Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I survived the day of rapture

So I am happy to say that all of us non-believers are still here and that we are not doomed to walk for the rest of eternity as zombies on the face of the earth.
For those of you who were not aware of it, May 21st was the day of rapture and at 6pm local time a huge earthquake was supposed to start making its way around the world beginning in New Zealand. The only people to be given salvation would be those who believed in the almighty and would ascend to heaven whilst all of us fellow heathens would be left here and turn to zombies or something like that and would be doomed.
Of course this is all bullsh*t like the whole of religion is, fairy tales and scary stories to keep people in their place.
Apparently the guy who predicted has now said that he got it wrong and was 5 months out so beware of October 21st later this year!
If we survive that, then next we have the Mayan calendar that predicts that armageddon will be upon us on Dec 21st 2012, the day when we will have a planetary alignment within the solar system. I do believe that this could have some sort of effect on us (I have no idea what and I talking very minimal) but apocolypse it will not be.

So, my advice is let's continue to sin as much as we can before our impending doom.

With this is mind, what sinful activities have I been up to since I last updated you all?
Well not a lot actually, in fact I have been quite sensible in that I have gotten myself a job, and a serious one at that. How boring!
Yes, I am disappointed with myself at having done this, and I feel like I am letting myself down as I told myself that this trip would be endless fun and the jobs that I got should be exciting and random, but so often reality has a way of getting one over on us.
What I have to keep telling myself is that I do need a reality check ie. I have no more money and if I want to keep up my travels then I need to settle down and do this.
I have managed to attain a role as the Reporting Specialist within the Strategy and Planning Dept of Medibank, one of Australia's leading health / medical insurance providers. Just reading that back makes me want to slit my wrists, but do you know what? They are paying me more than I was on in London, it is only a 6mth contract and it will allow me to save a good amount of money to keep on travelling longer than I initially planned; so it isn't all bad. The only potential hiccup is that they have mentioned offering me a sponsorship after the 6 months has expired. Essentially, this means that I could stay in Australia and get my passport, an opportunity which I would have to think very seriously about because I could see myself living here.
However, it is all hypothetical at the minute so let's start the job and get some dollar in the sky rocket.
Afterall, I may be working in an office again, but it is in a new city, in a new country and I am on the other side of the world, so it is still an adventure to be experienced to the fullest.

Melbourne also gives me access to the ski fields of Australia which I fully intend to exploit over the coming winter months.

Now that I have some financial stability I have begun my search for a place to live. The last you knew I was staying with my friend's Josie and Cossie. After hanging out there for about 5 weeks (enough for anyone to put up with me) I was offered a new refuge living with Natalie, one of Nadia's workmates. I have to say that I like hanging out at Nat's gaff; it is a sweet pad, the conversation can be really random and funny (which I love) and to add to that the views out of the windows are really nice - relative wilderness (required when you are not working). Just this morning I stood there watching 2 rabbits running around and jumping over each other on the grass. Even Nat would admit though that her place to just too far out of central Melbourne. On the train it takes about an hour to get into the City, too far for me as I need to be living in the thick of it.

Josie and Cossie - thanks so much again for giving me a bed and some work as well. You really saved my ass and I am so so grateful.

I have been viewing flatshares in the St Kilda area of Melbourne. St Kilda is traveller central, hooker central, the nightlife is buzzing, the live music scene is good, it is by the ocean, there are lots of open spaces and palm trees (I like palm trees) and it is a 20 - 30 minute tram ride into the City.
So far I have been to look at 6 places and I have found the one that I want, I just have to hope that the girl I would be sharing with liked me and thinks she would be able to live with me. The place immediately felt homely and location is perfect, so fingers crossed, I will find out at the weekend.
Some of the other places that I saw were pretty ropey and in one of them my bedroom would've looked down onto a hooker hang out area where the curb-crawler traffic can get quite busy in the night. That might be entertaining at first but I am sure that after a while it would p*ss me off.

