11.57pm - Surfin' AUS

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

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday 27 February, 11.57pm, Surfers Paradise YHA
Jesus motherloving Christ, do those bedbugs like the taste of me. I woke up this morning to no less than twenty five bites (and I say no less than because, no matter how many times I indignantly count them, tutting furiously to myself all the while, I always keep finding another one I've missed somewhere else. The twenty five are just on my arms and back - I've found another six on my feet tonight, so it's over thirty now). Four are on my sunburned back, which makes itching them a great treat. At least three are already infected, so I need to pick up some hydrocortisone cream at some point before my arms fall off. Nimbin, while nice, is better left to the hippies.
Say what you will about the hippies though, they may be dirty but they can be cool too. Last night in the garden, a couple of the people who work at the hostel and two of the lads they've been teaching did a poi dance. The poi is a traditional Maori apparatus, though it may have some Aboriginal context as well, considering that this is Australia, but it's basically a ball on a piece of string (there are pics in my NZ blog of some Maori girls doing a poi dance). You can swing it around to dance, or you can swing it around to strengthen your wrists for fighting (what the Maori men traditionally used the poi for). The girl and three blokes who were doing it last night were doing it very fast and very confidently, and oh yeah, ON FIRE. Yep, they dunked their metal poi ends in kerosene, lit them, then turned out the lights and swung that shit around like nobody's business. It was extremely impressive and a little bit scary. I'm afraid I don't have any pics though, I was inside watching a film with this Norwegian girl, Karina, and we got shouted to come down to the garden, so we just went straight down and I didn't have my camera. I wouldn't worry about it, they'd have come out dodgy anyway, they always do with pois because they're so fast moving. Not that you were worried, I'm just saying. So there you go.
Shut up, Susan.
Oh my god, just as I finished writing that, I went outside because I could hear someone yelling for the last few minutes, and these dickhead Aussies have just smashed up a load of bottles outside, and then two guys just came up and started on three English guys staying at the YHA who had nothing to do with it, they were just watching the fight over the balcony like me. Wow. Some people are wankers. Security broke it up, but the English guys are now getting into a big do with one of the guys who works at the YHA, asking why . I decided to exit stage left. That was fun though, drama drama.
Anyway. So Nimbin was dirty and a rip-off of the Dam, but interesting nonetheless. Today I drove up to Surfers Paradise, which is truly beautiful, as you'd expect. Ordinarily I would give you some background on the name now, in my ongoing effort to combine humour with informative tidbits, but I've swapped the book that had the info in. However, the town was initially just one of a number of small towns along the Gold Coast, called something unmemorable like Elston, if memory serves. There were a few shops and some other bits here, along with a rather successful hotel. The town council decided to change the name of the town to drum up a bit of tourism, and took their inspiration from the hotel, which was called, funnily enough, Surfer's Paradise. The rest is history - Surfers is now the ultimate backpacker destination on the Gold Coast, and draws hundreds of thousands of people here every year to enjoy the waves and the bars. Lonely Planet describes the twin goals of visitors to Surfers as to get tanned and get tanked, and that's about right. But it's not aggressive (dickhead bottle smashers notwithstanding), and there are some really nice bars. I also came across a little nighttime market as I was heading back to the hostel tonight (which is, for a YHA, ludicrously ill-placed - it's called Surfers Paradise @ Main Beach hostel, but Main Beach is a good ten minute walk away and the centre of Surfers is more like 30-45mins, at least - according to the map it's about 3.5km. Not totally convenient, although they do do a free bus into town). They had some tacky stuff, as you'd expect, but a few really cool things as well, like blown glass dolphins on pieces of brightly coloured coral, pretty Chinese paper lanterns, a display of completely wicked and hilarious badges, and my personal favourite, these magnets and cards that were photographs of words written in the sand (like I ♥ Australia, or For My Mum or whatever), with a few flowers, shells, bits of coral etc next to them, and then the photo has been taken just as the tide is about to reach the words. It was very cool. I've already bought my magnet for Oz, and I'm not really into the idea of getting one for individual towns, but I kind've wish I'd bought a Sufers Paradise one, because they were awesome. Maybe if the market's there again tomorrow, I'll take that as a sign that I should!
Tomorrow I'm going to take in one of the Gold Coast's theme parks, I think - they have a bunch, and I do like a rollercoaster. Probably not Sea World, though - after Coffs Harbour, cetaceans playing for the crowd is still sitting a bit ill with me. Warner Bros Movie World though - who doesn't love a ride where Wile E Coyote tries to drop an anvil on your head? It'll be a treat. That said, it'll be Saturday tomorrow, and children will be out in force. Hmm. Hmmmm. Maybe I will wait til Monday, and drive down from Brisbane, it's only about an hour from here I think.
And now I shall retire - for some absolutely unfathomable reason, you gain an hour when you go into Queensland from New South Wales, and I crossed the border today, so it feels an hour later to me. I genuinely can't understand why that's the case; usually time differences work on an east/west divide and I've gone from south to north today, but as usual, the Aussies are being just a tiny bit contrary to mess with us poms. Fair dinkum, I guess.
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Where I stayed
Surfers Paradise @ Main Beach YHA
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