Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dec 25 & 26 - Travel Days

So... despite all my worries, we actually made it to Melbourne and then on to Mount Gambier. While we have flown through the Bangalore airport before, I'm not sure what I expected. There is only 1 international terminal and its really a glorified bus station. Considering how many people fly in and out of Bangalore every day, its a wonder that they get here at all. It also explains why they have flights leaving and coming 24 hours a day. At least we knew we were at the right gate. The flight to Malaysia (to change planes to get to Melbourne) was the worst part. We left at 12:30am and Billy got a case of the "Kay's". I had flash backs of our plane trip from hell to Michigan when Kay stayed awake until 5:30am running wild through the airport. He refused to go to sleep. Its a 4 hour flight and he FINALLY fell asleep at 3:30am. Nice. It didnt help that they keep the lights on in the cabin until 2:45am even though everyone on the plane was trying to sleep. It was actually a pretty good airline (Malaysian air) and they even served beer/screwdriver as a "welcome on board" drink.

We hit KulaLumpar (sp?) about 4:45am and had a 2 hour lay over. Now, this is a REALLY nice airport, it reminds me of Seoul. We even saw a Starbucks! Yummy! The flight to Melbourne (8 hrs) was actually pretty manageable. Billy and Kay passed out for about 4 hours and Jimmy made a new friend. There was no easy way to sit 2 adults and 3 kids (that need supervision) on this flight, so Jimmy ended up across the aisle from me. He was NOT happy about it. He was sitting by this great big (6'4") Brit named Morris. I took it as a good sign that my grandfathers name was Morris. Luckily Morris travels a lot and was very patient with Jimmy. Our seats each had their own TV monitors and the movies/tv/games were all on demand. So, Morris showed Jimmy how to play video games and we didnt hear from him for about 4 hours as well. Thank God for Morris. I wanted to give him a hug when it was over, but he just said "I've sat by worse". I'm sure he has. When we were deboarding the plane, Jimmy said "Wow, you are a big guy, Morris." In more ways than 1!

We got into Melbourne about 9:00pm and after waiting forever for our luggage, customs, car, etc...Tom braved driving on the "other" side of the road and I tried not to push the brake or flinch every 2 minutes. The kids kept asking why Daddy was driving and where was Saravanan. We reached the hotel and needed to find food. Keep in mind, its Christmas day 11:00pm. Nothing was open, but I found an IGA and loaded up on premade sandwiches/beer/juice and chips. We ate and passed out.

The next day we had to drag the kids out of bed at 9:00am to get going for our 5 hour drive to Mount Gambier. The drive was amazing. We were basically heading south west towards the Southern Ocean. It reminde me of a strange combination of Nebraska and California. Flat as far as the eye could see and miles upon miles of golden wheat fields, cattle and sheep. Then, out of no where, you'd be heading down hill, just to hit the "bottom" and go up again. In MN, if you do that, you usually end up at a river or something at the bottom of the hill. Not here, just random down hills followed by flat flat flat. It turns out Australia is experiencing a major drought (hence the brown fields) and was once under the ocean. So, all those sudden hills were like the tiering of the ocean floor. Very cool.

They are also MAJORLY bike friendly. It is legal and almost encouraged for bicyclists to ride on the highways. They have signs and paths all marked out. Wendy, you would have been in heaven! We saw tons of cyclists.

They also seemed very concerned about people falling asleep at the wheel. There were signs posted everywhere "Arrive alive, Revive! Power Nap! Nap area 2 kms, etc." I guess loads of people die every year from falling asleep as they are driving across the country.

Also, every town has a McDonalds. Now, keep in mind that we have only seen 1 McDonalds during our whole time in India. So, the kids were going crazy. Every town had a McDonalds and the kids would "magically" have to go to the bathroom when ever they saw one. "Hey, I have a good idea Dad, let's stop at Old McDonalds to go potty". Its a wonder we made it to Mount Gambier.

We reached about 3pm and our friends (Leanne, Duane and Cooper) met us on the highway on the way into town. We all jumped out our cars for hugs and greetings. It was SO incredible to see them again after 3 years. We all had big big smiles on our faces.