Boxing Day at Sydney and the flight back home
Boxing Day was the last full day at Sydney. We spent the Christmas Day in the room and did the packing bit, since the local people advised us that nothing would be open that day. So, of the two days available, only the Boxing Day was available for us for sight seeing.
Sridhar was yet to visit any beach in Sydney, and I too wanted to visit the famous Bondi Beach (Sydney’s most famous beach; there are lots of great beaches in and around Sydney). We also wanted to visit the Aquarium. Then there was the small matter of watching Sydney turn into an Asian city for a day – a rare opportunity to watch road side shops and roads thickly crowded with people who are out to get stuff at a very cheap price.
On Boxing Day most of the big shops provide huge discounts (sort of clearance sale, but only for a day) and there will be lots of roadside makeshift shops selling all kinds of stuff. We spent the morning wandering around the streets of Sydney and visiting the two famous shopping malls/shops – the Myers and David Jones. It was as good or as bad as (depending on your perspective) like our Saravana Stores in T.Nagar that day! The shops were teeming with people in a way I have never seen in Sydney before. Some of the shops even had long queues outside.
From there we went to the Sydney Aquarium that is just down the Market Street on the Darling Harbour, and about 3 minute walk from our office. Since Bondi was in the back of the mind, we didn’t spend as much time at the Aquarium as we would have liked to, but still managed to clock a decent three hours. It is a pretty good aquarium (and since I haven’t been to any other foreign aquariums, it is the best I have seen so far). What struck me wherever I go in Australia has been the importance they provide for accessibility to physically challenged people (which also helps the kids’ pram and so there were lots and lots of families out there with really small kids).
It was close to 1500 hrs by the time we managed to hit the Indian Food Court in The Galleries Victoria and we were both tired and extremely hungry. After having our lunch, we set off to the Circular Quay one last time, to catch the Bondi Bendy Pre-Pay. Bondi turned out to be a beautiful, albeit, crowded beach (thanks to the Boxing Day being a holiday and the season being the start of the summer). We stayed there for about three hours and took hundreds of pictures. I even managed to inspire myself to walk up the slope to take what I would rate as one of the better pix I have taken so far – the view of the entire beach. This is the only pix that I have uploaded at the actual size of 3456×2592 pixels or 9 mega pixels. You can download that pix to see it in full size (using Download button/menu in that pix’s page). Of course, there are far better pix of Bondi out there on the web.
Thus ended a rather memorable day – my last – at Sydney. The next day, we left by the noon flight to Singapore and from there to Chennai. We had a four hour break at Singapore and spent the first three and a half hours doing mostly window shopping and eating dosa. I watched Kungu Panda and Finding Nemo in the flight (and a bit of Subramaniapuram). Watching Finding Nemo again was interesting since I had completely forgotten that the story involves Sydney in a big way. I had seen the movie once about four years back, but then Sydney was just like any other city in some foreign land, and so it never registered in my brain. It was fun to watch the fish herd turn into the shape of Opera House on hearing the word “Sydney” or seeing the view of the Sydney Harbour in many of the shots.
We had a minor scare when we turned up at the Sats counter in Terminal 1. The guy who was sitting there gave us a piece of his mind for turning up so late for the flight (it was 2030 and the flight was at 2105). We were first told we won’t be able to get into the flight. I was genuinely surprised since at a place like Sydney I saw a lady who was at the security check at 1130 hrs to catch the 1130 flight out to some Asian country. So I was wondering what he was harping about.
The guy spoke on the phone with (apparently) the Indian Airlines authorities and then told us that we are lucky and we can catch the flight still, We were then asked whether we were ready to fly without the checked-in baggage. When asked what would happen to the baggage, he told us that it might reach Chennai in a day or two, but nothing can be guaranteed as to whether and when it would come. We had no option but to reply yes, we would love to fly out and reach home.
Another phone call ensued and lasted for about five minutes, after which we were told the baggage too is coming with us. We were given the boarding pass and were advised to not to turn up late for a transit flight. He saw us off asking us to rush to the designated gate to catch our flight. I only remember running madly for the next five minutes or so to reach the gate, and just avoiding running into a kid at a slope. She appeared out of nowhere and was running at top speed up the slope (and I was going down and had to veer out of her way).
The security check in happened at that gate, and we were welcomed by a team of Indians (Indian Airlines staff?) and they asked told us to relax and take it easy, and that the flight is still on the ground only and so we were not going to miss it. I finished the check puffing and panting and collected my hand luggage and stepped into the other side. Any idea what I saw there? About 75 Indians sitting there to travel in the same flight, and no one (including the staff) was worried that it was 2050 hrs and the flight was at 2105 :). I think if the Sats guy had seen the crowd sitting casually there, he would have had a heart-attack!
I reached home that night by midnight, and it felt good to realize that I won’t have to eat bread (or Kellogs) for breakfast from now on :). Thus ended a rather memorable 3 months period in my life.
Here are the links to the pix: