Adios Australia, Hello Vietnam!

Our week in Sydney has come to an end and while I’m glad we visited, it’s not some place I would stay long term. Seven days was the perfect amount of time and there was only one thing remaining on my list that I wasn’t able to check off –  kayak the harbor.

My days with the kids were spent playing at the nearby park or at home coloring/sidewalk chalk/working on letters. Our rental didn’t have any toys so Eleanor got pretty creative one day and decided to “decorate” the stairs with kitchen utensils. There was a path leading from the bottom of the stairs up to the parents’ bedroom complete with spatulas, toothpicks shoved into the carpet to stand upright, spoons, and a cheese grater. Decorating?! This is more the makings of a boobie trap! My evenings consumed of having drinks at Jimmy Blanco (same bar from Sunday) and learning about the interesting life of the Chilean bartender. He and his wife moved to Sydney from Chile six years ago to learn English; they arrived not knowing a lick of the language.

I spent Wednesday beach hopping along the Coastal Walk which is a 6km Oceanside/cliff top trail from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. There was a different beach about every kilometer. My favorite was Tanarama Beach as it was one of the smaller ones (aka not insanely crowded like Bondi and Coogee) and it had rock pools!

Bondi Beach

The famous Bondi Beach

Tamarama Beach

My favorite – Tanarama Beach

 

 

Sydney Coastal Walk

View from the Coastal Walk

On Saturday, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and wow, what a day that was. For as big and internationally recognized as Sydney is, their airport was awful. Everything from the traffic flow patterns (who has a one lane road to access an airport?!) to crosswalks (who gives cars the right of way over pedestrians at an airport) to filling out your Australian customs form at the baggage check counter (something you could have people easily do while they’re waiting in line) was just poorly designed. The 8 hour nonstop flight was pretty uneventful. Thank God the kids travel really well.

 

We landed in Vietnam around 3:30pm, but we didn’t leave the airport until over 4 hours later…. First, we had to sit on the plane for over an hour as they couldn’t open the doors because it was raining too hard. We’re back in Asia…  I thought they didn’t care about safety here. Then we had to pay for our Visa but they didn’t take credit cards and yet their ATM machines were located outside of visa, immigration, and customs areas. An immigration officer had to escort Melissa to the ATM, yet they wouldn’t just take the cash from her after she withdrew it. Instead, after she got back, we had to wait for the cashier to call our names, after 40 some other people who were also in the same boat. After that fiasco, came the immigration line. While they had 10-15 lines open, each line still had 10+ people waiting.

So finally, after 4 hours, we exited the airport and hailed a taxi. Turns out, they drive on the right hand side of the road here and the steering wheel is on the left hand side of the car. Wooow, this is weird. They’re driving on the wrong side of the road! Wait… no… this is normal! Oh, I’m so screwed when I get back to the US.

Speaking of which, our epic journey will officially be coming to an end mid-May. We will spend 4 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, two and a half weeks in Tokyo, and then return to home soil.  My brain has been going a thousand miles an hour on what to do next since finding out on Friday. Back to reality…. maybe… Stay tuned for my next life chapter upon my return.

Today was spent getting to know the area we’re staying in (District 1 for anyone who’s familiar with HCMC) and laying in bed. After the LONG day yesterday, I felt I needed one day to really do absolutely nothing. And let me tell you, it was glorious!

Per usual, when leaving a country, I will leave you with this:

Things I learned in Australia

          Nobody runs red lights. Or even yellow lights. If a light turns yellow, Aussie driver would rather slam on their brakes than go through the light.

          All stores close by 7pm

          They take pride in their green space. Lawns, parks, landscaping, you name it

          Chips means French fries. Crisps means potato chips.

          Aussies have somehow found a way to make their food burst with flavor. Especially fruit flavored items.

          Even though they drive on the left-hand side of the road, there is no such thing as left turn on red.

          When a store posts their closing hours as 7pm, it means all the employees will be leaving by 7pm so you’d better be out of their store by 6pm.

          Alcohol, especially wine, is super cheap in liquor stores. However, it will cost you an arm and a leg to buy drinks at a bar.

          Jack Daniels and Coke comes pre-mixed in cans and they’ve surprisingly nailed the Jack to Coke ratio. They also sell Jim Bean with cola and Wild Turkey with cola in cans.

          Australians get fined $200 Australians Dollars if they don’t vote in their prime minister election (4 year terms).

          There are no term limits on the Prime Minister

          There are public filtered water fountains everywhere!

          It is illegal to jaywalk. Police departments actually assign officers to patrol this on a daily basis.

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