Byron Bay & Brisbane
11/23- 11/24 Byron Bay, Brisbane
Laurie and Anne's daughter was also headed to Byron Bay, so we got a ride to make our connection to Brisbane -our last stop before heading to Fiji. Byron Bay is beautiful with a nice beach, but the wind was really strong, with sand blowing at us and stinging our skin and digging into our eyes. The gulls loved floating on the wind though. We made a game of letting them swoop in and take food out of our hands.
Anne warned us that Byron Bay is not secure and that we might be a target for not-so-honest individuals. We had several hours to kill, and we spent it hanging out in the park near the bus stop I was playing the guitar. Anne might have been right because after the sun went down a few somewhat seedy lookin' dudes came up, one of them introducing himself as “Slam, because I like to slam heroin”, and saying, “here let's try out that guitar!” That was when it started getting weird, so I stood up and put my guitar away and said “Sorry, guys our bus is coming soon”. (which it was)
So, we made it to Brisbane, and were greeted by the local bus driver when he saw Samantha's face at paying $11.50 for a 15 minute, one-way fare saying, “Welcome to Brisbane, home of the most expensive public transit in Australia.” We arrived at a couch-surfer's pad about 11pm that was full of young travelers from England, Germany, and Scandinavia. It was a small apartment, and people were crashed out everywhere on the floor and couches.
We didn't actually meet Justin that night, whose place it was, but we could tell he was a pretty cool guy from the way he opens his home to random travelers like us. He was working overnight shifts for the holiday season. We had a chance for a long chat the next night, and we really enjoyed his company. He's a character, with a quirky take on life and a somewhat self-deprecating attitude that was cute. He's of Vietnamese decent, and at one point said, “I'm really racist,” referring to his apprehension about his recent first visit to Vietnam and the standard of living there, but we could tell he has an open mind, and he didn't strike us as at all racist.
We spent the next day wandering around downtown Brisbane shopping for camping and survival gear for Fiji. We didn't have much time for exploring as we were focused on figuring out exactly what we might need for three and a half months in the wilderness. We found a great shop that had decent prices, and we spent too much money. But, I believe we got just about everything we need without spending money on things that will prove useless.
We came across an Asian market that had relatively great prices on produce, so we bought a bunch to contribute to Justin's food supply. That was a mistake I guess, because Samantha had told Justin we'd make him dinner and all we really ended up with was salad rolls and rice which didn't go over too well. Justin was trying to stomach the veggies wrapped in seaweed saying, “When I'm eating I'm always thinking 'more meat, more cheese!” The young German guy (who we hadn't promised to make dinner for) proved to be kind of a jerk. I mentioned that there were a bunch of veggies and he said, “Ya, I put it in a bowl and it tasted like “BLECH.” Ok, well, we had no complaints about the weird lumpy mess that I guess was supposed to be fried rice leftover from the night before. We were frantically trying to get all of our supplies organized for our trek into the jungle and flight early the next morning and I heard him comment to the other couch-surfers, “We don't know how to do this, that's what the American's say.” I'm pretty sure his comment was referencing our couch-surfing etiquette, and I was miffed considering that we were running around all day like chickens with our heads cut off and still spent an hour and a half chopping veggies and cleaning up the kitchen, while this dude layed around all day and then expected us to make him some kind of gourmet meal. Besides, couch-surfers are not supposed to have expectations beyond a place to sleep and some cool people to hang out with.
We had another $45 taxi ride the next morning to the airport. Unfortunately, it's more expensive for two people to take public transit to the airport. Anyway, after an uneventful 5 hours we arrived at the Fiji international airport in Nadi.