Prague.

Ok, because I’m too lazy to update my travelpod at the moment, here’s an email I just sent to work (yes, I’m still attached).

Hello all,

yes, it’s been a while. This email will be a bit shorter as I’m on the verge of being physically ill, mainly because I’m in Prague and have been savouring the $2 pints.

I hope everyone is well. I am too (apart from my current condition) and I’ve been meeting people from all over the place (as one would expect, I suppose).

In the tradition of my last email, here’s yet another run-down of my travels:

Dubrovnik: as I said, cool. Worth visiting. Nothing really of great notice apart from the old town which got shelled in the early 90s and rebuilt. I think I mentioned this before. I can’t really remember. Anyway, definitely tick it off if you consider visiting Croatia (or Hrvatska, if you want to be down with the local language).

Kolocep: an Island near Dubrovnik (or Dubbo, as I like to call it). We visited here for a day, nothing extraordinary but it was nice. I hiked for about 3 hours and took the odd photo here and there of the views. Yeah, amazing, I know.

Mljet: Nice, foresty island. Pronounced Mil-yet. I got eaten alive by ants because I slept outdoors in a campground (too proud to rent a tent). The bites have only just disappeared (after about 3 weeks, I had scary black spots on my fingers and everything). I swam in Odysseus’ cave (ask Homer) and literally nearly had a heart attack because I was terrified of the fish in the water. I then had to climb back up a cliff in wet thongs, which is impossible if anyone’s ever tried it.

Split: Goran Ivanisevich (?sp) is from here. Cool town. I liked it better than Dubrovnik. We actually stayed in an apartment owned by a guy called Goran. One day he confronted me in his tight white underwear and a singlet asking for money for the other nights that we’d be staying. It was dirt cheap, though. About $15 a night. By the way, beer is disturbingly cheap in Croatian supermarkets. They even sell their own brand (Konsume is the store, K-Plus is the brand. 2 litre plastic bottle go for about $2.50 Australian). If anyone’s even heard of Gregor of Nin (or his “famous” statue), I’ve rubbed his toe (for luck).

In Split we met a French Canadian girl (Quebec) that I’ve ended up travelling with. My group split (pardon the pun) from her when we returned from Hvar (another Croatian resort island, apparently popular with Paris Hilton [yawn]) and we went to Sibenik.

Sibenik: small but has the largest stone cathedral built without wooden support (or whatever else) in Europe. Sounds amazing but it’s really just a small church. Still, I took photos (ask me if you really care). I also scored free Internet here because no one was around to charge me (even though I looked for someone to pay) and I walked out. Yes, I’m a rebel.

Krka national park: people swim under the waterfalls (they even made it a hydroelectric plant, thanks Mr Tesla). I didn’t swim because I was too scared of the fish.

Zagreb: the capital of Croatia. No one knows that. Well, barely anyone. It’s a nice place, reminds me of Melbourne but about 4 times bigger and with 1/4 of the people. The nightlife was pretty lame (ie, Sydney’s sad, lonely clubs are basically more popular on bad nights compared to a busy night in Zagreb) but I didn’t care that much as I can’t dance and don’t really like much beyond cheap beer and good company (hi, Andrew).

Ok, this is getting a bit long. If you’ve made it this far I thank you for persisting with my writings. If you’re still interested I pity you, but for the sake of sympathy I’ll continue with my journey.

Budapest: Massive, masive city (two cities in fact, which I found strange and didn’t learn until about 2 days before I arrived). Monuments are spaced out everywhere and I bought an AWESOME Spider-Man t-shirt in a supermarket there, then started wearing it as I sat around the Danube. Apparently the night-life is really fun there but my trio failed to discover it. We still amused ourselves and I met some other Aussies, which is always nice. Most are from Melbourne though, which is always a little depressing. ;)

Krakow: Nice, nice city. I had two nights here in a really good hostel, unfortunately there were a big group of Americans staying so I didn’t bother socialising (I had early mornings anyway). I went to Auschwitz, which I thought was very… interesting. It’s very touristy now, unfortunately, so it lost (at least, I felt) a lot of impact. Still, I’m glad I went there.

Olomouc: Billed as “Prague without the tourists”, this place is about 5 hours west of Krakow by train, in the Czech Republic. I loved it here even though I only had 1 night to explore it. An Australian couple ran the hostel I stayed in and although they were somewhat inexplicably timid they still gave us some good advice, so I ticked off basically everything in town within 6 hours. One day I’d definitely like to return, though.

Prague: This is were I am now. I’m staying in an Anglo-friendly hostel called the “Clown and Bard”. Mainly it’s Canadians and Americans but it’s not so bad. ;) The Quebec girl I’ve been travelling with is leaving for Berlin tomorrow so I’m going to have a few nights alone (ahh!). It’s a nice enough city, I guess. I’ve heard so many stories about it but I certainly think there are better ones out there. I’m probably going to end up knowing it better than Paris, as I have to stay here until Wednesday as I’ve booked a flight to Helsinki that evening (for only 120 Euros!). Hopefully I don’t get quite as frequently inebriated as I have tonight.

Well, that’s about it so far. Thanks for reading. I’m sure you haven’t. If you have, you’ll probably have been given a warning for not doing enough work (I’ve heard the rule have gotten a bit strict lately, you poor folk).

As always, I’m delighted to hear from anyone that can be bothered emailing me (but no, this isn’t a desperate plea for attention, even though it may look like it). Don’t be shy! :)

Bah, I’m still dizzy from all my cheap beer. I haven’t used the spell checker on this email so if I’ve made mistakes forgive me. If I haven’t made mistakes it’s simply testament to my meticulous spelling and typing ability. Hurrah for me.

Ok, I’ll stop now, this is getting ridiculous.

All the best!
Ollie. :)

Bumming in Bordeaux

I made it out of Paris with Al and Kate but not before seeing an African albino in a Monoprix shopping centre. He looked a bit like Harpo but with a bigger nose. Weird but cool.

