Monday, November 24, 2008

Working Girl

I started the job at the restaurant pub today. For the first half an hour or so I wanted to quit and crawl into a hole, but by the end of my short lunch shift,I didn't hate it. I've never really done restaurant work, and have done no bar work at all, so let's just say that this will be a huge learning curve for me. The hardest part seems to be learning the POS system and getting used to the Aussie bar terminology. For instance, a 15oz beer is called a pot of beer, and pints are rarely served. I have faith that my Canadian accent will help me along the way though.
The retail job is great. Since working at Quiksilver in T.O., not to brag but I'm an expert at selling stuff! So that job is easy as pie.
I've also been lucky to pick up 5, yep count em, 5 extra shifts this morning for both jobs. Looks like I won't be around much, but I will be earning a lot of money for that road trip I'm supposed to take! Ah, life is finally starting here!

Life on the Other Side of the Equator

Since I’ve been really slack about blogging, I’m going to try to sum up my life so far as a temporary Australian.

My days were mostly spent littering the city with my resumes trying to find someone who wants to hire a casual for only a couple of months, but luckily since it’s Christmas time there is a lot of that work available. I had a few interviews and lots of call backs, but the final decision was a retail job at a bra and undie store, and a bar/restaurant job. I stated the retail job today and so far so good. I work with really lovely girls and it’s a small store, so it will be easy to work there I reckon. Oh and did I mention it’s air-conditioned, what a relief! I start my bar job tomorrow so I’ll let you know what kind of creeps I run into!

The weather here has been…intolerable. I know, I know, how can I complain when most of you a shoveling snow, but seriously, it’s HOT here. And I’m warned that it gets hotter. How will I survive! However, interesting piece of news today; big snow storm down in New South Wales and Victoria, I kid you not it looked like Canada. It is very unseasonal and bizarre for that to happen, but a pleasant surprise that there is snow here! I will fulfill my dream of skiing on this side of the equator!

I’ve been lucky enough to do a little bit of traveling so far as well. We made our way down to Bundaberg and Bagara Beach for a weekend. Bundaberg is the home to Bundaberg Rum, which is extraordinarily popular here, and Bundaberg sodas. We did a tour of the Rum factory and I am now well versed in the ways of rum making. Bundaberg is really popular for backpackers to stay because of all the fruit picking opportunities and it’s close to good beaches and good surf. We stayed right on the beach in an ultra modern holiday apartment…it was priceless. I’d like to go back again for longer.

This past weekend my friend Katie and I tagged along water skiing just outside of town. If anyone knows me, they know I can’t water ski, so I stuck to the tube! The water ski club is an a fresh water river…ahhh fresh water. Just the smell and the sound of the boat brought me right back to Lakair. Needless to say I didn’t hesitate to jump in for a swim…however it was quickly brought to my attention as I tried to coax Katie into the water, that the thing that I may need to be afraid of was CROCS! And no, not those ugly shoes, real crocodiles. Ah, the surprises never end here! But regardless, we still had a great time, and no croc sightings!

I think the thing about Australia is that it is very similar to Canada in the way of the people and politics, language, religion, etc. I was prepared to come into Canada’s bizarro world country, but as I continue to explore, I find more and more differences that seem more shocking because I really didn’t expect them. Here are a few of the things I’ve noticed about Oz that are “weird”!

You Say 'Tomāto' I Say 'Tomăto'

Roundabouts: Aussies got it going on when it comes to roads. Roundabouts are the key to keeping traffic flowing and fast. They’re hard to get used to and sometimes and don’t know which way that circle road is going to spit me out, but I’m getting it slowly.

Cell Phones: Did you know you can buy a cell phone in a box? It comes with a phone number in it which is not specified to one region, it’s local no matter where you go. No contracts to sign, no pesky registration and add ons. Just a cell phone that turns on and goes. I know mom and aunt Leslie would LOVE to have that in Canada. We gotta get on that.

Boys Fashion: Or should I say lack there of. I find it fascinating and slightly revolting that young men here seem to think it’s “cool” or remotely “attractive” to have a rat tail (and in the words of Carley Stewart) that come in all different ranges; dyed, braided, free flowing…ie, disgusting. It doesn’t end there; mullets, skullets, messy hair, acid wash jeans, popped collars that should never be popped (I know we have that in C.A. but it’s much, much worse here) faux snake skin shoes, and suped up utes (half car half truck utility vehicle). Someone’s gotta teach these boys a lesson in style. No worries mom, looks like I’ll be coming home alone!

I’ll add to this list later.

So this is my life so far on the other side of the equator, and I promise I’ll be a better blogger. Until next time, stay warm!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Started a Flickr account for you all....check it out.

If sweating were a job, I'd be employee of the month

Day 5- Nadi and Tavewa Island
Arrived early into Fiji and began the slow transit to our resort on Tavewa Island, one of the northern most islands in Fiji. This consisted of a 5 hour ferry where I foolishly, nay, stupidly say on the deck the whole time and burnt myself to a crisp. By the time I realized what had happened, the damage was done. Let’s just say it wasn’t a good start to second leg of the trip. Finally got to the resort where we were greeted wish song, drinks and food. But I was anxious to see my good friend Sophie who came from Australia to meet us and her two friends Emily and Katie. When we did meet up we learned that Sophie was deathly ill from a night of partying, but we kept our spirits up. Went snorkeling just off the beach at the resort which wasn’t too bad. Some beautiful blue starfish, tropical fish and coral. However since I was in so much pain from my burn I just decided to stay out of sun
as much as possible. Had dinner after sunset and went to bed fairly early.

Day 6- Coral View/ Blue Lagoon
We decide to check out the beach on the back side of the island. On the walk to the beach we followed a trail through the bush, coming across big burrow holes in the ground. Peering into them I discovered they were spider holes…spiders that were the size of chipmunks. Needless to say I didn’t mosey over the holes. Did some swimming and shell hunting but the sun was really hot so we head back to the resort. Sophie went back early and we learned she’d gotten so much worse. We all take turns trying to help her get better. By the afternoon we all have cabin fever. Katie, Emily and I decide to take a trip another island to do a snorkeling trip off of a good beach. The water literally feels like bath water it’s so warm. The reef is amazing. So much to look at. About 100m out the shallow coral drops off about 50 feet or more and it’s a good opportunity to dive. We get back to the resort to find that Carley has successfully nursed Sophie back to better health and we spend a bit of the afternoon taking pictures and laying in hammocks. I met a wonderful Canadian couple who were the only people over the age of 28 at the resort. They had a stopover in Fiji before they made their way to Australia to go to their daughters wedding. They warned me that I not get involved with any aussie blokes or I could end up like their daughter. I think I’ll take their advice!

Day 7- Caving/ Ferry back to Nadi
This was our final day at the Coral View resort. It rained all night and it hasn’t let up in the morning. I was curious if anyone would be going caving at all that morning but to my relief there was a whole group going, and I had somewhat convinced Emily to come with me. Because we booked that day instead of having a voucher already, Emily and I didn’t go with the rest of the group, instead we went with a few of the instructors on our own. The caves we about a 30min boat ride from our island and it was great opportunity to do some sight seeing. Since it was a little story the water was a little rough…especially when you’re in a “Lakair” style boat with a 30HP Yamaha. It was a bumpy excursion riding the waves! We were fortunate enough being separate from the group to stop off at a couple other islands to let some of the locals off and see the village (from the boat). Although I must admit, it did seem a little odd that we were separated from everyone else, it crossed my mind that we may mysteriously disappear and become tribal sacrifices. But we were with really nice and trusting guides, it just seemed so horror movie plot line! Anyways, we made it to the caves; it was a walk up a crumbling concrete stairway then down into the caves. Since we came ahead of the group, we only had a group of about 6 people, 4 from another resort. The entrance of the caves looked like a cathedral with a really high ceiling- one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. To enter the cave tunnels there is was a 3-second breath hold in a passage way, which I was afraid to do, but ended up being pretty fun. The tour itself was fairly short, but an experience that I treasure. It was the one thing that I wanted to do since I booked the trip. Our guide told us that if you didn’t come see the Limestone Caves of the Yasawas, you hadn’t seen the Yasawas at all. On the boat ride back we stopped again at one of the villages to pick up the fellow that we dropped off. He brought a basket of cooked cassava root and freshly grilled battered fish. They were so gracious to share their food with Emily and I, and it was the best memory that I have of Fiji. The locals were so nice and accommodating. Upon our arrival back to the resort we had enough time to eat lunch before it was back on the ferry to Nadi. We spent about half the time under deck where the Air-con was too cold, and then went up on deck to warm up. Since it was cloudy and a bit rainy, I wasn’t so worried about getting burnt again. That night we checked into our new dorm at the Nadi Bay Hotel and had a delicious dinner at the restaurant. I recommend the Pumping Cannelloni with coconut sauce if you ever go! Met a guy from Montreal who was traveling alone to Australia. It was nice to talk to another Canuck! We were all pretty tired, and Carley and I had an early flight, so it was to bed.

