Friday, August 13, 2010

Before you can tour overseas, you have to get there.

We've packed up our house and stored our stuff. We've put upon our kind friends to help us cart things and clean things. I've finished a major painting and delivered it to its new owner. John has put on a beautiful concert, "An Intimate Evening with John Thompson" at Clovelly Cellars in Red Hill, with lots of guest musicians. We pared down our luggage to a minimum (but mine still contained two flutes, a drum, a stomp box, a pair of curly-toed boots, a tutu and a sleeping bag, just the essentials really).

And then that journey ended, and the new one began. As the plane pulled away from the airbridge into a dark, wet Brisbane night, we stepped into our 6th UK tour, and headed for Brunei.

Royal Brunei has upgraded their fleet, so the plane was new and comfortable. I slept most of the flight to Brunei's capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and we arrived there at dawn. Very straightforward customs and immigration, followed by the short bus trip to Orchid Garden Hotel, where we spent our 14 hour stopover. Our voucher said we could have the hotel room for 6 hours, but in a wonderful development, we were checked in overnight, so we could stay there all day, sleep, shower, and eat yummy roti chanai with beef rendang and dahl. Hotel prices, always inflated, were $5 per curry. I'll be back for more!

On the plane again, John had booked me in for meals without onion, which I can't eat, and I got super-healthy food, and lots of fruit.

When we arrived in London, at dawn again, we jumped on the tube into town and organised to go to our friends' house in Essex. We could have planned this a bit better, and ended up walking from Piccadilly station to Charing Cross Station, right round the picturesque Trafalgar Square, before deciding we needed more information to get to Liverpool Street Station.

We also needed a cuppa. I perversely chose the Blue Onion cafe in a barrel-vaulted laneway near Charing Cross Station. I chose it largely because it had tables away from the traffic and we could sit there with all our luggage. We had an espresso each (£1.30) and two-toast baked beans (yes, with two bits of toast) (£2), and then a big cup of tea, and chatted to Hassan who runs it. He's from Cairo. He's been in London awhile though; he says things like "innit". His cafe was perfect.

Eventually we managed to navigate various tube stations and jump on a train at Liverpool Street, which took us to Witham in Essex. We got a cab to our friends' house, and at about 3 I thought I might have a lie down for an hour. Six hours later I woke up, feeling just about ready for a good night's sleep!

ps, you can see the painting I finished on my blog,!

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