Made it to Sydney!!!

After my long ass flight, I was tired, a bit worried about going through customs and immigrations (thanks TSA), and wondering if I was going to be able to find my in-laws. Turns out, that once I got off the plane, it was pretty easy. The most difficult part was finding my NAS (I found that you can take two boxes on international flights – my $500 computer was oversized for the flight, and I thought it might be hard to explain to immigration why I had a 27″ iMac if I’m on a tourist visa. So I brought my NAS. I think this verifies that I’m a geek. Oh – NAS = Network Attached Storage. It’s a storage array with 5x 1TB disk, giving me 4 TB of disk space. It’s full of Movies, Music, Photos and more!!) Apparently that came to an area separate from the luggage. Once I figured that out, and one sniff from a beagle, I was off to find Tom and Felicity – Justine’s Aunt and Uncle.

I’d only met them once, in Antigua, about a year ago. Sydney airport isn’t huge (approximately the size of Sea-Tac?), so I was able to spot Felicity right away, which is good, since she might not have reconized me. I’m bald now, which I wasn’t last time. I gave her a big hug, or maybe I was just trying to have something to hold onto. We drove Tom to work, then back to their house so I could see what would be my home for the next few weeks or months.

I grabbed a shower, then we headed out to get a few things done. First, I wanted to open a checking account, and I wanted to get a working cell phone. Did I say cell phone. I meant iPhone. I’d jailbroken my iPhone previously, and thought I’d unlocked the baseband modem (that’s what AT&T locks down to keep you on their service.) I had no way to check, since the SIM used in the iPhone is smaller than other phones used in the US (it’s called a MicroSIM, appropriately enough.) I’d called AT&T and asked them to unlock my phone, but being rat bastards they are, they refused. I’d read on various forums that was par for the course, so I didn’t push it too hard. Now that I was in another country, I was able to check, and my phone was still locked. There were a lot of carriers to choose from in Oz (4), and many different rate plans. The only thing I’d decided on was that I wanted to have a pay as you go plan, instead of a contract, in case I wasn’t going to be here for two years, or in case one carrier sucked. That proved to be a good idea.

While I was tossing these various options around in my head, we decided to open my bank account. It went well enough, until I cashed my Travellers Checks. Oops – Travellers Cheques. Traditionally, the Australian dollar is worth about $.70 per US dollar. Now it’s almost worth a $1.00. So I took a pretty big bath over what I would have normally gotten. Bad for me, but good for 26 million Australians, so I can’t complain too much. I only had 1/2 of my cheques with me, so I’m hoping good things will happen to the exchange rate, but I’m not holding my breath.

Once that was done, I decided I’m just going to buy and unlocked iPhone, and use it like I please. There was an Apple store in the mall we were in, so I popped upstairs and got a shiny new 32GB iPhone 4. It wasn’t cheap, but it’s mine, I don’t have a contract, and it’s unlocked, so I can use it anywhere in the world. I figure we’ll sell my old one, and recoup some of the money I spent, and I won’t have to deal with AT&T ever again (they are still better than Comcast.) If anybody want’s to buy a iPhone 4, let me know (or a house, or a Toyota Scion XD.)

The long time telephone monopoly in Oz was Telstra (they used thePlatform extensively.) I went with one of the newer carriers – Optus, for four very good reasons. Felicity’s son Justin uses them, the guy helping me was very nice and patient, they had slightly cheaper data plans, AND they had a deal where you could call the US for ten cents a minute. The only real downside is that the phone doesn’t work where Felicity and Tom live. Eventually we got a wireless router, which let’s me communicate (very well, I might add) via Skype. I’m happy enought with it, and I do love me some iPhone.

Once he came home, Tom and I went to the Liquor store, and goodness liquor prices are high. A bottle of Stoli is about twice what it was in the US. Maybe that’s why Aussies drink so much when they are travelling – because it’s so much cheaper. Afterwards, we had a cookout – steaks and sausages. That night I slept like I was dead. I’ve not had any real trouble with jet lag that I can tell, even thought I lost a Thursday somewhere over the ocean.