A Travellerspoint blog

Since I Might Not See You Again

It was nice meeting you, and enjoy Sydney!

In the morning I made Chiu late again for work saying our goodbyes (and see you in a few days). Then I headed out a few suburbs further out from the CBD, only about 10 minutes by train. Since her next couchsurfer was Joe, Chiu let me leave most of my stuff in her couchsurfer room, so I only had my backpack with a few things I would need for the next few days to carry (so nice!)

“Since I might not see you again, it was nice meeting you, and enjoy Sydney!”

This was what my new couchsurfing host told me when he let me in his place and showed me my bedroom (swanky). He showed me around his flat (he lives by himself) and he warned me on his profile that he works a lot, so he is hardly ever home, so he can’t show me around, but I could crash at his place. I was a little weary of surfing at a man’s place all by myself, but after reading all the reviews from previous couchsurfers, he just sounded so nice! There were single guys and single girls who stayed with him, and they all had wonderfully positive things to say about him, so, against my better judgment, I sucked up my negativity about how men can be sleezy, and I put myself out there. He had to run pretty quick, but before he left he got his water jug boiling (I’ll explain in a moment) and put out 2 boxes of tea for me to pick from. Then he was gone.

In Australia they have these teapots that are electric. You fill the jug with water, then the coils inside heat up, and boil your water! Its genius, and it only takes a minute! Most stoves are gas here, so having an electric kettle is fast and efficient. I love these electric teakettles, and I am so getting one when I go back to the states. When Aussies ask me how I heat up my water for my tea, I told them I stick a cup of water in the microwave, and they laugh and say I’m so American! Isn’t that what you would do? Stick you teacup in a microwave? They really hardly ever use the microwaves here. They suck up too much electricity and make your food all mushy (its true, they do). In Australia they have good food, good drink, and just all around good times. I like it here, but its going to take a bit of getting used to.

After breakfast I took a little sun nap in his backyard before heading out for my day of travel.

Here is my new place:

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You know, I didn’t take any picutres of Chius! I don’t know why not.

Today Chiu has me heading out to Kiama, the furthest suburb south of Sydney that the trains go to. Apparently there is a blowhole on the beach that looks like a geyser, and a rainforest not a far bus ride away either. So after my nap I packed my Tokyo purse with my bottle of water (I’ll explain that in a moment) and lunch. Here in Australia, traveling by myself, I’ve been a little security conscious. Japan was totally safe, but here in Sydney, you can see how you might get mugged. When shopping at Chiu’s grocery just down the road, I bought a bottle of juice, and immediately recognized its potential as a weapon. Its called Phoenix juice, and its made in New Zealand from organic ingredients (hence its original appeal). However, it’s oddly shaped, with a long and thin bottleneck, perfect for you to wrap your hand around... My first instinct was to hold the bottle upside down. This way, it immediately looked like a club, and it was. There is a reason why bar fights are so dangerous. Hitting someone over the head with a glass bottle is fucking dangerous as! Scientifically speaking, if the bottle doesn’t break, all of the net force is delivered from the bottle’s momentum to the smashing object (someone’s head). If the bottle breaks, then most of the force is dissipated in the actual cracking of the glass, and the momentum is carried out in flying glass shards. This will not hurt so much, but now, you have a sharp cutting weapon, and they have a minor head injury. You couldn’t carry around a sharp weapon, but people carry blunt weapons all the time. So, since I always need water, this juice bottle that fits perfectly into my bag, has become just that, and it also functions as my weapon, because as Joe as taught me, it doesn’t matter how much training I have in martial arts. The guy who jumps me on the street is going to be bigger than me, and stronger than me, as they wouldn’t pick someone who looked bigger and stronger than themselves to attack. Therefore, being the smaller weaker woman, I need a handicap.

All set. Time to travel.

The train stopped about halfway to our destination and said that there was construction on the tracks, so to Kiama we had busses to take us the rest of the way. The next bus didn’t leave for another half hour, so since they dropped us off just outside the Royal National Forest, I went for an explore. 2 of the guys who told me about how to get to the trail just off the new bus park warned me that foreigners are known to get lost the “The Bush” and the ones that do come back have been known to have all sorts of animal and plant attack wounds. I told them that I was pretty tough, and I’d take my chances, hoping that they were just “winding me up” as they do here. If they were honestly telling the truth... well, I guess there’s only one way to find out right?

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These trees remind me of the tree in Corey’s parent’s front yard. The paper tree.

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Signs of global warming:

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(Beached boogie board)

On the road again:

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It was so nice on these buses, they were like Greyhounds, the seats were 10 x better than the train seats, and the views from the road were so much better!

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We didn’t end up making it to Kiama until mid afternoon (even though I left around 10 in the morning) so it was going to be a short stay, and the journey was the big part of the tour. I asked some locals about getting to the rain forest, and they said that the buses were just not equipped to get out there, so they kept breaking down and what not. Eventually they just canceled the buses all together because it was a few hour ride out of Kiama, and the interest just wasn’t there for the amount of money needed to fund the buses staying up. So now the only way to get out there is by rental or taxi, which would cost me a hundred at least. No thanks, I had traveled and spent enough already. The rainforest would have to wait until I travel to South America. I guess I just have to keep that one on the list of places to go. Can’t not go now that I wouldn’t get to see a rain forest in Australia right?

And now that I have to rush to see Kiama to see it all before sunset (it is winter after all, even though it feels like spring), and I am lost. Apparently the person I asked for directions got their left and right confused, so what would have been an easy walk to the ocean, ended up taking me all the way through town to the middle of nowhere when I asked a car stopping at a stop sign where the hell the ocean was. He pointed to my left and said walk until I saw water.

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My shadow:

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This isn’t the beach by the blowhole by the way, this is the beach just south of that area. Once I found water, I asked how to get to the blowhole (one step at a time people, one step at a time) They said follow the water on my left, and I would see a large lighthouse, and it was right by it.

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Yay for lava caves!

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The waves basically crash in under the lava rock, get stuck, and then squeeze up through a lava tube and blow out of the surface. Really neat to watch, because you could time the explosions with the flow of the waves. I tried this with the video camera rolling, but I couldn't get the shot! So, miraculously, I got the still images, but not the video. I do have a nice long video watching the waves through this hole though:


But, not worth uploading in my opinion, I'll show you a better video of the waves in a sec.

Walking out further onto the lava you can get to the waves, and they are extremely violent for a “sea” in my opinion. You see, Australia doesn’t actually touch the Pacific Ocean. To the north, west, and south is the Indian Ocean, and to the east (where I am) is the Tasman Sea, otherwise known as the “Ditch” between Australia and New Zealand. So these waves are from the Tasman Sea:

I love how you can see the rocks becoming hexagonal pillars like the basalt rocks in Japan that Adam showed us, or the rocks in Ireland called Giant’s Causeway.

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Here’s a guy fishing, very brave.

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Best swimming pool ever!

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The cute town of Kiama:

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Now it was getting to sunset, so time to head back to Sydney.

The buss ride was wonderful because they left the lights off, so you could actually see the sunset outside as we drove up through the windy roads. By the time we made it to the train station it was dark, and they had the bright florescent lights on the train, so you really couldn’t see outside v_v;

Death Note kid:


I wanted to get his backpack, but he was moving to the train too quickly, but it was a Death Note Anime passenger bag, and he had a scarf will sculls on it and a My Chemical Romance jumper. I so wanted to talk to this kid, but he was getting on a train into Sydney, and I was exiting the station. Too bad I didn’t see him on the ride up, we could have been ride buddies. Getting home the house was empty, so I took a shower, glorious alone time (even though I've been alone all day, this is different, this is solitude), and went to sleep, in my own room, by myself, and it was only getting easier (sleeping alone that is).

Posted by - Rain 17:16 Comments (0)

I'm Only Happy When it Rains

No, that’s not true at all

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:

Botany Bay:

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.

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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.

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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:

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Welcoming us at the entrance:


I love this couple:


Draco Tree:

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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:

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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:

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Finally! A Cherry Blossom Tree! And its in full bloom! See Japan, I didn’t miss them!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Aboriginal Techno:

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:

Posted by - Rain 17:02 Comments (1)

Whats the Difference between an Aussie and a Kiwi?

The accent.

I start this blog off with a joke, because you have to down here. Life is a bit rockier than I thought it would be, not as laid back as I had hoped, and man, it dosent matter if their from Australia or New Zealand, they love to wind you up. Well, I'm wound tight enough as it is, so hopefully I'll learn to unwind once I get used to it over here. There are surprisingly few white people, at least of what I saw my first day in Sydney. I was a little excited to see all the white Australians with their 'Crocodile Dundee' hats and saying things like "Crike!" But I mostly saw Arabs, Indians and Asians, and they weren't like the ones I'm used to in America. They held onto their culture, like a mixed salad, rather than a melting pot.

Posted by - Rain 21:10 Comments (1)

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