Brisbane (Jan. 31 - Feb. 3)
Albert totally had a crush on my mom. We arrived in Brisbane Wednesday evening and took an airport shuttle to a small bed and breakfast. We walked into the entry way, searched for someone to check us in, and were eventually greeted by Albert - a man in his mid-sixties with a thick Australian accent and a warm smile who seemed to know everything about everything (or at least he fed us some very believable bullshit). We checked-in, all the while chatting with Albert. We told him what we'd been doing while in Australia, asked what there was to do in Brisbane, and my mom got the all too common compliment - at least for me - that we looked like sisters. How nice. Either I look 50 or she looks 24. Well, maybe we look somewhere in between, and actually its really not that bad. I hope I look as good as she does when I'm her age.
After dropping our bags in our room, we found Albert and asked where we could get some food and a beer. He suggested a few bars only a block away. The first bar said no flip-flops. As those are the only shoes (besides running and hiking shoes) that I brought, we couldn't go there. The next bar had a tacky Hollywood theme, but allowed flip-flops and had a decent menu and beer, so we went in and had an absolutely awesome dinner of bruschetta, cheese bread, and Guinness. I love hanging out with my mom - sitting, laughing, sharing beers and stories for hours makes me remember just how much we have in common, that we know almost everything about one another, that we've shared countless different experiences, and that she really is one of my best friends I have and will ever have. Needless to say, we had fun.
The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel: toast and juice - although I typically prefer something more substantial like eggs and toast, or oatmeal with nuts, fruit, and whole milk, or now that I'm in Asia a bowl of noodles and a steamed bun filled with black bean paste (yes, I know that sounds gross, but it's amazing). We ran into Albert one final time and like always he talked our ears off - in a good way - and then gave us the Kangaroo Jack DVD, a movie that he claims is one of the funniest he's ever seen. My mom and I spent the afternoon at the Koala Sanctuary and then went to the Hilton where my dad had already checked-in. To pass the time before my dad came back from work, we surveyed our new luxurious accommodation, hooked up the computer to the radio so we could listen to some music, then started doing a combination of yoga and pilates, which quickly turned into a dance party - a no pants dance party (at least me); Barnard boys aren't you proud?!
My dad had to work again on Friday, so my mom and I went to see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the local modern art museum. Quick aside: did you know his real name is Andy Warhola? When we told my dad that we planned to go see the art exhibit, he said, "Oh Andy Warhola? I was growing up I was good friends with his nephew, Jamie Warhola!" Ha, yeah right. We didn't believe him until we got to the museum, where one of the first things we read was Andy's real last name. Anyway, after the museum my mom and I walked along the river that runs through Brisbane, and then met my dad back at the hotel and he and I went for a run before dinner. We planned on going to a local brewery for dinner. And my dad new exactly where it was...it only took a couple laps around the city to find it. Dinner was good, but the best part was stopping at the 7-11 after dinner to buy a Cherry Ripe (cherry flavored coconut covered in dark chocolate)- my dad's favorite. Of course dinner and dessert were followed by another dance party in our hotel room, and this time my dad got to participate!
The three of us spent Saturday at the Australia Zoo - home of Steve Irwin. The zoo was beautiful; the enclosures were huge and natural. It rained most of the morning, but we quickly dried in the intense Australia sun. That evening we drove up to the Sunshine Coast and walked along the water. Before leaving, we needed to rinse the sand off our feet and stopped at one of those fountains that, without warning, sporadically sprays water from different locations on the ground. Tons of kids were running all over the place having a blast. I walked over to what I thought was the edge of the fountain and waited for one to shoot water into the air. But I wasn't at the edge, and luckily neither was my mom - she got a full blast of water to the butt and blocked me completely. Thanks, mom. My dad and I had quite a good laugh at her expense.
The following morning my mom and dad returned to Kuala Lumpur and I flew to Cairns, beginning my next adventure: volunteering on Orpheus Island.