May 12th to 21st 2011
Arriving Melbourne Southern Cross Station
After I finished shaking with anger over the text message the looney farmer had sent me (please refer to previous post), I waited for my now delayed train. I chatted a bit with an older couple waiting for their daughter, they were from the Boorowa area and were upset at the experience I had had, they said it was a pity I didn’t come to their farm as they had clydesdales and many other animals… They did ask for Mr. Looney’s name and said they knew of the family and might report it to the council. That made me feel better, especially when they disagreed on his assertion that you had to pay gas money and large amounts of it.
Finally the train pulled in. Turned out I though I was waiting for the 1pm train, but apparently I can’t read and in my desperate attempt to escape I had booked on the 1am train and was now getting on the 12.30pm train. Luckily it wasn’t a problem, sounds like it happens quite often. As I sat in an empty seat I asked the lady in front of me if the dining car served coffee and how much it might be. She immediately brushed that notion aside gave me a small packet of cappucino mix, her travel mug and told me to go get free hot water. When I returned she gave me some choc powder to sprinkle on top…now this is the Aussie hospitality I have heard about.
After a 6hr journey we pulled into a very impressive looking train station, Southern Cross, the ceiling was made of all these wavy poles and look very…well, architectual. I sent my mate, Erin, a message to let her know I had arrived and settled down in a corner to charge my phone and read. Since Erin was doing classes it would be about 2hrs before she could meet me. Once she arrived I picked up a week long transport pass ($31) that could be used on bus/train/tram, I love a city with a decent transport system. We headed back to her house that she shared with 4 other grad students, all in various stages of finals and thesis’. My bed was the futon in the kitchen/dining area, and I must say it was the most comfortable bed I had slept in in weeks!
Tourist Bus and Pub Crawl
The following morning I headed out with Erin and she showed me the main drag of the city centre before she had to head to classes. I was planning on spending the day on the free tourist bus with another couchsurfing member, and then doing some work on the computer at the library. Sarah (Belgium) met me at the tourist info centre (must be one of the most impressive ones I have seen) and we headed off to the tourist bus stop. The tourist bus is a free service that goes around the city to the main attractions. We decided to get some lunch in Chinatown before heading out and made our way to a Korean Restaurant I had seen earlier. I got some bibimbap (veggies and rice) and she had some egg soup. I had almost forgotten how much I missed Korean food.
We picked the bus up and headed to the Victoria Markets. These are under cover markets where you can pick up anything from $1 tourist trinkets, to $200 Uggs or maybe even a didgeridoo. It was great fun walking around. Then we went and had some of the richest and most delicious coffee in the world, and at $6 it better be good. Max Brenner’s coffee shops are about as intense as you can get. For my mocha I had a choice of dark, milk or white chocolate and by the end of it all I can say is that I was suffering from an intense coffee buzz and a chocolate hangover.
Sarah had to head out to go to another meeting and I had had another girl from couchsurfing call and ask to meet. So around 1pm I headed to the library, assuming I had about 20min to check internet and such before Abi arrived. At 4pm she finally strolled over and by then the last tourist bus had already left. (This habit would continue for 2 other outings we met up for). We hung out at the library for a bit longer and then headed over to find the first bar where the couchsurfing bar crawl was meant to be. While we waited we picked up a bowl of chips. Finally people started arriving and as I had put my number down as first pub contact, so did the calls of people trying to find us. It turned into quite the event and by the 2nd bar we had over 30 people. Everyone was great and I made a couple of new friends. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay too late and had to go meet Erin at work so we could head home.
Buddhist Day Fest
Saturday I decided to wander around at the festival for Buddha’s Birthday, this used to be one of my favorite festivals while living in Korea. Again I met up with a girl from couchsurfing and we explored the festival picking up stamps to complete an activity at the festival. I wrote a wish on a “lotus” flower, explored a book fair and “bathed the little Buddha statue”.
Around 5pm I got a call from Abi again asking if I was going to the festival, I told her the fest ended at 5pm and she whined “why didn’t anyone tell me?” she asked if I had been. I was there at 11am like my post said I would be… some people are just clueless.
Great Ocean Road
One of the most beautiful things to see and do on the Southern Coast of Australia is the Great Ocean Road. So when a post appeared on Couchsurfing for those interested in a road trip it sounded great and for a change I planned to sit back and enjoy the ride…or so I thought. I showed up Sunday morning at 8.30am as planned and shortly after 3 of the others showed up. The final 3, Abi and friends, didn’t show up till 9.15am. They were the ones who were supposed to have organised the van, they hadn’t. They had wanted to rent from a place called “Rent-a-Bomb”, which thankfully had no vans. We went to budget to rent a van and it turned out I was the only one with a credit card and along with 2 others the only one with a valid drivers license. I am so useless at going with the flow, think I should just organise things from now on… Dammit!
Even though it took 5 hrs to get to the 12 apostles and it was almost dark when we finally got there and another 4hrs home on the highway, it all worked out well, the views were spectacular, the weather was clear and sunny, I saw koala bears (which were actually rather boring lumps of fur that just sit around all day) and I didn’t kill any of the others, although it came close on occasion.
Remainder of the week
For the rest of the week I managed to pick up some cash work through couchsurfing. $20/hr for data entry on Mon and Tues. Wednesday I explored the op shops (2nd hand shops) and then managed to pick up work for Thursday and a bit on Friday morning. Meaning that I had managed to cover my flight to Tasmania, the one to Perth and should also be able to cover the one to the Gold Coast…woohoo. Not to mention, as crazy as it sounds, it was good to do some work again. Added to that some good friends made and it was a very good week indeed.