October 3, 2011

Detour to Australia

It was all going so well. I had made it to three island countries in the Pacific: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. All of them were interesting in their own way, if a bit small.

OK, small isn’t the word: they were tiny. There is literally one road in Majuru, the capital of the Marshall Islands. Someone wrote me and said they had spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. What did I think of it? I said it was nice enough, but would have been a long two years for me.

After that I had a side trip to Uzbekistan, which greatly exceeded expectations. I went for a long run and wandered, feeling like my old traveling self.

Then I flew on to Brisbane, Australia—a major country I’d never made it to for some reason. Yep, I’m well over 150 countries now, but had never been Down Under. I had hoped to do a book tour in Oz this year, but it’s been pushed into 2012.

At any rate, my visit to Brisbane was only transit—I was going on to Nauru—so because Australia is such a special place, I wasn’t going to count such a short stop as a country visit. The plan was to put it off until I could appreciate it properly, the theory being that I’ll count a short stop in Micronesia as a country visit, but not one in the great Australia.

Until, that is, I got stuck.

After a fun day trip in the city (I actually played the role of tourist for once), I pulled up to the counter of “Our Airline” in BNE airport. Yes, the airline is actually called Our Airline—it’s on the shortlist for “most random airline name” in the world.

I was glad that everything had gone so well on this trip. Four new countries! Getting so many at one time is tough for me these days, with less than thirty to go. And now I’d be going to my fifth, and a difficult one at that.

Most people haven’t heard much about Nauru. You can get the gist of it here—in short, it’s the world’s smallest island that is also a country. About 7,000 people live there, and as I soon discovered, less than ten people visit on the average week.

I said hello to the friendly Our Airline representative.

“Do you have any baggage?” she asked.

Of course not. I might travel with vodka in 3-ounce bottles on occasion, but I’d never, ever check a bag.

“And where is your visa for Nauru?”

Uh…. my visa?

That’s when I realized I had a BIG problem. A visa for Nauru? No visa, no boarding pass? You’re kidding.

Oh, I guess you’re not. Wow.

Of course this was all my fault, but I had at least dutifully checked with my visa service before leaving on the trip. You can see what they said about tourist visas and Nauru in this screenshot:

“Visa not required… but actually it is.”

Of course, VisaHQ is not the judge of who actually gets to visit the country. For that, I met the consulate at the airport, who was working an adjacent check-in counter. Yes, it appears that Nauru’s high representative to Australia (and therefore the world, since they don’t seem to have any other embassies) works the night shift at Brisbane airport. This makes for a good story, but didn’t help much with my visa—she was busy arranging oversized baggage and said that immigration questions could only be handled at her day job. What to do next?

I immediately began thinking of alternatives. What else could I do? Where else could I go? I knew I’d need to get online to figure things out as quickly as possible. It was almost the next day and I had no plane ticket, no hotel, and no plan.

On Australia and the Internet

At this point it would be good to mention an interesting fact about Australia. I’ve long been obsessed with visiting Oz, and there are many great things about the country. One challenge for the modern traveler, however, is that for all practical purposes, the internet has not actually arrived in Australia yet.

I had been warned of this fact by fellow travelers, as well as numerous Australians who have traveled abroad and experienced the wonders of easily accessible WiFi, only to return home to the dark ages. (Presumably they pop over to New Zealand to read their email.)

This fact is relevant because Brisbane airport is quite spiffy and modern, but seemingly has no WiFi of any kind in the landside area. I was directed instead to an “internet cafe” where I could attempt to sort myself out. The “internet cafe” consisted of an old desktop computer sitting in the middle of a food court (seriously) where users insert coins in $6 increments (not making this up) to pay for some sort of ancient connection that allows for a single browser tab at a time. I had seen a setup like this once before, about ten years ago, somewhere in rural Africa. I felt like I was in a museum: “Kids, this is what the internet used to be like before you were born.”

Conceptual model of Brisbane internet cafe — slightly exaggerated

Anyway, I was stuck—at 11pm with nowhere to be except the world’s smallest island country, which wasn’t able to welcome me due to my lack of a visa. My coinage at the vintage Internet cafe (“the world’s best 1994 internet service”) had expired, and there was… nothing… I… could… do.

In situations like these I try to take a mental step back and think about possibilities. Sometimes you can fight out the visa argument with the airline staff and win. Had I been better prepared, I have little doubt I could have got on that flight. My first mistake was not further researching the visa situation, but the second one was not having a good story at check-in. A good story goes a long way, but looking dumbfounded usually doesn’t.

I eventually made it back to my transit hotel in Brisbane, where I was actually able to get online and explore options. I ordered a drink right before the bar closed at midnight and considered various ideas. Vanuatu… wouldn’t work. Solomon Islands… the flights were all sold out.

Kiribati and Tuvalu, the final remaining countries in the region, were too far and also had limited flight schedules. (I’m going there in January, and will now need to see about adding on Nauru.)

Accepting defeat, my next thought was to pack it in early and return home. I was booked for four days later on a Qantas award ticket out of Melbourne, so I called American Airlines to see about changing the date… no luck. Everything was filled up.

Then I thought of a novel idea: hey, maybe I could be a real traveler instead of a country-collector. Whoa. What an idea. Let’s visit Sydney!

Impromptu Visit to the World’s Greatest City

I thought about renting a car and driving down the coast, and if I was with someone or had more time, I might have done so. But I found a budget flight for $145 and hopped on down. And let me tell you… I had a magical visit to Sydney.

I went to the Opera House and was appropriately awed at the view.

I went on a three-hour tour and actually stayed for two hours of it, a record for me. I heard jokes about Australian convicts and New Zealand sheep-lovers. I learned about boomerangs.

I ran in the Botanic Gardens.

I drank Americanos and lattes during the day (translation guide: these are known as long blacks and flat whites in the local language) and merlot and cabernet sauvignon at night (no translation required).

I wandered and wandered. In short, I had FUN. People ask if I “have fun” when I travel, and I always find this a bizarre question. Fun? Travel is not always about fun; sometimes it’s about self-discovery, challenge, and connection with others.

But in Sydney, I did in fact have fun, and I wanted to stay longer. Now I see what all the fuss was about. Australia is still working on the internet, but they do coffee, wine, and wandering as well as anywhere.

I’m not sure why I never made it before, but I hope to come back… often. Sign me up, Australia. I wish I could have made it to Nauru, but I’m grateful for the detour.

***

Question for anyone who is actually still reading:

Have you ever been on an unexpected detour? What happened, and where did you go?

