Thursday, 29 September 2011

No other way to describe it but livin' the dream - Sydney Part 1...

FINALLY!!!  Team Taylor Down Under together - complete with a
fantastic free-hand sketch of the continent courtesy of Dommy
And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  I'm happy to report that the Bull got back into the gym today, logging 45 minutes (21K) on the bike followed by 3.75K (so just over 2 miles) on the treadmill (20 min on the nose, so it was slow).  The foot was pain free, and I could have run more.  However, with the bike ride on the front of the workout, I was feeling a wee bit tired.  I must confess that I wanted to bike today so I could read more of "Noble House," which is flat out EXTRA AWESOME.  I should probably take a moment to state that, on Tuesday, I finished "The HAB Theory," which is a book that Bob Johnson first mentioned to me when we were Juniors in high school.  He did tell me how it ended, but I have honestly thought about reading that book for THE LAST SEVENTEEN YEARS.  I found it awhile back for $2 at a book store, and I picked it up.  Well let me tell you - IT WAS UTTER DONKEY TRASH OF THE IMPERIAL GALACTIC ORDER.  WHAT A WASTE OF 2 WEEKS OF MY READING LIFE!!!!  Bob - you're killin' me, man!  I thought it was going to be this colossal story of man vs. the end of the world, but it was this utter goat rodeo of affairs, failed marriages, and cheesy love stories.  Oh, the horror, the horror...

And before I kick off with the featured part of the blog, I simply MUST give Terrier a shout out about a GREAT conversation I heard in the elevator last night.  So I get on the elevator with 6 people when I arrive home - 5 guys clearly from Africa and 1 dude DEFINITELY straight out of Britain.  These two groups clearly have nothing in common save for the fact they are working on an oil rig together here (he's got BP on his shirt).  The convo goes like this:

British Petroleum Foreman Dude (BPFD):  "So, have you guys ever eaten at Yang before?"  (Sam suppresses laughter...huh, huh...)

Collective Group of Dudes in Singapore for the First Time (CGDSFT):  "Um, no."

BPFD:  "It's French food.  Do you like French?"  (SIDE NOTE - Why the hell is the FRENCH restaurant named YANG?  Shouldn't it be called "Oui" or "Pret a Manger" or "Toot Sweet?")

CGDSFT:  "Um, we have never tried it."

BPFD:  "Oh, you'll like it.  It's just like English food.  I'm from England, and I can't tell any difference between French and English cuisine.  If you've had one, you've had the other."  (Bull suppresses further laughter and makes mental note to tell Sophie that the Brits have bashed her country yet again).

So there you have it, Sophie - Fish & chips = all the wine, cheese, and tare tare you can handle - don't be hatin'...

So, let's get to the featured bit, shall we?   We took the overnight flight to Sydney on Thursday (actually Friday at 12:35 AM).  You'd think that the airport would be quiet at that time of night, but it's actually heaving with long-haul connectors and flights to India.  Jenny and I cleared customs with 30 minutes to spare and went over to the free foot massage station (OH YEAH, BABY!) and had a 30 minute footrub.  Seriously - it was guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud.  We then hopped the flight, which was just 6 hours and 50 minutes Down Under.  Now, the good part is that it's a quick flight.  The bad part was that I'd run 10 miles before getting on that plane and I was EXHAUSTED.  However, I couldn't sleep because a) they feed you TWICE whilst on that flight (seriously - coach on Sing Air is a basquillion times better than US Airways business) and b) there was a gal beside me (not Jenny) who reeked as though she hadn't bathed in 17 years.  Seriously  I thought it was the dude in front of me (he looked like "one of those," but when the 4'8" stinkbomb stood up at the end of the flight, I realized who the culprit really was.

We arrived on a bloody FREEZING day - 40 F!  Considering that it was 88 F when we left Singapore at MIDNIGHT, that was quite a shock for us.  We cleared customs and wandered out to find Dommy, whom we hadn't seen since our wedding.  No one was at the arrivals area when we walked through, but literally 30 seconds later, we see a blond gal running into the terminal with a child and a sign in hand.  And sure enough - there they are:  AUSSIES!!!!!! 

