The Big Start - From Detroit up until Day 2 End

Airport in "The D"
Flight 1 - Detroit to LA (5 hours)

JonTron - Youtube Sensation
The first flight was largely nondescript. I mostly watched the movie that played (into the woods), and played games on my laptop/phone until they both died. At this point, I started to become an energy vampire because I realized that the planes might not have power outlets, despite what they said online. Near the end of the trip, I spoke with the elderly woman who was sitting beside me and we played the crossword in the back of the airline-provided magazine. Pretty sure she gave me wrong answers, but I didn’t know what they were either. Upon landing and looking for my way to my next gate, I ran into a guy who goes by the name JonTron, who I had seen on youtube some time ago. I told him I liked one of his videos, and he told me that I was the tallest person to ever approach me. To commemorate the moment, we took a picture.

Flight 2 - LA to Sydney (15 hours)

LAX Video Screens
This airport was much more notable than the Detroit one. A lot of shops and visual displays around that didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to them.  I got to my gate and had 30 min or so to charge my phone and laptop as much as possible. I called a couple people to let them know what was going on, and bought the world’s most expensive (by my measure) deli meat sandwich.

$15 USD right at my gate. The flight itself was long, of course, but didn’t feel as torturous as 15 hours appeared on paper. I asked for an exit seat, but they didn’t have them. They did, however, offer to move me to a seat where there would be a vacant one between us. Sweet deal!

$15 USD Sandwich, Oh baby!
My seat mate was a Brazilian woman who was quite nice and pretty funny. We talked about our respective reasons for going to Australia and our general backgrounds. Apparently she had left brazil for school in Australia, though I’m not entirely sure how directly connected those two decisions were since she also said that english was picked up while she was in the country. Now, her husband found a job in New York City and she was only returning for her brother-in-law’s wedding. We exchanged open invitations for each others cities, though I don’t really know when I’ll be back in Canada to hold up my end.

As for the actual flight, it kind of felt like being in a medium-sized room with a bunch of people where you can’t leave, but you have a screen on the seat in front of you that you can pick whatever movie, game, or music (within their library) to amuse yourself with. I can say that I’ve watched more movies in this 24h time frame than I probably have in the rest of the year combined. Then again, it’s only April. Movies watched: Big Hero 6, Man of Steel, Into the Woods, Bird Man, and random episodes of Brooklyn 99 that were thrown up in the first flight.

The Good Shit
We landed in Sydney and I had to take a shuttle from the international airport to the domestic one. Generally, it was all pretty easy and not stressful, so I relaxed and listened to the funny accents around me and looked at the strange adverts along the road that definitely wouldn’t be put on billboards in North America. This wasn’t for any particular reason, I just can’t say I’ve ever seen a huge sign bragging about “premium Chinese Liquor.”

Flight 3 - Sydney to Perth (4.25h)

At this point, a 4.25h flight seems like a breeze, so I’m not overly concerned with entertaining myself to spend the time. Again, no outlets, so the laptop lasts 2/3 of the trip. Damn airliars! Not really upset, given that this flight also had the on-demand screens (flight 1 did not). My seat mate this time was a girl on her way to fulfill her contract with a professional cricket team in London, England. Pretty cool, though I have no idea how the game of cricket works and I said so. Upon saying that, the man in front gave a shocked glance backward at me, seemingly flabbergasted. Shouldn’t really be much of a surprise with my accent, but apparently enough to warrant a glance. Played a lot of Bejewelled and beat my high score, and looked at all the red land below us.

Day 1 - Rainy

At this point, I am really smelly and dirty. I’ve been wearing the same clothes and inconsistently re-applying deodorant. The passage of time went all wonky, particularly evident whenever one of my various seat mates would ask “what time is it?” How does one answer that question when we’ve passed so many timezones and neither the destination nor the departure locations’ times are particularly relevant. I kept trying to keep in my head what time it was at home, but failed pretty miserably without the internet to double-check for me.
Two thumbs up, mate
Liz was waiting at the airport for me, and told me I didn’t smell (filthy liar). We gathered my luggage and began our drive on the wrong side of the road to lunch. She treated me to lunch at this rather fancy restaurant on a river, though what we actually ordered didn’t seem to reflect the atmosphere (burger for me, fish’n’chips for her). Honestly, the menu made everything seem so fancy and, therefore, less understandable for me. Clearly, I am the height of class.

We were supposed to get coffee, but lost track of time during the meal and she had to get to work. I was dropped off at my hostel, which was a little shabbier than I had expected, given the hostel i had seen in Quebec City when I had picked up Raph. At this point, I felt more vulnerable than I have in a long time, as there were no apparent lockers, and the ‘orientation’ to the hostel involved “here’s a key, $20 for deposit please. Alright, here’s you room. Bye!” The frenchman who was in the room with his Korean girlfriend(?) had to tell me where the washroom was and how the wifi worked in his relatively broken english. Dirty and still wearing the same clothes that I had left Chatham with, I took a 3 hour nap while the couple giggled at things they showed each other on their respective phones.

I woke up to the my alarm, and hit the snooze. The second time it went off, I realized that I had little time to figure out where my showering stuff was in my luggage. In my half-asleep daze, the rest of the 8 bunks were filled by more frenchmen, and I didn’t really want to sort this shit out while they were all milling around. Eventually, I got in the shower, which was a tiled broom closet with a corner sink. No hooks to hang anything anywhere - only a rack hanging from the shower head to hold your soaps.