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Image: LGM

Comment on this article

86 Responses to “Detour to Australia”

  1. I was actually in the air between London and Denver, Colorado when the twin towers were hit on 9/11. Because we were only a third of the way through our flight and had enough fuel to return to London, the flight crew turned us around and headed back to Heathrow. Then we got stuck there and couldn’t get a flight back to the States until a week later.

    It was a completely awful reason to be stuck, but since we had nothing else to do, we used that time to tour some cities around the London area. We saw the gorgeous city of Bath, visited Stonehenge, and went punting through the river Cam in Cambridge. The Brits were kind and compassionate – everyone we met asked if we were stuck and inquired about how we were doing. It was actually a fabulous detour.

  2. My friend and I went on a trip to the island of Rhodes in Greece, but found ourselves there in the first week of tourist season. It was beautiful, but boring and cold. After a day or 2, we had seen all we needed to see and decided to take a side trip to Budapest, Hungary, to visit my brother and his girlfriend who were living there at the time. We had a wonderful impromptu trip, seeing the amazing architecture, the beautiful bridges spanning the Danube, and even wound up there during a national holiday and got to attend an outdoor festival in celebration. We flew back to Athens 3 days later, as that was where our plane back to the US was leaving from the next morning, but had no hotel. We wandered the town, found a room for the night, and had a wonderful final evening. We ate dinner and chatted with the locals in the town square. Then we met some American and South African tourists, and spent the rest of the night with them in a local bar having drinks and telling stories. It’s amazing what you can do when you *don’t* plan every last detail of your trip.

  3. We added a quick visit to Switzerland while we were in the French Alps. It was 30 minutes, by train, and we decided to visit a friend of ours just because we (suddenly realised) we could. Best decision ever! We ended up staying four extra days, had a fantastic time and met loads of new people. In the end we left because we couldn’t delay our previous arrangements any longer, but it was a tough call!

  4. Australia is pretty great (I’m not Aussie).
    Brisbane is a great place to live (despite lack of BNE wi-fi) and you could have explored plenty, though would have needed a car.

  5. oh Sydney is awesome! I’ve been there twice both for month long visits. Its a shame you didn’t go on a ferry they are quite cheap and its simply lovely zipping along the water watching the city from boats. If you go again for longer please let me know and I can send me my ‘what to do in sydney guide’ that I send to all my friends.

    Oh and the food it awesome too…

  6. One time I got turned around in Scotland. I did not know there were two train stations in Glasgow. The time for the train to appear came and went and no train. I asked some questions and there was pointing off in another direction to a completely different station. I had been planning on checking out the Highlands, but decided to go to Loch Ness instead. A silly tourist trap it turned out to be, but it actually was more directly on the route to the beautiful Orkney Islands, which were my ultimate goal. That I did not freak out and simply decided to go somewhere else and to even laugh about the city with two train stations has always made that a favorite travel story for me.

  7. This brings about an interesting topic. We become so focused on achieving our goals, no matter what they may be, that we forget about the opportunities that surround us.

    Slow down and smell the flowers (or in your case, visit the country).

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and I’m glad to see that you’re still taking the time to enjoy what’s around you instead of just checking off country names. Keep it up Chris and I hope you always take the time to enjoy the world.

  8. My husband has a great story about visiting Greece with his cousin. I’ll share the gist of it which is well worth it although he has the details to turn my paragraph into a book. On their flight to Athens there was a picture of a sunken ship over a cliff peaking out of the water in an inlet. With no prior set plans, there whole trip became about finding that ship. With the picture in hand, they traveled from island to island, via boats, buses, taxis, and tiny rental cars with funny stories along the way. Eventually, guided in the right direction, running over tops of cliffs, they peered down and found their treasure. The trip had been intended to bring lighter spirits to his cousin who was getting over a break-up. With the mission at hand and humor along the way, it became the perfect medicene!

  9. When my car, Zippy, died in the remote California mountains at the far end of a cross-country solo road trip, I had a great day with Jeff the tow-truck driver, whom I treated to Red Bull and doughnuts. We ended up in a windstorm in Reno, where I left my car for — alas — a month and flew on to Albuquerque and then D.C. Zippy got towed east on a flat-bed trailer, and since I’d forgotten to remove the EZ-Pass transponder from the windshield, she treated the whole trailer-load of 7 cars, a motorcycle and the humongous truck to the tolls heading east. So much more interesting than if the car had never broken down.

  10. One of my favorite trips was an unplanned jaunt down the California coast. I’d booked a trip to meet a friend who was driving around the US, but she was in a (minor, fortunately) wreck a couple of days before. It was planned as a self-discovery voyage and maybe a bit of adventuresome bonding.

    She flew home after her accident. I kept the tickets and had a leisurely mix of self-discovery and just-plain-fun, as I stopped for dance classes, lingered at nerdy roadside stops, happened upon a park where I saw more butterflies than I could’ve imagined and enjoyed being somewhere new, without a plan & without anyone else’s needs to look after.

  11. Great story. I read all the way to the bottom and liked it so much here I am leaving a comment. Australia is where I started my travels 20 years ago. I could totally relate to your feelings about the Opera House and Sydney in general.

    Anyway, to answer your question, yes, my “unexpected tour” was part of my trip to Australia. I had no plans when I got to Australia so ended up getting a ’round the country’ bus ticket and off I went. I won’t go into details of all the wonderful experiences I had. The unexpected part was when I got to Darwin. I met a couple of British gals who said they were going to Indonesia and asked if I wanted to join them. I had not idea at the time where that was but it sounded exotic. In the spur of the moment I made the best decision of my life and said sure, lets go.

    That was the start of a 3-month unexpected tour to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Once I started I couldn’t stop. I eventually made it back to Australia to finish my bus tour as I had a return flight back to LA from Sydney. I still cherish those memories and the friends I made 20 years later…

  12. I have always wanted to go to Australia! The travel fund is on its way to being ready to go, that may be my next destination.

  13. Of course you had fun. Australia is one of the greatest countries in the world. You’d have to be pretty crazy and stupid to visit Australia and not enjoy it and not have fun.

    I am Dutch, and have visited both Australia and the neighbours, New Zealand. Despite being called Down Under, they are the greatest countries in the world. They are quite literally at the top of the world in terms of greatness of a country.

  14. It’s all about attitude! Being able to embrace setbacks as merely detours and not complete failures is the key to turning bad situations into great situations! Well done!

  15. I love detours! I was on a flight from Chisinau, Moldova to London. The rose-patterned wallpaper and twin-jets on the plane should have been a clue that things might not go as expected, not to mention the 5-hour delay. When the plane had engine trouble, we landed in Brest, Belarus. The airport had so few flights, they had to find someone to open it up for us and serve vodka to the angry crowd. When we finally got back on the plane, they told us that we wouldn’t be going to London right away. Instead, we spent the evening and part of the next day in Warsaw. We were in a primo hotel downtown. Overall, it was more of an opportunity to meet interesting people than to explore – like the N Korean immigrant who drove high-end cars from Germany to Moldova for mafiosos and the elderly Ukrainian woman who I shared a hotel room with who served me thick slices of salted pig fat – slanina. I was not rude; wish I had been. Great memories.

