Australia I

Monday September 6th

5.34 am

Airports really are odd places, aren’t they? I swear, my head is filled with so much running commentary right now that I wouldn’t be surprised if I started talking to my backpack. But instead, with my ears tuned to the B playing some lush mellow Icelandic singer (not Bjork), I will start to keep a written record of what’s happened so far.

I finished my intercom around 11pm last night, and emailed it off to Truds, who’s going to be lovely and hand it in for me. My feminism books are stacked in the hall outside my bedroom door so Clayt can return them for me. Friends rock. Even if no one wanted to drive me to the airport. After a strange 1am shower (strange because of the hour) I got dressed and thought about packing.

I then went to pack, which was pretty easy, because I’d written a list. I kept nodding offf, as you do at 3am, but eventually I got the lot done. I had a really young taxi driver, with a big bushy beard. Looking at him, I picked him for an Internet Geek, and I think later conversations proved my theory. He’d managed to run up a $30,000 student loan on a year and two weeks of his double major in maths and computer science. I dunno – it was just weird having a driver near my own age, especially one telling me that most of his student loan went on drugs. I guess I’ll just always be more used to the taxi drivers Penny and I used to get, who we’d decry (is that a word?) drunken teenagers with, while talking about our classics degrees – at age 15/16.

There’s something sinister about being able to buy alcohol perfectly legally and very brightly lit at 4.45am. I saw the tequila we’d paid $45 for at $17. I’m going to buy Anji a bottle of Absolut, but I may as well get that in Melbourne. I lingered for a while in Whitcholls, watching the True Bliss video that they were screening. Then, on impulse, I bought Kini the True Bliss cd. Hey – it was only $17 duty free. And she NEEDS to own it before the rest of Australia. The hot chocolate here had dairy whip on it, and the milk had the taste milk gets when it’s overheated on the stove, as opposed to the microwave. Still, I found myself unable to eat my muffin, so I added four packets of sugar to the hot chocolate, and pretended that was sustinance enough. I’m sure I’ll get fed on the plane anyways.

***

I didn’t. I tried to sleep on the plane instead, since I had three seats to spread out on. Someone had left a Mills & Boon on the seat, so I started reading that when I woke up. I was going to take it with me, but then I thought “Hmmm… hang on. There’s something going on. I get three seats on a crowded plane, AND there’s a book left there?” so I decided that carrying it through customs probably wouldn’t be the greatest idea in the world. Everyone needs conspiracy theories. They make life that much more exciting.

September 6th 10.20am

Melbourne

So I’ve been in the city for only maybe 45 minutes, and already I’m being a great big sook. I got lost, you see, so I’m tear-ing from tiredness, and frustration and from carrying my suitcaase around for the past half hour. Thank GOD I packed light so it’s only like 12.5kg. And luckily I have a backpack, not some overweight shoulder bag. But still, neither are much fun to lug around. Anji had told me to get off the bus at Elizabeth Street, or “the town hall” and she was going to meet me there. I said “the town hall” to the bus driver, and he told me to get off at Franklin Street, so I did that and asked at the rental car desk the way to the town hall. I rang Anji but she didn’t answer her phone, so I left a message on her machine saying I’d find my way to the town hall. So off I set, all smiles, for Swanson Street, a ten minute walk away! That is, of course, presuming you walk the right way. Which I didn’t. Eventually, I got up to the University, and finally decided to ask someone where the town hall was. A lovely chick told me it was completely in the opposite direction, and suggested I take a tram, because it was ‘a long way away’. The trams looked all scary, and I had no coinage. I was just about crying, so I decided that there was no way in hell I could walk further, not with blistering hands and shit. I knew I’d have trouble hailing a cab, so luckily, a light bulb went on in my head, and I walked to the nearby National Women’s Hospital, and got a taxi straight away. The guy was a bit scowly, but nevermind. Anji came eventually, and I cried in relief and stuff.

