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We had a late breakfast today, then spent the day trying to get info on flights, bicycles, camping gear, (when it will be here and how we can ship it home), and saying good-bye to people who are leaving.
The 198 riders who came into Singapore will dwindle to 57 going on the Odyssey $3,000 Supplement. (Odyssey 3000, we call it.) The rest are going many directions. About half are going directly home. Some are doing their own travel, then going home. And some are just going off route for three to five weeks, then rejoining the Odyssey in Hawaii or Southern California. Of course, we're doing the latter.
We started the morning by having Ron (from New Zealand) review our New Zealand travel plans. He liked them! Said that's how he'd like to travel, lots of spare time, loose, free of a tight schedule.
We went to the ATM and got money to pay Kevin and Krystal for the shipment home of our camping gear. The plans keep changing, but as it stands, we're paying $120 to have our camping stuff shipped home. The large shipping container will be here Monday. Since most of us will be gone, Krystal will see that all the boxes are loaded in the container.
We went to the post office and bought two boxes to pack our stuff in. Then we went to a bike shop to get a bike box. They didn't have any, but he's getting some at 5 o'clock. We arranged for the owner to save three for us.
We received an e-mail this afternoon from the car rental agency. They have no cars available in New Zealand until December 6. And this after we had a compact, a midsize and a station wagon reserved at some time during the past month, but now all are canceled because of our constantly changing plans trying to cooperate with another rider who is going to New Zealand.
Dinner tonight was Chinese. Not the best we've had, but adequate.
After dinner we went to the bike shop. They put two mountain bike boxes together to cover our tandem. We ended up with a box held together with string (the bike shop didn't have tape) with the wheels hanging out -- so we could walk the box.
We brought the bike (in box) back to the hotel for storage. Then we transferred our camping gear and some of our extra bike clothes in the two large boxes we had picked up at the post office.
Love to all,
|11/26||Singapore to Sidney, Australia
Today was a busy day. Since we'll be going off-route until Dana Point, we had a lot of things to take care of. Up early. Shower and start packing. Down for breakfast. More good-byes.
Then to the business center to get on the Internet and try to reserve a car for New Zealand. Success! We were able to reserve a car with Avis for a reasonable price.
Back to the room to finish packing our camping stuff for shipment to Oakland, and to finish packing our bike and clothes for our flight to New Zealand.
We finished just in time to get downstairs for our 11 o'clock shuttle into downtown. BUT, both Lisa and I received misdirection on where the shuttlebus was, so we missed it. But the hotel "did the right thing." After explaining our plight to the manager, he called a taxi and gave us money to pay for it.
Downtown Singapore is VERY cosmopolitan and VERY western. We both agree that this is the most western-feeling city we've been in since New York. And that includes Paris, London, Barcelona, Munich, etc. We had lunch in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. We agreed that when we walked out, we could have been in the middle of Chicago.
We continued our stroll down Orchard Road, the main commercial drag. Everything is decorated for Christmas. (Actually, the first signs of Christmas was on the ferry from Malaysia. The boat had a Christmas tree, holiday music and everything.) We continued walking, and continued seeing American stores -- Starbucks, McDonald's, Borders Books, Tower Records, KFC, The Body Shop, Burger King, etc.
We caught a taxi back to the hotel. Then the fun began. I got our semi-boxed bike out from the store room and applied some more tape to the box. We found all of our stored bags and got them together with the bike.
When the 5 o'clock hotel shuttle to the airport arrived, we were told they couldn't put the bike on. The bell captain said it would go on a truck at 5:30 that would take it to the airport. After explaining that we were not with TK&A and that our flight is scheduled to leave at 8:05, we received lots of assurances from Peter, the bell captain, that our bike would be on the 5:30 bike truck. So we grabbed our gear and hopped on the shuttle.
At the airport, we checked our three bags (with the assurance that we could check the bike later) then sat and waited. The bike had not arrived by 5:45. Lisa was a little worried, so I called Peter again. He assured me that our bike would be on the truck and that it would be leaving in 3 minutes.
At 6:15 we hadn't seen the bike yet. Lisa was starting to get more worried, so I called Peter again. He said the bikes were being loaded and would be delivered to Terminal 1, Gate 5 by 6:30 -- so we waited some more.
At about 7, Lisa was getting really worried, so SHE called Peter. She got results! It turned out that the bike was on the TK&A truck with the Odyssey bikes. The riders arrived at 6:35. The truck with the bikes about 7:15.
Lisa went to the checkin counters to hold a place in line. I grabbed the bike off the truck (fortunately it was on the back of the truck) and wheeled it to checkin. (I had wrapped bicycle boxes around it and left the wheels protruding so it would be easy to move around the airport. Everyone thought it was a novel idea. I got it from Bob, a andem rider we know from home.)
As luck would have it, we got a new person who had never checked a bicycle. She said it was too big. We assured her that we have flown all over the world with this bicycle and never had a problem. But we waited while she checked with her supervisor. It was 7:25.
Finally we got thru check-in. Next was immigration (no problem), then two levels of security (again no problem), then onto the airplane at 7:45.
Our 747-400 left the terminal at 8:15 and took off at 8:30 for the 7hr-30min 6305 kilometer flight to Sydney.
Love to all,
|11/27||Singapore to Sidney, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand
We landed in Sidney about 7. We found that we had to walk through the airport to the other terminal. On the way we stopped in the Duty Free Shops and left some money, had some breakfast and made a few phone calls. At 9:30 we boarded our 3 1/2 hour flight for New Zealand. The flight itself was smooth and uneventful, but, unfortunately, Lisa was sick (vomiting and diarrhea) for most of it.
We landed at Christchurch about 2:45. Immigration was a challenge --but only because Lisa couldn't find her passport. But it turned out okay. After carrying it for 11 months in the exact same place, she had for some reason put it in the wrong pocket in her pack.
We waited a LONG TIME for our bags and bike to appear. Just to keep things interesting, we were sniffed by three different (Customs) dogs while we were waiting. They were apparently looking for drugs and/or food.
Then we had to go through the detailed customs check because of our bike. That went smoothly also, but the whole process from landing to leaving the airport took more than an hour and a half.
We picked up our rental car and headed outside. Were we surprised! The temperature was about 60 degrees. Quite a change from the 95 degrees in Singapore when we left.
We drove to our B&B in town, checked in, then walked about six blocks to a little restaurant that Lisa picked from the sample menus. It was a VERY GOOD CHOICE! The food was really delicious, and with the good exchange rate between $US and $NZ, it was quite inexpensive. (As I said once before, $1US ~ $2.50NZ. So our $55NZ dinner (including two main dishes, a loaf of fresh baked bread, and two glasses of wine and two fancy coffees with liquers) cost us only $22US.
When we got back to our room, we found that we had just missed a call from Bill Wiggins, another Odyssey rider who is off-route on just about the same route we're on for the next three weeks. He called later. We found that they will be about 2 days ahead of us so we may not see each other again for awhile.
Meanwhile, we are really tired from the flights. Lisa is already sleeping and I'm nodding off
Love to all,
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