Melbourne, Australia

Trip Start Dec 15, 2008
Trip End Dec 19, 2008

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday 19th December
No such luck for a sleep-in, between the ferry horn and the rooster on my porch. Head down for breakfast (banana pancake and tea) and eat with Horst, Eva and Bud. They're off to Lombok by way of a nine hour ferry ride then an eighteen hour bus trip across Sumbawa. I don't envy them!
Pack my bag and go for one last walk around Labuan Bajo. Find a milkbar that has internet so write a quick letter home. Catch a motorbike to the airport. Check in is an experience. It takes four men ten minutes to process each person. I don't mind this, because I'm at the start of the queue and it's not like the plane is going to take off without its passengers. But a pair of grumpy old Englishmen behind me are getting impatient. Why they want to hurry into the waiting lounge I don't know, but they keep trying to get me to join in their pessimism by saying things like "Organised chaos, huh?" I ignore them, but feel like saying "No, Puduraya Bus Station is organised chaos. This is just what happens when you don't have computers to rely on and everything has to be done by hand. Surely you of all people would remember those days?" But I don't want to have to talk to them, so I just keep ignoring them. Personally, I love this Indonesian phenomenon of rubber-time.
Anyway, no-one misses the plane and it's fully packed, unlike the trip over when I shared it with about 10 others. Also this time, TransNusa have decided to borrow one of Trigana Air's planes, instead of Riau Airlines. It's still a Fokker 50 though, which is cool. I get one last look at Labuan Bajo as we take off (the town reminds me of Cape Suzette from the Tailspin cartoon we used to watch was kids [spoiler: after rewatching Tailspin, it's nothing like Cape Suzette. Cape Suzette is sparkly and modern, this is frontier and corrugated tin]). Then it's over Rinca and Komodo, Sambawa and all its associated islands, Lombok, and soon enough, Bali.

Meet Chris at the airport - she just dropped Sean off for his flight to Perth. On the way back to her place she takes me to a craft supermarket. Everything is overpriced and wouldn't clear Australian quarantine anyway, but it's a good way to see what the island produces without going up into the villages. Which is half the point of buying Balinese handicrafts, but anyway.
The driver takes us back to Chris' place and the maids fix us some mango and watermelon. Then it's time for a much-needed snooze on the verandah. I'm having a swim in the pool when Chris' stepmum gets back. She asks where Chris is, and I point to her villa where she's still asleep. Nor starts yelling at her for neglecting her guest. Nor's funny.
I sample some snake fruit. It has a skin that looks and feels exactly like snake skin, with small, overlapping scales. They're a local favourite. They taste a bit like a cross between morinda and somethings that's nowhere near as repulsive as morinda. Jackfruit maybe? Nice, but not in the same league as mangosteen.
Pretty much all of the afternoon is just chilling by the pool. In the evening we walk into the restaurant strip of Sanur. I spot a dog I like to think has rabies. It probably doesn't. We go to an Irish pub and I try some arak, which is made from the fermented nectar of the lontar palm. It's like old wine and Bacardi, or maybe a mild whiskey. Not bad!
At 9pm the driver picks us up, drops Chris home and takes me to the airport. The amount of checks me and my luggage go through is crazy. Woe betide anyone stupid enough to try to smuggle drugs out of Bali. There's a massage shop opposite my boarding gate, so I kill the time with a head and neck massage. Generally nice, except when they rubbed at my raw sunburn.

It's an empty plane into Darwin in the middle of the night. Buy a kebab with rancid garlic sauce and then spend the next five hours running back and forth to the toilets. Then it's an absolutely fully-packed plane to Melbourne, complete with hundreds of screaming kids all off to see their various grandparents for Christmas. The monsoons of Darwin give way to the red centre of the outback, and soon enough, the drought-ravaged, semi-arable country of the Murray. As we cross the Murray I notice a lake on the horizon that looks like a foetus. Just as I'm realising that it's Lake Tyrell and that Swan Hill must be somewhere close, the pilot announces that we're currently flying over the city of Swan Hill. All I'd need to do is parachute out!
Dad's there to meet me at Tullamarine, and Mum and Ben aren't far off. And then it's off home for Christmas.
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