OK, forget what I said , let’s talk about the war.

I moved into new digs Tuesday, as you know. It’s as good as can be expected, in many ways;

  • It’s 5 minutes on a bike to the Esplanade
  • It’s good temperature-wise. It’s got good aircon, and the bedroom ceiling fan is effective, even if sounds like a blender on slow. The patio is under a shelter, out of the direct sunlight, and gets a cool afternoon breeze
  • It’s secure.
  • One of the other flatmates, Hamish, is an escapee from Gore. But he’s overcome that, and he’s been friendly , generous, and accommodating. He’s been in Aussie for many years, and works night-shifts on the Stop / Go roadsigns for $30 / hour.


It’s very early days, but the other guy, by contrast, is a humorless German, Peter.

He’s having trouble adjusting to a third flatmate, and every time we’ve talked directly, he’s complained or given orders about something or other.

For example, there are two shared fridges in the flat. In his universe, three into two works like this – one for you two, and one for me. It sounds petty, but without fridge-space I’ll be eating junkier food. So sooner or later, there will need to be compromise.

Right now, though, I’m the New Guy – Poland if you will – to his Germany. If it comes to a scrap, I’m guessing the Landlord would give me the marching orders, so I’m being diplomatic.


Most residences here are behind at least one high locked gate, as if there’s a low-level siege mentality.

Not nearly at the same level as Vietnam, but it’s noticeable for a small-town lad.

Along with a wide range of foreigners, there also seems to be noticeably more Lost Souls here than back in Whangarei . People shouting at windmills and sucking on bags of dubious liquid, or just making the place look untidy.

I guess the Haves are barricading themselves against the Have-Nots.

When In Rome

The weather is even better than expected. It’s not rained once, during daylight, since I’ve been here.

Like most of the natives, I gad about in shorts and a t-shirt, and haven’t yet worn shoes.

All of that seems to be agreeing with me, and if this continues, I may be some time.

New bikes and …

While New Zealand is – again – pulling up the drawbridge, I’m cycling off in the other direction.

This morning, with news that the travel bubble with Australia has burst, I registered my tiny wee gesture of defiance by buying a bike. That above, $60 AUD with lock included.

It’s a commitment to cheap travel here for the next few weeks while the bubble is inspected, pending its possible re-inflation in September.

I’d planned to stay at least two months anyway, and I just couldn’t face myself in the morning if I crawled home now after arriving on July 14.

Of course I risk paying for the hubris. Either by having to cough up for quarantine if NZ stays closed, or by working long hours. Or by finding a real job here to support my feckless self.

So, what’ll it be, then? – chill-blains, rain for days on end, grey skies, freezing cold, or….

“I’ll take the bag, thanks.”

New digs

This guest house lark is all very nice and comfortable, but it isn’t cheap, so I move into a flat next Tuesday.

It’s in Clare St, Parramatta Park, where I’ll share a downstairs flat with two others. Private bedroom, aircon, desk, broadband, and shared bathroom, kitchen , living area, $165 AUD / week.

I’m a little nervous about the caper, having told myself in 2018 after a cold winter in a Railway Terrace, Whg flat, that that was the last time.

But the house-owner seems like a straight-up no-bs sort, and it was advertised as a “non-party” ( read codgers’ ) household, so all may be well.


I’ve been putting in the biking miles, and will be buying my own ( second-hand, circa $80 ) for transport as I’ll lose the free use of the guest house two-wheelers.


.. and I’ve been further exploring the Esplanade and waterfront. Evidence below.

July 22, 7:47 a.m., the Bay
July 20, 10:29 a.m., the Salt-Water pool
July 22, North End of the Esplanade, looking over the Bay

Finding my feet

Day six in Cairns, and what follows is the stew produced from throwing the spaghetti at the wall. A hodge-podge.

On that note, here are some random pictures taken since arriving.

Cycle City

There are bikes lanes, dedicated bike paths, centre-line cyclist stops, and even lanes for bikes on the major arterial routes.

Cairns is the purple spot , probably covering about 25 kms each side

Cairns is also pretty much flat for miles around , as you can see at left.   When there’s been a breeze, it’s pretty mild.

And lastly, the airBnB guest house I’m staying at includes free use of its three mountain bikes. One at a time.


The waterfront is spectacular. Ok, it’s not Nha Trang bay, but it is very nice.

How many words is a video worth?

This is looking out over the bay from The Esplanade, near the town centre;

And this is from a similar position looking more toward town;

The Briny

The tide was out, but even so, it looked inviting enough so that I was fixing to swim there one day soon. The host has told me, seriously, that this just isn’t done. People fish there, and eat the catch, but it’s considered unsafe for swimming. Go figure.

The Colourful Side

While I was near the town centre, I stumbled across the colourful side of town, notably four Vietnamese restaurants and an entire “night market” mainly dedicated to food.

