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March 27, 2004

A room with a view in Bondi

I had paid the extra nugget for my 26 dollar dorm overlooking bondi beach. Biltmore was a large worn structure with three flights of stairs up the liftless building. The bunk beds were the highest I had encountered and without the use of a trampoline it seemed impossible to heist myself up the laddeless wonk wobble construction frame. The mattress confirmed this wouldn't be good for my ever bag damaged back. But the view was great so who gives a damn. Now there are dirty hostels and clean hostels. On the scale of dirt bags this was a seven, but the view was great so who gives a damn. And then there was the noise and wind bouncing in from the exposed bay, but the view was great so who gives a damn. And then there was that 7am wake up, the sun shining through the curtain less windows, Bondi Beach 50 yards away. This was probably the only one place in the world that one could survive without an alarm clock.
A break from the drinking, a quiet night..... what do you do in Sydney? Well the answer should be 'there are loads of things to do' but they haven't come my way yet. So I decided to go for the cultural thing, the thing that is only really possible in Sydney, I went to the cinema. Now this normal routine event was made a little more interesting by the fact I was going with Isa, the cute can't speak English but getting better day by day girl. Now what film do you watch with someone who was bound to struggle at keeping up with a fast paced American movie? Well that's where the irony comes in, I said 'How about Lost in Translation', and yes to top it off the reply came 'I'm sorry I don't understand'. This was a situation based comedy starring Bill Murray so it seemed like a good choice despite the intended irony.
In the scattered cinema Isa chose to sit right amongst a small crowd, fine. What I wasn't to realise was that Isa was to use this cinema experience as English learning exercise with Mr Cooper being the tutor. There was silence. Then in a loud distinctive German accent 'What did he say?' , 'What does that mean?'. This continued sporadically throughout the movie and was only bettered when Isa got out her Mobile phone as torch and German - English 1992 Edition dictionary to translate selected words. Isa's English has improved so much throughout the five days that I am thinking of becoming an English teacher in Germany.... or maybe not, better teach myself how to speak and spell first as proved today when I forget how to spell 'Wednesday' and a few other simple howlers. I personally blame it on Microsoft spell check software and short hand text, nothing to do with my Educational background


March 22, 2004

Kings Cross and Sydney

It seems normal now to have random seventy year old tramps rapping to Eminem on their portable stereos, drunk scruffs talking wilding in their heads, fifty year year old pin in the distance (over the hill does not do it justice), ladies advertising their bodies like a flat in a newspaper and mad people fighting over scraps of beer. I had become used to listening to a girl called Janice talking outside on the public phone in a very typically loud American accent every day for half an hour at nine thirty. Sometimes I just felt like going outside and saying to her “Leave him, he sounds like a right idiot” but I think she would have been too freaked out by that. I am now used to Sven and Olga slobbering away everyday for the past five days.


I was not taken by Sydney where I first got here but slowly and surely it is grabbing my affection. It has everything, great bars, great shops, great vibe, beaches, fantastic public transport that makes London weep. The frustration lies in the fact that public transport in England could be good, it just takes a little effort. The buses run every five minutes, the trains every eight. Ninety five percent of the bus passengers all seem to have weekly tickets to swipe on the way in, this in turn reduces stopping time. The trains are double decker, clean and you can always get a seat even at peak times. I hate to say it but the Australians do things well. The roads are clearly marked, the stations are helpful in their layout and anything that can be done to make your life easier has been done.

“Due to poor service last Wednesday we are providing free travel all day on our trains” .... You what? No really because a few trains had a few problems the week before City Trains were offering a free travel day. Now compare this to say South West Trains and read the small print. Basically for you to get a refund back home the train lateness must fall into a narrow band of criteria and then you may get a small refund but only if you have a monthly pass and your train was late on Monday to Friday consecutively. When you actually get on the trains there are signs saying “Is this carriage clean enough, if not report it to the helpline”, You what? You mean if the carriage has a Twix wrapper underneath the seat you can actually report it and get it sorted.

Can you believe there are statistics on the average number of litter items per carriage per day? I know you are dying to know so here goes - Last December there were 13.1 items of litter per carriage. Yes they actually pay someone to go around and produce stats on the number of pieces of litter. And yes I know you are thinking “Does wrappers from a sweets count as one piece or multiples pieces” - I'm sorry I can't answer that one. Ok then one more stat, there were 20million passengers in Jan - 4 suicides on the track. You could say statically speaking that isn't bad, told you Sydney was a happy place.