The three of us took a speedy train to Bordeaux which only took 3 hours. We downed a few bottles of low-alcohol cider and munched on lollies, arriving on a sugar high. The rush was required in order for me to carry my 3 tonne bag from the station to Al’s share house without passing out from exhaustion, as I’d already lugged it around Paris trying to find their hotel and then to the train station.

Bordeaux’s a student town and it has a much more relaxed atmosphere than Paris, probably due to the abundance of young adults and the lack of tourists who seem to fill all the Parisien restaurants. We spent the evening relaxing on the banks of the Garonne and listened to Clemént (I think it’s spelt), one of Al’s housemates, playing guitar and singing songs in English, French and even Japanese.

Our little trio took time out for lunch the following day as none of us had had a proper sit-down meal since being in the country. I managed to fluke myself a nice turkey curry (odd, I know) even though it was overpriced like everything else around there. Al suggested we get some chips to share so I bravely went off to order some from the most popular kebab shop in town. Eight people pushed in front of me and the staff working there didn’t really care, then ignored my order of large chips and gave me a kebab with chips in it (which is common in these parts). Too frustrated and impatient and lacking in French linguistical ability to argue, I returned to our table with my head down and tail between my legs before cutting the chip-kebab in half and sharing it with Al.

That night Jibby arrived on a delayed train and brought some violent rain with her. We walked back in the soaking rain, arriving back at the house looking like four drowned rats. I looked more like a drowned rat in extreme agony, as I had previously drank about 600mL of Yop, a yoghurt drink, in about 2 minutes and it didn’t want to sit peacefully in my stomach. It took about an hour in the bathroom and two rolls of toilet paper before I’d recovered enough to be able to return to the lounge room.

The next day I was feeling rejuvenated enough to participate in the organising of our train tickets to Nice. We wanted to have everything sorted out before the party that was being held that evening (Saturday). God knows how many people showed up, but I’ve never seen so many individuals crammed into a house! I don’t know how I ended up doing it (it was probably the beer) but I managed to mingle with the partygoers until the wee hours of the morning when I finally got too tired to attempt speaking in slow, clear and concise English and went to bed.

Sunday was (as is the tradition) a day of rest. We spent most of our day bumming around waiting for the Brazil vs Australia game in the world cup. There were some outdoor restaurants set up down the road, housed in tents, with big screen televisions broadcasting the games so we went to one called The Frog and Rosbif (“rosbif” is apparently a French bastardisation of “roast beef” applied to the English, in the same way we call them “poms”). One of Al’s friends was working there, a guy called John. We chatted to him for a while but we couldn’t get any free or cheap beer so we decided to leave not long after Australia lost.

On the way back we were confronted by a proud Brazilian draped in his national flag (there seems to be a lot of them around France at the moment) who laughed at us when we told him we were Australian then ran off, singing to himself. That night I had a horrible sleep due to the army of mosquitoes that decided to pillage my ankles but I didn’t really mind as I knew I’d need to be tired if I was going to get any sleep on the night train to Nice the following evening.

The night train was certainly interesting. We had food with us to eat and kill some time as it wound its way slowly to the south east of the country. I eventually dozed off but awoke when it was reported that the train had broken down and that it’d take an hour or two to repair. The four of us sat at the train station we’d pulled up at and ate biscuits while we drank cheap sangria after I walked barefoot onto jagged rocks and a bit of train roadkill (wait for the photo). Eventually we got back underway and I managed to sleep in the most uncomfortable positions imaginable for the remainder of the trip until we pulled up in Nice at 10am the following morning.

Lovin' the Louvre

The stale crossaints I have for breakfast each day are beginning to bore me. At least the big pot of coffee they give me is good, making it all worthwhile.

I made it to the Louvre early enough to avoid any long waits to get a ticket. It’s relatively cheap to get in and the tickets last all day so that you can leave and re-enter at will.

Not wanting to be a complete tourist-whore, I put off seeing the Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa until later. The first section I explored was the gallery of French sculptures, my favourite being Puget’s Perseus and Andromeda (particularly because of the look on Medusa’s head).

I wandered through the arts of Islam, Mesopotapotamia, ancient Iran, Egypt and Greece. I sat for a while in each major section, reading the information cards bound in hard, clear plastic (none of the signs on the exhibits are in English). I found the Code of Hammurabi fascinating and quite refreshing in that barely anyone had come to see it when I was there (or probably at all, really).

The time had come. I took a deep breath and began pushing my way through the crowds swarming the southern wing of the first floor. Each room became warmer and warmer due to body heat and I eventually made my way into the room housing the Venus de Milo. It was boring.

By the way, Louis XV’s coronation crown in the Apollo gallery is actually quite ugly. The interior of the “swanky” rooms are also somewhat garish and too busy for my minimalistic tastes.

I pushed on through the crowds and followed the paper photos of the Mona Lisa until the only thing between its suprisingly small self and I was a thick, glass protective window and about 200 people trying to get a good look. I walked around the room to see if her eyes followed me. I guess they did, but it felt like the other paintings were doing the same thing. Quickly growing tired of the big crowds and never being particularly interested in art, I left the Louvre.

Now, I feel I should mention that while I appreciate art and the astounding talent required to produce all the stuff in there, I find artefacts that contribute to and impact on society (as opposed to culture) more interesting, such as Hammurabi’s code.

Tonight I’m going to watch more football and drink more beer. I should be meeting up with Benecke soon. We’re going to Bordeaux on Thursday!

Alone in Paris

Bienvenue!

I can’t speak French, I can only copy what I see.

Compared to Incheon International, Charles de Gaulle is miniscule. Customs don’t even bother comparing your face to your passport photo, let alone stamp you into the country. They don’t even bother with declarations. I guess anything goes if you’ve got a history this long.

