No, that’s not true at all
08.07.2010 - 11.07.2010
The day I landed in Australia it was a cloudy sad looking day in Sydney. Joe gave me Chiu's number, but she works, so she doesn't really answer her cell phone. I called her from the airport, and no answer. Ok, I sat down, had some lunch, then called her back. Still no answer, so I left her a message. "Hi Chiu, this is Rain, Joe's girlfriend" (ya, I'll explain that in a moment) "I've landed, and I'm taking the bus into town, and then the train to Rockdale, and then I am walking to your place. No hurry, I'll just hang out near your place until you get home if your not already there. Thanks," Yeah, so I guess Chiu was going through hard times with her boyfriend, and Joe, in his infinite wisdom, decided that rather than being there for her with the truth, like I know what your going through, I just did that myself, and here comes my ex girlfriend, see how well we get along... no. He tells her we are a little rocky now, but still together. Luckily, the boy way up north at the moment. He was really trying to get back to Sydney to pick me up from the airport, but you know how hitchhiking goes. I told him it wasn't a problem, and I could figure it out myself. Really, I wasn't sure what all of this was about anyways, but now he really really wanted to see me. Okay, I'm just going to be indifferent about this whole thing. No emotional attachment to any outcome, just go with the flow, unwind a bit... Ri-ight
When I finally found the bus that got me to the train that got me to the next bus, I could catch another bus, or I could save the $2 and walk the 15 minutes to Chiu’s place at the end of the street. My directions were literally to walk until I saw the bay a few streets away, and then her street would be on the right next to Nick’s Cake Shop. It was only drizzling, so I gave walking a go... Fucking miserable! What was probably a 15 – 20 minutes walk without your life on your back easily doubled, and the rain strength doubled as well. I was drenched, and it was winter here, so the wind was not friendly.
I found Chiu’s place, but no one was home. v.v; I tried walking around the local shops by the beach looking for wifi, but no luck. Eventually I just ducked into this shopping mall that looked post apocalyptic, and I was able to find a very weak wifi connection from someone’s apartment. There was an email from Chiu giving about the same directions I took with the exception that I should just take a bus to her place from the train station since it was a bit of a walk to carry all my luggage... She also said that she got off work at 7:30pm, so she would try to be home by 8pm. It was now still fairly early in the afternoon, and it was raining. I did by best to entertain myself in the “food court” until the place closed at 6pm. In this entertainment, I gave into the fact that my visa for Australia would not come before I touched down on Australian soil... so I applied for my New Zealand working holiday visa. With the sun shining on me (metaphorically of course) from the gods, it was free! The Australian one cost me $100 to apply, and then $100 to get their mandatory x-rays, where as New Zealand couldn't care about any of that. NO WORRIES MATE!
When Chui and I finally met it was ridiculous. I think I must have said "oh, I'm sorry" like a billion times, and she threatened me with her wooden spoon (she was making us dinner) that if I said sorry one more time! After that, I unwound, relaxed, and it was so super easy to become really good friends with her. She is a psychologist, and funny enough, she reminds me of Laura so much, and if you didn't know, Laura is one of my best friends from back home who also has her bachelors in psychology... funny that. Chiu unfortunately works Saturdays, and it was now only Thursday night, so she won't have time for me until Sunday.
The next day I got up, had breakfast with Chiu, and made her late for work with my jabber. After she ran out the door I spent the day at work as well. I logged onto her computer and I began looking though my emails. No word back from NZ yet, but hey, its only been a day. Australia neither, but I kinda expected that. After a few hours of internet I decided to go out and get some food and maybe see the beach. Brighton Beach is way pretty, and nobody really goes to it because its a bay and not the ocean, and all the planes fly over it, but really, its not bothersome at all. Its a really big bay, and its like a private paradise. The sun was hidden by overcast, the water was cool, but I felt generally happy. Well, except for now having to lie to a good friend! What was Chiu? A 5 year old? It wasn't so bad until I got to know her and really liked her and wanted to have some real girl talk about life, boys, and how both suck! But no, I had to pretend that everything was coming up roses! So Freaking Typical! I don't know if anyone recalls this, but Joe broke up with me once before, and I had to do the same thing, but with his family! Yes, his brother and his cousin came to his 2nd MMA fight, and I had to be there and pretend that we were still together because he hadn't told them yet! He said that if I wanted I could tell them, but I decided that if he wanted to dump me, he could at least man up and tell his family for himself. So I said nothing. Nate thought I was a little stand offish having met me before, but other than that... well, thats getting off topic now, isn't it?
