Run fast for your mother run fast for your father, Run for your children for your sisters and brothers, Leave all your love and your longing behind you, Can't carry it with you if you want to survive
19.10.2011 - 26.10.2011 23 °C
Ubud – Sydney - Melbourne
Picking up exactly where I left off, Helena showed up in Ubud late afternoon so had time for a drink and a quick catch up before packing my bag. I also donated my Lonely Planet Bali guide book to the Ubud library; that little guide is a gold mine to whoever finds it as I’ve written loads of tips inside; along with my blog web address – like a message in a bottle.
As I was just about to get into my cab to the airport, who shows up but Katie (again); unfortunately I only had time for a snappy Hello Goodbye. But this made leaving Indonesia so much harder as a small group of the people I love were still having a good time without me. What a hard time I was having; Leaving one beautiful country for the country which I had been dreaming of for so many months, Australia. Poor me.
James, Helena, me, Nikki and a Newbie outside the Shisha Lounge - quick photo to prove we bumped into each other
On arrival at the airport we had to go through security straight away, and then who do I bump into? Kim (one of the Welsh girls from Gili T), moaning about how they won’t let her buy any more fags! We sit down at a café and have a quick beer and coffee before I have to shoot off to my gate. I had bought a bottle of water and another can of Bintang for the flight, but when I got to the gate I had to go through another security pass; no liquids! So I downed the Bintang and donated my bottle of water to a family who looked like they needed it. The flight was only 5 hours, but with the time change meant I’d arrive at 6am Aussie time – 3am Indonesian time. It felt like I only had an hours sleep before we had arrived.
I had already booked up a hostel for a few nights, and thankfully it came with a shuttle bus ride from the airport so I jumped on that and headed for “Jackaroo’s”. Now during my previous adventures I’ve only had to stay in one hostel before, and that was in Ko Tao where I met some smashing people and the hostel wasn’t too shabby. But I had heard some nightmare stories about the Aussie hostels; bed bugs, bad roommates etc etc. Well I can tell you that that is certainly not the case with Jackaoo’s.
It may be in the middle of the red light district (is that a bad thing?) but it is a brand new five floor hostel, which has free wifi, internet, help-yourself breakfast, pool, foosball the lot! It’s nice and clean and the people are averagely friendly; there’s a number of long termers here – 6 weeks, 7 months etc etc, so some people aren’t too bothered about meeting anyone “new”. Especially like me who is staggered at how different everything is. For example, I saw a board outside a bar advertising cocktails at only $10 during happy hour – that’s pretty much £6.50 for a cocktail, they shouldn’t be advertising that! Also, what is it with the Aussies being different – what is wrong with a Pint or half Pint, simple right? No, they have the half pint – but they call it a “Middy” (285ml), then a “Schmiddy” (350ml), a “Schooner” (425ml) and a Pint (570ml). Going up to the bar and asking for a “Schooner” makes me think I’m a kid in a sweet shop asking for the latest sugar rush. But it’s cheaper than a pint, so I’ll keep my mouth shut and feel like a kid.
So I arrived at the hostel, dumped my bag and shot off around the town – hoping to sort my camera out at the Sony store. Turns out the warranty you get when you buy Sony Camera’s is only valid in the country you bought it from. Everywhere in the world issues a Sony Tourist warranty, apart from in Europe – so now I either have to send the camera home to the folks to try and sort out – or go through my insurance company. God this is interesting isn’t it?
I took a walk through the city, and Hyde Park, down to Opera Quays which looks out on to Sydney Cove (where majority of tourist boats leave from). Opera Quays has a fantastic view of Harbour Bridge so I took a few snaps and the headed round closer to the bridge to see The Rocks (oldest European settlement) and take photos of the Opera house itself.
St Mary's Cathedral
Random roundabout - a car crushed by a huge rock with a face on it.
Panoramic from under the Harbour Bridge
Me with the Opera House
Yep there it is again
Central Business District
Walking back on myself I stopped for a rest and passed out for an hour – the flight was taking its toll on me. I woke up with the warmth of the sun on my back, got up and carried on round right up to the Opera House itself. It was here that I had to question myself as to where exactly I was because I was surrounded by Chinese people, mostly couples. And of these couples the majority of them were wearing exactly the same clothes, same Tshirt, jeans and even shoes (mostly trainers but I did see a couple in matching loafers!) I found this hilarious, but it actually makes sense; showing public affection is frowned upon in some Asian countries, therefore having matching outfits is a substitute way of saying “He/She is mine”. Still looks stupid though.
Not a bad spot to pass out
Taken from Opera Quays
Matching couple! Same Tshirt, grey cardy, shorts and loafers!
The Opera House is staggering, it gave me the same sense of wellbeing as looking around the temples in Cambodia; it’s simply beautiful. I got some (loads) of photos of both the building and looking over to Harbour Bridge before carrying on my walk round Farm Cove to “Mrs Macquarie’s Point”. This is where you get a fantastic view of both the Opera House and the Harbour bridge – so I was happy snapping away on the camera again. From here I continued around the coast line to Woolloomooloo Bay and finally back to the hostel in Kings Cross. I grabbed a shower and then went out with a few people for dinner – but literally passed out straight afterwards.
Reflection - through the Opera House you can see the park and the CBD
Harbour Bridge, taken from inside the Opera House
Is this the set for Star Wars?
The CBD taken from the park
Literally couldn't stop taking photos...
...Can't blame me though can you?
Go on then, one with me in as well
Andrew Charlton Pool in Woolloomooloo Bay
My early night had done me good and I was ready for another day sightseeing; I took a bus across to the west coast, to Coogee Beach, with the mind set to do a walk along the coast north to the famous Bondi Beach. The walk was awesome, the pathway ziged and zaged its way around the shoreline presenting some wicked views.
Walking along the cliffs
View looking back on to Waverly Cemetery
Looking out on the coast I'd just walked
Turning the corner for a brilliant view of Bondi Beach
The famous Iceberg Club
After a number of hours I finally got up to Bondi Beach and watched as surfers caught some big waves. I passed out and as I woke it was already late afternoon so I took a stroll to get a bus back into the city. I was struggling with the transition in prices, so I had a meal and resorted to another early night.
Couple of surfers catch a wave
Bondi Beach from the bus stop
The next day I went for a casual stroll around the city, to pick up some new reading material (Freakanomics had kept me busy) and then took a look round the Botanical gardens. Pretty much every tree, plant and flower is labelled so much so that I was surprised the exotic birds and bats didn’t have signs hung from their necks. I then gate crashed a wedding in the park; it was beautiful Kate and David had met on a dating site and now, 3 months later were tying the knot. What a fantastic scenery, with the Opera House in the background.
Inside the Queen Victoria Shopping Centre
Bats in the Botanical gardens
Prior to gate crashing Kate and Davids Wedding
That evening was one of the guys 30th Birthdays so a boat cruise had been organised around the harbour. For only $15 I jumped at the chance, downed a bottle of sparkling Chardonnay (the cheapest at the off license) and then joined in with the party. The boat was loads better than expected; with some great tunes, average priced beer and of course seeing Sydney at night. After a few hours cruising round the harbour and meeting new people we got VIP in to a club called “Scary Canary” with a few free drinks. I bumped into a few people I’d met on my flight to Sydney and had a good night out before crashing back to the hostel at some stupid time.
The Lady Rose - what a beauty!
The Opera House and Harbour Bridge at night
The Opera House with the CBD behind
I had to be up early the next day to check out and also get picked up by Jen; not only were Daren and Jen going to put me up for a few days but I had also been invited to Jen’s Dad’s birthday BBQ. Jen picked me up and drove me over Harbour Bridge North to Dee Why, where Daren, Jen and their 9month old Jake have set up. It was great to see Jen again, who I had lived with for a year when I first moved to London back in 2008. We arrived at their apartment – a brand new open plan 2 bedroom place with a long balcony; it was lush! Shortly afterwards Daren and Jake came home after taking a walk, again fantastic to see Daren again; as funny and confident as ever and my first ever meeting with Jake. Jake is one of the happiest, smiley kids I’ve ever met, a good mix of both Daren and Jen.
We relaxed for a bit before Jen’s parents, Peter and Jane arrived. Daren cooked up a storm on the Barbie; chicken wings, kebabs, steak sausages and we soaked up the sun with a couple of beers. Jen’s parents are hilarious; for Peter’s birthday Jane had carefully wrapped up the following; A giant plastic Lemon (for storing a Lemon in), a giant plastic Tomato (for storing a Tomato in), a box (for storing things in), couple of shirts and a pair of boxers (to store Peter in). It was nice to relax in a homely environment, so we literally slumped on the coach for the rest of the afternoon.
Daren with the BBQ
Peter with his Tomato and Lemon
Relaxing with Jake
On the Sunday, we casually got up and headed down to the beach with Jake – the sun was blaring so we couldn’t stay on the beach for too long so we retreated to a shady café for lunch. In the evening we watched the Rugby final which was better than expected – France played really well and then recorded the Manchester derby; we were too tired to watch it (seeing as kick off wasn’t until 11:30pm!)
Monday morning Daren, Jake and I watched the derby; 1-6, what an amazing game! I’m not the biggest fan of Man United, but like everyone feels – I hate (jealous) Man City. I was hoping for more goals seeing as I had a couple of Man U and Man City forwards in my fantasy football team – but alas I was still routed to bottom of the league. I spent the rest of the day viewing accommodation adverts and sorting out my CV in preparation for Melbourne.
Daren and Jake on the beach
Someone's made a mess haven't they?
Not now Jake, I'm trying to watch J-Shore
Tuesday I was showed the way to the local Mall where I window shopped, getting a feel for how much things cost over here – in particular suits and shoes for work. Wednesday came all too quickly and it was sad to say bye to Jen and Daren who had so kindly put me up in their beautiful apartment. Jen drove me into the city (on her way to work) and I stopped off at the hostel I’d stayed at to pinch the free wifi and briefly catch up with a few people before catching a bus to the airport.
My flight didn’t take long to get to Melbourne, from the airport I caught a shuttle bus into the city. Just like Sydney, nothing looked real; everything was so clean and fake, like a movie set. Even the rusty old cars on the road looked like their owners had deliberately made them look old and rusty. The sky was a tremendous blue and the sun was bright and yellow, just as you’d draw it when you were a kid. As I listened to The Dog Days Are Over by Florence and The Machine I had a huge smile on my face, I was finally here. It felt like I was reading the last chapter of an amazing book, knowing that there was a sequel with fantastic reviews. Like the scene at the end of the first Back to the Future film; “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”. I felt a tingle down my spine. This is just the beginning.