It was a grey, overcast day in Melbourne, with intermittent drizzle. My mum had driven me to the airport, bought me a tacky-looking scarf with an Australian flag on it (for the cold British autumn) at the airport shop, and bade me farewell as I walked through the doors into the passenger-only area. There, I and a few dozen fellow travellers waited on plastic seats, looking out the windows; outside was a flat and somewhat dull pastoral landscape, interrupted only by the occasional plane taking off or landing. Then the doors were opened and, one by one, we filed through and onto the plane, and into our respective seats.
Some time later, the doors were closed and the plane started moving, slowly negotiating the network of paths, before turning onto the main runway, lit up like a christmas tree. Suddenly, it accelerated dramatically, speeding up the runway; soon we were off the ground. We overflew the bay, detoured over the western suburbs and Geelong, then made our way over the arid centre of Australia (passing not far from Uluru, according to the electronic map in the back of the seat in front of me), and cleared Australia's coastline at the far northwest. By then it was getting dark; I had watched the sun set over the Australian desert, and saw the lights of Bali pass below. I spent most of the next 24 or so hours glued to the map display.
At about midnight Melbourne time, we touched down in Singapore. I switched on my phone, tested the roaming feature and SMSed my friend in London to tell her I was on my way, and spent the hour or so there wandering around Changi's shopping centre, buying some local confectionery and seeing a rather amusing children's toy, as photographed here.
Then I got back onto the plane; we took off, and in 16 or so hours, overflew Malaysia (passing the curiously named Cameron Highlands, as I noticed), the Indian Ocean, Afghanistan, Russia (a bit south of Moscow), Poland and Western Europe; the westernmost expanses of Benelux were covered with a tidy gridwork of lights. Then, we circled the star-shaped sprawl of Greater London a few times, and finally, landed at Heathrow as a new day was breaking; we filed out, down a flight of stairs and onto an ordinary-looking bus which took us to the airport building, where my friend was waiting for me.