November 22, 2009
Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Very soon the other guys came over to my room with their luggage. We dumped everything and went outside to wait for Jens to arrive, to take us to Gold Coast. We did not expect any of the breakfast joints to be open, so breakfast was out of question. There is a bus stop right outside the apartment building and we sat there. Jens arrived very soon with his purple mazda and a very thick street directory of Brisbane and Gold Coast.
We took a bridge and got onto the Motorway (M1) very soon. The roads were beautiful and traffic was hardly out of discipline. Gold Coast is about 80 kilometers away and it took us about 75 minutes to get to Tugun, which is one of the beaches there. On the way we crossed many suburbs like Springwood, Logan, BeenLeigh, etc. (To be honest, I stopped keeping track after a while and concentrated on the view outside :P)
The first view of the Pacific left me awestruck. The water was emerald green near the shore and gets a deeper tint of blue further on. The white sands stretched on both sides and as is the norm, the general population in the entire beach would sum up equivalent to the total number of people found around a nariyal-pani walla at any given point of time on Juhu beach. There were two flags on either end, marking the area for swimming. Parag and I did not intend to get into the water since we were scheduled to fly later in the day. However, very soon our shoes were off and we were happily wading in the cool waters. Everyone else decided to get into the water. After about 1 hour we decided to end the water games and head back to the city. Unfortunately, we were short of time and could not get to see much of Gold Coast and especially the view from Qdeck, which is the observation tower on the 77th and 78th floor of Q1, which is the highest residential building of the Southern Hemisphere.
On the way back, Jens took us to his favourite Pie joint – Yatala Pies. This Pie place is about 60 years old. We walked into the beautiful cottage, and there seemed to be history pasted on all its walls. There were photographs from the past with antique cars and people in (probably) extremely fashionable clothes of the time. The ceiling fans were also of an old make. The counter staff were pulling out piping hot pies from ovens behind them. (These are probably not the ones used for cooking but to keep the pies warm.) The doors of the oven have perhaps not been replaced since they were first installed, yet they glowed with the same shine. I had a custard and apple pie. It was pretty yumm… less on the sweetness but very high on the satisfaction scale.
Very soon we were back at the hotel and got back to the ‘stuff-every-shopped-item-into-whichever-bag-it fits-into’ mode. After some amount of struggling we were finally packed and ready to leave. We met Max again downstairs at his office to complete all the formalities. We also took some photos with him. He called for a taxi for us and we hauled our luggage outside. The taxi-driver was very sweet and she asked me if we were going back home and where was home. We took a different road to the airport this time and reached there after a 20 minute ride. The check-in counters for our flight was not open and we looked around the duty free stores for a while. I found a good deal on the Golden Boronia nougat candies that Caius had brought to the office the other day and bought a big bag to carry back home. After about 30-40 minutes we checked-in and got rid of our huge bags. The security check was over fast as well. However, I seemed to have left a printout of my e-ticket on the other side of the metal detector and sort of created a little fuss to locate it. The officer there thought that I had lost my boarding pass. Thankfully, I found it on my side of the gate, where I had un-mindfully left it.
Post security, there was nothing much that we had in mind and decided to find a place near the departure gate for our flight, which was a long walk away. We started looking at all the photos that we had taken during past week and had some fun exchanging comments about them.
Our flight arrived from Auckland and soon the pilots and crew for our flight started to show up in their elegant uniforms. They were sitting on the other side and looked like a huge team, about 25 crew members. Later, it was announced from the flight deck that considering the length of the flight (~14 hours) there were 4 pilots. We were soon onboard and settled into our seats. The flight left Brisbane at 8:30PM local time. My watch was on IST and I was waiting for midnight, which would indicate that we were nearing our destination. Dinner was served and soon Ankit went off to sleep. I watched the remaining half of ‘The Ghosts of Girlfriends’ past’ and then went off to sleep.
After we crossed Darwin and were somewhere over the ocean, there seemed to be a huge lot of movement in the aisle. People were running up and down and that woke me up. Just like me some more folks on the aisle side started to crane their necks to see what was happening. Most of the crew members were loitering about in their pyjamas and tees (with ‘crew’ written at the back). A stewardess ran to the rear and pushed something like a customized wheelchair about 10 seats ahead of me. I remembered that a wheelchair bound elderly gentleman and his partner were seated there. They were among the few people who had boarded the plane first. Incidentally, this gentleman had fallen sick. After about 10 minutes, he was carried by the stewards to the back. A stewardess called for any doctors on board to step up. 3-4 people stood up and went to the rear too. The commotion continued for another 30-40 minutes and the stewardess called for a ‘registered doctor’. Things settled down afterwards and the gentleman’s partner also looked a bit relaxed and returned to her seat.
The remaining part of the flight was uneventful, except for some ugly turbulence around Indonesia. I finished watching 3 more movies. It was quite sad to see the plane pass Mumbai and perhaps Pune (because we crossed a bit to the south of Mumbai) on the way to Dubai. We arrived at Dubai sometime around 4:00 AM local time ending the third leg of our journey.