Also from the “good news for gluttons” department comes the discovery that dairy here is good quality and cheap, including cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

The Digs

The guest house has been blessedly quiet after Queensland started shutting out those scurvy southerners from Victoria and NSW. It’s bad news for the host, with a slew of cancellations. But good news for yours truly who, along with a quiet young couple, have the run of the place.

It has good cooking and bathroom facilities, and the bedrooms are ok. A minor annoyance is that its proximity to a well-trafficked road. The laptop mike picks it up, meaning I’m confined to barracks ( my room ) for online teaching.

But it is a little outside a budget I can manage longer-term. Accommodation is going to be the major challenge if I decide to stay on here. It’s the ‘High Season’ for tourists right now, and the best option for me appears to be finding a room in an established flat.

The Weather

Below is the view from outside at around 8.15 a.m., about 21 degrees celsius.

Down to earth in Cairns

After spending most of yesterday aloft at 30,000 feet, today is a recovery day in Cairns, Australia.

I arrived at the BnB at just before midnight. Exhaustion, and too much rubbish food, meant I slept only about 4 hours.

Nonetheless, the first order of business today, before parking myself on a couch, was a trip to stock up. Recovery equals eating, right?

The AirBnB place I’m staying in provides free bikes, and the lazy 3.5 km trip to Woolworths and back took about half an hour each way.

The BnB I’m staying at is comfortable, an older house large enough for the four guests to easily avoid each other.

The Trip

I left Whangarei ( 5 deg C on waking ) at around 10 a.m., sitting next to a ruddy, chatty type on her way to an automotive convention in the South Island with her husband and son.

Then it was 6 hours at Auckland airport. Auckland turned on a warm day, of course, given that I’d dressed in as much clothing – with as many pockets – as possible. All in an effort to reduce my baggage weight, since it’s fair play for myself and clothing to weigh 80 kgs for the day.

A four-hour flight to Brisbane was next. The plane was maybe 25% full, so there was ample room to spread myself over the spare seat separating me and a young Aussie guy on a short trip back to Queensland to visit relatives.

I did get “taken aside” but breezed through Aussie customs in 10 minutes. There were no requests for proof of the travel declarations ( one for Queensland, one or Australia ) I’d scrambled around to finish at Auckland airport. I’d read that only one was required, but that wasn’t the case, according to Auckland airport boarding staff.

Two hours at Brisbane airport, and lugging everything from the international to domestic airport, followed. The last leg to Cairns was a Qantas flight maybe about 70% full.

I won’t be taking too many taxis here, with the fare from Cairns airport to ‘home’ costing AUD $25 +.

Right, I’m off to find a dark corner and turn on the Tele for a while until that depresses me too much and youtube takes centre stage.

Change of plans

Yes, I’m still champing at the bit to get out of here, but it won’t be happening on Tuesday July 13.

So I was told via text at 11.55pm last night. Their explanation was “operational reasons”. The Air New Zealand phone support spent nearly 5 minutes to tell me they couldn’t explain that further.

I’m now escaping this miserable winter from Wednesday July 14, in the morning.

I’m not overjoyed about it, because it means a six-hour wait in Auckland, and a two-hour stopover in Brisbane.

Meantime, here’s hoping Queensland continues its good covid record.

PB Tech 2 Dick Smiths 0

It’s two-nil to PB Tech in the home-and-away online shopping games.

But you know the rules – let’s not talk about the war.

Instead, let’s talk about buying phones online. The fast decline of my old phone started when I pried off the back cover to do some surgery with blunt instruments.

A few weeks later, the sim card slot no longer slid out, and my attempts to wrangle it back into shape resulted in a banana-shaped back cover. Go figure.

With the upcoming escape to Oz, my daughter suggested the inevitable had hit the fan, and it needed replacing.

After poring over specs and costs etc at, I settled on a Redmi 9 ( no “Note”) , cheap at Dick Smiths.

I bought that online on June 15, thinking that even if it was being imported from Australia, it would arrive in time.

Whereabouts Unknown

Not. When I hadn’t heard, or received, anything a week later, I looked up the tracking. It was nowhere to be found.

Since Dick Smith’s is now 100% online, and one doesn’t get to talk ( even by text chat! ) to a real person, a busyness of emails followed.

They were “opening an investigation”, which may take “up to 10 working days”. After repeating myself a few times, I think it dawned on them that what I wanted was a phone, and not an investigation. Thank you.

They did eventually refund the money, leaving me to scramble about again.

I found a Redmi Note 9T at PB Tech.

They had delivered within two days an SD card I bought soon after the Dick Smith’s Redmi buy.

And so it was with the phone, which arrived less than 24 hours after I’d ordered it.

So here’s to PB Tech, which delivers stuff pronto with no palaver.

Unlike some other outlets. Which suspicious minds might think advertise products knowing that their delivery tracking is broken, and they don’t have to stocks to meet demand.