I had to repack my bags after I grabbed it off the carousel (yes, it arrived) so that I could attach the daypack, transforming my luggage into one massive, cumbersome, bulky travelpack breaking my back and an overstuffed green manbag hanging off to my side, the nylon strap digging into my neck.

I had no idea how to get a train ticket into Paris, I just knew where I wanted to go. In typical French style, the ticket vending machines at the international airport are French-only and accept only European credit cards. I found this out after I’d queued up and bravely attempted to purchase one.

Fortunately for me a middle-aged Englishman stood behind me in the line and ended up buying the ticket for me so that I didn’t have to queue in the other ticket line with ticket staff. He then took me down to the platform and caught the train into town together. We spoke about the packaging industry, rugby and university. Not something you’d expect as your first encounter in Paris.

I finally reached Gare du Nord and hopped off the train, confident I could somehow find my way to my hotel. Somehow, I managed to locate it without getting too lost or collapsing under my backpack. I checked in and took the 1m² elevator up to the fifth floor, found my room and gratefully dumped my bag onto the bed.

The bulkiness of my luggage had not only irritated me but it had made me concerned that I’d brought too much. I immediately unpacked my clothes and re-arranged everything I’d brought with me until I was satisfied that my new system was not only more efficient, it was going to be more comfortable as well.

I was forced to run a bath in my en suite as there was no way to attach the showerhead to the wall. I pondered for a while as I soaked in the steaming broth of my own filth as to what the hell I was going to do with myself this first week. Somewhat scared and in need of reassurance (and with the desire to let people know I’d made it safely), I rang dad and Emily and spoke to both of them for a little while. I ended up surrending to fatigue and fear of the unknown by curling up under my bedsheet and falling asleep.

By 8am the following morning I’d already bathed, eaten my supplied breakfast of croissants, bread and coffee and was out the door. I figured I’d go exploring incognito so I left my bag and camera in my room, only taking ,y wallet, phone, passport and a map.

It took me about 30 minutes walk directly south to reach the Seine and I followed it west until I wandered around the Louvre – it’s enourmous. I’m going to try and get inside on Monday as I heard the tickets are half-price then. Continuing my exploration, I sat for a moment at a fountain then kept walking until I crossed through the busy intersections surrounding the Place de la Concorde. I kept going all the way up the Champs-Elysees for kilometres until I hit the Arc de Triomphe and the terrifying round-a-bout circling it.

After taking my shoe off and adjusting my sock whilst sitting under the Arc, I casually followed my feet towards the Eiffel tower. There’s an abundance of streets and roads named after dead US politicians just opposite the tower, something I found out considering I was practically underneath one of France’s (and Europe’s) most famous landmark.

Before I checked out more of the magnificent, metallic monstrosity, I skipped down to the banks of the Seine and stuck my hand into the water for nostalgia’s sake. I walked back up from the artificial shore and admired the construction of the monument and the monumental queues winding underneath it. I touched the north-western buttress (if that’s what you call it) before I walked through the Champ de Mars and all the way back towards Notre Dame.

I gave in to exhaustion before I reached the hunchback’s residence and ended up dragging myself back to my hotel room for a 4 hour nap. When I woke I again ventured south to Cafe Oz, an Australian themed pub that was overcrowded and lacked seating. I drank my €6,50 pint of some mystery Aussie beer the barmaid thought I’d ordered and left.

I stopped by the Hotel de Ville and noticed some workers erecting an outdoor screen for what I assume will screen rugby matches for the local competition. It was still daylight at 8:30pm, so I walked around Notre Dame and continued into the Latin Quarter until I found the student restaurants and bars near the Sorbonne which aren’t any cheaper.

There are no cafes here, only restaurants and bars. It’s not cheap either and I’m being quite miserly. I walked all the way back from the Quartier and sat on the rock wall 2 feet above the waters of the Seine for a while to rest my weary legs. Eventually I made it back to my hotel room and collapsed into a hot bath in an attempt to numb the aches and pains I’d acquired from walking probably 30km or more during the day.

Summary.

Here’s the weekly wrap-up for all you go-getters looking for the down-low:

Tuesday:

No valentines for me (aww) and I didn’t give any out (haa), apart from those silly ones that people do when they have no one else to pretend with. I had about 27 of those. Mostly with men.It was also my mum’s birthday, so I gave her a call and did all that “good son” stuff. Well, some of it. I guess. I don’t know. I said happy birthday over the phone and had a chat for a while. That seemed good enough to me.

That night palmy and I met up with Emma and Kat at Zanzibar after work at around 12 (yes, for drinks). The two of us got drunk (again) and managed to chomp down on some free savoury finger food that was placed conveniently next to our table. We only started eating it when it was a fresh platter that hadn’t been soiled by the hands of other dirty patrons, of course.

We decided we’d go visit the bakery afterwards for a roll or two and on the way ran into a shitload of police all surrounding one of the buildings that’s being constructed up the road. They were all around the sides and even one cop was on the roof with a torch wandering around the scaffolding. No idea what had happened and they didn’t want to spill any details. I heard some man who was being questioned mention something about something. The details are hazy. I was drunk, ok?

Turned out the bakery was shut, so we went to the 7-11 and I ate my first ever Traveller pie. Delightful, I must say. I’ll do one again sometime.

On the way back home we decided we’d make the obiligatory visit to the Townie and scrounged up enough change to buy a few more drinks there and even have a slight flutter on the poker machines. We won nothing and the only thing of note that palmy earned was a big wet patch on his pants after spilling some of his beer. When we sat down again at the main bar we were unfortunate enough to enter a conversation with an old guy who was missing his middle and ring finger on his right hand so that he looked he was constantly “throwing up the horns”. He kept going on (tongue-in-cheek) about how metal he was because of it and explained that he had them chopped off from a metal press. Everything about this guy was clearly hardcore, so we tried to get him to leave us alone as soon as possible.

