29.09.2010 - 11.10.2010 20 °C
Well I've gotten fed up with Twitter already and seeing as I'm writing a blog on my computer, I may as well post it so you can all keep up to date with my trip if you want to! Save me repeating myself plus there's plenty of good stuff I'm sure I'll forget about in time. Will try to get keep it informative and light hearted. As time goes on in Sydney may not update as regularly until I do the East Coast but for now here's a backlog of the last 2 weeks which I was keeping track myself if anyone has the time to read lol:
September 29th – Frankfurt Airport, 7.28pm
Where to begin? The past 6 weeks have been weird – realising you’re actually about to go travelling for 6-9 months and the reality of it hitting are two very different things. That’s not to say I don’t regret my decision for one moment – despite it being hard and today in particular being very sad, it just feels right. That goodbye with my mum and James in particular was a killer. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m going to be homesick on this journey, but it’s potentially a once in a lifetime adventure I couldn’t refuse. I spoke about it for years – could have done it after college or even in early 2009 after my original trip to Oz but it never happened then. I’m sitting here in a German coffee shop in Frankfurt airport, annoyed by the lack of internet (hmmm I bet James could get it to work without having to pay for it) but happy to be writing the very first part of this blog. It all seems like so much effort now – will I bother to keep it up? I hope so – it would be nice to look back on this in 10 or 20 years time, when I think back to how lucky I was to be in my 20s and able to do something like this. It would be nice to have the detail that I know I’m going to forget.
So what am I looking forward to before my trip begins? Seeing Fox in Singapore – that really helps kick things off with a bang. It also helps that I get to stay in a 4 star hotel for free! I know the next week is going to be fun. Universal Studios, sightseeing, temples, karaoke bars, clubs etc. All good!
So what about Australia? The one place I fell in love with back in 2008. What makes it so good? Weather, people, infrastructure, attractions, the city itself? Hard to pinpoint one thing but I think it’s all of the above and maybe even more. I’ve been to Sydney for 5 days before, so I suppose it’s the opportunity to spend 6 weeks there, on my own and meeting new people who are on a similar journey to myself. It feels like the first week in school or college all over again. No more comfort zone of friends and family.
So for now – I’ve a 5 hour wait ahead and a 13 hour plane journey to come (please let there be some decent films on this flight)! It’s also my last chance to wonder about what lies ahead – the unknown. Perhaps that’s what makes the trip more exciting than anything else. Lets hope I made the right decision – I sacrificed a lot in order to do this. So Matt, sit back and enjoy the ride. I think it’s going to be a very interesting one…
First blog entry from holidays – sitting here in the hotel room with Fox. Having a savage time, hotel is really nice (Orchard Parade), free (cheers to Fox!) and central on Orchard Street. First night we just took it easy but had a couple of drinks, both very jetlagged. Went to Universal Studios yesterday. Park itself was great but they need more rides and the main one Battlestar Galactica was broken since April! Annoyance. Best rides were Mummy Returns, Jurassic Park and Shrek 4D. Last night was mental – went to Chinatown, had dinner (not very good and it didn’t agree with my stomach in a green way!), and then on for drinks. Went to a KTV club where there are escort girls for one drink (Fox got chatted up by some old man ironically), then onto some bars. Went back to EBar which I had been in two years ago, sang Uptown Girl and Bad Romance. Fox and the locals were loving it – although they’re still loving their ballads? Then went across the way which was really good before heading onto a few others. Messy night! ! Went to McDonalds after that where we were disgusted that they were only serving the mingin breakfast! Fox had to carry me home, must have had at least twelve vodkas. Woke up this morning to the sound of a very loud drill next door – image of Father Fintan Stack. Been dying all day, went to Little India and got 4GB ram so happy with that. Gonna get a powernap in now and then head back out for another night out.
Sitting here in Changi airport waiting to board my flight to Sydney – after being promised free wifi it’s not working and I can’t get the others to work. Grr! So may as well update this blog Saturday night was more mental in some ways and less in others. For a start I think we drank a lot more – definitely in terms of jaeger bombs! Headed for dinner at the Irish pub across the road from the hotel, watched the Sunderland vs. Man Utd. game (it was a draw but it was actually quite good), then headed to the main downtown area for drinks. Waiting for our taxi, an older Chinese man pestered us about getting on his bike to the area instead. So we went with that and had a great laugh on the way – the guy was beeping his horn and singing with us most of the time. But god love him, he was knackered halfway through it, especially on the uphill parts. Fox had to get out at times and push! At the end he tried to ask for double the amount despite not getting there in 10 minutes (we had agreed it would be free if he had). We negotiated somewhere in between as felt sorry for him – he definitely earned his money. By the time we got home we headed for breakfast and I ended up eating far too much!
