Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Street Brawls, Kiwis, and Party Invites

The 5am drinking got me 2 phone numbers of 2 girls- both of whom worked at Public Bar (the dodgy one below my hotel). I headed into town and searched for a phone store to get a local cell phone, bought souvenirs, mailed myself a kangaroo, and gawked at Australian businessmen. People really dress up for work in Melbourne. I kind of half expected to see everyone running around in khaki shorts and Crocodile Dundee hats. Heck, I didn’t know what to expect. I met a shopkeeper that had a son who played for the San Diego Padres. I couldn’t remember what his son’s name was, but he was thrilled to meet an American in his shop.

I managed to squeeze in a museum trip at the Victoria Museum. They had an Aboriginal exhibit where they had some stone reliefs and shields. The shields had images of the Phantom (yes, I’m a nerd- remember?). The Phantom is a comic book character with a mask and a purple skin tight suit that goes around and fights crime and bad guys in Africa. Apparently the Phantom or the “Ghost that Walks” has been in existence for 400 years and was made into a comic around the 1930’s. How he ended up on Aborigines shields, I’m not really sure, but I thought it interesting and entertaining.
That night I called Fleur, one of the bartenders I had met. She invited me out with a couple of her girlfriend for some dinner and drinks at Federation Square. Fleur is a university student and aspiring model and her friend was a makeup artist that looked like Nelly Furtado (sorry guys, I forgot to take pictures). Both of them are dating Greek guys and thought it was normal to pay $500 for brand name jeans. They were very nice and fun to hang out with. They filled me in on Hardware Alley and loads of great bars in the city. I drank with them during the early part of the evening and then I started to feel the crash and burn from the night before. I asked them who the heck was David Hicks. I took a picture of his name on the side of an old church in the city. I didn’t read carefully and I thought it said Justice David Hicks. I thought it tacky for a politician to post his name on a church. The girls were very serious when they told me that David Hicks was this poor Australian fellow that was being tortured and held prisoner without a trial by the evil American military at Guantanamo Bay. I kept my evil American thoughts to myself about that one. I am not a huge political activist type person. I have different opinions on different issues, but I’m mostly middle of the line. I read up on this David Hicks guy and he was no angel. He was at Guantanamo Bay for a reason but they did end up sending him back to Australia. I will just leave it at that.

After dinner I hopped on a tram back to the hotel. I figured if I was going to pass out, I could crawl back to the room. I stopped by the Public Bar, of course, for a beer before calling it a night. The bar is split into two parts. There’s the loud, rowdy, dodgy part and then there’s the gay part. The gay part is the oldest gay bar in Melbourne and has been open since World War II. I really didn’t feel like dodgy, so I sat on the gay part and enjoyed the quiet. As I was drinking my beer, a guy approached and asked if I would like to have beers with him and his friends. Looked over by the window and his friends were two gay men that looked homeless. I shrugged and said, “Oh why the hell not.” The guy told me his name was Ed and he was from New Zealand. He looked very ethnic. My friend Bernell told me later the guy was probably Maori. He was very nice and told me about his divorce and his two kids. He moved to the Blue Mountains near Sydney to get away from home and he was in Melbourne now doing construction. They all offered me beer, which I refused politely. We watched in interest, as a ruckus brewed outside the window. A man was yelling and choking a women and an Asian taxi driver was yelling at the both of them. Quickly and quietly, the bouncers out of Public pounced on the guy and kicked his ass. They had him on the ground within minutes. We all laughed as the taxi driver lectured the guy about being so drunk while he lay on the ground unconscious. It was great. After the brawl, one of the waitresses, Rachel, came by and saw me. She eyeballed the Maori and the gay dudes and called out my name. She asked me if I was interested in going to a warehouse party in Chinatown Friday night. I said, “Sure, why the hell not?” The Maori asked me if she was a friend of mine. I told him that I had just met her. He laughed and shook his head.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Australia, I love you

Randy dropped me off at the airport the next afternoon and I went through airport security without a hitch. I met an American girl in line before my journey to Oz. She was moving to Sydney and we immediately hit it off. We giggled and drank the entire wait and then some more on the plane. We exchanged info when we got to Sydney after my 10 hour hung-over flight. I was headed to Melbourne and she was headed over to Sydney. I told her I was headed to Sydney after the weekend. So we planned to meet up after I arrived in Sydney.