Still tired, I went to this outdoor common area and sat among the other backpackers who were hanging out. Didn’t understand a lot of it, as they were speaking german and french, but eventually a german woman started speaking to me in english and offered me some of her box wine. The night went on like this with two things sticking out in my mind: first, was the New Zealander talking about how he had a job as a cleaner in a sex club for 3 days (which he was fired from), and the german word “schluckschlagen.” I don’t know if that’s how it’s spelled, but it’s not a very nice word, so, of course, bring it up whenever you meet anyone who speaks german. Swear words are always the first words of a language you tend to learn! I’ll let them tell you what it means.

I fought to stay awake until 11pm local time, and passed out until 9:30am.

Day 2 - Mixed sun and showers

I awoke to the sound of strange birds (one kind of sounded like an angry baby, yelling aggressively) and remembered that I had plans to get lunch with Liz. I decided to set up my phone number/SIM card which Liz had provided me the night before at the airport. Excuses, right? I figured out how to sort that out after one of the hostel workers just happened to have one of those SIM keys, and applied for my Tax Form Number (which isn’t necessary, but is supposed to be helpful). I started working on my resume when I realized it was 11:40am and Liz was meeting me at noon. I packed up, and was set to head out.

Or so I thought. Apparently when I booked my room online with my credit card, they hadn’t actually charged my card. I checked this through various means and the e-mail even stated “paid upon arrival,” which I had clearly overlooked. I settled up, and paid for the next two nights as well, though I didn’t realize I still had to check out of the room I was in and return the bed sheets. Shit, I’m very late at this point. I threw all my shit into my suit case, kneed it until it closed, and quickly dropped it off in the “luggage storage” area that is behind a lock. Again, something they neglected to mention upon arrival that would have made me feel much more at ease.
Nature's Soda
I met up with Liz who had walked 90% of the way from where she parked, and we got some pho and drank from coconuts. We dined while screaming-baby birds flew about, and pigeons audaciously walked around us. We checked out a few shops, and she brought me to a dollar store-ish place (the reject shop) to buy a mug, as the hostel had so few that people were (and still are) drinking alcohol from bowls.

It was raining and Liz told me that it was my fault for all the terrible weather, as it had come with my arrival. I agreed, and also took credit for the economic downturn of late. She showed me around downtown and I said goodbye at her parking garage. I’m pretty sure people kept looking at me more often than usual, and even before I spoke. Liz said I was imagining things, and that they were clearly checking her out. We (95% me) laughed at such a ridiculous notion. I got back home after only getting lost 3 times! But not really.

I had planned to finish working on my multiple job-catered resumes, but got distracted by people in the social area, and ended up playing a game with an Italian guy. His friends said he was quite good, and I assumed that I would lose horribly. After the game, I buckled down and powered through doing my resume stuff with all the updated, local information, which ended up taking about an hour and a half. While I had worked, a Swiss woman (Sarah) I had met the first night asked me what the plans were for tonight, and I suggested we go to the liquor store and invited her along.

After putting my things away, I asked the Kiwi (Haydon) where she was, and invited him to come along. We found her in her room, and also invited a frenchman (Leo) who happened to be there as well. Dan Murphy’s is, apparently, a really cheap liquor store, though Australian beer is hella expensive. $15 for a 6 pack of beers! I opted for “Goon” wine, which was 5L for $13 bucks. It’s also very convenient buying things here, as the price listed is the price you pay - tax included. Very nice, Peter Lik.

I went to get food and investigate some loud, militaristic/organized changing from men in the distance, though never came across the source, nor an explanation for it. I then purchased a chicken burger from a nearby convenience store, which the guy working there had just made for himself. I don’t know why it worked out that way, but it did. I sat back down and finished working on my second form of the resume and had begun writing this when an American (Tim) came into the hostel with a 10-pack of cider cans. He offered me one and we began to chat.
Tiny Sink; Nonsensical Faucets. Thanks, Brits!

According to him, getting a job in construction as stupidly easy. I had heard about him, vaguely, from the other backpackers who were amazed that he had found work the day he had arrived, and started the second day he was here. I asked if he had background in construction and he said he was a social worker. Actually, we have strangely similar backgrounds. He’s from Vermont, went to school for Psychology (minor in something I forget), fell into whatever work he found after grad (ski instructor) and somehow fell into working in a group home with autistic kids. Eventually, he found himself in a rut and wanted to get out, so he decided to go abroad and has been here since. Weird. The conversation as interrupted by a phone call, and I lost track of him until later in the night.

I wandered about after packing away my things in the new room and saying hello to my new roommates. This feels like a weird mix of first year and summer camp. There’s a divide between the backpackers and the various people working at the hostel. The chasm doesn’t seem to be leaped by more than a couple of the backpackers, and the staff ended up going out to a club. I asked where they were going, but they hadn’t quite decided yet. I ended up discussing business and european politics with a 21-year-old frenchman named Victor, who I ended up also playing chess with. It seems learning and practicing chess has finally come in handy! We hung out and played drunk/high chess (the Italians were smoking quite a bit) until I called it a night around 1am when the American came back and told me a bit about his night, which he had spent at a game club where you could play video games and table-top games. So strange sounding, but sounds worth checking out.

For those who are driven just a little crazy after not finding out who won the chess games: I won the first and lost the second.

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