Somehow we started mucking around and abusing another woman sitting a few tables away for being soft, right before they turned the lights on and kicked us out. Nothing much of interest occurred in the dialogue, just a lot of name calling, so I don’t recall much of it.

Having decided that the night had not been random enough to qualify as a “Good Random Night” we jumped the fence of the local church and found a hole in the back fence which allowed us to slide down into the schoolgrounds. Fortunately we managed to get under this fence without ripping the living shit out of our clothes or faces. It was kind of fun, pretending we were commandos as we stalked around and trespassed. There was one staircase we jumped off for fun as it was easier than climbing the fence next to it. The drop was about 3 metres but there was a nice, soft flowerbed underneath for us to fall into. So comfy.

As we walked out to the back streets behind the school we found a playground, full of swings and see-saws and slides. This is one of the best things you could ever find at 4am when you’re drunk. We spent some time in there giggling like schoolgirls and having the time of our lives until we began singing Bohemian Rhapsody (since we couldn’t think of any other song that we’d know the words to) whilst bouncing on the see-saw and someone screamed from their front door “SHUT THE FUCK UP”. In horror, we tried to bolt back up the road. Instead, palmy stacked it and ripped his pants along with the skin on his elbow and knee. It was funny.

It was only a few more fence hops to get home but thankfully I got to demonstrate my resourcefulness by using a stray iron bar as a support in order to jump over a barbed wire fence. I think we fell asleep around 5:30am. No, not together. Valentine’s day was over.

Wednesday:

I went to work then went home.

Thursday:

I was booked in to help out Benecke’s mum with the Ravenswood girls again for this website project they’d been working on. I managed to get it finished for them, with their help of course. It was six girls from year six all writing a little piece on new technologies and how they can be utilised as learning tools. They also drew cute little pictures to accompany each page. It was nice to help them all out and it reminded me a little of when I was doing kindergarten teaching for work experience in year 10.Doing something charitable wasn’t the only reason I felt good that day. Mrs Benecke gave me a bottle of wine and Kahlua as a thank you, too. What a nice lady.

That afternoon Lloyd came around and we hit up the white russians, drinking them out of pint glasses. We watched Alien vs Predator and then Cube immediately afterwards as I knew he’d love it (which he did). We spent the rest of the evening just chilling out and webcamming to everyone that would bother watching drunk people act like idiots.

Later on, Ross, Joel and palmy all turned up one way or another and we continued doing whatever we did. Ross gave me a bottle of Coke Zero. I still have it here to fawn over. Joel brought his pots and pans over and started cooking yet another curry (on our stove). It was very spicy but not particularly tasty. I still ate some of it. palmy just played soccer.

I fell asleep at about 2:30am due to exhaustion from getting up way too early that morning.

Friday:

Ross left early in the morning because he’s soft then was disappointed to find out that we were all up by 10:30am. Joel had already gone home during the night and Lloyd was fretting about getting home to do lame shit before he returned to the city to watch a Swans match. He stayed for a while before he fled to watch a couple of episodes of Prison Break while we failed multiple times to burn the episodes onto a DVD for him. After about 6 attempts we finally found out that one file was corrupted and it was completely ruining any attempt to write them onto a disc. Finally we got it happening and we were done.palmy and I walked up to Corelli’s for breakfast after Lloyd left. He paid. :D

That night I went to work and was rather bored then went home to see mum. Dad had already left for the shack with some friends for a good old boys’ weekend. Mum was glad to see me, since she’d just gotten a year older and all. We watched half of season two of Arrested Development together as she needed to catch up in order to see season 3, of course!

Mum also introduced me to the stray cat she’s taken aboard at least temporarily. A very cute young cat that had been hiding under the trailer in the front yard for a few weeks (no, not a caravan). She had named her “Lovey”. She has a microchip that we got the vet next door to scan (very convenient) and he’s going to find out who she belongs to. Mum wants to keep her and I don’t blame her. Cats rock. Even Salesi isn’t too bad around her, considering he’s never had any other cat to share his space with. Still, we’ll see.

Saturday:

I turned up late for work (again) and bummed around with palmy, whinging about how hot it was. Another lazy shift saw us return back to the flat and attempt to psyche ourselves up for going to Vortex later in the evening. Our bank accounts psyched us out, so we stayed in and got a takeaway and finished off the last of the vodka from Thursday night with (you guessed it) more white russians. It was a similar string of proceedings to those of Thursday night, except that we stood on the benches on the balcony for a while practising dance moves by the Hinoi team, to the Hinoi team.At some early morning hour we gave Heli and Krista a phone call because we were drunk enough to forget about the cost. palmy and I spent about an hour on webcam laughing as I sent the funniest/most offensive random pictures I could find from my 4chan folder across MSN. There’s nothing quite like hearing the satisfying cry of a man shrieking “what the fuck? That’s a cock!” in the background when you’re talking to people on the phone.

Sunday:

I woke up and started writing all of this as Heli demanded I have an update before 1pm. I just realised they’re an hour behind me so it makes sense that she’s not online yet at 1:23pm local time. I thought I was just getting a lucky break. Woohoo! Still, I would have preferred another hour of lying around doing nothing, as usual.Later on Kat is meant to be dropping round on her way back from wherever the hell she is down south. Speaking of down south, she had some interesting things to say on the phone earlier but there’s no need to mention anything here. Apparently a band is playing at the Sandringham tonight that another friend of ours from work is associated with (by going out with one of the members, I think), so we’ll probably check that out before netball at 8pm.

It’s weird having a day planned out like that. I’m certainly not used to it.

So.

Who likes alcohol? Me.

Frank picked up a reasonably cute girl with weird bleeding teeth that he reckons looks like Avril Lavigne. Whatever. I suppose he’s at least getting sex. Meanwhile I’m typing this with Byrne passed out on my couch. I don’t even have bedsheets. Whatever.

