Sunday, March 27, 2011

Post TWENTY!!: Australia really is pretty darn awesome

I realize that I have been doing alot of complaining in my previous posts. Please let me say right now that AUSTRALIA IS AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLY AWESOME! Do not take my complaining the wrong way, the fact that what I am complaining about is food (which we complain about even back at LU) and birds (same deal) is good. Australia is wonderful and I am so happy and lucky and privileged to be here.

That being said, this post is all about the magnificence of Rugby, SPRING BREAK (which is i suppose really fall break...) that is coming up soon!!!!!!!!!! and actually having time to spend a total of thirty-three hours in eleven lectures that give me no credit whatsoever.

#1) on the list. Spring Break! (ok I know it is fall break. but old habits...) .

Here is my itinerary.

April 8th: Break begins. this is Friday. I will spend the day packing up everything and getting ready to go.

April 9th: Depart from Sydney airport at 6:05am for Alice Springs via Brisbane. Arrive in ASP by noon and check in to Toddy's Backpackers for the night.

April 10th: Depart 5:45 am from Toddy's for the Adventure Tours Rock the Centre 3 day excursion to Kings Canyon, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and surrounding OUTBACK areas. The outback is the reason I came to Australia. So I am so excited for this.

April 13th: Depart from ASP for Cairns via Ayers Rock 1:55pm. Arrive in Cairns at 6:25pm, check in to Cairns City Backpackers (hello 15 dollar a night rooms!)

April 14th: Depart from the Marlin Marina at 7:00am on the Sailboat the Rum Runner for a 2 day, 1 night snorkel trip to the Great Barrier Reef, I will get to do one introductory scuba dive for free, and if I want to shell out some more cash. I can choose to do additional dives.

April15th: Return to Cairns at 3:30pm, re-check in to City Backpackers.

April 18th: Depart from Cairns Airport for Melbourne at 10:35am. Arrive in Melbourne 2:00pm and meet Janet, a very VERY generous friend of my piano instructor Stefanie Jacobs' who has offered to be my host during my stay. This night, we will attend the 'Rolls Royce' of seders at a friend of Janet's.

April 21st, 22nd, or MAYBE, 23rd: Depart from Melbourne for Sydney. Arrive in Sydney where I will crash on the floor of some wonderful friends from Malaysia who live in the apartments in the Macquarie Village near campus.

Somewhere after the return to campus I will go to Sydney and attend the Royal Easter Show (a bit like the state fair I am told, not really a religious thing but more of a pastime).

April 24th: Attend the Easter service at THE cathedral in Sydney, St. Marys.


There you have it! Looks busy, but in the time period where I will have no homework I need to fit in as much as possible!

#2.) Now, on to the experiences I had today! This involves RUGBY LEAGUE!
I am told this is called a 'scrum' but I still have no idea why they do this.

A group of 20 exchange students got tickets through 'club X' to go to the Rugby League match between the Bondi Roosters and the Canterbury Bulldogs (dogs were 'at home') at the ANZ Olympic Stadium in the Olympic park.

It took us 4 trains to get there and our journey there was actually longer than the 80 minute match we came to watch, but it was well worth it. Upon arrival we were told that apparently the Dogs and the Roosters have a heated rivalry, since Canterbury is from a certain part of town and well, so is Bondi. There were alot of police and we were told to stay in our group and not to talk to anyone. If we were to interact, it was best to 'be a fan' of whatever jersey the person we were talking to was wearing. So, 20 exchange students entered the stadium a bit on edge, but very excited to be in such a 'real' situation. We were told that we would be told the rules upon entering, however our guide forgot to do this so we were left to figure them out for ourselves. I knew a bit about rugby already, and I had seen some on the TV at the gym, so I had a very general idea of the basics (can't pass forward for example) but alot of my rule understanding was still just sort of by guess and by golly.

the Bulldogs enter
The game was so fun to watch. One has 6 plays to get from one end of the field to the endzone, and it looks similar to a very intense game of red rover. One guy takes the ball and runs as hard as he can from his line of people and towards (and into) the other teams line of people (stretching across the field). Then he is tackled, or he can lateral the ball back to keep the play going. There is a 4 point score for getting the ball over the endzone line and touching the ground with it. There is then 2 points added if they can kick the extra point through the uprights.