I went to view a room last night that was out of this world. It was located on the 14th floor of this uber-modern appartment block and the balcony and the bedroom had fantastic views out over the city skyline. As it was after dark, it just added to the image.
Living there would also give me access to the block's 2 private swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), tennis court and gymnasium; and the rent was very reasonable as well.
If the appartment was facing the other way (over the bay) it would be a very tough decision to turn it down, but here is why I did turn it down:
1) I walked into the appartment to be given a tour by Gordon (current tenant who will is going back to the UK next week) and all that was in the front room was 1 sofa and a grand piano! I asked who the paino belonged to and Gordon replied that it was his. Obviously you do not see a piano up on the 14th floor of an appartment block often so I couldn't resist asking him to play for me. So there I was looking out over the skyline of Melbourne listening to my own little concert pianist tapping away on the keys. Surreal, would be the word.
Still, there was the issue of why there was only 1 sofa and a paino (which would soon be leaving with Gordon) in the front room.
It turns out that the other flatmate, who is rarely there, has deemed that front rooms should not contain a TV, or any other way to socialise it seems. I do not mind if there isn't a TV in the front room, but there should at least be enough furniture in the place to sit down and have a chat, or have guests over.
2) As I said, the other flat mate is rarely there and can just turn up at any time of the night after being missing for a few days. Apparently if asked what his movements may be over the next week, that is an invasion of his privacy and he gets moody. Seems like a dick!
3) I was shown around this other flatmates room and the first thing I saw was a carrier bag full of used tissues next to his laptop. Now we all do it, it's natural, but you have to tidy up after yourself!
4) Most importantly, the flat had no soul, no life to it. I would end up living there, most of the time on my own, passing my flatmate in the night. That isn't for me, no matter how wonderful it was.

So hopefully I will find the right place soon and then the next mission is to find a football team, so I have some lads to hang out with.

Just a random thing. I was on the train the other day and I overheard a conversation between 2 teenage lads and a girl:
Girl - "Yeah, your boobs get bigger when you are pregnant"
Boy - "Really? Well I am going to get a girl pregnant then, enjoy her titties and the 2 weeks before she gives birth I will tell her it isn't working out"

I love the youth of today!!!

So what else have I been up to? I guess just the usual stuff, drinking and socialising and visiting the odd attraction, like wildlife parks.
One great thing from the wildlife park I went to was that they had a reptile touch and feel session for the kids (and me). Can you imagine my reaction when I got to stroke a lizard and the handler announced that it is commonly nicknamed a double-ender?
I looked around for someone to share my laughter with and saw one guy trying to cover his mouth so his wife couldn't see.
Another great feature was the huge bouncy area where you could jump up and down on a combination of bouncy-castle / trampoline thing to be a kangaroo. It was great fun jumping hard so that little kids and a 50-something year old old man kept falling over on it.
Karma did get me back though when I was trying to put my shoes back on and someone jumped near to me catapulting me forward, off of the side into the wet sand with just my socks on.

It seems my drinking has been getting a little crazy though and potentially could get me into trouble. For example, a few weeks ago I attended Arancha's art exhibition and the wine was free. I do not need to tell you that I got stuck into it, someone had to drink it.
By early evening, (the exhibition started at 4pm) myself and a few others were well on our way. During this time, of which I have no recollection and was only informed of it the next day and I still do not believe it was me that said it, was chatting to one of Arancha's teacher colleagues, then asked her if she fancied getting it on, she told me she had a boyfriend (who was there), so I asked her if she fancied a threesome!! WTF?
Mum - I am not proud of myself and this does not sound like something I would say, but who knows? Ha ha.
More distressing, I do not know if I meant a threesome with her bloke or some other girl (I hope it was another girl)

Apart from this the only other things that I have done is attend the Melbourne Arts Festival and viewed some great pieces of art for sale and been to the Melbourne Museum. Dinosaur bones, watched a 3D cinema piece on the how the earth was formed and viewed lots of stuffed animals from around the world. I know, I know, not full on adventures but there has been a recent scientific report published that claims attending the theatre, creating art and visiting museums can actually reduce anxiety and stress (not that I am suffering in any way), so it's all good.
With that I will bid you all a fond farewell. Normal life is what lies ahead for me over the coming months, although I still want to get to Indonesia soon, and the lads trip in November is taking shape. We have decided on which camper van we will take up the east coast to celebrate my 32nd birthday, so I look forward to my reunion with Bert and Lats with great anticipation.
Hopefully my next post will be a little more exciting, although I cannot promise anything, but I will do my best.


Friday, 6 May 2011

On top of the world (well, the highest point in Australia) and back down to earth with a bump! (as I get a job)

Bloggers, apologies that it has taken me so long to get this latest post up. Unfortunately for me I have had to settle into the old routine of normal life ie. get a job so that I can fund my future escapades, which means that I have been left with little time to write.
However, today is an unexpected day off, so I thought I would take the opportunity to update you all with my goings on over the past month.

So, I left Wollongong and Dave Walsh's walk and continued south to a sleepy little town called Bateman's Bay. My reasons for heading here was that one of my Aussie 'girlfriends' would be passing through on her way to Sydney, so that weekend we had planned to hang out together at the coast.
I arrived mid-afternoon on the Friday and had the rest of the day to kill until Arancha's arrival on Saturday. I checked into the local YHA and at reception I was warned that there was a strange person staying in my dorm, so beware! I enquired as to what they meant about him and they just said that he was "a wierd Asian person, from India or something". I took this to be small town mentality and told them thanks and that I would make my own mind up.
I walked into the dorm and there was the 'strange' person in front of me, so I casually said "How is it going?" He turned around and just walked straight past me without even an acknowledgement. I called after him that he was a little rude (I may has chosen some harsher words than that) but he just kept on walking. What is wrong with some people? It doesn't take a lot to say 'Hello', and I could tell he was English as well so he definitely understood me. Oh well, not my problem.
I popped out for some dinner and went to the local chippy which the owners of the YHA insisted was the best on the east coast; "We have travelled all over and been to a lot of fish and chip shops, but we always come home as this is the best!!!". I have to admit that it was really nice and the calamari was lovely; all of the fish is caught in the bay at the back of the chippy so it is as fresh as it can be.
The bloke serving me was also a pretty nice guy and he gave me a quick run down of the town, places to go out etc.
After eating my food outside with a view of the sunset over the bay I headed back to the YHA wondering what I was going to do with my evening as clearly one person in particular was not going to speak to me.
I placed myself in the communal room to watch some TV and to see who was about in the hostel. Batemans Bay is a small place so there were only a handful of people staying there.
Oh, on the TV I watched the Aussie version of 'Countdown'. Guess what it is called here? 'Letters and Numbers', talk about a literal translation. They do not have the same music for the 'countdown' and the numbers girl is no Rachael Riley I can tell you.

As I was settling into what looked like being a boring evening a guy came into the communal room to say that he was going to go out to have a beer and would anyone like to come.
I was up before he had even finished his sentence.
As expected nobody else even acknowledged his offer, so myself and Thomas, a Dutch computer science doctorate on a 3 month sabatical from Grenoble to Canberra 'hit the town'; and it was a really funny evening.
It helped that Thomas was a really cool lad and we got on very well from the start.
We headed to the Batemans Bay Hotel, which seemed to be the epicentre of the whole town (it is a small place remember).
In the bar lounge you had the sports on for all of the old boys, and out the back was an open air nightclub for all of the youth. A place to satisfy everyone.
I have to say that I was excited about the prospect of a little town nightclub until I saw the genetics on offer. We are honestly talking about dodgy teeth, lazy eyes and the sort of place where a local guy and girl will meet and then that will be it forever. She will get knocked up around the back of the pub, she will pump out a few babies and they will never leave the bay. As they get older, they will retire to the sports room and their kids will attend the open air nightclub and so the vicious cycle will continue until Armageddon.

