Posts by Country

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fair Dinkum


Today I received my $980 tax back and later some of us from the share house went to a friends engagement party. Vick knew the owner of the restaurant and got us all free Indian cuisine for the night.


Today I got my RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certification after a five hour online class then applied for some more jobs.


Today I went to be a driving instructor again. This time my student drove and, while she struggled a bit at first, we seemed to be making a lot of progress. I started to become very confident in my student, even felt a bit of pride in my teaching abilities... until she crashed. We were going around a roundabout for probably the 20th time when she neglected to fully turn out of it and went straight into an island. She ran over a sign post and busted off the front bumper... I sorted it out for her and took her home where we had some lunch before going to a couple of smash repair joints to see what it would cost to fix. Of course, in Australia this simple job costs well over $2000.


Today I watered the garden then a few of us went to the West End Block Party. Ben and I went with Vick and Vicky stopping first at a small festival in Garden City. That ended up being for kids so we headed up to West End and spent some time hanging out there. We played some pool at a place called the Archives then met up with a friend of mine. After a bit we all got some "Yiros" while waiting for a couple Columbian friends to show but they didn't so we headed back to the house and sat around the fire.


Today I went up to Chermside again for fellowship then, after lunch, I sat and read all day. At about 6p we had tea then Samuel brought me into the city and I took the bus home. On the way I was next to a crack head who left a needle laying on the floor... before I got off I had him pick it up.


Today I waited all day for an interview call from Flight Centre. The call came but unfortunately the first thing they asked me was if I was on a working holiday. They then apologized for having overlooked that fact and told me they could not hire me. This isn't the first time I'm being rejected for being a "transient" and it wont be the last.


Today I applied for a few jobs online, went to the shopping centre, got a library card, printed a few resumes, handed out a couple at the shopping centre then took another one over to Woolworths to apply in person. Later my housemate Vicky got me in touch with a friend and I ended up getting a daily cleaning job down the road. I start on Thursday night.


Today I made a map of all the turfs I knocked in Adelaide then went to work. For the first day we were very thorough - apparently Coles is a new client for my boss and he wants to get off to a good start. Unfortunately, this took so long that I missed my bus and had to take a taxi back. Before leaving the bus station I met a Russian who has lived in Australia for the last 15 years. He told me that my first stop if/when I ever visit Russia should be St. Petersburg, not Moscow. I made my way over to the taxi pickup and there I met another transplant. This guy just so happened to be a former tenant in my house! I only had $10 but I told him I would run in and grab the rest from my room. He didn't trust me until he realized that I was American - seems Aussies are a bit sneaky about cab fair. As thanks for his help I gave him a little taste of America by giving him a tip.


Today I bought a men's bike for getting to work for $20. On the way back I rode it while steering the old kid's bike back with one of my hands. This seemed an alright idea until the spare one hit a bump and came crashing into me. This sent me hurtling into the cement which I thought for sure would put me in the hospital. Fortunately I just ended up with a bloody toe, some road rash up my back and some slowly fading pain in my tailbone. After recovering from the shock I continued on carefully. Later on I tried riding to work in Browns Plains but couldn't find a way past the motorway - I did find a cane toad though. I returned and took the bus. This time I worked fast so I could be done by 10p and take the bus back instead of a taxi. My boss was actually impressed that I finished as quickly as I did.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



Today I got up at 5a to go meet a German named Steffi and her French friend Sammie to go to camping in Girraween National Forrest. I immediately noticed they were a bit... different - rather cold and abrupt, but it wasn't until later that I realized just how strange they were. I actually found out within the first hour that Sammie was, in fact, a stripper... yet I assumed nothing of her personality. We eventually arrived in a small NSW town called Tenterfield and made a relatively short drive up to Boonoo Boonoo for our first excursion.

After having a quick barbie we found that Boonoo Boonoo had only a short trail to the waterfalls.

We then hiked through a tall moist forest to climb the largest granite dome in the Southern Hemisphere, an ancient 220 million year old volcanic extrusion called "Bald Rock."

We scaled some major slopes and managed to make it to the summit overlooking vast amounts of forestry and one particularly cool rainbow coloured flow of rock.

We also found some roundish boulders balancing at the top called "The Brothers."

