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Published: March 2nd 2011
Wednesday March 2nd, 2011
Latitude 27 degrees 47 minutes’ south- Longitude 113 degrees 11 minutes’ east
Indonesia lies to the north and from where we are now it seems distant, foreign and foreboding. Off our starboard rail is Australia and it seems familiar and quite wonderful. Like an old friend that you have not seen in a very long time, as soon as you are together again, it seems as if no time has passed. It has been 30 years since I was in Australia and while many things have changed, I still have the same overall feeling of contentment and satisfaction at having visited again. The spirit of the people is alive and well. They are hardworking, industrious and obviously successful. The cost of living is expensive in our terms, but that is simply because the US dollar is worth less than half what it was last time I was there. I saw only a couple of vagrants in all of our four stops in the country. In the large cities or even the small towns we visited it made no difference, wonderful municipal facilities were everywhere. Showers, clean toilets, beautiful parks, free buses and
pristine beaches were plentiful. Bright, friendly people willing to help the strangers find their way around the city who did not seem put out by our questions and inquiries. Tipping is not the norm or even expected. I doubt if visitors to American cities feel the same way or have the same experience. Sydney, in the east, was cool and cosmopolitan, while Freemantle in the west was very hot and dry. Probably the only drawback were the “bush flies” that were numerous and persistent in Western Australia. In fact, several have joined us on the ship in the dining room and around the pool. Let’s hope they decide to depart when we finally leave the Australian Coast behind us tonight. The island of Lombok is our next stop and it will be a complete cultural transition. Poor and populous, it sits on an island crowned by a 12,000 foot tall volcano, the second tallest in all of Indonesia. No one speaks English and over 12% of the population lives in poverty. It will be quite a change from Australia. But, that is days and many miles away. For now, we bask in the afterglow that is Australia.
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