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The Bonn Diaries: Fearful traveling islander

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Update: 4:34PM CRUISING at an altitude of 40,000 in one of the biggest passenger aircrafts taking one of the longest routes in the world is an experience in itself.

I'm not sure what it's like for most people but my first time to cross from one hemisphere to another began with quite a fearful first hour.

There was more turbulence then I had ever felt before as we ascended when we left behind the marvel of Sydney's view from the air.

That probably didn't help too, the views of the magnificent and huge metropolis we were leaving behind.

It certainly reminded me of how small we are human beings in relation to the size of the planet and yet we manage to be on the verge of destroying her health.

But any fear one might have about the flight turns to wonder when you realise that you're able to see from your passenger entertainment console, everything happening during the flight from at least three different cameras placed on the body of the Airbus 380-800 Etihad Airlines aircraft.

The huge airliner had a crew of 24 on our flight and each of them seems intent to make the flight like a hotel stay.

They do their work through almost an hour of turbulence and that provides a certain strange assurance for the frightened traveler.

For the first five hours, we continue to cruise over the beautiful Australian continent; forests and cities for your viewing from either the top tail camera, the front of the cockpit view or bottom of the aircraft camera.

By the time the flight is over Ullurru or Ayers Rock, the imagination must take over as darkness descends.

Of course, the curious who keep the camera on is rewarded with views of what darkness over the clouds look like when the tail lights occasionally illuminate the flight path.

While the aircraft is quite luxurious and spaces, food is meager and not very appealing.

I, of course, ponder on this food issue for a while and start to think about the culture and sociology of our Pacific diets and the role it plays in our own communities compared to the Arabian setting of this aircraft.

But eventually, I chide myself 'stop thinking with your stomach, Lice'. Maybe food provides a certain comfort through the turbulence? A good couple or of hours is invested in this train of thought.

Remember it's a 14-hour flight so I have time to spend on thinking of food.

I suddenly remember a colleague's glowing review of his recent 10-hour flight to Hong Kong on board our own national airline.

We might have become a little spoilt the same way on Fiji Airways which we flew to Sydney prior to this flight.

So the Eithad Airways flight leaves the Pacific halfway into the journey and we fly over the ocean for the next several hours, leaving - to the west of us - cities like Depansar, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur as we fly over the Java Trench.

I must admit the familiarity of these places in relation to recent air catastrophes start to sneak into my brains and almost immediately I begin the chiding again, forcing myself to listen to some Ed Sheeran instead.

I look for other fascinations in the entertainment console and get intrigued by the Islamic elements of the aircraft.

Etihad is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, a predominantly Muslim country.

So the flight begins with a Muslim travel prayer and I'm curiously comforted by it. The interview I had with Methodist Reverend James Bhagwan in Sydney might have set me on the right path. We had discussed the role of religion in conservationism.

The tech console also has a Mecca compass giving our location in relation to the city all the time. There is also a prayer pointer to call followers of Islam to prayer. I find this all quite admirable.

My thoughts are overtaken by plans of the exciting interviews I will do with the other six Pacific colleagues who await Team Fiji in Abu Dhabi.

There are 10 journalists altogether who won a place on this fellowship by sending in a story about climate change.

I can't wait to get to Bonn not only so I can stop flying. I'm a Moana at heart so I hate flying even when it's on the luxury and comfort of Etihad.

But I also can't wait to meet Lani, Georgina, Trina, Florence, Jared, and Ofani - my Pasifika family.

I'm sure that, like me, they can't wait to write about what our government leaders agree to in Bonn.

Like them, I'm nervous that this may be just another overseas trip but I'm excited anyway because I know our job is to hold these leaders accountable to the promises they make.

And for me, it's about that, about always keep track of what we decide for our collective futures because as they say information is power and between the 10 of us, we have the ability to put this information and power back in the hands of the people.

Till next time!

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