Life is a Holiday (reprise)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 17 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

Before we left on our holiday to Thailand, we did a lot of research, homework and preparation. We read books, searched the internet and chatted to people who had been there before.

We packed appropriately, got our documentation in order and ensured that we had the correct currency.

In short, we ensured that we were well-prepared for the trip.

Then, off we went.

We knew we had limited time and that the trip would end. So we ensured that we used every available moment at our disposal. Time spent sleeping or in hotel rooms was wasted, so we did as much as we possibly could in the days available to us.

Time not utilised was lost to us – we would not pass that way again and would not be able to recoup the moments lost.

We had to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Sometimes, one is so busy taking photographs in order to save the moment for future memories that you are unable to take the pleasure in the fullness of that very moment.

There would be no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again.

And even when we realised that our time was running out fast, that we only had so “many sleeps” left and that the end was certain, it didn’t help to lament about it – we just had to keep on going and do as much as possible.

Along the way, we appreciated everything we saw. We marvelled at the world around us. Despite the weather sometimes being good and sometimes bad, we had to make do with what came our way. Despite the heat, the humidity and conditions far from ideal, we persevered. Despite heavy monsoon rains, we made alternative plans to lying on the beach – we hired scooters and bought rain ponchos and continued to explore the island of Phuket and enjoy ourselves.

It didn’t help blaming the fact that we hadn’t always made sufficient preparations to cover all eventualities. We had to make decisions on the fly.

And, yes, before we knew it, it was over – as we say here in South Africa: finished and klaar!

The question is how did the experience change us and what will we remember; and what did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they and how will they remember us?

Such is life!

In our formative years, we prepare with the help of others, at home and at school, for the journey that lies ahead of us. It is essential that we are well-prepared.

We know that our time is limited on this earth so we should not procrastinate, not delay, but make the most of every moment of our life. We should not waste – not even a single moment.

Time not utilised is lost to us – we will not pass this way again and we will not be able to recoup a single moment lost.

We have to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Somehow, it is so difficult to do that. We are often so busy blaming our past and preparing for our future that we lose our present, and that particular moment that we are living in.

But there is no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again. An unutilised moment passed is a moment lost!

And when our time runs out, when we only have so “many sleeps” left and the end becomes certain, it won’t help to lament about our life – we just have to keep on going and do as much as is possible in the time we have left.

Along the way, we must appreciate everything we see. We can only marvel at the world around us.

Despite the odds, we have to make do with what comes our way. When we have excellent conditions, we must make the most of them. Despite adverse conditions, we must persevere and make alternative plans and continue to enjoy ourselves.

And before we know it, when it is all finished and klaar, the question will be: “How did the experience of life change us and what will we take with us. What did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they remember us and how will they remember us?

After all, life should be a holiday!





Come back to Earth with a Bump! (Thailand Day 22) – Reprise

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 16 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

It was approximately half past five in the evening on Saturday 14 July 2012 – the last day of our trip and we were approaching Port Elizabeth airport.

British Airways Boeing Flight 6237 from JHB to PLZ was about to land. We couldn’t see from which direction because outside it looked like pea-soup! The pilot had said that there was a strong southerly wind blowing and that it was raining hard.

We had read that the coast was in the grips of a severe storm and I had phoned the airways before we left to ensure that all was in order. I was assured that all flights were travelling normally.

But this landing was far from normal … you couldn’t see a thing until we emerged from the cloud just above the Port Elizabeth harbour. The wind was buffeting the plane from the left side as we came down with the engines racing. The we lurched to the right, back to the left and then hit the ground hard … bump, bump, bump! Heads hit the lockers and people screamed. We shuddered, skidding from left to right to left along the runway, and then returned to normal as we slowly taxied to the airport building and parked right in front of the arrivals section.

There was a cacophony of noise inside the plane – nervous tension being released, I think – as passengers shouted, laughed, giggled and finally applauded the pilot for landing us safely. I would love to know at what point he would have decided to abort the landing; but we really had come back to earth with a bump! Both literally and figuratively!

The wind was howling and the rain was pouring down in sheets of water as we quickly sped across the concourse to the airport building. Port Elizabeth (and the country) was in the grips of a killer storm, and we had landed at the height of it. (It was howling, raining, flooding, snowing and had been since Thursday and was to continue until Monday.)

In the warmth of the arrivals terminal we collected our thoughts and our luggage. Then dashed to Kerri Botha’s double cab and slowly made our way home through the dark, windswept, wet, deluged streets of Port Elizabeth.

Once home, the boys quickly off-loaded the luggage in the pouring rain. We were all eager to see Charlie and he was nowhere to be found! Then suddenly he appeared at the sliding door on the front stoep – wet and cold and jumping all over us!

Yes – we were home – Charlie was our welcoming party in the height of the storm!