Tourists (aka our group)

there were water people on the field even during play! (see dudes in blue and yellow, pink is the ref)

Angie and...I dunno who that other person is...
Play is pretty close to non-stop, since when one is tackled he stand up as quickly as he can and starts the play going again. It is also very...brutal, no pads or anything and men weighing over 250 pounds running full force into each other. It was so exciting! There were 24,000 fans in the 80,000 capacity stadium, so it looked pretty empty, but they were sufficiently loud during the good plays and 'bad' reff calls to make it a real experience, though, we did not witness any police action, in fact, I did not see ANY police inside the stadium at all. We did see a couple injuries including one where I said that "I think the guy broke his leg" (turned out I was right...)....not good for the Roosters. Also, the favorite hometeam Bulldogs walked off with a victory after a dominating first half performance (though the Roosters picked it up after the halftime chat).

#3.) the Global Leadership Program (GLP): Here at Macquarie I have chosen to take part in the GLP for Study Abroad Students (there is another one for undergrad and postgrad students here for longer than we are, but theirs is much much much more involved than ours is). The program is a series of at least 10 colloquium ranging from lectures to workshops each lasting 3 hours, on different aspects of Global Issues. We pick and chose them from a number of different ones offered: subjects include (but are certainly not limited to) international humanitarian law, sustainable leadership in business, morality and living well, etc.

So far I have attended
Religion Secularism and State 
Sustainable Leadership
International Aid
Me. Inc 

and I plan  to attend
Career Mapping 
Poverty Development and Microfinance
Believe Me When I Tell You 2 (persuasive speaking) 
Climate Change, Leading for the Future
Beyond Borders (cultural understanding)
Living Well and Doing Right (morality in the Global community).

I have found these colloquia vary on their level of interesting-ness. But I am learning about the world through a Global perspective, all of them are very informative. I am also gaining some useful knowledge about being a person of the world, that I can apply to my own life. 

There you have it! post two of a weekend! I am making up for the lack of posts that will occur during break ( I will not have my computer in Uluru or in Cairns or in Melbourne. so you will have to wait awhile to hear about my adventures there).

Plans for the near future include finishing up alot of schoolwork, and yep, thats about it. Not too exciting.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Post Nineteen: terrible conclusions

This morning was the first time I was able to sleep in past 7am. I was pretty excited and ready for a restful experience. Not to be, not to be.

Most of you readers know that when at home in the states, there is a certain bird associated largely with spring and summer, that I cannot stand. It's incessant ugly warbling loud imposing call rouses me from slumber and pesters my ears daily during these months of the year. Yes, I am speaking of the house wren.

Here in Australia, there are no house wrens. this is good, however, there are crows and the sulphur-crested cockatoo....Never in my life did I imagine that there could be a worse bird than the house wren. Australia has sadly lead me to the most terrible conclusion that perhaps the house wren is not all that bad. I know. its amazing. But the crows here and the cockatoos are now officially more annoying than any other bird, insect, or creature I have encountered.
Do not be fooled by the pretty appearance!

yuck yuck yuck, I can imagine the sound it is making and to that I say YUCK!
Crows here do not sound like real crows, they sound like dying lambs mixed with complaining babies. Worse are the cockatoos. These birds make a noise as loud as a lawn mower and the sound is similar to that of a coffee-grinder and the screeching of brakes/crunching in an automobile accident.

This morning (and a couple mornings this week), these cockatoos decided to have a conference outside my window at 5:30am and at 7am. Twice as loud as the house wren, and yes, even uglier and impertinent, the cockatoo (and the Australian crow) has now topped my list as the worst bird. Compared to these birds, the house wren is ALMOST musical. However, I maintain that the house wren is by no means a pleasant sounding bird, and it is still on my bad list, but it can be redeemed by these other two extremely unpleasant creatures.

