Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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I Went To The Land Down Under!

So I’m *finally getting around to blogging about my trip to Australia and Hong Kong, a mere *77* days after returning from said trip. I’m trying to think of a way that (a) won’t take me eleventy billion years to write it all and (b) won’t bore everyone to tears. Oh and (c) I can piece together from the few notes I took down on my trip and my photos. And to add further complication to my writer’s dilemma, I went on this trip with my then-boyfriend, but after we got home, we split up (Long story short – a big trip together is a good test of a relationship and while he is a good guy, we discovered that we just aren’t compatible enough). So my blog postings will be full of “we did this” and “we did that” and it’s now a historical “we”. Ok, with all that out of the way, I guess I’ll just start with the writing and see what happens!

The genesis of the trip was that I had an amazing opportunity to attend a conference in Perth. And I figured that if I was going to fly for 18 hours to get somewhere, I wasn’t just going to come right home after a four day conference. Especially given that I hadn’t taken a proper vacation in 3 years and had a big chunk of vacation time to use. So I decided to extend the trip to include:

  • a few days post-conference to check out the area around Perth
  • a few days in Byron Bay to go surfing (booked *before* I got my hip injury that made me barely able to walk, much less surf!)
  • a few days in Sydney
  • a couple of days in Hong Kong on the way back (since we had to stopover in HK, it seemed like a good opportunity to check it out)

Shortly after booking all the flights and accommodations, I learned that my friend Tanya was moving from Toronto to Melbourne! If only I’d know, I’d have gone there; but it worked out because Tanya and her husband Greg made the trip up to Byron Bay to hang out, which was super fun!

Travelling

This trip was by far the most flying I’ve ever done! It consisted of flights:

  • Vancouver to Hong Kong – 12.5 hours and 10,281 km
  • Hong Kong to Perth – 7.5 hours and 6,043 km
  • Perth to Sydney – 4.5 hours and 3,280 km
  • Sydney to Ballina – 1.25 hours and 612 km
  • Ballina to Sydeny – 1.25 hours and 612 km
  • Sydney to Hong Kong – 9.25 hours and 7,402 km
  • Hong Kong to Vancouver – 12.5 hours and 10,281 km

That makes a grand total of 48.5 hrs and 38,511 km of flying!

To make things even worse, I was severely debilitated by my hip injury. Like, I was limping so badly that at almost every airport we went to, when they saw me approaching the security line up they’d pull me aside with a “right this way, ma’am” and take me through the quick line up, because I was clearly too injured to be standing in any sort of line up. Fortunately, on the way there, the flights weren’t full so I was able to get up frequently to stretch.

Perth

Perth is the capital of Western Australia and with ~2 million people living in the Greater Perth area, it’s fairly similar in size to Vancouver. And though it’s a big city, it’s remote from other big cities, with the majority of the people being on the eastside of the continent. While in Perth, in addition to the conference, we did a bus tour to the Margaret River valley (a wine region), took a train out to nearby Fremantle (a port), and took a trip to Rottnest Island, which is off of Fremantle.

Cool Things in Perth

  • The Bell Tower at Elizabeth Quay:

Bell Tower in Perth

  • This bar (we didn’t actually go there, but couldn’t resist taking a photo of it due to the name):

The Lucky Shag Pub

  • The fact that transit is FREE in the Central Business District of Perth. Seriously, you just get on and off the buses as you please.

Central Area Transit in Perth

  • King’s Park – a really big park (sort of like Stanley Park) and it has cool fauna that is native to western Australia. I went for a walk (er, a limp) around there and saw lots of cool plants and fortunately was not killed by any of the deadly animals I am told live in Australia.
IMG_3681

All the trees in Australia are shaped like they should be in a haunted Disney forest

 

IMG_3685

This plant is called Kangaroo’s Paw

    • Beer and Beef Festival. It would have been better if it hadn’t been unseasonably cold and rainy – and they didn’t have any heaters or covered areas, but there were some decent beers and tasty food.
    • I caught the Pokémon that you can only catch in Australia on my first day in Perth!

I caught a Kangaskhan on my first day in Australia!

