Only Brisbane this time. Arrival at about 11pm. The taxi driver who took me to my hotel said his business was down about 30% due to people travelling less. One thing’s for sure: the economic crisis provides a universal topic of conversation. The Grand Chancellor is overrated and overpriced. Never have I written as many critical comments on the comment card. Good thing I only stayed there two nights and then moved to Mark’s house.
I spent two days with our distributors getting to know new people, showing them our system, and visiting customers with it. They had organized two presentations at the main universities in Brisbane – a good start and an efficient use of time.
The weekend at Mark’s consisted of a fabulous outing to the Noosa headlands, a church service at the Sherwood Uniting Church where his mother preached, and noontime in the city and South Bank with Mark’s sister. Brisbane was hot, but not as hot as I had feared, and I feel like with a little more time there would have been plenty more to do.
Flat Stanley digs Noosa.
We flew into Auckland on Sunday evening and spent the night near the airport. Monday we drove down to Rotorua and set up our booth. The drive and its vistas made me want to see more of the country, but a visit every other year is about as much as is reasonable given the market size. If only we could sell microscopes to sheep! One of the little towns we passed, Tirau, seemed to be the corrugated sheet capital of the country, with most signs and several domestic fixtures made of corrugated iron.
Rotorua announces itself by gentle wafts of sulphurous (IUPAC: sulfurous) odors. Your eggs could go off in this town and you’d put it down to the local air. The upside is a plethora of spas and baths, of which I tried the Polynesian Spa, a bit expensive indeed but ever so enjoyable late at night after a day at the booth and a big dinner. Of course, it’s not Japanese style, so now my bathing suit reeks of sulfur.
The conference once again distinguished itself by its aura of familiarity. This is indeed a small, tight, and friendly microscopy community, a group of people excited about microscopy and happy to hang out with fellow microscopists, wherever they may be from. As usual, I have a photo of dancing microscopists.
Dancing Microscopists in Rotorua.
On Thursday we had the afternoon off and headed down to Wai-o-tapu, where the local geological instabilities reminded me of just how fragile our earthly existence is and what a mercy it is to be sustained day by day.
The mud pots.
The Champagne Pool.
Wai-o-tapu has a mind of its own.
More from the Champagne Pool.
The next day it was up early and off to the Rotorua airport. This is an airport where the planes taxi up the runway, u-turn at the end, and then take off along the same runway. My plane was a 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D, and I was seated in the second row and therefore got to watch the pilots all the way. Here’s a picture of us landing.
Landing at Auckland Airport with a Beech 1900D.
See how the plane’s longitudinal axis is not at all parallel to the runway?
I haven’t yet transferred many pictures from Japan to my computer – most are still on my camera – but here’s one that also is the quiz of this post: What is in the below bag?
More later – going home now. It’s about time.