  16. It’s interesting how different we all are with our journeys. For me, *fun* is pretty much the whole reason I travel. Sure there’s often also a bit of growth and challenge and all, and that’s great too….but I’m pretty much there for the fun part.
    Hope you get to enjoy lots more *fun* in your travels.

  17. October 3, 2011

    Michael McDonald

    We were college students at the end of 12 weeks of study in Novosibirsk, and at the conclusion of our courses, were able to visit Tashkent and Samarkand, and then onto Leningrad for 3 days to unwind, then Moscow and back to the US. Only there was a “problema” with our reservations in Leningrad, and we were shuttled to Pskov for 3 days instead. While Pskov had some history, it was about as exciting as Akron, OH. 4 of us decided as a “graduation exercise” that we would ask for our passports from the hotel front desk (they would keep them for the duration of your stay) as we wanted to inspect them. We then went to the Pskov train station so we could take the midnight train to Leningrad, except it was sold out, so we went to Riga, Latvia on a train 10 minutes later. Riga was wonderful, as was the coastal town of Yurmala, and we spent the day in Riga. We could not get hotels, because these cities weren’t written into our visas, so we again took the midnight train (sleeper berths) to Leningrad, got a good nights sleep (except for the dysentery we all had from Uzbekistan), then spent the next day in Leningrad, and took the night train to Pskov. There was hell to pay in Pskov.

  18. My journey of life found me being tested for a brain tumour. Test after test, then different conclusions, medication that made me sick, followed by panic attacks. My journey left me working from home. But a home office detour finds me working in comfort, making sure the kids go to school, and I’m there for them after school, homework, hurt feelings, cooking supper for them and my wife. It’s not the detour I expected but the journey has not been without surprises, good and bad.

  19. Not read all the way to the end to find out how your adventures wind up? Are you kidding me? Your posts are one of the few things I read all the way to the end!

    I have a bazillion littles at home so I haven’t left the house long enough to hit a true detour to anywhere, BUT in the larger life-sense, I guess I’ve encountered a few. Sometimes they don’t seem worthwhile at the time, but they ALWAYS make sense in the end and I’m always grateful they happened how, when and why they did. If it weren’t for a few massive detours in 2006, I wouldn’t have married my husband and had two babies long after I thought I was done with three of them.

    Great post, as usual. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  20. October 3, 2011

    Elizabeth Zirk

    It was 2007. I was roaming Europe on my own. And although I had a few friends to visit in some countries (UK, Germany, Norway), I had Spain all to myself. I definitely wanted to get to Barcelona, but I decided the rest was up to the fates. A cheapie flight from Frankfurt to Granada appeared to me, so I thought… right on, Andalucia! I walked around Granada my first day to locate the large backpacks – just followed them to a hostel and found a bed. Didn’t meet anyone I connected with enough until my last day in Granada. I was in line at the Alhambra, when a elfish blonde with an Irish lilt asked me what the time was. Aoife was my travel buddy for the next few days – I skipped Madrid to visit Sevilla and Cordoba with her. Eventually I went on to Barcelona on my own before heading to the UK to visit friends in the Southwest. But I kept in touch with Aoife for a while – it was a good decision to skip Madrid because I had a buddy… :-)

  21. Ha Chris! We loved Sydney too, but hated the internet there and sooo expensive.

    We’ve had a TON of detours in the last 6 years on our open-ended family world tour, so we’re always ready for plan B,C, D etc. ;) That just comes with our lifestyle and part of the enjoyment of living in the now.

    We were suppose to go from India to Bhutan, last May but they changed the rules at the India consulate in Penang, so we parents on a tourist visa couldn’t get a tourist visa to India ( but our 10 year old child who was in a Mandarin school there on a student visa could!). Wacky story.

    We just rerouted through Bangkok. BTW if you haven’t added Bhutan to your list, DO go as it truly is the last Himalayan Shangri La and amazing place like no other on this planet.

    It was worth the hassle of changing and we’ll just get our Indian 10 year visa while here in California now and visit when we return to Asia for the winter.

  22. FWIW, In my opinion, Sydney is definitely not the “World’s Greatest City”- that title belongs to Melbourne! :) Hope you get a chance to see more of Oz- I lived there for a few years, and almost daily I dream about moving back…

  23. Although just a small detour, it was indeed FUN!

    I was driving along I-80 in PA when I saw a sign “See Penn’s Cave by boat.” I grew up in PA and have seen this sign an uncountable number of times but had never had done the tour. This time, I said to my self, I think I will “See Penn’s Cave by boat!” So I took the turn and had a blast on the short boat ride through the natural caves. If I had planned on seeing it, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it half as much. It was the impulse that was fun. Since then, I’ve had several small adventures where I’ve followed my instincts and they’ve always turned out to memorable experiences.

  24. yes! in fact at this moment, i just got a call letting me know i’m going on a climbing trip to joshua tree. i was planning to work, but i was able to make the necessary calls and tasks this morning so i could go off for this spontaneous trip. YAY for unexpected detours! when you have lemons- make lemonade :)

  25. I was driving from Chicago to Lexington, Nebraska to see my grandmother in a nursing home. On my way through Iowa, I saw a town on the map named “Anita” just like me, so I decided to stop through and check out “my” town (which turned out to be very, very tiny). For some reason, I had a pair of kali sticks with me and I was getting sleepy, so I decided to stop just outside of town by the side of the road and practice for a few minutes to wake up before driving into town. Kind of odd, I know, but it was fun and the whole thing (side trip, kali sticks, etc.) is one of those things that stuck with me as a reminder, that you can take side trips just because you want to see what’s there. It made me laugh to be practicing Kali just outside of Anita and reminded me to step outside of my box more often.

  26. My husband and I were traveling in Corsica (recommended!) when the day before our ferry departure date the local rebels took over the ferry ports. There were actually rocket launchers being fired. We had to finagle our way to Sardinia, an unexpected detour, to finally make our way back our next planned destination – mainland Italy. This unexpected detour joined us up with another impacted traveler from the Netherlands who hitched a ride with us back to Italy. With our new companion, we experienced the delights of Sardinian food and wine and left reluctantly, promising to go back one day.