I happened to go to Melbourne purely on a lark. When I was planning the trip, it was postponed three times due to work. So, the hotel I was staying at was completely booked. So I decided to fly to Melbourne instead to wait out the booked hotels. I figured the hotels were full because it was the last precious days of summer in Australia. So after my 10 hour flight, I had to hop on a plane to Melbourne after that. So needless to say, I was pretty cranky when I arrived. I cussed out a shuttle ticket machine and tried to navigate the tram system in the middle of the night while trying to lug around my 50 pound suitcase. So while I’m screaming the F word multiple times, the shuttle bus driver gets off the bus and tells me I can pay cash on the bus. After my shuttle ride I had to take a tram the rest of the way to the hotel. Since I could navigate my way around the damn Japanese subway, surely I can ride a tram in an English speaking country, right? My patience waned as I stared at the ticket machine. Zone 1, Zone 2, what the hell did I know? Again with the F word and muttering. The guy behind me helped me with my dilemma sent me on my way to catch the tram. A wrong stop and a cab ride later, I finally arrived at the hotel in St. Kilda.

I arrived and immediately remedied my exhaustion and irritation by having a beer in the pub downstairs (ok, more like 3). I befriended the staff and the immediately invited me out for the rest of the week. How badass am I? I went with Joe, the bouncer, to an after hours club and stayed out until 5am and several more beers. People that drink in an after hours bar in Melbourne in St. Kilda are scary. Of course Joe, being a stocky bouncer from Italy, was scarier. I met some of his friends, one of whom kept touching my hair (shudder). I think people in other countries don’t have that American personal space thing. So I politely told him to stop touching my F word hair. Joe laughed and slapped me on the back and said I was the nicest American he had ever met.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hamsters and Sharks Ahoy!

I had a full food today. My favorite things to do is eating and drinking after all. I went over to Ryans to have a lychee martini and some crab artichoke dip. Then I walked over to Brew Moon and had a half a rack of ribs and some of their micro-brewed blonde ale.

Then I made my old Sunday journey to Duke’s. Duke’s is a beach bar where people descend on during Sunday afternoons to stare at each other in their bathing suits. I asked Shawn what happened to all the good looking people. He told me that they were all in Iraq. There was usually a huge influx of military guys at the bars in Waikiki, so there was never a shortage of young clean cut men until now. I met some nice guys at the bar in the Air Force that kept me well supplied with beer. They were a hoot.

Later I had dinner with friends at the Yardhouse, which serves around 100 different beers. My friend Randy came out with his little brother who was a freshman in college and his 2 friends. Randy and I have been friends for 8 years. He has taught me so much in life. I think of him fondly as my big overachieving brother. He’s been a rock in my stormy life over the years and I would give my life for him. My alcoholic friend, Shawn, had already had beers from half of the list. By now I was drunk and honest. Shawn’s friend had invited a buddy of her squeeze of the month out with us. He apparently was on a date and had to be the most obnoxious person I had met (that night) and I told him so. Since I was on a roll with bad behavior, I also told his date that she could do better. I have a bad habit of telling people exactly what I think when I’ve been drinking. I am surprised that it hasn’t gotten me into more trouble than it has. I staggered back to my room very proud of myself.

The next morning my friend Randy released his brother and his two friends to Shawn and I for a shark tour. We drove down to the North Shore in Shawn’s old Firebird convertible. With the 5 of us in the car, it bottomed the poor vehicle out the entire way. We arrived at North Shore in one piece (5 pieces rather) and hopped on the last boat out. The shark tour consisted of 3 people at a time in a shark cage. The boat guys would throw chunks of chum out into the water and viola! sharks cometh. We all put on snorkel gear and watched as the sharks went into a feeding frenzy as the waters kicked our asses. The chum would float onto the cage and I managed to throw it outside because I was horrified by the thought of sharks banging into the cage trying to get to the food. We had an Australian couple join our tour and the female was sea sick immediately. The poor thing threw up beside me the whole trip back to shore. I felt a little sick myself because all of us were covered in chum.

That night we had dinner with Randy and his boys, Shawn, and our friend Sara. On the way to the restaurant Randy’s brother mentioned that his hamster had died. Apparently, it passed on while Randy was home for Christmas and he had no idea.. I teased Randy about pulling a Richard Gere and killing the hamster (why did poor Richard Gere get pinned with that urban legend I have no idea) and Randy told me I was the most disgusting person he knew. When we went to dinner I was laughing so hard about the hamster story all I could get out to Shawn was “dead hamster” and “Randy” and Shawn busted out laughing. We were laughing so hard I could barely breathe for at least 15 minutes. Randy told Shawn that he was the second most disgusting person he knew and it was probably the reason why Shawn and I were so close. He may be right. There are a few people in this world that I can sit around and laugh about absolutely nothing. The first is course, Shawn, then my cubicle neighbor and friend, Amy, and my Australian friend Brett. They all have the most insane, hilarious things that only I and they get. Even when we regale the stories to others, what some people find amusing- we find so funny our stomachs hurt and we giggle and laugh until we pee our pants.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hawaii, I missed you too

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. I missed Hawaii. I still have plenty of friends there and always a bed for me. I started off with a really bad breakfast at Moose’s with my friend Shawn.

