Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Bonus Post, October 2006 Asia Trip (Only blog I did!)

Well it has been an interesting day or two, or who knows! Let me explain. Somehow I have found myself down south. Way down south… in Australia. I am down here with my supervisor to give some training in Darwin, Northern Territory. Other than the formalities of how I actually ended up going to Asia/Pacific, I thought I would write of the journey itself, and maybe a few observations along the way. My trip started out in Tulsa, although my day had been a whirl-wind of packing and worrying, making sure everything was right… I can’t say that I am usually nervous about such things, but this one seemed a bit different… I made it there in plenty of time, and the flight to Dallas was uneventful. In Dallas, I was stuck with the fact that I was in a middle seat for the 3 ½ hour flight to Los Angles. Probably not a big deal for the normal human, but I am, well for lack of a better term, somewhat super-sized! Anyway, to make a long story short, I waited around until the end, got a exit row at the front of the aircraft, and had a nice, and roomy flight to LA. They showed CBS shows, some previews and such, an episode of How I Met Your Mother, which I quite enjoyed, and a Late Night with David Letterman segment on Dog Toupees. An interesting topic… do you think that dogs know if they are going bald, and do they need a hairpiece? I would guess not… but I am not a pet psychic! Anyway… we got to LA and ate at Chili’s… kind of the last meal in America thing, where I had an old fashioned Chicken Cesar Salad… hmm something wrong with that picture??? We ended up getting into the Qantas Club right before the flight, which was nice for a place to hang out for a few minutes, but it was most definitely highlighted by standing right over the 747-400 long reach plane I was about to spend the next 14 or so hours of my life on. Really it is quite amazing, the shear size of the machine is amazing, to think those things can get off the ground!!! So we boarded… the Qantas Club was my first taste of the business class life, but it was soon evident that the nice part about flying business is the space you are afforded. The seat was very big, with electronic controls. It had lumbar support, massage, and it, with the push of a button lie pretty much flat. They gave you a nice set of headphones to use, as well as a large TV of your own (OK maybe only 10”, but really by any standard that is pretty large!). The seats themselves were pretty comfy, but not the best things since sliced bread. They had menus for us to order dinner or breakfast from, so I chose some breakfast and we started off on our journey. Once we got flying, and they started up the on-demand video, I decided to watch the beginning of Poseidon, which I watched just through the ship getting flipped over by the rouge wave. I am pretty sure I switched to something else, but I soon was a sleep. Oh yeah, they provided a nice kit that had a mask, some socks, assorted toiletries, it was nice, and I used the mask to sleep… unfortunately, I am not sure what happened to it! It kind of smelled like peppermint! So I dozed off, and unfortunately I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted… I think I got 5 or so hours, maybe a few less. I awoke somewhere over the pacific, south of Hawaii. I decided to watch some of the on-demand TV, and watched 5 episodes of the Office, which at first, I don’t think I liked so much, but with time, I grew to like. In fact, I think I need to rent some so I can see what happens to the group. The system (TV) broke at some point, so we were without for quite a while, but it did come back at some point. At one point, over the pacific, I opened the window to see lights. In fact there were several what looked like cities below. I don’t know where we were, but it was amazing to me to find civilization out in the middle of nowhere. The only real bummer on the flight was that I got hungry. I was supposed to be able to get a sandwich when I wanted, but I was to afraid of stepping over the sleeping person next to me to go find out, and when I did finally get out to go to the toilet, I didn’t even go forward to where I could get one because of the silly stay out signs!!! I am a wimp! About 6 am local time, we ate breakfast, it was pretty good… real china and all… and landed on time here in Sydney. Then I had my first experience with customs. Not bad per sea, but quite an ordeal. First get off and go through one checkpoint, to have them look at a form you filled out on the plane, then onto a second really, really, really long line to go through x-ray and quarantine, where they searched my bags due to the candy I brought for classes. It made it thorough, although I almost left my bag there!!! That would have been really bad!!! Then onto another re-check in for the flight to Darwin (which didn’t take off for more than 11 hours). Anyway, after catching a bus over to the other terminal, we found our way to the Qantas club again, where we caught a quick shower and after doing a bit of work, we hopped a train into the heart of Sydney. The train required a transfer and it was a bit confusing, but we made it downtown. Really a nice town, we stopped off and ate at a café on the harbor. Not bad, but strange because they charged an extra 10% on Saturday and Sundays! After about an hour there, we strolled down to the Sydney Opera house. Pretty sweet digs… really it is to hard to put into words what it was like… Pretty amazing. We walked back around the harbor, stopping at the clean energy protest rally they were having.. That was amusing, and then walked down and got a gellato, which was pretty much exactly like having ice cream… We got a bit tired, so we decided to hop a train back and here I am, waiting for my flight. It is 4 pm here on Sat, and it is 11 pm at home on Friday.

Major observations:
1) It is a small world… I ended up being on the same row as a lady who was flying home to Australia, not all that amazing, but this was out of Tulsa! How strange is it to find somebody else going halfway around the world starting where you start! We ended up seeing her here in the Qantas club as she waited for her flight to Brisbane.
2) Australia is not that much different from America. In fact, other than the funny looking money, the driving on the wrong side of the road and strange power plugs, I might just think I am in someplace like San Fransisco. Not that it is a bad thing, but it is interesting how I never thought (although it makes sense, seeing as how we are both English castoffs!!) how similar two worlds as far apart as we are can be. I am enjoying myself here, but I am really looking forward to seeing the difference being in a country where English is not the main language is like!
3) I am pretty tired…

Well, enough about me, I really rambled, but I wanted to capture some of this so I might remember and I can share.

Until later…

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