Things I Saw on the Margaret River Vally Bus Tour

  • Fiona Stanley Hospital – it just opened a couple of years ago and was named after the woman who discovered the link between insufficient amounts of folic acid during pregnancy and neural tube defects in babies (and thus is why we now fortify our grains with folate and see far fewer neural tube defects!)
  • Harvey Camp #11 – a World War II internment camp for Italians (I didn’t know that Italians were interned in Australia during WWII)
  • Tuart Forest National Park
  • Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.
  • The Busselton Jetty
  • Bootleg Brewery – we had lunch and a flight of beer here. Craft brewing in Australia just doesn’t quite compare to the craft beer scene in Vancouver – but some of the beers were quite good and the food was great!
    Bootleg Brewing

    I was representin’ New West with my Steel & Oak Brewing hoodie on at Bootleg Brewing.

    Sadly, there were no dog picnics:

Bootleg Brewing

  • Sandalford Winery – sampled some wine here.
  • Mammoth Cave – this place was awesome! Just an absolutely beautiful cave. Also, because we were on a bus tour with some older people, it could go up and down the stairs slowly (thanks injured hip!) but didn’t hold up the crowd.
    Mammoth Cave, Western Australia
  • A kangaroo. I only got a glimpse of it hopping along the side of the road as our bus whizzed by at dusk, but it was the only kangaroo I saw in all of Australia!

Things I Learned on the Margaret River Vally Bus Tour

First of all, the tour guide told us a few things that I looked up later and found out weren’t true. So I’ve looked up stuff that I wrote down on this tour to see how much of it was true:

  • There are bull sharks in the Swan River.
  • The Noongar people, who are the indigenous people of the south western part of Western Australia, have an origin story where the Swan and Canning Rivers and other features of the land were created by The Wagyl, a giant snake-like creature that slithered around, creating the  shape of the land.
  • The “coat of arms sausage“, which we ate at the Bootleg Brewery pub, is so called because it’s made of the meat of kangaroo and emu, the two animals on the Australia coat of arms.

and how much was false:

Fremantle

Fremantle is a port city at the mouth of the Swan River. We took a train there, mostly because I wanted to visit the prison! The prison is a museum now and my friend Martha had told me it was well worth checking out.

  • Fremantle Prison was originally a prison for, and built by, convicts shipped over from England. At first England just shipped over petty criminals – like bread thieves – but over time they started slipping more dangerous criminals – like rapists and murders – onto the convict ships. Once England stopped shipping its criminals to Australia, it became a regular prison (i.e., for local prisoners).
Untitled

Entrance to the prison grounds

 

Freemantle Prison

The prison yard

  • The cells were really, really tiny and convicts/prisoners stayed in them for much of the day. In later years, they knocked down walls to make the cells double this size, but they it got crowded again and so they put in bunk beds and made two prisoners share the double sized cells.

Freemantle Prison

  • In later years, they let some of the prisoners paint in their cells:Freemantle Prison
  • The only place that wasn’t tiny and dark was the chapel, which had big windows and a high ceiling so as to feel open and bright. Threatening to revoke one’s time in the chapel was a good way to keep prisoners in line.

Freemantle Prison

  • We got to try out going into a solitary confinement cells, with the tiny window closed up and all the lights off. Prisoners would be placed in there for 23 hours a day, with 1 hour of exercise which consisted of running back and forth across a small yard. The walls on each side of the yard had placards with numbers and the guards would yell out a number and you’d have to run to that number on the opposite wall. And repeat. For an hour. And then back to your cell!
Freemantle Prison

Behind that second door is a solitary confinement cell.

  • Here’s where you’d get flogged, if you were given a flogging as punishment:

Freemantle Prison

  • And if you were sentenced to death, here’s the gallows where they would hang you:

Freemantle Prison

There was a big riot in 1988 and the prison closed in 1991, and shortly thereafter became a museum. What you see in the prison is pretty much what it would have been like right before it closed – very bleak.

Other fun facts about Fremantle (the city, not the prison):

    • The Noongar name for Fremantle is Walyallup.
    • The locals call it Freo.
    • Little Creatures Brewery is there – they make pretty good beer.

