This crazy idea was to go to Australia. Crazy....because Australia had never been in my travel list, perhaps owing to its long and arduous process to obtain visa. The thought of going there had just not occurred until that fateful night. Anyways, I decided to take necessary steps in order to ease my mind. I thought that if I tried and the visa didn't come through...that's it. If it does...then its God's will!
So I started taking initiatives. I went through processes like acquiring necessary documents, sending the documents to Shanghai, giving phone interview twice with the Australian Ambassador in Shanghai and not to forget the constant help and valuable advice from B.Vanlalvawna, the then Vice-Consulate General of India in Shanghai. To my great joy, I was told that I was approved my visa to travel to Australia...yay! Now I was fully set to take a break from the freezing cold in Xi'an to spend my winter holidays for a month in Australia where it's sunny and warm. Woohoooo!
I was very excited but at the same time had various concerns as I was to travel alone. Given a choice, I'd always prefer to have a travel companion. My experience when coming to China on my own was already a bit stressful. But things went quite smoothly this time, probably because I was able to communicate in English and could read the signs :), unlike the first time I came out to China where I felt quite at loss as I couldn't understand any of the announcements made and my inability to read Chinese characters. I felt further blessed as I was able to get a very good deal on my round-trip flight ticket.
After spending 10 wonderful and memorable days in Shanghai, I finally left for Australia from Shanghai on the 19th January 2006 at 8:40 pm (CST). The flight took 10 long hours and we landed in Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne the next morning at 7:15am (CST).My first impression of the airport terminal was....uuummmm...it's not that different from Indira Gandhi International Airport!
My flight was delayed and E, who came to pick me up waited more than an hour for me. As she drove me from the airport towards the city, the first thing I noticed as always whenever I travel was...the blue 'pollution-free' sky and white clouds. Can't exactly figure out why...but I was hit with this feeling of familiarity when I watched the landscape as we passed by. Weird...I found it somewhat very similar to Shillong in India. Yet, it's thousands of miles apart!
I seem to take in everything with the curiosity of a child and a series of questions shot at E, who graciously and patiently replied to my unending queries. Many thanks to you E :) Another surprise for me was the residential area (suburb). I expected to see Melbourne full of high rise buildings and skyscrapers...more like New York City I guess :P. This proves to be quite a contrast from my previous mental picture of Melbourne. Most people live in houses and I reckon this to be the reason why I was so much reminded of Shillong *-*