Shawn is my best friend in the whole wide world. We met because we got divorced together. We shared probably the most painful most devastating event in our entire lives. Nothing brings friends together than utter depression and sorrow, right? Well, that was 2001 and we have been friends ever since. We’ve seen breakups (and hookups), best of times, the worst of times, and shared copious amounts of alcohol. Shawn has this same affect on people when he’s out and about that I do. People gravitate to him and I think it rubbed off on me. He knows me very well and we spend hours upon hours laughing hysterically about absolutely nothing (or the most absolutely disgusting). Even though we live in Hawaii and Dallas, we still call each other every day and say- “You will not fucking believe what happened.”

We later went to Shorebird to find a sucker bartender to give us beer at 10 o’clock in the morning. Work called with some weird non-emergency. I’m sitting there at a beachside bar with a beer in hand and I have to call a bunch of places to fix some work issues. I even called my boss in hopes that he help and he just told me to call him after I handled it. So I’m sitting there in a bar in Hawaii on an absolutely gorgeous day with a beer in my hand and I’m trying to call 3 different places to cancel and reinstate some reservations and make sure that things are taken care of while I am not at work. What a way to start a vacation! I decided I was not going to take anymore calls work after this.

I spent most of my day laying on the beach in Waikiki and wondering why I ever left Hawaii. I reminisced about the days I spent surfing and relaxing on the beach every single weekend. I even went to the beach when it rained. Between you and I, I think I was becoming a raging alcoholic and I was afraid of marrying one of the many boyfriends I was tearing through. Ahhh, I missed it so.

Actually, I left Hawaii because I thought I had fallen in love. But that’s a story for another day.

I went to see my friend Geri and to get my haircut. My hair stylist, Sam, told me it was her birthday and invited me out that night. I dragged my friend Shawn out and we had a blast hanging out with their friends, dancing, and meeting Iranian male models who wore more eyeliner than me. I met a guy named Todd who had a house, a dog, a divorce, and a daughter. He was extremely nice, but made me feel my age a little. He was the kind of guy I probably needed to meet, but would never give the time. He probably had less baggage than me and would probably run away screaming if the likes of me entered his life.

I called my friend Amy the next day and asked her why we didn’t meet men like this in Dallas. She pointed out that I was on vacation and that I didn’t have my guard up. She seemed to think that if I was home, that I probably would not get past a mere hello with a man like that. I wonder if this is true and if it is, then what the heck is wrong with me?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Aloha Hawaii!

I rushed to the airport because I worked up until the few precious seconds before I started my trip to Australia. I decided to breakup the trip and fly to Hawaii to visit friends before my journey to Aus. The flight from Dallas to LA was exhausting. I had not slept in almost 3 days so as soon as I got on the plane, I passed out. I woke up and the guy sitting next to me had wedged his sweatshirt between the two us because I had apparently fallen asleep on him. So I had been passed out and hugging his sweatshirt for about an hour. He was in the Navy and was in Fort Worth for training. Am I a friggin military man magnet? He was nice about me drooling on him as I slept. He was Filipino and asked me where the good Asian clubs were in Dallas. Sorry to say, but he was asking the wrong person. I am proud of my heritage. I am not ashamed of being Asian or Vietnamese. However, I also consider myself American as well and I pride myself in the large variety of friends that I hang out with. So seeking out a club with only Asian people in it is not something that I take interest in. I'm interested in having fun and I can do that at any place consisting of any race of people.

Of course my flight to Hawaii was delayed several hours. I sat next to one of the owners of Wahoo Fish Market. He was certainly the most interesting guy I ever met on an airplane. He had long hair and a long interesting beard. He regaled me with stories and showed me pictures of famous people he had met. He also gave me a contact in Australia for the later leg of my journey. When we arrived at the airport it was 2am and my friends both had to get up at 5am. So, my newfound airplane friend gave me a ride to the hotel.

It seems I have a natural talent for meeting random people on vacation. Perhaps it’s because I am cute and friendly. I personally think it’s because I am in constant need of human interaction that I force myself to talk and befriend complete strangers. So far it’s worked out well for me. This talent never works in Dallas, but it’s a great gift when traveling alone.