Day 130 - Great Ocean Road

The Entrance
Though it's not a toll gate or anything...
August 15th, 2015

It's an early morning after staying up until 3:30am local time, getting up at 6;30. Luke, Shimou, and I are taking a bus tour 5ish hours away along the Great Ocean Road! It's a crisp morning, and I'm thankful that they made these triple meat, double decker sandwiches the night before (turkey deli, tuna, fried egg, cheese).

From the bus
Walking through the Australian winter air and sleepily riding the train into town, we stumbled through town to the meeting point. Half a block before reaching said point, Shimou says "oh yeah, did I mention this is a Chinese tour?" Uh, no, you did not*Bring it on!

Art, from the bus
Practicing Stealth

But first, we buy water, which reminds me to take a piss. There's no washroom in the convenience store, but there appears to be a restaurant open next door. 10 minutes and counting, it's worth a shot!

Inside the ajar door is a set of stairs. I run up a few flights, passing a restaurant door that's closed, and debate running further up to the theatre, but decide to try the 'rant. The chairs are all up and no one is in sight.  I try the door, which is unlocked, and enter as quietly as I can. Heavy footsteps on the wooden floorboards can be heard, and a quick scan tells me where the washrooms are located. Hey, I've come this far; I'll explain myself if I get caught. I quietly walk past the kitchen pick-up window and see some feet and a mop moving. Not stopping now, I turn the corner to see a plumbers crack just past my goal. Onward! I turn and hope the door is quiet, which it isn't. It groans loudly, but the workers don't bother to do or say anything. After finishing business, I quickly stroll out and don't look back. I dash down the stairs, to find the large queue of Chinese people where I left them. Home free!

Panorama Apostles
We really didn't get off the bus very much...
The group begins to March, with me being the only white person, and I think the only one over 6'. Upon entering the bus,  I hear some poor English over the mandarin and wonder why. Moving on. We manage to score the best seats in the house: the back row of 5 for the three of us. That is until some late comers arrive and take one of them. "bu chi" he says to the Korean girl before repeating in English "no eating"

On the Chinese Tour

Me, Obscuring the 12.
The bus begins rolling. So does the mandarin. The guide stands, speaking at the front, rubbing a sign with the universal symbol for "no food/drink" as if for good luck. Shimou translates that it's a $200 fine. The would have been nice to know, but I suppose I can feign ignorance since it wasn't in English. He speaks the entire way. Well, it feels like that. In reality, he stopped at some point long after I let it fall to background noise.

We made a pit stop, and continued on. Some kid seemed to have forgot he was prone to motion sickness, sat at the absolute back of the bus, and had eaten at the truck stop before we head down this winding road at breakneck speeds. Let the chunks flow.

Somehow, this bus stops the smell from reaching me from 5 feet away. I'm not bad with that particular ailment, but I think most people will feel significantly worse when sitting next to a kid who is crying while actively vomiting, acrid stench and all. We stop 5 minutes later for a photo op at the gate to the "Great Ocean Road." Onward!

More Apostles
I remember the phrase "it's all Chinese to me" and laugh while I explain it to Shimou. She thinks it’s funny. I can't remember how widespread that phrase actually is. The bus continues to drive up and down, left and right on the winding paths that are treacherously steep. Whenever I think “what if he makes one wrong move?” I respond mentally with “then we'll die” and relax. It'll be scary, and painful, then it’ll be over. Nothing I can do about it, so might as well enjoy the terrifying view while I can.

Australian Vegetation
After more of the same, I stop taking pictures and put on a playlist that my friend, Neeraja, had sent me. I can't sleep because the road is too twisting. I'll just sleep on the way back, I guess, which is along a straighter highway. The puking kid has been moved elsewhere on the bus, somewhere up front where his cries are muffled.

At lunch, Shimou points out an Indian girl who seems to be alone. I’m guessing she doesn’t speak mandarin and use that as my intro to invite her to lunch. She’s here for work indefinitely, named Sheeba, and has been in Melbourne for 5 days. Come eat lunch with us! We grab lunch at this cafeteria-like place, kind of like a terrible food court with overpriced fast food. I wonder how they'd survive without bus tours. They have a claw machine for “fun sized” chocolate bars. 2 tries for $1, or 5 tries for $2. Even if you won every time, that price still seems high.

Beach surrounded by rocks and tourist
The 12 Apostles

A cave, opposite the above beach
Skip ahead to The 12 Apostles. It’s the last major stop, which the bus brings us to two points with different vantage points. Very nice, though I feel like the internet has taken away some of my ability to be in awe. Or maybe it’s all the other tourists bustling about, taking pictures. I don't know, but I try to remind myself that I'm actually here, sometimes jokingly with the phrase “This is real.”

One of the better shots
Sheeba is shivering while we are walking the 12 Apostles walkway, so I insist that she takes my sweater. Honestly, to me it’s a cool day that I can withstand for at least an hour of walking around. Easy. The tour continues with Chinese movies playing quietly and with Chinese subtitles. A children’s cartoon is playing involving two troublesome bears with the main antagonist being a small white-looking hunter. It’s strange watching the themes in the show because they involve traditional Chinese objects, such as this sort of drum.

Pit Stop on the way home
After sleeping most of the ride home, we say goodbye to Sheeba and grab dinner at a relatively authentic Chinese restaurant. Most of it doesn't appeal to me, so I pick something safe, and not overly spicy. Pork Blood Curd or Beef Tripe** are not that appealing to me. After dinner, we rail home and relax.

*It's less than half price ($35) of the normal one ($100). I am OK with stretching my very underdeveloped mandarin muscles.
**Shredded and cooked cow stomach.

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