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Monday 16 Feb 2004
Sydney, Australia

Time to leave...

Today I mailed off the LAST of my boxes back home... that makes about 8 in total! And with a total posting cost of about 800-1000 dollars it wasnt cheap either!

(that includes a UPS package of my laptop and PDA which cost 300 bucks alone!)

Ive sold off my oversized suitcase which I bought in Bangkok that Ive been using to hold all my junk while I travelled around. Only managed to get 15 dollars from the scalpers for it... still better than nothing.

Im now left with a large and small backpack and my guitar (Ive decided to hold on to this gem because its got a really great sound!). For some reason Im still carrying a LOAD on my back though... I dont understand it since Ive only got stuff like my boots, my t-shirts, toiletries, a towel and my sleeping bag?!? I dunno.. I guess Ill find a way to minimise the junk I take with me at SOME stage... still Im not looking forward to lugging this amount with me across NZ and the States!

Ive moved into a dorm room.. aye no more single-room luxury for me. About 8 others are in the room, 5 of whom are Irish!!

All thats left to do is clear out my bank account and confirm flights to Auckland on Wednesday... yesterday I took a last photo tour of Sydney and took all the typical touristy shots of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House combined with a last walk across the bridge. Sort of like my first week in Sydney then...

Wednesday Im off to Auckland and beautiful NZ... so Ill sign off now and update ya when I arrive!

Farewell mates. Keep it fair dinkum.

...added the next day...

Have taken in a few last minute photos and shots of "peculiar" sights around Sydney before leaving, including the sleazy strip-club-laden streets of Kings Cross and the "otherworldliness" of ChinaTown. Also a few shots of a Hungry Jacks restaurant for good measure - the blatant Burger King rip-off (same logo, Whoppers and all)... or the successful takeover campaign by a legitimate fast-food company called Hungry Jacks that managed to threaten legal action over Burger Kings "monopoly"(or something) unless it sold all its Ozzie branches to said prosecutor... whichever version of the story you prefer to believe.

Im just after wandering into the New South Wales parliament building which is situated beside the library I have spent many a day downloading MP3z! Much like Canberra its entirely possible to walk around the entire building, including the central chamber where Parliament was actually in session as I wilfully strolled past the table full of PMs, mouth agasp, like the pesky tourist I am. Weird. They seem to have no idea just how easily a crazy guy could jump up to one of the PMs and strangle him or something in a drugged rage.. something I wouldnt be surprised of hearing in Sydney, to be honest.

Rather coincidentally, something like that actually happened in Canberra last week when a member of the public jumped down from the balcony and ran over to John Howard waving a knife while parliament was in session. When will these PMs ever learn? You cant trust the public damnit!

Hmm I wouldnt mind getting that damned Transport Minister now that I think of it.. hes been bugging me with all those parking fines... hmmm

(by the way I havent been approached by the pigs regarding my unpaid parking fines... yay! Backpackers 1 point : Police 0!)

Talking of weirdos, I was drying my hands in the toilet of the library just before typing this entry, when a homeless guy came in, filled his dry hands with soap, then proceeded to wipe the soap all over his face. He then walked out soapy and, evidently, chuffed with himself.

Homeless guys allowed to wander around the library all day.. laughing out loud to themselves, or falling around the place drunk out of their skulls.. maybe its fair though? *shrug*

Not forgetting the clever scam hobos have going with the Burger King-wannabe: Hungry Jacks. HJ are quite generous in that they give you unlimited refills of your empty soft drink cups... the advantage being that you can refll the cups directly yourself. In a city like Sydney, this trust-based system is just ASKING to be abused. Rarely a day would go by when Jonny and I would be sitting in a Hungry Jacks in Kings Cross, only to watch some smelly homeless guy come in off the street, armed with an empty Hungry Jacks cup that he pulled out a bin, fill up the cup with coke, and wander back out onto the street without so much as a "By your leave"!

All I can say is that if I was ever going to be homeless Sydney is the place I would love to experience it. Yeah those hobos have got it pretty easy here.

Also Ive gota mention a truly unusual encounter I had last night in my new hostel! As I wandered out of the kitchen, who should I bump into but my old DCU chum Niamh Murphy!!! Of all the hostels in all the cities in all the last days in Sydney (for me), we just happened to meet right there! La Monde est tres petite non?

aaaaaaand... something completely unrelated, but still I think its a very noteworthy thing Ive noticed while travelling and working around Oz. Unlike the States (or other former colonies), Australias multi-culturalism is young like the colonised country itself (Australia was only colonised by Euros about 200 years ago!). What this means is that, in particular with Sydney, most of the Ozzies you meet have Anglo-Saxon, "wog" (i.e. Chilean, Spanish, arabic, Czech) or Kiwi blood in their hearts but also in the way they behave and relate to each other too (its normal to hear them speak their home language more than english), plus they often identify themselves as "half-Ozzie" and half whatever their parents (or their own) country of birth was. This must have been what it was like in the States in the first 200 years when the Irish and Scots would have claimed they were still "Irish and Scots". With 500 years of Independence Day celebrations behind it, though, the States is a fully-fledged nation in its own right with most people claiming to be 100% American (well they all claim to be Irish, but well leave that aside).

I guess what Im trying to get across is that Australia often seems like a "meeting of the UN" rather than "Australia"

... I dont think Id get away with asking "where are you ORIGINALLY from?" to any Americans the same way I do in Oz without confusing them, since the Oz immigrant society is much younger. I guess thats because Australia has only really become a better alternative to the States for immigration in recent years, and with a better economy than before? *shrug again*

Still I think thats what makes Australia such a great multi-cultural environment, devoid (for the most part) of the gangs and racism that plagued its American counterpart, since each culture brings with it a fresh tradition that blends well into the Australian tapestry. Meeting the different nationalities that still identify so strongly with their homeland often makes it feel like you are travelling to the others country, without leaving Australian soil.

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