Still, myself and Thomas had a great time. We 'manned up' and watched the rugby whilst we waited for the club to get going. Whilst in the bar 3 pretty decent looking girls walked in and sat down. It was pretty obvious by the way everyone looked at them that they were not local. They were actually 3 French au-pairs on a weekend trip from Sydney and we had the advantage of being fellow travellers so invited ourselves to sit with them, much to the annoyance of some of the local boys.
Later on after the au-pairs had retired for the evening it was time for Thomas and I to moved out to the club. It was like a school disco, boys on one side, girls on the other, apart from 3 girls who were smashed and owned the dancefloor.
At one point, one of the very drunken dancing girls walked around every table and said "at 10pm everyone must come onto the dancefloor so that we can get the party started". To be fair, at the strike of 10pm a lot of people did get up and dance. For some reason she took exception to the fact that we hadn't got up and she came over and had a go at me for thinking I was too good to dance with them!! Ha ha, if only she knew she was correct. She was a minger!

Then, all of a sudden the dancefloor parted like Moses and the Red Sea as in walked a group of 7 girls that were hot, hot, hot. You have to try and imagine the image. You have a dancefloor of inbreds and then a light shines down from up high as the crowd parts and in slow motion the girls glide across the dancefloor, hair blowing gently in the breeze as they head over and stand right beside myself and Thomas. I have to say that every one of them was beuatiful and obviously not from Batemans Bay.
It was at this point that the wolves descended; the pikey men were in a lather, climbing over each other to get their attention. It was very amusing to watch.
However, with the advantage of our accents we were able to infiltrate the group and spent the rest of the evening dancing and chatting with the girls. It was a good night even though there was the inevitable inbred fight near to the end. The best thing about the fight was that one of the original dancers from earlier in the evening got into the middle of it and had one of her blonde extensions torn out (it was only on a clip). Can I ask a question? If you had black hair, would you wear clipped in blonde extensions on each side of your temple; and if it had been pulled out and trampled on, on a booze ridden floor, would you then accept it back and put it straight back onto your head? Well she did.
So that was that, a funny evening in 'the Bay'.

The next day I said my goodbyes to Thomas and sunbathed whilst I waited for Arancha.

As I mentioned earlier, Arancha was passing through on her way to Sydney but she had booked a place for us to stay for a few days in the nearby village of Nelligen. When we arrived at the place I have to say that I was taken aback. I am not sure that many backpackers would get to experience such luxurious surroundings as those that I found myself in and I appreciated it all the more after 6 months on the road residing in the sorts of places I found myself in India, or sharing 10 man dorm rooms in Thailand.
I found myself staying at the Nelligen Gallery Bed and Breakfast, except that it was like no B&B that I have stayed in before, like those found along Blackpool sea front (although if you do find yourself in Blackpool, please stay at Mick The Braces B&B - amazing. All you need to know about that gaff is that we were not aloud to bring girls back as the last time he did it he was accused of rape).
The Nelligen Gallery B&B was an actual gallery and a self contained appartment all in one. It was quite fantastic. To describe it I am going to copy and paste the description from its website as who better to describe the setting than the owners?

- The Nelligen Gallery and Bed & Breakfast is located in a secluded, historic area of the picturesque village of Nelligen overlooking the beautiful Clyde River - minutes from Batemans Bay on the Nature Coast of Southern NSW, Australia.
- The Gallery and Guest Suite are hidden treasures beyond the cottage garden of the Old Watch-house which dates back to 1860.
- Beyond the gallery, the private guest apartment overlooks this magnificent river. (the whole back wall overlooking the river was one big glass wall)
- Whether enjoying the lofty river views from the bedrooms or mezzanine deck, nestled by the fire or just lazing in the sun drenched lounge the river will captivate you. (yeah, it had actual open fire, but no rocking chair which was a shame)
- You may choose to linger over a special breakfast on the verandah overlooking the river with the companionable wildlife (beautiful tropical birds which would not eat out of my hand no matter how patiently I stood there)
- or choose the dining room or sun drenched lounge
- An internal courtyard connects the bedrooms with the bathroom and its original claw foot bath
So for the next few days I made sure that I took in every moment of this experience and savoured the tastes of the good wine and fine cheese which Arancha had also kindly thought to bring along. As a little hobo traveller I just rocked up with my backpack and nothing else, I didn't have to pay for a thing, which I still feel quite bad about. Although now that I have a job I shall be repaying the debt in some way soon.
We didn't really get up to a lot on those days apart from relaxing, listening to music and catching up. However, on one of the days I did drag Arancha to the zoo (I do like a good zoo). It wasn't a bad one to be honest, lots of big cats, but the highlight was watching 2 otters go at it hardcore for quite a long time. The female was a bit kinky too, she kept turning around to watch what was going on, the dirty minx! I filmed it!

