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Adelaide in need of aid

November 24, 2012

I know you will be surprised to know that I, paragon of virtue, and renowned non-drinker and liar, was not feeling his best yesterday morning. Although suspicions amongst my touring party were that I had perhaps in imbibed rather too enthusiastically the night before, I knew the truth; I had eaten something either too spicy or too rich. Anyway, I clearly looked unwell as I was excused further retail distress without having to whimper very much at all, probably on the grounds that I may have been sick on the merchandise.

I was recovering from the night of fine spicy Thai food, taken at the excellent riverside Treehouse in Bangkok, and a visit to Patpong, the famous, and ultimately rather boring and seedy red-light district, from where I took this picture. Whilst many other establishments made grandiose claims as to what was offered, I rather liked the honesty of the advertising on this placard:
Happy with the detremental vibes here
Later in the day, the over night flight to Sydney with the excellent Emirates, was thrown into stark contrast by the Quantas onward flight to Adelaide. There is really no excuse in the modern age for a queue to check in extending almost 200 yards. If an airline wants to besmirch its good name then making passengers suffer this after an 8 hour overnight flight is just the way. Quantas is off my Christmas card list.
It got worse. Already ragged after the long flight and needless delays in Sydney, our party of 4 arrived at the supposedly 5 star Sebel Playford Hotel on the north side of the city, a stones throw from the beautiful Adelaide Oval. Having been spoilt by the wonderful luxury of our hotel in the supposedly 3rd world Bangkok, what we did not expect was a swirly-carpeted 70’s horror of a dated interior, a room with a view of a wall, and to be charged about £17 per day (at today’s exchange rates) for wifi AND Ethernet cable access to the internet. I blame Tony “I invented the internet” Coombs.  The only way this hotel can score five stars is in its ability to rip off its customers. Only the unfailing courtesy and humour afforded us by almost every Australian we encountered made the day bearable.

This morning, before the opening ceremony and welcome reception for the 30 odd teams (now there is a turn of phrase, we shall look very odd in our long white socks and navy shorts for the procession) who have flown from around the world to play cricket in the Golden oldies cricket Festival, John “Chuckle Brothers” Surtees and I have resolved that after an early breakfast, we will walk down to the cricket ground as Australia are playing South Africa in the second Test Match. It seems as if the national cricket team are also being ritually abused by staying at the same hotel for the duration of the game.

In search of some solace in the form of food and drink, we headed up to the rather appropriately named Gouger Street which had been recommended to us by the concierge because of its range of restaurants and bars. I say appropriate because for a reasonable tapas meal and the meanest paella for two I have ever seen, they gouged out of us enough money to buy the restaurant, an eye-watering final insult to round off a most disappointing welcome to Australia. Apart from the unswerving friendliness of the locals and the weather, I have so far found very little of what I found so charming about Adelaide when I last came about 10 years ago.  Maybe once the jet lag recedes I shall have a more positive view.

Chris France


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