11.23pm - Australia Day

Trip Start Feb 09, 2009
Trip End Mar 25, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday 11 February, 11.23pm, Vibe Hotel
All hail Susan Atherton: the biggest doughnut in the land. It's bedtime here, but can I sleep? Can I jingo. Because like a moron, I let myself fall asleep at 4pm, rather than pushing through for a few more hours, so now I've just had six hours sleep and am totally and utterly awake. I SUCK at jet lag. And now I'm going to be completely useless tomorrow. Good skills all round, Suzy, truly.
So the journey was pleasant enough - cabin crew were friendly and helpful, the film selection was decent, the bed was totally fascinating (ordinarily with flatbeds they just slide down like a La-Z-Boy,  but with Virgin you stand up and the whole back of the seat flips forward and you sleep on the back side), if a little narrow for my tastes (I am a wriggly sleeper, and I kept whacking my knee on the sides of the seat when I tried to move around). The refuel stop in Hong Kong was infinitely better than the one in Singapore coming back from NZ - the Virgin lounge is not as nice as the Cathay Pacific one, but is still perfectly acceptable, and a damn sight better than sitting, bored, on a bunch of uncomfortable airport chairs. On the second leg, I managed to get a bit more sleep, though was awoken by a slightly frightening level of turbulence (ordinarily I am the world's best flier, I really don't care about turbulence at all, but this was the worst I've ever experienced). All in all, however, the flight was fine, and I arrived in Sydney safe and sound, where I cleared baggage claim at an impressively fast rate (normally my bag is one of the last out, but this time it was one of the first! Whee!) and whipped through passport control and customs. Ordinarily, this would be a good thing; today, of course, I was happy to dawdle for as long as possible, because it was 7am when we landed, and I couldn't check into my hotel until 2pm. With two days and four time zones' worth of plane on me, all I wanted to do was shower, but that clearly wasn't going to happen, so instead I dropped off my pack and went for a walk, hoping to distract myself from my tragically limp hair.
Sydney is not as I expected it, but I think that's because I'm more in the centre. Tomorrow I'm going to walk out to the harbour (if I have any energy after my utter lack of sleep), I imagine then I will really feel Australian, but today I was in just another city with overcast skies and a little too much humidity in the air. It reminds me quite a lot of Auckland CBD, in fact, and not just because they have the same hilarious crossings (see my NZ blog for my thoughts on the noise the pedestrian crossings make).
I found a little coffeeshop that overlooked Hyde Park (yes, they have one of those here too), and started reading the Aussie Daily Telegraph. The news of the fires and floods they're experiencing here had reached my ears in the UK, of course, but I think only because Australia was in my head anyway. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have ignored it, and reading the paper this morning, I felt like shit. It's truly horrifying what the victims of the Victoria bushfires are going through - obviously there's the usual awfulness of people losing their homes and cars and other possessions, but so many people died trying to save their loved ones, or had to leave friends or strangers behind to avoid dying themselves, or have woken up in hospital to discover that while they themselves will make a full recovery, their whole family has perished. A teenage girl, her brother and her boyfriend got trapped in a house and couldn't escape, but managed to make a final phone call to the boyfriend's family to say goodbye. Apparently they were crying and saying they knew they were about to die. An eighteen year old girl stayed at home in the north while her family went on a camping trip in Victoria. Now she's the only one left. A husband ran back into a fire to rescue his wife and three small children (all under the age of six). None of them came out. It's soul-destroying to hear about, and it seems horrifying to me that it's so easily dismissed by the rest of the world, and I include myself in that. 300 dead is not a small number, but because it's so far away, it's a small tragedy.
But for every horror story, there's a fantastic one too. The man and his wife who saved a family of four strangers from a burning car. The woman who was separated from her husband in the confusion, and feared the worst, only to find him in the same hospital. The idiotic girl who was being winched to safety with her dog, but unhooked herself from the harness to go back for him after he wriggled out of her arms. Amazingly, they both survived. Not to mention the pages of messages of love and support for the firefighters and volunteers who are trying to stop the fires, and the fact that even in the midst of the economic crisis, $30million has been donated to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. People can be truly awesome when they want to be.
So I left the coffeeshop feeling very Australia-friendly, but I still had hours to kill before I could check in. Went for a wander round, and ran across a cinema - a time honoured way to spend a few hours. And what were they showing in just under an hour? Why, Australia, of course! It seemed meant to be. Bought a ticket, settled down in my seat, and prepared for epic romance and Hugh Jackman using his real accent.
Now, Noj warned me that he had not enjoyed the film when he saw it. But for everything he and I agree on, there's ten things we will argue about til the cows come home, so I wasn't too worried. The moral of this story? Listen to Noj more. Good people, if you haven't seen it already - DON'T WATCH AUSTRALIA. It's fucking awful. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, and also with an above average interest in film, but after forty minutes, I was forced to admit I didn't have the faintest idea what was going on. The plot is incomprehensible. Maybe if you're an expert on Australian life in the 40s and you know all about ranching, you'll love it. But there was plenty about ranching in Brokeback Mountain, and that's a sensational film. I can appreciate Hugh Jackman's physical form as much as the next girl, but if I go to see a movie with him in, I don't go to perv, I go to enjoy his acting chops. When the only reason you're staying in the theatre is in case he takes his shirt off again, there's a problem. He was the only thing that made the thing worth watching - even with the dreck he's given, he acts the hell out of it, and you do actually care about him. Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, just got on my tits. I disliked her performance so much I actually like Moulin Rouge less just for seeing it.
I don't want to go on about this too much in case you haven't seen it (and actually still want to, despite my heartiest recommendation against it), but Baz, please. One of the most important rules of storytelling: Show, Don't Tell. When you have to keep inserting big chunks of exposition, AND  a voiceover from that stupid kid (who I would have liked a lot more without said voiceover), YOUR PLOT IS TOO COMPLICATED. And considering how long the damn film is, I would have appreciated a bit more buildup of the love story - it seems like they hook up because she's drunk and he's horny, not because they're falling in lerve. And just when you think this insane mire of awfulness is over, oh no no! Story one is resolved and all is well, so they launch directly into the sequel! A whole different movie, about marital strife and WWII! FOR ANOTHER BLOODY HOUR!! I was determined to stick it out to the bitter end (and I'll be honest, I was hoping Jackman would take his shirt off again), but although it ticked the required box of keeping me busy til 2pm, when I think that next door they were screening The Curious Case of Benjamin Button... well, I could lie down right here right now and weep. Speaking of other films, the story begins in 1939 so there's an ongoing reference to The Wizard of Oz (don't get me started on how unlikely it is that people would be so obsessed with that film, considering what a flop it was on release), which I think was a major error, because constantly reminding people of a film that has a better and more consistent plot EVEN THOUGH IT FEATURES FLYING MONKEYS AND A WOMAN WITH GREEN SKIN WHO ENDS UP MELTING, FOR FUCK'S SAKE - to quote Pretty Woman, big mistake. Huge. I just kept wishing I was watching that instead (of course, it is one of my favourite films, so that's to be expected. In all walks of life, I often wish I was watching The Wizard of Oz instead).
So I had a morning of feeling pro-Australia, I had an afternoon of feeling anti-Australia, but in the end, I think I shan't hold Baz Luhrmann's sins against the whole country. Sydney is still lovely. I am still excited to be here. I wish I could get some sleep, but that's hardly Oz's fault. Instead I will plan my day for tomorrow (harbour in the morning, perhaps the aquarium in the afternoon, in keeping with the nautical theme? Or maybe the bridge? I can't decide), order some room service, and think about the Red Curtain trilogy and pretend those are the only films Luhrmann has made. Perhaps the dreams that I dare to dream really will come true.
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adatherton on

