Gold Coast

There is something I find fascinating about the Gold Coast. Just a 15 minute drive takes us to the beach. It’s late afternoon, windy and chilly, but there are many folks out walking the promenade by the beach. It’s part of the life style here. Old and young walkers. Families and couples and singles. Dog owners and cyclists.

We planned to walk on the sand and dip our toes in the ocean, but the wind tells us to stay up on the promenade. We will have to wait for a warmer day.

We stroll and watch the waves and the people and look at the houses and condos bordering the promenade. I would love to live in one of those condos and watch the ocean all day.

A winder surfer comes to shore for a rest and then heads out again.

Life on the Gold Coast.

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Cell Phones and Travelling

I hum and haw about taking my cell phone with me to Australia. Since I am visiting family, I don’t really need a phone. Who am I am going to call? The only reason to take one is to communicate via Whats App with the Canadian family members and my group of neighbourhood ladies (via WIFI). Ah, I don’t really need to do that……so I left it at home and only take my WIFI only iPad.

I feel like I am missing an appendage. I want to send Murray a text or two or three, but I have to use email. Then I couldn’t get a WIFI connection at the Edmonton airport, so I couldn’t even do that. 

Air Canada was very efficient and sent an email (there was also an option to receive texts which I unchecked, of course) informing me of the gate for my Brisbane flight. If I had my phone, I would have gotten the text right away, but the whole connecting to WIFI gig when I was speed walking through the airport, because our flight was late, wasn’t going to happen. So I got the email once I was sitting at the proper gate, having used the old fashion method of checking the Departures Screen in the terminal.

After this experience, I think I would like to travel with my phone just for the convenience, at least for the Canadian portion of journeys. I know, there are SIM cards and Travel Plans. But unless cell coverage phone calls or texts are needed for travel, is it REALLY necessary. My sister and her husband are traveling in Greece and England right now and they both bought SIM cards for their phones. One to be able to contact AirB&B folks and one to communicate with the folks that arranged a walking tour to confirm pick up and drop off spots. This is a logical use of SIM cards. Our impending trip to Africa is a different type of trip and I cannot see a use for SIM cards, so every trip is different. 

I arrive early to the spot where my son is picking me up. No WIFI, so I sit and wait. Not a terrible thing, but I am wishing I had my phone and it had an Australian SIM card.

I do think that the cell phone is becoming a tool that everyone assumes everyone has and uses. I am sorely missing my appendage.

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Australia Gets Closer

I packed my bags on the weekend and decided to check a bag. I did not realize how heavy children’s books are! The small pile of five books is heavier than I imagined, so a checked bag it is. The bag is surprisingly full, but I am taking some clothing I do not normally travel with.

  • Sweat pants, warm shirt and fuzzy for lounging in
  • Workout clothes, plus sneakers
  • Indoor Birkenstocks
  • Beach towel for swims in the pool or ocean

So, if I left the books and the above items at home, I would be taking my carry on bag. As I get older, I am realizing that sometimes not having to lug a carry on bag through airports is rather appealing.

My only issue with checking a bag is waiting for it at the end of a journey and wondering if it will fall down the chute and appear on the baggage carousel. In case my bag takes a side trip, I have diligently packed my prescriptions and a toothbrush in my purse!

You will see in the photo my checked bag, purse, pile of airplane clothes, neck safe and packing list. I still wear a neck safe that holds my passport, vaccination book, spare credit card and a few prescription pills. I have a rule for myself….my passport is either in my hand or in my neck safe. Our well travelled friends managed to leave a passport on a plane one day and even Murray momentarily lost his passport in an airport, so I have my rule and I stick to it. Plus, if ever, and I hope I never experience this, the airplane has to unload in a crisis, I have my passport and credit card to get me through. I think that is smart.

Tonight I will do the final pack of all those items I am still using. Tomorrow it is off to see my granddaughter! See you in Australia!

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A Solo Adventure Approaches

The excitement is growing! You see, my first grandchild was born in Australia just before Christmas and I am going to meet her next week! I am going by myself, which is kinda weird.

I have travelled alone for business and it was hard at first, but I got used to it. I haven’t travelled by myself, except to Lethbridge and Kelowna, since Murray and I started travelling together. This will be the longest we have been apart in the almost thirty years of being together. Scary and exciting at the same time.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend in the hospital and was having trouble finding my way out of the building. Shaking my head, I mumbled to myself, “I can navigate easily through an airport, why can’t I navigate through a hospital?” Once I realized where the miniscule elevator signs were I did much better and found the outdoors.

It is also weird planning, packing and preparing for a trip all on my own. Normally Murray and I discuss various aspects for the trip and this time, I am figuring it with no input. This is where a packing list comes in handy. I have printed it off and have been using it to guide my preparations.

Packing is interesting. At first I thought I would go carry on with my backpackish suitcase, but my pile of clothing, and baby presents, keeps growing and now I am not sure which suitcase to take. I may go against our mantra and check a bag! Going to the Gold Coast of Australia isn’t like going to Bhutan or Bonaire or Botswana. City clothes are needed! Nice stuff, not the wrinkled linen I wear in hot climates. So, the pile grows. The final pack is this weekend, so I will see what happens.

Stay tuned.

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Updated Blog

It has been an interesting few months with the blog. First, the email system didn’t want to work, so emails were not getting through. Apologies if you sent an email and there was no response.

