Kev in Aus

Chronicling the misadventures of a Canadian traveling through Australia. There's seemingly far too many of us!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

2006 : An Introspective

So it's Christmas Eve here in the land of Oz, and of course, being the year end, it's time for a reflection of the past 12 months and think about things that have happened, or not happened, or what have you, and look forward to a new and prosperous year.

2006, for me, started pretty tame, with me working and doing the same old same old. I don't even remember what January was like, to be honest. Was it cold? Did we have many chinooks? Who knows? The point is it was cold, and I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.

Winter passed, and the snow thawed, revealing a fine Canadian springtime, the likes of which I've seen many times before. Turning 29, I think, was a pivotal point in my life. I think I understood that I was no longer just some guy going through life, but that I needed to forge my own identity, and my own "existence". Coming of age can be somewhat of a eye-opener, I suppose. I'm sure some of you can relate.

Summer came and I met a lot of great people, through work and various other resources. Some of you may be reading this now, while others have been lost through time and mismanaged correspondence. I look back on this time with a melancholy spirit, happy to have met everyone, and sad that I may not see or speak to those people again in my life. People come and go in every life, but the lasting friendships I have made over the past few years is something for which I'm eternally grateful. To those of you I may not have said aloud, truly, my relationship with you has made me the person I am today, and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

With autumn, came the decision to do something about my pensive nature, and uproot and live in a different land far away, albeit one with a similar culture and, most importantly, language. I couldn't imagine attempting to live in a place such as Bangkok, or Tokyo (though I do plan on going there at some point, since I've heard nothing but good things). However, being away for as long as I have (a mere 3 months that has felt like an eternity), things change, and a person's outlook is altered, likely irrevocably. And I've been looking back on the person I was, and the person I have become. Of course, I think we all have things we wish to change about ourselves, but this journey has made it clear what needs to change and how.

Why the heavy topic today, you may ask? I'm not sure, perhaps I miss home simply because it's Christmas, perhaps it's a feeling of loneliness in a hostel full of people, or perhaps it's something more that I haven't figured out yet. Despite the downbeat tone of this post, I truly am enjoying myself here.

Anyhow, this post has become too morose even for me. But I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas, and a fantastic New Year,

Also, I would like to wish my friends Matt and Andrea some great 30th birthdays (I'm only 6 months behind you guys!) and I hope they have a great New Year. I'll talk to you guys soon!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Whatever Shall I Do?

Now that I've been in Sydney for almost 3 months, I'm starting to get used to living here. Which is good on the one hand, in that I'm finding myself to feel more at home. It's bad, however, in that I view Sydney as not really 'Australia'. You can pretty much take this city, plunk it down in the middle of any other country, and it's pretty much the same in a lot of respects. Basically, I'm not really travelling in Australia, just in another big city. People who have come here can probably agree that this is not all there is to see in this giant country. So I can't wait to leave on one hand, and yet I don't want to leave the comfort and the friends that I've made here on the other. Quite the conundrum, I know.

Februaury 1 is the date we have set to leave. I say 'we' because I'm travelling with my friend Shawna, with whom I'm buying a car, and leaving for parts unknown to do some fruit picking, and basically living off the land for roughtly 5 months. I'm a little concerned, not necessarily for my own well-being, as we're both resourceful people, but more for those unexpected things, like funnel web spiders and wombat swarms.

(edit: I'd also like to add that Shawna's latest blog entry is all about me! Read it and find out just how wonderful I am! *cough*)

But enough about that. My main reason for posting today is this: What am I going to do if and when I head back to Canada? I've been thinking more and more about this lately, and I haven't been able to come up with anything that piques my interest. When I left, I was working in an office making a decent wage, Monday to Friday, doing pretty much the same things day in and day out. Basically, I was bored and wanted to do something different, but when I go back, I don't want to do that again. It was a good environment for the most part, but I was just not happy overall. I just needed a major change in my life, and my way of thinking. I can safely say that I'm not the same person I was when I left (yay!).

Of course, all this upheaval has changed my perception of what I want to do back in Canada. Ideally, I'd like to do something like what I'm doing right now (activities coordinator in the hostel), but I'm pretty sure Calgary has, at most, 5 hostels, and the atmosphere isn't quite the same. Calgary isn't a big traveller's destination, unlike Sydney. To give you an idea, there are 5 hostels on the same block where I'm currently living. Plus you can do things pretty much every day of the year here, like take walking tours of the city, walk along the beach, go to Luna Park (the amusement part across the Harbour Bridge), etc. You could only do a few of those things during the summer in Calgary, and that's it. It really limits the options.