When it came for the time for Arancha to leave I found myself back at the Batemans Bay YHA minus Thomas and the wierd dude. There was no fun to be had on this occasion so I had an early night in preparation for my trip to the capital, Canberra, on the following day.

Arancha, I would like to say thank you again for the Nelligen experience. It was a real treat, especially when I think about where I found myself sleeping in the following few days. (We will get to that soon)

One last thing to add about Batemans Bay. As I walked to the bus stop I saw a man pulling up his pants and trousers, as this was an odd thing I obviously stared at him. When he saw me staring, he dropped them again and wiggled his hips at me! Very funny indeed. The best thing about this was the location - on a ledge next to a big window at the Batemans Bay Courthouse.
Every town needs a fellow like this.

So onto Canberra. The fact that it is the only legal place in Australia to purchase porn and it is legal to grow your own marajuana plants, this is the world's crappiest capital city. It is so boring. There is absolutely nothing to it, and I arrived mid-week which meant everything closed at 6pm. How can stuff close at 6pm in a capital city? I will tell you how, because Canberra is crap, that's why.
Apparently it was built because there was a constant argument between Sydney and Melbourne as to which city should be the capital. Because no agreement could be reached Canberra was built in the middle and all of the politicians were planted there. I think it is the energy of the politicians that radiates out to make Canberra what it is - sh*t.

I wasn't too concerned though. Everybody had told me to avoid Canberra and I only travelled there so that I could get some transport to Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains, the village at the foot of Mount Kosciuszko, the tallest peak on the Australian continent.
After establishing that there was no direct route to Thredbo as it wasn't the ski season and that it would take me the best part of a day to get there, I decided that the best course of action was to hire a car and drive there myself, which would only take 3 hours.
That evening I watched some crap tv, went to bed early, got up really early to watch Spurs lose in the Champions League and then made my way to the hire shop.
I hired a Mitsubishi Lancer and enjoyed the nice drive through the outback followed by the amazing scenery of the Snowy Mountains before arriving at Thredbo.
Thredbo is a ski resort. I have to say that:
1) the idea alone of being in a ski resort in Australia is odd
2) being at a ski resort when there is no snow and people are using the pistes as a mountain biking course is even more odd

Still, it was what it was and I was there to reach the peak of Kosciuszko, a mere 2,228 metres high. Nothing compared to Nepal (or so I thought).
Even though there was no snow, it was still chilly, especially when the sun went down. As I had hired a car and my funds were now getting quite low (so low that I do not currently have enough money to fly home - bothered?) it meant that my accomodation for the next 2 nights was the back of the Lancer!
Not quite Nelligen and the open fire!!!
I had all of my gear from Nepal on me, but no sleeping bag. No fear I thought, there is a YHA in Thredbo, I shall scavenge what I can.
So off I popped to the near deserted YHA, walked into a bedroom, saw a thick blanket and took it back to the car. Lovely jubilee.
I needed to use the internet to Skype mum, so I quickly changed into a new outfit (just in case I was spotted) and went back to the YHA a mere 10 minutes after leaving the first time and used their internet.
The evening was a non-event. I had my evening meal, read in the warmth of the restaurant for another 2 hours before retiring to the Lancer for a cold night. As cold as it was, and it was cold, I still managed to get 10 hours sleep in the back of a car. Amazing really, although I am not sure that it was because I had hypothermia and I was slipping in and out of consciousness!
I was up bright and early and started the day as every good mountaineer should - with an egg and bacon roll.