Day 8- Flight to Brisbane
Early flight to Brisbane this morning. Carley’s brother who has been living in Australia for a year and a half now was kind enough to come and pick us up from the airport. Carley’s going to be staying with him for the next couple months while I live with Sophie. Anyways, Sophie’s flight didn’t get in till 6pm and it was only 12pm. I needed to get myself to Sam’s place or find something to do for the next six hours. Luckily Sam was working at the Discount Factory Outlet mall near the airport and I was able to stash my things there until Sophie came in. So my first day was spent in a shopping center! Finally being in Australia is relieving yet so final. I feel like such an outsider here and I’m a little shy to speak. In the evening after picking up Sophie, we head to Sam’s to cook dinner and just relax for the night. Here, I don’t feel homesick!

Day 9/10- Brisbane and Melbourne Cup

The next day in Brisbane was quiet and was for running errands. I got a new cell phone and a calling card. Nothing much exciting going on. November the 4th was race day in Brisbane Horse racing is the biggest event in Australia and thousands of people get all dressed up, place their bets and drink all day! We began early in the morning with a champagne breakfast and a hospital visit. I accidently sliced my thumb open with a knife and had to go see if it needed stitches. Luckily it didn’t and I was back to the champagne before I knew it. Not a great start to the day, but the aussies are resilient. From there were took the City Cat to the race grounds. The City Cat is a boat that runs along the river in Brisbane like a bus. It’s a very nice way to see the city if you have a lot of time on your hands. It was blistering hot that day and the heels weren’t a wise choice, but it was so much fun otherwise. So these events have all lead me to my final destination, Rockhampton QLD. Nothing much going on here at the moment. Just looking for work and staying out of the heat. If sweating were a job, I’d be employee of the month.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Too much baggage, too much sun, too much fun!

Day 1- Flight to LA/ Hollywood

We had a very early morning flight to L.A. After a late night and too much wine it was a sad and teary goodbye to the parents and Carley and I departed on the first leg of our adventure. I planned on sleeping the whole way to L.A. but Air Canada has installed new personal screen to view and movie or television show you desire. So I stayed up watching movies of course! After we landed, we waited at the airport for our friend Devin to arrive. She’s been to L.A. twice this year already and was more than happy to not only come along, but plan the whole trip (thank you Devo!!) After we picked up our rental car and checked into hotel we attempted to take advantage of the nice weather and swim but the pool was ice cold. Who knew that LA pool water could be cold? We stayed in the heart of Hollywood, and spent the rest of the day on Hollywood Blvd walking around looking at the shops, Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, etc. Hollywood was rather grungy and a bit run down. We returned to the hotel where we all crashed and napped. Wasn’t keen on going out to the bar but was forcefully convinced by Devin to spend Saturday night out on the town; turned out to be a good decision to do so. Went to a bar called Beauty Bar set up like a 50’s salon then over to a bar that was overpriced and had scummy people. But an overall fun night. Was glad I went out.