Little Creatures Brewing

Little Creatures Brewing

Wearing my Steel & Oak hoodie at a brewery again. It was unseasonably cold in Western Australia and that was the only hoodie I brought!

  • Here I am breaking the law in Fremantle. #ThugLife

Freemantle, Western Australia

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is 18 km west of Fremantle and is home to the cutest animal in the world: the quokka! Quokkas are small marsupials – about the size of a small house cat. They live almost exclusively on Rottnest (there is a very small population (~400) on the mainland), where there are between 8,000-12,000 living on the 19 km2 island. Having no predators, these adorable little guys are super friendly and will come right up to you (mostly hoping you will feed them, which you shouldn’t because they can’t digest people food and it makes them sick). They are considered a vulnerable species and it’s against the law to even touch them1, unless you are Cookie Monster. I really, really wanted to bring one home as a pet but (a) it’s illegal and (b) I think the cats might try to eat a quokka if we had one.

Quokka

Quokka

Quokka

  • Getting a selfie with a quokka is a trendy thing to do. Here’s some lady doing so with a selfie stick.

Rottnest Island

  • I’m too cool for a selfie stick, but I got an amazing quokka selfie2 the old fashion way (i.e., holding the camera):

Quokka selfie!

  • This little quokka showed up in the restaurant we had lunch in and was tugging on my pant leg as if so say “spare a french fry for a hungry quokka?”

Quokka in a restaurant

Other fun facts about Rottnest Island:

  • It was named by a Dutchman who mistook the quokkas for giant rats – it means “rat nest island”.
  • The locals refer to Rottnest Island as “Rotto”.
  • The original Noongar name for Rottnest Island is Wadjemup.
  • No one is allowed to live on Rottnest unless they have a job that requires them to work on the island outside of the hours that the ferries run. For example, if you were a baker at a bakery, you could live on the island because you’d need to do your baking very early in the morning, but if you were a cashier i that bakery, you’d be required to ride the ferry to and from the island every day to get to work.
  • The island was at one point used as a prison for indigenous people. It was also used as a location for a reformatory for boys.
  • A large part of the island was de-forested as people who settled there were unable to farm, due to the poor soil, so they made their living by harvesting salt from the salt lakes, which required fire, which require cutting down trees. They are now trying to re-forest it3.

The tour guide on the Rottnest Island ferry, like the Margaret River bus tour guide, told us a few things that were just not true. Notably, she said that the government of Western Australia spent $26 billion developing Elizabeth Quay in Perth. According to Wikipedia, the government spent $440 million and then got back $134 million from selling property to developers. The tour guide on the bus told us that “quokka” is the Noongar word for “food”, but I have been unable to verify this through my extensive Googling4.

Byron Bay

As previously mentioned, the Byron Bay portion of the trip was booked with the intention of going surfing, but due to my injured hip, I was barely able to walk and so surfing, along with its required jumping up and balancing on a surfboard, was not a thing I could do. Byron Bay was beautiful though and I had a great time hanging out with Tanya and Greg.

Highlights of Byron Bay:

    • The beaches. So lovely.
      Byron BayBeach in Byron Bay
    • The ibises:

Ibis

  • I found a giant dead jellyfish on the beach. Until I found it, I had forgotten that I should be worried about getting stung by a jellyfish!

Jellyfish I found on the Beach in Byron Bay

  • Although I couldn’t go surfing, I decided to go body boarding instead. I figured since I’d be lying down on the board, my hip would not be required. What I didn’t think about was how powerful the currents would be and just trying to walk out, and then swim out, to catch a wave was really, really not pleasant on my hip. On the plus side, the water was very cold, so it helped numb the pain!
After bodyboarding

Here I am after body boarding. I look like a drowned rat.

  • Here’s a sign I saw *after* I spent a day and the following morning body boarding. It warns you that you’ll probably die from the rip current unless you follow their instructions5.

Byron Bay

  • Speaking of the dangers of the ocean, we found out after a day of playing in the ocean that a surfer was attacked by a great white shark at the next beach over from our beach right at the time we were in the ocean. The next beach over was ~20 km away, but that’s really not that far for a shark.

