lauantai 11. huhtikuuta 2009

Oh Sydney, my love

I have always wanted to go to Australia. Maybe just because it is so far, far away (especially so, if you happen to live in Finland). The way I had pictured it, we would be driving around Australia for four weeks. Maybe five. Diving at the Great Barrier Reef (although in my day-dream this is always mixed with fear, since I associate the reef strongly with sharks), admiring koalas and kangaroos, enjoing the great beaches and waterfalls, and the gorgeous cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

I am here now, but the rest didn't quite turn out the way I had planned: I am here on business, I am here alone, and I certainly will not stay here for five weeks. But regardless of that, so far: I love this place.

My trip could not have started better:

First great thing

I needed (or wanted) to pick up my jeans from the tailor (they needed to be shortened a bit) before I left to the airport. Unfortunately, all the company cars were taken, and I had no time for a round-trip to the tailor. So, I decided to take my changes: I took a taxi, told him I wanted to go to the airport, but needed to stop at the fabric market first for one minute, if that would be ok with him? Ok, he said. I have mostly met honest taxi drivers in Shanghai, even so, that they turn off the meter if they accidently take a longer way (which never ever happens anywhere else, at least not to me). But still, you never know. I wasn't going to leave my handback or my computer back to the taxi while I picked up my jeans, but I didn't want to loose my clothes and shoes either. Sigh. Could I really not go to Australia equipped with some other jeans? I got off the cab in the traffic lights before the fabric marker, and told the driver to wait for me in front of the main doors. And of I went, to get my jeans. I was in and out in two minutes, and got slightly worried when the taxi was nowhere to be seen when I came out. Only to find out, that he was still in the lights, and just heading towards me. Great job, I praised him and gave him a 20 yuan note, after he had gotten me to the airport via fabric market in about 50 minutes.

Second great thing

I slept like a baby during the flight. And by "like a baby", I mean that I did wake up every two hours or so, but without changing or feeding went quickly back to sleep. I think I slept seven hours altogether. That never happens. I was happy as a bird and brisk as a bee when I walked to the terminal.

Third - not so great thing, but at least I wasn't evicted

In the terminal I had a little incident. Involving a working dog. And an apple. An ashamed me. In the entry card they ask a lot of questions. You know how it goes: have you EVER been in contact with livestock during the past 30 days? No. Have your EVER been to Africa or South America during the past 30 days? No. Have you got shoes or other items that may contain soil? No. Not really. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Nope. Do you have any food, including dried, cooked, jaba jaba jaba... Yes, I have a chocolate bar and two protein bars in my bag. So I crossed the box. There were several posters reminding us passangers that we can either trough our food items away to the several available bins, or present them at the guaranteen. I didn't want to loose my protein bars, so I decided to go through the guaranteen. I wasn't in a hurry or anything. But before that, I needed to pick up my luggage. While waiting for it at the belt, I placed my cabin bag to the ground. Within a minute a woman with a working dog passed by. Except that the dog didn't want to pass by. "Do you have a dog?", the lady asked. "Actually I do", I said. Never mind that the said dog resides in Finland and I in China, I still find her black hair almost every day. So, the lady was content to move on, but the dog wasn't. So she asked if I have any food in my bag. "I do", I said again, and presented the chocolate and the protein bar. "And that's all?" she said. "Yes it is". I was sure it was all. Still, the dog was not happy to continue, but instead was happily wagging her tail: she had found something. Actually I had grapes in a plastic bag, and I still have the empty bag, I offered and showed the bag. That did not do it either. So we went through my entire bag, full of everything I might have needed during the 10,5 hour flight. Like two pairs of jeans. And we found an apple. Oops. I had totally forgotten the apple. I knew it was there, I just didn't remember it was there. I wondered if I would get a ticket, because that's what they told in all those posters: If you cross us, you'll be fined or even send back to where you came from. I didn't think they would send me back, especially when I wasn't even pass the guaranteen yet, I could have still presented my apple for them. I might have. If I had remembered I had it... But I wasn't sure how big the fine could be.

Well, I wasn't fined, and I got to keep my protein bar and chocolate. I even think the guaranteen-officer tried to flirt with me. Which leads me back to my original topic: every one, or, shall we say, every man I have met in this country has been so polite and gentleman-like that I have just been taken aback with that. I dropped a pillow in the plane, and before I had time to do anything, it was handed to me. An elevator at the train station was broken and I started to carry my bags up, only to note they were taken from me and carried up. I dropped my cardigan, and a yong man run it for me. That just does not happen in China.

I don't know yet if it is only the long Easter-weekend, but people seem so relaxed, friendly and nice, that you cannot but like this city.

Also, there are abundand options for good food, there is a lot of water and waterfront areas, sky is blue, sun is shining, and shopping is good. The city center is easily walkable, and it doesn't feel unsafe even for a lone woman. My head is spinning and I think I may have found my soulmate.

More to come, as soon as I get photos loaded to my laptop...

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