Off to tackle the mountain. From the bottom of Thredbo there was a chairlift that took you to the top of the piste (about 3kms to get to the top) and from there it was a 13km round trip to the top of Koscuszko and back. They said that the 13km round trip should take 3 hours to complete. As I had the whole day and because I am a little daft, I chose to climb from the very bottom. I had designs to run to the top and back, but as soon as I hit the piste I realised that to run would be folly, so I scrambled up instead.
It took me a little under an hour to get to the top of the piste, just avoiding a collision with a mountain biker on the way. (He told me off)
From there I attempted to run again, but the air was thin and very cold, and with the slight incline I had to choose a fast paced walk instead.
Once at the top of the piste and on my way to the peak it was a strange, desolate place. Every few metres it got colder, it was misty so you could not see much, the wind was strong, and the snow on the ground was getting thicker and thicker. By the time I reached the peak the wind was so strong that I was in no doubt that with the wind-chill it was far colder than anything I had experienced in Nepal (which is mental). I stayed at the top to take 2 pictures and then got my arse out of there. Still, I can now add to the list of this travel experience that I have stood on the highest point of the Australian continent; shame it was so misty.
I ran all of the way back down to Thredo in just over an hour. As I said, the round trip should take 3 hours from the chairlifts, I climbed from the bottom and completed an extra 6 kms and it took me 3hrs 15mins. I am not sure where they get their timeframes from.
When I got back down I wanted to know how far I had climbed up and down the piste because there were no signs, as I wanted to measure my distance vs time taken (I am a stats geek remember). When I explained to a woman in the info centre why I wanted to know and what I had just done she seemed quite impressed. However, I heard the guy behind her mutter, "well it is all downhill one way isn't it".
The woman turned around and asked him if he was prepared to do it, he sheepishly said no.
Thanks for defending me info centre woman.

Now that I was at the bottom I needed a shower. Where better to take the p*ss than the YHA?
I got to the front door and it was locked, this was not good news. I was sweating, dirty and it was bloody cold outside. I decided that I would check the place out and look for an open window. I believe that the technical term for this would be 'tresspassing' or even 'breaking and entering', I prefer to call it being an opportunist.
When I got the lower level and saw an open window near the laundry room I came face to face with the owner. He recognised me from the day before (for internet use only, fortunately) and I managed to get him to let me in to again 'use the internet'. He left me alone and said to let myself out. Result! I quickly hopped into the showers and got out of there asap.

After a long lunch and some more reading in the warm, I took my now massively aching legs back to the car and set off back towards Canberra. The car did not have to be back until the next morning which meant that I could take a slow drive back through the country and stop off in the odd town. By early evening I reached the town of Coomba and decided to watch the sunset at the Mount Gladstone lookout. I was the only person up there so decided that I would sleep up here as well as it would be dark and quiet.
Whilst it was still dusk I went to do a little exploring and was stopped in my tracks by a thudding sound. I sh*t myself as the sound got closer to me and the bushes were rustling. Then from nowhere a wallaby hopped across the path in front of me. As soon as I saw one, I noticed that there were quite a few around me, really well camouflaged. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to get as closely as I could to them to take some good photos.
I would always get to the same distance before they would hop off a little further.

In the end I went back to the lookout. I found a rocky outcrop to climb upon and as I did so I heard a big rip. I looked down to see that my trousers had decided that enough was enough, they were too old and too tired to hang onto the seams any longer and had given up. I am not joking, even as I moved my leg to view the damage, they continued to undo themselves further and further down.
To add to the scene of me standing on a rock, hands on my hips, big rip in my trousers from the crotch to my knee (looking quite camp) and the sun setting in a sky of fantastic colours, a motorbiker rolls up. He climbs off his bike in his homoerotic leathers, takes a big bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk out of his satchel, climbs up onto the rock next to me and offers me a square!!! Only when you are travelling does this sh*t happen to you.
We got talking (and that was all we did) as we watched the sunset together. He was a German schoolteacher travelling around the south east of Oz on his bike after dropping off some exchange students.