Newspaper article about shark attack

Newspaper article about shark attack

  • Cape Byron Lighthouse. Visiting lighthouses was starting to become a thing for me, so of course we had to check out the big one in Byron, the aptly named Cape Byron Lighthouse6.

Cape Byron Lighthouse selfie

Most easterly point of the Australian mainland

  • This tree. I seriously love this tree.

Byron Bay

  • And this tree:

Cool tree

Sydney

Highlights from Sydney:

  • The Opera House, of course. It’s really beautiful. Didn’t get a chance to see an opera, but did go check out the building.
    On the Ferry to Watson's Bay
  • Mad Spuds was a lovely place for breakfast. The owner was super friendly!
  • While out at a pub, we had a lovely chat with some locals who sat at our table, since we were just two and were at a table for four. They were a mother and son and, if I recall correctly, her other son lives in Whistler.
  • There were a few different option for touring around Sydney Harbour: you could take the public transit ferry, which is less expensive, or you could take one of the private guide tour ferries. We chose the latter because we were told that the tour guides would provide commentary, so we could learn about all the stuff we see. Big mistake. The tour guides barely said anything, so we totally wasted our money. Also, as seemed to be a trend, the tour guides (when they did bother to talk) just make stuff up. For example, they told us that Shark Island got its name because it was used as a quarantine island for animals, and any of the animals that didn’t make it, they just threw in the water and it attracted sharks. Wikipedia tells me that it got its name because the island is kind of shaped like a shark.
  • While on the harbour tour, we passed a few different locations – Fort Dennison (they had a lighthouse) and Shark Island, but we decided to check out Watson’s Bay, mostly because it shares a name with my cat. But I was really glad, because it was beautiful there. There was a cool cliff walk and I got to see Signal Hill (my second Signal Hill of 2016) and another lighthouse (I’d lost count of lighthouses by this point). There was actually a second lighthouse at Watson’s Bay that we could have gone and seen, but my limp made for slow walking and to get to the other lighthouse would have taken so long that we’d have to catch for a later ferry, so we decided to skip it to head back to the city.
Watson's Bay Cliff Walk

Cliff walk. It made me think of the Cliffs of Moher, but way smaller.

Signal Hill at Watson's Bay, Australia

Signal Hill at Watson’s Bay.

Macquarie Lighthouse

Macquarie Lighthouse

  • Luna Park has the creepiest freaking entranceway of any location ever.
    Luna Park's entrance is the creepiest clown ever
  • We walked over the Harbour Bridge – we didn’t do the walk where you actually go up top – that costs tonnes of money and also ever since the Edgewalk I’m kind of afraid of heights. Even just walking at bridge deck level freaked me out a bit.
  • The Rocks is an old area of Sydney – we did a walking tour so as to learn some history of the area. The Rocks was the original area of colonization in Sydney. It’s only been recently that Australia has come to accept its history of convictism (they didn’t even used to teach it in schools) and didn’t always persevere historical site. The Rocks is now, however, heritage protected7
  • The only spider I saw in all of Australia was in a restaurant called Il Barretto. It was large… not larger than the largest ones I’ve seen in BC, but that’s still big enough. I started to freak out a bit and a waitress asked me what was wrong. I said, “There a giant spider on the ceiling!” She glanced at it and said, “Meh. That’s not a giant spider” and then walked away. We had just finished dinner, so I just got the hell out of there.

After Sydney, we headed to Hong Kong for a couple of days, but that’s going to be another blog posting!

  1. Plus, they are wild animals so you could actually catch diseases from them! []
  2. Fun fact: My selfie, which I posted to Flickr, was included in a Buzzfeed article! Props to Cath for bringing that to my attention! I decided to take it a step further and put it the Wikipedia page for quokka []
  3. The tour guide told us a story about how a bunch of volunteers spent a weekend planting 200 tree seedlings but they didn’t realize that when they put up the fencing to protect the seedlings from hungry quokkas, they accidentally fenced in two hungry quokkas, who proceeded to eat all 200 seedlings. And now the put individual fencing around each individual seedling! []
  4. Where by “extensive” I mean I scanned the first page of Google results and didn’t see anything. []
  5. This reminds me of the time I injured my toe on rocks in the ocean in the Dominican and then saw a sign that said “beware of rocks”. []
  6. Aside: Everything in Byron Bay seemed to be named Byron. Byron Bay Brewing. Byron Surf Shop. Cape Bryon Lighthouse. They aren’t very creative with naming stuff there. []
  7. I’m pretty sure I learned a bunch more stuff, but I can’t find where I put my notes from that tour! I’ll update this post if I ever find them. []

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1,120

So it’s taken me three weeks, but I’ve finally gotten all the photos from my Australia trip uploaded1 – all 1,120 of them!