Second: I must take the liberty to complain a bit more about Aussie food. I have tried and tried and tried, but no matter where I have looked I have failed to find 1.) Ketchup that tastes properly like ketchup 2.) tomato/spaghetti sauce 3.) good chocolate (that is not either American, Swiss, British, French, or German made). The conclusion is, that here, some things just taste different and I will not experience good versions until my return to America. I must say that, it is not that they are essentially bad, but just that they do not suite my previously formed taste preferences. Having said that, 

Australian Ketchup...
The Ketchup here is called "tomato sauce" and while it has the semblance of proper ketchup (it is red and thickish) and tastes...ok...If I found ketchup like this in the states I would say it had been open for too long, it just doesn't have the fresh tangy taste that I am used to. It is more of a darker almost burnt (for lack of a better word) flavor. I am not the only one who has had this experience! It is a matter of taste preference yes, but there are others who agree on what I have written.

What regular spaghetti sauce looks like. Australians really don't know what this is.
Tomato Sauce (careful, here one needs to call it spaghetti sauce or marinara sauc, as 'tomato sauce' means ketchup here), is non-existent basically. I recently had lasagnia and there was not any tangible tomato flavoring except one or two stray tomato skins (meaning there must have been SOME sort of sauce somewhere, but.... ) there was no sauce visible, or tasteable. This has also been my experience with pizza as noted in earlier posts. really, the concept of sauce is foreign. Even the pasta sauces are more like bunches of diced tomatoes, not really a 'sauce' there. It is also really difficult to find spaghetti sauce in stores, which leads me to believe it is not only DLC and pizza places which have this problem of no sauce.

Lastly, as I have mentioned before, the chocolate does not taste like chocolate BUT ALSO! one has to be careful when one goes to buy 'real' chocolate, because sometimes things such as M&M's are made in Australia! Make sure to check the label to see where they were manufactured!

It must be noted however, that most of my eating experiences (with the exception of chocolate) have been through the DLC cafeteria, probably not the best representation of Australian cuisine. Extrapolating conclusions from here to the rest of AU would be a bit like comparing the college food at old Downer in Lawrence as representational of American food. So I do make some allowances for quality. However, the ketchup is the same as any grocery brand, and I have noticed that pizza elsewhere comes with little or no sauce as well. I have not tried pasta.

To conclude my food talk, since I was feeling a little down and I did dip into my ANRCN (Ariana Needs Real Chocolate Now) fund a bit this past weekend, making sure to check labels for manufacturing I indulged in some Cadbury's (which to me will always taste like England since we ate it there as treats for being good, thanks Mom!) and M&M's.However, real chocolate is expensive here, and Reeses are really hard to find (when one finds them they run at about $1.50 per peanut butter cup, cup, not package, just cup, so a normal package is usually $3). I have also decided maybe to try making chocolate brownies since I found a fair trade shop with Cocoa from not Australia, and one of my resident leaders at DLC. So! Due to all of these food experiences the ANRCN organization has now expanded into the "THANKS ALOT" (Taste of Home, Ariana Needs Ketchup Sometimes And Loads of Other Things) anti-homesickness fund for donations!

Ok, that was not a cry for money, it was just a joke :) I just enjoyed trying to come up with a cool acronym.

In other news, I have not done anything particularly interesting in awhile, I am trying my best at my schoolwork, though since I have not gotten any assignments back I still have no idea where I stand regarding my classes.

Tomorrow Angie and I are going with the Exchange Club to see a Rugby game at the ANZ Olympic Stadium, so that should be heaps (an Aussie word that means 'alot') of fun!

I have also ALMOST finalized my spring break plans. I will post them up soon I promise, along with my adventure at the rugby and perhaps a description of the Global Leadership Program that I am doing. I will TRY to do this this weekend, but blogging is time consuming and, depending on a paper and a presentation that I must finish, I may have to wait until next weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Post: Eighteen: this one is for Rob Elliott

Discoveries a plenty!!!