Then our hosting company was arbitrarily going to move the blog database to another hosting company we did not want to use. So, we went into “save the blog” mode!

The migration of the blog, and its assorted accessories, over to a hosting company of our choosing has been complete and it is up and running nicely again. We once again are receiving emails.

If you had commented on a post or contacted us through the Contact Page and did not receive an answer from me, please please resend the comment or contact email. I would hate to think I missed someone reaching out.

Stayed tuned for most posts.

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Indonesia and Australia 2022 Photos are Posted!

I have finally posted photos into the blog from our journey to Indonesia and Australia this past September and October.

To view photos, hover over “Photos” until the drop down menu appears. The photos are under the “Asia” subheading. Hover over “Asia” and another drop down menu appears with “:”Indonesia and Australia 2022” listed. Click on it in the drop down menu. Wait until the photos load. Click on the first photo and a “slide show” view will appear. Scroll through the photos using the arrow on the right hand side or the arrow key. Click on the “x” in the upper right hand corner to exit out of the slide show. Enjoy!

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Goodbye Australia

We flew out of Bali back into Brisbane and took the train down to the Gold Coast. We had a couple more days with M&D and enjoyed their company immensely. Walked the beach, went for coffee, had take away, talked alot and then sadly got on the long haul flight back to Canada.

Goodbye Australia. We will be back!

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Lion Air, Beware!

If you are ever in need of flights to or within Indonesia, do not, and I repeat DO NOT!, book with Lion Air. Try and use any other airline! 

We have had nothing but trouble with them from before we left home, right up to yesterday’s flights. Cancelled flights were the most frequent infraction. We had a flight cancelled so we reworked the routing, then another flight on the same route was cancelled, so we reworked again for a day later, and then we found out the original flight was no longer cancelled. We were on board the Coralia at the time, so we just bought new tickets for the original date as that date was much better timing for connecting international flights. So frustrating!

Getting hold of the Lion Air call center in Indonesia was almost impossible. No queue of callers on hold. Just a busy signal again and again and again. We talked to someone in Singapore about a refund for the flights we trashed and have had no word from them. Their employees are not empowered to make decisions to solve issues. Although, the ladies at the Customer Service office at the Denpasar Airport have been very helpful.

Yesterday we flew three legs from Saumlaki to Ambon to Makassar to Denpasar. Our 15 liveaboard guest group made it to Makassar with no issues. We all split up there, going in different directions. Our flight to Denpasar was delayed three hours because Lion Air sent our plane to the wrong destination so we had to wait for the plane to come back again. What other airlines have that issue!!

Every time we took off or landed over the five legs we flew with Lion Air, I had my fingers crossed that we would not crash. I shouldn’t have to do that. And I won’t have to cross fingers in the future as I WILL NOT be flying Lion Air ever again!

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Our Liveaboard Experience

Banda Sea

There were 15 guests, of various nationalities, on our liveaboard through the Banda Sea. Two Australians, four Canadians, two Americans, two Germans, two Austrians, one Indonesian and a Dutch/English couple living in Indonesia. I find it fascinating to learn about what other divers work at, where they have gone diving, where they have travelled to and what they do for fun. On this cruise, we hung out mostly with the Europeans.

Banda Sea

On board there are always some normal, quiet, interesting, friendly folk, but there is also at least one “wanker” as one cruise director called them. The “know it all”, we had one. The “I must be the center of attention”, we had two! The “bad diver”, we had one. And the “plague carrier”, we had one and that was me. Unfortunately, this was an overload of wankers for one trip.

Banda Sea

Yeah, I was the “plague carrier”. The morning after we boarded, Murray and I woke up with scratchy throats. Murray’s resolved in a day, mine turned into a full blown sinus cold. We tested negative for Covid but wore masks, got served our food, ate separately and generally stayed away from everyone. Not a pleasant situation to be in. I missed almost half the dives which upset me more than being ostracized.

Banda Sea

I will have to let this trip settle in my mind before I book another liveaboard.

Banda Sea

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Indonesian Airports

We have passed through a few Indonesian airports on the trip. Several things stand out about them and the characteristics seem common.

As you arrive to check in you will note there are no check in kiosks. Everyone has to join in a very long line and check in at the desk. When you get to the desk there is a sign explaining the carry-on baggage weight limit is very low, 7 kg. The checked bag weight limit is 20 kg and overage fees have to be paid if you are over.

Banda Sea

There are many warungs (food kiosks) both before you get through security and after. So, if you are early and unable to check in, at least you can eat lunch.

Security is quite a bit more sensible than in the western world. The only thing you have to take out of your carry on bag is a laptop. For all domestic flights you are allowed to take bottled water through the x-ray, no matter the size.

banda sea

The airports are very large. All of the spaces are much grander than they really need to be. This means there is enough gate area seating for all that might be boarding the plane. Perhaps this is to accommodate the large population of Indonesians. There are very few gates even though there are many flights. This is accomplished by have a large tarmac where planes can park and shuttle buses take guests from the gates to the planes on the tarmac.

There is no order to how the plane is loaded. Whoever is in line first gets on the plane first. This random order actually works as well as, or better than, the regimented system used throughout the western world.

All this stuff is just different not necessarily better.

banda sea
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