Sunday was a nothing day really – Fox had some work to do to prepare for Monday so headed off to Sentosa Island. It really is a fantastic complex – they have so much leisure activities there and are constantly building more, e.g. an indoor sky dive complex. I went on the Luge ride twice (a bit like go-kart but downhill and without an engine, it was fun and you got to take a ski slope style lift up). After that I had a wander around, visited the Merlion, took a few snaps and headed back home. That evening we had dinner at Grandma’s (‘it’s so local!’). It wasn’t great. Checked out the Casino but could barely afford to do anything as entry was so expensive – had a few games of Blackjack and got out while I was up by 25 dollars. Then tried Caribbean Poker which was a minimum 25 for blind and then 50 to play! We both lost our first hand and got out – shame if it was cheaper we could have made a night of it.
Monday was Fox’s first full day in work so I booked myself in for the Changi tour – there were 3 stops and 2 of them were pointless. However 1 was to the Changi Prison Museum – a bit like a concentration camp for the Chinese/British/Singaporean people who were held by the Japanese during WWII for three years – without the gas chambers but plenty of people died. It was very sad actually reading all the live accounts of the people who lived there during that period. It was nice to read that the British, Australians and New Zealanders fought very hard to rescue them and many died doing so. That evening we had dinner around the corner and went to that new building with the big ship on top. [Can’t remember the name I need to put this in!]. Savage view – it’s even taller than the Singapore Flyer. I think it was more than 57 storeys high. There is a pool and all that you can swim right up to the edge but this was for hotel guests only. Afterwards I persuaded Fox to head for a few drinks in the main downtown area.
Tuesday I realised my flu was not going away at all – not sure if it’s the alcohol from the weekend or else the combination of humidity outside and freezing cold air inside. I spent most of the day in bed and watched that film The Strangers – scarred the life out of me! Eventually got up and headed to the Singapore Flyer – it was nice to do it during the day this time and I had lunch at O’Learys sportsbar, a place where I had eaten in 2008 with James. It’s all very green inside and the name would suggest it but not sure if it’s Irish or not? Anyway had a nice salad there. That night both of us were wrecked so had dinner in a pizza place next to the hotel and was about to head to Raffles Hotel but the Q for taxis was far too long – we headed back to the room and watched a mixture of shark attacks and Children of the Corn which was on tv.
Wednesday morning – here I am! 7-8 hour flight ahead of me, really annoyed they’ve put me in a middle seat aggghh! I arrive into Sydney about 8pm so gonna try and stay awake for most of the day – that way I’ll sleep properly tonight. Looking forward to this hotel down by Darling Harbour. Gonna chill out and enjoy this hotel tomorrow and then I need to start looking into getting settled for the 6 weeks.
So, day 2 in Sydney (or day 1 proper). Arrived at my apartment last night about 9pm. Place is nice but more importantly it’s situated right next to Darling Harbour – about a 5 minute walk – my boss booked me in here for 2 nights so happy days. Wandered out after speaking to mum and James on Skype and had some dinner before taking a brief look around and heading back. Spent a good bit of the evening online just doing some general research on Sydney. Got to bed about 2am – kept waking up though and eventually had to get up at 7am. Spoke to James again (it was 9pm their time back home) and then I hung around the apartment for a bit before my first day of exploration. Spent it entirely on Darling Harbour (may as well as I’m so close) – visited the Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife World and then the world’s largest Imax theatre – saw a film called Hubble 3d. First off the screen and effects are amazing but the story behind it also is – it’s a giant telescope sent into space to take photos and videos of planets and galaxies nearby. Didn’t even know about this, it was sent up in the 1990s! Fascinating documentary, commented by Leonardo De Caprio and a sight at the other galaxies (even if it was probably illustrated) was amazing. 100 billion galaxies out there scientists estimates – surely this confirms there is life elsewhere in this world? Anyway, after that I watched an ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ style acrobatic group (really good, I tipped them a whole 50 cent lol, well I am on a budget now), had a spot of Thai Lunch and headed back to the apartment. Went for a ‘powernap’ at 5pm, hit the snooze alarm button and ended up sleeping until almost 10pm! Grr, so annoyed. My body clock still is still all over the place at the moment. Really would love to head out for a night out as I’m a little bored but no point as I’m checking out tomorrow and need to be in good form for that. Had a healthy McDonalds for dinner (well a grilled chicken wrap at least!) and now back home – well at least until tomorrow. Meeting up with Frankie from DIT tomorrow, hoping to meet her for dinner and then go to some pubs/clubs. Checking into the hostel as well tomorrow - better put my friendly face on and try and meet some fellow backpackers! Sydney is amazing and I remember now why I so much wanted to come back here but I need to get some structure/routine going if I’m going to stay here 6 weeks – look at some volunteering sights online and emailed a couple of people so hopefully start something next week. I also need to get a sim card asap and an internet dongle and find a proper place to live! On a side note, the weather is much colder than what I expected – it was warm today but the nights are really chilly. Wish I had brought a jacket from home, thought I wouldn’t need it! Oh well, at least it’s getting warmer. So far so good.
