A Slight Detour On Our Way to Australia

15 Dec

Our flight from San Francisco to Sydney made the news! We were supposed to arrive in Sydney around 10:30am but actually touched down some time around 6:30pm.

About half an hour before we were due to land, the pilot made an announcement saying that there was only one runway open due to debris. He said that there was a backlog of planes trying to land and the earliest they could slot us in was 50 minutes from the originally scheduled landing but that the plane didn’t have enough fuel to keep circling. So he diverted us to Canberra to refuel. James and I figured it would be tight, but we would still have enough time to make our two hour connection.


We all sat there for an hour, and then another hour before they told us what was going on. Occasionally we’d get these stressed-sounding updates that they were trying to figure everything out and they would let us know what was going on as soon as possible.
IMG_5047It turned out that the pilots and flight crew had exceeded the hours they were legally allowed to work so the airline would have to bring in additional crew. But they were all in Sydney so they would have to be flown into Canberra so their ETA was in 5 hours. And we weren’t allowed out of the (increasingly hot and stuffy) plane because we hadn’t been processed by customs. And the airport didn’t have enough staff on hand to process us so we’d just have to sit and wait until the government decided to allow us out.

The flight attendants cooled down the plane by cracking open the emergency doors.

At the back:
IMG_5040And at the exit row right where we were sitting:
IMG_5043James was sad that they didn’t allow him to open the door. I was so glad we’d forked out for the extra legroom seats (even though they ended up being a mixed blessing because they were right near the toilets so a lot of people stood there to wait or stretch their legs).

For us, the most stressful part was not being able to contact our family to let them know what was going on. The guy sitting next to us was very nice and let us use his roaming to call James’ dad, and several hours later we were also able to use one of the customs guys’ phones. Then after that, the main worry was how we were going to get to Melbourne now that we’d missed our original connection – we did have a wedding to get to the next day, after all! The flight attendants told us there was a team on the ground who would be re-booking connections for everyone, so that was a relief.

After a couple of hours of not knowing what was going on, people were starting to get irritable, not to mention hungry/thirsty and the toilets were gradually failing. The crew brought us some crackers and water (donated by Qantas) which was nice. For the next hour we would get updates about how they were trying to negotiate with the airport to allow everyone outside of the plane but that it was difficult because the Ukranian President and the Australian Prime Minister were in Canberra (and we were like “whaaat?! The Australian Prime Minister is always in Canberra!”).

Finally (after 3+ hours in the plane) we were allowed out! And it was glorious.

IMG_5049Under the watchful eyes of customs and the federal police we frolicked around in our pen.
IMG_5067We sat in the sun to have our lunch and then headed back in to use the rapidly deteriorating toilets. One of the toilets near us had a clogged sink and the other was no longer flushing.

Obviously it was a massive inconvenience but once we knew what was happening (and that our connections were taken care of) it became much more bearable. The crew were trying as hard as they could, and you could tell that everyone was making the best of a bad situation. It was kind of funny because a lot of the crew were also taking photos of us and the open emergency doors, so it was just as much a novelty for them as it was for us!

I talked to one of the flight attendants who said that two hours after we left San Francisco the airport had cancelled all flights because of the storm, so they had been talking among themselves and were like “aren’t we lucky to be on this flight!”

After our bathroom break we headed back out for one last moment in the sun.
IMG_5061As it turned out James should have done a bit less basking because he ended up getting sunburned!

When we went back in they had emptied the toilets and everything was back to normal, just in time for the new crew to arrive. It was a bit sad when our original crew was swapped out. They were applauded off the plane because they were awesome even though they must have been exhausted.

When we finally landed in Sydney, people with connections were directed to a new line where we got tickets for our next flight. We were pretty much rubber-stamped through customs (not sure if that’s normal or if they gave us a break out of pity) and waited to board. We ended up getting another exit row seat on the flight to Melbourne which was nice!

James’ parents picked us up from the airport – and as it turned out we needn’t have worried because they knew about the delay. Once we had an internet connection we read some reassuring updates about the cats from our house-sitter, and felt much better – especially the next day, when United emailed and offered us $500 each to apologise for the inconvenience.

All in all it was a really long day, but no harm done as we arrived 10 hours late, but well in time to see Ivanna get married! =)

Stuff Everywhere!

