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Wednesday, May 20

Kimonos Down Under: Day One

Our red eye flight took us from Narita Airport in Tokyo to Cairns over the wee-est of hours. We had figured that to put our six-month-old on a seven-and-a-half hour flight without too much ear pain on other passengers, it might be best to travel during his bedtime. Shockingly, it actually worked. The Kimono Pipsqueak only woke up once, after another baby started belting out their own tune.

Just because the baby was sleeping did not mean that his mama would. I kept a vigil like only a new mother would. Rolling out of the airport and dragging ourselves to a cab at 4:30 in the morning our time, I was a bit bleary, at the very least. When we pulled up in front of the Sea Change Beachfront Apartments located directly in front of Trinity Beach, just north of Cairns, the sun was still yet to make an appearance. I was only too happy to start our first day of vacation by heading straight to the bedroom to crash face down into a fluffy pillow that I wouldn’t mind getting drool on. I wasn’t going to be cleaning it.

Our apartment had all the doors and windows facing the beach open to let the warm breezes into the apartment, so the temperature was perfect in all three bedrooms (yes… three… and not ordered that way by us) and the sunken in living room off the gigantic dining room and kitchen (of which I did not use beyond mixing a bottle for KP… or opening one for myself). The apartment could have held another two families in it. Did I mention that we got this place for free? That’s what you get when you fly so frequently and each dollar spent turns into points, of which you can get a free 5-star hotel with. But upon arrival, I didn’t notice much of this beyond the big king size bed in the master bedroom just waiting for the then collapsing matter that was me.

A good three hour nap and I was refreshed enough to notice that the sun had come up and KP was beating me in the head with his fat little fists begging for his morning chow. After rushing through the morning process, we headed down to formally check-in and to book tours for the upcoming days. The hotel had been great about emailing us before our arrival and giving us ideas of what they thought was the best in the area, most of which we had already decided to do, but they helped with what the best tour companies were. Once they made all the arrangements for us, we headed straight for the beach.

This was a big trip of firsts for our tiny man. The beach was among them. I know, I know… we live in a beach town in Japan, but I have yet to get him down to the actual beach. Bad mommy. But it is the same stinking ocean; just a different spot to enter it.

Now there is something very important about entering the ocean in Australia. You don’t just go to it. Nope! You stay only in the netted areas. You know why? Did you know that most of the world’s poisonous critters live in Australia? Snakes, spiders, jellyfish, sharks… even killer snails which I read about in one of our travel books! We even found a children’s book later in the trip that told a tale about poisonous spiders that live under toilet seats. How the hell do you potty train a kid after that, I’d like to know??

The season for box jellyfish ends at the end of May, but being the middle of May, what wouldn’t be a good idea would be to put our feet into the ocean outside of a netted area. I wouldn’t even walk in the surf or near where it was leaving its debris just in case one was lying along the beach. They are still poisonous even when beached. Australia officials aren’t kidding about this stuff either! One sting could kill you! Apparently vinegar can help. I wondered how the hell to pack that and in the end just plain didn’t, so I was happy to find that they had hollow, metal poles with bottles of vinegar tucked inside. I guess you pour it on and then pray like hell you can get someone in this sleepy beachside town to get you to a hospital in time before you kick it. Again, we just didn’t risk it. We headed straight to the netted area, which was a stone’s throw from our hotel and stuck KP’s feet into the first roaring wave that came toward him. I thought he might cry out, but I am again happy to discover that mama didn’t raise no wimp. He squealed with laughter, which only made us do it again and again. But then, mama was getting very hungry.

With three pairs of sandy feet, we headed further down the beach street in search of breakfast. I guess it was more brunch by this time, but we did come across a very promising place that we had viewed in a guidebook at the hotel… Blue Moon. KH got some platter with special Aussie sausage, beans and toast and tried to order over easy eggs of which the waitress had no idea what they were. They call them dippy where I come from, but I didn’t think that would help him order, so I refrained from opening my own mouth in what was becoming a humorous disaster. The waitress had a deep Aussie accent and used a lot of native words, so we only understood about every third word, even though she was speaking English. After a few jaunts back and forth to the chef trying to expound on the eggs KH wished for, his order was finally set. I figured I better go easy on her and just order the breakfast rhubard trifle. I never had rhubarb before! Stringy. But it was a delicious start to our Aussie cuisine experience.

Then it was off to the market up the road. We asked the waitress for directions before we headed out and she gave us a funny look that we were walking there instead of driving. It was only ten minutes away. No self-respecting Japanese person would ever take a car for a ten minute walk… but an American would! Sadly, we had no car, so we had to remain Japanese for the moment.

We entered the IGA not quite sure what to expect. Everything looked reasonable normal, but it also looked very generic. We did encounter another grocery store later in the trip and discovered that not all grocery stores have such generic labels, but seriously this place looked very, very generic. In the cold section, we discovered just how much Aussie’s love their dogs. They had massive sausage like tubes of dog meat in the cold case, right next to the butter! I mean… seriously freaking massive tubes of meat. With a dog on it. For your dog. For real? If anything should look generic, I would think it would be dog food. This was a major switch. The dogs eat better than the humans. Freaky world. But then this is also the freaky world of Vegemite. Of course, I know the song. Of course, I sang it over and over while there. So of course, I had to try Vegemite. I mean, it’s supposed to be a staple that all Aussie’s grow up on! They eat it like Americans do peanut butter! I purchased the smallest jar I could find and a bag of (generic) English muffins to put it on.

We left the store and headed back to the hotel so I could try my Vegemite. So excited, was I for this true Aussie culinary experience! First (and only, consequently) bite… while I have never eaten crude oil, it is the only thing I can think to describe it as. Salty, brown film… so not for me. The taste would have stuck with me for hours if my husband didn’t suggest heading out to the bar down the street and having a drink while watching the ocean. I think I ran the whole way there.

L’Unico was on the major corner of the intersection where people enter Trinity Beach. We must have sat there for two hours and not seen more than ten or so cars go by. We sat there for so long because the drinks were so damn good! Something… dragon… something. Oh…my. You wouldn't remember their name after a few either! Since having the baby, I am thinking that my tolerance might not have returned. Two of these drinks and I was flying very high. After a few beers, KH joined me with the dragon drink and he too quickly caught up to my enlightened state. And what was KP doing during all of this, you ask? He was there. Sleeping. You will find that many times when things were getting rowdy over the course of the trip, he would find that the perfect opportunity to sleep. So now it was getting on late afternoon and we were getting those munchies you get after a few good cocktails. We thought we would walk up to the little market and buy some beers to take back to our hotel room and grab something to eat later on. We made it to the beer store right around the corner, passed a woman who thought we knew our way around and asked Greg where to get fish and chips around there. He directed her fifteen minutes up the road to where the grocery store was and we had seen a little place. Then, on the way back to the hotel, we never made it past the fried food stand on the opposite corner from L’Unico. The smell was just driving us in our intoxicated delirium straight to it. I went for the calamari and chips while KH got… wait for it… fish and chips. We felt a little bad about misdirecting the woman earlier, but then felt even worse when she walked past us sitting there with our beers and battered bowls of goodness. Oh yes, she noticed us. Oops.

Completely stuffed and, one might say, completely drunk, we waited until the sun set over the water and then let the moonlight direct us back to the hotel. Bringing to a close our first day down under.

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