Hotel arranged a taxi to the airport for me for $10, and it was a quick and uneventful trip. Got there about 2 hours before flight time, and check-in wasn’t open yet. Chilled..well not really chilled since it was hot and humid…in the arrivals area for about 30 minutes until they announced check-in was open.
I was steered to a check-in counter, and my bags tagged to…Bali. Wait, what? I’m going to Darwin, not Bali! Oh, that’s the other check-in counter. Yes, they issued me bag tags and boarding passes without even verifying I was on the flight. Well done Sriwijaya Air, well done. Checked in with Air North, and paid up $30 for being overweight by 6kg on baggage…26kg when 20kg was the allowance. Yuck. I’m not used to flying like this!
Immigration was easy, except for the detour to another counter to pay the departure tax. Then it was through to the departure hall, where it was still an hour before the flight. Oh well, lesson learnt…no need to arrive the least bit early. Boarding was called about 15 minutes before the flight, and we walked out to the plane>
Once on board, a couple shots out the window. Welcome to Timor Leste posters:
Air North flight 519
Dili, Timor-Leste (DIL) to Darwin, Australia (DRW)
Depart 17:00, Arrive 18:45, Flight Time 1:15
Embraer ERJ-170, Registration VH-ANV, Manufactured 2009, Seat 15F
There’s really not much to say about the flight. Not even half full, had two seats to myself, and total flight time was 55 minutes. Yet, they still managed to serve a snack…and adult beverages were complimentary, so I had to give “Australia’s Bud Light” a try:
“Together we fly” well duh. If they flew without me there wouldn’t be much point now would there! Landed on time, and into immigration area…once again, do you have Ebola?
No questions, stamp stamp, welcome to Australia!
…and this is where things went absolutely tits up. “How long will you be in Australia” from the customs guy. “Three days.” What are you doing here? “In transit from Timor-Leste to PNG. “Please step over here and someone will be with you shortly.” Ugh.
At this point, things got weird. The secondary inspector arrived in about 30 seconds, and he had a glass eye. Try looking someone into the eye who’s interrogating you who only has one eye. It’s slightly…off-putting. He wanted to know what I was doing, he wanted to see an itinerary. I showed it to him on my phone, hooray for TripIt and having everything super organized. That wasn’t good enough for him. “This is the most complicated thing I’ve ever seen.” Well, yes, yes it is. “Where do you work?” Showed him business cards and work ID, pulled up and showed him my blog on my phone, everything to corroborate the story.
Finally, when he looked ready to admit defeat after 30 minutes, he launched into a new line of questioning: “why are you traveling on a stolen passport?” Excuse me? “You’re Irish, I can hear the accent.” Um, maybe you’re confusing a northern US accent which can sound pretty Canadian with Irish? “No, it’s Irish.” Um, no, would you like me to call family back in the States to prove it? Seriously?
At this point, he gave up, and asked me to open the bags. After going through scuba gear and dirty clothes, he’d finally had enough. “Welcome to Australia.” Uh, ok, that was just plain WEIRD.
Taxi to my hotel was a piece of cake, and there’s really not too much to say about the Darwin DoubleTree. Nice enough, comfortable, and had an interesting two-level studio suite. I love hotel rooms with stairs!
Walked down to the waterfront to try and grab dinner at a brewpub called The Precinct. It was 8:45 at this time on a Sunday night, but their website advertised that they were open “until late.” Well, clearly not. Got there 8:55 and “the kitchen’s been closed quite a bit already.” Uh, ok. Had a couple beers, walked to other restaurants on the waterfront which were also closed, and admitting defeat headed back to the hotel. Walked back along the main drag Mitchell Street, and it was a lively place filled with extremely intoxicated revelers. Darwin was certainly an interesting mix of people. As much fun as joining in the fun at one of the pubs seemed, I was tired and hungry, so headed back to the hotel.
Got back at 9:55, just making it before the closing of room service. Yum, club sandwich:
The hotel also sent up a complimentary bottle of white wine. Now, I don’t do white wine, but hey, it went well with the sandwich..ok? 😉
Slept over 8 wonderful hours, and seemed I’d finally adjusted to the time zones. Hooray for that! The newspaper was waiting outside my door:
Croc-naming? Miss Booty? Darwin, apparently, is just as “special” as I’d noticed the night before. Because you’re all wondering, this is Miss Booty:
Oh, and apparently they are considering naming the croc Jason. I may have cast a vote…
Walked around the city for another hour after breakfast, and soon it was time to head back to the airport. Was time to head to Cairns in preparation for my trip to Papua New Guinea!