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Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Curse of the Kangaroo Paw

Another nice thing about sitting up front in a large airplane is that you can get off that much quicker. After 15 plus hours, its all you can think about.
Big Boy Korean Air A380 Double Decker Single Engine Airliner
We still had a couple of sandwiches and a Kit Kat and some unopened emergency nuts - but they made us fill out a form that made you say if you were bringing in meat or nuts.

They also wanted to know if you had soil on your boots from a farm owned by anyone named McDonald. And if you had been around any barnyard animal husbandry activities in the last 10 days.

They wanted to know about your tuberculosis, and whether you suffered from the misery of psoriasis.

Everything on our cards was no, no, no - except for one thing. I ticked off 'yes' for the 'do you have nuts' question.

We'd previously registered for our Australian visas and had some sort of e-Passport status, for which there were little kiosks. We scanned our passports in the kiosk, and it asked us about whether we had the consumption or elephantitis. It spit out a ticket and off we went.

As we walked along the corridor, I reached over and drove a knuckle into the Quad Queen's back and twisted it, like trying to drill a hole into the muscles with my knuckle.

"First griz in Australia!"

She wasn't amused, and I know I can expect a revenge grizzing at some unexpected point.

We dumped the sandwiches in a bin and did a little shopping at the Duty Free so we could have a libation later. Australia allows 2.2 liters of liquor per person. That tells you something right there.

We reached a row of electronic gates in which to use our little tickets. Apparently they would validate the ticket and take your photo to compare with your passport, and if everything was fair dinkum, the gate would open and you could walk through.

The instructions were to a) remove glasses b) follow further instructions.

I removed my glasses and couldn't see what to do next.

So I put them back on. I should a) remove glasses b) put ticket in machine! c) follow further instructions.

Okay, glasses off, and put ticket in - wrong. Turn it around. Wrong.

Put glasses on, read instructions again, orient ticket correctly. Great.

Now a) remove glasses b) put ticket in - done successfully! c) ?? blurry blur blur ???

But the electronic gate opened so I tore through it and put my glasses back on. Mrs. Flusher didn't fare any better, she had to have the help of an Immigration Sheila to get through successfully.

We skipped the baggage pickup having just carry on, and faced the final gauntlet - a tall, strong Aussie official checking documents and sending people into one of three or four different chutes, for potential neutering and branding.

It was time to 'fess up about my nuts.

I approached the official and handed over my passport and paperwork.

"How yew goin'?"

"Good thanks."

I turned to Mrs. Flusher and whispered 'he's speaking Australian to me!'.

I told him I'd checked off the nuts question because I had some unopened snack cashews and almonds.

"Am I in trouble?" I asked.

"No worries, aisle 6, cheers, enjoy your nuts."

Mrs. F. also got through fine, and the next job was to figure out the train service downtown. They've got a fantastic public transportation network here. You buy something called an OPAL card, top it up with some cash, and use that to ride. You tap on when you board and tap off when you exit and it figures out what you are charged, and takes it off the balance on the card.

We found the train station and had a bitch of a time getting through the tap turnstiles. They have these two gates that open when you tap on. They open for about one quarter of a second before snapping shut rather more enthusiastically - even violently - than is strictly necessary.

Basically, getting through is like trying to avoid Jaws. With luggage, it's even harder.

Mrs. Flusher went first. She tapped, walked forward, pulled her luggage and SNAP. The jaws closed, with her on one side and her luggage on the other.

I moved into place, she reached back, ready to pull her luggage through. I tapped on, her luggage moved and SNAP! Her luggage was through. I almost got crushed and was also stranded on the wrong side, with all my stuff. Fuck!

An attendant had to help me go through another gate that he could control. I got as close as I could, luggage at the ready. The jaws opened and I tore through there as fast as I could. SNAP! Barely made it.

This is all great fun when you've had about three 45 minute naps and otherwise have been up for about 30 hours.

The train ride downtown was fast - about 20 minutes - and we got off at the right station, St. James Place something or other. You know, the orange property in Monopoly.

Bye-gone days of ticket wickets.
The hotel was about a ten minute walk away and thanks to various apps on my piPhone 3.14, we found the Hilton Sydney no problem.

The lobby was clean, open, spacious, all glass and steel and air and bustle.

We approached the desk and I met my first real Sheila, named Jessica. She was lovely and patient with my stupid jokes. Check in is typically 3:00pm, but we were hoping to luck out and get our room early. It was about 11:00am.

No such luck. She gave us each a voucher for a coffee or tea at the bistro in the lobby and told to come back around 12:30 or 1:00pm.

We holed up at a table for a couple of hours. I had a flat white, which was excellent, and pounded out some more blog stuff.

I took a break and poked around outside to see me some Australia! Here, they drive on the left side of the road. It's screwing me up. And walking on the sidewalk, I felt ill at ease until I realized I was walking on the right and everyone was coming at me - they walk on the left.

What do you notice about these revolving doors?

I found a 7-11 nearby (so colonial!) and took a look in a rip-off tourist shop.


Racks and racks of tourist crap!

This is fucked up. So sad.
 I had a bit of lunch, some beef bulgogi and salad. Beefs aren't as cute as kangaroos, so its ok.

I could describe the annoying next couple of hours in detail, but I won't. Summary - checked back about 4 different times with 3 different people and our room was never ready when they hoped. We got keys just after 3:00pm. Indica (lobby Sheila) said she would send up an amenity to apologize for the delay.

Finally, we had a place to crash!

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