3 Dec

Quick update: I’ve come down with a cold (ugh, worst timing) and also I had waaay overestimated how quickly we’d be able to unpack. We need to buy some more storage for the main bathroom and buy a wardrobe system for the bedroom so we have somewhere to put our clothes.

Sorry about the crappy photos, but we’d been unpacking for several hours before it occurred to me to take some photos for posterity.

Living room:

IMG_5005Note the mountain of empty boxes in the corner.


Our desks don’t fit, not even in an L formation. =(

IMG_5009The bedroom looks surprisingly OK but what you can’t see is that all three wardrobes are also full of boxes.

The TV room and second bathroom are both pretty neat but the main bathroom has toiletries everywhere because whoever designed it apparently decided that no storage was necessary.

According to the movers we hardly have any stuff compared to most people, but looking at it all it sure feels like we have a lot! It’s going to take until the weekend at least to sort everything out. =(

A Quick Progress Report on our Floors

27 Nov

Sorry the photos aren’t very good, but they’re all I have!

Previously …
IMG_4953And here is the same room slightly blurrier (sorry), but with the floors partially sanded.
IMG_4979 (1)I knew that the old floors were making the space look dark but I was still surprised at how much brighter everything is now. James said that it already looks much better than he was expecting.

The wood is actually quite close in colour to my dining table so hopefully that doesn’t look too weird. With the new house I suddenly feel such intense decorating pressure!

The contractors are on schedule to finish up this Sunday and on Monday we can start moving in.

(*decorating pressure intensifies*)

House News!

19 Nov

Lots has been happening on the homebuying front. We’ve been emailing back and forth with our broker, bank and contractors and are finally set to close this Friday!

We won’t be able to move in immediately since we’re getting the floors refinished. They’re currently a dark walnut colour, and I have strong preferences for light wood floors. Plus it’s a north-facing house, so I feel like the dark floors swallow up what little light there is. If all goes well we’ll move in the 1st of December. I soooo can’t wait to get all our stuff back. James misses the TV and our mattress and I miss my Vitamix, our mattress and my ergonomic desk set-up. 3 months in corporate housing is nice but it’s also a really long time to not have roots. Seriously. It’s 1/4 of a year.

I’m looking forward to picking out paints but not looking forward to actually painting. I’ll probably live with paint swatches for way too long while I procrastinate. Luckily we already have most of the furniture we need and most of renovations we want to do aren’t time-sensitive.

The other big thing I want to change is the kitchen. The layout is fine but I basically don’t like anything else (wait no, the sink, tap and range are OK). Eventually want to get a new hood and vent it to outside, a new fridge and a new dishwasher. Also new cupboards. It’s not urgent though, so I’m going to live with the kitchen for awhile before deciding what changes I want to make. Once we’ve closed on the house I’ll have lots of photos so you can see what it looks like.

Now that we aren’t inspecting properties every weekend we’ve been busy meeting new people and catching up with old friends. Everyone lives so far apart though – I really miss having a friendship group where everyone lives within 30 minutes walk of each other. But I’m definitely not as homesick as I was before. I think it’s because I get to see how much James loves his new job and also we’re being more social.

Last Sunday we did an Escape the Room with Bo and Christine and a couple of friends of theirs, and the day before that we saw Interstellar with Elliot and Michelle and a friend of theirs. And the weekend before that we had dinner with James’ former coworker and his wife. This weekend we’re meeting up with some other Google employees and I’ve joined a couple of Meetup groups. Plus Mike is visiting family in the area over Thanksgiving and John is in Oakland for work early December. And Duncan and Buzz might be coming to visit in January. Busy busy!


31 Oct

Yesterday James and I went to the Google Halloween party. There were decorations everywhere and even the t-rex had been mummified.
The main party was at GARfield park and a lot more elaborate than the Amazon Halloween party we went to last year. This one was Alice in Wonderland themed.
IMG_20141030_163821It’s been awhile since I read Alice in Wonderland so I’m sure I didn’t get all the references. Were there mushrooms? I think I vaguely remember mushrooms, though maybe not in bouncy house form …
IMG_20141030_173743Though I definitely remember giant (and tiny) Alice.

And Eat me!

Drink Me!