Day 2- L.A/ Dearly Departed Tour/ The Grove and Farmer’s Market

Slept in a bit this morning, slowly recovering from the night before. Headed out to the Grove which is an outdoor shopping area; very beautiful and a lot going on. Next to it was the Farmer’s Market which is home to infinite delicious food and more food! Set out on our Dearly Departed tour at 1pm. This tour takes you around Beverly Hills mostly and West LA to view where celebs have either died, or been murdered. Current celebrity homes and areas were also thrown in by our zealous tour guide. Beverly Hills was absolutely stunning. The houses and landscaping were immaculate. Most celeb homes weren’t visible due to strategically placed flora! After the tour was finished we did our own self guided tours up in the hills. Probably one of my favorite parts of LA was just driving around on our own. That night we succumb to the fatigue and went to bed early.

Day 3- LA/ Santa Monica and Venice Beach/ Beauty Bar and Big Wangs

The best day of the trip! Drove up to Venice beach and walked along the boardwalk looking at the shops and cheap souvenirs. We decided to rent bikes at Venice Beach and ride them all the way up to Santa Monica Pier. Had lunch and Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Restaurant…had the shrimp! Walked around the pier and rode the Ferris wheel. It was quite foggy so the view was dismal, but it was still fun. From there we rode up to the 3rd St Promenade which is a closed off street for shopping. This is where we got wrapped up in a television show; ‘10 Years Younger’. So watch it in a couple months we’ll be on it! Rode back to Venice beach to return our bikes. I convinced Carley and Devin to come down to the ocean and dip our feet in…we ended up swimming next to some surfers as the sun set. Ate dinner at a sushi bar where we met some Norwegian girls whom we took out to Beauty Bar and Big Wangs sports bar. It was a good last night in LA.

Day 4- LA/ Universal City Walk/ Hollywood Sign/ Flight to Fiji

The last day of LA where we needed to cram in everything else! In the morning we checked out of our hotel and got Devin to her new hostel. Afterwards we went to few shops but were easily bored so we went to Universal Music to meet some of Devin’s coworkers and see the City Walk which is just a bunch of movie themed shops. I wasn’t feeling well that day so I was a bit of a bummer, but I perked up when we took a drive to see the Hollywood sign. You can’t get right up to it, but you can get a good close view on a narrow residential street in the hills. Last stop was Target of course and then a quick dinner at the Sizzler….so American! A hectic run through LAX and we were on our way to FIJI!

Stay tuned for Fiji

The Rundown

So I guess it's time for the rundown for any of you who don't know the story of why I'm in Australia. Oz has always been somewhere that I've wanted to go but it's always been a far away dream. I had the idea to do some backpacking after I graduated from college, and successfully convinced Taylor, my brother, to come with me. However, plans fell through when he got a job offer that he couldn't pass up. I had no other travel buddies to coax into going, so the plan of traveling went on the back burner. I decided from there to move to Toronto (Sept 07) to pursue a career of my own in the fashion industry, if I could! I ended up working for Quiksilver, where I met an Aussie working in Canada for a year. Sam had the aspiration to play real Canadian hockey, and he managed to drag along his more than willing sister, Sophie, to come with him. Due to high cost of living and frequency of bar hopping and dinners, Sam and Sophie ended up staying in Toronto instead of traveling. I became very good friends with Sam, but only saw Sophie once and a while. However in the times that I did see her, a Combi trip across her home country came into conversation, and she was gracious enough to extend an invite out to me. How could I pass up a road trip accross Australia with a resident? It seemed too good to be true. As my ideas usually run, I had it set in my head that I was to go to Oz in the upcoming year. Mind you, I don't think my parents were too convinced that I would actually follow this dream though. As the year drew on, we all became great friends and it looked like this trip might actually happen. Fast forward to March ('08) as the hockey season wound down and Sam decides to leave early. Luckily by then, myself and my good friend Carley, who also worked at Quiksilver, were obviously too good of friends for Sophie to leave, so she stayed. Summer came and went quickly, but not without plenty of bike rides, bar nights, dinners, walks, ice cream, and swimming. By this time the idea of Australia had florished into a plan and I was now looking into flights. I decided to visit a travel agent, and finally in mid-July, I booked my flights. This included a stopover in L.A. for 4 days and a stopover in Fiji for 3 days all with Carley who decided to come along as well. What could be better?! In the next blog entry, I'll give the full run down of what we did over the course of those seven days.