Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sydney - Day 2

Ok. So this post will take up from our arrival at the Sydney airpot.

After finding the subway entrance, we went purchased, what can seem, somewhat expensive week passes for the subway/ferry/bus for in and around the city center called the "MyMulti1". The reasoning behind this was with as little as 18 trips this pass paid for itself.

Anyway, we got on a very clean and well-maintained double-decker subway car. A few stops down the line we transferred to a bus to take us the rest of the way. Of course, the first time I ran my ticket through, the ticket scanner swallowed and refused to give it back! The driver, and this is a testament to both the Aussies and the Sydney transit system, said he would take my name and info and get the ticket back to me.

As we arrived at the hotel (Rydges Camperdown) I was sure I had some form of lost time ahead as I tried to get my pass back.

The hotel had only the one room available as we had arrived a bit early. That one room was still glorious as none of us had the ability to lie fully down since we left our own beds 36 hours before in Seoul. The girls were able to start getting cleaned up from the trip and I zoned out qacross the foot of one of the beds.

About an hour after we arrived, Charity went down to see about more towels and see if our room was ready. She came back with an envelope with my name on it and my pass. Yes folks, one solitary hour later I had my pass back. Way to go Mate(s)!!! (sorry had to do that somewhere...)

After a short rest we set out to see what we could see. First we walked for awhile looking for a good lunch spot and finally settled on Opoto, a chicken sandwich place with better than McDonald's food. Then we went shopping! (*note: exclamation mark placed for female readers as this does not necessarily reflect the views of the author*). After shopping we returned to the hotel to offload the bounty.

Then we backtracked to Central Station and them rode the subway to the Central Quay station to buy tickets for the following night's Christmas Eve "The Great Christmas Caper".

The harbor area was very cool and the Opera House definitely made the highlights list.

On the way home, Charity and Mylinda went for some groceries. This short trip brought a bit of a shock as the price of goods here in Sydney far exceeds those in the States and even in some cases that of Korea!

The rest of us rode on to the hotel and even ordered Dominos pizza (although the pizza left a little to be desired) before packing it off to bed.

More to come...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sydney - Day 1

After 17+ hours of travel and about two more simply getting to the airport in Incheon, we arrived at Sydney International airport in the southern part of Sydney.

Just traveling that far took some doing so I will recount our travels in as excruciatingly precise detail now...

First, we rode the bus from Bongcheon (봉천) in Seoul (서울) to ICN. (Ok, so it isn't exactly excruciatingly precise at all.) We then boarded a China Southern plane heading for Guangzhou, China. Supposedly, all we were doing in Guangzhou was transferring to another plane, however there is a story here so I must stop to recount it:

The arrival was ordinary enough and the amenities and staff of the China Southern airlines was decent and well received. However, the transfer was simply strange and a bit idiotic.

First we stood in an immigration line for twenty minutes only for them to take some information and then direct, not just our small band of five, but every passenger not staying in country to a small "holding area". Then began the awkward eye contact communication with statements and questions like; "You look perfectly normal for a spy?"


"I wonder if this is because of the extra bag of peanuts I took on the plane..."

Even perhaps...

"I guess this will be my first experience in a Chinese prison."

Then we had what could only amount to the Losers (I suppose we were all winners, but the prize was nothing to speak of) Lottery. These officials would walk up with a stack of passports and announce the names of the people in English. Well, that is if "English" is spoken underwater and heard from the large end of a badly tuned kazoo.

After receiving our passports back, we then went through "customs" (hello! WE AREN'T EVEN STAYING IN YOUR COUNTRY!!!) where an older lady checked me for weapons and drugs via a pat-down--awkward!

We then boarded another plane for the 9 hour flight to Sydney which passed reasonably uneventful.

The contrast between Giangzhou and Sydney's security experience were night and day. While China was curt and rude, Australia was pleasant and hospitable. China's nearly two hours of immigration and customs dwarfed the twenty minutes of wait time in Sydney--and that was with us picking up checked luggage!

Quite technically this concludes day 1 of the Sydney trip as a 24 hour period has expired. Day 2 will be on the shorter side as I will only cover it from the hotel to bed time so as to follow a diurnal framework from here on out.

If you are reading this before the new year, you may only be seeing these pop up in groups every couple of days as finding wireless Internet is difficult at times.

Mote to come...