There was also a game of croquet going, a white rabbit petting zoo, sumo wrestling (OK I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the book) and another oversized costume duel thingy with big jousting sticks.

We met up with some of James’ coworkers and James and Sundeep did battle. The victor was the person whose head didn’t fall off (OHHH I just got it! Off with their heads!). They had some crowd-pleasing fights, mainly due to their tendency to double KO.

IMG_20141030_162803I don’t know why James is celebrating so hard – they both lost!

There was plenty to eat and drink. Snacks everywhere, lots of (free) food trucks and of course plenty of booze. Here is James double-fisting it.

You could also get your face painted, and James and I both went for creepy Cheshire cat mouths.
IMG_20141030_172806Good thing we took a photo before we ate (I think this photo was actually taken while we were in the queue for some Roli Roti roast chicken) because after wiping his mouth James smeared his face makeup everywhere. =(

The party was short and sweet – from 3 until 6 and there was just enough to keep us busy the whole time. Of course we were both stuffed at the end of it – and I was a bit tipsy because we each had a green vodka drink plus the little blue bottles, which James didn’t like so he made me drink his.

It was really fun, and it was nice getting to meet some of James’ coworkers. I’m looking forward to the Christmas party (maybe I’ll actually dress up for that since we’ll have all our stuff back - which I’m actually looking forward to way more!)

Holy Shit!

24 Oct

… were the words I said over and over about 10 minutes ago (which I’m sure my broker really appreciated – oops). But we just had an offer accepted on a TIC in Russian Hill!

It’s beautiful and I love it. More info coming in about 5 days but I don’t want to jinx anything because we still have an inspection and finance contingency, plus we need to look over the various documents to make sure everything is in order.

I’m so, so excited!!

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

14 Oct

Last weekend James and I headed to Las Vegas to party it up with AJ for his 30th birthday. It was wonderful seeing everyone again, though a little bittersweet to be reminded of what we’d lost by moving to San Francisco. (OK I promise that’s the last Debbie Downer bit from me)


We arrived Saturday morning, dumped our bags in AJ’s room and all headed out to go ATVing in the Nevada desert.

Predictably the motorcyclists and go-kart enthusiasts were right at the front. I’m super timid so I stayed at the back so I wouldn’t slow everyone else down. You can probably guess which category James fell into.
IMG_20141011_150142It was crazy, ridiculously hot. It reminded me of those super dry 40C days back in Australia.

Very important to stay hydrated!
IMG_20141011_143640Maybe not too hydrated. =P
1234087_10152775843695833_3108402558522289464_n1When we got back to the hotel everyone showered and got changed for dinner at Jaleo’s that night. It was super delicious, which was good because we were planning on having dinner at its even more upscale sister restaurant the next day.

We walked past the Bellagio fountains which were so breathtaking – one of my favourite parts of the weekend. I could have stayed there all night looking at the different choreographed fountain shows.

But I couldn’t, because we’d all chipped in to reserve an outside bungalow at Drai’s night club. It was a great arrangement because instead of being jostled around on the dance floor all night we had bottle service in a private cabana. We could still hear the music and see everyone inside, but those of us who just wanted to chill out could do so next to our very own pool.

Here’s a photo I nabbed from online:

I had way more fun than I was expecting, and I know it’s because we had the pool-chilling option. We were the only group outside so we had the whole area to ourselves and although the area was roped off the bouncers let us wander around – you could see the Vegas Strip and directly across from us were the Bellagio fountains. Later that night they started letting people outdoors so it got a bit more crowded but we still had our bungalow retreat.

I didn’t get a lot of photos. Well I did, but our cabana came with 3 bottles of vodka (subsequent bottles were $700 each!!!) so most of my photos looked like this:
IMG_20141012_013209Our servers mixed our drinks really strong (so we’d deplete our bottles faster) and I think we all got tipsy waaay quicker than we were anticipating. It’s almost admirable how slickly Las Vegas extracts money from you.

Quincy had drunk a bit much so Chi Kai bought her a bottle of water. $10!!!

Still, it was such an awesome night! The servers came round with an armful of glowsticks for us, and the boys got so excited.

At one point James went inside and when he came back he’d managed to acquire another glowstick. Then later when he went to the bathroom he hid his two glowsticks under a cushion like a squirrel hiding an acorn.