We ordered in burgers from Steers and started unpacking: washing, dirty clothes, crumpled clothes, summer clothes, winter clothes, new clothes, old clothes, pamphlets, passports, tickets, booklets, unused bahts, chargers, cables, phones, toiletries … it was the end of our trip.

As we unpacked our suitcases, we unpacked our memories and our thoughts of a magnificent holiday. Each item unpacked had some connotation attached to it and we shared this with each other. Later, the laptops, the I-Pads, the cameras and the photos were produced, compared, laughed at, recollected, transferred, stored, face-booked, emailed and shared with the world.

This would continue on Sunday and Monday and … who knows … as the storm abated, we would slowly come back to earth and return to normal life: Phillip back to the boarding house on Sunday, Pera back to work on Monday, Sean discovering that he still had a week’s holiday  ( at 9pm Saturday evening he was called out to do emergency NSRI rescue duty!) … and me?

Well, there’s the documenting of our holiday that needs to be done and will keep me occupied for the next few days.

In my mind, I have been comparing Life to a Holiday. There are so many similarities.

So, watch this space, as I try to share our exciting journey with you … and enjoy the pictures with us!

In the meantime, it was great falling asleep in my bed for the first time in three weeks!

Our grateful thanks are extended to all who made this trip possible.

 And to

  •          the Bryants from Plett who shared their holiday with us and did all the hard work as the tour guides
  •          Tyler Botha for looking after Charlie and the house
  •          The Uptons, Reelers, Moolmans and Keelings for their hospitality in Pretoria
  •          Cheryl Price and Kerri Botha for airport transfers



Marching to Pretoria (Thailand Day 17 – 21: Mon – Fri: 9 – 13 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Monday 27 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CB

And, at 07h00 Monday morning, 9 July 2012, we landed, on time, at JHB – the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are Africans and we were home!

It was noon in Bangkok and Phuket – five hours ahead of us, but, paradoxically, all that was behind us now.

As in Life, all that remains are our pictures, our stories and our memories … the Legacy of Life – the Good in Good-Bye!

Yes, it was early Monday morning and we were back in mid-winter and back in Africa.

We stepped off the plane in our Thai summer clothing and the cold hit us. We could feel the cold Highveld and we knew we were home.

We could see the groups of Airport staff standing around with surly faces, hands in their pockets and no inclination to assist – not even to hold the door open (or to open it properly to remain open) as we stepped into the airport building! We knew we were home. 

We were moved from one carousel to the next to collect our baggage. We knew we were home.

Only five of the twenty passport control booths were manned and the queues of people from three international flights that had just landed started to build up. We knew we were home.

And then the computer system went down … we were most definitely home!

We went through customs quickly – “Nothing to declare”- and took leave of the Bryants, who were leaving later in the day for George Airport and Plettenberg Bay. Our very much smaller tour group – the four Lunnons – were going on to our administrative capital city, Pretoria (or Tshwane, as some would prefer to call it).

We would be taking the Gautrain, our newly built and opened South African showpiece right into Hatfield in the heart of Pretoria. Were we really home, or could this be a tube train in London? Although everything was so similar to a London tube train, the one thing we did not hear was “Mind the Gap!” However, we did hear that we were not to eat chewing gum (which we were all still chewing from our landing into OT Airport!)

Yes, we were really home and, yes, we can be truly proud of this achievement. We left the airport at 09h00 and were at the Hatfield station at 09h45, where we were picked up by our friend Tony Reeler, headmaster of Pretoria Boys High School.

I have written about Tony and Rose, and Michael John and Alexander before – see the blog “Thank you for the Music”.

The next three days we spent on the campus of the school in their lovely home that overlooks the Union Buildings and the Blue Bulls Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium (I’m not sure at which one of the two the seat of South African authority is vested!)

We acclimatised, got rid of the jet lag (which hit me particulalary badly after this trip), visited, chatted, skindered, snoozed, ate, snacked, Amstelled, yes – braaied!, red-wined, toured the school campus, visited Freedom Hill, caught up and generally just did what good friends do … (and the boys went back to Johannesburg on the Gautrain for two days to play golf with Phill’s friend Brad Mackenzie).

On Thursday morning, Tony took us over to Faerie Glen, where we were staying with my good university friends, Marzette and Thomas Moolman. We repeated the previous paragraph (except this time we took the boys ice-skating in Pretoria North)! We also managed to sneak in an afternoon visit to Pera’s friends Guy and Bev Keeling.

It was a week of cooling down, literally and figuratively! And it was great to catch up with good friends.

After brunch on Saturday, Thomas took us back to the OT Airport. Although I had heard on the news that bad weather was expected in the Eastern Cape, a call to the airline confirmed that all was well (or was it?!).

Our British Airways flight departed Johannesburg a few minutes late – headed for the Nelson Mandela Bay and Port Elizabeth.

Our Thai trip was fast coming to its end …