I’m trying, desperately, to finish off this sherry and lemonade. Yes. I bought a bottle of sherry. $14.35 for 28 standard drinks in 2 litres of cheap wine. Think about it. Yeah, you know it. Mixed with lemonade 50/50 it’s drinkable. Barely. It’s enough to fuck you up if you put in the effort, which is all I need.

Tonight I went to the Marly and Kelly’s pub. I got drunk off Smirnoff Black Ice for the third time in a week. Excellent. 1.9 standard drinks for~$8 doesn’t sound right, though. It’s still fuck-uppish lolly water so I’ll take it. Anything for liver abuse.

Seems like Ross is coming over now, too. At 5:16 am. Hot. Frank reckons we’re gonna go get “the lucifer” from Circulate tomorrow. It’s a big breakfast, including bacon, eggs, hash browns, tomato, sausage, mushrooms, toast, coffee and orange juice. Maybe more, I forget. All that for $13. Fuck yes.

This, of course, is assuming I can rescue Frank tomorrow from wherever he is. I remember how to get back to the place that he’s at (Byrne and I dropped by to admire the free lollypops, pet snake, pet cats and pet dog – the cats were cool) but I have no idea when he’ll be leaving/when to make him leave. Whatever. I’ll sort if out later, when the sun is shining.

Andrew is out at Hunters Hill “getting a good night’s sleep” with Sofie (that’s how he spells it on my phone), his girlfriend. Sure. Apparently he was drinking at Manly tonight and scored a 1 litre bottle of overproof Kahlua from Simba. Thumbs up.

I haven’t topped 2 lines yet on any paragraph according to the current size of the window that I’m typing in. Do y’all dig it? Short and sweet, like my favourite penises.

I really like Mindless Self Indulgence, without having any understanding of what their image/target demographic/anything is. That’s possibly one of the most legitimate fanboi-isms of my life.

Right.

Triple.

Alright. I’ve put these all off for too long. Let’s get into it, then. There’s a lot to read about.

Saturday, 21st of January, 2006 – Michael Harris’ buck’s night.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this. I was invited along way back in late August/early September after I caught up with the man I affectionately called “Bongo” during high school for a delicious barbecue dinner. The plan (which was revealed to me approximately 4 days before the actual event) was:

  • participate in a manly session of paintball during the morning
  • clean up and drink beer at a barbecue in Turramurra
  • go to “prestigious” strip club Men’s Gallery
  • continue drinking at bars in the city

I waived the opportunity to attend the paintball and barbecue due to needing the money from work (and being too much of a wuss to weasel my way out of the shift) and went home to change clothes while everyone else was in Turramurra. Having never been to any exotic dancing establishment before that anyone would remotely consider describing “clean” I thought I might gussy myself up as an attempt to make myself appear presentable. It turned out that a collared shirt and non-ripped jeans made me look overdressed.

When I arrived outside the club I was met by my old friend Vincent. He was patiently holding vigil while I walked from the bus stop at the QVB. Following him inside I was slapped by a $50 entrance fee – a sum I was prepared for as I was under the impression we had our own function room hired with some pre-arranged food and drinks. In reality, our function room was a table towards the front with a small “reserved” sign dropped on top of it; the drinks were $7.50 for a bottle of VB and $9 for Toohey’s Extra Dry and the food was four plates of party pies.

Fortunately, half of the group decided to take dear old Bongo into a private show for the pre-9pm price of $65. This provided me with a golden opportunity to achieve my $50 of value from the club by devouring as many party pies as I could before anyone else got back to eat them. I think I got through about $20 worth. Not too bad.

We were inside the place from 8:30pm right up to 11:45pm. It doesn’t sound like long, but when you’re sitting in a room (literally one room, check out the photo on the site) full of silent men (almost none of which you know, let alone speak to often) doing nothing apart from drinking, hiding their erections and waving fake “dancer dollars” around in order to fool themselves that they’re actually appealing individuals it feels like an eternity. Especially when you’re sober, hanging out for your pay cheque that doesn’t arrive for another week and sober since the drinks are ludicrously priced.

Value was added to my experience, thankfully, when Vinnie bought me a scotch and coke and a decent cigar. I’m an easy man to please. Alright, it was fun looking at a bit of flesh, too. There were certainly some sexy women dancing but most of what I would describe as “talent” were just the regular waitresses. Oh well.

After we finally left no one knew what to do next. Everyone was stone cold sober and almost out of pocket due to the cash they’d been throwing around willy nilly. I was strapped and I’d only spent the $50 on entry. All I wanted to do was drink and forget that it had all happened. Instead, everyone bitched and moaned about where to go and we ended up sitting outside Bar 333 for 40 minutes trying to get in, only to fail due to our group constituting what is known as a “sausage fest”. This meant that we had to jump onto the back of a large group of girls that randomly turned up in order to preserve the hallowed 1:1 male/female balance inside the club.

Inside was boring. Boring and expensive. Expensive to the tune of $8 shots. I bought one in desperation and fortunately scored a glass of champagne after someone ordered some for a toast. No one spoke inside the bar, either. I was having so much fun I almost sunk to the new low of going up to unaccompanied girls and starting a conversation in order to escape the sheer and utter boredom of being there. I probably would have, if I was drunk. Instead of getting my mack on I politely (and honestly) told Harris that I was tired and broke and would be leaving. He didn’t seem to mind and neither did I.

As I began my hour long walk back to Newtown, I sussed out every pub and bar along the way to see if, for some unknown and unexpected reason, I should bother going inside on my own. Every single place looked unappealing for various reasons. Eventually I made it back to my flat and ended up falling asleep in my chair for 20 minutes while I maintained my boredom on IRC at 2:45am on a Saturday night.

This Saturday is the wedding. I still have to buy a wedding present.

Thursday, 26th of January, 2006 – Big Day Out.

