Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It’s 1:30 a.m. your time, and 8:30 a.m. AU time, but we’re a day ahead of you; very weird indeed. We left the USA on October 1st and entered AU on October 3rd, with only a fifteen-hour flight. That means we lost one whole day out of our lives. Where did it go? Do we feel any different? Not sure yet. But what happened to our cells, did they just blow away into extinction? Are they patiently sitting in a holding pattern at the International Dateline waiting for us to return? Do they just glob into us as we soar by? What if someone else’s cells grab on and we lose ours? These are things I’m contemplating as I sit on my veranda overlooking a beautiful marsh at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island. Every now and then an excruciatingly beautiful bird, yellows, red and purples, lands on one of the strangest looking flora and fauna at the edge of our veranda, I’ve ever seen….but I digress. Back to our 2nd day, which happens to be our first day…or something like that.

Arrived in Brisbane at 8:30 AU time. We were exhausted, then had to push, pull, and tug our heavy luggage through Customs, then through another line that checked to make sure it was our luggage we were walking away with. Found our shuttle to hotel, Siebel Citigate Hotel. It was nice, but certainly not a four-star, which was what we expected. Ginger dropped like a rock into bed. We didn’t feel well so we decided to stay in. She got comfy in her jammies while I started organizing my messy luggage and bags. I decided that I didn’t want to carry around my heavy computer bag, so would find another bag and ship this one home. We ordered room service, and split a grilled turkey club and fries; $23 plus $5 tip. Food terribly high in AU. I showered, and we slept about one hour, then we took a walk to see the city.

A great little shopping area about a block from the hotel. We noticed that everyone was so friendly here, and ready to help with directions or any questions you had for them, from wait staff to cleaning ladies; from desk clerks to salesgirls. I might add the girls have the most beautiful and creamy skin; not sun lovers like the So. Cal girls I suspect.

I found a luggage place on our stroll and bought a small, wheeled carry-on that would hold my computer. I planned on sending my current, heavy, thick and old computer bag home via post. However, after some rational thought (unusual for me), realized that would not be cost-effective, so returned the cute, lightweight one the next day. Viva the Return Queen. I’m afraid both Ginger and I are going to be seriously over-weight (airlines and body) by the end of the holiday. We started out heavy, just under 50 lbs. that the airlines requires, and have added a few things along the way.

We found a beautiful cathedral on our walk and stepped inside to see the most gorgeous pipe organ, which I felt rivaled any I’d seen in Europe. As we entered the church, dressed in sweats and looking rumpled after a 15-hour flight, a woman approached us: "Hello, are you here for the wedding?" Really????

We stopped at a coffee shop, sampled all their sweets and of course ordered them. We both ordered coffee, but when the salesgirl asked us if we wanted “flat white” or “tall black” we stared at her. “Huh?” “Flat black” with their accent sounded like “Flight Blike.” Eventually we learned that they don’t brew coffee like we do in the States; it’s made like our lattes, with steamed milk if you want cream, and cost as much as our new cars. We headed back to the hotel in sprinkles, and I organized again, fell asleep at 7 p.m., Ginger watched TV, then slept.

I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and could not sleep. Tried for another hour then got up, put on my face, dressed and left for the lobby, hoping I could get a “Flight Blike” downstairs. When I pushed the “lift” button, I heard the elevator making strange noises and lots of grinding. I had to push it several times to get it to the 9th floor. When I stepped in, I pushed a button for the lobby. The door closed but the lift did not move. I waited. I pushed again and suddenly I was dropping—it felt like three floors—then came to another teeth-jarring stop.