On the way back down the girls looked a little bored so I jumped out from behind some rocks and gave them a little scare... they did not appreciate the gesture. For the rest of the trip my input would be requested only for the sake of doing the complete opposite. Back at the car they asked me where to camp then, when I said "here is fine," they decided we would drive back to Tenterfield where I could set up my tent for $10. On the way I suggested checking the GPS but this was clearly a profound waste of energy... until we ended up 20km south of the town... my fault, of course. We arrived in the town and followed the instructions given to me over the phone down Miles St; a street that, to my dismay, continues on both sides of the showgrounds where we would be camping. I sat back as a frenzy of bitter confusion ensued but, thankfully, we eventually found our way over to the entrance on the other side. The attendant was nice enough to let us in for $5 at which point I set up my tent and immediately passed out inside. That night it was cold and rainy, every hour or so I could hear the girls starting up the car to keep warm - they didn't exactly have a proper sleeping bag, and they were sharing that, so it must have been pretty uncomfortable.


This morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that my tent had held it's own against natures fury the night before. After attempting to bid the girls a "good morning" I packed up and joined them in the car. We had a quick brekky then headed back to Girraween.

There we played with some kangaroos and grabbed some rather disgusting water from some sinks which were the only apparent water source in the park.

During the first leg of our hike we stopped in at the Granite Arch - an arch of three boulders formed naturally by erosion.

Many similar formations were created this way.

Finally we arrived at the Pyramids which were pretty impressive and rather similar to Bald Rock, if not just a bit steeper.

I quickly made my way to the top and waited while the girls made their way up the hard way.

After the girls joined me at the top we headed back down and had lunch. Then we made our way back and found some decent water in a tank hidden behind one of the buildings. Our next hike was up to Castle Rock where Sammie decided to stop just short of the finish, so I continued with the agreement that I would catch up in a bit.

Though, it would seem my intention to "catch up" was not understood and, despite my most diplomatic efforts, the rest of the trip was tainted with ever increasing angst and distrust from the girls. Upon our return to the car I was hesitantly elected to drive. This hesitation increased as we drove into what appeared to be a snow drift... in Australia?

About an hour of backseat driving later I was feeling a bit unsympathetic... at this point I may have made a few references to their poor language/communication skills, double standards (calling me "stupid" then getting offended when I couldn't understand their "funny accents") and my generally misunderstood goodwill. This surprisingly led to laughter but I suspect there may have been a murderous undertone to it... As we approached my home I had the distinct impression that, if not for the rest of my financial contribution sitting in my closet, my return trip would have come to an abrupt end long ago. With everyone's last bit of patience hanging by a thread we managed to reach my house as Steffi was turning into a bit of a rage monster - cutting corners and basically trying to flip the car. I handed them the money while simultaneously grabbing my gear, as if in some sort of hostage exchange, then hurried off. Just then Sammie attempted one more jab at me saying something along the lines of, "I'm looking forward to never seeing you again" to which I replied, "love you too" and retreated before another word could be said.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Less Work, More Play


Today I went to the Mt Coot-tha lookout again to meet for lunch before heading down to Gold Coast. As we were leaving I had a soft drink and noticed red all down the side of the can - my blood. Not one, not two, but three of my fingers were gushing blood for no apparent reason. After drying the blood off I could see that they had split in many places due to chapping.


Today I went to get my taxes done at the community centre. I got on the wrong bus from Mt Gravatt so I ended up having to walk from a few blocks East. The lady there sorted it out pretty fast only to discover that I owed $1500. After reading through some things though we found cause to call me a resident for tax purposes which put me with a refund of $980. Back home I started to notice lizards on my window.


Today I went and folded leaflets for a guy named Mark. At first it seemed like things would go well, he even suggested he might have a job for me after this. Later a girl named Marina showed up and we worked together for the rest of the day. Marina was from the south of France so we spoke some Spanish but stopped when Mark told us that we were behind. We were supposed to be done by four but Mark suggested that we had taken too long and that we would not be paid our $50 for the 8+ hour day if we did not finish. After working an extra hour Marina took off and only recieved $40 and about two hours later I finally finished and recieved $10 extra - $60, for about 11 hours work... With bus fare in mind I probably made about $50 but at least I did get some good news about an interview tomorrow for a moving job. Marina also got called about an interview so hopefully we will both have decent jobs soon.


