One of the great things about working to the Northern Hemisphere school year is that I get to enjoy some cooler weather on my trips down under. My "summer" holidays become "winter get aways" if I head down to Australia. This trip so far has been cool but not cold, although I was cold last night and went hunting for an extra quilt in the middle of the night. Between that and the electric blanket I warmed up and enjoyed a lovely long sleep snuggled under the covers.
Backing up a few days, I left Cambodia on Wednesday after a hot, sweaty day, during which I managed to get my house somewhat more organised than it had been, so the person who will be staying there part of the time won't have too much trouble finding space to work and relax. On arrival in Bangkok I found eventually found the person who was to meet me, and was transported to my hotel. All was quiet. The next morning I was back to the airport ready for the journey to Australia. I was somewhat put out by the very intrusive security inspection just prior to boarding the plane. We'd already been through the main security check, but just before we entered the gate lounge they did another inspection and this time they actually open all our bags and go through all our stuff by hand. I don't mind security, but that was over the top. Eventually we got on the plane, and I managed to end up with 4 seats to spread out across for the trip to Sydney which made up a little for the security check. It's always a little challenging when they feed you breakfast and then promptly turn all the cabin lights out! Fortunately I had plenty to do, and with the plane only about half full, it was easy enough to wander the aisles occasionally, and get drinks or snacks, as well as enjoying the onboard entertainment. On arriving in Sydney we had to go through yet another security check and then had about 30 minutes before reboarding the plane for Brisbane. This time I had two seats to myself, a window & and aisle, so I was able to enjoy the lights as we came in to land at Brisbane airport.
When our flight arrived in Brisbane our luggage was quickly unloaded, and there was no queue at all for immigration and customs. As I had a wooden cyclo and some snacks among my luggage I knew that I'd have to go through a customs inspection. As I started unpacking I also realised that among my momentos from students were several hand-made cards. Fortunately only one of these contained enough plant material that it was kept, and my wooden cyclo was no problem. I was quickly on my way again, and trying to work out where I had to meet the car parking people. With a little assistance I quickly connected with them, and was able to collect the car that had been left for me. The fun began as I tried to work out where the car key was hiding. Eventually I discovered it, hiding inside the remote control. Hooray. Load it up and venture onto the roads. It was good to make my first trip at 11pm when there was little traffic on the roads. Brisbane roads had undergone some changes while I've been away, but thanks to some tips from the car parking people I was soon able to find my way onto familiar roads. Then came the tunnels! Which road did I want? I was fairly sure I didn't want the Clem Jones Tunnel (because that's a toll road and my Australian cash was at the bottom of my carryon bag), but knew I had to take the Brisbane city bypass. Fortunately I'm fairly good at following my nose, and I found my way relatively easily to the familiar territory of Milton Road then onto the Western Freeway and Centenary Highway. Hooray! Now I know where I'm going. When I arrived safely at my friends' home, I was greeted enthusiastically by their dog Sari, who never seems to forget me, no matter how long it might be between visits. Don't get me wrong, my friends greeted me too! It's always good to come "home".
I enjoyed snuggling under a "doona" that evening, and enjoyed a long sleep. The next day I enjoyed a venture into one of the regional shopping centres, where many years ago I had my first job. It has changed so much since then, but I was able to get my local health insurance reactivated, and get an Australian sim card for my phone, as well as make at one of the essential purchases on my Aussie shopping list of things I can't buy in Cambodia or Thailand. That evening I enjoyed steak and veggies for dinner, something of rarity in Cambodia, followed by stewed apple & custard! Yummy. Thanks Leanne!
The next day, after after another delightful sleep, I ventured back on the roads, heading south for Coffs Harbour. As I headed across town, I was faced with the choice of a toll road, or exploring a little to avoid the toll road, so I opted to avoid the toll road, and managed to find my way to Beadesert Road and the Mt Lindsay Highway without paying tolls and without getting lost! I then enjoyed driving through the Australian bush as I headed inland to the Summerland Way. The inland route takes a little longer, but has lots less traffic on it, and having not driven for almost 2 years, I enjoyed the lower stress of less traffic. I arrived safely in Coffs Harbour just after 6pm, having driven in the dark for the last hour. I hadn't expected that, having forgotten that cooler weather also means shorter days, but it wasn't a problem.
Sunday morning I rose in time to walk down to Boambee Community Baptist Church, where Mum was on projecter duty, and enjoyed the time of worship and fellowship. I was delighted to see the faces of a young couple whom I knew in Toowoomba flash up on the screen, announcing the safe arrival of their second child. It was good to catch up with the husband, and meet their elder child. It was also good to be welcomed at a church which has faithfully prayed for me during my time in Cambodia. After lunch we took advantage of Sunday shopping and I made more purchases on the essential items list.
Today I enjoyed another sleep in, then after a quick breakfast managed to find my way into town. I do love shopping where the prices are fixed and you don't get hassled every second step to buy something. It's fun too, just looking at the variety of things available and thinking how I don't really need all those things to be happy. Tomorrow I'm going to have to start tacking the mountain of paperwork that I've been procrastinating on - superannuation, rates, bank statements, and all that sort of fun stuff. Then I can have fun sorting the various notes I've received from children and parents over my three and a half years at Logos, and putting them in an album to enjoy in my old age!
I love holidays!