  27. My life is full of unexpected detours…not always of the travelling kind. Really enoyed this post..:)

  28. Nothing as exotic as yours. Headed to LAX from the east coast. Had a slight layover in DFW. There was a mens’ baseball team sitting there, because their flight had been delayed. The airline decided to divert our flight to drop the guys off in Albuquerque to make their game
    . We got a free drink out of the deal to “compensate” us for the inconvenience.

    However, on a trip to OZ we met a fellow from Canada flying to Tasmania. He was going to visit his professional basketball playing daughter. He too discovered that he needed a visa. Didn’t find out about it until he was in flight and they handed out the customs declaration form. His seatmate asked him where to put his visa number and the fellow wondered why they would want his charge card. Much to his surprise, they meant an actual visa (not VISA). Long story short, the airline was fined, but the fellow was allowed into Australia only because his daughter was a friend of the governor.

  29. I too opted for Australia when my first choice fell through: when I was eighteen I wanted to be au pair in Switzerland, but that was going to be an impossible visa to get for a young Canadian (at least at the time). In lieu of that, I packed my things and headed to Oz for one of the greatest times of my live. I’m sure Switzerland would have been lovely, but how can I regret a trip that proved to be so amazing and rewarding? Here’s to happy accidents!

  30. An unexpected detour down under took place along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Grey River. A train ride to Geelong then bus ride to Kennett River got us close enough to our stopping point. I thought it would be nice to hike the remaining mile or so on the beach. We had never been to this area and were given a set of keys to a house overlooking the beach. We did not have a map or GPS, just landmarks. We hopped off the bus and started walking along the sand beach in the late afternoon, a bit nervous about the tide. Pretty soon the sand disappeared and it was all rocks. Not just rocks, but major boulders. We had heavy backpacks and did not expect to be bouldering. At this point the sun was getting lower and the tide was coming in. To reach the safety of the road, it was about a 100 foot climb, straight up. In other words, impossible. Nobody spoke for the next 30-40 minutes, focusing on footing and looking for our landmarks. We eventually got there, found the house, kicked back on the deck drinking a lovely Shiraz overlooking the beach. Later we found out the bus driver would have dropped us directly in front of the house, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.

  31. So pleased you got “stuck” Downunder!

    I can see you running in the Botanical Gardens and looking out over the gorgeous harbour! Yes, I am a Sydneysider who lives abroad and enjoyed your post so much. Thank you for visiting our country and I’m pleased you had “fun”!

    Last year when the ash cloud loomed over Europe I got stuck for six days in Germany en-route to Dublin from Dubai. Stuck in Dusseldorf to be exact. I was amazed that when I asked people in the airport how far Paris, Zurich etc were to travel by car or train they looked blankly and said, “far away”. Different perceptions of distance. Anyway I never made it to Dublin but that wasn’t without trying. My friend I was supposed to meet in Dublin got stuck in Kazakhstan and ironically those travelling the furtherest from Australia, made it with no worries.

  32. Chris, this is great! I’m so glad you came to the decision you did. Getting stuck is I think often the greatest travel experience of all. I got stuck a few years ago in Zagreb, Croatia. I had been planning on just passing through- had taken a bus from Dubrovnik to Split, and then an overnight train from Split to Zagreb, and was planning on getting on a morning train from Zagreb to Venice. But the morning train that was listed on my schedule wasn’t happening, of course. So my friend and I found a room, slept half the day and then went on a shopping spree to buy warm clothes because the weather had turned much colder than we anticipated. And the best part is there was an international theatre festival in Zagreb that weekend, so we wound up seeing a production of Antigone that night. This theatre girl was pleased :)

  33. Just recently I went to the Alps with a friend to do the Tour du Mont Blanc, but found out halfway through that we were much too unfit and cut it short. I ended up in Geneva for 4 days, while my friend went on to Milan (I’d already paid for my flight out) with nothing more to do than explore the city. 4 days is waaaay too long for Geneva, just so you know – I saw all the sights and still spent a full day in the park, eating baguettes and reading a good book.
    Also: flat whites and lattes aren’t the same thing, nor Americanos and long blacks :) A latte is a mix between a flat white and a cappuccino, and an Americano is just a big long black… just so you know!

  34. Chris: “Thanks for the memories” as the late Bob Hope would say,
    brought forth by your question….unexpected detour?

    My wife & I have had many unplanned detours/reroutes/
    diverts/changes over the past 27yrs. One similar to yours’
    was a return from Fiji to Guam that was planned as NAN-SYD-GUM
    but changed to the late Air Nauru Airlines that transitted Nauru to
    Guam. We enjoyed the Nauru island hospitality but will let you
    decide for yourself what’s good for you.

    Another involved SIN…Singapore for those with unclean minds.
    GUM-MNL-HKG-JNB became GUM-MNL-SIN-HKG-JNB. Seasoned world
    travelers enjoy the “journey” and not just the “destination”.

    All the best to you in your travels. Ernie G.

  35. I take at least one unexpected detour every day. What happens and where I go on this unplanned journey usually depends on my reaction and attitude!

  36. As a Melbournite, and seeing that you didn’t *really* get to see Melbourne properly (I tweeted you about a meetup), I’ll forgive you your little slip about Sydney bring the best city in the universe. It’s sneaky like that Sydney, it sneaks up on you and hoodwinks you.

    However, it’s well known Melbourne is the world’s MOST LIVEABLE CITY EVERRRRR and has wrested the mantle back from another of my faves, Vancouver.

    Apart from being home to the 4th BEST SPORT IN THE UNIVERSE, AFL, we are pretty much cycling central down Beach Rd, have a shockingly good art scene, our coffee is off the hook (tweet me when you get here, I run a site/app for finding coffee and will tell you the best spots), our food scene is off the dial – pretty much, we are the balls (in Ron Burgundy style). Sadly though, Andrew Bolt also calls Melbourne home and that’s a downer.

    Next time, I’d advocate including Melbourne, (rad)Adelaide (aka Radelaide) for wine, Darwin (food) maybe Hobart. But, you could spend a lot of time here, there’s lots to see.

    Come here during summer (northern winter) and see some cricket. Melbourne in summer is awesome. Come in winter, footy (plus the north is cooler).

    Tim

  37. HA! Your question at the end there made me laugh out loud. LIFE is the detour for me. Sometimes I look around and wonder, as I did today, “How did I wind up sitting at a desk for the first day in 9 years in an office near the Zurich airport where no one is speaking English and they’re paying me $1500/day to make a few PowerPoint slides?” Best thing? I don’t have to go tomorrow but I will on Wednesday because I said so. Life is the detour. Might as well make the best of it!

  38. So happy to hear you got to Australia! I got ‘stuck’ in Australia for 12 years, and although I live in the US presently, Brisbane is home. Sydney is spectacular, I know why you enjoyed it.

