Australia 2011: Day 1

Unlike many of the travels I’ve been on, I’ve actually already been to Australia, back in 1997.  I have exciting memories of the trip, because I was fairly young and flying there to work on a contract at a tradeshow in Sydney.  It was the first time I’d flown anywhere out of the country save for visiting family in Hong Kong.  The strange thing was that at age 19, I’d done more business travel than personal.

On that trip, my parents encouraged me to visit our relatives in Melbourne.   I met my cousins Karen and Bonnie, then also teenagers.  I kept in touch over the years and now we return to Australia for Karen’s wedding 15 years later.

Our trip, starts by flying through Los Angeles to Auckland, then finally to Sydney.   We will then go to Darwin, on the north, where we will take a tour of Kakadu National Park.  I will fend off predators in the wild by tossing lenses and aircards at them until we leave for Uluru, via Alice Springs.  Uluru also known as Ayers Rock.   From there, we will fly to Melbourne. On the return, I have the honour of serving on the FIRST Lego League World Festival judging panel which will take me through St. Louis, Missouri.

Coming back to Sydney is an exercise of deja vu.  Like when I visited Vancouver a few years ago, looking out to the skyline was partially familiar yet different.  As we headed towards Darling Harbour, the slanted streets leading up to the ANZ Tower were reminiscent of wandering around in 1997 after the tradeshow let out.  Even more so, when we checked in, unbeknowst into the exact same hotel from fourteen years ago.

This afternoon we walked out on the bridge across Darling Harbour, now a bustling shoal of tourism, retail and eateries nestled around the water.  Gathered at water’s edge was a band of musicians, gathered from the Sydney Ambulance Service, playing old standards to a crowd of Sunday visitors.  Seagulls perched onto the mooring posts as the crowds strolled by, kids scurrying along with their scooters and parents lining them up for family photos with the Sydney skyline.

In the evening, we ventured out past the Darling Harbour eateries onwards to Sydney’s Chinatown, where we found several different types of Asian cuisine.  While Toronto often has common types of Asian restaurants based on the immigrants which set up shop there, the selection here reflects Australia’s more varied connection to the Pacific Rim, including Indonesia, Malaysian and Japanese food.  I didn’t know very much about them, despite a staple diet of Food Network shows, so it was interesting to see.  The area seemed to be a place many locals went to, especially young Asian-Australians out on dates and with their friends.

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