Here are some of my favourite ones:

Quokka selfie:

Quokka selfie!

I caught that Australian-specific Pokémon before I even got to my hotel in Perth:

I caught a Kangaskhan on my first day in Australia!

Didn’t actually end up going here for a drink, but couldn’t resist taking a picture of the sign at the Lucky Shag Waterfront Bar:
The Lucky Shag Pub

Absolutely no dog picnics at Bootleg Brewery in Western Australia:
Bootleg Brewing

Mammoth Cave in Western Australia was amazing:
Mammoth Cave, Western Australia

I saw a lot of lighthouses on my trip, of which this was the first one:
Lighthouse in Western Australia

I did actually go to Australia for a conference. Here’s proof that I went to it!
Conference nametag selfie

These toys were used in an activity in a workshop that I went to:
Little toys used for an activity in the pre-conference workshop I went to

I’m not even sure what to say about this one:

Freemantle, Western Australia

Just living the thug life, where “thug life” = disobeying signs in low risk situations:

Freemantle, Western Australia

This little house on Rottnest Island, Western Australia, had the name “Stark” on it. When I saw it, I yelled: “The king in the south!!!”

The King in the South!

This building in Perth had cool colour lights and the lights were changing2:

Perth, Western Australia

Sign at a Mexican restaurant in Byron Bay:

Hilarious sign

Found this dead jellyfish on the beach. Until I saw it, I had completely forgotten hat I should be worried about being stung by a jellyfish!

Jellyfish I found on the Beach in Byron Bay

I’d been to the most easterly point of North American in June, so going to the most easterly point of mainland Australia seemed like a thing to do:

Most easterly point of the Australian mainland

I like the trees in Australia – then have interesting shapes”

Byron Bay

Cool tree

Sydney Opera House:

On the Ferry to Watson's Bay

Can’t sleep. Amusement park will eat me. (Luna Park in Sydney):
Luna Park's entrance is the creepiest clown ever

At the Peak in Hong Kong. The view wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been that day due to cloudiness/smogginess/smoggy cloudiness:

The Peak

Hong Kong is big. This photo really doesn’t do it justice:

Hong Kong

The whole photo album, should anyone actually want to look at all 1,120 of them, is on Flickr.

  1. Mostly because I’ve been too busy with other things, like catching up on work and my other work. And I had to find some spare time to get rid of duplicates and photos that turned out fuzzy, and then edited them to do things like tone down shadows or turn up the brightness so the photos looked good. And then upload them all! []
  2. I got a video of it, but haven’t uploaded it yet. []

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I’m Back!

I’m back! (Actually, I have been for almost a week!) I have so much to blog about from my trip but I’m afraid I won’t be able to get to the big blog postings for a while as I’m teaching a new course this semester so that is going to take up most of my outside of work time. But I figured I could jot down a few quick thoughts on my Skytrain ride to work1 so that you at least know that I made it home in one piece. (And then I haven’t gotten around to actually taking this posting off my phone and putting it on my blog until now!)

Some things they don’t believe in in Australia:

  • Coffee makers in hotels or AirBnBs. None of the three places we stayed at in Australia2 had a coffee maker3. It’s not like they don’t drink coffee there – several of the Aussies that I met described themselves as very proud of the high quality coffee in Australia and how it is so much better than North American coffee. I guess they figure that coffee making is best left to the professionals.
  • Diet pop. Especially Diet Pepsi. A few times when I ordered a Diet Coke, I was asked “Is Coke Zero OK?” (No. No it is not.) And a couple of times I got “We are all out of that.” Given that an individual size bottle of pop cost $4, I guess it’s not that bad that I didn’t drink very much of it there.