  39. What a treat for you that you actually got to do what many of us USUALLY do when we travel! You got to spend some time and enjoy the place, rather than to check off another country and move on.

    We plan our trips in ways that ensure that there will be detours. We first figure out why we want to go somewhere and how long it will take to do that (beach, museum, hikes, whatever), and then add another 50%. Example – we thought 2 weeks would be enough time to see what we needed to see in Sicily, so we planned on 3. That gave us time to explore back streets in Palermo, wander through the center, get lost in ancient ruins, negotiate shoe repair in Sicilian, watch a puppetteer prepare for a performance. All unexpected extras.

    We loved the botanical gardens in Sydney! And the flat whites!

  40. Wait til you see Melbourne! Australia really requires a year long stay to appreciate everything. Honestly, Sydney is overrated and a huge tourist trap, Melbourne is gorgeous.

  41. Chris… most Aussies carry ipads and usb modems… that way in this vast and incredible country… we can hook up to the internet pretty much anywhere anytime! [grin]

    You may not have realised it… but [less than a 2 hour] flight north of Brisbane is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Four days would have been pretty much the perfect amount of time to be blown away by the place… to snorkel and scuba dive and sail around the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Next time maybe… [send me an email and I can show you around] :-)

  42. I walked out of a backpackers in Kylearkin – in the Isle of skye – (Scotland) planning a day of hitch-hiking on the island. I didn’t even take a day pack. I spontaneously took a ferry to the outer Hebrides – and hitched to the Standing Stones at Callanish. I hadn’t even noticed that it was the Autumn equinox. It was mystical and magical.

    I spent the night at the Black houses of Gearrannan. Old Scottish hospitality dictates that the doors are always open to guests (probably cause its so far north there’s nowhere else to go) I’ll always be grateful for the warm duvet and the couple who happily said “We’re cooking tuna pasta – would you like some?” Yum Yum.

  43. My only detours have been back into the airport lounge for delay after delay but you make a great and calm observation Chris on modern 21st Century travel – expect problems and obstacles but stay open and curious because it could a passport to some amazing discoveries if you are flexible. Travel isn’t a straight road but neither is being an expeditionary, hey Indiana?

  44. Hi Chris, I’m just over the ditch in Rotorua, New Zealand. Feel free to come over, I’ll show you around my city. We even have wi-fi in our little airport :)

  45. Hilarious post, Chris! I

    In 1995 I took a road trip to San Francisco. Except, I didn’t know anyone in SF. My roommate had a ‘friend’ that was allegedly going to let me crash at her place. After some unexpected car trouble in Utah, I finally rolled in on a Friday night, expecting to finally get to sleep without having to get up and drive a thousand miles. When I arrived, the ‘friend’ was not even in town. Doh!

    Broke and without friends in SF, I slept in my car and figured I would sort it out the next day. I drove up PCH for a while then came back into the city and wandered around for a bit, and eventually went clubbing that night and into the morning. At about noon the next day, I had been in this club called The EndUp for hours and I finally decided it was time to throw in the towel on SF. I started to head back East and hit Yosemite on the way.

    My experience in Yosemite was one of the peak experiences of my life – hiking alone in a remote part of the park with snow on the ground in August. Ran into a German couple and we hiked a mountain together.

    Totally random, totally awesome experience I’ll never forget.

    Thanks for the question! :)

  46. Oh and I almost forgot… one of my weirdest detours was a stop off in Atlanta while travelling from Orlando to Los Angeles on the red eye.

    As an Aussie I found Atlanta airport a strange and worrying place… a crazy woman who was bashing on the door to my toilet cubicle later turned up on the flight to Los Angeles roaming the aisles muttering and bothering everyone on board. Not that there were many.

    Only about 12 people boarded the 757 aircraft out of Atlanta that night. One middle eastern looking man with a headscarf was seated in the back row. Another man who looked suspiciously like the unibomber before they caught him was huddled over an overstuffed duffle bag in the back of the plane. A woman with a rabbit [and a carrot] in a cage sat diagonally opposite. Then there was us… and an assortment of bleary eyed travelling salesman types who needed [like us] to be on the west coast by dawn.

    A line of severe thunderstorms along the flight path lit up the call buttons and made the plane shudder with each near strike as we traversed the country in the early hours of the morning. I closed the shutter and turned on the movie.

    Touching down in LA… I had never been more grateful to arrive anywhere else in the world… even if it was only LA and not Paris [or Brisbane even] I didn’t care. I got out and kissed the ground (((chuckles)))

  47. Hey Chris, loved that you finally made it downunder. I would have been happy to help out if I knew you were in town (Brisbane) and stuck with internet issues. Next time, stay longer and let us know. All Aussies I know love to give our visitors the local flavour. I’ve been all over the world, and I am in love with this little country. Even though the internet sucks. ($15Aus a month buys you a prepaid internet card, so its easily sorted.)
    Love your work,
    Christine

  48. Thank you Chris for sharing! This is the first time I read your blog (I’ve just joined after reading the Art of non-conformity, I loved it!), and I enjoyed it a lot! I’ve been to Australia three times and Sydney apart (the best!) I had a wonderful experience in Uluru park (Ayers rock). I had reserved a tent for the night (less expensive than a hotel room), but the group I was assigned to by the travel agent for the tour and the visit of the monolite was going to camp and I ended up sleeping under the stars in Uluru park. It was winter, and therefore pretty cold in the night, but we were well equipped and the experience was unique! a must try when you go back, together with Kuta Chuta! The nature and the colours are beyond description!
    Thank you for reminding me of my travels and the joy of being open to the many opportunities we encounter every moment!

  49. Bravo! You GOT Sydney, I’m impressed. Those are the things that I LOVE about my city, and the things I try to encourage my visitors to do while they’re here:
    -See the iconic sights (because you have to, and they’re glorious)
    -learn a bit about our history
    -wander around, it’s a very walkable city.
    -drink coffee. In Sydney it’s all about the coffee, what you drink and where ;) (incidentally Australians frequently win the international barista championships)

    Question: did you saw hello to our fruit bats in the botanic gardens?

  50. Made a detour from the U.S. 17 years ago to Sydney. Still here. Love it. Great story. Like how you made lemonade when given lemons.

  51. Whilst travelling through Europe for a year we seldom planned any more than a day ahead and so consequently on the advice of locals had great experiences away from the tourist trail.
    And when we returned to Maryborough just north of Brisbane (gee, wish we had known you were here Chris – would have gladly put you up!) we lamented the poor internet connections and the constant rip-offs by suppliers – and yearned for the great service we had all the way through Europe – yep, even in Slovakia and Poland!

