Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Paradise Found.

Well we nearly didn't make it to Oz. At Col airport we were asked where our Australian visas were. Australian visas?? We had forgotten we needed them, and our sri lankan travel agent hadn't thought to tell us we needed visas. More of him later....... Thank goodness for modern technology and online visas. A hyper efficient Singaporean sorted it for us at Changi airport (the airport that makes flying seem quite civilised) though not before M's parents had applied online for us and not succeeded so we paid twice and had 2 visas each in the end.

I must say when we arrived in Australia, I felt like Borat (in awful movie of same name, only seen) arriving from Kazakhstan to this 'utopia' of clean streets, 10+ types of coffee, child friendly, fantastic play grounds, cycle tracks, pristine suburbs, beach and surf 3 min from your house, supermarkets crammed with yummy food, etc etc.Acres and acres of parkland within the city for mountain biking, hiking and even riding, absolutely stunning sports facilities. And such courteous drivers! I could be sniffy and say it was all too perfect and sanitised and unreal, but nah, been in Sri Lanka too long for that. I was lapping it up and asking for more.

It was a very laid back Christmas, lots of bbqs, swimming on Christmas day. Wonderfully relaxing and therapeutic. It's so nice when, spending a day doing everyday things, doesn't cause massive stress and frustration. In a slightly amusing twist, down at Margaret River wine area in the South, which is colder than Perth (and the sea seemed a lot colder) us Brits were shivering on the beach in 24 degrees, wearing fleeces whilst the Aussies were all stripped off, swimming etc. Obviously we're too acclimatised to 35' + humidity.

Our 6 yr old fed kangaroos out of his hand at a kids 'farm', saw koalas at Yancep National park and Quokkas (marsupial only found on Rottnest island) which are rather too much like rats with kangaroo backlegs for my liking (more of rats later.....)

He also had a great time snorkelling for 1st time, even venturing out on his own at the end. He also rediscovered biking, not having done it for 10 months and got seriously addicted again. He also enjoyed being towed round behind a motor boat in a 'sea biscuit'. My daughter metamorphed overnight into a pink and girly girl, on arrival in Oz. Aided perhaps by her aunt giving her a Barbie cup, plate, bowl and mat AND Barbie pink duvet. Suddenly everything had to be pink, she was even demanding pink medicine at one point. And insisting on wearing only pink clothes, because it's "not fair" to wear other colours........Honestly where does this pink gene come from? She is thankfully still into trains, planes and tractors (probably only pink ones) and loves climbing. She also announces at frequent intervals "I'm a lady, me" with the eloquent syntax of Eliza Doolittle, followed by one of her very unrealistic pretend burps. Needless to say the males in our family find this hilarious and egg her on with applause at having acquired this important life skill.....

We had the 1st of many what we call "Welcome back to Sri Lanka" moments, on trying to leave Australia. I know it's not very culturally sensitive, but there you go. We arrive at the airport on Thurs 4th to fly to Singapore and spend 2 days there. We had changed our flight to 2 days earlier than originally intended (or rather our travel agent had) so we could spend some time in Singapore.

We go to the airport only to be told we weren't on their list and we weren't on that flight which was oversold and went chokka block. This after M had been told by our (ex-) travel agent that our booking had been changed and so had paid the necessary fee to change our booking. M even said he needed this confirmation in writing to present to the airline staff, and was given this. But the travel agent hadn't actually booked us on the flight. It looks like he had merely wait-listed us and told us it was all confirmed. Not sure if the guy didn't want to tell us we couldn't get on that flight - Asians hate to say no and lose face etc - or whether he was just utterly incompetent and hadn't actually realised what he had to do to change a booking. Either way it's not looking good for the IATA award ceremony for him.

But every cloud has a silver lining, or not..........In December at that St Andrews Ball we went to, I won a ticket to Singapore. Except as we decided to save on 3 other fares, and spend time in Singapore on our way home from Oz, rather than making a special trip there, I gave the other ticket away. Agh!! A colleague of M's has a Singaporean girlfriend, so at least we were doing our bit in the cause of true love.....

No comments: