Hello! This is Christie. I am the daughter-in-law of Elder and Sister Kinghorn and am guest-blogging for them this week. My husband Vaughn (their oldest son) and I have been visiting for the past several days and wanted to share some of the fun surprises of Sydney from the perspective of a newcomer.
First of all, the people are amazing. Everyone we have met has been so wonderful and friendly. They love talking with the tourists and have a great sense of humor. For example, I went on a “Bridge Climb” tour of the Sydney Harbor Bridge (the famous bridge that you see in pictures with the Sydney Opera House). Our tour guide was hilarious. (To a young woman in our group from California: “You’re from Los Angeles?! Shut up, no way, get out!”) He was really messing with the people in our group who he could tell were scared of heights. (“Is this your first time? Me too, we’ll figure it out together.” And when strapping on their bundled rain jackets: “Here’s your parachute.”) We started the climb by walking out on a catwalk that went under the bridge, with the cars and trains passing very loudly directly over our heads. Then we arrived at our first ladder climb. You could not see exactly what you were climbing into and several people afraid of heights were nervous. Our guide tried to convince us that our heads would be popping up into the middle of the street of traffic right above us. (“There will be cars going by directly on the right and directly on the left, but just keep yourselves tucked in nice and tight and you’ll be fine. We have gotten really good at listening for the gaps between cars. It’s a bit like playing Frogger.”) Elder and Sister Kinghorn went with us to the Blue Mountains yesterday where another funny tour guide was making similar jokes. When closing the door to the cable car that would be taking us high above the trees: “If you have any body parts you don’t like, now is a good time to stick them out.”
I was also surprised by the amazing diversity of Sydney. We heard lots of different languages and accents, particularly many from Asia.
Here are a few other fun tidbits from the past several days:
- The people say “no worries” instead of “you’re welcome.” But it is also used in place of other American phrases like “you bet” or “sure, no problem.” (When asking a waitress for something, she will respond with “no worries.”) People with a heavy Australian accent say it more like one word: “N’orries”
- The pronunciation of some places is throwing me off. Bondi and Wolli look like they would be pronounced “Bondy” and “Wally” to me, but they are pronounced “Bond-EYE” and “Wall-EYE.” The capital, Canberra, looks like it should be pronounced with three syllables, but most people here pronounce it “Can-bruh.”
- Light switches are absolutely itty-bitty. About the size of your finger-tip.
- The toaster has a button labeled “A Bit More” for you to use when you have checked your toast but it is not quite done. (Genius! Why have we in the U.S. not caught on to this idea?)
- The eggs are a strangely different color. Brown on the outside and orange on the inside. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but yes, scrambled eggs are bright orange.
- Getting used to traffic and the flow of everything being on the left is harder than you think. I just play it safe and look for traffic both ways when crossing the street. And the rule of staying on the left extends beyond street traffic. When you come upon a set of escalators, it is the one on the left you need to take. If you forget and take the one on the right, it will be coming at you in the wrong direction, trust me. And once you are on the escalator, you have to remember to stand on the left so that people who are in a hurry can pass you on the right. What I have learned from this experience, more than anything, is to re-commit myself to be patient with my kids back at home when they don’t inherently understand the rules of what it means to “get out of the way.”
There is much more I could say about this wonderful country, but I will just close this post by saying that amid all of the new (and sometimes confusing) experiences we have had this week, it was wonderful, peaceful and comforting to go “home.” By that, I mean that Elder and Sister Kinghorn and my husband and I were able to spend time in the Sydney Australia Temple together. The peace we felt there stood in stark contrast to the constant rush of our trip. No matter where we are in the world or what is going on in our lives, our Father in Heaven beckons us to return to Him. His blessings are available to all of His children. His love for each of us is constant. I am grateful that Elder and Sister Kinghorn have chosen to serve a mission to help spread these truths, especially to His children in this beautiful country of Australia.