Australia, Day 14: Newcastle

It took me about 3 hours to reach Newcastle. First, I had to take a bus to Hornsby, then sat in a train. It was a very lovely travel because the train passed by the rivers, creeks, and lakes on the right side. First time I learned that a seat in a metro/train could change direction. WOW! Just trying for a photo, my sis and I didn’t really put our feet on the seats.

At the station, I was trying for the beach. When I reached the Strzelecki Lookout, I knew that I was on the Memorial Walk and the Anzac Memorial Bridge was not far. Finally, I reached the place. Though it was very sunny and windy, I still enjoyed the breathtaking views of the city and the beach. I also read some signs here, but Australian history was no fun, specifically when it involved in the World Wars.

Fist time I dipped my feet in the sea where I saw people swimming and surfing, Bar Beach. The water was a bit cool, but not really cold.

I recorded a video of Central Coast by the train on the way back.

Continue ReadingAustralia, Day 14: Newcastle

Australia, Day 13: Bushwalking At Cumberland State Forest

As usual, my twin sis’d like to take a day off to rest. But yesterday didn’t wear me out so I decided to take a leisure stroll alone. And the destination I picked was the nearby Cumberland State Forest.

I was at the bus stop around 10AM but had to wait for so long that I thought I made a mistake reading Google Maps again. But then the bus came and took me to the forest at 10:40AM.

It took me some time to read the forest map near the gate and figure out which trail to start first. There were 3 main walks with indicators of easy or moderate grade, and 1 great north walk not near the other 3.

As I saw nobody walking like me, I started doubting this place was closed (on Wednesday) but still kept on walking. Then I saw exercising people, not just cars. And I began at the middle of the number 2 trail (red one) where I saw the board called Palm Gully Trail (1km return 1hr moderate grade). I really liked the billboard system of this trail. It guided me through the forest and made me think I wasn’t lost.

And I got to the center of the forest (I guessed) in just about 5 mins. Two thoughts crossed my mind: I either walked too fast, or the time indicators are for kid’s speed. The center had more people. It was like a picnic and bbq area with a cafe nearby. Then I saw the entrance of the number 1 trail (yellow one) with a board written Sensory Trail (350m loop 30mins easy grade).

I followed and old couple and a boy. They walked slowly and the woman helped the boy learn the trees in the forest. I copied them a bit by reading the boards carefully. And it took me 16 mins to finish this trail. Ah, I saw some small trash on the trail. Aussie kids still needed to improve environment awareness though.

I started the Palm Gully Trail all over again. This time I saw some adults bushwalking alone like me. The couple and the boy also did this trail. It also took me 16-17 mins to finish this whole 1km trail.

Then I saw some guys instructing a group of people something. Later, I realized that this game was high ropes course. A former colleague told me that in Vietnam we could find it in Dalat.

Next, I spared 30 minutes to do the number 3 trail (Forestry Trail) bushwalking. That involved some 5-min video recording. Sorry that I tried to stabilize the video in vain.

Then I sit down at the bench to have some peach or plum and watched some birds (rainbow lorikeets and maybe noisy miners) for a while. Indeed, the cawing and/or croaking sound of the birds in the forest was what freaked me out the most.

On the way back, I took my shoes off to remove dust from the inside. Then I found a small tree branch fitting right into the hole of the sole. What a remarkable memory.

It looked like it would rain but then it was sunny again so I determined to walk back to my brother’s home. Took me 1 hour on the streets though my sis-in-law kept calling and told me she’d pick me up.

This must be the best day of my Australia trip though I still have half of the journey to go.

Continue ReadingAustralia, Day 13: Bushwalking At Cumberland State Forest

Australia, Day 1: The Longest Flight

A small story before the departure.

“Due to engineering requirements your flight JQ62 09/02/2018 from Ho Chi Minh City to Sydney is delayed. Your flight is now expected to depart Ho Chi Minh City at 6:30pm on 09/02/2018 and arrive in Sydney at 7:10am on 10/02/2018.”

Because I was at the home airport, there’d be no reimbursement from Jetstar even though the delay time was 14 and a half hours.

Then I contacted Liberty Insurance. I’d bought travel insurance twice with Liberty before this trip, but this was the first time I experienced the claim process. Yesterday I called the hotline, and they sent me an email with instructions. Then my sis sent the documents for the delayed trip via email.

Today, they replied with this part, “Regarding the claim for a delayed trip incident from 2:00 pm on February 9, 2018 to 18:30 on February 9, 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City, the Claims Department regrets that this issue is not covered because delayed trip benefits are only considered when the insured person is abroad.” (My own translation as they wrote in Vietnamese).

The streets were so crowded with people prepping for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) that we hardly book a Grab car in the early afternoon. We had to walk a bit from home to get in a cab. Luckily, as I had known of the traffic, we got the airport on time.

This was my longest flight ever, around 8 and a half hours. After searching for the free entertainment on the plane in vain, I filled in the Incoming Passenger Card then took a rest.

I found it very difficult to sleep sitting on the plane though I had a neck pillow. I had music and ebook but they couldn’t get me tired enough.

And I found it very cold in the middle of the journey. My legs needed to be straight for a rest so I put them on my sis’s.
I kept checking the screen in front of me and felt like the plane still had a long way to go. Why was I not excited at all?

Continue ReadingAustralia, Day 1: The Longest Flight