Before we start discussing the wonderful sights, people and foods of the latest country I have a few short words on flying in S.E. Asia. For those of you who know me, you are probably aware that I am not the biggest fan of planes (or cars or buses for that matter). I don’t like taking off, I don’t like landing and I don’t like turbulence. In fact, it is true that I can’t sit on a plane for more than 5 minutes without thinking about 9/11, Malaysian flight 370 or the movie final destination! Prior to our departure I was aware that I would have to face my flying phobias on a fairly regular basis but was dedicated enough to seeing the world that I refused to let it stop me.
In the last two months we have experienced some of the worst take offs, turbulence and landings of my life. Just last night when we landed in Singapore the pilot did not approach the runway absolutely straight and the plane almost toppled to one side (even himself got a fright). In Java, we were delayed in the air because of traffic at the airport meaning the landing ordeal was dragged out for over an hour (including going down and back up again a few times for fun). We have had turbulence that caused the air hostesses to run to their seats and buckle up.
Add to those experiences the fact that Malaysia Borneo and Brunei are largely Islamic countries. So what you might ask? Well, while it doesn’t bother me at all that the people around me are dressed in hijabs. These people are families, students, nervous flyers like me. What gets me every time is the prayer before travelling. On numerous occasions, most recently as we were taxi-ing the runway on a Brunei airlines jet, TV screens dropped from the overhead, a picture of clouds with Arabic writing came on the screens and the voice of a man chanting the prayer before travelling was broadcast around the cabin.
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All of these factors taken into consideration, flying around S.E. Asia has been one of the biggest challenges of this trip for me. I definitely take after my grandfather because, no matter how distracted I am, my stomach starts to get sick exactly 12 hours before I fly (we have a sensitive constitution us Brennans!). Nevertheless, I have made it this far and with only a handful of flights left I am starting to relax...kind of!