I froze. OMG! I looked for the red emergency button, pushed it, but no sound. Nothing. Quiet as a mausoleum! The emergency bell must be ringing down in the lobby, I thought. Surely someone will be calling me on the lift phone to tell me not to worry, be there in a sec. I pushed it again after a few more rapid heartbeats. No sound. I grabbed the railing, held my breath and pushed the G button again, and the damn thing dropped again, then another grinding noise as it slammed to a stop. Then silence! I pushed the red button again. Nothing. OMG! I thought about a YouTube I’d just seen where the guy was stuck in an elevator for about 36 hours with nothing but a briefcase. OH NO! No Panti-liners! In fact, no nothing. What if this thing free-falls to the basement? I’d be flattened against the ceiling with a terrified grimace on my face when they found me. I pushed again, and held on to the railing. It hesitated then slammed down to the G floor, where the doors opened as nicely as you please. I expected to see paramedics and hotel employees standing there as the door opened, prepared to give me sympathy and a free stay. Instead, the place was eerily quiet. I walked to the reception area, quiet. Found a cleaning lady and asked where is everybody? She called and a front desk clerk materialized. I was still shaking as I approached her desk. Did you not hear me call from the emergency button on the elevator? No, she heard nothing. Are you okay, she asks with mild concern. Well, just shaken up a bit, I said. Can you get me some coffee? Yes, I’ll call room service for you and have them deliver it here in the lobby. Oh, thank you. After that terrifying episode I felt coffee would be most welcome. I also KNEW there would be no charge, as after all, I was nearly crushed to death on the ceiling of the lift.

A few minutes later a woman appeared with a tray of coffee, and a nice fat bill, with the room service charge added on to the coffee bill, which she handed me and which I accepted and signed. Doesn’t anyone care that I almost died? I signed the $15 charge. I’d just wait for the manager to assuage my terrified emotions, and also remove the $15 charge. When he came on duty he walked over to me with a sad look on his face. Did the clerk tell you what happened to me? Oh, by all means, he said. Sorry for your discomfort. I checked the lift and it’s a bit cranky, so I put a “closed” sign on it. CRANKY, it was downright hateful. I took an obvious sip of my coffee, expecting him to say he’d take it off my bill, but NO. Just smiled and walked away as I waived the $15 bill after him. He didn’t turn around.

After I’d recovered from my terror, Ginger and I walked to the shopping mall again, returned the carry-on, bought an umbrella and sun tan lotion; a dichotomy, I know. But we were told it might rain, but after the rain it would be sunny and beautiful.

According to our itinerary, we were to catch a tour bus to the Kingfisher Bay Resort. However, what we caught was a ride in a ratty, shock-absorber-less old shuttle bus. And painted on its side was: THE WORLDS BEST TOUR BUS. I don’t think so!!!! It was a looooong four-hour, bumpy ride, on seats that were part concrete covered in thin cotton. We were dropped at a spot, along with our luggage, where the driver told us: “Wait here for the shuttle to take you to the ferry. It’ll be along shortly,” then drove away, leaving us in an extremely cold environment, with our summer clothes, luggage and empty stomachs. Actually, it was an hour-and-a-half before that bus appeared.

We were told that around the corner there was a nice restaurant where we could grab a bite. We then had to haul our luggage with us, around many corners. The restaurant was lovely, al fresco, and cold. Ginger said the “seafood chowder” might be good, so of course I had to order that too, when what I really wanted was a hamburger. When they brought the dish, it was scary. Looking up at us was a pair of beedy little eyes, feelers, attached to five inches of prawn. I gagged, Ginger winced, and then asked the waitress would she mind de-shelling this creature, which she didn’t want to touch. The waitress was shocked, amazed and insulted that we would ask such a thing, but took both of the inert bodies back to the chef, and brought them back skinned and edible (which we were not able to eat). The chef probably spit on them anyway!

On the ride, the bus driver told us a little of the history of the island. He also told us to beware of the Dingos, as they ate people regularly. He also said: Anything that can bite, claw, scratch or maim you, would probably also kill you. Lovely! He said the Dingos usually came around the pool area of the resort, so we should be aware of that and not try to pet them or give them food. Hellooooooo, I think we got that.

On our ferry ride, they announced that the island was on fire, not contained yet, but they felt the resort was safe. We weren’t so sure. He also said most tours were cancelled for the next day because of the fire danger. It was a bit smoky as we came off the ferry, but he assured us that it would probably be out in a couple days. We were disappointed that it was dark by the time we arrived at the resort, and missed the beauty of it all, but when we leave here, it will be 8:30 a.m. and we’ll be able to see the whole landscape; ocean, island and forest.

Our room was a quaint little cottage, with a lovely view of the wilderness and plant life of the island. We will not be touching anything that could bite, claw, scratch or main us while here.

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