As darkness fell, Mr Dairy Milk descended from the lookout heading to Thredbo, where I had just come from, and so I was left alone in the darkness. Just me and the noises outside.
I lasted about 30 minutes in the pitch black, reading by torchlight, before I had scared myself so much that I was to be murdered out here or attacked by rabid wallabies, that I decided I was going to drive into town and sleep there.
I am such a div, I daren't even get out of the car to get into the front seat. I clambered over from the back seats and wheelspinned out of there!
Just to make sure that I was safe from nothing but my own imagination I parked up outside of the police station and had the fire brigade on the other side of the road from me. Safe enough I thought.

I settled down for another early night and awoke the next morning to find that my legs were stuck in their bent position. Ow!
I drove back to Canberra, dropped off the car and walked straight to the bus station determined that today would be the day that I would finally get to Melbourne and catch up with various mates, and more importantly, find a job.

It would take me a good few hours to get to Melbourne via coach and then train; so it was a good job that I met some interesting people along the way.

I decided to sit near to the back of the coach because there was nobody there and maybe I could read in peace. Just as we were to depart a rough looking young gangster couple got on and sat near me, as did some youth who sat right behind me.
As we reversed out of the bus park the lad behind me exclaimed that "that girl is fit" (she was walking down the path), I laughed and our 'friendship' was formed.
The self proclaimed ADHD sufferer then talked for a long time and the gangster couple got involved as well.
The coach journey was 4 hours long, these are the verbal highlights that came out of ADHD's and Gangster's mouth:

) This country is letting too many foreingers in. The Indians all smell of curry, but you can stay Adam as you talk English (thanks, it means a lot coming from you)
) In Melbourne if you want to find some hot chicks you really should hang out at the such and such shopping centre (what am I, 14 years old again?)

Gangster: (who is a career criminal - been in jail 4 times and only 21 years old)
) Yeah, my first time in jail was for stabbing someone in the head with a screwdriver and stealing their jewellery
) Solitary confinement is ok except they only give you a sandwhich to eat. It is not like in the main prison where you can make your own stir fry
) Just last week my mate was tripping on acid, he dragged one of my friends into the bathtub and went to work on his face with a hammer
) I was tripping on acid once and this girl kept accusing me of touching her up, so I went into the kitchen and got a massive knife. My mate tried to stop me so I slashed him across the stomach
) About the reason for the last time he was banged up - I was at the cash point and someone tried to rob me. I said "do you know who I am?" and turned around and stabbed him in the hip with my swiss army knife. I got bail for that but then I broke it by shoplifting diapers and food in Safeway to feed my nephew (something is wrong with the Oz legal system here)

Here is my top 3 gangster quotes in no particular order:
) ADHD asked him about a notorious prison - yeah man it is f*cked, the decor is all 1970's looking (I'm sorry, did you just slate a prison because of the style?)
) I was running away from the police by jumping through peoples' gardens. In the end I had to spend a night in someones chicken coup
) Prison is easy and there isn't much trouble. It only really kicks off when we are watching TV and a KFC commercial comes on. Then we lose it. It seems that they bring out a new Tower burger every time I go inside, it is f*cked. (Erm, I don't think that is the only thing that is f*cked mate).

So for 4 hours I had to contend with this. To be honest, it was all quite funny except for the racism stuff. They were just 2 young pikeys trying to impress with their stories - whether they are true or not I do not know, but it wouldn't surprise me.
From the coach we boarded a train and we were all still in the same carriage. The lads were still talking in this manner and I could see a number of females getting quite aggitated with their conversation.
My ticket placed me next to a very nice (and attractive) woman called Kylie - a nice typical Aussie name.
She was really cool and we ended up talking for most of the 4 hour train ride into Melbourne. Her way of introducing herself to me was to drop a luminous orange marker pen onto me; and from that moment on I had made a new friend.
Once into Melbourne it was time to say good bye to Kylie and of course my homeboys, the gangster who gave a typical gangster handshake ie. the one we all learn in the playground at school, and I headed to my current place of residence.
I was to be staying at Josie's house (one of the girls from Nepal), and oddly enough, Rachael who I met all those months earlier on a train in India and introduced to the girls in Kathmandu would be staying in the room next door, having arrived a day earlier.
As soon as I arrived, it was a quick shower and then out with Josie, Rach and Cossie (Josie's husband).