Well lets just say there are a few differences. The main difference is manners. They seem really surprised if you say please or thank you as you hardly ever hear them saying it. They are incredibly confident and out going people which can turn into aggression whilst intoxicated. Queuing does not seem to exist here, everyone for themselves. In a way you tend to think that this is not a bad thing, just different. These are the people that will get to the front first and get their own way. Not difficult to realise then why they always whip our arses at sport. Their mentality is refreshing, they don't worry, they have a good time and they are always happy. After the 4 days lying on Bondi beach I had decided that it would be my home for the next week. Considering Bondi is meant to have a world famous reputation I was a little bemused. Imagine Bournemouth beach or Sandbanks. Now you have the beach. Now imagine a combination of Southend seafront and Margate. Now you have the road and shops. Add in a bit of surf and a few surfboards and you have Bondi Beach. It would be slightly unfair to leave it there. If you add in the most stunning women you can imagine and threw two hundred of them on a bit of sand you have Bondi Beach.

There is definitely a rich vibe to this area, it's all about what you wear or in most cases what you don't wear. It's the sort of place that like Bournemouth you would be amazingly happy for two weeks, but after the five months you would long for reality. Finally an oppurtunity to go to an Aussie Barbeque. But try to find some normal sausages and you will struggle. The choice?Italian sausage, German sausage, chicken sausage and a number of other odd looking colour long things. Going for 'Traditional English Sausage' is bound to be a disaster, but that it was. Now this barbeque, let's just say it wasn't on a 5 ft patch of lawn overlooking the council houses. No this was a little different. The flat was on Tamarama beach which is between Bondi and Coogee beaches. Forty feet in front of the balcony was a handful of surfers battling against the strong rip, Twenty feet to the right was a small coved beach. One of the guys at the flat said that the guy who owned the flats had been offered at his door $20 million dollars..... he turned it down. Never agree to play the Germans at football, the outcome is inevitable. Two a side beach football with flip flops for goal posts, we didn't lose on penalties but got well and truly hammered by ten to four. I had remembered the beach from the gruelling two hour walk I decided to take from Bondi to Coogee. Despite the magnificent scenery and the observations of locals just being outdoors and enjoying themselves, the highlight was the massive graveyard on the cliff edge. Huge great tomb stones and statues that went on for half a mile. Some rich people must have live here ......and died in heaven.

Kings Cross and Syndey

A day at Royal Randwick. It is comparable to Royal Ascot but done in a typically Aussie matter. For a start you can get free buses from the station straight into the racecourse. After arguing with the amazing stupid woman at the turnstile that she had short changed me by twenty dollars I made my way into the main area. I have begun to notice that even in the clearest English accent some of the locals just don't get it. Maybe I am being too nice blaming it on the accent. They are probaly just thick as shit. They certainly look that way. You could just imagine them thinking 'I'm sitting in this sweaty cabin hole on Easter weekend and I just wish you would piss off and die'. I have started to think that if I spoke more like Kath from the 'Kath and Kim show' maybe I would have more success. The first impressions were good.

Stunning women who had obviously forgot to put on their dresses that morning were out in force. Even past the mountains of makeup they were respectably good looking and all dressed like they were going to their only sisters just turned hetrosexual after being a lesbian wedding. As Matt said if you opened a bra shop in this place you would be an incredibly rich man. I'd happily let my career go on hold and work there. Of course I did'nt know what he was talking about - it was all about the horses for me. Women, what women? In a typically true Australian manner everyone was off their faces by the forth race. It was here again that I noticed that the Aussies do things so much better than back home. I think we are caught up with tradition too much and this hampers our development. You fill in a slip of paper lottery ticket style - scan it and pay your money. No worries. When (If) you win you scan your slip over another scanner and hey presto - your money. This system is occasionaly comprimised by the a) the drunk people who don't bring slips to the counter and b) george the grandad who after two wines fills in every box. Its the same when watching the race unfold on the big screen. Digitally the horses are recorded so you can see in big numbers the first four horses throughout the race instead of trying to make out the colours and numbers whilst seeing past the big fat drunk bastard in front of you.

A few 'oh my god I can't believe you are (not) wearing that' and 'do you want to be more drunk and fall over again and 'does your mother know you are here beacuse if she knew you were wearing that she would freak but I can't stop looking' laters it was ready to go. Being in a place that was 99% full of Aussies it allowed me to make some further conclusions on Aussie people. The blokes are all over six foot tall and built like brick shit houses. I also noticed that nine out of ten have dark hair. I was starting to feel a bit different with blonde hair and blue eyes and the fact that I was'nt carrying a surf board under my arm did'nt help. The women have all come from the same amazingly good looking gene that someone must have brought over to Australia all those years ago. Finally they are the most confident and loud species.

March 15, 2004

A Day at the Races

A day at Royal Randwick. It is comparable to Royal Ascot but done in a typically Aussie matter. For a start you can get free buses from the station straight into the racecourse. After arguing with the amazing stupid woman at the turnstile that she had short changed me by twenty dollars I made my way into the main area. I have begun to notice that even in the clearest English accent some of the locals just don't get it. Maybe I am being too nice blaming it on the accent. They are probaly just thick as shit. They certainly look that way. You could just imagine them thinking 'I'm sitting in this sweaty cabin hole on Easter weekend and I just wish you would piss off and die'. I have started to think that if I spoke more like Kath from the 'Kath and Kim show' maybe I would have more success. The first impressions were good.

Stunning women who had obviously forgot to put on their dresses that morning were out in force. Even past the mountains of makeup they were respectably good looking and all dressed like they were going to their only sisters just turned hetrosexual after being a lesbian wedding. As Matt said if you opened a bra shop in this place you would be an incredibly rich man. I'd happily let my career go on hold and work there. Of course I did'nt know what he was talking about - it was all about the horses for me. Women, what women? In a typically true Australian manner everyone was off their faces by the forth race. It was here again that I noticed that the Aussies do things so much better than back home. I think we are caught up with tradition too much and this hampers our development. You fill in a slip of paper lottery ticket style - scan it and pay your money. No worries. When (If) you win you scan your slip over another scanner and hey presto - your money. This system is occasionaly comprimised by the a) the drunk people who don't bring slips to the counter and b) george the grandad who after two wines fills in every box. Its the same when watching the race unfold on the big screen. Digitally the horses are recorded so you can see in big numbers the first four horses throughout the race instead of trying to make out the colours and numbers whilst seeing past the big fat drunk bastard in front of you.

A few 'oh my god I can't believe you are (not) wearing that' and 'do you want to be more drunk and fall over again and 'does your mother know you are here beacuse if she knew you were wearing that she would freak but I can't stop looking' laters it was ready to go. Being in a place that was 99% full of Aussies it allowed me to make some further conclusions on Aussie people. The blokes are all over six foot tall and built like brick shit houses. I also noticed that nine out of ten have dark hair. I was starting to feel a bit different with blonde hair and blue eyes and the fact that I was'nt carrying a surf board under my arm did'nt help. The women have all come from the same amazingly good looking gene that someone must have brought over to Australia all those years ago. Finally they are the most confident and loud species.

March 10, 2004

The Swedes invade Kings Cross

It has been 8 days now at the ant infested 'Great Aussie Backpckers'. I had noticed that they had replaced the 1982 Sayno t.v with a newer reconditionedd 1999 Hitachi. Nice Touch. Apart from that exciting piece of news nothing much had changed. The last time the Swedish army invaded another country was Poland in 1710. I was actually considering appealing to the U.N that Sweden was encroaching it's international laws - they were colonizing room 1. Slowly but surely more and more Swedes were infiltrating the ants nest. Apparently there had been ten to start off with and slowly but surely they were all making it down from Cairns one by one. I have no problem with Swedes. They live a decent life. They drive their Volvos to Ikea in the dark listening to Abba. They make good mobile phones and they make excellent documentaries (so I have heard). This fond affection for them was being slightly strained by Olga and Sven.
That morning I had left them at 10am after they have been slobbering all over each other for a good two hours. Now there is nothing wrong with a bit of affection from time to time. I can understand his situation. She is an attractive blonde piece of fluff. They have not seen each other for ohhhh a good two days. What I can't understand is kissing for two hours first thing in the morning...... a combination of just boring and dog breath. Strange. It was in these situations that it made you feel like you were some stranger in someone elses bedroom. Myself and the other two were just unwanted guests. The thing is they demonstrated a typically Swedish attribute. They really don't give two hoots. Maybe it's just the prim and proper English in me. I mean I feel slightly uncomfortable kissing down a darkened street let along tongue locking for six hours in front of a quiet, pretending to be asleep audience. Sure enough preciously six hours after I had left the room they were still there. They had not moved. The spice girls famous and embarrassingly purchased when I was seventeen song 'Two become one' was originally written for this couple. Fact. Joined at the hip, the mouth and every other organ in the human body. Maybe her tongue was in fact a long piece of liqourice. Maybe I should come back with some sherbet to find out


March 05, 2004

Welcome to Sydney

Welcome to Sydney
I'm lost and not walking in a straight line. Time for help. I'll ask someone. 'The next road along mate', back on course.
'Oh I am sorry, would you like a free pork pie meal?', 'no thanks' I replied. The surprisingly young (under 50 is young for an Air NZ cabin crew) stewardess had picked me out of the 250 passengers to spill a small bottle of brandy all over my head and t-shirt. To put it mildly I stank, I have never been an alcoholic but I guessed that is what it would smell like. 'Would you like a paper towel' she added, with some distain I accepted the token gesture.
Sydney airport was dead. I was dead. I had forgotten where I was staying and failed to remember the name of the hostel. Bus left, train straight ahead. I went for the train and guessed maybe I would end up somewhere in central Sydney. I boarded the double decker train and just stood there, waiting for a stop called the town hall that looked fairly central. The heat at 7pm was noticeable compared to N.Z. I walked for 5 minutes with my ever increasingly heavy bag in a direction that was unknown to me. After 10 minutes the sweat started. Face first followed by t-shirt. This was starting to become slightly embarrassing as the sweat patches grew in number on my torso. Not only did I smell of brandy, I also stank of sweat. Every time I stopped to wipe my brow I felt sure that a 1 dollar coin would be thrown in my direction, easily passing off as a drunken Sydney tramp. To cover the sweat patches I thought it would be a good idea to put on my jumper. Bad idea. It covered the sweat patches but increased the drainage from my face down my neck. Balls to this. I went to the next hotel which just be happened to be rather posh and gave in. I had been walking along the adjacent road to the hostel, ten minute taxi and I was there.
Sydney is different from say Auckland. The hussle and bustle is more comparable to London. It's not what I expected, in my naivety I thought you could see the beach from the town and expected it to be smaller with little roads and shops sprouting from the main roads. In reality it is made up of a couple of huge streets covering miles and linking smaller yet still large roads. Everyone walks that little quicker in Sydney, they all seem to have a destination in mind and seem intent on getting there the quickest way. It was the subtle things that subconsciously connected you to New Zealand. The pedestrian lights were of the same design, the lights took as tediously long to change, the drivers were on a killing mission, Westpac banks were the same, estate agents were the same (how could one forget an Estate Agent called 'Hookers with the advert 'Will will sort you out will the best Hookers'. The strange feeling was that I didn't realise I was in Australia. Surely I was? As all stupid tourists would do - I travelled down the road leading me to the harbour. And there it was - a bridge and a dome shaped building. For me it was a bridge like Tower Bridge in London and the Opera House looked...... like a dome shaped building. Sure it was nice but not amazing, maybe the afternoon cloud had altered my perspective of the picture postcard location.
“And we have got the guided tour to Manly beach at 10:30 for 20 dollars” was the last I caught of the speaker driven noise coming throughout our room. Despite feeling rather dodgy I got up and wondered downstairs to enquire. 'Ah, we have got a second person' said the organizer. Looking at the first person I was going to do a runner but I waited a little longer. 4 of us, we were off. The guided walk took us through the quieter areas of Manly Cove, the bit the tourists don't go (apart from us of course). A pleasant walk followed by a swim in a secluded beach. Now swimming in Australia didn't really appeal to me because of the sharks, jellyfish and the rest of the little buggers. The guide had lived here all his life, he knew what he was doing, everything was fine. 'Wooahh, shit man, what was that?. After 4 minutes of swimming around the guide had stood on a large stingray. The guide got out, it followed that we got out. Maybe I didn't need to pack my swimming gear after all. The room at Footprint reminded me a little of the Village people. On one bed there was a hard hat, on the other bed was a policemen's helmet, on the bunk below was an Indian head dress. Later I was to find that one guy was working on a building site, the other had stolen a coppers hat and the last one had just been to a fancy dress party....young men.
I unpacked my stinking clothes and went down to the ground for some air. Ding, “do you mind if you hold the lift”. Our conversation continued outside and I ended up going with the three lift girls to a hostel bar up the road which was decent in attire. They had been on the Oz bus. After 7 VB's on a empty stomach it was time to go. I had failed to put my watch back. Thinking it was 10pm instead of 8pm, I had accelerated my drinking. I stumbled out and turned left, bugger me where the hell was I.
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