Some things that surprised me in Australia:

  • I only saw one kangaroo (and even that was just a glimpse of one hopping along the side of the road as the bus I was on whizzed by). I also saw zero crocodiles, koala bears, and venomous snakes. Apparently movies have lied to me that such creatures are all over Australia! (Mercifully, I didn’t see any truly enormous Aussie spiders – I saw one rather large one on the ceiling in a restaurant on our last night in Sydney, but it wasn’t bigger than ones I’ve seen here). So I’ve official seen as many kangaroos in Toronto as I saw in Australia!
  • It was freaking cold in Perth. I mean, I knew it was technically still winter when we arrived (we were there for the first day of spring), but I wasn’t expecting it to get down to just 4 degrees overnight! Everyone there did say it was unseasonably cold, but it’s not like it’s usually 30 degrees there in the winter. I guess I had thought of Australia as just being hot all the time – as silly as people thinking it snows all year round in Canada, now that I think of it!
  • The toilets did not flush clockwise as taught to us all by Lisa on the Simpsons. In fact, all the toilets seemed to flush in a random chaotic pattern, not clockwise or counterclockwise. I can’t believe an animated TV show led me astray!

Anyhoo, there will be more to come on my epic trip, but I make no promises about the timeliness of such postings!

  1. Because I’m all about efficiency and also there no cell phone service on parts of the track which means I can’t play Pokémon. []
  2. Nor the place we stayed at in Hong Kong! []
  3. One place did had a French press, so at least there was that. []

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In the Sydney Airport

So now I’m in the Sydney airport, waiting for a flight to Hong Kong1. My gate is disappointingly devoid of Pokéstops, so I’m actually going to try to get some work done. But the TL;DR version of Sydney was: it’s a lovely city, we got to see numerous lighthouses2, caught many Pokémon3, walked all the kilometres4, and I’ll blog about it all in more detail when I get home.

  1. We decided that rather than do another 20 hours of flying in one day, we’d break the flight home up by stopping into Hong Kong on the way home. Neither of us have been there before, aside from our brief layover on the way to Perth. []
  2. As I’m apparently on an unintentional worldwide lighthouse tour this year – having been to lighthouses in St. John’s and Salt Spring Island prior to this trip, then ones in Western Australia and New South Wales on this trip. []
  3. Including several new ones that I didn’t have before. []
  4. My hip is considerably better than it was at the start of this trip, though I’ll still need to do some work on it when I get home. []

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At the Ballina Airport

Now I’m at the Ballina1 Airport. I have much to blog about, but I think that will have to wait until I get home, as I’m having far too much fun sightseeing and Pokémon-ing and whatnot to spend my time on my computer. But probably the most exciting thing about our time here was that there was a great white shark attack at the beach over from the beach we were boogie boarding at2 – they are big beaches, so it was about 20 km away, but I’m sure a great white could swim 20 km no problem3. The least awesome thing was the two giant cockroaches (like about 1.5 inches long) that showed up in our kitchen yesterday. Apparently having a banana on the counter was not a fantastic idea4. Also, we didn’t see a single kangaroo here, despite driving through a “kangaroos next 5 km” area twice5. The best part of the trip was that my friends from high school Tanya and Greg joined us – they are currently living in Melbourne and came out to Byron Bay to hang out, which was super awesome! But I will blog about our adventures more later – looks like it will be time to board the plane soon!

  1. Pronounced Bel-in-ah, and not Ba-leena, like I assumed before I came here. []
  2. My injured hip wasn’t up to surfing, so this was the next best thing. []
  3. Don’t worry, Mom, we didn’t see any sharks and we are leaving now! []
  4. Thank the FSM that this happened on our last day and not the first day. Neither of us slept well last night, even though Andrew killed them both and we took the banana and the garbage can outside. []
  5. But during the day, so they were probably all sleeping. []

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In the Perth Airport

I’ve been in Australia for an entire week and haven’t yet blogged anything! Usually I’d blog from the airport while I wait to leave on a trip, but when I was in the Vancouver airport waiting for my flight to Perth, by way of Hong Kong, I was frantically trying to get a reference letter done for a colleague and also had a slew of other work to do1 Preparing to go away for 2.5 weeks takes *a lot* of work – you basically have to do all the work you would have done during the 2.5 weeks before you leave. Hence, no blog posting.

