I’m back in the good ol’ USA after traveling for 22 hours. I’m expecting a jet-lag hangover tomorrow. Today I had a 3.5 hour nap, so I’m still up at 11:30 writing a blog post. Here are some thoughts about my trip.
I got more out of the conference than the delegates. What a tremendously smart group of people. I was amazed at the questions they asked and the information I was able to pick up from them.
Lecturing is hard work. I was surprised how tired I was. But I learned a lot about the experience and I’m sure I will do a better job the next time.
I finally got to meet Charles Williams. In addition to sitting in on his excellent lectures, I really enjoyed spending time with him and his wife.
International travel is for people who can afford business class. I “updgraded” to Economy Plus on the way over and enjoyed the five extra inches, but fourteen hours on a plane was still a painful experience. Had I not had an empty seat next to me, my wife and I would have had the two middle seats in a 3-4-3 arrangement, which would have been brutal.
I attempted to starve myself of sleep before the trip. I slept only five to six hours per night for five days before I left hoping I would be so tired on the plane that staying awake would not be an option. I don’t sleep on planes, and this was no exception. On my 14 hour flight, I probably slept three.
On the way over, I listened to 136 songs on my iPod. On the way back, eight-six. I watched some movies on the way back, all of which sucked. Don’t bother watching Dan in Real Life, Martian Child, or August Rush. I also watched the first 10 minutes of Enchanted, but started getting a cavity, so I quit watching. On the way over, I watched Juno (not bad), and the first half of Elizabeth: The Gold Age three times. The latter kept stalling and they would start it from the beginning. I liked what I saw, but while watching the third time I swore it would be the last. After it stalled the third time (some sort of technical problem), they just played a different movie. I hope to see the rest of it someday.
Airplane food is bad. I know that if you saw a comedian in the 1980s you already know that, but I thought they fixed it by now. Runny eggs? Seriously? Just give me a bagel and some cream cheese and I’ll be just as happy.
Inexplicably I only gained one pound despite eating and drinking with impunity. I ate kangaroo, baramundi, bay bugs, grilled prawns, and a host of other things. The beer over there is good. I drank Carlton, Victoria Bitter, some honey flavored thing, Coopers and a few others. I only saw a Fosters sign once and never saw an American beer. Guinness and Stella Artois seemed popular, though.
I mentioned in my last post that things were expensive in Australia. Everywhere I went I paid 2-3 times what I would have paid in the US. To be sure, I was in tourist areas a lot, but I would expect to get a reasonably priced meal in China Town, but didn’t. I also went to a bar in downtown, but still paid AD7.00 for a beer (I later found out that James Squire is a premium beer). My choices for breakfast were $30 for a buffet at the hotel or $8 at McDonald’s. A coke at a convenience store costs $3.
My wife and I went on a couple of ferry rides, toured the blue mountains, walked around the botanical gardens, and generally enjoyed Sydney. It is a spectacular town and we had a great time. I heard that I shouldn’t bother going to Australia unless I planned to spend three weeks. I whole-heartedly agree.
Customs was dead easy. Nobody looked through my bags and I never had to wait in excessively long lines. On the way back, I had to claim my bags in San Francisco, go through customs, recheck my bags, and go back through security. However, I had a two-and-a-half hour layover, so it killed some time. If you’re Oriental, plan on having your luggage checked. I didn’t see one Oriental-looking person get to skip the bag checking line. Come to think of it, I didn’t see any Indians get to skip it either.
Apparently I wasn’t supposed to tip in Australia. I gave the bartender a 20% tip the first night and was treated like royalty the rest of the stay. I gave our waitress a 10% tip after she forgot to bring our dessert order and she wanted to give it back. I wish I lived in a country where there wasn’t tipping, but it would take some adjustment.
I’m tired of talking about Australia. I’ll post some photos on flickr later this week and hopefully make an Excel post or two. Oh, and the post title is a reference to the subtle language differences between Australia and the US. Conduct in Reserve was on a sign listing things you weren’t supposed to do. One of those things was “drink intoxicating alcohol”, as if there was some other kind. Also, “no worries” means “you’re welcome”, “take away” means you want your food to go, and “stop looking at my girlfriend”, well that means pretty much the same in both countries.