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Out of the frying pan

overcast 30 °C
View Urban Reverie 2019 on urbanreverie's travel map.

C7ACA9BA-86A9-47F4-BFAA-632F747655B8.jpegF7574A23-2403-4A0E-9DF0-3EF62C5FC775.jpegA5A7CC62-FA77-4403-AAFA-ED8A36C7A389.jpeg1708F442-CBA1-4453-9CE6-54823B97BCE3.jpeg173D5294-E4AD-4EE4-9ACC-CC4391EAA504.jpeg0219F3FF-C411-49F2-B906-E0BC4E15BE10.jpegI awoke early having slept very soundly due to being awake until midnight packing my bag and going on a housework binge. I can't explain it but I always go on a housework binge the night before I go overseas. Perhaps I am subconsciously terrified of an impromptu tenancy inspection by my real estate agent while I am away, or maybe I don't want some burglar to judge me for the soap scum on my shower tiles. In any case, it is baffling because I don't particularly care much for cleaning my flat at any other time.

My flight is due to leave Kingsford Smith at 16:10 so I had a leisurely morning cleaning out the fridge, putting the garbage out, checking and double-checking and triple-checking all the locks, washing up and ironing. I left home shortly before midday and trudged up the steep hill to the station with eleven kilograms on my back in the ghastly humidity of a Sydney summer. The dew point today was a decidedly oppressive 22 °C. Now that climate change well and truly has the world in its grip all the climate zones are shifting. The Queensland climate has moved down to New South Wales, Victoria has inherited the New South Welsh climate and the Victorian climate has cascaded down to Tasmania. Pretty soon Bega will be famous for its bananas rather than its cheese, I fear. I console myself with the fact that I chose a good time of year to go to my tropical destination because the weather over there is certainly no worse than what it is in Sydney right now.

I didn't have to wait too long for the first of many trains on this adventure in which trains shall be a salient feature. The 12:05 Inner West Line service to the City Circle arrived at Summer Hill on time. I boarded the K set grateful for its air conditioning and that I didn't get an even older S set without air con.

I changed at Central to an Airport Line service operated by a Millennium set and got off two stations later at Mascot. Why did I get off at Mascot and not the airport? Because I'm a cheapskate! Ladies and gentleman, please allow me to show you Urban Reverie's Tightarse Guide To Cheap Travel To Kingsford Smith!

The Airport Line was built as one of those dreadful public-private partnerships where large corporations and consultancy firms get to screw the taxpayer and the service user sideways. In return for the private sector building the airport stations (but not the tracks, tunnels or the trains themselves which were all paid for by the state), they get to charge the airport traveller a $14.30 "station access fee" on top of the regular train fare. For Summer Hill to the airport, the regular fare is $3.08 outside of peak hours so I would end up paying $17.38.

But if you get off one station before the airport at Mascot, you avoid the station access fee. There are two bus routes, 400 and 420, that each operate every twenty minutes and combine to come roughly every ten minutes. So you get off the train at Mascot, walk a hundred metres south, cross Coward Street and board a bus at Stand B and you are at the airport within minutes. The cheapskate option from Summer Hill costs only $3.28 ($3.08 train + $2.20 bus - $2.00 transfer discount).

Singapore Airlines baggage drop was quick and efficient except for one lady in front of me who thought it would be a lovely idea to repack her entire luggage at the counter. Seriously, how difficult is it to arrive at an airport well prepared with all your appropriate documentation? There is nothing quite like watching people at airport check-in counters that makes me despair more for the future of the human race. Except perhaps for the comments below every YouTube video. But apart from that, nothing.

I went through customs and immigration, waited forever, got the full-body pat down as usual, almost felt like laughing at how the formerly civilian professional public servants have now been turned into the Australian Border Force complete with starched black uniforms and shiny gold insignia. They look like nothing quite so much as stage extras in some Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera. The militarisation of airport bureaucrats and attempts from some quarters to turn them into heroes is a tad unnerving. Most customs and immigration personnel are no more virtuous or courageous than an average motor registry clerk or Australia Post delivery rider. Yes, the work they do is vitally necessary and socially purposeful and is worthy of respect (and you can't say this about all jobs nowadays). But this idea that airport public servants are up there with people who run into burning blocks of flats to save babies or defuse IEDs on the nature strip of some dusty Afghan highway is absurd. Let's face it - the militarisation of our airports is nothing more than the satisfaction of the uniform fetish of the current Home Affairs Minister.

After passing through passport control and security screening I grabbed some lunch at Sumo Salad and awaited my first plane, an Airbus A380 on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 222.

Posted by urbanreverie 19:53 Archived in Australia Tagged trains sydney airport transport

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