Monday, 1 August 2011

On issues with Australia

On playing chicken with Air Canada
During the last week, I thought I saw a very good deal on flights to Oz. However, I didn't jump on it as I wanted to wait until August to put the charge onto my credit card. When I tried this morning, the price was the previous standard one. Either I had checked using earlier dates to see what it would cost closer to the date of departure or the tickets sold out quickly. Either is possible, and to be honest I have been a more than a little distracted of late. However, it did highlight the fact that I am in a financial game of chicken with Air Canada.

On the wind patterns in Australia
My working plan has been to start in Broken Hill and go to Melbourne. This is, by and large, a North to South route. It has the psychological advantage of starting in a small town in the Outback and going to real goal: the Indian Ocean and Melbourne. As well, Melbourne has a lot to offer the tourist with a day or two to kill, before his train back to Sydney. Not mention bike shops that would provide a bike box. Conversely, biking in the opposite direction has the issues of trying get out of a large city on a bike (no easy task for the unfamiliar), riding towards what is comparatively little more than a fly speck on a map, and ending up in a smallish town with little to do in order to kill time before your flight back to Sydney as well as a relative shortage of bike shops and their bike boxes.

However, the winds tend to blow South to North in that part of Oz. As well, the longest days in my propose itinerary are the days between Broken Hill and Mildura which would probably be better at the end (when I am in better shape) than at the start.

Anyway, I can wait much longer before deciding which way to ride in Australia.

On my passport
My old passport ran out on the 13th of July. I had applied for a new one at the beginning of July. A notice saying they had tried to deliver it was in my mailbox last week. Unfortunately, I was only free to go to my local postal branch this afternoon. This was much more exciting than it otherwise as there had just been a heavy thunderstorm resulting in some flash flooding. In order to get to my destination, I had to traverse this major puddle.
Taken with my iPhone

You can see a motorcycle on the left of the picture. As I approached this obstruction, I saw it's rider, a young black woman, consulting her cellphone, evidently trying to figure out a way around it. It was deep enough, that my feet got wet pedaling through it.

At the postal outlet, the guy behind the counter knew instantly not only who I was, but also where to look for my postal needs. Rather than look under parcels, he went to the registered letter drawer. I am a little worried by this as I have no idea what his name is. He falls under my mental label of balding-red-headed-probably-gay-Québécois-man-who-works-at-the-postal-outlet. I don't get all that many parcels or registered letters, but he no longer asks me to provide ID except for pro forma reasons.

Riding home, I went by a different street, which turned out also to be also somewhat flooded. The same black female motorcyclist was coming the other way and smiled at me with the comment that there was a lot of water. Fortunately for me, I could walk my bike through the un-flooded pedestrian portion of the underpass.

Anyway, I am now in a better position to apply for an electronic Aussie visa.

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