolls almost visibly through the dry chill of the cabin. And the smell! A complex mixture of avgas and jungle – decaying leaves and waxy sweet perfumes dissolved in kerosene.
Down the stairs onto the warm tarmac in the sudden dark of tropical early evening. Bright lights haloed by the most Enormous flying insects, unable to dodge the tiny bats feasting among them. Strange faces and accents directing us onto the old-fashioned white bus, rattling off into the mysterious scented night….