Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Australia Recap

A sad but bittersweet post, the Australia sector of this journey has come to an end.  4 months ago I was on a plane headed down under all by myself, no set travel plan, and nothing more than 4 nights booked in a hostel.  That plane trip from the states was very exciting yet scary at the same time.  Leaving all my family and friends behind and heading to a place that truly was foreign to me, all on my own.  Today I have four great months of memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Crikey what a trip!  It isn't till I step back a bit and think about what I've accomplished till I really feel how awesome and unbelievable this trip was. Yes, I had a bit of aid in the groundwork with the trip as far as getting my visa and such, but it was me in the end that really made everything happen.  I secured my first job in another country, something not many Americans, especially my age, can say that they've done. I went solo, maybe the best call of this entire journey.  Yes, in some places having a friend from back home to share some great memories would have been cool, but honestly, travelling the world is all about meeting new people and learning about yourself.  Thanks to the heaps of international travelers and a very well laid out backpacking network in Australia, meeting new people was not difficult if you just made a simple effort.  Travelling solo forces you to be outgoing. This trip would not have been the same without the heaps of great people I've met along the way. Meeting new people and hearing their stories is just as mesmorizing as some of the most beautiful Australian destination. I have made contacts from all over the world and will eventually see them all again, whether showing them around the great state of California or in their respective countries. My friends from England, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Holland have all invited me to their countries and offered accomodation.  I will undoubtedly take them up on their offers when I do eventually make it back over to Europe.

Maybe the best part of this trip is that I absolutely have no regrets.  I would not do anything different on the trip.  My time in Sydney, my travel itinerary, etc. For the time I had in Australia and the funds available, I did everything I wanted to do and that is the important part.

Working in Australia was quite the experience.  Although it was in the travel and transportation industry and (hopefully) quite the deviation from a future career path, my job at Gate Gourmet was a memorable one.  It really shows that I can excel at anything I put effort into.  Well even if I didn't "excel" like the fast moving Koreans, I still never got fired and I think thats a plus in anyones work career.  Learning the ins and out of airline catering was fascinating and is something I will always remember on any flight I board.  And yes, I will still eat the airline food, regardless of packing thousands of trays, tray after tray and seeing how it all comes together.

Things Learned

Well travelling around with international people you see and learn things about the world. I learned some aussie words, but definitely picked up on some common/slang German, Swedish and English(UK) words.

Also, and I got a feel for this in Europe almost 3 years ago, Americans don't have the greatest reputation among outsiders.  I think this may all be due to bad media and terrible stereotypes that sometimes can lead to be true. Europeans are fascinated about Obama, that had to be the most common question I recieved, "what do you think of Obama." Did get a bit annoyed after awhile with that question.  But yes, I think American movies, TV shows and just our modern culture can sometimes lead to false accusation of American lifestyle.  Another common topic was gangs. Whenever LA was brought up, the topics of gangs and Compton always came along. I always told people you can't talk anything if you have never actually visited a place.

As far as things learned about myself, well heaps.  This has been a great individual experience.  I've never been one for horoscopes or star signs but it is right on.  I've seen on this trip, that my Aquarius personality is right on.  Aquarians are usually pretty independant and adventurous.  I wouldn't really have classified myself as adventurous before this trip, but now I would. Maybe it is due to the fact that this is the first time I truly have been on my own, and I think that is where my adventurous self comes out.  I constantly find myself always trying to explore new places and never wanting to miss out on an opportunity and will make the extra effort to make it happen.  This trip has improved my lifestyle.  I can't even remember the last time I slept past 10 oclock in the morning. (actually yes I can, when I was working). Let me rephrase that a bit. WHEN I AM TRAVELLING, I wake up early so I can make the most of my time, no matter how tired I am or how big of a night I had the night before.  I can't afford to piss days away when there is so much do to. I think travelling has made me healthier.  Let me first make clear that I am in no means in shape.  BUT, I would say I am far more active than usual while travelling. I have walked hundreds of miles of the past 4 months and I feel pretty good.  I am thankful that I never got sick at all during this part of the trip, especially in my one month travelling the coast and Melbourne. I think being sick while backpacking would be the worst possible thing that can happen.  So I must have treated my body pretty well never to feel under the weather, with the exception of a hangover here or there.  My eating habits over the past 4 months have been suprisingly pretty good. Thinking back on it, I probably ate better on this trip than I did any year in college (except for freshman year in the dorms).  I found myself eating almost 1-2 pieces of fruit everyday and eating breakfast, lunch, dinner almost every day of the weak. Yea, being on a pretty strict budget I couldn't afford 5 star meals every night with every ingredient possible, but I made the most of it. I also discovered I am taking less of the things I don't like out of my food and eating them.  Mostly vegetables.  Things I never used to eat I have started eating, and I dont really know why.  They include mushrooms, capsicums, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Out of these 4, tomatoes have made way into my taste buds the most.  At times I still don't like eating them but sometimes they can be quite tasty and can really improve a certain meal, sandwhich, or salad.

