Courtesy of Google I managed to discover that this is a misquote. What Robert Louis Stevenson actually wrote was:
“Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”
It supposedly means that hope and anticipation are often better than reality. Well I sincerely hope not. I have been busy today trying to think what I need to pack for our Antarctic trip. The list is long but not overly so. The pre-trip guidance notes say we don’t need to buy lots of expensive specialist clothing. Well if you live in the sub-tropics I suggest that at least a little shopping is likely to be necessary. Nevertheless Mrs. Ha clearly misread the instruction as being that we do need to buy all the (most expensive) gear. She is now on first name terms with the store folk in every outdoor shop in HK as far as I can tell. After much exploration Patagonia has emerged as the main beneficiary of her largesse.
My list is focused on the more mission critical aspects like cameras, lenses, chargers, batteries, waterproof covers, tripods, flash cards, binoculars and possibly socks. The socks are of course to wrap the batteries in to prolong their life.
What worries me most is the actual traveling to our point of embarkation. For some reason the spellchecker thinks it should be our point of embrocation. It is wrong but I won’t rub it in. To get to the place where we board the Good Ship Vavilov we have to fly to Buenos Aires and then take a domestic down to Ushuaia. Now the number of permutations of how to get to BA is frankly mind-boggling. After 6 months of chopping and changing we have finally laid down our considerable US$ in favour of Qatar Airways. The route south via Australia or New Zealand looked attractive. The price didn’t. The conservative options of say British Airways or Cathay were similarly discarded on the grounds of inferior service and higher cost. So we were staring down the barrel of Air France or KLM as cheapish options. However the European carriers’ preferred way of celebrating Christmas is to go on strike. If that fails they blame the weather and ground all aircraft. If they really are desperate they will order a storm of volcanic ash from Iceland. There was however the Middle Eastern route. In the end I opted for QA. That does not alter the fact that despite a short leg to Qatar to kick off, we are then confronted with something like an 18 hour haul to Argentina. With a refueling stop in Brazil.
Then came the conundrum of luggage allowances as we had to switch from an international to a domestic flight to finish off. The regulations now are rather complex involving combinations of dimensions, weight and number of pieces of baggage. We think we have it cracked but it did mean buying two new suitcases. In a couple of decades of business travel my philosophy developed into one of ‘hand luggage only’, come hell or high water. So I have great trepidation about where our luggage may end up and when. We have built in some cushioning but I am not optimistic.
I can only say then that frankly whilst we may well travel hopefully I can scarcely believe it will be better than arriving. I ask only that our luggage arrives in time and neither of us has suffered a DVT. I have had two in the service of my last employer and whilst as far as I know I survived both, I did suffer a week in The Adventist Hospital on each occasion. Nothing fundamentally wrong with the hozzie but it is a meat free zone for some odd reason and as an unapologetic carnivore I struggle in such an environment. It was also tough to see over the wall of fruit that well-wishers built around me.
So in the words of Our Gracie, Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye……
When we get down there I am sure it will be more reminiscent of Vera Lynn….. you know her, the one who sang Whale meat again……..
For the avoidance of doubt I am of course fiercely opposed to cetacean on the menu. If we do see any Japanese Whalers we shall immediately redirect them to the Diaoyu Islands and they can take their chances there.
The countdown has begun. The packing has started. Only SIX weeks to go. Will we finish in time? Will the kitchen sink really fit in Mrs. Ha’s check in suitcase? And how many penguins can we bring back? We went to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins a while back on a rare foray to the cinema. We know it is possible.
On a side note, I confess I am not a great movie go-er. I did see Mary Poppins back in 1960 something. And I vividly recall going to see Jaws. After that I’m not sure. I am much happier watching the Marx Brothers or Will Hay and they don’t run in the ABC very often nowadays.
To close out, here are 2 photos from somewhere I enjoyed very much. Feel free to guess where this is.