East Brisbane, Australia
New country number 10, which is a nice round number. Yesterday I had a quiet day on the beach, both in that I did very little and in that there weren’t many people around. I headed down with Austrian Eva, who I later christened ‘social butterfly’, to her delight. She has been in Bali for 7 weeks, nearly finished with her break, and seems to pop up all over the place, never with any one group for any length of time. So obviously she was on the beach and not. The morning conversation at the hostel had been overly dominated by Brits, including two “I was like going like” talkers, so I was happy to get away. A couple of Brits not staying at the hostel were always with our lovely Indonesian hosts, but headed off with Finnish Kia-like-the-car for a girls’ day, so it was just Eva sometimes, new girl Tina and me. Chilled.
Later on lovely American Rebecca headed down, though I again missed my chance to say bye, with another couple of good Brits. I managed to get a bye in to another couple of the good gang, Dave and Scottish Mark, had dinner at the hostel and chatted to the few people who were around. A peaceful evening possibly in prospect, for a change, once the 40 Norwegian students had left around 9.
Once they left, the wifi cleared, and I got my email. My flight has been changed, please call for details. Oh. I panicked a little – I was still going to the airport (wondering where the cab was – turned out he first arrived just as the Norwegians were paying individually and leaving, so couldn’t get near) and figured it would work out but obviously wasn’t paying much attention as I looked at the flight status page to which they linked and missed the word ‘cancelled’.
Probably just as well. Long faffing story short, there was a Sydney flight at the same time, I was far from the only person in the queue for Brisbane and we were to be put on a connecting flight. “Money saving” was the immediate reaction of the slightly drunken, well-travelled and very friendly man ahead of me in the queue and I reckon he was right. The plane was very nearly full, so Virgin Australia may have spotted a remarkable symmetry between the number of people booked on the two flights and the capacity of one plane. I didn’t sleep much, we left late, missing the 11.00 onward flight but getting the 12. Some may have been later, a quick decision to miss the queue at the international terminal and get the bus to the domestic – they’re not close at Sydney – saved me some time. I was too tired to argue with the lady at the bag drop who replied to my “I don’t know if I can make this one” with a “yes”, which made me think the 11.00 was being held for us, and then said “this has gone – you should have told us, your bag could have been sent to nowhere!” Well, I did start with doubt over making it, obviously go for straighter English next time.
So I was in Brisbane before 2, after we’d circled for a bit to avoid a storm. I was starving and thirsty, glad when my credit card worked on a vending machine. Finally I could stroll from the station to my ‘Queenslander’, home for the next 2.5 weeks. It was exactly as reviewed – lovely, if slightly run down, with a beautiful veranda, and no sign of the ‘house captain’ who should have expected me at midday. Just as well really, given that he works and it was now nearer 3. As I’d figured, the rooms here are let out while the owners travel, so I have company without it being quite hostel-like, with a Japanese student, French graphic designer and a French nurse. House captain Ricky is Chinese, also working. The nurse disappears to India tomorrow so I may yet have a new housemate, but it’s nice to change the pattern a bit, particularly as I’m here for a while and have just been in a party capital.
The only thing that didn’t work so well was my run. I delayed till 5, in case it was hot and because I had no keys so wanted to make sure others would be around. It’s nowhere near as hot as Bali – or Malaysia and Thailand, for that matter – so it probably wasn’t necessary to wait, and just meant I ran into a huge storm and cut the run very short. Tomorrow I’ll explore.
Reading: Malcolm Gladwell, Blink.