Before I can get into trip details, I have to share a few pesky little things that happened in December called “overseas visitors” and “Christmas” and “LittleB’s birthday”.
First of all, mid-December was especially exciting because my parents came to visit! They arrived on the last day of school, but wisely chose to stay in and sleep off their 30-hour flight rather than go to the end-of-term assembly. What’s that? You would have gone, out of grandparental obligation? Well, the next time you are sleep deprived on the wrong side of the world, I will force you to watch two hours of awkward elementary school kids performing off-key songs and dancing to Gangnam Style. Or as J planned to do: bounce a basketball and sing “Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?” by Sharon, Lois and Bram at the same time (she can’t do either very well).
Unfortunately, my parents were here for the week before our travels when I was fresh off bed rest from my horrible back injury – so I wasn’t able to take off much time, having used up all my work goodwill the previous week. B got the lucky job of showing them around town. This consisted of going to the one mall, swimming at my work and touring the botanical gardens. Surprise, they managed to accomplish all three that week!
We always like going to the botanical gardens here. They’re so strangely unkempt. As if someone just put a fence around a normal forest and started charging admission. There are some nice areas, like the orchid house and the great lawn (it is literally just a big lawn), but the rest is rather overgrown and, frankly, a little boring. To be fair, I’ve heard that there are a number of unusual species kept there, which would probably be more exciting if I knew anything about unusual species of tropical trees. I don’t. Instead, we are usually the exciting thing for the locals – and as usual, everyone wants a picture with us instead of the trees. When B took my parents, they were swarmed by local students who, for some bizarre reason, were trying to get my father to sing for them. My father is not a singer, and I’m certain he doesn’t look like any Indonesian singers, so I have no idea why this was even a thing. Who randomly asks strangers to sing for them? Indonesian school kids, that’s who. (He declined.)
We also took my parents for a swanky Christmas brunch at a hotel in Jarkarta. Those are always a good excuse to eat too much. At least they had some really impressive Christmas decorations!
Because we were leaving for our travels on Dec 22, we would be on the road for both Christmas and LittleB’s birthday. I decided it would be best if we had those celebrations beforehand – I’d like to say it was because having Christmas at home is more special, but really I just didn’t want to bother bringing presents with me either there or back home again. So… I wrote a special letter to Santa asking him to have Christmas early, on Dec 21. As it turned out, he was happy to comply! Christmas morning was fun, with some nice presents for the kids and some Baileys for the adults. We did LittleB’s birthday early too, and he got a nice little haul for turning 7!
On Sunday, we piled into a van I rented from work (our car was too small for all of us) and headed to the airport. Now, we have missed a flight before so we’re a bit airport-wary, and many other folks had been saying the airport traffic was really bad around then, so we left about 7 hours early for the flight. Of course, that was the one day when no one else was on the road, so it only took us an hour to get there. There’s not much to do in the Jakarta airport. We stood around for a while… we watched tour groups of Indonesian pilgrims pile through the airport… the kids cried a bit… finally check-in opened… then we spent another few hours waiting on the other side… Anyway, we eventually made it to Sydney!
Our first night in Sydney was rather uneventful. We picked up a van from the airport, and after B nearly had his fingers cut off by slamming them in the car door, we headed into the city. We had the morning to kill before we could check into our hotel on the outskirts of town. We booked something farther out because we were heading West into the Blue Mountains the next day, so staying downtown would have been silly. Anyway, it turned out we stayed in the sort of low-income, industrial area of the suburbs. Food options were a bit limited, but we managed to find our way to the Chinatown area and enjoyed some awesome bbq pork buns, as well as a really tasty Italian dinner nearby. We needed to conserve our energy for the real fun when we headed out the next day! But that’s the next post. Stay tuned!