Highlights of the trip

Here will be a quick rundown of some of my favorite things/nights/travel spots on the Trip

- Spending time relaxing at my favorite Sydney destinations, Manly Beach, Coogee Beach, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour, The Botanical Gardens

- Losing my debit card in the first weeks of being in Sydney and finding it without any harm done
- Newtown Festival the second week in Sydney
- Working at Gate Gourmet
- Pearl Jam and Ben Harper Concert at Sydney Football Stadium
- Living at Home Backpackers in Sydney and meeting new people outside on the deck every night, the best night was Wednesday, Free Wine and Cheese Night
- That 1 night I got kicked out of Scruffy Murphy's bar for my "swaying" dance moves
- Times out at the Sydney bars with my favorite friends
- New Years Eve overlooking Sydney's Harbour and a multimillion dollar firework show

- Taking the long Greyhound bus rides and listening to some epic playlists on my Ipod, favorites were The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
- Byron Bay
- Meeting up with my German girlfriends in Brisbane and cooking and eating that great dinner at the hostel
- Noosa National Park Bush Walk
- Day trip to Croc Hunter's Australia Zoo
- Fraser Island 4 wheel trip beach camping trip.

- When I urinated on a guys leg after he got stung by a blue bottle jellyfish
- Australian Day and partying and dancing in the rain on Magnetic Island
- The Magnetic Island bush walk in the pouring rain
- The Great Barrier Reef snorkel trip
- The hot wings and Blue Sky brewery in Cairns
- Kuranda adventure bushwalk and Barron Falls

- Great Ocean Road trip out of Melbourne
- Returning to Sydney, seeing all my friends for one last time

2 downsides of the trip

Well these are the two, and I think if these are the worst of it, it shows I didn't have to bad of a time.

-Night and morning in Surfers paradise after that one unknown strawberry shot before the pub crawl that put me down for the count and made my life and bus ride a living hell.

- This next one has been bottled up by me for the past 2 months.  I hate to think about it, but it happened.  I was involved in a large backpacker scam with 6 other of my roomates while I was staying at my apartment in Surry Hills, Sydney. None of us received our $300 dollar security bond back.  We all got played by our shady and shitty landlord.  This is something that I saw coming, I never signed a contract or anything. Like most of the time, I am partially to blame.  But anyhow what happened to me and my roomates is a very common thing in Sydney. These shady apartment renters taking advantage of backpackers.  I was given constant excuses that the owner was out of the country and couldn't get my money back till he came back.  My other roomates were told to give them their bank details and it would be transfered to them. Well those promises were never followed thru. We all got shafted.  Moving On, this was obviously right before I was taking off for my east coast trip, always having money on my mind.  $300 backpacking goes a long way but I did my best to not think about it.  I couldnt let something ruin my time.  Yes it sucks now, it sucked then, and it was worth about 1 and a half weeks accomodation, but I tell myself this.  Come a couple months I will hopefully have a job, that $300 dollars will be about 1 - 3 days need to ruin a trip over 3 days work, just not worth it. Yes, extremely unfortunate it happened and yes I tried to put up a bit of a fight but got nowhere and eventually it wasn't worth my time, stress or effort.

Thats it, and I always try to look at the bright side of life. Im alive, I am travelling the world, I am healthy and am right where I want to be.  Just another learning experience in my life and a warning to other backpackers, be aware.

Final Thoughts

Despite the above, everything on this trip was flawless.  Some of the most memorable 4 months of my life and proud of myself I made it happen. I always wondered what Australia would be like and it always interested me.  Well I conquered it, well not all of it, but a good chunk. Pretty big country.  I like the fact that I have travelled more around Australia than I have travelled the in the States.  The world is where its at, there is so much to see and learn from it. New cultures, new places, new food, who wouldn't want to experience it? I see this trip as a 5th year in college, because to be honest, I think you can learn just as much in the outside world than in a classroom or textbook, if not more.

It's been a great one Australia, hope to see you again someday mate.

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