Initially I thought this next photo was surprisingly nice given how drunk we both were. But then I kept looking and realised that James was still refusing to let go of his stupid glowstick!

IMG_20141012_022901He even brought two of them home with him. =/

I was very impressed with ourselves for staying up as late as we did. But when we left at 3:30am there were still people lining up to get in! One of the guys working there told us that apparently now there is such a thing as a “day club” – where people go after the night club closes to keep partying. Clearly I’m out of touch.

It was about 4:30am when my head hit the pillow and we’d been up almost 24 hours at that point.


We started the day off with brunch at the Wynn. The line to get in was really long but luckily Mike, Quincy and Chi Kai had gotten there earlier and pre-queued because the rest of us took awhile to get mobilised. The Wynn is freaking gorgeous.
IMG_20141012_145403Our group was seated in the atrium, which was the furthest from the buffet but the nicest area because it was all decorated and sunlit.
IMG_20141012_122734The food was great – the group favourites were the roast beef, the thick pepper-crusted bacon, the fried chicken and the desserts (we got them all and shared them so we could taste everything). James and I had to walk a fine line because we were eating at é for an early dinner and didn’t want to be too full! I had three plates of food plus dessert, so I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Afterwards we walked through the Venetian to look at the canals and the singing gondoliers.
IMG_4860The guys found a machine that would clean their sunglasses for $2 and so they took turns putting their sunglasses in and oohing and aahing.

There was also an oxygen bar which Greg, James and Roula used. Apparently the oxygen didn’t really do anything, but they had a great time because one of the gadgets they were given had these adhesive pads with a handheld device that could deliver these painful electric (?) shocks. I think they were supposed to relax your muscles if you use them in moderation? James said they were legit painful – on one setting it felt like you were getting pinched, another one felt like you were getting punched, and another felt like you were being whipped.

Greg suggested they do a “trust exercise” where they each held each other’s devices. It turned out it wasn’t so much a trust exercise as the three of them just continually shocking each other.

It was supposed to be a nice, normal photo but James and Greg happened to get simultaneously shocked.
James said that of the three of them, Roula was the most ruthless. Also apparently he could feel ghost spasms in his back for the rest of the day!

They were only supposed to get 15 minutes with the oxygen but James and Greg got to go for longer (Roula started a bit after them) because for awhile we were the only ones there and I guess they don’t want the bar to look empty. Roula was shocked so hard that she fell off her chair twice, and they were all laughing and having such a good time that a random photographer came and took photos of them!

Afterwards we had to go and get changed for dinner at é. I’ll do a big blog post about that soon because it was such an interesting meal it deserves its own post. =)
IMG_4892[1]After dinner we walked back to Treasure Island to meet up with the group and watch a Cirque du Soleil show. It was a great end to an amazing day.


Monday was our final day in Vegas. I wanted to do some of the Stratosphere rides but I think I was the only one, so I was happy enough to explore the strip with everyone else.

A Jeff Koons at the Wynn:
IMG_20141012_114921An enchanted forest, also at the Wynn:
IMG_20141013_134750The chocolate fountain at the Bellagio: IMG_20141013_134430The volcano at the Mirage:
IMG_20141013_164441A shoe at the Cosmopolitan:
IMG_20141012_202704 Frescoes and statues at Caesar’s Palace:

And of course, a flamingo at the Flamingo:
IMG_20141013_163311(There were also real ones but the photos didn’t really turn out)

Then we got alcoholic slushies (coral crush and strawberry) and met up with Paul and AJ for lunch.
IMG_20141013_142205Afterwards we did some gambling before it was time to catch a taxi to the airport.

Everything is so over the top spectacular in Vegas and it really gives you an appreciation for how much people must lose gambling. James and I made our own contribution this weekend, but luckily managed to come out of it with a little something.
IMG_4845Don’t worry, we won’t go spending that all in one place.

Vegas shouldn’t be nearly half as enjoyable as it is – it’s super tacky, everything is expensive, there are monster lines, it’s too hot, all the tourists are wasted, it smells like cigarettes and you need to tip everyone - but it all somehow works. Everyone you meet seems to be having the time of their lives and honestly I’ve never had so much fun spending such a shitload of money!


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