Today I went for my interview finding not one bus to be on time. The first bus came five minutes early and was leaving as I ran up. The next bus was five minutes late so it threw off my whole bus schedule. Another bus was late as well and I ended up arriving at my interview a good ten minutes late, even though I ran the last kilometer to get there. The interview went well but they have another 48 hours of interviews so I wont know for a while yet if the job is mine. On the return trip the buses were even more dysfunctional. The first bus came after a half hour and, as I hailed him, he just kept going. I called into Translink to report that one. The next bus was an hour later... I managed to get into the city and catch a few more buses that couldn't be bothered to show up on time before finally arriving home. Fortunately I did finally get a call from the lady who wants me to teach her to drive manual. She had posted for someone older and more experienced in teaching but I convinced her that I would be less overpriced than the $50/hour most instructors charge so she hired me instead.


Today I went down to drive my student to the mechanic so they could look over her car. At 3p I went back down and drive her car home for her then took the bus up to the city to meet Ria, a German couchsurfer. I was really late and of course the buses made it worse by making prolonged stops for whatever reason. Ria and I met at King George Square and went to the dinner at Giacs where we ate delicious Italian food and spoke with people from all over. I spoke Spanish to a girl from Spain, talked to a German from Berlin about the cultural clash since the fall of the wall (some people don't like having to compete for jobs) and I discussed politics with a Singaporian and a Mexican. I also talked to a fellow American about her world travels over the last five years teaching English in South Africa and Turkey. Meanwhile, Giac continued to bring out appetizers, main course and dessert until none of us could eat another bite.

Before I left Giac gave me some leftovers to enjoy later and then I caught a ride into the city. Unfortunately I couldn't get a bus home so I ended up hiring a taxi. $30 later I arrived home and fell into a deep sleep.


This morning I discovered that the planned trip to Tamborine National Park wasn't going to work since my housemate Jenny had made other plans with her son. About an hour of calling/texting later I finally got a backup plan into place to go camping in the Karawatha. We could have gone to Straddie (Stradbroke Island) but with another $30 in transport, three hours each way, it just didn't seem like the best idea. Around noon Ben and I bought a couple $12 tents at Kmart for my couchsurfing friends then went to a job interview for a courier job. Unfortunately this job requires the rental of a van among other things which would cost more than the job pays. Back at the house I met up with the others and we headed to Lake Karawatha. After a swim we set up camp and made a fire. About an hour later we cooked up some veggie skewers, corn and veggie burgers (the others are Vegetarian/Vegan) and at about 10p we all passed out in our tents for the night.


Today I woke up several times, rolled over onto a side that wasn't sore and went back to sleep. At about 7a someone was playing with their dog in the lake so we got up and started cleaning up the site. During a hike up to the lookout I saw a kangaroo barrel roll away from the fence and skip off in a hurry but, yet again, I was the only one to see it. After visiting the lookout we went back and packed everything up.

On the way out I heard something moving so I stopped. The others asked me why I stopped. I looked around for a few seconds then I saw it. Down next to my foot an Eastern Brown Snake was sitting waiting for me to take one more step. I waited until it slithered off then we continued walking. Back at the house we ate some brekky and the others headed on their way.


Today I went to meet in Chermside again and, after lunch, I headed over to the City Botanic Gardens for a park crawl with Giac and some other couchsurfers. After walking around a bit more we stopped at Roma Street Park and had a picnic while watching some Italians play a seriously competative soccer game. Then we met some new friends and started up a soccer game of our own. It was intense and I ended up hurting myself during a discoordinated effort to kick the ball but we had a good time. Before leaving Beni played the guitar and I practiced my Spanish with some Colombians.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Botanic Gardens

Today Giacomo and Ivy came over and we went hiking in the Karawatha. We stopped at the lake first where we saw some snakes on the cliffs then headed up to the rock lookout and back to my place.

Next we went up to the city to have lunch at Giacomo's then over to the Mt Coot-tha lookout to meet up with an Aussie named Chris who actually thought I was an Aussie - maybe I'm losing my accent?

