3months notice that I was leaving Canada and still running against the clock to pack, empty and clean a flat.
I basically gave everything away as I just didn’t have the patience to wait for a call on the ‘craigslist website’ then put up with people who’d turn up late and haggle over a price. I mean it is advertised at a price, just turn up on time and pay the price.
Anyway, in reducing personal effects to three large bags turned out to be the biggest stress factor of my exit. My kayak and paddling gear was automatic inclusion; which left me with sorting clothes, books and CD’s down to the minimum.
So I copied all the software direct to my laptop, which gave me 50 CD’s in weight-loss. The books were the hardest as I finally had to dump the three Yoga books and a couple of Kayaking instruction books, another $200 value and weight-loss (you’d think I was enrolled with Jenny Craig).
Next was sorting clothes as at this point in weighing bags I was still about 40 kgs overweight all up. So using the ‘tool shed’ methodology if I hadn’t worn it in the last 18 months it’s a no-goer. So now I am only 15 kg overweight and hurting as I would like to keep the tracksuit, Chicago hoodie, sleeveless jacket, my Oz heavy weather Jumper and Drizabone coat.
After biting the bullet I’m down to 21-22.5 kg per bag and packed ready to go. No chair, just a mattress on the floor and 24 hrs to go!
Hodie, my mate in Ca, has insisted on running me to YVR airport. She’s surprised I want to be there 2 ½ hrs early but that’s me and flying.
It is now that I realise my ticket which I’d booked as Vancouver-Tokyo-Singapore-Perth is actually Vancouver-Los Angeles etc. So I’m at YVR, with credit card max’d out and needing to pay on-line $14 ESTA fee to walk thru a US airport to a connecting flight. Do not forget I’m in Canada – where not are they polite but quite practical. The YVR information desk has a Visa card on-hand for the ‘cash-only’ people like me. So this has now cost me ½ hr; back to check in and cough up the $’s in excess baggage and I’m through for US Customs inspection.
Hang on here! My bags weren’t weighed*, WTF I could have packed the tracksuit, Chicago hoodie, sleeveless jacket, my Oz heavy weather Jumper and Drizabone coat after-all. No sense in crying over spilt milk but Brock had better realise that the Drizabone is a default freebie! Out of all the clothes I had to dispose of; that one hurt.
Anyway, off through baggage control and the kayak bag is opened and swabbed for UFO infestations… OK for bugs/fungi.
An hr and half later I’m through the two stage US customs control point while still in Canada. On the flight with all of 15 mins to spare!
Land in LAX and once again US customs control off the plane and onto the connection flight, using 50 mins of the lay-over…
6 hrs later I’m landing in Japan at Narita Airport. All of 5 minutes through their Customs clearance and I’m pulled aside as a suspect ‘terrorist’ because of the potential weapon in my hand. It is a two piece Greenland paddle which once Security pointed out to me that it does look like two Samurai blades, I’m flummoxed and wondering if I’m going to do time and/or lose the paddle.
The chief Purser of my connecting flight is contacted and he offers to take it aboard as his carry-on and he’ll pass it back to me in Singapore. Relief sweeps through me, and now I am justified in saying ‘when I fly something will go wrong’.
Changi Airport, Singapore ~2 am and with 6 hrs to kill, I head off to find an espresso coffee, nothing to be found except the bar… where there is espresso coffee and of course a beer. Chatting with Joseph, he directs me to the money exchange (he can only take US & Singaporean $); free Wi-Fi registration desk. In the meantime he’s parked my carry-on stuff securely behind the bar at no cost. This bloke works permanent nights and given the verbal disgruntled responses of (unfortunately) the 2 groups of US citizens still remains cheerful and positive.
So off to the last connection into Perth and wondering if my paddle is still a weapon, I board and slip it into the overhead locker just as I had over past three years. I tried to get a few hours sleep but by this time I’m overtired and looking forward OZ.
My Grand-daughter asked me if I smelt the grass when I landed and that is exactly what I sensed as I exited the plane in Perth! It took a 12 yr old to express the smell of home – that distinctive Oz smell.
So Oz customs and I’ve declared my paddle as ‘wood’ amongst the prohibited or to be declared list for arrival. From the time I exit the plane, collect my three bags and get a summary passport inspection and a ‘whatever’ on the paddle I’m cleared to the arrival concourse in 40 minutes where my big Bro is waiting.
So having put this all down 2 days later, it is damn near a Canadian late Summer as it’s too warm to wear three layers but too wet to go without an umbrella… buggar I left the 4 I had in Canada… water runs down the back of my neck! Oh and in passing I was greeted with the usual surly/rude attitude of Transperth Drivers on the bus service on my first ride back…
…miss the Canadian politeness already.
Tip for “I know my bag is under-weight” – pick it up and check its weight on the Business Class scales – I had x3 bags in Miami that were 2-3 kg over-weight in Tourist class but 1-2 kg under via Business Class! Point made & no excess fees.
July 31st 2011