Our trip to Hawai'i

November 1999


Fran was to give a a paper at a conference in Honolulu. This in fact meant that she had a Uni grant to pay her travel and accomodation, so Keith was able to tag along just to make sure that tax payers' money was well spent!

Day 1 - The flight

We left home at 07:45 on November 14, 1999

The 9 hour flight was very smooth, nothing to see other than 2 movies; My Life so Far and The Thomas Crown Affair.

We arrived in Honolulu at 23:10 on November 13, 1999

Already you sense our problem - we had crossed not only the equator, causing people to drive on the other side of the road, water to go down plug-holes the other way, and the sun to be in the south, but we had crossed what Captain Picard would surely have referred to as a temporal discontinuity...


Day 2 - Waikiki

Breakfast was had at a cafe style establishment about 1km walk from the Regent Hotel where were were staying. Cereal was not a possibility so we made do with banana pancakes topped in Maple Syrup. Now Maple Sryup in the land of Oz is thick and sweet, but tasty. This stuff was thin and sweet and... nothing. The decaf coffee was ordinary. Perhaps our choice of cafe was not good.

We walked back, stopping at a shop to buy a few goodies...

To you (if you're an Aussie) and me the ABC shop is a rare beast found only in Australian captial cities and from which one can purchase anything from educational but fun for the kids toys, to books and videos of David Suzuki's thoughts on Bio-ethics or Phillip Adams interviewing Paul Davies about Life the Universe and Everything (or was that a different Adams?...him too)

On Waikiki beach ABC shops are numerous, almost always open, and stock a wide range of goodies we all just have to have. We bought Corn Flakes in order not to be forced to eat banana pancakes for breakfast again... not too soon anyway. I also decided that I needed some beach footwear and splurged on a $15 pair of sandal thingies.

It was time for a swim. The Ocean view from our 23rd floor room was magnificent, especially from the balcony. We could pick out a good spot on the obviously receeding sand and then dash down in the lift hoping not to be raced to our spot by other tourists.


Land of long limos

Never have we seen so many stretched limos in one place. Honolulu is crawling with them! Many are taxis while others are more like hire cars - some so extremely extended as to require a double axle at the rear.

Interestingly the beach has large numbers of small breakwater devices which seem to fulfil 2 purposes. Firstly, they seem necessary to stop the beach eroding away. Secondly, it provides an Area in which those of us who choose not to hire giant Malibu surf boards can swim safely. This word 'safely' does seem a little strange in relation to Sydney beaches for example. There are some glaring differences in the beaches: The surf here is...what surf - its flat?, the shallow water continues hundreds of metres off-shore and the water here is crystal clear. Later we were to learn that the sand on Waikiki beach is imported from Queensland - is this true?

We swam in one of the large 'pools' semi fenced in by the breakwater thingies. Very relaxing

Lunch was at one of the hotel restaurants and was excellent if quite strange to our palettes. Then we went for a long walk around the area, heading first away from Waikiki beach back towards the mountains and then along the "other side" of a large canal which divided the rich tourist area of Waikiki beach from the local suburban area.

waikiki_3 waikiki_4

My nice ABC shop 'Hawaiian Gear' sandals, made in Taiwan from all man-made substances only just made the distance. My feet suffered from this for several days to come - not only did the shoes fall apart but their design caused major strains and sorenesses in my feet! Oh well, I have to be allowed a few tourist mistakes.

After our walk we needed a short rest, so we retired to our room with some mineral water and Heiniken beer. Sitting on the verandah sipping this for a while was all too hard to take, especially as we could look down and see the staff setting up for the AAECC (that's the acronym for the conferecne) reception which was to be held at 18:00 on the Ocean Terrace, an open deck complete with swimming pool, bar and a cafe style thingy.

We contemplated the outcome of everyone going to the reception doing as we were - waiting until enough others people arrived, but not too long - we wanted a table and chairs. The contemplation was not doing much for our growing hunger so we went down to the reception and ate lots of nice nibbly things which meant we didn't really have to work out where to get dinner. A chocolate éclaire from one of the restaurants was all we needed, and of course some coffee - local stuff which we never really got used to - it seems its always made quite weak here.

Day 3 - The Conference begins

Breakfast was non-existant as Fran had to be at the conference by 8 - she did have some corn flakes and coffee. I was left to my own devices for the rest of the day while Fran had to concentrate on lectures, and give one herself. At least she was presenting on the first day so she could relax and enjoy the rest of the time a little more!

