Saturday, November 30, 2013
Brisbane Airport and Taipei
On a city bus on the way to breakfast with my grandmother. I'm not sure where we're going. I'm taking care to write in short spurts, as buses in this country are not known for their gentle and docile nature. Actually, I give up-
Now sitting in yet another cafe, with my dearest grandmother in front of me reading her paper, which I had just braved the street to purchase. Breakfast was a club sandwich accompanied by soup and salad. I've had a peaceful two days back in the motherland, I've made two trips to the travel agency. Once to submit my passport for an Australian passport, another time to retrieve my passport, because for some reason, Americans do not have visa-waiver status down under. I at a few times with Cousin Arthur and his family(my Aunt and Uncle, who do not have Anglicized names), and as Cousin Silvian returned from her honeymoon yesterday, I plan on visiting her today.
Beyond all that, little of worth has happened, with the exception of my 6 km evening walk last night from Zhong Xiao Fuxing Station to Muzha Station where I currently reside. Cousin Nancy had it in her mind to challenge herself to the “trek”, and being the caring and worried older brother, I accompaned her, to her eventual regret. For one, I didn't allow her to slow her pace or give up once it became clear that the flats she was wearing were extremely unsuitable for the task at hand. The entire exercise took 2 hours, about a fourth too long for my linking. I finished with a beer from my neighborhood convenience store; Cousin Nancy sat on a bench and would not get back up for quite some time.
As it's now the morning after, I feel great. She is probably cursing me, her legs, herself, and life itself.
I'm fine with that.
11/18/13 Brisbane Airport
Let's try it again! Plane ended up grounded due to technical issues. We made ourselves comfortable in the airport till about 0400, when the airline announced that the plane wouldn't be fixed until tomorrow, and would send us out on the same flight the next night. They had also found us all accommodations for the day, and are paying for the food and lodging. Being as there were 30 odd people in our group, the closest hotel they could find with enough vacancies was in a suburb some 50 minutes away. Unable to get a bus that early in the morning, we set off in a fleet of 10 cabs. At 3.3AUD a kilometer, each cab cost nearly 200AUD. We arrived in Ipswich and checked ourselves in around 0700 in the morning.
Not caring to retire and potentially ruin my sleep pattern, I decided to go out and explore the town, accompanied by Anna, another tour member who was traveling with her mother(who had retired for the morning). We first made our way about 1 km east of the hotel to Queen's Park, where we were told there existed a zoo with koalas. There did stand such a place, but our bad luck continued to haunt us: they did not open on Mondays. We consoled ourselves with the nearby park equipment, including a zipline and an awesome jungle gym. I also climbed into a provided hammock, but it was not comfortably designed, and I quickly gave it up.
We made out way to the center of town, where we explored the windows of unopened shops and waited for a nearby art museum to open. I wasn't so impressed by the museum when it did eventually open, as it was mostly geared toward a younger generation than mine. A much younger generation. Abandoning the town center, we moved westward toward the streets known as the Top of the Town, where numerous second hand shops, cafes, and bookstores greeted us. Snacked at one of the hipster eateries before walking into “Paint”, which turned out to be a sex toy shop, and a few second hand stores.
Last stop of the day was at the Riverlink Mall, so called because of the train tracks that run through it, as well as the river that it was built besides. I picked up a bottle of Shiraz at the liquor store inside, as well as some cheese and sausage at the grocers. After we returned to the hotel and whiled away the afternoon in conversation over said provisions. (Note: Anna is allergic to alcohol? She gets red and splotchy. Kinda odd, kinda cute.)
A bus picked us all up at 1900, bringing us back to the airport, where we now sit waiting to board the same plane that left us in the lurch yesterday.
Second time's the charm.
11/17/13 Brisbane Airport
We had morning call relatively late this morning at 0730hrs. We left about 0900, making the long journey to the Antarctic Center next door. First order of business was a ride on the Hagglund, the tracked Antarctic vehicle of choice, able to traverse over snow, ice, and rock, over steep grades and deep water, all of which was demonstrated to us. Kinda like a really bumpy rollercoaster. This was followed by a short stay in the simulation room, which basically was a room with some snow and ice, a slide made of the same, and some wind generators demonstrating how cold it is at the South Pole(Hint: it's really goddamn cold). We finished up with the Blue Penguin exhibit. Shortest of all the penguin species, blue penguins are also likely the cutest as well. Most penguins in the exhibits were injured or disabled in some way, so this was more a shelter than an exhibit.
Leaving the Center, we had a quick walk in a neighborhood park before heading back to Christchurch Airport for the three leg journey home. Our first two legs, Christchurch to Auckland, then Auckland to Brisbane, went well. However, our last flight is currently delayed, with no given reason. Three hours and three delays past original departure time, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.