  52. My favorite stuck story is from Japan. Husband, 12-yr. old daughter and I miscalculated the train times from downtown Tokyo to the airport (for those who haven’t been Tokyo’s airport is actually in Narita, Japan, about 90 min. away) and arrived about half an hour too late to check-in for our flight back to the US. This was summer 2009 a few days after a couple of 5 and 6-level earthquakes hit near Tokyo. We came to the airline counter prepared – due to highway closures from the quakes (true) our shuttle bus (lie) to the airport had to take lengthy detours (big lie) and we were late. Knowing how the Japanese hate to be at fault and must save face, it worked – they rebooked us no charge the next day on the same flight and gave us a hotel voucher for the night.

    We decided it best not to risk a return trip back into Tokyo but to stay in the small town of Narita (only 15 min. from the airport) and in a traditional ryokan at that. We slept on Tatami mats on the floor and the phone in the room was a rotary dial jobber circa 1955. (The bathroom thank god had been modernized). Despite the “rustic” accommodations,we enjoyed a fantastic dinner in Narita the night before we finally left Japan, but the real unexpected bonus was spending the entire morning and early afternoon strolling through the town on foot, visiting the temple, witnessing a traditional prayer ceremony – twice, and enjoying the extensive shrine and gardens. It was one of the most beautiful and moving experiences of the entire trip and the thing I always remember best about Japan along with Mt. Fuji.

  53. A quick unexpected side trip to Angola from Namibia. The river is the border and on the Namibian side, nothing was happening, but on the Angolan side, thousands of people were washing their clothes and themselves and generally having a party. I asked why? Namibia has facilities so everyone does their washing at home. The civil war in Angola has left them with almost nothing so they use the river, and their irrepressible nature means a party is the result.

  54. October 3, 2011

    Bronwyn Mitchell

    Ahhh!! I can’t believe you were just in Brisbane! I’m sorry you had such a lousy internet experience (yes, it is pretty rubbish for travellers unfortunately), but if we can ever tempt you back here I’d love to meet up and show you around more than just the city centre. I moved from Melbourne exactly two years ago today and I love it here. Although Melbourne is a great city too. Don’t let Sydney steal all the glory. :-)

    I actually was thinking a couple of weeks ago that I should email and say “Hey Chris, earlier in the year you were talking about coming to Australia in October – what’s the plan?” Had I done so you would have at least had a contact here. So for future reference, you have at least one Brisbane fan – and I know of others who follow your blog too. If you include our fair city as a stop on your book tour next year, there’s a great little independent bookshop in the leafy inner-city suburb of Paddington that would make a great place for a gathering. I’d happy approach them for you and help spread the word about your visit. I have a pretty wide network here through an awesome organisation I used to work for, which is full of remarkable young people doing inspiring things who would always be up for meeting fellow remarkable people like yourself. Hope you keep it in mind!

    Cheers,
    Bron

  55. Congrats on finally getting Down Under! Isn’t Oz magical? Australia is my favorite country in the world, and I say that as a natural-born American citizen and lifelong resident of the US.

    Sometimes in your quest to reach your goal I feel it’s as I just read in Paulo Coelho’s new novel “Aleph” (p. 12): “What you’re doing now isn’t traveling, it’s just changing countries, which is completely different.” After reading this post, it feels like you’re really exploring again, not just racking up frequent flier miles. I hope you continue to tap into the mystery of the journey.

    Next time in Oz, don’t miss the Koala bears – you can hold one at the Sydney zoo. They are softer than silk.

  56. October 3, 2011

    Ryan Victoria

    What I’d like to share is not about travelling. In fact, I’m renovating my house right now. The unpleasant detour that I encountered is when it was time to buy paint color. I researched using magazines and the Internet, for over four weeks on what color to put into the walls. However, when the actual paint was mixed and applied to the walls, I did not like it. So I had to be more spontaneous about the way the paint was mixed. In the end, I chose the “experiment” color and I was happier that way.

    My lesson: detours will definitely come. Just find the positive in it. :)

  57. Glad you made it down here Chris, even if it was short-lived and plagued by Wifi. They’re supposedly introducing the National Broadband Network (NBN) soon, which will no doubt make the wifi shoot up to not 6, but 8 dollars per hour ;-)

    In the cities, there’s Wi-fi everywhere: but they’re all locked, and those that aren’t will charge you like a wounded bull to use them. Woohoo!

    A few years ago I did a trip to Spain and had no intention of going to San Sebastian – when some friends invited me there, it turned out being one of my favourite cities in all of Europe, and I stayed for more than a week. Love side trips.

  58. I’ve lived in Australia for 6 years, and can completely understand your internet dilemma. Funny thing is, most locals actually think that it’s good, mainly because they’ve never really travelled to any countries with a good internet infrastructure (a week in Bali doesn’t count, fellow Aussies!).

    The internet’s due to be up and running sometime around 2020, but I hope that doesn’t put you off your trip next year, internet aside the country & wildlife is stunning.

  59. Flying back from Cancun to TLV via Atlanta & Milan, I missed my last connection and had 12 hours to burn.
    I rented a car and drove north to the hills. Spent all day having fun driving on remote twisty roads, stopping off for an espresso in small hilltop villages, pizza and cheap wine by the lake, chanced on a local meet of Fiat 500 owners, and a village market elsewhere. A great day.

    In Morocco once in a rented jeep we took too long on a trail (because all the organized tours did the trail in the opposite direction) and it was dark when we got out and too late to drive to town. We stayed at a tiny village just in time to see the local soccer team return victorious from a game – a big local party ensued.

    After finding that unplanned glitches usually result in fun experiences, I started planning those glitches in advance.
    The previous summer we drove from home in NL to Spain, and planned one night stopover at the halfway point in the middle of France.
    A couple of weeks before leaving, we said why not add a few more days at that place in the middle of France, without doing any homework on the location. So we did, and enjoyed 4 days discovering a little known area of France.

  60. Chris, finally you’ve seen sense! Yes you definitely need to come back to Australia and spend longer than a few days next time! Even though we are one country it is a huge land mass with everything from desert to rainforest to fantastic beaches… and if you want a city buzz, Sydney and Melbourne are good in different ways. And take time to visit Tasmania (my adopted home) which has some of the best wilderness walks in the world.

  61. Hi Chris. I haven’t traveled as extensively as most, but the last time I was in Kauai I was scheduled to meet with a local photographer (which I do when I travel – I always find another photographer and exchange ideas/inspiration) and learn some of his techniques for shooting waves. I was really looking forward to spending time with my obsession: turquoise water and sunshine. But, of course, on that day it rained. I was incredibly disappointed and was very close to canceling. I had a bad attitude. But I decided to go anyway. At least there would be good discussion. We drove and drove, trying to outrun the deluge, but couldn’t. In my despair of not being able to see the color in the water, I turned it around and decided to look for the beauty in the grey and it was amazing what illuminated. Once my perspective changed and I started to look for something different than what I had originally set out to find, the opportunities were endless and I got some amazing shots. We ended up on some beaches that we would have not otherwise gone to. I ended up with some very moody photos that had tons of emotion that I wouldn’t have even looked for before. It’s all in perspective.