Well, there is no surf again, but the water looks inviting...I wonder if I can get something like fruit to eat before I go for a swim? Of course...the ABC shop has some, not cheap, but it was just what I needed. Off to the beach now.

It seems that here nobody knows how to catch a wave without a surf board - but then there aren't many waves worth catching anyway. The water was wonderful and I swam a few laps of the long ocean pool - breast stroke of course - there's not much else I can do for more than 30m - I'm a poor example of an Aussie surfer.

After drying off I had a shower - and then dried off again. Deciding that my sore feet could not cope with much walking I set off in my joggers to find something, not sure what, it just seemed as if I should go walking. After reaching about the halfway point along the beach I turned up a street away from the beach and then turned back toward the hotel. This was a good move. Not only did I find a small 'Quick-Mart' where I bought bread (the first I'd seen in the USA) and apple and some more beer, but I then found a 24 hour supermarket, a camera/audio shop and some intersting shops which sold a small range of mixed goods which tended to include 'adult videos, ask at the counter', and which had grotty outdoor stairs leading to the upper level...

All this had been too much, so I ate some of the bread with the very white butter I had bought, the apple, and an ice-cream. An unusual but satisfying lunch. Then I slept for a while.

On waking I ate more bread and then sat on the verandah reading a book and watching the happenings on the beach. Still no waves of any use, but very peaceful. What did impress me was the outrigger canoes. They are fibre-glass construction boats, the outrigger also fibre-glass attached with two pieces of timber. The canoe is quite narrow, long and quite deep. What was impressive though was how well they travelled in almost no surf. Typically the outriggers I saw carried about 8 people who all paddled to get off the beach and out to where to board riders were loitering. Then on a small (less than half a metre) wave they would cruise into the beach propelled only by this tiny wave - very efficient mode of transport on the water!

Fran had presented her paper at the conference earlier in the day...I wonder how she went? Will we enjoy the Merlot I bought in the Quick-Mart?

The concierge at the Regent was very helpful when I enquired about getting around in Honolulu. We wanted to go to some places which were out of walking distance such as Pearl Harbor (US spelling of course). Well it seemed there was no way other than by taxi or renting a car - left hand-drive of course! This did not fill us with joy. Then I asked about getting to Kailua on the other side of the island and was told "You can take the bus which will take 2 hours and they won't take you if you have luggage". Well, that's obviously out. "You can take a taxi which will take about 40 mintues and cost about $40 one-way" (US dollars - so that's more like $65 in Oz). Great. A hire car is about $40 per day, but left hand drive and all that - not sure we can do this - and what about a driver's licence, will they accept our Aussie ones?

Later we learend that in fact the bus was the best way to get around - it was cheap and ran often to most of the island's towns and tourist spots.

Fran's presentation went well and she met up with a contingent from Melbourne. Naturally she ate quite well at the conference while I was forced to hunt for myself.

I opened the bottle of 1995 Merlot (M.G. Vallejo, California) I had bought and we sipped this on the verandah while making decisions about where to have dinner. We decided on the Chinese restaurant in the hotel. The food was very good and for the first time since leaving home we felt we had had a satisfying meal. The choice of dishes was however very limited, the only alchohol available was beer, and all this was much more expensive than even the trendy Chinese restaurants in Sydney.

Day 4 - in search of spuds

So far we had seen no menu anywhere which mentioned potato. After 3 days this is starting to annoy us so tonight will be a search for a meal with potato in some form - even if its just sald or even chips - sorry, fries, I keep forgetting I'm in the USA.

Fran went off to her day of talks and I finished dithering about in the room and went for a walk. This was not made easier by the still very considerable pain in my feet caused by those stupid sandal thingies, which had found their way to the rubbish bin not long after their first outing. After my walk I swam for a while, sunbathing as long as I possibly could remain that bored and then swam again.

A few minutes after my return to the room Fran appeared - one of the speakers had not shown up so she had a small break. She went back for lunch however as it was already paid for and probably a lot better than we could find without a considerable walk from the Regent. I went down to the snack bar by the hotel pool and ordered a hamburger. It was odd to be asked "how would you liked that cooked sir?". Not knowing the best answer I steered the middle course and said 'medium please'.