Now I’m in the Perth airport – having completed the first part of the trip: a conference2, plus a few days of seeing the sites in and around Perth3, I’m now waiting for a flight to Byron Bay, by way of Sydney. It’s 11:15 pm Perth time as I write this, which means it’s only 8:15 am back home in Vancouver. It’s very strange to have lived a whole day when everyone back home is only just starting their day. We’ll fly through the night, then have a few hours layover in Sydney, followed by a flight to Ballina airport. Then I’ll get to try my hand at driving on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to. Wish me luck!

My flight is boarding, so I gotta go! See you on da flip side.

  1. E.g., lecture notes and slides for my course, putting together a CV for thing I’m applying for (Not a new job, in case you were wondering), etc. []
  2. Which was awesome! []
  3. Also awesome. I’ll blog about it all in more detail later. []

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Welcome to the World, My New Passport – I Have Big Plans for You!

PassportsMy new passport surprised me by arriving 12 days before its expected due date. It’s a 10-year passport, which means it’s got lots of pages (which I’m eager to fill up with stamps!). The pages are fancier than my previous passport1, which all contained a big maple leaf with a bunch of little maple leaves2 in the background; the new passport has a different image of Canadiana on each page – there’s Terry Fox and Nellie McClung and the last spike in the railroad and parliament buildings and symbols of Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, just to name a few. This version of the Canadian passport also contains a “contactless integrated circuit” – so it’s pretty much a cyborg.

Unlike when I got my last passport, when I had no specific plans of where I was going to go with the passport, I actually have a big international trip planned, which I just realizing that I haven’t blogged about at all! In the fall I’ll be going to Australia! I have a conference to attend in Perth3, and then my travelling companion and I will be heading to Byron Bay for some surfing, then Sydney for some citying, and then on the way home we have two days in Hong Kong. Because we have to fly home via Hong Kong, so why spend 2 hours in HK when you can spend 2 days there?

Passports

Old passport on the left, new passport on the right. Enjoy your retirement, old passport! You earned it!

In addition to getting my passport renewed, I also had to get something known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) – everyone (unless they are from New Zealand, has to get one in order to be able to enter Australia. It was a simple online application and then you don’t even need to put something in your passport; apparently you end up on some list that the airline can check before you board a plane to Australia and the borders peeps Down Under can check when you get there. So I’ve done that, booked flights, registered for the conference, booked hotels and AirBnBs in the various locations we are going to be, and researched fun stuff to do. Perth, which is in Western Australia, has all kinds of cool things we can do, including (but not limited to): desert tour with sandboarding, winery tours, visiting a haunted prison, and Rottnest Island, home to the cutest animal in existence: the quokka! Seriously guys, look at this freaking thing:

World happiest animal, Quokka

Byron Bay was chosen as our surfing location as apparently it’s a good place for beginning surfers to learn.

And speaking of surfing, let us not forget that January is a certain someone’s certain special birthday and everyone has been invited to join me for a surfing trip to Hawaii! I have done zero planning on that trip so far, despite having 7.5 years of planning time! I haven’t even figured out what part of Hawaii to go to – anyone who knows Hawaii well, I’m open to suggestions!.

My other upcoming trip on which I will be taking this new passport is to go to San Diego in November to run in the USA Half Marathon Invitational! This race is one that you have to qualify to get into – and since my Vancouver BMO half & Montreal half last year were both good enough, I was able to register! I’ve also made zero plans for that trip, though I have some Air Miles that I need to use up before next year, so I’ll likely be using those.

So, it looks like my new passport is going to get quite a workout in the first 6 months of its life with me! I wonder what other places I’ll take it in the subsequent 9.5 years?

Image Credit: Quokka photo posted by Jin Xiang on Flickr.

  1. And, if fact, all three of my previous passports, which look just like my most recently retired one. []
  2. I nearly just typed that at “maple leafs”! []
  3. Which means that I get to check item #37 off my 101 list: “Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)” []