As a first time long hauler (this being a three legger, Melbourne-Brunei-Dubai-London) I had little idea what would be in store. For Sarah, this was just one of many after several European, North & South American forays in the past.
Sold as a gruelling, taxing affair, I’ve actually found it to be fairly pleasant (in fact I’m writing this on the last leg itself as we fly over Iraq and Turkey)
As sad as it may sound, my first concern had been, “How would I handle such a lengthy journey without the chance of the odd tipple” as Royal Brunei are a dry airline. We’d toyed with the idea of a small bottle of something to mix with soft drink or juice as we’d read the odd tale that a blind eye may be turned to this practice.
The woman at Tullamarine Duty Free had further information as we arrived with supposed “sneak” purchase, a small bottle of Vodka. It’ll be no problem at all she said, as long as it is finished before you board the flight for the Brunei-Dubai leg.
No problem! 5 glasses of OJ each over the first seven hours and presto, our first leg was done.
Before we left Australia, my grand plan had been this. Stay awake for legs 1 & 2, sleep for the final Dubai-London hours and voila. Feel refreshed for Day 1 in London.
A few hours sleep on leg 2 has put paid to this plan, and thus, after squeezing in the latest Die hard movie, I’ve found a good time to put some thoughts down while most around me are asleep.
I may yet crash and burn on day 1, but I’m banking on some adrenaline and my ability to get by on a few hours sleep to not see the day wasted.
Highlights thus far? Leaving Melbourne into beautiful blue skies (Winter rains still don’t want to appear) and clear skies across most of the country allowed incredible views of the Southern Artesian Basin and I truly know now why the heart of Australia is called the ‘Red Centre’ (did I mention we got a window seat).
Window seats for the next 2 legs as well, albeit over the wing this time, afforded night-time glimpses of a bright Baghdad and the odd flaming oil well and earlier snippets of bucket listed Iran.
I’m not certain, but I have a suspicion that the trip over three legs was also kind on our legs, giving us the opportunity to get up and stretch for a significant period as well.
Brunei International Airport (which is currently undergoing a refurbishment) didn’t really have a lot to offer, although it was with some amusement i watched the horror of some Australian families as they encountered their first squat toilets.
Dubai however (as you already know) has nearly everything, and what Brunei lacked, it surely offered in its cavernous Duty Free halls and many rest and dining options.
I’ve never found airline food as horrible as most, so the best gauge of whether Royal Brunei’s meal service was passable or not is Sarah who rarely eats on a flight. She ate 2 of the 3 main meals (she was asleep for the 2nd), an obvious highlight for us both being the Vanilla Bean ice-cream dished up on the first leg.
So, after all of this, we finally touched down to an already daylight London at 6am…