Our hellish itinerary continues! After a three-hour delay in Shanghai due to mechanical failure, we’re finally out of their cramped delayed flight lounge and onto a plane bound for Sydney.
Several hours of intermittent sleep later, we awaken to questionable airline food and a 30 000-foot view of the Australian outback somewhere way out over Queensland. We’ve already missed our connecting flight out of Sydney, but there’s nothing we can do about that up here!
Flying into Sydney. No sign of the famous Opera House, but our flight path isn’t headed that way. The Australian customs officers seem friendly enough, definitely more cheerful than their American counterparts. On our visitor entry form, we have to answer Yes to two questions:
- Are you bringing any medications into the country? (Malarone, Ciproflaxcin, Ibuprofen, Maalox.)
- Have you been near a farm, stream, or wilderness area in the last 30 days? (Just went canoeing down the Russian River last weekend.)
There are Quarantine signs everywhere in the airport warning us not to bring fruit, vegetables, wooden products, or whole raw chickens into the pristine Australian ecosystem. Valkyrie tries to get a video of the Coriolis effect in action, but to no avail: the airport toilets flush straight down without swirling.
Finally we reach the Qantas desk, where we get some good news: they can put us on a flight to Cairns within the hour! It’s not quite tourist high season, so there’s plenty of space on these flights. We sit next to Adam, who shows us enough hand-drawn Pokémon and Internet meme images to make us feel right at home; he also gives us some tips on stuff to do in the Cairns area.
Cairns at last! We land around 4:30 pm local time, which is 11:30 pm PST – or nearly 36 hours after our departure from SFO. We’re both exhausted, so it’s a good thing that our Airbnb host is waiting for us just out of the gate. Our bags emerge speedily from the carousel, and we’re soon off past the Botanical Gardens on our way up to Bayview Heights.
Despite being dog-tired, we opt to head back into town for some dinner; it always helps to eat on the right schedule! We grab some cheap maki sushi from the food court in the Night Markets and stroll along the Esplanade, watching swarms of fruit bats arc through the dusk sky. There are some displays about the history of Cairns and the local wildlife along the boardwalk, but we’re far too tired to absorb any of it – so we grab the next bus back up to Bayview Heights.
The busses here are super-friendly, and the bus driver even has change! We almost pitch the smaller coins, but stop when we realize they’re worth two dollars each. (The 50-cent coins are about five times as large and heavy.)
Back at home, we collapse into bed. We hope to explore a bit more tomorrow…