That was 3 weeks ago and I am still at Josie's place. It is nice here and it has been nice to live in a home for a few weeks, eat dinner in front of the TV etc. The only annoying thing is Aztec, one of the resident dogs. I have never met such an affectionate dog and it is huge! So far I have awoken to a lick on the face in the pitch black (yes it did scare me), awoken to find her climbing into the spare side of the double bed, and just this morning I ate the remainder of my honey a oat bar and found it to be a little mushy. I think she had a little lick and I have felt sick ever since. 
I really do have itchy feet though and as nice as it has been to have a small reminder of domestic life I want to get back to more exotic places, but that is on hold for now. I need money!
So what have I been up to in Melbourne?
Well I have been out a lot, surpirse surprise. Melbourne is an excellent city, like London in many ways. It has lots of little suburbs each with their own distinct character. There is St Kilda, by the sea, wide open spaces and full of English and Irish travellers. Fitzroy is a little like Camden, funky shops and cafes and great bars; you can wear what you like and nobody cares. The CBD (city business district) is as you would expect, but some nice bars. One bar is a converted mental asylum and you drink out of beakers and test tubes. I had an absinthe there one night and do not remember anything else after that. Richmond is another great area and close to the all of the sports. Melbourne is a massive sports city and it has a number of quality stadiums. At one part of the city there is the MCG, footy stadium, tennis stadium and some other things as well, all in one place. It is great.
I have been to BBQ's, met a lot of the girls' friends, all of whom have been really nice.
I arrived in the middle of the Melbourne Comedy festival and went to watch a show called the 'Dirty Bits' ie. all of the horrible stuff that they cannot usually discuss. Incest and beastiality were high up on the agenda - it was pretty funny stuff.
Just this week I went to see Melbourne Victory play in the Asian Champions League. The standard of football was poor though and the crowd was only 7,500 in a 55,000 capacity stadium; so I doubt I will go to watch any more football.
Aussie Rules Football is the dominant sport here. I have watched a few games now and I am getting into it. I think I am going to my first game at the MCG (capacity 90,000 people) in a couple of weeks.

I have been over to St Kilda to catch up with Nick, an ex-colleague from my last job in London, who is from Melbourne. He has just bought a magnificent place with a view over the main drinking street which also has views of the bay. Great place and I hope to spend some good afternoons drinking there.

Last week, myself and Rachael had a reunion with some Melbourne people that we met in Thailand. All in all it is a good place for me to stay and work, which I need to do.

I have been fortunate enough to get some labouring work with Cossie. He is a plasterer and although it is dirty work it is all good and I am getting paid!
I have applied for a few jobs and have an interview next week. Yes, I am going back into an office but I need to money and the aim is to earn enough here before I go back to Asia and Indonesia in August. I can then hopefully return to Oz and have no further need to work from the rest of my travels.
Once I do get a job I will also move out and into a rented appartment and I am thinking that the St Kilda area of the city is the place for me to reside.

So that brings you up to date. Not sure how exciting my life will be over the next couple of months whilst I am working (which I hate already, not the work, just the whole concept) but I will try my best to get up to some mischief so that you guys have something decent to read.
I think my time will be more cultured here. Tomorrow I am attending an art exhibition and Arancha's work will be some of the pieces up for sale. She specialises in abstract art and I have to say that her art is pretty good, and I do mean that. After the exhibition (free booze by the way) we are all off to an indie club so I am quite excited.
Arancha has also invited me to attend the Melbourne Arts Festival with her, so I am looking forward to attending such an event with an actual artist, who will maybe be able to open my eyes to view some artworks in a completely different way.

Let us see what the next few weeks brings. It will not be the crazy, random stuff experienced so far, but I think it will be a good time to form strong bonds with some good friends as well as ensuring that I do not lose sight of how special it is to get back onto the road and see where I will wake up in the morning. That is what I now live for.