First impressions of Australia (warning: may contain jet lag)

22 Jun

On Friday the 10th of June 2011 I set out on what is going to be the biggest adventure of my life so far – an elective in Australia. But before that started, I had to first of all pack my things (and repack them several times) and survive a rather long and tiring journey, made worse by the fact that some parts of it involved putting up with a childishly excitable David Thewlis on a train, and other parts of it involved being in London around Londoners and having to get the Tube. Despite each of these factors I somehow managed to make it onto a plane from London to Dubai, and found myself  sandwiched between the most fabulous tranny I’ve ever encountered and a man who slept for the entire journey. I spent most of my time alternating between talking about food, wine, cognac and books with the lovely tranny when she was awake and leaning over her to take photographs out of the plane window when she was asleep – I myself was far too excited and disorientated to sleep! I watched a massive thunderstorm happen over Jordan and saw the sun coming up from above the clouds, which I always love:

Three sets of sunrises

After about 7 hours we arrived in Dubai, which looked like this (note the Burj Khalifa in the very dusty foreground):

Dubai from the sky - makes you thirsty just looking at it

I can confirm that the rest of the United Arab Emirates looks exactly like the above but with no buildings and no rivers. Dubai airport was nice – lots of oily wealth being liberally splashed about – but you could feel the heat pressing in on you even through the air conditioning: not my ideal holiday destination seen as I can’t even cope with English summers! I spent an hour wandering around and occasionally being jeered at in Arabic by men my own age for being a woman who a) wasn’t wearing a burkha/hijab, b) had breasts and legs, and c) dared to look them in the eye with the exact mixture of pity and distaste they deserved. If they’d known that I was being allowed to use my tiny woman’s brain to study medicine I’m sure they would have had a heart attack.

It was something of a relief when we got back on the plane to find myself sitting next to a bloke from Newcastle called Terry who had moved to New Zealand with his wife a few years ago. We spent the next 14 (yes, FOURTEEN, at least four of which were over Australia itself) hours of our airbourne journey pleasantly getting each other drinks, swapping bits of food we didn’t want, getting up to jiggle our bums around when they went to sleep and reviewing various films that were available on the in-flight entertainment. I love travelling on my own purely because I seem to end up sitting next to so many interesting and amiable people while I’m doing it!

So after two whole days of constant travelling without sleep, I finally landed in Brisbane at 6:30am on Sunday morning. After confessing the mortal sin of carrying chocolate in my luggage and fending off some very cute Customs sniffer dogs who went mental at the smell of the apples I’d eaten at Heathrow on Friday, I managed to find my dad’s bezzie mate Malcolm and be driven safely back to Benowa. Unfortunately (but gratifyingly rarely) it looked like this:

I managed to arrive on the first rainy day for months!

Despite having not slept since the Thursday night I was told that I wasn’t allowed to sleep until it was actually bedtime, not just as a punishment for apparently bringing the weather with me but also to save my head from becoming even more of a screaming jet-lagged mess. To keep me occupied in the meantime the Frazer boys Phil and John and their well-known associates Michael (accompanied by the lovely Sally) and the equally lovely Phoebe took me to Surfer’s Paradise for sushi. There, through an insomniac haze, I tried my first ever properly fatty belly tuna, which tasted so gorgeously meltingly amazing I’ve had to confirm to myself several times since that it was not in fact a dream – harder than you’d think under the circumstances. Next step is to go back to try the “fattest” belly tuna, which is an extra $1 a slice but if the last lot is anything to go by it’ll taste like my mouth has died, gone to heaven and started licking God’s face. The crew then took me for another first: bubble tea. It’s basically iced tea in whatever flavour you want with little chewy jelly balls in that you suck up with a big straw. I had loads of fun chasing the little balls around the cup but unfortunately the sugar high and the jet lag combined to make me even more confused, so I’m glad we went home after that!

I lasted about another hour before rather embarassingly crashing out on the sofa at 5pm, and not including a couple of vaguely lucid ambulatory periods later that evening I was out for the count until 3pm the following day! When I finally got up, the view from my bedroom window looked like this…

An example of the other 364 days of the Queensland year

… and has done ever since 🙂 The rest of last week passed in a bit of a blur as it took forever for my head to understand where I was, what time it was, what I was doing and why. I went to a theatre list – the painfully early 7am start was alleviated by the fact I had become temporarily nocturnal – and assisted with a few cases, and spent a day in Malcolm’s rooms doing a clinic but was still too out of it to really take anything in! We went out for Vietnamese food for John’s birthday one night and on another night I was introduced to the legendary event that is the State of Origin rugby match – I can’t wait for the decider! I eventually returned to somniac normality by the weekend, and had a few adventures which I shall report in due course.

I end my first foray into blogland with a token Australian joke: What’s the difference between yogurt and Australia? Yoghurt has some culture.


4 Responses to “First impressions of Australia (warning: may contain jet lag)”

  1. Tired and surly June 22, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    your flight looks a lot nicer than my 22 hours of darkness

  2. Sai June 22, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Blogging takes time and perseverance, especially when nobody seems to read or comment. So, here I am just to show some support.

    Look forward to you second post


  3. Malcolm June 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Hahaha, I can just imagine you using the phrase ‘the lovely tranny’ – glad you’re having a good time! 🙂 x

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