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Tropical North Queensland and a stressful check-in

Port Douglas, Australia

Our other main excursion while around Cairns was a journey into the rainforest to the west of the city. As part of a package we’d bought, we took a train ride through the jungle to a small town called Kuranda, and made the return journey by cable car (which took us right over the rainforest canopy.) The journeys themselves were pretty spectacular, although the rainforest looked to me pretty much just like normal forest, but with slightly greener trees. And the odd parrot.

While in Kuranda, we paid visits to a bird sanctuary and a nature reserve. The bird sanctuary was actually pretty cool. It was a massive hemisphere with no cages, just a giant net held way above all the trees, so that although the birds couldn’t escape, they could at least fly around and go (roughly) where they wanted. My dad managed to get loads of good pictures of all the different types of birds, while I spent my time taking some pictures and trying to avoid getting crapped on. Angela was apparently less fearful of this than me, and even coaxed some birds onto her shoulders in exchange for some food (bird blackmail.)

At the animal sanctuary, we saw some wallabies and kangaroos with joeys in their pouches - and mum and Ang finally got to hug a Koala, though Ang said afterwards that it actually smelled pretty bad and didn’t look all that cute up close.

This was pretty much the end of our time together as a foursome, so we said goodbye to my parents in Cairns as they flew back to Sydney, and the next day me and Angela caught the bus up to Port Douglas. We spent a long weekend there staying with one of Angela’s friends from home; Brooke, who is living there with her Aussie boyfriend, Kass. Apparently Tom Hanks had just been in town filming a new war film, but though we just managed to miss him, we really enjoyed our last few days in Australia chilling out in our subtropical setting. The town was smaller than I’d expected, but had a really relaxed atmosphere and really did feel (as Kass had said to me) like every day was a weekend.

Our last journey in Australia was a flight down to Syndey, where we spent one last day wandering around the city. The next morning we caught our last glimpse of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, did some last minute souvenir shopping, and then caught the train to the airport for our flight to Hawaii.

The flight to Honolulu from Sydney was going to take about 13 hours. It was operated by JetStar (the Aussie equivalent of Easyjet.) It was the combination of these two factors that worried me. The main things I like about flying are the free food, free drinks, and the little tv screens in the back of the seat in front of you, where you can watch movies and see that map that shows you where you are in the world and how much longer there is to go. A JetStar flight promised none of the above. We’d actually booked the flight as part of our round-the-world ticket, so had no idea at the time who it would be with (though the rest of our flights had been BA and Qantas.) When we got to the check-in desk, we attempted to clarify the situation only to be greeted by the most unfriendly ‘assistant’ imaginable. As we were putting our bags on the belt to be weighed he lost it,

“Come on, come on! We haven’t got all day!”
Slightly taken aback, I then asked if we’d be given free meals on the flight.
“Free meals?! Why would we give you free meals?”
“Well, it’s a 13 hour flight, so we’re going to need some food. I know it’s a JetStar flight, but the flight number on our ticket is actually a Qantas number-and whenever we’ve flown with them before, we’ve been fed.”
“Well, well, well. How do they make a profit??!”
“So we don’t get meals?”
“OK, so can I order some food for us”
“Not here. At the counter at the end.”

It turned out that we couldn’t order any food at the counter at the end. But it also turned out that the guy checking us in was a useless liar, as we did get free meals with our ticket, complimentary drinks and (even!) a blanket - treats that they made most people on the flight pay extra for. There were, however, no mini-tv screens in front of us. Due to having crossed the International Date Line, we arrived in Hawaii about 11 hours before we‘d left Sydney. To further add to the surreal feeling, we were greeted by a genuinely friendly American Customs Officer....

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permalink written by  olliejohnson on August 25, 2007 from Port Douglas, Australia
from the travel blog: A Brit and a Canuck Down Under
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