Tuesday, November 18, 2003

(just emailed from Sydney)

"Hello, everyone!

Jacky and I are now safely landed, arrived in Sarah's house, slept up and showered. It has been a long and crazy trip just to get here...it all started with the hurricane-force winds that were battering NYC the night we were supposed to fly in. Our original flight from Montreal was cancelled, so we had to take a later one, that put us in to NY 4 hours later than we had planned, giving us a little under 2 hours to get from Newark to Kennedy (a 45 min drive) and find China Airlines and get on the flight to Taipei. Even with jumping into a cab with two guys heading to Kennedy and then Buenos Aires, (who bribed the cabbie to go as fast as he could), we missed the flight by about a half hour. Then, we splurged and got a hotel room because we didn't have to fly out until 9 PM the next night. The airport hotel felt like the Ritz, let me tell you. Double beds, a shower, a view of Queens. We laughed til we fell asleep.

The next day we lazed around the hotel room, had a bit of breakfast (in NY, that's really all we could afford) and then went to the airport to wait for our flight. We sat in the food court/lounge, which afforded a very nice view of the runway, where international flights were going off about once every five minutes: Mexico, the Netherlands, Italy. That night we got on China Airlines flight 51 and didn't see the sun again for 20 hours. We basically followed night halfway around the world. At one point, over Japan, you could see some of the lights down below, and in the clouds flickers of lightning. Amazing.

We landed in Taipei yesterday at 6 am, and had a whole day to wait in the airport (which smelled like someone's basement and reminded me of the Cold War) so we ended up taking a free bus/walking tour of the city, put on by the government. There were some other young travellers with us, and it was fun. We saw all kinds of really old Chinese temples, shrines to old presidents, and a lot of dilapidated houses and a lot of motorbikes. Then back to the airport to do what we are now experts at: wait. We made friends with two Aussie blokes and so had people to wait with, and now more contacts in Canberra and Sydney.

That night we flew out and slept nearly the whole way to Australia, waking up over the outback, which was red and covered in amazing lines--canyons, bushes, all kinds of things. We landed in Sydney at 10:30 am thier time, or 7:30 Taipei time, and Sarah was there to get us. We went for lunch with Chook and then took a bit of a tour of the city in Sarah's car, (Manly Beach, Newtown) then back to chez Cashman. We had sushi for supper (that Sarah made) that was delish, and Jacky was asleep by 6. I held out til 10, and then both of us slept since.

Spring is in full swing. Bougainvilla spills over every wall and jacyranda trees have lavender-colored bell shaped flowers. The air smells like perfume. There is lush growth everywhere, crazy new trees and plants everywhere I look. Macaws and cockatoos roam the streets like pigeons or crows back home. Eucalyptus trees have reddish purple bark peeling off the creamy green wood underneath. And! They drive on the left hand side of the road, with the driver sitting on the right side of the car. It takes a bit to get used to it.

Our plans now are to chill here a bit, see Sydney, then get ourselves a place to live, in the city. Get jobs. Take holidays to various parts of Australia. Learn to surf.

So far its not that hot here, we just missed the heat wave (it was 35 degrees, apparently) and it feels like early June on Cape Breton. It rained yesterday too, and clouds are kind of and off today. The jet lag isn't too fierce, gives me a mild headache and a feeling that I'm not quite up and running yet.

Well, I shall write again when there are developments! I hope everyone is happy and enjoying the Northern climate, I'm just happy watching the water spin round the sink backwards...haha.

Your loving, Leah

PS Thanks to Granny for doing that emailing for me when I was stuck in New York. Thanks to Craig the cancer researcher/prof and his friend Angelo for paying our way to Kennedy airport and getting us there quickly. And of course thanks to the Cashman family, who is so kindly putting us up (and putting up with us.)..."

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