Thursday, March 8, 2007

24 Hour Bars and Roo Meat

I took the ferry to Manly beach and I spent the entire time sitting my lazy ass around the beach and oogled the hot Aussie guys all day long. Tall, blonde, surfer types, with beautiful accents…how the hell do you go wrong? The only thing that marred such a beautiful day on the beach was the huge number of man-o-wars floating in the water and littering the sand. Nothing is worse than having one of those things sting the hell out of you on a hot day. Hawaii has quite a few of them too at Bellows Beach. I remember distinctly one day when I got stung on my hand and my friend Randy had one wrap itself around his shoulder. There’s an old wives tale that says if you urinate on a jellyfish sting, it will lesson the pain of the sting. When you get stung by jellyfish, it’s amazing how many people will volunteer to pee on you (friggin sickos). I’d rather cut my hand off than have someone pee on it. Needless to say, I passed on a golden shower and instead lived with the excruciating pain.

I met Brett for dinner that night in Darling Harbor. He sent me over to the Piermont Bar to meet up with him. He is an evil man. I like dodgy bars because I can drink beer, people watch, and just hang out in general. This bar was more than just dodgy. It was the kind of bar that was open 24 hours. The Denny’s of dodgy bars. Of course, I’m in a nice dress instead of my usual jeans and sneakers. I stuck out and I squirmed under the leers of the patrons. I slung back several beers as Brett took his sweet time getting there. When we arrived at a restaurant Brett felt that in celebration of my vacation in Australia, I should order Kangaroo meat (or Roo meat as they say down under). I will try just about anything and I’m not a picky eater…but Roo meat is foul. I could barely choke the stuff down. I was even pulling the kiddie trick by hiding the meat in a pile of potatoes and trying to disguise the taste. I think my American taste buds are going to stick to chicken, pork, and cow. Aside from the scary bar and the horrific Roo meat, it was great night. I talked, I laughed, I even cried a little. It's hard to find people that you truly connect with on a personal level. For me, I find it difficult to meet someone that laughs at all my silliness, who thinks I'm great just the way I am, and really understands me. I guess that Brett is just one of those people. He means the world to me in this lifetime and he has taught me so much.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Crashing A Protest and Meeting the Broccoli King

I called Kent to eat lunch and it finally dawned on me that Sydney was friggin expensive. To have a simple lunch somewhere is around $20 Aus which in reality is only $16 US- but I think $16 for lunch is a lot for a normal day. I have to say that Australian food was not my favorite. I was already overdosing on fish and chips. I walked Kent back to his office and noticed some commotion in the street in front of his building. He ran off to work and I decided to find out what the hubbub was about. It turned out to be a protest for Comfort Women in front of the Japanese consulate. Apparently, during WWII, the Japanese had kidnapped 200,000 Australian, Chinese, and Korean women and forced them into sexual slavery for their soldiers. They wanted an official apology, reparations, commitment to non-repetition, and a blurb in Japanese history schoolbooks. I was a little leery at first because I wasn’t sure what this was all about and the last thing I wanted was to get tear-gassed and arrested in the street. It was my first protest and I felt that it was a worthy cause. I stuck around for awhile listening to speeches and yelled and shook my fist at the appropriate moments.

Afterwards I walked around town again and hung out at the Sydney Museum. From there I decided to go to the Customs House to see what it was all about. When I arrived I made a beeline for the bar. I was very impressed. A museum with a bar! I slung back a beer and asked the bartender if the museum was upstairs. He laughed and said that I was at the Customs House Bar and the Customs House Museum was down the street 3 blocks. Boy, did I feel stupid. So I shrugged and had a couple more beers and – you guessed it, some fish and chips. I noticed that Aussies don’t eat fries with ketchup but they sure do like their mayonnaise. I’m pretty American when it comes to my sauces so, I asked for some damn ketchup. I suppose most people don’t ask for ketchup because they brought me out an entire soup bowl of it. Then they asked me if I wanted them to play anything particular music wise in the bar. I told them to play whatever they wanted. So, they played Peter Andre videos during my entire meal.

After my late lunch I realized that I was late for a meeting. I set up a networking meeting with one of Wing’s (guy I met on plane on the way to Hawaii) business associate in Perth. Jim was in Sydney for business and had agreed to meet with me for a beer at my hotel. So I ran 7 blocks and arrived at my hotel sweating of Custom House beer. Dammit. Wing told me that Jim was the "Broccoli King of Australia". I had no idea what the Broccoli King could do for me, but I figured I did need business contacts. I had a couple of beers with him and tried not to let on that I had been drinking all afternoon. Australian beer was not anywhere near as watery as American beer, so it kinf of started kicking my ass. I had a great meeting with him and I still email him at intervals to ask him questions from time to time.