  62. October 3, 2011

    Josh Eflin

    I was in Nijmegen, Netherlands, couch surfing with my best friend. We went to the train station to get tickets for the sleeper train to Prague, to make it in time for the Prague quadrennial (a Theatre festival that happens every 4 years). Our hosts father had just gotten incredibly mad at us, and we found out the train was booked. We couldn’t call them back and ask to stay for another day because the father was so angry (I got yelled at in Dutch on the phone), and we HAD to be in Prague by morning to see an Opera we wanted to see. We were terrified but we got on the train anyway. It started moving as soon as we decided that it was a bad choice, so we were stuck, but going the right direction, only without a ticket. IT turned out we were allowed to stay on the train until we arrived in Berlin, and from there we could just catch another. On this detour we met two guys from Finland who were in the same situation, and happened to be Theatre lovers unaware of the Quadrennial. We told them about it, and made friends with them for our 4 days in Prague. Definitely taught me the lesson of leap first, then net appears. :)

  63. It’s so good to hear that you finally made it to Australia – even if it was only a short visit.

    I also had no idea that you were so crazy about Australia. Makes me very proud of my country. :)

    Definitely looking forward to any future visits and can assure you that I will be at any book tour you hold Down Under.

  64. Love your story about Australia. I spent 4 days there (another story) and look forward to returning.

    HOW THE KALASHNIKOVS GOT THERE:
    On board a Russian Aeroflot flight to Sri Lanka (quite awhile ago), we’d left from London with a plane change in St. Petersberg. Having packed for a tropical clime, it was no fun transferring planes by bus to the terminal in icy weather, but we survived and toasted to adventure with a sip of vodka and a tiny taste of caviar, just to say we did, before getting back on our way.

    Hours later we woke as we were landing in Karachi, Pakistan. It was unscheduled. As we taxied to the gate, I started taking pictures of the jeeps with machine guns mounted on the back. My partner swept my arm away from the window: “Do you want to get us shot?!” We waited. Within two hours were back on our way again. The flight from London to Columbo, Sri Lanka took us roughly 24 hours.

    Stepping away from the plane we walked through heat waves floating up from the tarmac. It was a shock but so blessed good to touch land again. The rest of the trip unfolded without such odd surprises. This was before the Tamil revolution & I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  65. Chris! Glad you enjoyed your taste of Australia – there is plenty more to see!

    In this new world of TripAdvisor, it seems like everyone has seen there, done that and there are hundreds of reviews. One of the great things about the unexpected detour is the surprise!

    When we were almost ready to start our Simpson Desert crossing in Central Australia, we had an unavoidable crash on a blind corner. Fortunately no one from either vehicle was hurt but there was no way the Landcruiser would make the trip and so we were forced to make a massive detour to get it fixed. Unexpected sites, staying with locals while the car got fixed etc. were some of the greatest experiences of the trip!

    As someone who likes to plan for all contingencies, the unexpected detour is a little frightening – but almost always turns out to be rewarding.

  66. Hi Chris – a past ‘Emperor’ here – Tas an Aussie I have to tell you that you feel foul of a couple of idiosyncratic ‘down under’ realities.
    1) My old home town of Brisbane is much better than it was but ius still classified by most Aussies as a large country town. It’s airport authority is definately stuck in the 70′s interms of services etc. 2) The internet providers in this country have gotten away with high fees and near duopolistic behaviour for years. Wi Fi is readily available In Brisbane ( & all other airports) but you usually have to sign up for a short term membership with either Telstra or Optus – usually at high rates!! Once signed on it is usually great service…
    Glad you liked Sydney – when are coming back – there is heaps more to see…

  67. I was hitchhiking from Denmark to Majorca, Spain with my girlfriend. When we hit the border to Spain we spent a day trying to get a ride before finally giving up and taking the train the rest of the way to Barcelona, where we were going to catch the ferry. Somewhere in the middle of the trip I got up to go to have a beer in the bar, which was several cars down from where we were sitting. When I finished my beer and went to return to my girlfriend I opened the door at the end of the Bar car and saw nothing but track. They had disconnected the cars from the train at the last stop and I had no way of getting in touch with my friend. So, for about an hour I sat in the bar and wondered what to do. Luckily, for a reason I still don’t understand, the cars were reconnected miles down the track and I casually walked back to my girlfriend who promptly asked what took you so long!

  68. I just kept on reading. But there are two serious points. Nauru is more difficult to visit because it is used for Australia’s political prisoners (otherwise know as asylum seekers who have landed without visa on Australian soil). So just as well you got a visa in arrival in Australia, Chris.

    Secondly, Australian tourism needs to get up do date and install free Wi-Fi. I have been on the beach in Lombok and in a boat on the Mekong at Luang Prabang, Laos and I have been able to connect to the internet. But when I go home to Sydney I may as well bring my carrier pigeons!

    Thanks Chris – I am sending your blogspot to the head of the Australian Tourism Commission.

  69. Yeah the internet at the airports sucks – in Sydney you need to be a Telstra or Optus customer to use it – Adelaide has been the best I’ve seen. And hotels charge huge fees for internet usage. Of course, you can get free wifi in the Qantas lounge if you have access and people have 3G modems plugged into their laptops. iPhones and iPads are also very popular.

  70. chris, you could have had a really untouristy, city collection by staying those days in brisbane. hardly anyone from anywhere else stays in brisbane except as a stop-over to somewhere more exotic [to my knowledge, and for my sins i've lived in brisbane for 23 years]. there are some really nice things to see and do in brisbane and south-east queensland.

    and, yeah, the internet sucks. it’s way worse than in even in bolivia, the poorest country in south america.

  71. For AONC people coming to Oz: the internet here isn’t that bad. We have probably one of the next terrestrial cellular networks in the world (Telstra). Prices are coming down. Yes they’re still high, this is a hangover from a time when Telstra was (and still is to an extent) the monopoly public telco.

    You need to remember that you are talking about a landmass populated by 22 mil people, predominantly located on the Eastern Seaboard but dispersed across a huge area, in an area the size of Western Europe. It’s not like running fibre to trillions of high rise buildings in South Korea.

    I am currently getting 10Mbps on Telstra 3G, and it’ll be a lot higher when their 4G/LTE network is switched on (about now I think).