My first american hamburger was not nearly as bad as I had imagined, in fact it was rather good. The meat rissole thingy was much thicker than Aussie burgers, the bun like everything else here was sweet and covered in melted butter, no beetroot of course but some lettuce and tomato, an olive and a piece of gherkin - I also had cheese and this was the big mistake. I don't know what sort of cheese it was but it came as a slice much like Kraft Cheddar, was much more yellow, much more plastic and tasted mostly of sugar and soap. And the final difference - no sauce! I would have liked some tomato sauce but...in Oz the habit is now to use that horrible BBQ sauce which ruins anything it touches. Naturally this burger came with...fries...actual potato...I wonder if its possible to get it in any other form here?

Did some reading...slept a while...more reading...wrote this...

The weather

Since our arrival the temperature during the day has not risen above 24, nor fallen below 18 at night, there has been no rain, almost no wind save for a pleasant breeze in the late afternoons, humidity of a tolerable level, and a steady stream of clouds. The clouds form as the air rises over the volcanic mountains in the middle of the island and then as they get to this side they vanish (the clouds that is, not the mountains). As previously noted there is never a swell of more than half a metre and the waves such as they are are few and far between. In Sydney I could never understand why the Pacific was so named, but now I can!

Fran arrived back from her conference and we sipped on the contents of a bottle of Merlot, which seems to be the favoured red variety here, and chatted on the verandah. I had surveyed the the yellow pages in search of real food and come up with a French restaurant within walking distance. After showers etc we set off to "Michel's". This was a very expensive meal by our standards, but very good and yes, we had potato! A similar restaurant in Sydney would have cost less, had a more extensive wine list (though not so much first growth Bordeaux!), but not had the friendly relaxed but professional service. We had a truly excellent meal, right on the beachfront, and will starve ourselves for the next few weeks to pay for it!

It seems that people here eat early. A number of restaurants open at 17:00 for dinner, and we have found many people leaving the restaurant not long after we arrive usually around 18:30 or 19:00.

Day 5 - Fran's day off

We have a cunning plan. Fran and two other Aussies (from Melbourne) she met at the conference have decided to hire bikes for the day. We are all to meet in one of the restaurants here for breakfast and then go off to hire the bikes. Apparently we can get fully suspended MTBs for $15 a day. Fran and I have brought our own pedals and riding shoes just in case...

So, we hired bikes. There were actually 5 of us - Marcus (a German from Ohio), Margreet (Dutch from Melbourne), and Vaughan who was sometimes called Ian (a Queenslander from Melbourne) plus Fran and me. We had our own pedals fitted to the bikes and set off toward Hanauma Bay. About 6km into the trip I noticed that my right pedal was now not properly seated in the crank, and a few kms later it was quite loose indeed. The thread had stripped away completly from the crank shaft and my pedal was not in wonderful condition either.

This forced me to turn back, and Fran decided she would also turn back as her bike was not much fun to ride. The others continued on...more on this soon

Fran and I returned the bikes and I was charged $12 for the crank - no wonder it fell apart if that's all its worth! Then we had a sandwich and went for a well-deserved swim - my 10km ride with only one leg useable was quite tiring!

south east

Having swum we went in search of Bus information so we could see something outside Waikiki (cycling had not proved to be a good method for us). At a 7 11 store we found the bus route information and deciced to catch a 58 or 22 out to a place which had a thing called "Sea Life Park". We were not actually interested on the park, just the trip and anything else which might be at the destination point. We arrived a little before 17:00 and found the most amazing landscape of crater walls diving into the sea and a really good body surfing beach - with waves!. We took some photos in the quickly fading light and waited for the next bus. It duly arrived and we caught it back to town. It was by now dark and we were hungry.

south east

Before leaving we had left voice mail messages for the others to call us on their arrival back in Waikiki. it was now 18:00 and they had only just arrived back! Marcus had quite a sunburnt face, but seemd in good spirits. They had reached Hanauma Bay and hired snorkelling gear. There i scoral and multitudinous fish amongst which one can swim. Margretta said they stayed in the water for a good 2 hours! They also met a girl called Leah who bewitched them in some strange way and made them want to go to a particular restaurant...

We met up on the lobby and walked to the restaurant. It was very popular - more than a one hour wait for a table! We however booked in and grabbed some beers from the bar. After a short time some people left and offered us their table, right down on the beach. More beers. Then we called a waitress and ordered some entrée...Our beeper, given us at the front door signalled that our table was ready but we were so comfortable that Vaughan decided to tell them we would stay at our current table. What we didn't know was that this reduced our menu choices significantly. No matter, we ordered some more yummy things and finished off with a really huge piece of a special icecream cake covered in chocolate sauce!