I had dinner with Michelle and Kent that night at the Redoak Boutique Beer CafĂ©. It was a neat restaurant that served a lot of great beers (it was an all day beer day). The waiter was very cute and dropped menus and knocked over some glasses in front of me. Kent seemed to think that it would be wise to give the guy my number. I turned very shy suddenly and didn’t let him. I dunno, I suppose that I get a little nervous around men when I’m with my friends and pretty much in general. When I’m alone I guess it’s fine because there’s no one around to witness anything horrible, but when you’re goaded by friends to throw yourself at some dude, it’s not so fun. Opportunity lost, I guess.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Going Dutch Oven

I headed out to the city to explore with Lonely Planet Guide in hand. I poked around Macquarie Street (which by the way, I have no friggin idea how to pronounce.) I took a picture of the hospital because the story on that is it was funded and built on rum money. All the more reason to drink, I say! My friend Brett called and took me down to a bunch of pubs in the Rocks and out to eat. He and I argued where New Castle beer was made (which we all know it’s ENGLISH beer) and he made fun of my shoes. My friend Michelle told me that Australian singles always went dutch on dates. So I asked Brett if that were true as well. He had no idea what “going dutch” meant but seemed to think that it meant “dutch oven.” He didn’t think it was such a good idea to Dutch-oven someone on a first date. I just about died laughing.

The next day I took a cab out to our company’s Sydney office in Homebush Bay (which I kept saying Homebay Bush and it drove Brett up the wall). I met my Aussie counterparts and went out to lunch with one of them. Apparently a few of them went out the night before and were completely hung-over. They asked me questions about our American campaigns and our new software. I had a nice visit with them and I still keep in touch with Tony, the director there. Maybe someday, they’ll give me a job. Here’s hoping!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Your Accent is Funny

Kent took me to Watson’s Bay so I could ride the ferry and see the city. The ferry ride was nice and the scenery was beautiful. I spent most of my time chatting with Kent and finding out the intricacies of his life. I tend to do that with people a lot. I suppose I am intense. I can chitchat with the best of them, but I personally like to pick apart a person’s psyche.

We hung out at Watson’s Bay and ate lunch consisting of garlic shrimp and chips (fries). We wandered around taking in the cliffs, beaches, and nice weather. When I went to the bathroom I checked to see if the water swirls the other way when you flush the toilets (and they DO). After a couple of hours we headed back to the Sydney Harbor and enjoyed a beer at the Opera House Bar while staring at the Opera House. It was funny because when I started planning this trip my co-worker Bernell told me the only thing that was in Sydney was a stupid opera House and that Melbourne was much better. It's hard for me to say which city I liked better. I think they're both great cities. So the stupid Opera House in my opinion was quite impressive. It's a nice building and even more beautiful at night. It is located where the ferries are, so I passed it often. The Opera House Bar is a popular spot and it always seemed to be filled with tourists and locals alike. I'd like to thank Kent for letting me post his picture here. He told me that this was the first time his picture was ever posted on the Internet and he didn't seem at all thrilled about it. I told him perhaps this website would make him famous, but seeing as only 3 people read this thing I don't think he has too much to be embarrassed about.

After a couple of hours Kent took me over to the suburbs to eat at his favorite Chinese food restaurant. I have to say Australians like food more on the vinegar taste and not on the hot and spicy side. They also don’t have hot mustard and soy sauce on the table like us Americans. Here we are, two Asians from entirely different sides of the planet and completely not Asian. We poked fun of each other’s accents. I have very American accent and Kent has a very nice Australian one. Kent couldn’t get over how much I liked that lemon tonic water. I couldn’t get over the fact that he was such a lightweight and I was the raging alcoholic.
When I got back to the hotel I decided to watch some Australian television since I don’t sleep when I travel. I don’t watch much television at home but I easily get sidetracked by cable in foreign hotels. I think because I don’t watch TV much at home that given the opportunity- I will definitely be couch potato. I spent the entire night watching an Indian movie and Australian MTV.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

When in Sydney...

My first day in Sydney was a busy one. My email pal Kent picked me up from the airport. Kent and I met through my friend Shawn. He introduced me to him 2 years ago and I have been emailing and IMing him ever since. Mostly questions about Australia and chitchat here and there. We never really talked much for long periods of time because of the time difference. So I had never seen pictures of him and I was nervous meeting him. I was worried that he would be some scary 600 pound geeky guy who was socially retarded and was wanted by the police for multiple homicides. I met him for the first time in the Sydney airport. He actually turned out to be a great person. Kent is a very cute Asian guy, smart, and hysterically funny. He drove me to my hotel where I met up with Michelle, the girl I met on the plane.

