I’m down under

Where they love sheep, beer and winning against South Africa. I’m kidding…they never win against South Africa…

(And that caused a minor explosion.)

I’m in Sydney at the moment where a group of guys are shouting at one another in a friendly manner. They must all be deaf, or just have a dark desire to inform random strangers about their weekend. Or maybe they’re just drunk. We all know there is a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol and the volume of your voice.

I’m staying in Coogee beach and please don’t get me started on some of the names they give places down here.. Continue reading

Being jet lagged, meeting Meghan Trainor, walking and then not laughing.

Due to the fact that I scored or lost a day travelling to New Zealand my bio-rhytm was a bit off. If a ‘bit off’  implies that I know now what stupid feels like.

Flew to Brisbane in a daze,  and not necessarily a good kind of daze, drove to my customer and was as surprised as the lady on the GPS for getting there in one piece. I reckon the customer regretted me not having a breathilizer test.  I finally finished the meeting with the biggest pupils ever seen on a man, change the voice on the GPS (I didn’t like her condescending tone) then drove to the hotel.

Arrived there mid afternoon and did what any person in my condition would do. Drew the blinds and slept. Woke up looking worse than I did before, took a shower and went for dinner.  Or did I? Continue reading

Hitting Perth, Laughing off Melbourne and Spending Sydney – all in one week

I’ve been quiet last week.  I know.  I’ve been working.  Not that I normally don’t work but this work entails the normal shit of flying, meeting, hotel.  Rinse and repeat.

I went down to the land of Oz, and looking back I understand how Dorothy felt.  Arriving in a hurricane and leaving shortly after.

I arrived in Perth on Tuesday after a really pleasant overnight flight.  *Insert sarcastic laugh*  I’ve got nothing to say about Perth, cause there is really nothing to say about Perth.  On second thought, maybe there is one thing.  My total unabashed amazement at the unfriendliness of the customs officials.  I’m convinced that there is a check box on the application form that immediately gets you the job.  It asks for (1) No personality and (2) A physical inability to smile.

OK, that’s a bit harsh, and I know that not all custom officials are that unpleasant, but this rule would imply to all the officials at Perth International Arrivals.  And if their sunny disposition wasn’t enough, I had the pleasure of seeing them working at the speed of a snail.  On a slow day.  Did I mention how great my overnight flight was?  Fortunately I didn’t have my bags search,  so that’s confirmation I don’t look like a criminal.  Just a grumpy traveller after an overnight flight that took forever.

Melbourne on Wednesday.  And Melbourne was better.  It’s pretty, and it’s a very astute word for describing the city.  Kinda camp, but kinda true.  Something Wentworth Miller would say, seeing that he fell out of the closet as well.  Don’t judge me, especially if you haven’t been there.  It is was it is.

Chinatown in Melbourne...Who knew?

Chinatown in Melbourne…Who knew?

Those who are frequent visitors to my ramblings will know I love stand-up comedy.  It has to be good stand-up, for even a lonely traveller has standards.  So I seek out comedy clubs, like moths hunting light.  And when in Melbourne, that’s one thing you have to do, check out the scene.  The selection on a Wednesday night, would be considered, putting it mildly, dismal.  (I was disappointed, expecting the city to prepare for my arrival)  I found one tucked away in China town.  A second floor dungeon nestled in a side street. When I walked in, I freaked out a little.  I consider this a normal reaction when the chandeliers of any venue are made of bones.  Scenes from Hostel was flashing through my mind.  It looked like a Roman Catholic church converted into a Mexican strip club, owned by Lady Gaga.

My body had to decide quickly. Flight or fright.  I paid entrance and the beers were cheap(er) so I opted for choice nr. 2.  I stayed.  There were 10 comics.  They were bad.  I curse the gods of cheap booze for toying with me on this night.  There is a point, a sort of unspoken equilibrium, when the word “fuck” doesn’t necessarily imply you’re funny.  No matter how often you use it, or in what context.  It was like world war 3:  Aerial attack of F-bombs and an unsuccessful artillery movement of flaccid sex jokes.  I left early.  Never been so turned off in my life.