First let me relate some discoveries: last weekend I was walking along Bondi beach and I saw what looked like a sorry used up bus ticket on the ground. I picked it up just to throw it away and lo and behold! it was a 'travel ten' (ten rides to one ticket) ticket with only one ride used! AU dollar value about 12. HOT DOG!  THEN on Thursday this week I saw a 'my multi week' ticket on the ground (allows the user to access all trains ferries and buses one wishes for one week), I though "no way this could happen twice" but I picked it up anyway. Sure enough! It is usable until the 22nd of March! For this one, since they are expensive I did ask the lost and found people to keep it, but no one picked it up by the end of the day and I got to take it! Value around AU 40. that is a total profit of over $50! not bad. Never will I ever again leave a ticket lying on the ground!

Thursday night.

Set the scene: I am sitting at my computer, looking over references for an assignment. It is getting late and I am thinking, "oh I am kinda tired, seems like I should go to sleep soon". then out of the corner of my eye I see movement in the corner to my left. I turn. COCKROACH! again, the size of my thumb. I twist internally, then swirl in my chair (as quietly as possible), leap to my sink, grab my trusty drinking glass (from the dining hall, not my own of course, that would be gross!) and turn back to squish the thing. Yipes! it has disappeared. Not to be detterred I poise my (plastic) glass and wait. Suddenly, there it is, it appeared no joke, just appeared. I carefully track it and WHAM! sever the abdomen from the thorax and the head and one leg. problem solved? Nope! the head and leg are still squirreling around!! EWWWWWW!!!!!! So I had to squish the head as far as I can tell it is dead (it is still stuck to my wall as of this morning).

This is only the head and half the thorax....still there....

Needless to say, I did not even attempt to go to sleep for another two hours after this. So much for the early night. But, crisis averted, bug dead, now I can sleep right? WRONG. I forgot, this is DLC...this is my floor DLC...Thursday night....aka, no sleep until 3am. yep, I kid not.

Oh well, I woke up at 7:30 and I was not too awfully tired, plans to visit Sydney still on. It was gray and rainy, (like all my excursion days seem to start out) but since I was planning on touring some of Sydney's famous bakeries (I have developed an adoration for Australian bakeries, they are everywhere! and I had researched the very best cheap ones.) and then going to Sydney tower thus I would be inside for the morning at least.

Two (ok three) shots of espresso later, I departed from the train station (using my free ticket!) for Sydney central. on the way I visited the colonial bakery (milsons point) as well as st honore (north Sydney) and infinity bakery (kings cross). I have to say, colonial has the best prices and the best sweet stuff: I had a macadamia nut 'slice' and a pumpkin scone for breakfast here. St Honore had some recommended flourless chocolate cake, pretty good, but the best part was the bottom, sort of a sugary crunch, not what one would expect for a cake as the icing is usually the good part. The icing here was not great, but that is typical of Australia. at Infinity I had lunch of a cheesy 'pullapart' and some fresh carrots. It was really nice that there were fresh veggies here, though they were too expensive to make it really worth the trip, and the cheesy baguette thing was cold. Thus the winner is...Colonial bakery.

From here it was on to the tower. I don't know if it is the tallest structure in Sydney, but it was pretty high, and despite the clouds the view was amazing. and since it was Friday and around lunch time, there was no one there.

Sunshine over the pacific ocean

Yep, we are higher than the airplanes here!

and yes, since I was by myself today I had to do the cheesy 'I was here' shots myself.

Add caption
Ok, so we have seen the tower been to the bakeries. It is still cloudy, and I forgot my free pass to hold the Koala (and I think I will not do that anyway, seems kinda against my principles...) so then now what? Being hungry for something salty, and remembering Rob Elliott told me that I should go to the fish markets, (though granted he said go at 3am, it was not 3am), and drizzle and gray is the perfect time for fish, I walked down to darling harbor, and then from there to Blackwattle Bay and the markets. It was pretty busy here, and interestingly, pretty much everyone I saw was of Asian descent, it felt like I was back in Japan! Also the fish smell was nowhere near as overpowering as I expected. Even though I missed the auctions that occur early early in the AM I did get to see some crazy stuff including a fish the size of my leg, some live mud crabs the size of my head, and I bought and ate an oyster with creamy potatoes and then later a soft shell crab.

so, how does one eat an oyster? I had no fork so I discreetly used my fingers. the Oyster tasted like...what I would imagine Elephant tastes like...and it looked like a dead hairless mouse...needless to say, I am in no hurry to try oyster least not cheap ones...

