Monday, January 10, 2011

Sydney – Day 9 & 10

This day will actually encompass two days. 


With our flight not leaving till 9pm, we wanted to spend the last moments in Sydney to the fullest.  On that note, there was yet one set of activities we hadn’t participated in—getting up-close and personal with the indigenous wildlife.   Sydney Wildlife World at Darling Harbor provided that opportunity.  The cost was a bit much and the animal viewing was not of supreme importance to me, so I ate breakfast at a little corner cafĂ© while the girls toured the wildlife exhibits.  I am sure that Charity gave several high-pitched squeals of delight at the various cuddly kangaroos, koala bears and wombats. 


I met up with them again near the IMAX and we settled on returning to Paddy’s Market as well as the nearby Chinatown.  One last time we walked the booths looking for last minute items as we attempted to relieve ourselves of Australian currency.  Personally, I had to have a hat.  One of those hats of true Aussie style. 


In this search, I came across a man and his daughter that sold only hats and a huge variety of hats at that!  I could have settled on the very inexpensive hat which did not look as if it would stand up to more than a couple weeks of wear or the soft, supple, expertly crafted kangaroo leather hats which looked fantastic…hence the high price!  I chose middle ground.  A buffalo hide hat with what appeared to be solid craftsmanship.  I LOVE THE HAT!


Funny enough though, the hat seller and his daughter were Korean!  I traveled all that way to buy an Australian hat from a Korean man!  His house here in Korea was only about 6 stops away!  How weird…


The time sure went fast as we arrived back at the hotel around 5pm.  We changed and picked up our bags at the hotel.  The taxi arrived and the extremely humorous—albeit, a bit racist—driver dropped us at our airport check-in.


With only a slight hiccup with the ticket printing machine at the counter, we went made our way through security, which took only a few minutes even with two of the girls being stopped and asked some security questions.  A meal and some waiting later, we were on the airplane heading to Seoul via Beijing.


At this juncture, due prudence dictates I must tell you some traveling tips.  Australia was comfortably warm most of the time.  Therefore, shorts and a t-shirt marked the majority of my clothing options.  Knowing what I knew about Incheon airport in Seoul, I also knew that during the winter the internal temperature can seem to Westerners like myself, well, rather balmy.  It also makes sense not to carry more items onto the plane than is needed. 


With all these facts and experiences in mind, I wore a light t-shirt and shorts and Charity wore similar items as well, as we boarded the plane in Sydney.  Surrounding us were Chinese and Korean people wearing Ugg boots, heavy coats, long sleeves and thick pants.  This is the first indication of trouble.


The flight was comfortable and there were few problems on that long ride to Beijing.  However, when we arrived in Beijing, we discovered something about the airport.  While the amenities and various staffs at the airport were kind and cordial, the temperature was not!  We arrived in Beijing around 6am with an external temperature of –12 Celsius and an internal temp pretty much the same!  What an enjoyable 3 hour layover it was… Have I mentioned I how much I like China?


The short 2 hour hop from Beijing seemed like almost nothing as the meal took most of that time (yes, I said meal!).  Through emigration, gathered our bags. through customs and out to the busses to take us back home.


This blog cannot possibly recount the things seen and done in their entirety, but I hope that this small series of snapshots gave you a bit of a taste!


More to come…