I've been flying back and forth between Launceston and South East Queensland again, and, as before, what I see out of the window as I fly over Australia reveals humanity's vast effect on the landscape.
This flight takes me across an immense fertile plain in the middle of New South Wales and Victoria. Most of this 1500 kilometres of landscape is co-opted to serve humanity – it’s just one big machine for feeding and clothing humans.
I'm flying from Canberra to Brisbane today for a house-sit. As always, I've got a window seat, and, as always, when I look out of the window, I'm struck by the humanisation of the land: this trip is 950 kilometres, and it's mostly flying over farmland.
The huge area of Australia is mostly modified (some of it heavily) for human use, except for some of its deserts – it’s a vast machine that serves humanity.
This house-sit is just one night in a house in Marcoola on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Like our other house-sits, this one was organised through Trusted House Sitters. And, like our previous house-sit in Cazorla, Spain, this one is an accommodation business called Glanymor Cottage, with rooms that are rented out through Airbnb. There are no guests this weekend, and the owners are going away to nearby Brisbane.
One of the most amazing aspects of flying in an aeroplane is simply looking out of the window. This is why I usually try to get a window seat when I fly. I know that this isn’t something that matters to everyone, and some people have a phobia about looking out of the window of a flying aeroplane, but to me it's an opportunity not to be missed if at all possible!
Long-distance travel in the 21st century, (so far, anyway) almost always means flying in an aeroplane, which is an experience that is usually taken for granted; and yet, it is a truly exceptional experience.
Only a little over 100 years ago, no one had ever flown in an aeroplane. This is despite hundreds of years of dreaming, scheming, planning, and trying to find a way for a human to fly through the air.
Some days are big travelling days, in which you cover huge distances between your origin and your destination in complex and convoluted ways. I've just had one of those days, getting from the USA to the UK.
I've mentioned elsewhere that the windows of a aeroplane can get iced-up at high latitudes, which can interfere with enjoyment of the view, especially if the sun shines on the ice, lighting it up. However, just this once, flying from Seoul, Korea, to London across Mongolia and Russia near the Arctic Circle, the ice itself is the view of interest.
We are flying from Seoul, Korea, to London, UK, and the most direct route is a great-circle route that passes over China, Mongolia, Russia and Finland, and maybe within a hundred kilometres of the Arctic Circle. It's late March, so it's early spring in the Arctic and the land that we fly over is still very much in the winter freeze. I've flown this way before (via Japan) and I know that the frozen scenery is spectacular.
As we were just doing a one-night stopover in Korea with little free time, I hadn’t gone to the trouble of finding out much about the country (there was plenty else to do before leaving!) While I knew that Korea had been producing industrial products for some decades, I didn’t know if we were we were going into a largely agrarian country or one that is highly industrially developed.
One of the amazing aspects of flying in an aeroplane is the great view that you usually get to see out of the windows. To me, this is an appealing aspect of flying, and I usually try to get a window seat so that I can experience it. There are a few reasons why this doesn’t always work out; but there is one reason that, as far as I know, only occurs on Korean Air flights.
The most direct route from Brisbane, Australia, to London, UK, is a great circle route that passes a few hundred kilometres west of the Korean peninsula, and then passes into the Arctic Circle and over Mongolia. We pretty much flew this route with Korean Air, not because it is the most direct route but because it kept us away from the Middle East (which has since proved to be a good thing to avoid, even if we did land only fifty kilometres from North Korea instead), and because Korean Air gave us a nice stopover in Seoul, to break up the long journey.