After a bit we headed down to the Botanic Gardens to meet another member of our group and walked over to the Tropical Dome, Fern House, Japanese Garden, and around the back of the gardens before leaving.

Finally, Chris told me about a possible job opportunity at an outdoors retailer on the way to the bus station.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Worries


Today I went to the city where Samuel picked me up for the home meeting at his place in Chermside. After the meeting we ate and I headed to the showgrounds to get my pay from Casi. Casi gave me $1350 and Victor his $900 since he started a couple days after me. Victor then got us both rides into the city with his son and I grabbed a bus home.


Today I made a fire and burned some of the tree trimmings in the backyard.

We roasted sausages and used the coals to bake potatoes which I used to make a shepards pie.


Today Ben and I went for an interview up in the city but we were 10 minutes late so they wouldn't see us. On the way back we went to Aldi and Target where I bought an ice cream maker for $20. Later on Jenny came and let me into my room because I locked myself out this morning..


Today Ben and I went to the centrelink office so he could register for welfare until he gets a job. The Australian government is pretty generous to those who live here. If you are unemployed or in school they provide you with enough cash for room and board as well as anything else you think you need. Unfortunately you have to be a citizen, permanent resident, refuge - pretty much anything other than a backpacker, in order to collect.

Back at the house I made homemade soft serve with my new Whirly Cream ice cream machine.


Today Ben and I went to the shopping center to print out his "relief" form so he can set up a payment plan on his fines. Next I tagged along for a job interview and they put me in as another applicant. After the interview I went up to Chermside to meet for tea and a webcast video message. Then I met Ben in the city and we went to the Vic for a few drinks. We played a game of pool and had a couple more drinks then, out of nowhere, we got into an all out brawl. I backed off just as three security guys showed up and dragged Ben away. They came back for me as well and, after a while of waiting for them to release Ben, I decided to go up and ask what was going on. My phone had died so I had no way of knowing that he had already wandered off in the wrong direction from the bus station. I went looking for him but after a bit I had to catch the bus so I decided to check for him there. When I arrived home I found that Ben was already there so I iced my fat lip and went to bed thinking, "bar fight with an Australian - that's not cliche at all!"


Today I prepared the soil in an area where the bonfire had cleared for growing tomatoes and anything else that might produce before I leave in four months. Later I spoke with Ben and found that neither of us were really sure what happened. We decided that our fight, or "blue" as Australians call it, was of no consequence - just that we need to keep our hands to ourselves from now on. Strangely enough it seems that the Vic actually has a reputation for being a provocative environment - two of my housemates were surprised to hear that Ben and I had actually struck one another until I told them where it happened. As soon as I mentioned "the Vic" they chuckled pointing out that this kind of thing actually happens there quite often.


Today I went with Victor to the meeting down in Gold Coast. After lunch we spent some more time fellowshipping and went to Surfers Paradise then caught the train back to Brisbane.


Today Ben and I went to the shops to get his application for relief signed by a JP (Justice of the Peace). It seems like an overly bureaucratic process but I guess the Aussies do maintain a similar political system to the English.


Today I applied for a couple jobs and found a Huntsman on my wall... creepy buggers.


Over the last couple days I cleaned one of the rooms for $10, made cake batter ice cream and fixed Jenny's computers for her. Today Jenny and I planted some herbs and a tomato plant in the garden.

In the evening we all made a fire and had a couple drinks.


Over the last couple days I went to a couple meetings and looked for work.
Today I made plans to go camping with some couchsurfers and applied for a few local cleaning jobs. They're really small jobs (one or two hours a week each) so I can do them all and make a decent income.


Today I went bought a tent from a guy for $20 then applied for heaps of jobs during which time I found another spider, this time in the middle of my floor.


Today I set up an interview for a cleaning job with a guy named Skip then picked up my charger for my phone that recently arrived from Adelaide and got a small job teaching a lady to drive manual. I found another spider today... this one was on my windowsill.


Today Skip dropped by and, after I told him I was leaving in four months, he kind of lost interest. After talking to Skip, Ben and I went up to the city to do an interview for a sales job working at malls and major events. The guy seemed keen and told us he would let us know in the next couple days. Really hope I get this one, my bank account went into the negative today because of the monthly $4 fee that banks charge. Seems the "poor tax" is a blatant reality here...