Trying to be Healthy Doesn't Exactly go to Plan...

Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
Trip End May 10, 2015

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Monday, December 17, 2012

As any traveller will tell you, when on the road, any sort of diets or eating plans go soaring out of the window, along with any sense of bearings! My eating habits in Asia were mostly sugar coated and my arrival in Australia hasn't done much to change that really. Apart from the added addition of pancakes! The portions here are MASSIVE and everyday things are huge from jumbo sized croissants to humungous pies! Talking of pies, am slightly worried I will turn into one. As cruel as it is to point it out, from the few days I've been here, it's evident that Oz has a serious obesity epidemic similar to that in the UK and it's easy to see why when you have a gander at the portion sizes on offer!

So, driven by the fear that when I return to the UK at some stage resembling a Beluga whale and being unrecognisable to my relatives, I decided I would see what Melbourne had to offer in terms of 'keeping fit. Like the UK, running/jogging is very popular but I'd rather get shot in the kneecaps with a boltgun than pound the pavements with that bunch of numpties! So to cut a long story short, I decided to give two of my favourite pastimes a shot, swimming and cyling a go, in Oz. Which turned out to be a bit of a disaster if I'm honest.

Geared up and ready to go, I headed to the CBD on a very sunny, but slightly cool morning to hire a 'Boris Bike' the bright blue bicycles that can be picked up from 'bike stations' all over the city. That is, after I'd gone and bought a helmet from a woman who was about as helpful as a doorstop. Unperturbed, I went to a bike station where it appeared one could hire a bike for $2:60 a day. This transpired to be a tad of a fib, one could hire the bike for that amount THEN pay a crafty additional cfharge of up to TEN DOLLARS AN HOUR?! Whaaaaaat? I don't think good old Boris would approve of this at all! I put my debit card and all my details in and then tried to print my code I needed to release my bike. But it wouldn't print! DOOM! Infruiated, I stormed off to Visitor Information who told me they knew sod all about bikes and I would need to phone some wretched helpline number! By this point I was nearly incadescent with rage but eventually sorted it out and got going.

However, I had an immediate problem in that I hadn't taken into account when I was getting dressed that it was rather windy.

Short, floaty dress+ bicycle + strong breeze = Wardrobe Malfunction Fail.

Ended up with one hand on the handlebars and the other pulling my hem down to stop myself from flashing my knickers at the poor passerbys! Went a quick loop round the river but the final straw was trying to negoitate four lines of traffic and two sets of tramlines and jacked it in.

Approx time spent on bike = 20 minutes.
Time spent trying to get on bike = 1 hour.

Was hopeful my jaunt to St Kilda and the swimming pool there would perhaps be a little bit more beneficial to my health. When I'd been planning my trip to Oz, I'd heard that St Kilda was THE place to be for backpackers. But all I wanted to see was the beach and and go for a swim by the sea. Easier said than done.

By the time I got there (it's a good 40 minutes on the tram from the CBD) there was a fair sea breeze going and it was actually quite chilly, despite the sunshine. So I covered up and went for a walk along the promenade. My first impressions from the tired looking buildings and naff looking bottle shops (off licences) was that it was rundown and really quite tacky and garish. I wasn't wrong either. The beach itself was littered with chavs (or bogans as they're called here) with various stages of skin damage. I sat on a small wall overlooking the sea and suddenly became aware of a group of bogans (who I think may have been Brits) who were sunning themselves and their silly tattoos. When they spotted pale little old me, they literally pointed and laughed at me! Bastards! At least I'm not a walking timebomb for skin cancer...LOSERS!

Went for a jaunt along the pier and an old guy in a wheelchair came up to me and said, and I kid you not, 'I wouldn't go further if I were you. St Kilda's full of perverts and that guy over there (pointed vaguely in the direction of some schoolkids) likes girls in short dresses?!' How quaint. Well that's just spiffing isn't it? Needless to say, I bolted back at double speed to the promenade.

Undettered, I decided to go for my planned swim. The pool was called the 'Sea Baths.' I didn't realise the significance of it's name until later. It was a complete rip off to get in and as I walked to the changing rooms, I got cornered by a rather large woman who barked at me in an Eastern block accent: 'Where is de changing rooms? Where i can put ze stuff of mine?! Where!? Where?!' Her tone was verging on aggressive and I diplomatically tried to sidestep her as she glared at me accusingly. She later tried harrassing me again in the dingy changing rooms about the lockers but I'd got wise to her ways and made a dash past her to the pool before she could start ranting at me again!

The pool itself was quite frankly awful. There were dreaded lanes and there was a guy running down the slow lane, not swimming, running. Interesting. There was a glass roof with the sun streaming in and it was so blinding I literally had to squint to see where I was actually going. Great start. Plumped for the medium speed lane where some douchebag was doing the front crawl with great vigour and sent a tidal wave over my head every time he passed me. Urrrrrgh. After a couple of lengths, I suddenly became aware that my skin was burning, almost stinging especially my hands but thought it was just the sun through the roof. It was highly unpleasant but tried to ignore it.

It wasn't until I went to put my feet on the pool floor, forgetting I was in the deep end and ended up under the water. When I resurfaced, I had the most awful taste in my mouth and my eyes were burning. And that's when I realised...the pool was full of SALT!!! I couldn't believe it! It was so strong it was as if I'd just licked table salt off a plate! Bleurgh! It was terrible! When another idiot arrived in my lane and forced me to stop mid-length I decided enough was enough and got out of the pool in a rage and stormed off to reception, my hair still wet and smelling of Troon harbour. 'I want a refund!' I demanded to the rather perplexed looking male receptionist, before reeling off all the things that were wrong with the pool. After giving him a right lugful, he simply looked at me and to my astonishment said 'Sure.' And handed over my money! I can tell you now that would NEVER happen in the UK. I did ask him about the salt and if all pools in Oz had salt in them. All he said was 'It's the SEA Baths, the water comes from the SEA.' Well that's just great isn't it?! I didn't realise the damn place meant it so literally...

Bought some dinner on the way home which promptly got stolen out of the communal fridge so had to settle for brown rice and sod all else for tea. Food here in Oz is SO expensive, need to find a job soonish otherwise will be living off a diet of noodles and baked beans. However, that won't help the 'cut down on the crap' regime, failed at that today with my Dairy Milk. Thankfully, Cadburys chocolate tastes AMAZING here, unlike the stuff in Malaysia that tasted like pencil sharpenings! Just need to get me a Bogan Burger to complete the Ozzie experience now...!

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Steven Turk on

Our Christmas dinner was stolen from the fridge at the hostel I was at in Melbourne too. No manners among the city's hostel-dwellers.

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