When I booked my hotel I realized quickly that every hotel in Sydney was booked solid. I searched in vain to get a room and always got the same reply. My friend Randy pulled some strings and got me a room at the Sheraton hotel in Darling Harbor. I looked up Sydney’s event calendar to see what was going on the weekend I was coming in. Apparently I was coming in smack dab in the middle of Sydney’s Gay Mardi Gras. I was arriving during the last weekend of the month long train of events at the gay capital of the world. So naturally, when in Sydney, do as the gay people do- go to Gay Mardi Gras. I dragged Michelle and Kent down to Darlinghurst for some crazy gay fun. We watched an hour long parade of Dykes on Bikes, half-naked Filipino dancers, an Ikea float, a huge Trojan horse, and just a large amount of people in different stages of gay regalia. We were very entertained and I had a great time. I even bought my boss a pink Australian flag. After the parade we all chatted and I discovered the best drink ever. I stopped by a drink vendor and bought some Lemon flavored Swepps tonic water. Probably the best thing ever invented. If there was ever a reason to stay in Australia, that was it. After I got back to the hotel, my friend Brett called to hang out. We caught up with each other lives in the past five years. It was good to see him. Thinking back on the last 5 years, a lot has changed for me. I am a much better and stronger person than I ever have been. I am definitely crazier and more prone to psychotic episodes of drinking, but certainly in a better place in life than I ever have been before.

So I went to bed that night in Sydney very excited and happy. I connected with new friends and caught up with an old one. I had embarked on my life journey to Australia and so far, it was eventful, fun, and meaningful. I already didn’t want to leave.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Chinatown Warehouse Party

I got up early and poked around St. Kilda around my hotel. I ate breakfast at a local restaurant and strolled around the streets. Fleur told me St. Kilda was considered the red light district of Melbourne. I didn’t read about that on the damn hotel website. I have no idea why this place was considered the “red light” district. I only hung out in an after hours bar until 5am and hobnobbed with some crazy Kiwi and his two gay friends. St. Kilda is comprised of expensive shops, restaurants, and lots of bars. I suppose when I think of “red light” I think of strip bars, hookers, and drug addicts. Maybe I missed it, but I really didn’t get that sense when I was there. Especially when I found those $500.00 jeans Fleur and her friend were talking about. I took pictures of some school children on the way back to the hotel. They make them wear hats wherever they go because Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer. I started walking off when a teacher came out of the yard and yelled at me. She grilled me on why I was taking pictures of school children. I was surprised and pointed at their hats and dumbly said I thought they were novel. She yelled at me again and told me not to take pictures of children. I slunk away feeling like some sort of child molester or something. I can’t really blame her. There are some really sick people out there, so she was being protective. I just felt really bad. So, I went back to the hotel to get ready for some drinking.

Rachel told me to meet her at Flinder’s Station in front of Federation Square. I think it’s the central meeting place for Melbournians. I sat around people watching when she called me again and told me we were going to a 90’s party first and to make sure I dressed 90’s. I looked down at my clothes and shrugged. Definitely not 90’s attire. I figured after a few beers no one would care. I met Rachel and her friend Jackie outside of the station. Jackie was one of those girls who dyed her hair black and hated the world….but LOVED 90’s music. Rachel grilled me on why was I talking to a Kiwi and two homeless guys the night before. She said the Kiwi was a regular and never talked to anyone at the bar unless he ordered beer. I laughed and said I had that effect on people. I mean hell, I’m this complete stranger hanging out with her at a 90’s party. She told me I was the only American girl she had met that drank beer and it was the reason why she invited me out. Personally, I like drinking beer because I like remembering what I did that night. Liquor is always a toss up with having a good time or lying in the street puking. I guess beer for me is a sure fire way for me to be safe. I discovered that Australians are terrible dancers. The worst. And they do not know what a pitcher is. I ordered a pitcher of beer for my new found friends. The bartender looked at me quizzically and held up a pint glass. I shook my head and said “pitcher” again. She held up a bigger glass. I laughed and said I needed something bigger. She said- “Oh you mean a jug?” Jugs? That’s what they called them here?
After our “jugs” of beers the girls wanted to leave for another party. So we ended up crashing a private party at some bar. The Aussies were amazed that I knew every single word to Bust a Move (and why wouldn’t I know all the words!). I took a picture of Rachel dancing in her white ridiculous 90’s shoes. It was the only picture I took that night because I didn’t want to be the stupid American casually taking pictures of people. We finally caught a cab into Chinatown to check out this warehouse party. The place was huge and contained hundreds people. The men looked like they came straight out of that movie Trainspotting. Lanky, cropped hair, and punk clothes. The ladies were dressed to the nines. I looked down at my shabby clothes and felt a little self conscious. Here I am in a dank dark warehouse party and the women looked like they stepped of a Paris runway show. Red high heels, short bubble skirts, and leather jackets. I drank a couple of beers and managed to creep out into the wee hours of the night.