Back to the subject at hand:
I had Chiu's spare keys, so I was able to go back to her apartment and pick up my laptop, so I grabbed that up and walked to the Chocolate cafe (it was now raining again) and decided to order some Nutella and banana crepes and I started watching a movie I downloaded on my computer. Sitting there with glorious chocolate all over my face, I realized I had no idea the proper paying etiquette. Next to me was a table of 3 older women, so I leaned in, and asked "How do I pay in Australia?" They looked at me, baffled by the question. "I mean, I've been here for a while now, so she has stopped coming by, do I ask for a check? Do I go up and pay? And do I leave a tip? I mean, this is only my second day in Australia." Oh, they understood, I was American! They scooted their chairs and had a conversation with me about not tipping unless I really wanted to let them know that I thought they went above and beyond. Otherwise, you mostly don't tip, and you pay at the register, so waitresses don't have to bother you all the time about the check. Sounded good to me, and suddenly my creps, although good, now seemed reasonably priced.
Chiu and I hung out again a bit that night, but she had another day of work, so she couldn't stay up late, but she popped in the movie "Up" for me, and she dared me not to cry. I didn't cry, but I knew the part that she would have cried at, because I felt myself getting a bit chocked up durring a part. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If not, I recommend watching it, its a better movie than I expected from the advertisements.
The next day was rainy again, so I began with my usual internetting, and guess what? Australia was still busy processing all my documents and money, while New Zealand, asking for no money or medical records, had hardly anything to process, and so they approved me straight away! Oh my god! I was going to NZ! I'd just live in NZ for a year first, and then AU next year, that simple. I started looking at flights, and there was one leaving Sydney to Auckland for $98, and after talking about plane tickets to Chiu last night, I knew that this was a bargain, so I took it. One week to go, July 20th 2010 I was flying to New Zealand! Sorted! I even started putting out couchsurfing requests in Auckland. Is Auckland a nice city to live? Where should I live? I knew I wanted to try Melbourne out in Australia, but I have done absolutely no research on NZ! Well, I guess I'd figure it out when I get there. If its alright, and I get along okay, maybe I'll just stay there for a few months, figure things out, then move on to the right city. Okay then, woman with a red belly dance outfit and an axe, please accept me, I think your cool. Also, girl with the huge grin and emo glasses, your boyfriend is looking at you like your crazy, I think we could be friends. Alright, now what? Well, the clouds were fading in the sky to a sunny day, life was looking up, I was feeling good, and I had a week to see Australia!
View from the corner of the main street to the train station and Chiu's street:
More photos to come, but I never bring my camera when I go to her beach, so they are at night : (
(These photos I had to steal from Joe.)
Next, I got my tourist on and decided to see the Opera House. At the train station I was recommended by the ticket guy to buy a week pass to all the trains, busses and ferries. It was $60, but it was $5.35 to just to get a day pass from Chiu's to the harbor and back, so if I was planning on being in just Sydney for a week or more, than it was worth it, and the trains would take me all the way out to the Blue Mountains! "What are those? Are they blue?" Well, no, not really, but when they are far away they look blue... (don't they all?) Anyways, he pointed out a poster on the train station wall of the 3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains. They were these three tall and thin spires right up next to each other in the middle of a gorgeous tree filled mountain range. He said it was $20 just to buy the train ticket there, so $60 for there and back and a full week of transport started to sound pretty reasonable, so I went for it. Heres to another week like the 2 I spent with the JR pass! But this one is over a much smaller area, so I should be able to manage it better.
First stop, Circular Que (pronounced key), where as you get off the train, you can see the Opera House! No need to ask for directions, I got this one folks.
And right behind it, the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge:
See? (That’s the same yellow boat in the foreground.)
And these pictures are nice and all, but how cool would it be to see these places from the water? Well, I did just buy a ticket that gets me on any ferry all week, so I got on the shortest ferry that basically goes out, away from the bridge to some of the docks directly opposite the Opera House, then back to Circular Que.
Now we’re back, and I was thinking about taking the Darling Harbor ferry, but this trip took over an hour, and I was a little weary that the Darling Harbor ferry would take about 2 hours round trip, so I decided to leave that for another day, and just zoom in on the carnival instead:
Next I walked up to the Opera House and walked around its base. I love the shots of the inside of the conical “awnings” the place is famous for.