Working in a restaurant would be the first thing I'll do when I get back I would think, as when I left, there was a huge worker shortage in the service industry. But I don't like busting my ass for $8/hour, and *hoping* I get tipped well enough to live. That leaves monkey farming, and Swedish Masseuse as my only other options. And I don't know much Swedish.

Luckily, I have at least 9 months to ponder this situation, and likely another year on top of that, so I really shouldn't be worrying about this now. But it's something that I just have bouncing around my brain anyways.

(Note to self: Learn Swedish)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Really Quick Update

I've finally figured out how to add links to this blog. As you can see, I don't have a lot of friends who blog, but I've added my friends Andrea (blogging about being pregnant and raising her son) , Jenn blogging about becoming an American and various other observations about her life), and Shawna (another Canadian in Sydney), the only other blogs I read on a daily basis. And, if you're interested in news, entertainment, and general goofiness.

That is all.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What I Miss About Canada...

I thought I'd just post a quick note about some of the things I miss about Canada, since my last few posts have been touting how great of a time I am having here.

Tim Horton's - Or more specifically, Iced Cappucinos, chili, and chicken soup. They have donuts here, of couse (they have the technology!) but they're just not the same. I've had some Iced Caps, but they're more like coffee with ice, not a cappucino slurpee. I would literally kill someone for one of these right now.

Wendy's - Funny how most of the things I miss are simply food related. While I do miss Wendy's burgers, I am enjoying some of the fast food places around here. Oporto's is a chicken place that has the best chicken fingers. They're simply marinated chicken strips, no breading or anything, but man, are they awesome. Still, I think my first day back in Canada will entail me going to Tim's/Wendys and ordering an Iced Cap with a Big Bacon Classic. Mmmmm...

Kraft Dinner - I was never a big KD eater, to be honest. I just found it kind of boring. But the White Cheddar variety was really good, and you *can* buy macaroni and cheese, but a box is literally like $3. What do kids in Uni eat? I don't get it!

Clamato Juice - I like Clamato normally, but I really wish I could have a caeser. The best thing for a hangover, I swear. Oh! And they don't call ketchup "ketchup". It's tomato sauce. Weird...

Normal Flavoured chips - They have flavoured chips (crisps, I should say) but they're all weird flavours, like Honey Baked Ham, and Chicken (which is actually almost exactly like SOur Cream & Onion).

Buttered Movie Popcorn - I went and saw Casino Royale tonight, which was a great movie by the way, but the popcorn you get in the theatres is just like the oversalted crap we'd get in arenas in Canada. You don't even have the option to get butter on your popcorn. When I asked for extra butter, the girl just said, "Uh... ok." and handed me the box like I was an escaped mental patient again. People, that part of my life is over! Why can't a man live beyond his past! WHY?!

Snow - Which is not really surprising, I suppose. I miss having snow on the ground now. It's December, and it's damned hot outside. I like picking up sticky snow and throwing it at random lightposts, dumpsters, and the elderly.

Poutine - Man, nothing says "cardiac arrest" like New York Fries poutine.

Intelligently Designed Cities - Seriously, Calgary and Winnipeg are at least laid out in grids, so it's not so hard to find your way around. I've been to and from Bondi Beach at least 25 times now, and I *still* have no idea how to get there if I had a car. There's roads all over the place, roundabouts left and right, and they're just tough to navigate to my feeble North American mind.

*sigh* Friends and Family? - I guess I should add that in anyways. Even if it weren't true, I'd still feel obligated :) Miss you all!

Friday, December 08, 2006

I did WHAT?

OK, so as part of my job in the hostel, I have to take people out and have fun. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to lead by example. Not necessarily getting drunk all the time, I'm not really doing that, but I do try and get up and dance and do stupid things to show people a good time. Of course, embarrassing myself is pretty much my middle name. Kevin Embarrassingmyself Lambert. I think it's Swedish.

Anyhow, Wednesday nights are Quiz nights here in the hostel. I give out free beer and wine ("Goon" actually. Boxed wine which, I swear, has traces of 'fish, eggs, and nut products'.) and ask a bunch of trivia questions, to which people challenge some of the answers. People can be downright stubborn when first prize is a $50 bar tab. Trivia night is, for me, the most entertaining evening, since it requires, at most, an hour of research on the internet to come up with 40 questions, and 2 tie-breakers and people seem to have a good time. After Quiz Night, we go to one of the local bars, in this case it was Scubar.

Scubar is a pretty small bar, about the size of a 3 car garage, with a little dance floor, and a Scuba theme (go figure). They've been trying to bring in more people lately, so this week they started their Pole Dancing Competitions on Wednesday. They have a professional Pole Dancer (should it be capitalized? I'm not sure that's an official title) come in and dance for a bit, then they have 4 girls and 4 guys go up and dance, and the crowd judges the winners.

