Day 1 - Right At Home
I’ve never been good with anticipation, too much time to think, mull things over, come up with all the reasons why, why not. Flying? Pass. I’d rather go by road. Sure it takes longer but at least the bumps aren’t felt whilst at however many thousand feet and not travelling at a cruising speed in the proximity of 900 km/h.
Never mind, I had bigger problems on the morning of my departure, packing my bag. I am to be away for just two weeks and had to pay seventy dollars in excess baggage and, that was after removing two t-shirts and a third pair of jeans before leaving home. Seriously, if it weren’t for having to take a sleeping bag I would have so much more room for the long list of clothes I know I won’t wear. The culling of those three items had meant I could do the zip up though and this gave me a short-lived sense of pride. With half and hour to spare before my lift to the airport I had time to reassess but I was exhausted after zipping my pack so I decided should the need arise I might just post my Sydney gear home before continuing on my way. I wouldn’t be needing my runners and gym gear and there was probably another pair of shoes and some tops that could go too.
You might have guessed I don’t pack light, never have and I’m probably unlikely to start. I do like the idea of it though. Does that count? A friend dropped me and my 26kg of luggage at the airport. Thank God for wheels, I used to carry this much on my back like a turtle and have to load my home from a seated position in order to be able to stand up. I'm too old for that now and why would you bother if you didn’t have to.
I was only 3kg over but as I had also efficiently packed my hand luggage in order to maximise available space there was no “you could just remove the 3kgs and take them on board with you.” I wasn’t going to board the plane with a fully loaded backpack and an arm full of miscellaneous items. And they would be, I travel with a lot of miscellaneous items. Like jelly beans for instance, they offer these in the chemist as you are about to pay for more essential items, like toothpaste. I figured they could come in handy should I be stranded for a long period of time without suitable sustenance. I’d thrown the last pack out - I’d never needed them and I don’t like them enough to open them just for general consumption. I’m sure the mosquito net, second beanie and fourth pair of shorts will come in handy too.
I popped two combination locks on my pack before leaving home. Concerned I would need to add more I didn’t shift the numbers around to lock them there and then. I remembered they were still unlocked mid-flight and wondered if I might still have two when I landed. I had one.
I’ve mentioned already flying isn’t my favourite mode of transport and I was certain the lady behind me felt the same, in fact I’m quite sure she would rather have been crossing Bass Strait in a dingy. I felt for her. It was clear the flight was a huge challenge both physically and mentally and upon landing had taken its toll. We all have our limits and I will reach mine well before others in some cases but this lady was making me look like an indifferent frequent flyer.
My bag was up in the overhead locker, as was my book so rather than get up I read the in-flight magazine, ate my complementary hotel soap sized muesli bar (does it take anyone else two attempts to spell muesli correctly) and spring cleaned my mobile contents.
Five years ago in the Margaret River on a wine tour during the first stage of The Bold Line I met Kelly and Alistair and we’ve been friends ever since. It was their smiling faces, along with their nine month old daughter I saw as I walked off the plane. Little Ashley was waving. She waved at me on and off all day, and at complete strangers in the airport and a waiter.
The Prince Wine Store was having a wine tasting, all Tasmanian wines. Fitting then that Kelly and Al bring along their own token Tasmanian, it took us right back to the Margaret River wine tour - though back then Ashley wasn’t strapped to the front of Al’s chest trying to put her hand in his wine glass.
After making a purchase to take to dinner that evening we headed for my Airbnb accommodation.
I’ve not had much experience with Airnbb. Maui a couple of years back in a great little town called Paia has been my only one to date. The place was great, but in the description it had said it was close to town. I suppose it was, if you like walking on the edge of the highway which quite literally had enough space to walk single file with the heat from the bitumen redesigning the tread on your runners. I was also left with the distinct feeling of having let myself into someone’s house and that I wasn't meant to be there. I was, I'm sure it was the right house.
Anyway I decided to give it another go. Kelly and Al live in Bellevue Hill and I wanted to be nearby so we could meet up each day. I found a great little place about twenty minutes walk from them. I have my own room with a little study and a fabulous bathroom next door. It’s in someone else's house mind you but I kind of like that too. I’m yet to see anyone and feel right at home. I lay on the bed and tapped away on my laptop for an hour or so before heading out to dinner in Double Bay for a Malaysian feast, Ashley had a fruit fest and tried to steal our roti bread, she's very cute.
Tip: Watch out for ornamental heads on heavy metal stands in the hallways of other people’s homes. Or better yet, turn on the hallway lights.
I ran straight into it and put my arms around the whole lot to save it tumbling over, or I think that’s what I was doing. I can’t be sure, it was dark.
Track: Keeping Your Head Up - Birdy