Next I really just walked around the corner, away from the docks, and arrived in the Royal Gardens (free!) There was this gorgeous walk along the water, and these are my shots:
Welcoming us at the entrance:
I love this couple:
I love how the light plays with this tree:
If someone were to sculpt me naked, I feel like my image would come out something like this:
Now the ridiculous inflatable symbol of NSW:
New South Wales, the state Sydney is in... damn Americans and their lack of Geography, do I have to explain everything to you guys? Yeah, this was one of the reasons I came on this trip. Everything just seems so far away in America, so out of reach, that learning about places is like learning about the anatomy of your cells. It’s all just an idea, something you take someone’s word for that yes these things do exist. This is the cell wall, it is where osmosis occurs. This is NSW, it is where the New Years Eve fireworks display happens that you see on TV every year. But your not there, you can’t see it with your observing eye. You can only view these things on projection screens and pictures. They may as well be a world away, therefore, not relevant to your life. Now Sydney, NSW, is relevant to me. I’ve been here, I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, and now I feel learning about it makes sense. This is why I never want to stop traveling. The world is too important to not be relevant, to not make sense. I want to hear about a place and think, that is where my friend lives, they made me authentic food, and showed me this landscape that I will never forget. I know that place, its relevant to my life.
Crazy Australian birds:
Finally! A Cherry Blossom Tree! And its in full bloom! See Japan, I didn’t miss them!
And now, ominous music begins... I was video taping this cute scene of this child carrying around a huge fern branch, when his mother spots them. What is she looking at? You can see the little boy pointing at them at one point too. I felt like that seen in Birds where the kids are looking at the jungle gym with all the birds, and they are just staring, and pointing, and then the birds attack!
Thankfully, these trees that were simply loaded with Flying Foxes, are apparently old news to Australians, and they are harmless, and even helpful as they go out at night and snatch up rodent pests. Oh Australians and their strange love for dangerous animals.
This gazebo, beautiful as it was, became a must to photograph once I got closer. It is called A Folly for Mrs Macquarie, and it is a representation of the folly by which the British chose to colonize Australia.
Here you can see a man’s arm holding a threatening spike, and then all of the intricate designs are actually shaped like barbed wire laced with animal bones. Then, of course, the obvious wood chopping axe at the entrance.
Looking straight up:
Walking back I found these Japanese kids playing with their shadows...
They don’t get out much. Probably from Tokyo where all the buildings are so tall and close together that they never have the proper angle of the sun to see their own elongated shadow. Kinda sad really. But then you remember that they grew up in Japan, which I loved, and you can’t feel bad for them anymore.
You could buy their CD for $10. I did not. I spent $5 on some ice cream/ sorbet they called "gelato" over by the docks instead... should have gotten the CD. Oh well, when I got home Chiu said they are always there, sometimes they are even white guys, but usually their will be at least one Aboriginal looking guy of the bunch. She has been in Sydney for years, and she said they never miss a day, not even Christmas, or especially not Christmas according to Chiu (I guess you'd get really good business then, authentic gifts and all, with a bit of charity to boot).
Today is my last day with Chiu before I move onto my next couchsurfer. However, Chiu has agreed that when Joe is set up to stay with her in 4 days, that I should totally come back and stay as well. She even told me that I could stay with her until then, but couchsurfers generally should stay 3-4 days, and then move on, so I set something up when I was in Japan before I knew that we would become friends, and not just couchsurfing acquaintances. So today we hung out and went shopping! We were looking for kitchen things for Chiu as she just moved into her new place 2 weeks ago (Joe helped her move in actually) and she still needed table mats and the like. We also went Op Shop clothes shopping for me as I was going to try to settle down in NZ and get a job, so the 3 outfits I owned would just not due. We ended up getting me some nice dress pants, a gorgeous maroon and gold wrap around Indian Sari styled skirt, a blue patterned 70’s skirt, a T-shirt that had Ohmn on it in gold (it was just so damn soft) and a few black nice dress shirts as most uniforms for Cafes are black on black, but I was hoping I could still wear my pretty skirts at a cool cafe owned by a woman with dreads (yes, I just made that up, I don’t know of one... yet).
Then Chiu went to get a massage, and she let me loose on the college town shopping street in where we were shopping in Newmarket. I loved the area, it reminded me of Kent, but bigger, cooler, and in downtown Sydney. All the shops were loaded with all this hippie hemp and incents and wall tapestries, I just wanted to buy it all. But, get a job first, a flat second, and then I would worry about decorations. But the window shopping was refreshing even if I couldn’t afford to buy any of it.
Couchsurfers from New Zealand: