Thursday, September 26, 2002

Now that I've been in Sydney for a little while I'm sure you're all chompin at the bit (working conditions these days, it's terrible) to hear what I've been up to. My news is interspersed with Sydney observations. Oh here's the first one now:

Sydney observation 1: There are masses of Thai restaurants. Each one of them Thais to out do the other with a thai-ribble pun in the name - "Thai-tanic" and "Thai-riffic" are my favourite ones so far. (this is why I¡¯ve got the odd subject for this message).

We started off our stay in the Sydney YHA which is very pleasant. We had a funny orientation evening where you could bid for discounted tours etc. You bought a discounted ticket for a Neighbours night where you can meet the cast. The YHA has a DVD lounge and I saw Lord of the Rings yet again. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't recognise many places that we'd been too (who could imagine that the battle field in the opening scene is the same nursery slopes of the skifield that we were on a few weeks ago) , but it certainly has the feel of New Zealand scenery.

Our main priority was finding somewhere to live and sorting out mobile phones, getting a tax number, bank account, getting some clothes for work etc. It all went pretty smoothly. We were pretty lucky with our flat. After looking at a couple of places we saw in the newspaper, we weren't overly impressed with, we stopped at a letting agent that we happened to be passing and found that they had a lovely fully furnished flat right in the centre - just what we were looking for. It's just a few minutes walk from the centre of town and has everything that we need. The only annoyance is that it's so BRIGHT in the mornings. It's light at about 4 or so in the morning. These ozzies really need to sort their time system out.

Sydney observation 2 : There's a very touristy monorail that goes around one part of the center of the city. It seems to serve little useful purpose (as its stops are within easy walking distance) other than to look cool. It's a bit like stepping into the future, as imagined by somone at the Worlds Fair many decades ago. Every time I pass it I try to restrain myself from singing the Simpsons monorail song. (lyrics) (wav file)

We've been doing a wee bit of sight seeing too. One of our first stops was the Circular Quay area - down by the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was odd the first time I saw the view - it really felt l was in a film or some kind of Travel programme. Just nearby is the large & beautiful botanical gardens which offer superb views of the harbour. The first time we went thru the gardens we were freaked out by these flying foxes (a type of bat) which were literally dripping from the trees. In one area, there are simply hundreds hanging upside down from the tall trees - if you dont look closely you could miss them though, or think that they were some sort of fruit.

Sydney observation 3: The people aren't quite as friendly here as in NZ. I was given a NZ 20 cents piece in a supermarket here, and when I pointed out it was the wrong currency the cashier said "It doesn't matter", and tried to fob me off saying that NZ currency is basically the same thing as Australian. I was NOT being given great customer service and told her to give me a coin in the right currency. Jo thought I was weird - its only worth about 8p - but its the principle of the thing.

We visited the historical Rocks area of the city on the weekend, when there is a lovely market. It¡¯s where the oldest part of the city is & where all those convict boats used to arrive. We passed tens of couples (and their white limos) posing by the harbourside for their wedding photos with the Opera house in the background. It was hilarious.

Sydney observation 4: There's a large population of Asian people here (and a big Chinatown area). One of my favourite sights is walking along the main street and passing the video arcade - there's bound to be a crazy teen dancing away on this arcade game where you have to dance on this mat in the correct sequence. They be loonies.

We met up with Andy Mundy who is over here on holiday on a break from his job at Reuters and took in the views from the Granite pylons on Sydney harbour coathanger shaped bridge http// . Its such a world famous landmark that it's hard to believe its only 70 years old. We bumped into Andy again in Paddy's Market when he was getting his portrait drawn. I embarrassed him by taking a photo of the work in progress. Unusually for streetside portrait artists, the picture was actually pretty good.

Sydney observation 5: The music on the radio here ain't too hot - mostly bland rock. Any tapes or minidisks of Westwood (top to at ten, Fridays, Radio1) would be most welcome.

We visited Bondi beach - I wasn't too impressed with what is one of the most famous beaches in the world. But I guess it only comes alive in the summer? We had a walk down the coast to Coogee.

Sydney observation 6: Aaah! I can't escape that fat tongued idiot Jamie Oliver! He was advertising Pams ( a bit like Hienz) in NZ , and he was just on telly advertising wine here.

The main thing we've been up to at the moment is looking for work. It's only been a week, but it's pretty stressful. We've got a couple of interviews with agencies lined up, so I'm pretty optimistic.

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