Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sexy Time In Heathrow Airport

I haven't been to London since they finished Terminal 5, so when I disembarked after an uneventful twelve hours on the plane, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it would be a gleaming palace of delight, but at 5am in the morning there's not that much to be excited by.

There's lots of escalators. Lots and lots of escalators, lowering you into the depths where a train swishes you off to another part of the terminal, and then you can queue up for your luggage. Since I was going straight on to Geneva, I went straight past that, so I have nothing to say about the efficiency of Heathrow's 30mph luggage conveyors.

I ducked into the toilets before I went through customs, and was greeted by a condom machine covered in blinking blue lights. It seemed a bit strange to me that the first thing you'd want to do after getting off a plane is purchase prophylactics, but who knows what passions might be inflamed by travelling through twelve different time zones? Not that it's just condoms that are for sale. For a moment, I allowed myself to wonder how many vibrating cock rings Durex sell to international travellers in the arrival hall of Heathrow airport. But I had to get on, so rather than pontificate about the economics of the sex-accountrement industry viz a viz the toilets before passport control, I wandered off and entered Britain.

There are some new and shiny Iris booths where you get your eyes scanned rather than talk to a human being. I saw one rather cross chap stride up to it, and peer into a contraption that looked to have been assembled from spare parts from a cheap 1980s science fiction programme, but I wasn't very envious because at 5 in the morning, there's not a huge queue for the traditional passport check, and shortly I was through and going up some more escalators to check in for the next flight, still vaguely worried that my bags weren't ever going to catch up with me.
There's a Pret a Manger at Heathrow, and a Starbucks, so it was almost as if I had never left Hong Kong. That's what travel is about: a series of air conditioned steel and glass buildings where one can purchase trademarked beverages.

Back on a plane, up in the air and then down to Geneva, which feels vaguely antiquated and inefficient, what with having no high-tech computer to check your biometric information, and instead a passport check right at the end of a travelator, which means as the throughput of the officials isn't that high, there's an awkward mass of humanity deposited at the end of the travelator, all bumping up against one another and not sure if they're meant to form an orderly line or start shoving.

Taxi to hotel, an extortionate number of euros. Then another taxi back to Geneva, because I can't check in yet (it's not even 10 am, after all) and off to explore Switzerland for the afternoon. I wonder if jet lag is going to kick in soon or not...


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