The Return to Oz

Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Wednesday, May 4, 2005

After a month in New Zealand, it felt like I was going home when returning to Sydney. Must be having friends here and a sort of home (place to stay).

Soon after arrival in Sydney, Spanky had a hankerin' to go to the Outback and try his luck as a jackeroo. So we moseyed out to the red centre and got jobs as 'roo-hands. We spent our days riding camels or giraffes herding kangaroos. Spanky soon became the premiere kangaroo hog-tying ranch hand, while I was demoted to scooping kangaroo manure. Years later we would return to the city and be welcomed with a hero's parade...

...Actually, there's not a lot to report this time as most the days were spent just hanging out. Many days I could be found reading up on India and the difficulties people experienced there. Lonely Planet's website is great for getting info direct from other travellers. (more on India later)
Most everyone I know works during the day or is in school so it'd be up to me to find things to do. I'd occasionally meet up with Josh for cheap lunches ($6 Thai or $5 steaks). Now and then I'd hear from Euna, and we'd take in some of the city's sites. Josh got a membership to the nearby video store so I could watch Oscar caliber films such as The Spongebob Squarepants Movie when I got bored (had to watch it on his laptop as he has no tv). I would also get sent on errands like finding the nearby ice cream factory to get discount ice cream (3L for $5!). And, of course, there were evenings out with the friends. Went out for dinners, happy hours, trivia night and cheap movie night with Ali and the gang. Some of Josh's uni friends (Shannon and Heather) would get us out to watch rugby or just visit a bar. Lonely Planet's website has a traveling companions forum to meet fellow travellers in your area. From there I met a French girl [with big eyebrows] named Isabelle for a night out before she left for Melbourne. She kept me out 'til about 4am (way past my bedtime).

Managed to get in a couple more escapes from Sydney in the last month. I flew up to the Gold Coast and went to Byron Bay for several days. I had visited Byron on my last trip to Australia and knew it to be a good chillout spot. Nearly everyday was spent just being lazy on the beach. There were plenty of pretty girls about to keep my eyes busy. I discovered a kind of social click at the hostel - guys have to be surfers to fit in and be welcomed. That kind of sucked because no one was very friendly. A couple of the roommates that passed through turned out to be alright though. One of the days it just downpoured 'til 3pm so everyone just found shelter. That evening there was a bbq and sangria night. Then it was back to the working world of Sydney. Oh wait, I don't have a job. ;) There was a going away night out for Giles when I got back to town (April 21). He's going back to work in England. Johan (Swede) left while I was in NZ and is currently traveling the U.S. I woke with a sore throat Friday morning (I was just sick a few weeks ago in NZ!). In the evening Ali drove Josh and I over to the Coogee house so we could be up bright and early for the trip south to Jervis Bay. We all went out to the Coogee Bay Hotel and most the housemates had too much to drink (I was good and went back to the house and bed early). Needless to say, we didn't get on the road as bright and early as we had planned, plus Ali's car was having problems starting. We made it to Jervis Bay early in the afternoon. Ali's parents have a house there that we stayed in. Ali, Jo, Josh, Alanna, Elisa, Jen, Garrett, Barry, Kath, Jared and myself were there. More days to be lazy by the beach and at the house, plus did a couple walks. Got to see some dolphins swimming around in the bay and a couple big stingray. Monday was ANZAC Day (similar to Memorial Day) and we went to the services in town for that. Australians seem much more patriotic and show more support on their day of remembrance. Once again back to Sydney.

dolphins in Jervis Bay

There's a market in an Asian shopping center here that has A&W Root Beer. You can't find that much of anywhere outside the U.S. I stocked up! More Mexicans need to move to Sydney 'cuz this city is in desperate need of good Mexican food. Doritos are considered tortilla chips and you can't even get salsa hotter than 'mild'. There's a popular tv show here called "Dancing with the Stars" in which not-so-well-known celebrities are paired up with dancers and they compete as couples each week. I have no idea why people watch it. Chalk it up as just another crazy Aussie attribute.

Harbour Bridge at night

This last week has been spent taking care of more things and getting ready for India. Had to get my visa from the consulate, get supplies (e.g., imodium), check train times, book a hotel in Mumbai, etc... Josh hosted a wine party at his apartment on Friday night. We had plans to go out afterwards, but ended up just staying in the apartment all night (drinks were free). Went out one evening to get some pictures of the city landmarks by night before I left. Ended up with some good pictures of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Checked out the Kings Cross Food and Wine Festival on Sunday. Nothing too big or special but it was a good reason to get out of the apartment. Have also done some last minute wandering around taking in the sites and just trying to appreciate being in Sydney. I don't always remember how fortunate I am to be doing this trip and just need to take timeouts to remind myself now and then. Went out for a little going away with the gang Tues evening to the James Squire Brewery down on Kings Wharf. Unfortunately, soon after eating and having a beer I wasn't feeling so well (already preparing myself) so that kind of put a damper on the night. I'll be sad to leave the friends behind. :(

I've been spoiled at Josh's apartment with use of a laptop (free internet, photo editing and storage, i-pod updating), washer & dryer, not having to live out of a bag, food storage, cooking facilities, big comfy futon, and a real bath towel. He's been a good host, even if he does sometimes put his homework before entertaining me. I don't know how I'm going to be able to leave the comforts of western civilization behind.

I leave for India on May 4 and that country will test my sanity as no other country has. Cairo got on my nerves quite quickly and India is supposed to be a lot worse. Here are some quotes from people on Lonely Planet:
"The truth is India is an extremely difficult place to travel, and not much fun. There is little enjoyment, relaxation or pleasure, it is more of an experience."
"Everything is in decay and is not looked after, pollution is awful. The worst aspect though is the constant non-stop scams and rip-off attempts that you just can't avoid."
"It is true that much is amazing, engrossing and extraordinary. The question is, is it all worth it?"
I'm hoping it will be worth all the better be! I've already been checking on trains and they look full for the routes I want. May have to bribe the conductor or bus it. I just hope my stomach stays ok. I can put up with a lot of the hassles but not while my stomach is messed up. Wish me luck....

Josh and I at Harry's Cafe de Wheels
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