Even though I know everyone can tell where this is going, I'm gonna tell you the story anyways. So the first girl gets up, and she does a good job. First person, being a little awkward, not surprising. Then the first guy gets up, and dances a bit, not too badly. But there's no other guys signed up, and this clown would have won the $50 bar tab all by himself! Unforgiveable! So who has to step up and give the guy a challenge? Yours truly. People, let me tell you, I rocked the stage, and the crowd loved every minute of it. Of course, once I went up, they had 2 other guys signed up right away, to challenge me, or just because they were really drunk. Either way, they danced. The 3rd guy went up. Let's just say that I felt dirty after watching his ride that pole. (Is it just me, or does this whole paragraph sound gayer than necessary?)

So the other girls got up, and one of the girls from my hostel (from Edmonton, Canada represent!) and danced a bit. Of course, being a little drunk, she took off her shirt (easy boys, she had a sports bra on!) and the crowd went nuts. Some guy even threw $10 on stage for her!

So, long story, marginally shorter, not only did she win the women's challenge, but I won the men's! So we had $100 bar tab at Scubar, and Footprints and Canada are now reigning champions at Scubar's pole dancing competition. Undefeated, no less!

Of course, I didn't bring my camera, but I did get some of the others around here to promise to send me pictures when they get a chance. So when I get them, you'll see them all, I promise.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Money Matters

2 things I've noticed here in Aus that I've found really handy, and I don't know why Canada and the US don't do this, and I think they should.

First of all, the smallest coin here is 5 cents. There's no pennies. So when the final tally comes up, it's rounded off to the nearest 5. 97 cents goes down to 95, 98 cents goes up to 1 dollar. If you pay through your savings account, it doesn't get rounded, you just pay whatever the amount is, but if you pay by cash, it does get rounded. It's nice not having a bunch of pennies floating around, and it also means there's very few 99 cent prices, they're all 5.95 or whatever. But what about tax, you say?

Tax is built into the price of everything here, so when you look at a price tag of $19, you pay $19 at the till, you don't have to pay an extra amount of tax on top of that. So you always know how much things are going to cost through simple addition, not by figuring out how much 13% of $19 would be. That's a pain in the ass in my opinion.

So yeah, that's my post for today. I really need to get out more...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Same Old, Same Old...

OK folks, so I've been doing this "work" thing for the past week, and it's not too bad. Basically, I work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night doing the activities stuff for the hostel, and I tend bar and wait tables most of the other days. I haven't really had a day off in the past week and a half, but it's OK. It's keeping me out of trouble somewhat. But that's really about it. I've been very busy and I'm tired most of the time now. Not very exciting, but I gotta do something.

I was going to write a long entry about things I've noticed about living in Sydney, as opposed to living in, say, Winnipeg or Calgary, but as I was typing it, I realized it's somewhat boring, and I'm not interested in losing any more of my readers. So here's just a handful of things I've found:

- Contrary to popular belief, most Aussies don't say "G'Day Mate". In fact, I've only met one who does. Almost everyone simply says "How ya goin?" which isn't exactly like "How ya doin?" in the sense that if you answer "Good, and you?" they're somewhat bewildered. It's very fun!

- Almost everyone says "Cheers", which seems to be similar to the Hawaiian "aloha" in that it seems to mean a whole bunch of things, such as "Hello", "Enjoy your drink", and "Who are you and why are you hiding in my closet?".

- The English are referred to as "Poms" or "Pommes" (like Commies with a P). Nobody seems to know what this means, or if this should be an insult, but it's all over the place. It's in ads for Tooheys Cold (a beer) as "A Pom's Worst Nightmare". Imagine any other ethnic name in an ad in Canada: "To get rid of pesky Newfies, try our improved 'Newfie-Away'!"

- Cricket is surprisingly easy to understand. A Kiwi explained it to me in 10 minutes, and now I really enjoy it. It's the Ashes tournament right now, which means Australia and England are currently playing their tournaments over the next month or so. They're playing in Sydney from Jan 2-6 so I may see if I can get tickets somehow. Wish me luck!

- Australians have an unnatural love of Nickelback. I don't know why, and I seriously wish I could turn on the radio without hearing some crappy Nickelback song every 15 minutes. Damned Nickelback.

- Apparently the Canadian accent is very similar to the Irish accent, as I've been asked if I were Irish countless times. I have no idea why. Maybe I should stop saying 'Top o' the mornin'" and
"Where's my Lucky Charms?" as often as I do.

Anyhow, I just got back from working, and I'm exhausted. So I'll try and post something in the next couple days. I am still alive! Mostly...