My wake-up call echoed through the room on Thursday morning, hours before the first chicken moved.  I had to fly to Sydney.  (Technically I had to catch a plane, for I’m not evolved enough to fly by myself yet.)  Sydney, the land of the Opera house and the Harbour bridge and all Asian ex-pats.  As well as a picturesque little waterside, known as Darling harbour.  A promenade filled with restaurants and bars and…well that’s about it.  Oh and if there’s any missing Asian people you know about, they are here too.

Before I could enjoy the sprawling views of boats and the city skyline, with a glass of expensive Merlot and a lamb shank, I had to struggle through several meetings in the day and when I finally reach the hotel, I. Just. Passed. Out.  Sadly this loss of consciousness was not alcohol induced, my body had a successful Coup d’état over my brain.  My body shut down and refused to do anything else.  Ever.  You may go ahead and feel sorry for me.

Darling Harbour.   Romantic isn't it?

Darling Harbour. Romantic isn’t it?

Had a breakfast meeting on Friday, and sighed for the weather sucked.  Lost was my dreams of dipping my feet in the water of the South Pacific Ocean as it was pouring down from the sky.  So I did what any sane person would do.  I worked.  In my room.  I now have a fundamental understanding why kids hate (1) Rainy days and (2) Being grounded.  I will use this form of punishment more often.  (Sorry, I meant form of discipline, not punishment.)  Finally enough hours flipped past, so I could have an excuse to get up and go for dinner.  I consulted my travel agent, Google, for a few places I haven’t discovered yet.  Then found something amazing.  A crown jewel in a treasure chest of golden coins.  I found a rock, actually more The Rocks, which is a buzzing suburb situated around Sydney Harbour with some great views of the Opera house if you can get high enough, i.e Skybar.

Yes it is.

Yes it is.

I ordered something in a Japanese restaurant, I thought it to be Sushi, but it ended up being pieces of raw fish on rice.  I shrivelled and started crying a little inside.  I downed the wine and swallowed my pride, and the stuff on my plate.  I think it was still moving.  But I lived.  Barely.

I ordered Sushi and got this.  Dead fish on rice.

I ordered Sushi and got this. Dead fish on rice.

After what I wouldn’t describe as dinner, I proceeded with what I like to call “The one-man’s bar crawl”.  I endured bravely to all the hotspots and returned to a few favourites.  At some point some of the bouncers were probably wondering what this lonely pervert was doing hovering around; so it was time to head home.  Maybe I was just too handsome and stood out in the crowd, and being a happily married man, it disqualified me from any social interaction.  Did I mention that the South Pacific Ocean was still pouring out of the sky throughout the entire evening.  So I was drenched and resembled a wet dog by the time a Pakistan cab driver decided to give me a ride.

And one more thing, Australia is immensely expensive.  Not mildly, or just a tad more, or a-no-worries-mate-it’s-Sydney-expensive.  NO! Full on f-bomb level expensive.  How anyone survives buying the bare necessities like red meat and beer, and still afford a night out is totally beyond me.  Maybe the citizens of Australia are all millionaires or maybe it’s because my own currency forces me to multiply everything I see in this country with TEN!

Then I flew home.  And now I’m back.  At work.  Not working.  Hope you missed me.

The place where Ken and Barbie met

Let’s go to Bondi!!

The turquoise water glistens in the sun and playfully rolls onto the shore in a heap of white foam.  The sun is looking down with a huge smile, throwing rays of sunshine on this little piece of heaven.  It’s Bondi.  It’s great.  It’s beautiful and it’s renowned.  Go ahead, Google it.  Then follow the link to Wikipedia and you’ll catch a glimpse of a “popular beach in Sydney, New South Wales”.  It’s in Australia; for the few uneducated people who might be wondering why I would end a sentence so abruptly.  The same country that is still learning how to play rugby, or name the game properly.

It’s a small patch of pristine beach with cafe’s buzzing of tourists, regulars and countless families who come here for a piece of the South Pacific.  Surfboards, body boards, roller skates, skate boards, bicycles and dogs scutters energetically up and down the long promenade, lifting my own envy factor for those unfortunate few who own property close by.