Sept 6 – PM

—- Shopping, food, shopping, Joe’s, Dinner —-

After my mini nap, Anji took me to Brunswick Street, where we looked at shops (one had sparkly clips galore!) and then had lunch at Café Nova. I had vegetable blinis, which were quite nice, if a little tasteless. Then we went for more walkies, and ended up in Joe’s Garage; the café she works in.

So we hopped up on stools at a table, to have coffee and do crosswords. We got 60 words on the Target, whuch was ‘very good’. All the billions of staff kept coming up and going “are you going to introduce me?” or “So this is Jo…..” – gosh I was famous. There was quite a scrummy boy working there called Sam – Anji told me that his girlfriend works as a mistress. Man! How does someone acquire a job like that? I wanna be a mistress when I grow up!

So yes. Coffee turned into Kahlua pie, which in turn turned into Vodka lime and sodas, and then into a couple of bottles of wine. We were waiting for Richard – the flatmate of Guy, so that we could go out to dinner. When Anji had been going through all of her friends, trying to decide who I should shag, she’d considered Guy, but then decided that he had too many issues – Yeah, cos I’ve never gone for issues boys before! But anyways. Richard showed up like hours later, after not answering his phone cos he was playing psx, and we had yet more wine, so I was quite drunk.

Everyone kept toasting me in welcome to Australia, so I felt special. Anji’s friends are all really cool, and like heaps of them are gay. Which isn’t really related, it’s just a point of interest. One of the waitresses, Irene, was the tiniest person in the world – smaller than Shirley even. Tiny, but lively. Suprisingly, they’re all actually quite old as well. Like, Irene was 34, Tony was 32 and stuff. Anji’s one of the youngest, so that made me feel _ really _ young. Guy was 23 though, so I guess that’s okay.

Anyways, eventually me, Anji, Guy, Richard and Tony poured ourselves into a taxi, and went to Mihn Mihn’s, a Vietnamese Restaurant, by way of a bottle store for more wine. The place looked real shabby, but FUCK, the food was good. Between the five of us, we had prawn crackers, plain & coconut rice, thai beef salad, vegetables with cashews, chicken & veges, szechuan beef and duck with plum sauce. Mm mm mm! Oh god, that duck was gooooooood! Then we walked home, I went to bed & they went out again. But I hadn’t slept in 30 hours!

Tuesday September 7th

— Victoria Markets, Smith Street, Tekken —

Somehow I’d managed to actually sleep okay on Anji’s incredibly thin bed – I guess that’s what exhaustion does to a girl. We got up around 8.30am, and went down to the kitchen for breakfast. They don’t have a toaster – they have a funny gas grilly thing over the stove instead. So that was exciting.

Breakfast was toast with margarine, saltfree peanut butter and instant coffee, but it somehow still managed to be rally nice. Then we had to decide what we were going to do today – we settled on Victoria Markets. That meant more exciting tram rides. We got two hour tickets for $2.30. Trams in Melbourne operate on like some kinda weird honesty system – you’re supposed to just buy the ticket from a machine on the tram. However, they do frequently have inspectors jump on, and $100 fines if you don’t have a ticket. So I guess that’d be an incentive to pay. Trams are cool. They go in the middle of the road really frequently, and are nice bright green. If I tell people like Guy, however, that I like them, they’ll be like “I am _ so _ over the tram thing”. Still they’re a nice novelty for me.

Victoria Markets was huge! At one of the very first stalls, I spotted a bag I liked a lot for $35 so I figured we’d come back for it. Anji spotted a tissue box cover with a kangaroo on one end, and a koala on the other that looked absolutely perfect for Karen. So we put that on our list of things to come back for as well.

I bought Karen a choker from a woman pre-occupied with her small dog. The markets were huge, but each aisle was basically made up of identical units – a Glassons-esque stall, factory jeans, Australian souvenirs, junk jewelry, and a candle stall. Having said that, though, we did go through the whole market. I was looking for some boot cut or flared jeans, but I’m a fat bitch so the search was fruitless. I preferred the old Greek men sizing me up to those unspeakably snobby hip young things that work in jeans shops though. Anji ended up buying some really tight spunky flares that showed off her perfect ass, which I admit made me feel pretty darn stink. But hey – that’s what big sisters are there for – to make you feel jealous. Anyways.