    HOWEVER: when you get here, head straight into an Optus, Telstra, Virgin or Voda store and get a prepaid SIM (readily available). Telstra has some great prepaid data plans available – happy to share links if needed.*

    I’m pretty obsessed by this stuff as I travel a lot for one of my online biz’s and need prepaid 3G in Europe. Honestly, compared to trying to get prepaid 3G in Spain or France, Aus is MILES ahead.

    *(No, I don’t work for Telstra).

  72. Great story Chris. Check out Perth and Melbourne next time – if you liked Sydney you’ll love these two great cities.

  73. Awesome, glad you enjoyed Syndey! It’s a priority on my list too, but I haven’t been yet either.

    As for travel detours:

    Yes! My favorite detour ever took me to the place I’d dreamt about visiting, but hadn’t yet made it for some reason…? ROME! I’d visited more than 40 countries by then and for some reason Rome had never worked out. It’s been my favorite place since the sixth grade.

    So while visiting a friend in Scotland our trip to Ireland was cancelled last minute due to her conflicting work schedule. I hopped online and booked a flight to Rome the next morning. I spent two nights/two days exploring my favorite place on earth. Since then I’ve been back three times and can’t wait to tour Italy, top to bottom next year.

  74. After two weeks of sailing around the Carribean islands on the affectionately dubbed Winnebago of the Sea, we tried to get home. We failed somewhere around Kingston.

    So we had an unplanned night in Kingston, Jamaica. After climbing over four foot tall cement barriers, presumably because no one had ever tried to leave the Kingston Hilton on foot before, we roamed a park, where one kid yelled, “LOOK! WHITE PEOPLE!” with his finger pointed straight at us. Because we were the only white people anywhere.

    Then we decided to go for a nice night stroll through downtown Kingston, something I wouldn’t really recommend if you’re a white chick in a sundress and sparkly flip flops. I’ve walked home through Harlem and San Francisco’s Tenderloin at night and never felt uneasy. I was uneasy as hell on a night ramble through Kingston. I finally turned to my boyfriend and put my sparkly flip flop shod foot down and said we were going back. Back we went, past the random hustlers, over the cement barriers, and back into the Hilton. Where I gave myself a Harry Potter scar with the bathroom door handle.

    I have weirdly fond memories of Kingston.

  75. Ah Chris – you finally made to Australia – well done!
    As a born and bred Sydneysider who has done quite a bit of international travel I am always both relieved and frustrated when I return to the homeland.
    Our resource industry is booming but everything else crawls along at a pace probably reflective of a nation of only 22 million people.
    Our government is working towards a national broadband network, but by the time it’s completed (probably circa 2025 at this rate) we will probably be driving cars through the sky ala Back to the Future.
    Yep, Australia. Take a step back in time.

  76. Heya Chris!

    I agree with Tim, Aussie internet is way ahead of where I’m from – Indonesia. Fast broadband at home and Uni. I don’t think I’ve had a problem with the connection. Tho, I had never tried to connect to the net at Brissy airport so I didn’t know they don’t have wifi.

    Anyway, I lived there for 2 years as a student back in 2005-2006 and I had a great time. Oh, that’s an understatement – it was the BEST 2 years of my life.

    You should definitely plan a second visit to Aussie and don’t forget to put Melbourne on your list.

  77. so why didn’t you stay in brisbane and then go to melbourne. not so sure about the airport not having wireless connection but the computer connection you describe in brisbane is not of the wang generation and i should know that as wang was what our computer was when i worked for the state government in brisbane and it in no way looked like that.

    sydney is expensive, fast and crowded and there are plenty of things you could have done while here in brisbane.

    :( you didn’t decide to try brisbane. naru has notthing to see either.

  78. Glad to see you made it to Brisbane and Australia, but next time you have to tell us! I first commented out your facebook post saying that I could see my office from your picture but wait… I think this wasn’t exactly your picture since few buildings are missing from reality (i.e Meriton)!

    It’s funny to read about the Internet part. At the moment I’m writing these lines, I’m struggling to get a page loaded and get an email sent. I’m here since almost a year now and… modern Internet is definitely something that hasn’t really reached Australia yet (read: slow, unstable,…). Free Wifi is as rare and vodafone is to avoid at all cost (mobile broadband is terrible).

    But apart from this, I believe Australia is great, weather is close to perfect and lifestyle is pretty good, laid back.

    Looking forward for your return in 2012.

  79. I don’t think I’ve ever had an unexpected detour, unless you count the every-day ‘interruptions’ I have. I have a control issue and I plan out almost every aspect of my day so any deviation from that is an inconvenience, a detour of sorts.
    I’ve just started reading your newsletter. I think I’ve hit a wonderful ‘detour’ and I hope I can go unexpected places with myself as I continue to check-in to your site. Thank you for all of your wonderful research, traveling, and insights.

  80. Yes, we have a difficult time here in Oz…having to travel to NZ to access our email is a real PITA :) I’m sending this comment by carrier pidgeon from Adelaide..if I don’t hear back from the pidgeon, I’ll send up a smoke signal, so hopefully you’ll get this message in due course.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip here – I lived in Sydney for many years, and remember the joys of the Harbour, Botanic Gardens and area around Circular Quay.

    Of course, Adelaide closes at 5pm, unlike Sydney at midnight :)

  81. How fun! I hope that whenever I begin my traveling I will be able to make the best of bad situations like this. It’s the spirit of a real adventurer when one takes missteps in stride and turns them into a different dance.

  82. Yes! I saw Amsterdam on a kind of a detour. I was stuck at AMS after missing the morning commuter flight to Düsseldorf, having to wait for the afternoon one. (This on the first day of my two-day world tour, mind you.) On advice of the ground staff, I took the train to Amsterdam, and spent the day there. A good thing, after all: I’ve never been to Amsterdam since.

  83. Aw man I missed you!

    Brisbane Airport sucks, and I *live* in Brisbane. There is WiFi but you have to pay through the nose to get it, and the trains stop long before many flights (as do the eateries). Sydney does have free ubiquitous wifi, not sure why one of the commentors above says otherwise. And so does Gold Coast airport woo XD

    I don’t think I’ve ever detoured anywhere – having been on a Bangladesh passport where you need a visa to *anywhere* I didn’t really have any opportunity to take a travel risk. I had to plan my visits. But now that I have a Malaysian passport I am freer to explore!

  84. I have to agree with Tim and Jen. Make time for Melbourne when you next visit Australia. Only a true Melbournian will be able to explain to you the difference between a latte and a flat white!

  85. Hi Chris, sorry your first impression of Aust was pretty average, yes our internet is crap, but McDonalds always have free wifi if you can find one around!

  86. Pingback: It’s not rocket science (but it might be rocket fuel…) : Diary of a 30 Something Wednesday's Child

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