We had a relaxed day on the 30th and did very little. I helped Kim’s stepfather with his family tree, while Kim wrestled with the packing. The good news was that we had got rid of the presents we brought with us; the bad news was we now had the beers Simon bought me plus a large plastic deer head that Kim bought while I was in Nelson (it was 70% off (possibly for a reason)).
For our farewell dinner, Kim’s mum cooked a New Zealand lamb roast which was delicious.
We had an early start on the 31st to fly out to Sydney. It was a 3 hour flight but we gained 2 hours back, so it was still early morning when we arrived. We went to the hotel and surprisingly our room was already ready, which meant we got to have a sleep.
In the afternoon we went to Woolworths (a supermarket) to stock up and bought some food, soft drinks and a rug. We then headed off to catch the 5pm ferry across the Harbour. There were already plenty of people camped out by the ferry port and there were billboards saying that popular free viewing points were now full.
The ferry ride was relatively short. Halfway across the ferry let off its horn very loudly and had to do an emergency stop. The reason for this was that a motorboat was towing a windsurfer across the ferry lane. A police motorlaunch rapidly appeared on the scene and presumably gave the driver of the motorboat a stern reprimand.
We got off the ferry and climbed a long hill. The site we had booked was next to the zoo. We showed our tickets and went through a bag search. The site consisted of a large lawn and it was about half full when we got there. We set out our picnic blanket and started to wait. Did I mention there was no alcohol allowed as it was a family site? I did a puzzle and Kim read until about 8 when it got dark. At 9 there were was a smaller fireworks show for kids. After this quite a few families left so we were able to relocate up the hill for a slightly better view. We didn’t have anything to do so we tried sleeping for a bit but it was uncomfortable and it felt like we were slipping down the slope.
At about 1140, we packed up our stuff and headed to the very top of the hill. We could now see the top of the Harbour Bridge as well as the Opera House. At 1259, there was no countdown visible but someone suddenly started at 5.
The fireworks were pretty good. There was supposed to be a tribute to David Bowie but we couldn’t hear the music where we were.
Once the fireworks had finished we hurried down the hill to catch the ferry. I managed to trip over a kerb and grazed my knee.
We got off the ferry at the other end and it was complete chaos. There was rubbish everywhere, a woman was dry retching in her lap and the police were helping some unsteady grandmas. Some of the roads were closed so we had to go the long way round. We got to bed and crashed out.
We spent all of New Year’s Day in bed. In the evening, we headed over to nearby Darling Harbour and the casino. We had a meal which included having to pay a Public Holiday premium (which they charge all over Australia.) I played poker while Kim went on the fruit machines. The casino was quite cheeky as they charge an hourly fee as well as the rake. I played an hour and then we headed over to blackjack. You are not allowed to tip the dealers in Australia and it was pretty obvious as my dealer was SOUR! She shouted at a poor American who didn’t understand the rules and didn’t even bother calling out the totals. I lost 11$ on the poker but won 50$ on the blackjack.
On the 2nd, it still wasn’t beach weather so we went to the shops and then the aquarium. The aquarium was very busy. Someone used their flash on a poor octopus and it went and hid behind a rock. There were tunnels you could walk through with sharks and manta rays swimming above.
One of the star exhibits was a dugong, which is a type of sea elephant. The dugong eats sea grass in the wild but this is hard to harvest and endangered so the keepers fed them lettuce instead. The dungong seemed happy enough.
In the evening, it was time to pack again.The good news was the beers had now been drunk but unfortunately we still had the deer head plus some clothes we bought.
We had another early start for a 840 flight to Hong Kong. We went to the Qantas lounge which was very nice and had breakfast there.Our flight was slightly delayed as the other flight was still unloading. This was not great as we only had an hour connection in Hong Kong.
When we arrived we were met by a man who came to escort us to our new gate. Kim was unhappy as he was hoping to nip out for a cigarette. We had a long trek across the airport and when we nearly got to our gate he decided he was going to the loo. He seemed a bit more cheerful when he came out. It turned out there was a smoking room next to the loo which he went in instead. We actually made the flight with plenty of time.
We got to KL and it turns out that while we made it, the luggage didn’t. We had to fill out some forms and it was put on the next flight. We took the express train to the city and our hotel was very close by. We were pretty tired and went straight to bed.