Sitting here in my hostel room, with possibly the worst hangover ever. A 12 hour drinking binge with Frankie was a fantastic idea and night but staying up for the Ireland vs. Russia game was possibly a little ambitious – if anything I had to endure 70 minutes of absolute rubbish from the Irish team. Of course I leave the pub only to hear we get 2 back, typical! We didn’t deserve it to be honest. Checked into my hostel yesterday – it’s really nice. Great location inbetween Scruffy Murphys Irish bar and Oxford Street. It’s quite a big strip and the pride flags are everywhere, even on retail shops which is a bit weird seeing, but nice. Took the metro from my hotel in order to save money but after getting lost, the address mixed up etc. I ended up getting a bloody taxi in the end! Oh well I did try but at least I got my bearings while looking for it. The hostel itself is very modern and the other people staying here are all in theirs 20s/30s and seem like a decent bunch – definitely more girls than guys staying here. My room is small but has double bed and a single attached on top. There’s an ensuite too and the shower is decent. It’s a pity there is no window in my room – well there is but there’s no part that opens! There is air con though thank god. There’s a tv and video/dvd player but I’ve yet to try it out. No remote for the main tv – the hassle of having to get up in order to switch channels?! Here for one week so need to work out what I’m doing, get a place nearby or stay here? Need to figure that out fast. Still need to get my mobile number, gym and volunteer thing going! Agghhh. Anyway brill night met with Frankie at 6am, and after a quick Mexican bite to eat (the Quesadillas were really nice) we went on a pub crawl. Savage night had. That day, I almost forgot to add I did a visit to the Marine museum and navy ships next to it. It was actually really good, cool seeing the living quarters, bedrooms, kitchens etc. Especially in the submarine they were tiny. Chilling out tonight but Aidan (Joker!) is arriving tonight so meeting him at some point for drinks and hopefully some touristy stuff – he’s here for a week at least. Need to take it easier though my stomach is not handling the 20+ vodkas I had last night, but then it was kinda worth it!
Well Saturday 9th was just a complete write off! I slept until 6pm and after getting some nice Thai food next door (I must have looked like a zombie to the staff), I spent the evening in the main hostel area on the laptop. After which I met 4 Germans who I sat up talking with until 3am – good sober fun! Yesterday wasn’t too bad – I spent the day online looking for apartments. Most of the places I wanted had gone but I finally got some luck with a pad on Pitt St. Went to view and a few hours later it was mine – I’ll be sharing with two Asian lads, one of which has very little English – should be interesting! It’s really central in-between China Town and Oxford St. so I can walk to everything. It’s very liberating not needing a car! There’s also a gym and pool, I have my own bedroom and bathroom too. Today was my most productive one yet – got my Ozi mobile, set up my bank account, got the keys for the apartment and booked an appointment with the Volunteering centre for Friday. Hopefully they’ll have something I can do for a month before I move on. Went to the cinema to see Dinner for Schmucks with Frankie who I met for dinner beforehand – actually a lot funnier than expected, especially the animal medium and ventriloquist. First time I cried with laughter in a cinema in ages. Frankie is finishing her Ozi Visa end of November and is interested in coming to New Zealand with me and Barry so happy days, she’ll prob. Do the West Coast as well beforehand if she can do it. It’s 10.50pm and I’m knackered so heading to bed shortly and then checking out tmr before I move into my new pad. Can’t wait! PS: Really loving this city.