Aussie Adventures, Part 1
After a sleepless 10-hour return trip from Australia, which my wife and I will remember as "The Flight of the Screaming Babies," we arrived in Hawaii on Thursday morning -- odd, because we had left Sydney on Thursday afternoon around 6 pm. They're a day ahead of us, and with the time zone changes it can be confusing when you try to keep in touch with contacts across the ocean.
Unlike others who post their current whereabouts 24/7 via Facebook and Twitter, I like to keep our travel plans offline so prospective burglars won't know when we aren't home. Ergo, the lack of posts on this blog between Jan. 18 and Feb. 2. Plus, we basically cut the cord (metaphorically speaking since everything is wireless these days) on all social media except for logging in to check emails every two, three days. Our pay-as-you-go AT&T cell phones didn't work in Australia, so we couldn't make calls either... and that was fine for the two weeks we were gone. Actually, it was nice to take a break from the constant stream of news and trivia we are hooked on during our usual daily routines. But it was disconcerting to see so many Aussies and visitors with their eyes riveted on smart phones, while missing out on everything else around them, whether it was a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or events such as the Australian Tennis Open matches we went to.
As you can see, I took photos here and there. Yet I kept reminding myself to put the camera down so I could take things in through my eyes and ears instead of through a lens. In the process, we came away with many impressions of the Land Down Under -- mostly favorable. In a lot of ways, the multicultural aspects are quite similar to what we have in Hawaii. Yet there seems to be a growing backlash to immigrants (especially Asians) that reminded me more of anti-Mexican sentiment you'd find in California or the Southwestern U.S. states. Another big difference is their tourism industry is relatively young compared to ours -- and to me, that represents a real opportunity for entrepreneurs who are willing to go West to tap into their expanding Far East market. More on that in my next blog post... and how we found ourselves traveling among thousands of Chinese visitors during the time period around Chinese New Years.
Oh, yeah, we also got to see Rafa Nadal and Novac Djokovic play in the Australian Open, which was our primary reason for going in January (the summer season in Oz -- almost unbearably hot and humid up north around the Great Barrier Reef area). Except we saw them separately in their quarterfinal matches, not the epic final 5-setter they played against each other. However, both QF matches were outstanding, and even the "cheap" seats in Rod Laver Arena offer terrific views (unlike the U.S. Open Arthur Ashe Arena nosebleed sections for about the same cost).
Our trip happened to coincide with the celebration of Australia Day and filming of the American reality TV series, The Amazing Race, when we were sightseeing at the Old Gaol (Jail). I've joked that when Isabel and I travel, we sometimes bicker like couples on that TV show when they get lost or disagree on which way to go. So it was an amazing coincidence to stumble upon the television crew and contestants trying to answer questions in order to get out of their jail cells -- which harkens back to allusions of Australia originally being colonized by people with criminal pasts. There's much more irony and paradoxes in present day life there I want to share... but that will have to be in later posts!
PROGRAM ALERT: The new February episode of Career Changers TV has begun airing daily on OC16. However, due to high school sports, the next couple of weeks our evening time slots are being preempted or running at later times. If you want to record the show, the best options are during the morning and day times (click here for the viewing schedule). You can also watch video segments from the current episode on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo!