So to recap….It was now New Years Eve. Poor Gav was horrendously ill and we had hours of flights ahead of us to get to Sydney, well one thirty min flight (Garuda) and then after a six hour wait, another six hour Air Asia flight at 1 am to eventually arrive in Sydney at 10 am. As luck would have it, the departures lounge in Lombok had a doctors so Gav managed to see an actual doctor and get some antibiotics. The flight was hellish, especially for poor Gav. Air Asia had confiscated all water at the gate under some veiled security check (we had been through security already), but in reality it was to make us buy drinks on the plane. We had no cash left on us so we had to wait until they served the meal (the flight with the meal was almost the same price, like $1 more). A super sweet chicken spaghetti Bolognese and a tiny bottle of water two hours before we landed. I think in total we got about 2 hours rest each (it wasn’t really a decent approximation of sleep) We were both wrecked when we arrived and vowed never to travel with Air Asia again
Once we got through immigration (electronic, so no stamp), then through the customs queue, we were met by our friend Scott at departures. He had moved to Sydney 18 months earlier and was having a great time there so a bit of catching up to do. It was cold there, well around 20ºC, cold for the time of year and I basically spent two days complaining about the cold, I had been to Sydney eight years before in the winter and it was their coldest winter in living memory….another El Niño year I guess- not me bringing freak weather to Australia yet again.
We got the bus back to his apartment and chilled out for a bit before seeing what was going on in downtown Sydney. I should also mention at this point that we started to realise how dirty Indonesia had been and how used to it we had become. Going to public/restaurant toilets and having a clean floor and having being paper, soap and a method to dry them it was like Christmas (again).
The following day we Costal beach walk from Bondi to Cogee which being a Saturday it was quite rammed and very hot in places. Lots of joggers! We grabbed a few drinks and then cleared out when band arrived. After waiting an eternity for the bus back to Scott’s, we grabbed food in a local pub and then we had amazing magnum like ice-cream. During this walk Gav’s ankle started to cause him some problems.
On our last full day in Sydney we walked to the Sydney cricket ground, the Test Cricket was on- which Scott could have got tickets for but didn’t want to put me through a whole day of cricket. I was delighted but Gav was very slightly miffed! It did start to rain, so off to the pub, the rain however was bad enough for the cricket to be cancelled and it lashed it down for about an hour and a half. Eventually it stopped so we headed to the cricket ground and wandered about the oddly closed Entertainment area followed by a trip to centennial park to go see the flying foxes but then it started to rain again.
The following morning we almost missed our plane due to the non-existent buses. Eventually one did show up and when we arrived at the airport we had to leg it from the Quantas terminal, across a carpark and were greeted with a massive queue for Tiger Air. We had 10 mins to check in and drop our bags and the queue was enormous, I was freaking out. Then we spotted the self check-in, and ended up in an even bigger queue for baggage drop! Arrrggh! Five minutes later they opened a separate queue for our flight. This seemed to be how Tiger Air operated at the last minute and none of the passengers seemed to have been on a plane before it was chaos.
Less than two hours later we arrived in Melbourne and were off to Denise and Luke’s house in Brunswick a cool suburb just north of the city. They were up to ninety preparing their house for sale (which has now been sold! Yay!). So when we arrived they were having a well deserved rest with a few beers. So we just chilled out and caught up (we had missed their wedding as we had been travelling). They also gave us some suggestions as to what do in the city.
Over the next three days we managed to see most of the main sights, drank copious cups of coffee (what crap we drank in Asia!) and also managed to get a cycle in and a bit of a rest as Gav’s ankle was getting progressively worse so halfway though our five days here we took it easy, which was just as well as my right knee had developed an annoying, but easy to ignore, dull ache. We did however manage to go to the cricket, the 20/20 was on in Melbourne between the Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes…
During our walk in the botanical gardens, there was a lady, running about the place with her friend calling her lost pet “Cookie”. It quickly transpired that her lost pet was a bird as she started cawing like a parrot. I don’t know if she found it, it’s quite hard to chill out in a park with someone shouting and cawing continuously for 20 minutes.
So our cycle was down the Merri creek trail to Fitzroy which conveniently ran almost behind Denise and Luke’s house, there was actual proper traffic here in comparison to elsewhere we had been on a bike on our travels and we wanted to avoid the road, this didn’t always work of course but we eventually made it to Fitzroy. We were very cranky due to hunger and after a few arguments as to where to leave the bikes in the super hipster neighbourhood where they wouldn’t get stolen (my view was anywhere as it seemed very safe, Gav wanted them where we could see them). Well anyway we left them and I got the biggest lunch of my life….
During the week this also became the main topic of conversation in Australia was cricket related and we expected to see something this exciting while we were at the match…
Alas we were not so lucky!
We also had a visit to the Melbourne Museum which was really quite good- couldn’t find the stick insects display they were breeding there though. Then we took a walk on Gertrude St. Gav was in need of a haircut and Luke had recommended some in south Collingwood where all the Boho barbers are with names like “Dr. Follicles” and “Drunken Barber”. Unfortunately all fancy barbers were busy and, as we had limited warm clothes, we nipped into Kathmandu to grab some stuff (hurrah for January sales!). Then went to see if Gav could get into Dr Follicles but no joy, they have a complex queuing system and Gav was either third or seventh so basically a no go as we had to meet the guys in town. So we gave up and headed for the tram. En route Gav spotted a hairdresser/barber/tobacconist shop on the far side of the street, looked quiet enough. On stepping through the door it was like stepping back to the 1950s.
There was one guy in the chair being worked on so we sat down and took the place in. There were pictures of Elvis, Marilyn Munroe and stock photos of hairstyles straight out of Back to the Future. The counter was covered with pipes, lighters, tobacco, papers and cigarettes – a huge array of tobacco related paraphernalia. It was quite impressive actually (if bordering on cluttered). So a few minutes later the guy left, and Gav was summoned to the chair. The barber was of the old italian style, with slicked back grey hair, portly but with a certain light theatrical flair when he was cutting hair. He also spoke like his mouth was full of marbles (a bit like Marlon Brando in the Godfather really). So first off, he asked Gav did he surf (we have both gone a bit blonde in the sun), so Gav said no. Then he was told he washed his hair too much and then there was silence (there was no music on in there) until he was finished. All the while I was happily waiting and reading the newspaper.
So next thing Gav, complete was next to the till and paying. The barber asked where we were from and why we were in Melbourne and then… and I’m not quite sure how the conversation suddenly lurched to this.. but he started telling us we need to have children, how important it is to have loads and what side of the bed I should lie on (for optimum procreation), how to predict having a girl or a boy, and how Gav should manhandle me when I’m doing the dishes (hurrah for dishwashers, I say). Anyway, this rather intrusive conversation (though quite amusing) went on for 40 mins. All the while, I was looking at the clock behind him thinking we still needed to check in for the flight the following day and we would be late meeting Denise and Luke in the pub. Two seconds later the guy who left earlier reappeared and that was it- conversation ended and we were released!
So yes we were late meeting the lads but we had a great night out, some Lebanese a few drinks in some of the cool bars around Brunswick.
The next morning, the 5th February, after a great week in Following morning taxi, checkout and off to our next stop-country number 11, New Zealand and the city of Christchurch.