This day started literally at the beginning of the day – midnight. On a whim, I’d swung by to pick up Benecke, Frank and Byrne from Byrne’s place in Hunter’s Hill after work. I was also driving Andrew as we alternate who drives to work. The lads wanted a lift into King street and were already mildly intoxicated from three bottles of cheap wine. Not one to spoil a party, I happily obliged.

We met up with Kate and Jibby at Kelly’s hotel and continued to drink until the lights were turned on and we were kicked out. Typically, we’d planned ahead and stashed a few empty pint and schooner glasses inside people’s jumpers and hand bags and succeeded in smuggling them outside. The only disappointment in this subterfuge was that our grand plan of concealing the cups inside empty Smith’s chips packets was foiled (pardon the pun) when a waitress decided she’d pick up our bag of glass. God knows why anyone would pick up a non-empty packet, but she did. Bitch.

After a brief encounter with the police outside the Town Hall hotel due to our gang bashing of Benecke which resulted in his shoes being thrown across the road after dumping him on a particularly uncomfortable looking bench, everyone went home. Andrew and I foolishly stayed up playing FIFA 2006 or some other game, I can’t remember. We didn’t get to bed until about 5am. I’m not sure why, really.

The latest dotmaen, RenoZuken, or Dylan, or Dilly Bag, or D-Train, or various other D names was due to arrive around 9am or thereabouts. He was on time. This meant that palmy and I had to get up, shower, purchase vodka hip flasks, purchase leukoplast tape, purchase sunscreen and make it onto the train bound for Strathfield in order to get to Homebush at 11:30am in time for the festival. We were on time. Everyone we were meant to meet there wasn’t.

Eventually we all got our tickets (thanks, nachos!) and pushed our way into the front of the queue to enter. This was a success. Another success was smuggling in the 11 standard drinks worth of vodka that we had purchased that managed to remain strapped to our legs under our shorts, courtesy of some tactical leukoplast wrapping. The failure came when we lost most of the hair on our upper legs when the time came to remove the tape. The moment of sadness was brief as palmy and I both finished the entire contents of our vodka bottles within 45 minutes. Most of the day after this (ie, practically all of it) was a blur. He’s a rundown of the key events that I can recall in another convenient list (I reserve right to have the events out of order due to the fact that I was off my tits):

  • dancing in the boiler room (this is where we drank our crunk juice)
  • running around drunk trying to get to the front of the mosh pit for Mudvayne
  • having my shoes nearly ripped apart halfway through Mudvayne’s set (which I was thoroughly enjoying, mainly due to the fact that the alcohol had made everything other than the beat of the music incoherent – perfect for moshing!)
  • going back to the boiler room to dance on my own for a bit since my shoes wouldn’t have survived re-entering the Mudvayne pit and no one else had left
  • waiting around the Wendy’s to try and find people and instead having 3 random people ask me to do them completely different small favours (all unfortunately non-sexual)
  • eventually having to hunt down who I was looking for at the other end of the showgrounds
  • trying to keep palmy alive after he almost passed out from jumping around too much at Mudvayne
  • getting 2 beers at a time from the Toohey’s Extra Dry tent
  • standing around the outside of the green stage for 30 minutes during Sarah Blasko’s set waiting for Jibby to find me whilst I drank both my beers and spoke to a lady about her camera
  • getting more beer at the Extra Dry tent and finding that a chicken burger had revitalised palmy
  • going off to see the Kings of Leon and scoring a dubious cigarette
  • squirting sunscreen over half of the crowd and getting away with it, bar the fact that a security guard held a hose on me for 20 seconds (this may have been during a different band, I can’t remember)
  • running off to catch the last part of Henry Rollins’ spoken word at the green stage and being upset that I didn’t get to see Soulwax
  • going back inside the main arena and queuing up for Franz Ferdinand while they were already playing then being at the front of the line to get into the mosh pit for what would have been the White Stripes (Iggy was playing on the other side)
  • leaving the queue in boredom only to return again and push up to the front of the non-moshpit crowd for Iggy and the Stooges
  • going back outside and falling asleep for an hour, missing the White Stripes
  • blindly following palmy’s green shirt towards the boiler room through the crowd in the dark after being awoken
  • dancing topless inside the boiler room until the place closed down
  • having my shoes finally ripped completely apart whilst boarding the train :(

When I say it like that it sounds like I didn’t really do much. It felt like a lot at the time. I’m sure more things happened, I just can’t remember but I suppose I was rather out of my head, so I can live with that. After we got back to Newtown we returned to Kelly’s and stole another 3 pint glasses then stayed up for a few more hours in the flat.

By the time I went to bed, I’d already turned 23. It was a very happy Australia day.

Saturday, 28th of January, 2006 – palmy’s housewarming.

Originally, palmy wanted to have his housewarming the very first weekend that he moved in. I told him no. Instead, we had it this night.

Both of us had work that day (I always work Saturdays) during the morning and early afternoon, so I frantically began cleaning up after we got back to the flat (virtually a solo effort, naturally). I can’t be bothered listing all the names of the people that came, but there were a considerable amount.

I suppose I may have still had a lot of alcohol sitting in my system from Thursday. Either way, I managed to deceptively get myself very drunk off white russians (what else?) or perhaps it was from the beer I sculled with some others from our newly-acquired pint glasses. Fortunately I didn’t get so drunk that I became sick. Just the way I like it.

Basically it was just a fun party with the odd highlight here and there. Some to do with me, some without. I’m not going to spoil the fun and fess up to my antics – that’s what everyone else can gossip about ;). Instead, I’ll mention that Simba somehow broke my computer chair in the most amazing way I have ever seen. He ripped the handles clean off as if they were cut with a laser. I was so impressed I wasn’t at all annoyed. I suppose it helped a little that he handed me $50 out of guilt, too. Nothing else was broken, no one fell off the balcony, no one threw up in our bathroom (I think people threw up in Joel’s next door) and palmy finally got to fully christen his new bed.