The beer we had been drinking was Blonde Ale - a saviour to us as Budweiser really has, to Fran and me at least, no flavour at all.

Day 6 - back to the conference

At 8:00 Fran went off for her day of talks, and I decided that as my feet were still very sore, today would be a quiet day. I needed to recover from the energetic day and late nate as well. Today is our last full day in Waikiki - tomorrow we cross the island to Kailua and stay there for a few days.

As I left the hotel to wander about I met Margreet and Vaughan in the lobby about to return their bikes, so I went along with them for the walk. Margreet was sepaking that morning so she rushed back, but Vaughan and I had some breakfast befreo he too reutned to work. He offered to swap places with me for the day, but I felt my presence in a Maths conference would easily be noticed as soon as I opened my mouth to speak, so I declined his kind offer.

The weather is less perfect today, it rained overnight and it is still trying hard to be a sunny day...

I decided to spend the day finishing the book I had begun reading 6 months ago - "Fearful Symmetry" by Ian Stewart and Martin - a good book for goobers like me who can't attend conferences. I succeeded in finishing the book and gaining a slightly better appreciation of the gait of not only a horse, but a centipede.

A quick swim in mid afternoon (actually I swam in the ocean) cleared away the lethargy which decends on those who stay in-doors and read all day.

Dinner was provided by the conference - sumptuous feast complete with entertainment (see "the conference").

The Conference

Well there was lots of talk about things combinatorial, algebraic, cryptographic, pseudo-random, how to encode this and decode that, Grobner bases seemed a popular topic, and lots of other things that I didn't hear, since there were concurrent sessions running. I survived my talk and the dreaded questions!

Lunches at the conference were interesting. We usually started with salad consisting of a large amount of lettuce, with a small amount of some other randomly chosen (appropriate) other veg. After a while some bread rolls and pale butter would appear, and we enthusiastically went for the rolls, since many of us were feeling starch deprived. Guess what colour they were inside - purple - they tasted quite nice however, if a bit sweet.

Main course (entree was what it is called here) was usually some sort of meat with unusual sauce and - rice. Steak and rice was the strangest combination and at this point I really started craving a big heap of mash. Then came coffee, yes that's right, dessert comes after coffee here. It was usually a mass produced cakey-moussey-fruity type selection, not too bad.

There was a significant Oz presence at the conference, so we tended to hang out and discuss the food and what we would really like to eat (or drink!). Then there was the Asian guy who was giving a talk in which he was explaining the Blute Force approach to the problem. Fortunately I was sitting away from the other Aussies, otherwise it may have become embarassing!

The conference dinner on the second last night was quite a feast. We were arranged (using some complicated combinatorial algorithm which turned out to be effectively random) at large round tables. We were then requested table by table to collect our food from the buffet, which was a most impressive spread. It was an interesting mixture, and one couldn't quite tell how much of what to choose, since the other end of the table was not in sight. There was salad, and Japanese stuff including some sushi, some fruit (clearly for main course, but we came back to it for dessert) some noodles and rice, a chook dish, and some other hot things, and finally a most impressive roast sucking pig. (Guess what was missing - spuds!).

During the meal there was some entertainment provided by three Hawaiian musicians who sang and played guitars and double bass. After a while there appeared three girls who did hula dancing and chose various members of the audience to join them - not always a pretty sight. There were some Tahitian drummers, who played very loudly, but what they played was quite interesting.

There were the usual speeches, and for some reason the outgoing chairman was invited to sing with the band - well... Of course this then meant that the incoming president, from Melbourne, couldn't avoid having to do something similarly embarassing. Now since Aussies generally don't know any Hawaiian songs, and the Hawaiian musos don't know any Aussie songs, things looked doubtful. However, in the true tradition of mateship, all the Aussies in the room (even the honorary ones) got up and gave a hearty rendition of Waltzing Matilda - except for the last line where we all had different words. It turns out that most of us play instruments, so at the next conference in 2001 in Melbourne, the rendition will be instrumental instead of vocal (oops - we might have to rehearse!).