This was the first time we'd ever met Charlotte (who, let me warn you now, will be in a BILLION photos in the coming days because she very well might be the CUTEST kid EVER), and she was adorable.  All she knew about me coming into the trip was that "Mr. Sam talks funny," but she actually seemed to understand me fine (shocking, that).  And so, with Jenny in the back seat between 2 childseats and Dommy behind the wheel, we drove over the Harbour (spelled for OSC's benefit) Bridge and into North Sydney (did I mention we saw the Opera House from our window on the descent?  SO COOL), at which point we were reunited with Dean!

We had a quick coffee (flat white - it's soooooooo Australian and soooooooooo yummy) and sandwich, at which point we were introduced to a little thing called "AN AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY ON FIRE."  When Jenny and I were last there, it was just under 1.5 Aussie to the Dollar.  Now their dollar is stronger, and prices have SKYROCKETED.  Seriously - we never got out of lunch for under $50 - even without booze.  But hey - we weren't there to save money - we were there to live the dream!

After seeing Dean for a bit, we rolled over to Dommy's sister's place to pick up their son Jacob.  Now, with both kids in two, Jenny looked HILARIOUS in the back seat between the 2 of them.  I was loving this - there's no better preparation for parenting than being thrown into the mix for a week!  And so we arrived at their really cute (no matter WHAT they say about it) place, kicked Charlotte out of her room, and relaxed for a bit before wandering down to Manly Beach for a stroll.

This was really exciting for me, as I didn't make Manly last time.  It is an AMAZING area of Sydney called the North Beaches, and it's very close to an area called "The Heads," which is the actual opening to the ocean.  Dean said it best whilst taking the ferry in one day:  "Beyond that, you don't hit land for a loooooooooong time" (that land would be CHILE, in case anyone's scoring).

We had a nice stroll along Manly beach, and it was GREAT - surfers in the water (Tait - I said, "I'm a suhfeeeee frum Peeeeeeeehth" about 18,000 times on this trip - Guy sends his love from Dili, which is also for lovers), Norfolk pines along the beach, and some amazing views.  Dom had to go and move the car at one point, which meant that Jenny and I were all alone with Charlotte for about 15 minutes.  All we had to do was get her to go about half a mile down the beach in that time.  She's got a scooter, so how hard can that be, right?  Well, as fate would have it, it can acutally be pretty difficult if you suddenly run into a PLAYGROUND. 

I mean, tell me this photo doesn't just look like trouble: 
"No, Dom, I haven't seen her.  One minute my fat ass was
on the see-saw, and the next minute she was in orbit..."
After all those exertions, fortune did strike when we stopped for a drink and found JAMES SQUIRE ON DRAFT AT THE LOCAL PUB OVERLOOKING THE BEACH!!!!  Side note - James Squire (which is THE BEST Australian Brewing I've had) was the first (and tastiest) beer T-Bone and I had during out 2003 trip.  It was GREAT, and we enjoyed being in the heat (it was bloody FREEZING on the beach), catching up, and having a fine pint of ale.  It was the first time I'd ever tried to "drink and parent" at the same time, and I must confess - daily during this trip I gained a newfound respect for what parents with 2 kids go through when company comes to town.  I guess we're lucky we'll live in CLT - ain't nobody dropping by for an "exotic beach holiday" in the QC.

After that it was back to the casa, where we spent the evening catching up (and Dean took me to Dan Murphy's, which is like Total Wine in Australia) before getting Indian take-out (which was off the CHAIN) - it had been a long time since our tastebuds had visited the subcontinent, and it was so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud - peppy cheekies.

It was then to bed for an early night, as Team Taylor was bloody exhausted but THRILLED to FINALLY be Down Under.  You'll hear it from me a lot in these upcoming posts, but it is 100% true - that place has captured my heart and imagination like no other (save home, of course), and if it weren't 9,459 miles from Charlotte, we would give serious thought to living there.  But alas, it is 30 hours in the air away and in another hemisphere, so we'll have to content ourselves to (hopefully fairly frequent) visits instead.

Okay, I know that's just 1 day, but it's late, and so that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

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