Tuesday, August 20th, 2002:

What an age we live in!

My good buddy Kevin Hilditch helped me out with a little experiment I’ve been meaning to try ever since I was in Hong Kong last September. My landline number forwards all calls to my cell phone, but the landline is also connected to the call box at the gate of my condo. So Kevin went down to my gate and dialled up my suite. Over here in Sydney, Australia I answered the call, pressed “9” and let him in. Neat, huh? For anyone who knows where I live you can now reach me anywhere in the world for free; just keep in mind the time difference, please!

I’ve definitely got a serious case of wanderlust, addicted to the exhilarating rush of stepping out into another part of the world. This part of it is so far both foreign and familiar — I knew I’d made the right vacation choice when I entered a nearby mall and found myself face to face with a mobile phone kiosk inside. Strangely, my Treo isn’t proving to be as useful as it was in Hawaii. There I could almost do without my laptop, only needing it for entries to this site. And if I was a real geek, I could probably figure out a way to do that as well. But for some reason, none of the four GSM providers in Sydney will let me get on the wireless Internet. Luckily, I’ve got a high-speed connection right here in my hotel room.

I was wondering what my Sydney accommodations would be like. I’ve had bad experiences in Holiday Inns before — small rooms that stink of cheap air freshener and bathrooms that only a submarine crew could love. On paper (or at least on the Holiday Inn website) this place had a perfect location at a reasonable price. I wasn’t disappointed. Turns out this used to be the Furama Hotel, and has kept the best qualities of its former marque. I was expecting to be homeless until check-in time; instead, I got a room upon my 8am arrival, and not just the room I had booked, but a free upgrade to a two room business-class suite. This place could sleep five!

Not able to sleep myself, I set out to reconnoiter the area. Someone had told me that Sydney was a lot like Toronto; if so, then Darling Harbour is a lot like Chinatown, Ontario Place, the Eaton Centre, The Royal Ontario Museum and Casino Rama squeezed into a couple of city blocks. A monorail passes by below my window (I don’t hear it) connecting to all the attractions. On foot, it took me all afternoon to cover about half of it. Though my interest was piqued by the new Nokia picture phone I did the right thing instead and picked up some presents for my nieces and nephew.

I was hoping to pay an evening visit to the casino, but surrendered to jet lag and fell asleep during the six o’clock news. With eleven hours of executive sleep now under my belt, I should be able to keep a more reasonable local schedule.

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