The Land of Funny Plumbing

Every item of plumbing here works slightly differently. Now in Oz some people like to include in their bathrooms certain items which enforce an intelligence test upon visitors, eg the button on the dunny could be well disguised as part of the pattern in the wall paper, or just in a very unobvious place. In Hawaii, the button is a knob which you turn, and then a very complex series of operations happens - the bowl (which contains a big shallow puddle rather than a little deep puddle) empties with a slurping noise, and is then gradually refilled.

The most interesting thing is the incredible variety of mixing taps in use. This requires great thought on the part of the unwary, especially if one is in the public washroom, trying to behave as if one has always used such devices. The tap that spurts water when you put your hands underneath and stops automatically when you take them away wins the hi-tech prize. Another interesting design is a tap with a big knob on the front. Now one would expect that turning the knob makes the water come out, but no, that controls the temperature, to get water one lifts the knob. If that was not difficult enough, try getting the plug to work. This is controlled by a little plunger thingy behind the main tap, and one has to look quite hard to find it.

All showers are binary - you can't have a gentle shower, otherwise it doesn't get hot, you must have a full-on shower if you want to choose the temperature. The prize for the most complex system goes to the Hawaiian Regent. The shower is over the tub, but instead of have taps for the tub and taps for the shower, there is one "tap". It had two parts however - you see the dilemma. The top part was a knob moved by a lever, with directions for hot and cold. This gets turned on, the number of rotations of the lever seems irrelevant, so long as you do a lot. Below this is a slider, with a picture of a tub at one end and a shower at the other - and you use this in the obvious way ie. if you choose the tub end the water spews out the tap for the tub, at the other end you get a shower, and in the middle it seems to do a bit of both (I suspect it was not supposed to though). This is all most disconcerting after a long flight and an even longer trip to the hotel from the airport.

Day 7 - More random events

Today is the finale of the conference, so I have to make sure we can get to our next place of temporary abode, Kailua. I rang the bus company to confirm the information which after some extensive examination I had gleaned from the brochure purchased earlier in the week at a 7 11 store (sorry, shop)

Fran returned from the conference around 11:30, we checked out, and walked with our bags to the nearest bus stop where we waited about 30 minutes for the route 58 bus. Here we chatted with an American conferencee who wished to catch the 22 to Hanauma bay, have a quick snrkel with the fish and get back in time for his flight home. He was sorely dissappointed when the bus arrive full and would not accept any more people - he now had to re-assess his and afternoon's activities.

Our bus duly arrived and we sat quietly watching the landscape, much of which we had seen on our Wednesday trip to the Sea Life Park. We asked the driver to let us know when we were at Kailua and he agreed cheerfully - its just that he forgot and we ended up walking a very long way back into town with all our luggage, plus at least twice that far again to the B&B into which we had booked. Luckily the last 500 metres was spared our weary plods by a kindly local lady who saw our tiredness and drove us this last stage.

We rested.

Fran then went on a food gethering expedition and was most successful, finding in the local area a shopping centre complete with "Safeway" supermarket. For dinner we ate steak, not too bad bit less tasty than our Oz beef, and..wait for it...SPUDS!!!!! Our hosts had a gas BBQ on wqhich we rasted the spuds and fried the beef - a real meal, and we only had to wait 7 days.

Day 8 - Splendors of Kailua

Breakfast was good - cereal providede by our hosts, bread Fran had bought and some coffe of a better brand than we had had everywhere else. The coffee was also one of Fran's great shopping triumphs.

Next was the beach. We wandered down and took a long swim in real waves - still nothing like Sydney, but quite respectable and suitable for non-beach-animals as we. Keith was stung by a blue-bottle, but not very badly... We lay on the beach for a brief period doing that very boring and wasteful thing called sunbaking, but this of course was holiday now for Fran as well as me! Our sunburn cream held well and no harm came of our more than 2 hours on the beach.

kailua beach

Luch was simple - bread and butter we had bought - the afternoon spent reading and resting. Our hosts kindly offered to drive us into town at about 17:30 as they were going in as well. This provided my still very painful feet a modicum of of comfort as well transporting us to the best meal of the entire trip. I had, in Waikiki, found that Kailua had one of those rare beasts known as an Italian restaurant. We had a superb meal, well priced and even managed to have Aussie wine - not the garbage Aussie wine we had seen in the ABC shops and elsewhere, but a D'Arenberg red for which the lady proprieter had nothing but the highest praise. She only liked French and Australian Wine!

