Skip to main content

Return: Daylight XPT to Sydney



I'm on my way home. If this train is one time then it is less than one and a half hours until I get off this daylight XPT service from Melbourne to Sydney. 

Only it's not daylight any longer. There is nothing to see out the window but blackness. 

I should have flown, had tickets to fly. The sky seemed calm, a day between the fierce fronts past and future. Contrails show the way. 

But it was a late night, a too early morning, and the train was already at the station, no further effort required. Also it is a chance to relax. I snooze, listen to the soundtracks to the Star Wars prequels, watch Solo on my phone. 

Unlike the journey down I do not attempt to connect to the Internet bar a brief check now and then. 

All the while the countryside rolls past. The outskirts of Melbourne, the country towns and cities, rolling fields and clouds drifting past beneath a silver sky of ice crystals. 



This time I do not force myself to absorb all the details. Now and then I notice. A historic town, a spur to somewhere, the big old Bethungra pub and then the Spiral named after the town, cutting through the granite to give us northbound trains an easier journey up the hill. The rest of the time it just flicks past. 



If I was at home I would not have this opportunity. The chance to do nothing, to be undisturbed by the demands of others. 

Nobody sits next to me in the train. Once again car B is economy sold as first class. I will have to seek a refund tomorrow, but it is comfortable enough. I wish I could take off my mask: My ears are sore after three days, but there is a lot of coughing and not much proper mask wearing by other passengers. I do not want to bring covid into the house from this trip. Let it be the every day activities if it must. 

Yesterday was wet, cold and miserable in Melbourne. I was working from the apartment, people I generally didn't want to deal with emailing me requests I don't want to action. 

I head out into the rain and wind to grab and early lunch. The nasi lemak and rendang cafe is closed today, so I try Lulu's Char Koay Teow in Hardware Lane. It's pretty good CKT, but their Milo tarik is insipid. Then I walk further along to Little Lonsdale Street to get my fill of curry puffs and pork buns from Puff House, our favourite from the last trip. 






Back to the apartment for more work, but late in the afternoon I figure I deserve to be a little more tourist and walk to the nearby National Gallery of Victoria. It's been a long time since I walked behind the waterfall glass front. 

Beautiful works by the Impressionists, us some fascinating pieces from Asia, Egypt, Greece and the Mesoamerican civilisations catches my eye. 






I buy a ticket for the Kaleidoscope installation outside the Arts Centre, but the open ceiling and rain makes it less fun than it should be. 



Retuning to the apartment, I spend time video chatting with Alex and helping him to prepare for his maths exam. They eat takeaway pizza, I warm up the puffs in the oven, finally taking advantage of the facilities. 

The concert is wonderful, different to the others earlier in the year. I return after 10.30 pm and everything is closed. I write my review, but can't seem to fall asleep afterwards. 



When the alarm clock sounds to leave I am not mentally capable of handling a decision to fly. 

I cross the Yarra, catch a train from Flinders Street Station to Southern Cross and try to make a decision. Eventually the train wins with the promise of a seat and sleep. 

A vending machine takes my money without giving a drink in return. I don't want a panini, the other shops and cafes are closed. I will just have to take my chances on the train.

I board and the journey home begins.

It ends with us arriving late into Campbelltown and then another two trains back to Padstow, where B and Alex wait in the car.

I regret not flying, arriving home early to be with the family. But then I would not have had the chance to relax for an entire day, to ignore the emails of other people's problems and just have some me time.

It's not a bad way to travel if you've got the time to spare.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A lazy day at the beach

It's 2am and somebody is still setting fireworks off on the beach in front of the hotel. I can't see the explosions as I have the window shuttered, but I can still hear them. I've wanted to have a lazy day and today was the closest I got. I woke up in the night from a very sad dream. Dreams follow crazy paths, but this one resolved itself as so. An entity had been causing disruption of computer systems around the world. It turned out that this entity had emerged from the computer networks and had been struggling to gain access to more computing power so that it could live. The entity had taken on the persona of a woman. The protagonist who had "defeated" the entity discovered that it was alive, spoke to it. Ultimately fell in love with her. But his prior actions would lead to its death. As a gift to her he downloaded his memories so that she could experience life even as she died. I know it sounds like a pulpy sf or technopunk plot, but dreams are about feeling

The sound of running water

We made it home from Osaka. There is a special feeling that comes when your arrive at your house after a holiday. It is utter relaxation. No longer do you need to worry about other language or customs. There is no need to look up directions, to plan out your day, to journey between sights. Then again, you now need to clean up your own mess, to make your own bed. Rather than eat out you need to cook your own dinner. The shower is weak and the toilet doesn't wash your bum. And you need to wake up early tomorrow morning in order to spend a day at work. You are back to your old routine. Looking back upon this holiday in Japan I've decided that the theme of running water has applied to each of the days. Sunday - Arrival in Osaka - washing ourselves Japanese style Monday - Matsuyama - water from the hot springs at Dogo Onsen Tuesday - Takamatsu - waterfall at Ritsuen-koen Wednesday - Tsumago - streams of water throughout the town Thursday - Takayama - the sounds of rushing water e

Ho Chi Minh to Hoi An

The easy way to get to Hoi An from Ho Chi Minh City is to fly to Danang then go via car for the final leg. Then there's my way. We had to wake at 5.30 am to get ready for a 6.15 departure from the hotel. A hotel car took us the few kilometres to the domestic terminal at the airport, where we checked into our Vietnam Airlines flight to the central Vietnam city of Hue. The airport was nothing flash, but it seemed functional. Alex had sandwiches (refused banh mi) for breakfast, then we went to the gate. Our blue Airbus A321 was parked at a remote stand, which necessitated a packed shuttle bus ride. It was nice to be aboard a full service airline again, even if the service was just a cup of water. We took off over the hazy skies of Ho Chi Minh City and for most of the smooth flight were cruising over a carpet of cloud. We descended over mountains poking their heads through the cloud, across lakes and paddy fields and over the beach. It was lovely scenery.