When you arrive and you look down, you have to pinch yourself to let it sink in.  It’s like seeing the Eiffel tower or Central Park for the first time.  You run down to the sand and kick your shoes in a big arc, praying suddenly that it won’t crash on a little kid attempting to build a castle.  You fall down amidst to many people to count and pull your shirt of violently, in the hope of catching some tan.  Your toes dig deep into the hot sand.  It’s truly amazing, the stuff of dreams.  And you sigh.  And you sit.  And you sigh.  And you’re suddenly annoyed that smoking is not permitted on the beach, for even though you don’t smoke, these are the moments that the Marlboro man talked about.  So you sit a little longer and it’s done.

You start looking around.  You absorb other things, besides the sound of the waves and the crisp wind blowing.  And then cynicism creeps up on you.  In those fleeting moments you become astutely aware of something extraordinary.  It strikes you like a lighting bolt during a Highveld thunderstorm.  It suddenly  dawns on you that Bondi Beach has to be the place where all the gorgeous people of the world flock together.  It blows your self-esteem right out of the water, so to speak.  The people here, are. fucking. beautiful.

The guys on the promenade are all (1) Extremely buff/fit (2) Probably gay (3) Definitely poor for no-one owns a shirt. They are strutting around, very much aware of who’s looking at them, showing off their intricate, slightly excessive tattoos, barely wearing their bright Billabong bodyshort.  (I say barely, because those pants are so low, it’s only happy thoughts that’s keeping them up!)  And the worst part is that they will spend hours, sweating it up doing pull-ups and bench presses as if by doing that, they will avoid paying taxes.

And you sit in the middle of Bondi as a middle-aged Caucasian male, suddenly aware of your own less than perfect physique and you gain some perspective and feel the need to cover yourself in milliseconds.  For self-awareness is a bitch.  And once you’ve done that, seven people in close proximity take of their sunglasses, thankful to be able to see without the sun’s reflection from your torso.

Then there’s the ladies. OMG and WTF  and any other acronym that you might be able to use in this situation, for I unfortunately know only two.  The beach feels like a refuge camp for America’s Next top model or the venue of a Sports Illustrated swim suit reunion.  Sorry my love, but the woman in this neck of the woods, are all at least a 12. And yes it doesn’t make sense on the scale of 1-10, but the tops are so small, one has to add at least two points for the effort of trying to conceal the twins in the little fabric they have at their disposal.  It’s redefining the importance of string.  And yes I know that if I really tried, these kids could have been my daughters.

Then once you’re used to the beauties and deuches around you, when the initial appreciation wears off and your breathing returns to normal, you look past the bodies, biceps and boobs, and it suddenly dawns on you again, and life smacks you right across the face for the second time.

For these creatures, male and female, are as authentic and real as chicken teeth, fairy dust, or levitation.  These bodies are all fake and vain and proud.  They are not here for the fun, sun and sea, they are here exhibiting their vanity, showing off their profound narcissism.  They’re here to hunt.  To lure innocence into their traps.  To scavenge emotion and to show of their intense egotism.  And that is why it makes Bondi the shallowest beach I’ve ever visited, and I’m not referring to the depth of the water.

Why else would you bother arriving at a world renowned beach with high heels, seven pounds of make-up and a Dolce handbag, the size of a suitcase?  And never set foot on the sand?  Why would you arrive with a surf board, a fake tan and shades the size of two bowling balls and never set foot on the sand?  Is your only goal in life to wiggle your implants or jiggle your pecs, like some wannabe outcast from Jersey shore?  What about wearing some real bathing costumes once in a while?  Will it kill ya?  And the worst is that you’re all sitting there together, in that beach cafe, pissing it up, whilst dishing commentary to normal folk walking by and minding their own business.   Classy Barbie, real classy, Ken.

In the end it’s true that birds of a feather flock together, and the ladies expect what the men dish out.  You get what you give.  But the reality of Bondi left a bad taste in my mouth and on the way back to the hotel, I was trying to make sense of this weird place where Ken and Barbie meet every day.

*****

PS – I love Australia, and I love Sydney and maybe my harsh criticism is due to one bad experience on an unfortunate day.  I will return and give it another shot.  (And probably take three before attempting it.)