When we went back to the bag stall, the bag I’d wanted had been sold. It was still available in silver, but I wanted black. I found another one though, slightly larger and for only $20. The woman pointed out that the first bag had a really short strap, and I wouldn’t have been able to wear it across my chest.

We were going to go elsewhere for lunch, but then Anji spotted a bratwerst (sp) stand and decided she had to have that. So I got a lamb doner kebab, and we ate quite happily in the sunshine by a McCafe, listening to an accordionist trio across the road.

We took the tram into town to Southgate where we took photos of each other on a bridge with the Melbourne skyline behind us. Anji made me wear the tissue box cover, which I thought was particularly unstyley.

The Yarra river was all brown and icky looking, but the cityline WAS pretty. We got me a trainticket to Sydney – I couldn’t get student discount because my ISSIC card wasn’t from an Australian tech. Hmmmm. Makes you wonder about the word “International” doesn’t it?

But still. The Forum theatre had really pretty copper spires above it, so Anji took me there to see its glowing blue roof. There were even nekkid men statues in the theatre. We couldn’t go inside but we did press our noses against the door glass, to the amusement of the woman cleaning them. We asked first, and didn’t breathe on the one she’d just cleaned. We are well mannered, you know.

It was at that exact moment that we heard a huge amount of chanting coming from around the corner. We walked around to see a Pro Tibetan protest shaking their signs at buses sparsely laden with Chinese people. One Chinese guy was filming the whole thing. I guess it must be pretty interesting to be protested against, especially when you’re that safe. We ended up walking the same way as the protest, which slowed us down, but even tually we got on a tram for Smith Street, home to Anji’s supermarket, Safeway, and lots and lots of Junkies.

Safeway was really weird, because all the food and stuff was packed differently to NZ. Also, it was quite new and shiny, and had stand-up fridges with clear doors. It was so National Azabu. I wanted to buy everything. But instead, we just bought a few bits and pieces – hommus and bread and cranberry juice and canned tomatoes. Potato chips come in 250gm bags, which look fucking huge, and are called Lays. We had to buy a bag. The personal hygiene section had a sign that said “Razor blades are available from the service counter” which was kinda spooky. When I pointed it out to Anji, she told me that the movie theatres only have UV lights in their bathrooms, because that makes it harder for junkies to see their veins. It’s so strange, so foreign. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anyone on smack – and I don’t think I know anyone that does it – apart from Morphine Matt, I guess. Apparently there are usually smackheads all over the place in Smith Street, but we didn’t see a single one. Which is probably a good thing, since I’m sure it’s wrong to use Human Misery as a tourist attraction.

We walked home from Smith Street to eat hommus & bread & chips. Mmmm. And we played Tekken 2 lots and lots. Tim cam home, so I got to meet him and he was really nice. We got hungry for Thai food, but we couldn’t find the menu. I went through a huge section of the phone book, looking for “the Thai place on Johnston Street – umm, what’s it called?” – but with no luck, strangely enough. So instead, I cooked dinner – pasta with roast capsicum sauce. We’d bought two huge big lush red peppers at the markets, cos they were only $2.50 a kilo. Mmm it was good. Tim and Martin (English flatmate) had some too and we all enjoyed Absolut with cranberry juice and lemon.

Later on, Anji & I walked up to The Hideout, where she used to work, to get money off her ex flatmate. The Hideout was huge, and all different colours. UV paintings on the wall on the way to the bathroom and pastel coloured booths. It looked really choice, but apparently, it’s total crap. Then we went to Joe’s, for coffee. I wrote out free postcards to people – or rather, Anji wrote to Kate & my flat for me.

