Getting to Melbourne was a trip and a half.
We ran into problems before even leaving Tokyo. We’d checked in our bags and were not at security. Belts off, laptops and cameras out–you know the drill. Had we not been at security at that very moment, we probably wouldn’t have heard my name being called over the speaker, because I would’ve likely had my headphones on.
Frustrated, I threw all my crap back into my backpack, and headed back to the check-in desk.
They directed me to walk to some tiny little desk hiding in the shadows of the corner of the terminal. A man asked me to walk with him, and he took me to my bag. He explained that there was something inside that could not fly. I figured it was the khukuri knife from Nepal.
It was my power bank.
I’d seen a sign while I was checking in and it had pictures of various things. I had assumed this meant that you couldn’t carry these things in your carry-on, so I had put my power bank in the bag that I planned on checking in. It actually said the opposite; those things couldn’t travel in your checked luggage.
Son of a…
I put the power bank back in my backpack, and stormed out of there, fuming, as if my rights had just been violated. I knew the level of my anger was definitely not in proportion to the level of inconvenience I had just suffered, but this is the effect that airports have on me. I become a crotchety, miserable turd.
Although I do have to wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t heard my name called. Would they have taken the power bank out and put my bag on the plane, or would my bag have stayed in Japan? Thankfully, I’ll never have to find out.
We flew into Cairns and faced some new challenges there.
We went through customs without a hitch, but then when we gave our customs form to the guy at the exit, he looked at our form and told us to go line up over yonder.
A woman asked me if I had anything to declare. I hadn’t declared the knife OR the ninja stars I’d bought in Japan because by now I’d travelled to a couple countries with the knife, and every time I’d declared it, security couldn’t be bothered.
When she asked me if I had anything to declare, though, I listed off the knife and the tattooing needle I’d bought in Myanmar.
She asked me if there was anything else, and I honestly couldn’t think of anything else.
“Well, we also found some ninja stars.”
DAMMIT! I forgot the ninja stars.
Apparently they’re considered concealed weapons in Australia, and you’re not allowed to bring them in.
Goodbye, beautiful ninja stars.
Then I showed her the knife. She looked concerned. “Did you declare this before?” she asked.
Apparently Australia is very picky with its wood. They don’t allow certain types of wood to enter the country out of fear of insects coming into the country. She had to take the knife to check with her supervisor.
NOT MY KHUKURI!
Thankfully, I got to keep the knife.
Then it was off to sign some paperwork. I got this piece of paper as a little souvenir of the experience.
I’m happy to report, though, that despite being heartbroken about losing the stars, the ladies I spoke with all treated me with respect. They were very friendly, and we even had some laughs together. The woman at the desk said she was letting me off with a warning because I’d pinky promised that I wouldn’t bring weapons into Australia if I ever visited again.
Once we landed in Melbourne, it was off to St. Kilda area to meet up with Natalia, an old friend from way back in my undergrad days. We hadn’t seen each other in over a decade, so I was excited to catch up. She had moved to Australia eight years ago or so (I think).
The first thing she said when she saw me was, “You sound funny. You sound like how I used to sound.” She had picked up a bit of the Aussie accent over the years.
I landed on the day of Rhys’ birthday party, so I was able to meet a bunch of their friends. It was hilarious at first, because all of the boys sat around the living room, while all of the girls sat around the kitchen table. It was like I was back at my middle school dance. Eventually, we all mingled, and everybody had a grand ol’ time.
Everybody had fun except for their cat, Ben, who isn’t a fan of people. I was devastated that over the four days I stayed with them, I was never able to win Ben over. HE HISSED AT ME! EVERY TIME! Cats never hiss at me!
The next day, Natalia and Rhys were too hungover to do anything, so after a quick outing for brunch, we went back to their apartment.
Natalia took a nap, while Rhys and I watched a hilarious mockumentary called What We Do in the Shadows, starring Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame. It follows four vampire roommates, documenting their boring day to day lives–everything from holding a meeting because one roommate never washes the dishes, to hitting the clubs. It was fantastic.
The evening was spent enjoying some good ol’ fashion board game action. Natalia kicked our asses at Dominion, which is a card game in which you have to draw cards and perform various actions to collect as many points as possible. I came in a respectable second.
Then it was my turn to dominate. I introduced the pair to Dobble. Rhys won the first pair of rounds, but then it became the Uri show.
Eventually, we all got tired, and it was bedtime. The next day, I’d go out and explore Melbourne for the first time.