Oh Ariana, little do you know what this thing you are holding will taste like...

The shell was not edible.

'do not hold the mud crabs'...right. cause that was on my to do list. it took all my might to put my hand that close for scale (it is about a foot away from the crabs, this was NOT what I ate)

I have had softshell crab before and this one was really good too. freshly fried. yum!

Then, I was tired of walking so I caught a bus and some trains back to MQ Uni, but not before buying some chocolate using the generous donation from my loving family to the 'Ariana needs to have some REAL chocolate NOW' fund. A good way to finish the day.

REESE'S! now THAT is acceptable chocolate!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Post Seventeen: Temporary Town Hall Trouble, Beaches, and the Opera House!

This blog has now become a weekly thing. For this I apologize, but with homework increasing and increasing and me still wanting to have SOME fun here, I can't afford to spend a whole lot of time blogging.

However, I can still hope to post weekly.

I have now had my first Global Leadership Session. For those of you who don't know, the Global Leadership Program has several colloquia designed to enhance one's knowledge of the global community and relations etc. For example, the session I just attended was titled "religion secularism and state" and was about how the Government (in various countries) deals with religion (rights it grants, religious stuff it recognizes). It was really interesting, though focused more on what religion is considered to be, and less the political aspect. I would have liked to learn more about the State actions etc. Not just general recognition of religion etc. Nevertheless it was interesting.

Friday I attempted to make M&M brownies, the regular, American Nestle cookie recipe version. Suffice to say it was a total disaster worthy of I have never made anything worse in my life and I was too embarrassed to take a picture to put on here. First of all, the flour here tastes funny (kind of like soy flour mixed with...starch) so the brownies did too. Second, the baking soda and the eggs made it cakey in some areas and gooey in others. Third, I was forced to use a microwave to cook them so...Anyway, we ended up trying eating the better tasting gooey parts and then picking M&Ms out of the cakey parts. It really is kind of sad that one cannot make just regular American cookie bars here...Did not help with the needing to feel at home...conclusion, while it may be a wonderful place, Australian food is both expensive, and not the best to cook with. Especially when one does not have an oven...

Friday night was the DLC commencement dinner. Another fine example of Australian organization, we were told we MUST attend, but then, the principle of the college deemed it not important enough to show up...The dinner was basically just to announce the scholarship winners. "Anyone can get a scholarship at DLC!" false. we study abroads are left out of this category...THEN the waiters were totally incompetent and the service abominable. instead of asking us for our orders, plates of food were thrust under our noses and one had to be fairly forceful several times (as several different waiters offered one food) if one wanted the other option. Sigh. Oh well, the food was pretty good and the ceremony ended a half hour after I would have liked, but a half hour earlier than it said it would. So I suppose it was not a total bust.

Saturday was the most fun. Angie and I went out to Bondi Beach. Our journey began on the train. We were very excited because we realized that there was no track work for the first time since we have been here, thus we would only have to transfer trains once to get to our destination (instead of transferring trains to remain on the northern line several times). It was not to be. First our train experienced 'technical difficulty' so we had to switch trains at North Sydney. Ok, no big deal, still on the right track, just one more train. We planned to transfer at Town Hall just as we were going to before. However, Town Hall temporarily fell off the face of the earth...I kid you not. Our train pulled into Wynyard, then Town Hall is the next stop. we get ready to get off, look out the window at the signs and they read 'Central'. What!? We had not passed through any train station, we had not stopped at any train station, Central is the one AFTER Town Hall!!!! Where did Town Hall go?? Perhaps it was our train that went somewhere...(twilight zone music)

No problem we got on the line that would take us to the beach, this line just went back to TOWN HALL (it was there this time) before going out to the beach....strange. perhaps the technical difficulty experienced by the one train was due to a wormhole through which we tumbled for a bit.

Bronte from the coastal walk
Some Real Estate for sale along the walk...if only...
Eventually we made it to the beach. We walked from Bondi to Tamarama and then to Bronte via the coastal walk (about 3.5 Km). A beautiful walk along the shoreline we enjoyed looking at the real estate and the view. Bronte beach is alot smaller than Bondi, but the waves were alot bigger!
Can you find my feet?

