A few days ago I flew Cathay Pacific from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, via Abu-Dhabi and Hong Kong and towards Japan. In Abu-Dhabi I realized I was last here just three weeks ago for the Formula-1 Grand Prix! So yes, once again I’ve managed to pull off a round trip right round the globe: Dublin – Abu-Dhabi – Canberra (and Sydney) – Singapore – Austin – Riyadh – Abu-Dhabi. 1 full circumnavigation + 2 equator crossings.
What stuck in the mind during this global marathon?
First off, that Saudi Arabia is a fiercely dry country – in more ways than one. If you drink alcohol there it’s multiple lashings with a stick, plus a fine, plus jail time for you. But you’ll have a job boozing there anyway – we found absolutely ZERO liquids on offer stronger than coffee or yoghurt. Even in the Ritz-Carlton.
Curiously, no matter what airline, up above Saudi Arabia in its airspace there’s also no liquor getting poured either! Not even a wee dram! Flying in on Saudi Arabian Airlines – well, we kinda expected that. But flying out on Cathay – we had to wait eons for our glass of shampers until we reached UAE airspace! Not that I was desperate for a drink or anything, of course (cough), but a little sharpener would have been nice.
Here I want to mention one other idiosyncrasy of round-the-world multi-stop plane trips.
They come in two flavors: ‘western’ (following the sun), and ‘eastern’ (towards the sun).
Western round-the-worlds are much simpler and pleasanter than eastern. You fly into the ‘minus time zone’, so accordingly sleep needs to come later (better – a lot later), and so in the morning you wake up also later. So, if flying from Moscow to, say, Boston, then at nine in the evening local Boston time, in Moscow – i.e., as per your biological clock – it’s 6am of the following day – already long past bedtime! So getting off to sleep at the impossibly early hour of 9pm in Boston is a doddle, as really it’s 6am for you. The only slight problem with this is you often find yourself waking up VERY early next morning (local time) – like 4am early. (How many times have I been Stateside and been queuing at the ‘Please wait here to be seated’ sign for breakfast at 6am sharp after strutting the lobby and environs for hours already!)
On the other hand, with eastern round-the-worlds everything is just the opposite. Jetlag is always a lot trickier to deal with. You desperately want to sleep all the time, but actually getting to sleep without a little medicinal assistance is all but impossible. Totally zombified! To conquer this condition there’s just one option – to try get your head down in the daytime and sleep for some 12 hours. Better 14 hours. But, alas, it doesn’t always work out: either your bodyclock simply refuses outright (hint: melatonin), or a packed schedule or large doses of extreme hospitality on the part of super nice hosts gets in the way!
Well, that’s your lot for today folks. I’m off for some much needed kip. Night night, sweet dreams, and sleep well!
But for those who can’t sleep – a brain teaser for you:
100 kilograms of cucumbers are made up of 99% water. After shrinking, there remains 98% water. What’s the mass of the cucumbers after shrinking?