In the morning, after everyone else had left, Ross drove me to McDonald’s for breakfast. During our meal we challenged each other to take our shirts off and continue eating. We sat there quietly, topless, chewing away when a young man walked in from outside and gained our attention by calling to us. We turned to face him only to find that he, too, had removed his shirt and joined in on our fun. He then proceeded to offer us both ice and coke. Unsure of how to react to any aspect of this situation, we smugly said, “no, thanks”, before returning to our food. To apply a little icing to our stupidity of eating in Mickey D’s shirtless, I returned to the counter and ordered some hotcakes for Ross and I to share (I’d had a craving for weeks; I think I’m pregnant).

As we left I decided to test out the local drug dealer and asked him if he really had any ice and coke. He held up his drink cup and let me have a sip of his ice and coke. Ironically, the ingredients in Coca-Cola’s post mix are probably more brain-damaging than most other illicit substances. I smiled as I drank because thinking of this made me feel like a hard man.

It took me two days to summon up the energy to clean the apartment. We still haven’t taken the trash out.

End of stories!

What a long entry! I wouldn’t have bothered reading it all.

P.S. we killed the biggest, meanest, toughest fucking wolf spider of all time tonight. Eventually. It only took half a can of Pea Beu, one dozen splats with a floor swiffer, eight twists and grinds with aforementioned swiffer and a lot of courage and patience to finally kill the bastard. We dropped him off the balcony.

P.P.S. I’d like to mention that I’m no hater. I don’t mind insects as long as they stay outside. They’re only fair game for murder when they come inside. This is my territory, after all.

Warudo.

Well, last week was certainly a busy one.

I went to that Mantech thingy. It was a recruitment company assessing me, after all. I had to do some weird 10 question written quiz to see what I knew. It was written for experienced workers but the guy said the client was looking for either “a graduate” or someone “with about 8 years experience”. It’s nice to know they really narrowed down the field. Anyway, I couldn’t answer most of the questions since they were basically experience-specific, but I did what I could. I haven’t heard back, but oh well. I don’t really care.

The same day I went to visit Ross and his Finnish friends Krista and Heli. Ross mentioned earlier that they might need a place to stay in the following week, so I said they could crash here. I also caught up with his neighbour Greg (another guy I went to school with) and Kerry, Ross’ wing chun instructor or something. Nice guy. Turns out he was doing the same major project course as I was this semester at Sydney. He recognised the group name “RailTech”. I felt like a C grade celebrity. Funky.

So, yeah, I saw Corpse Bride (or is it The Corpse Bride?) on Tuesday afternoon with Ross and the girls. I quite liked that movie, actually. Some of the songs at the start bugged me, but that’s normal for musical scenes in film for me. Whatever. After that Ross managed to talk me into attending his dance class. Now I know I officially can’t dance. I can sort of pop, though. Awesome? You tell me.

Continuing on, Wednesday included working then dropping by Ross’ again after work to say farewell before he left for Finland on Thursday afternoon. Somehow I agreed to let Andrew come around to the flat afterwards with his PC so we could work on a website for a friend of his who’s in a band. Electric Lady, they’re called. 2 points to anyone who can guess where that came from.

The site is sort of coming together. palmy’s done the pretty web page design stuff and I’ve been working on the backend database (although the design keeps changing). I’m going to have to whack out some more PHP goodness to act as an interface, too. I’m sure only about 2 people reading this understand/care about this paragraph, so I’ll stop now.

Thursday involved meeting up with Emmeline again when she came around on a break from work at “The Entertainment Quarter” (or Fox Studios if you will). I managed to convince both Em and Andrew that the chips at Jesters are supreme. I wish Jesters used an apostrophe. It looks stupid. Tools.

Friday was a boring old Friday. Andrew left when I had to go to work, without having showered once. Slick. Work was uneventful, as usual. I usually buy a couple of bananas on my dinner break from the local supermarket and I’ve decided to start a ritual. It’s only a primitive one but it pleases me so perhaps it pleases the banana gods, too. Basically I just eat a banana on my way back out through the car park and then dump the empty skin in the same spot as always. I’m getting a nice little pile of banana skins at various stages of decomposition. It makes me feel like I’m contributing to something, so it’s clearly “all good”. I made a little shrine with a banana skin on an abandoned chair near a bus stop once. It remained for a while until it disappeared along with the chair. :(

Saturday was pretty cool. Leola brought in brownies at work, so I munched on a couple. I have no idea if they were homemade or not but it didn’t matter. They had my required levels of chewiness and crunchiness and therefore were found to be satisfactory. Brownies are serious business.

Another friend, Johnny (or del or Johnny Hero as I like to call him [which has actually stuck]) invited me around to his place earlier in the week as he was going to have a mini LAN (or larn). I just rocked up for an hour to catch up with him and some other buddies as I really didn’t feel like dragging my PC around with me for half the weekend. I think I made the right decision, as they all looked very sweaty and expended after their big night out clubbing on Friday. Another small victory for me.

I went out on Saturday night with Lloyd, Frank and Byrne. Lloydie wanted to start somewhere around the casino, so we did. After 2 drinks we left. Nice. We cabbed it back to King street and spent a bit of time at the Marly and in Kelly’s then shuffled back up for what I like to call the “Istanbul on King experience” for some premium kebabs. Unfortunately I managed to get some barbecue sauce on my shirt in the 10 seconds that I wasn’t concentrating for the entire time I was eating it. Fortunately it wasn’t too big a spillage. I’m sure Napisan will come to my rescue, otherwise mum will have to.

It should be recorded that Lloyd actually stayed out with us the whole time and didn’t soft out and go home. Then again, he’d already planned to crash here so I guess he didn’t have much choice as to when he could go to bed. We stayed all up for about 2 hours after getting back. Most of this time was spent watching Frank reading through the SuicideGirls website. That sounds a lot dodgier than it was, I promise.

