Saturday, February 1, 2014

First Day In Brisbane

I woke up at 5:30 am today, which is normally unheard of, but hey that's 2pm at home. I have a lot to talk about because I have been preblogging notes on my feelings and events that have been going on, but I haven't had access to the internet until now, and last night I was exhausted. I will also apologize in advance if there are any mistakes in this post, because I have a tendency to ramble, and I only have a small window to get my thoughts down. So lets check my notes, shall we?

Day of Before Land:
On January 30 I landed in Los Angles and after waiting in the Business Lounge with my Dad for a few hours, we went down to our gate. What my tired mind decided to observe was what songs were lulling us before we got onto our Qantas flight.  Let's see if you can spot a theme! Celine Dion, John Mayor (Daughters), D.H.T (Listen to Your Heart), Adele (Rolling in the Deep) is the list of songs. What do you thing? Is the airport trying to get us into a pleasant mood? I think the motive here is to prevent angst, exhausted travelers from having terrible outbursts.

The second thing I noticed as a way to entertain my mind while standing around in a limbo between one flight connection and another was that there was a Best Buy Express vending machine! Yes, an all time low for Commercial America. They were hoping that someone would have lost or forgotten their phone, camera, headset, or other important technological necessity for traveling.

I know at this point you are thinking all I am is complaining, but I am rehashing the emotions I felt at that time. And travel can make you cranky. However, if I flashback a little, you would know that I was enjoying some peppery pizza for dinner while chatting with my sister about her internship before she went to bed. Then, while waiting at Los Angle's huge second floor Business Lunge I had one of the softest chocolate chip cookies I can remember, and drinking a Mocha from their fancy coffee making machine, although the coffee made me quite hyper in addition to the adrenalin coursing through my body from the excitement of what was to come. We kept busy with our lay over time of three hours by chatting up about Johnny Cash's history, and we made some attempts at learning the basics of cricket rules. Australian kids probably know more than me about the rules of cricket. I have a little better grasp of it, especially because of its similarity to baseball.

When we finally got off the ground, heading further West across the Pacific, we got our dinners. I was curious to see the results of my dinner because I had decided to try out the online request for a dietary preference. It was called Vegetarian (lacto ovo). What's lacto ovo you might ask? It's quite simple if you break it down, especially for someone such as myself who has studied spanish. Lacto means milk and ovo is for egg, so a Lacto Ovo Vegetarian is a vegetarian who opts to still eat food with milk and eggs. The meal ended up consisting of spaghetti with cheese and a side of a fruit cup and bread roll.

Now, flash forwarding a few hours of watching a Canadian movie I had been wanting to see called "In a World" and playing around with the personal tv which had such a range of options varying from monitoring the flight path to movies, tv shows, music, games, etc. We definitely weren't going to be bored, and I almost didn't need entertainments that I had brought like a crossword and Sudoku book because they were already available. Anyway, I am rambling. I was about to flash forward: it was 2 am in Brisbane, Australia and we had just crossed the equator. We were at the point in our flight where the time left was equivalent to our flight from North Carolina to California. It was the last 6 hour home stretch. I had slept on and off, but I could tell my body was straining to comply with such a long trip, as my muscles ached and were sore for no other reason than the lack of use. The less cramped space of this cabin than the LAX flight now seemed (also literally) miles away as the comfy chairs turned stiff and the fuzzy blankets turned cold. I was grateful that my Dad had asked me to sit on the end seat with the expectation that I would get up to go to the toilet more because it allowed me to have a little extra leg room.

 It was during these parts of travel (the wee hours of the night and halfway through a 13 hour flight) that you ask yourself why are you doing this? Yet, then I started to picture my destination, and extracted myself from my current state to go into Lala Land (I couldn't help it. I to use that description to explain my imagination because that's what my Dad had pointed out was the aptly given nickname for LA) where there's still sun and space in my mind's eye.

My as my preblogging notes said at that time. "Good morning January 31 it would have been to my NC people and a continuum of night and sweet dreams of what is to come, but still out of reach but almost at my fingertips."

Day After Land:
I have lost a day. It's February 1rst, Saturday a little past 10am (though we landed at 8am, but nothing to interesting in between this time frame). The first thought I had when I stepped outside was, "This breeze is delicious!" After feeling like I was going to fall asleep standing up during the pain stacking few minutes of waiting once the seat belt sing was off, I felt refreshed by natural sunlight.

We got checked into our hotel by noon and went out to find some lunch. As we took our 8 minute walk to the main strip, Queens Street, I noticed what a striking contrast of architecture there was in the CBD (Central Business District). Victorian aged buildings from the late 1800's stood side-by-side with 20th century alienesque buildings. There was one building in particular that my dad pointed out was new called the Mereton, but I liked calling the lipstick building because it looked like a gigantic lipstick case with a small, thin, white line horizontally wrapping around the whole center of the cylindrical building for where you separate the bottom from the top of a lipstick case. I also observed the people and their style of dressing. I saw quite a few people with their hair dyed every range of the red color scheme possible. I was also proud to see not one, but TWO women wearing mustache T-shirts, much like the one my Mom got me for Christmas. A huge majority of the people were of Chinese decent, which makes sense, since China is close by. I saw some pre-Chinese New Year celebratory festival dragons (the people who dress as a dragon and dance in a hypnotizing motion) and lanterns.
The outdoor market was very busy since it was a beautiful 24 degrees Celsius with a light breeze, much like Florida weather on a Saturday. There were couples holding hands, friends getting coffee and lunch, and lots of shoppers going from place to place in the close enclosed shopping center (they sometimes call malls arcades by-the-way). Our particular goals were to find some food and buy me a prepaid phone plan. I now officially have an Australian phone number!

That same day, it took some time to find a place that my dad was satisfied with eating at. It became almost a hunt for food like in the caveman days. He had his eyes  so set on eating by the riverside, that when we discovered there wasn’t any place that did that, we were lost (not lost by direction though; Brisbane’s CBD is pretty easy  to navigate). We finally seated ourselves at a restaurant called JoJo’s. It was the most interesting spaghetti I had ever had. I had never experienced spaghetti where there was more vegetables than there was sauce. It was a simple buttered spaghetti, but the contents made it more colorful and great to eat than any sauce ever has. Although, you must remember by this time I would have eaten anything placed in front of me. The contents consisted of peas, stringed carrot strips, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and (drum roll) pumpkin! The pumpkin was actually really delicious, and I don’t normally like pumpkin out of the squashes I have tried.

The reason it ended up taking so long before we sat down to eat is because we were also hunting for a phone. The optus shop my dad had scooped out before we even got in the country was closed, and another one looked to be under repairs. We ended up realizing we must have walked by the new one twice before we saw it. I now officially have an Australian phone number!

 By 6pm (3am at home), I was a shell of my original self. I felt purposeless. It was like looking at a zombie in the mirror, craving brains but not knowing that’s what I craved. I had a lovely day of walking in perfect weekend outdoor park weather, until walking turned to trudging and trudging turned to dragging (crawling would have been the next level, but that would be an exaggeration). I definitely had mild blisters on my feet, yet the only way we felt most awake was by walking, so we kept it up until after 7pm. Just like finally getting off your bike after a long trek, you don’t realize you’re sore until you get off. And once you do get off the bike, it’s hard to get back on again.

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