Saturday, August 21, 2004


saved by the cat

Hello from Perth Australia!

I've been here a couple of weeks now so it's about time I wrote someing about what's going on down here. It was quite a culture shock to come back to "normal" civilisation after 3 months of travelling. I arrived at the airport and was chatted up by a German aceademic lady who was here for a conference on the role of women in education. Sounded fascinating but I opted to stay at the hostel recommended by the bus driver rather than follow her to YMCA.

The bus driver was an Essex boy who's been living in Perth quite a while. I've met loads of ex-pat brits and they all seem to be very chuffed about living here, most of them have even adopted the aussie accent. I can see why, Perth has everything you could want - layed back people, cheap accomodation, good restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, art galleries and nightclubs that are free to get in and have live bands every night.

The hostel is cool, as the bus driver promised - dormitories, big kitchen, beer, late nights, girls, pool table, lots of fun if you like that kind of thing. My birthday was 2 days after I arrived, I was sufferning with culture shock and morbid fear of getting old and boring and hence was moping around being boring. Still, I was lucky because my friend Sonja pulled me up off the sofa and took me out to dance around in a club and get drunk. That sums up week one, after which I felt the need to get away from it all for a bit. When I was in Vietnam I had contacted someone advertising for helpers wanted on an organic farm. So I headed off into the hills to what turned out to be a large country residence with a couple of acres attached. Claire was my host, she got me to bring in the wood, take out the rubbish, rake up leaves and build websites in return for room and board. It was sooooo good to get some peace and quiet and do a bit of work, until one day I almost didn't make it home after dark and was saved by Misty the cat.

That evening, Claire was in town launching a new business and I had come along with Sonja to have a look. I didn't want to stay long becasue I was supposed to be going to a job interview the day after. I caught the bus and train then another bus and made it to the village at about 11pm. Claire had pointed out the way to walk back to her place across the park. But that was in the day and now it was dark and things were looking a bit tricky. I made it across the park only to find myself faced with 3 possible country roads, one of which I was pretty sure was the one that led home. I went straight on and started feeling pretty confident I was on the right track. After a while the streetlights ran out and I was stumbling along in pitch black with noises all around me. I could recognise the kangaroos, I've not seen one yet but I could distinctly hear them bouncing around and sometimes apparently crashing into things in the undergrowth. Completely freaked out I headed back the way I had come to try one of the other roads. 4 hours later I'm still lost and getting slightly annoyed by now... I'm now pretty sure that the first road is the right one and I just need to walk a bit further, or maybe I've walked too far and gone past the farm track that leads home. Every 200m or so there are a couple of wheelie bins and I'm shining the light of my phone into each one trying to spot something I recognise. The neighbours must have thought I was a private investigator or something. I finally come across a bin full of Misty's cat food tins, phew! I'd never have spotted the place if I hadn't put the bins out that morning!

Next day I was woken up by a phonecall from a bloke called Matthew, wondering why I hadn't made it to my interview. I spared him the details of my adventure and arranged to meet him that afternoon. I'm now halfway through the second day of my new job as a web developer. So far so good, I'm filling in for their main programmer and having to learn lots of new stuff very quickly. The pay is not brilliant by UK standards but it'll be enough to finance my road trip that I'm planning to start in October. Watch this space...

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Goodnight Viet Nam

My last week in Viet Nam was spent in Saigon where I experienced many quite different sides to this amazing city. I spent my days trawling the shops and internet cafe's, especially one cafe where Kim, the dymanic manager with dynamite looks, plied me with free tea and fruit as I wiled away the hours and watched the world go by on Pham Ngu Lao. In the evenings my friends Jessie and Joseph would pick me up and take me out on the town. One night we went to Karaoke where I embarassed myself singing Metallica songs. I'd do it again tho, if you think I'm crazy I promise you it's more fun than it looks. Jessie was working so usually had to go home pretty early, after which I would head to the Guns n Roses bar and play pool until the small hours with various backpackers, lounge lizzards and ladyboys (or were they?)
On my last night I had a sweet romanitc eveing with Jessie in an outdoor cafe overlooking the river. We watched the boats chugging about in the reflections of giant neon advertisments on the opposite bank. I got an early night for once and next day Jessie took me to airport where I was to take my flight to Perth. Not easy saying goodbye, I'm sure we'll stay in touch. Thanks Julie for intruducing me to J and J.
That's if from Vietnam, now I'm in Perth just getting my bearings and organising the mext leg of my trip. Half the population of this town seem to be backpackers, I'm staying in a hostel which means sharing a room with 4 other sweaty blokes, cooking my own food and drinking lots of beer. It's my birthday tomorrow and I'm dreading it - who knows what this croud have got in store, can see why some people prefer to keep quiet about such things!

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