The only real highlight of Sunday was that we won netball, 20-14 I think. Woo! I was all pumped up on energy that afternoon. I’m not sure if it was due to chance or the high amount of kilojoules I’d eaten an hour or so earlier at Hungry Jack’s, but I was ready to run all night! Instead I only played 3 quarters. Oh well.

On Sunday night I found out Krista and Heli wanted to stay down here on Monday. That meant we had to frantically clean up (well, Scott did) all the shit that was lying around. The place hasn’t looked this good since we moved in, basically. We went to pick them up on Monday night and they made us the richest, most fattening chocolate cake you could ever imagine as a thank you. It’s basically milk, flour, cream, butter and two blocks of hazlenut and dairy milk chocolate all churned together. Man, it tastes awesome. I’m not sure if my body could handle another mouthful, though.

I ran up to the Marly again last night while the girls were baking to meet up with Benecke and Frank and their significant others the small celebration of praising Benecke for finishing his exams for the year. Somehow I managed to down about 3 schooners in about 50 minutes and steal two swizzle sticks before scooting back down to the flat in the rain. It was quite a new experience to enter the front door and actually be able to smell something had been cooking. Especially when that smell involves a chocolate cake.

I need to shave my neck. Hair sucks. Stupid itchiness.

P.S. if you made it this far, I pity you for not having anything better to do.

Interview?

I got a phone call this morning which woke me up (10am). It was in response to one of the job applications I’d put in (to a place called Mantech, naturally). Tomorrow I’m meant to be going in for some kind of interview/skills test. It should be interesting.

This predicament finally gave me a reason to bother walking up to uni to pick up my transcript, for the low-low price of $11. I was never really that aware of what my marks had been like over the years. Geez first and second year look average. Lots of Ps. Fortunately my marks rocketed up for third year. I found it amusing that the three subjects that I got discontinued fails for when I deferred have been my top marked subjects the second time around. Woot.

Just being outside (for once :p) also let me duck in to my new favourite tacky barber shop. After a few minutes and $12 expenditure I now sport another short and sleek head of hair. Now I just need to get my ears pinned back and I’ll be well on my way to presentability.

Some funny old woman joined me at my table for lunch in Jesters. I still get all gooey inside just eating there. I’m having a love affair with their chips. Anyway, this woman was one of those old, talkative types. I really didn’t feel there was much to talk about in regards to the economic success of a pie shop and could barely hear her anyway over the din inside the shop, so I just made a bored attempt at small talk until she shut up and let me continue reading the free music review magazine I’d swiped from the counter as I munched through my food.

“Small” looks funny. Don’t you think? Now that I think about it, “talk” does, too. Oh the wonder of English!

Sweaty.

We lost netball 31-34. :( I got to play goal attack for two quarters. Those two quarters were our best. ;) The middle quarter that I played in at goal defense meant that we had weaker attackers on and we let our opponents trickle away from us and get a good lead. Every other team seems to have one or two people that can reliably hit 2 pointer shots whereas our team only goes for 1 point shots. If I play more at goal attack we should score a whole lot more, though; so it shouldn’t really matter. We’ll see.

In happier news, I managed to snap half of my left big toe’s toenail off by kicking my thonged foot in to Scott’s shoe at Woolworths (and no, they didn’t still have that bag we left there last week). I haven’t cut the nail off completely yet but I wrapped it in a couple of tissues before putting it in my sock before netball as we have no bandaids around. I was actually going to purchase some at Woolies after acquiring the injury and only refrained after Scott’s insistence that he had some back in the flat. That’s the last time I trust him. The bully.

On the way home tonight I had a huntsman spider crawling around on the windows of my car. On the outside, that is. I hate it when that happens. He crawled across my windscreen at one point and I turned on my wipers in a vain attempt to flick him off the car. It only resulted in shoving him on the driver’s side of the vehicle so that he scurried around next to me and hid out of view which of course means I had to get out of the car on the passenger side in case he jumped down on to my head as I hopped out. In the darkness I used my mobile phone’s built-in torch to weakly illuminate the exterior of my car but my new friend was nowhere to be found. Odds are he climbed inside somehow and will scare the crap out of me as I drive leading to a gruesome death.

To make that whole ordeal even more fun, there was a rat killing another rat in the driveway behind our unit blocking the road so that I couldn’t drive past. He had his victim on the ground and was biting in to its throat. I assume it was dead, but this little bugger wouldn’t let go and move out of my way at all, even when I rolled the car up right in front of him. I felt like such a little man in my pink netball shirt as I reversed the car back and drove around the murderous rat.

On Friday night I went to my 5 year school reunion. How depressing that it’s already been 5 years. Fortunately, barely anyone has actually left or finished uni yet. Most of those ones though are at least doing 4 or 5 year degrees or honours or a second degree or masters or even a Ph. D. Never mind. I’ll take my bachelor’s and run. Run far, far away. Afterwards I met up with and stayed out in the city until 5am. Good times.

Boy, was I tired when I had to get up at 9am that morning to drive up to Swansea for my cousin Todd’s wedding. It as another fun night that resulted in me eating plenty of food and a truckload of dessert slices. I slept over at the shack with mum and dad afterwards. Liberally masking myself with Aerogard proved to be effective as this time I managed to sleep the entire night without being woken up by a swarm of mosquitoes buzzing around me. I didn’t even get one bite. Victory is mine.

Mustard pickle spread makes me happy.

You fit in with:
Atheism
Your ideals mostly resemble those of an Atheist. You have very little faith and you are very focused on intellectual endeavors. You value objective proof over intuition or subjective thoughts. You enjoy talking about ideas and tend to have a lot of in depth conversations with people.

40% scientific.
100% reason-oriented.

   
 
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