January 18th – January 25th, 2016.
As I sit soaking up the slow paced atmosphere that is Bondi Beach with a freshly ground flat white in one hand an overly priced vegan brownie in the other, memories of the hellish three days of continuous travel just to get here seem a distant memory. A horrible misunderstanding at a Vietnamese barber shop yesterday means that the sea breeze is not only surrounding my bare head but also my very freshly shaven face. I look like a giant thumb attached to a sweaty torso.
After spending a couple of cold and miserable nights in Taipei late last week, I finally departed Taiwan on the 21st of January, but not before a stern telling off and a fat fine for overstaying my visa by 40 days – I’m also sorry to say that I’m temporarily banned from re-entering the country for twelve months.
It may have been a little foolhardy, but my flight to the Gold Coast was deliberately including a 17hr layover in Kuala Lumpur, a daunting prospect when considering our first flight didn’t depart from Taiwan until 11:40pm and landed again at 4:20am. A nap on the floor of Kuala Lumpur International Airport was rudely cut short by a disgruntled security guard who moved us.
The exhaustion and scorching heat wasn’t enough to ruin my day’s exploration and although I may have whined a little bit, I’m pleased with what I managed to see on my whistle stop tour – including the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur City Park and the Golden Triangle.
As I approached the airport for the second time that day my whole body began to feel like it was trapped inside a bubble. I was destroyed, but somehow ready to face an 8hr flight to Australia.
Despite being a frequent flier and a world traveller, I’m notorious for being extremely nervous when it comes to taking plane rides. An ironic twist to my globetrotting you may admit!
To my surprise I managed to sleep on a flight for the first time in my life, probably a direct result of my killer tiredness. A solid six hours of slumber, coupled with the excitement of finally making it all the way to Australia meant that I was full of energy as I made my way through security and into the humid mist that was surfer’s paradise.
As is always the case, I had absolutely no plans, no directions and no place to go. I sat at an airport café and completed the booking of my next flight which would take me to Sydney in two days’ time. I then set about finding the train station and making my way to Brisbane which I had decided would be my next port of call – a decision I was glad I made once I arrived.
Brisbane was amazing, the relaxed vibe and friendly nature of everyone I met made the place seem even more welcoming and homely. I got a taste for the backpacking scene by staying at the ever popular Base Hostel – a poor decision on my behalf after finding myself trapped in an oven with no ventilation or air-conditioning and sweltering temperatures rising ever more outside my pokey little window. Not to be deterred by my sleeping arrangements I made the most of my two nights in the Queensland capital.
It was then time to board my 4th flight in a matter of five days, this time to quickly arrive in Sydney where my old pal Eugene was waiting patiently for me. When I say patiently, I should point out that I found her pacing backwards and forwards at the George Street exit of central station, frantically biting her nails with anticipation. That sweet moment where we were reunited again for the first time since she left the Netherlands over a year and a half ago will stay with me forever. It was surreal – for sure, and I admit that I was almost lost for words in the beginning. Even as the week progressed I still found myself wondering if it could really be true. Was I really sitting in front of Eugene and chatting with her face to face? Those of you who have read my blog since the beginning may remember that I wrote a piece about her shortly after she departed: http://thegeordietraveler.blogspot.tw/2014/08/we-miss-you-eugene.html
In my next post I will write a lot more about the week I spent in Sydney and how amazing it was to be able to spend time with Eugene on a daily basis. Seriously – she is simply the best!