Seen your stats
122 visitors this month as I write. Or are you pressing f5 yourself to look good :-). Hope you get your body clock in gear soon then you'll love the place, if not the eponymous movie. That might of course, just have been a platitude to get the word eponymous in, but Australia is after all, the home of backpacking. Dad xx

lornahoops on

I *LOVE* your posts, I hadnt realised how much I missed having something to read in the morning.

So Australia, (The film of course), I am disappointed in Hugh, and Baz, and Kidman. And god help me if I ever watch it, if you couldnt follow it, ill be completely screwed.

Saw Bride Wars last night - Infinately better than Hes just not that Iiiiii. Chris fell in love with Anne Hathaway when she danced in tiny shorts, thrusting her groin at the screen. as you can imagine, he was very excited.

Thought of you last night at the pub quiz, when the last question was 'what were the top ten highest grossing films of the 90's?' We did not do you proud. :(

suzloua on

Re: Chortle Chortle Chipolata
David - how very dare you. F5, indeed. I don't need to pretend to be popular, I already know I'm ace. But feel free to tell me anyway.

Hoople - Bless your heart. Glad you're enjoying my rantings. I do hope you have taken away the most important message of today's blog: DON'T. WATCH. AUSTRALIA. Bride Wars is far more suitable. I watched Get Smart on the plane, Anne Hathaway is very cool and wiggles her pelvis while wearing a very tight dress. Get it on DVD for the disco boy. It's actually pretty funny.

I don't actually know what the top ten grossing films of the 90s were - I know what most of them are now, but they're generally post-2000 (first Potter was 2001, LOTR were '01-'03, Dark Knight and Mamma Mia both took an insane amount this year and I seem to remember Spidey 2 took an awful lot as well but that was about '04). Let's see, Titanic obviously, Phantom Menace was '99, and I bet Blair Witch is in there somewhere because that cost about four quid to make so the gross would have been pretty big. Other than that I'm struggling. See, I would have been no help. Bad skills, Tron. Independence Day? Or speaking of Will Smith, Men In Black? Give me some clues, I'm intrigued now.

- Brokeback Mountain is top. How rude.
- I am encouraging people to listen to him ONLY on the matter of film recs. Obviously in every other matter he is his usual gibbering self.
- I went in one of the glass tunnels to look at the dudongs or whatever they're called (the manatee-looking things). It's the first time I've ever been in one, it was very exciting. Didn't see any otters, but I'm going back tomorrow. I did see a duck-billed platypus. It was one of the defining experiences of my life.
- Park? Park? That's the Royal Botanic Gardens, Welshie, how dare you. Have some respect for our Queen, you colonial swine. But yes, I went in, I saw the birds with the mohicans. They're wicked, and totally unafraid. One came right up to me. I was more scared of it.
- I will go to one or the other or both. Fear not. Am slightly afraid of being eaten by shark, jellyfish, americans etc though.
- Done. (As in you've convinced me, not as in already done, I'm not that fast.)

misootu xx

dini123 on

you cannot remember being addicted to the WOZ when a child and having a basket and a Toto that gramma bought you and making me wear it (the basket not the dog) on my head and the milkman in London being surprised but not saying anything when I opened the door. And you talked like Judy Garland for YEARS.

And I cried at the koala that was saved by the fireman and was in our paper today with it's feet bandaged. He gave it a bottle of water and yesterday showed it with it's paw on his arm whilst it drunk. He took it to a sanctury and it is hugging another bear as we speak. Funny how animals do that to you even though you are desperate for all the people who lost their families, like a sign of hope really that somethings good are left. God, that was really ...................

suzloua on

Re: obviously
Lynda, do not tell people I talked like Judy Garland, you are stepping on my rakish exterior.

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