Wednesday 8th

— Chappel Street, St Kilda, tired, videos —

We got up at a more civilised hour today and leisurely walked to some station, to take a train to Chappel Street. We had to go down into a subway and the escalator was so steep you couldn’t see the bottom (or top) from the other end. It was this enormasly big stainles steel tunnel – such a music video moment, or ideal place for a futuristic fashion shoot. Of course though, by the time I thought to get out my camera it was too late. The train started out as a subway, which was really weird. I rode an awful lot of subwys in Tokyo, and eventually came to think nothing of it. Now, I think it’s damn sinister, being hundreds of metres beneath a bustling city. Plus there’s like my cave-phobia and stuff. But hey. I was too busy with Tokyo Flashbacks to think too much about that.

Anyways. Chappel Street was full of shops with skinny clothes for skinny people. Anji was like “why don’t you want to go into more of these shops? Where’s your killer instinct?” Hmm. Maybe my killer instinct gets a little tired of gorgeous clothes it can’t fit into. I tried on a really cool bright fuschia top but it seemed quite tight, and I don’t actually know how it looked cos there was no mirror in the changing rooms – I could just see it was _ very _ low cut though. And much as I like my breasts, I don’t think the world wants to see _ that _ much of them. We walked and walked and walked down Chappel Street for aaaaaages, past billions of boutiques and stuff, and it was very disheartening. In one of the side streets, there were two identical op shops right next to each other, and both were serviced by cute little old ladies. It was fucking funny though, cos the first one had the radio on playing loud jangly Indie rock, and the other one was playing hard spooky drum & bass. I wonder if the ladies listen to that at home as well?

Eventually, after walking the wrong way (and that made me right grumpy, unfortunatly) we took a tram to St Kildas. There, we found a shop called “Hunters & Gatherers” that was stocked with the brightest range of op shop clothes ever. It was so cool. I tried on this frilly dark reddy orange slip thing, but the breast cups were just a bit too high and small. But I did also buy a tight bight blue top with a square neck. It’s made by Lee, and it’s 100% nylon. Excellent. Being so flammable adds an element of fun to life. Plus it goes so well with the chunky silver & glass bead necklace I bought at an ethnicity store on Chappel Street. So yay. Anyways, after Hunters & Gatherers, we went to look for lunch. Anji suggested ‘Big Mouth’ at the end of the street, so we bypassed the other cafes (it looked a lot like Ponsonby Road). Of course, by the time we got to Big Mouth, it was 4.05pm and the kitchen had shut at 4. Luckily, she said we could have nachoes, plus we finally got coffee, so that was okay. Anji wanted me to see St Kilda’s beach, so we went for a long walk to see that. I was so tired I was practically crying – I guess I was miserable about the shopping too. The beach was so nothing special, although I guess if I’d been in a better mood and it’d still been sunny, it might have been better. We took a tram back after more walking. I was so completely buggered, I could have been a boy scout.

I went to have a bath, cos they have a huge built-in tub, but there was no hot water, so instead I soaked my legs and feet in cold water which was at least refreshing. Anji and Tim – her flatmate who is very nice and unfortunatly gay – went out to get videos, while I played Tekken. We ordered pizza and then discovered that Tim’s video player was fucked – not wanting to relinquish tapes and then chewing them if you forced the issue. So he kindly went back to the video store (actually a different one) for a cleaning tape while our pizza arrived – not in a box but between two big thick paper plates. It was quite huge and smothered in parmasen, sundried tomatoes, chicken, and strangely, advacado. Mmm. It was SO GOOD. Yum. Yum yum. We watched a truly awful movie called “Disturbing Behaviour” which was just shockingly atrociously bad. So it was perfect forus, since we were drinking/smoking pot anyways. Martin kept going on and on about Katie Holmes who was in it. Grr. All boys seem to love her. Personally, I’m more Jen than Joey when it comes to Dawson’s Creek. Oooh, and I saw that on Tuesday night, I think it was. Australia is a lot further ahead.

After ‘Disturbing Behaviour’ they started watching ‘True Love and Chaos’ which I’d already seen, so half an hour into the film, I went up to bed. Chappel Street and lack of shopping for fat chicks made me feel really low and made me think all sorts of ‘I will eat healthier exercize more and lose weight” sorts of thoughts – after my holiday, of course.

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