Day 9 - laziness (Sunday)

kailua beach

We rose late-ish and made some breakfast, read a little and then went for a swim. The waves were marginally bigger and it was a very relaxing surf. Then we made some lunch and spent a while reading. After that we went back to the beach just to sit and watch. By now it was approaching 17:00 and we were beginning to feel the first pangs of hunger. Fran had done a quick dash to the shops earlier and we now had chicken legs and potatoes to cook on the gas BBQ thingy - yum! Add this to a Guiness before dinner and some Californian Cab Sav with the meal - not too bad.

Day 10 - The North of Oahu

After breakfast we packed our camera bag and walked to the nearest bus stop. a 56 took us to the Kamehameha Hwy where we caught a 55. This bus travels along the north coast of Oahu where the serious surfers go for the big waves.

It took an hour or so but we arrived at Sunset Beach, one the famous ones and got out to watch the surf. Well, the waves were not gigantic, but they were big enough to be threatening and very noisey. There are parts of the coast here with rocky outcrops at the water's edge and at these points the waves crash spectacularly. As could only happen in the US there are houses built almost on the beach, between the road and the sand. When the waves reach 10 metres as happens here not only are the houses in the waves' path but the road is cut as well.

sunset beach

Owners of these houses seal them up water tight and move out until the waves receed. During the big competitions board riders are dropped into the water by helicopter as it is nigh impossible to get through waves any other way.

We caught another bus and continues around the top end of Oahu and back into Honululu - this took forever as Honululu is wall-to-wall traffic, almost all day long. Then we changed buses again and came back to Kailua along the Pali Hwy which proved to be a fast and direct route.

sunset beach

Showers, then a walk to the local shops to draw some cash (to pay our hosts) and to find dinner. A 'family' style restaurant called the Yum Yum Tree proved simple but tasty (actually the restaurant was not tasty at all, but the food served there was) and we enjoyed this meal as much as some of the fancier ones from our stay in Waikiki... A large jug of Steinlager helped wash it down!

sunset beach sunset beach

Car culture and laziness gone mad

At the local shops in many places it is possible to order take-away (called take out here) from a machine. Customers drive to the machine and operate it from within the car, then drive around to the collection window on the other side of the establishment to await the food.

The most absurd extension of this we found in Kailua at the shops near our temporary abode. It was possible to

  1. Drive to the ATM and use a card to get some cash - don't get out of the car of course as the ATM is placed so customers can drive through
  2. Now drive to the take-out order machine, still in the car and order your meal, perhaps paying with some of the cash you've just withdrawn
  3. in case this might become hard work you can stay in you car while your food is prepared - just drive to the collection window and wait there, engine running of course.
  4. Finally, but only if really necessary drive straight ahead into the petrol (sorry, Gas) station to replace the fule you have just used up. You may need to get out of the car here, so make sure you have enough energy left after your tiring shoppping spree.

    We spent the remainder of the evening reading...

    Days 11,12 and 13 - the last day and the flight home

    These days a grouped as one because that is how our experience of them was - as one day. Crossing the international temporal discontinuity forced us to lose a day. Combine this with the 1:00 (yes, that's AM) departure from Honolulu and you see that indeed 3 days will make one, albeit somewhat extended. Since both 11 and 13 are primes it must be day 12 which we will only experience briefly during the temporal shift.

    Breakfast. Reading. Swim. Lunch. Pack and check that we have left the correct payment and not left anything behind. By now it is early afternoon.

    By just after 15:00 we were at the bus stop. The bus came quickly and we travelled back to Honolulu yet again - to the wonderful Ala Moana shopping complex. This complex is the largest on the islands, but its main use for us was as the place to where all bus routes lead. We wandered about the shops for a while, but with all our luggage this was not fun, so we decided to go to the airport.

    After waiting about 15 minutes we caught the number 19 to the airport - a longish trip, but at least we weren't in a hurry! Once at the airport we were faced with lots of time to kill. At first we took out our books and read, but after a while we both felt hungry. Alas the Qantas check-in did not open until 20:45, so we read quite a lot more...then we checked in. Now we were able to go to the shops and get dinner, and then of course, do some more reading. The gate opened at 22:00 and several walks, chapters and drinks of water later we boarded and took off at 01:00 on Wednesday morning local time.

    During the flight the movies were not wonderful, but gave us something to do when we couldn't sleep, which was most of the time. We arrived home at 08:00 Thursday moring Sydney time and to our delight were able to collect our bags and clear customs very quickly. By 09:30 we were home having used 2 taxis and a train to get there.