Angie and I enjoyed soaking up the sun (through liberally and hourly applied sunscreen) and playing in the 6' waves for hours. After this, we walked back the coast and up to a hamburger place near Bondi where we had some quite taste Australian beef. Here we split up and while Angie went back to the beach, I headed to downtown Sydney and Circular Quay and the Operahouse!!!!

These waves are actually huge

The Operahouse:

I walked around the quay for a bit before sitting on a bench outside the Operahouse to watch the sun set over the bridge. I was joined on my bench by a lovely couple who were there to attend the play and we had some conversation about the architecture of Sydney.

Around the back INSIDE the Opera house

This is not from my camera. I would be sitting to the right of where this was taken (I pretty much had a straight view), and then for the second half, I was in the center about 8 rows back from the stage
Inside the Operahouse: upon entry I saw that the points that one sees of house are actually three different buildings (restaurant, concert hall and opera theatre) connected by the platform on which they sit. This does not detract from their beauty. Though the inside (before one gets into the hall) is not too interesting, alot of cement although the windows are gorgeous. One is not allowed to take pictures inside the concert hall, but I have posted a photo I got online. It was BEAUTIFUL and worth the money I paid to get in. I was sitting at the back of the back but this is where the balance is best I am told. The Mendelssohn Concerto in E minor was first, it was gorgeous and played well, though there were simply not enough instruments on the stage to fill the hall with enough sound. The balance was great, but it just felt like one wanted to turn up the volume. After intermission (there was champagne served at $10 a glass I did not get any, just looked) I was able to sit 8 rows from the front in an empty seat I had seen earlier. The sound was of course louder from here and I am glad I moved so I could see.....The Conductor!

Ashkenazy was his name, a very famous pianist who is about 4 feet tall (I exaggerate, but it did look like he was not much taller standing up than his violinists were sitting down). He fun to watch, it was like Bugs Bunny meets Victor Borge. Very fun. At the end, he was given flowers and he picked a few off to give to his orchestra members before throwing some petals into the audience on a whim Anyway, the Mahler piece was also interesting and all in all it was a fantastic performance and all around experience. Worth the trip for sure!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Post Sixteen: Manly Procrastination (haha haha 'mainly procrastination' get it?....yeah)

So, paper writing is terrible pretty much everywhere one goes on the globe. I have to write two this weekend, I would like to get rough drafts of each done by Monday night. Not excited, it also does not help that I think the yogurt at breakfast was a little to warm and now my stomach is not too happy with me.

However, got to skype with the parents so that helps cheer me a little! and now I am procrastinating writing papers by writing on this blog! How wonderful is that! No, I promise I will get everything done so that I can have a rough draft of at least one of them done tonight...

Anyways, MANLY!

Let me preface by saying that Manly is a part of Sydney that is across and sort of around the harbor from the main area (Sydney Centre), and is home to Australia's second most famous beach, Manly beach (clever). Manly is pretty much its own town though and as a huge tourist destination it has the usual suspects of shops, foodstuffs, and attractions.

Don't count Manly out though, since it was a little gloomy the day began with, instead of heading to the beach, going to the Park Reserve and walking around in some wilderness on the various coastal points of Manly. The trail was not very well marked and it was clear that people often forsook it for the more interesting views etc. However, being the good environmentally conscious person that I am, I stayed to the path since the views and wilderness experience was quite adequate from there. It was very quiet, and though there was no 'wildlife' to be seen (except the giant goldenweb spiders everywhere) it was still a pleasant way to spend the morning.

Manly Beach from the Park

A WWII...thing? nont sure what it is there were a few of them along with a "command post" that looked pretty much the same as this thing...but I took this photo just for you Sam :)

Lunch was a kangaroo steak!!! This was at the Manly Grill (another creatively named location) which is located with outdoor seating right on the edge of the beach and yes, I was 'that tourist' long enough to sneak a discreet photo of my meal. How could I not?

The verdict is that kangaroo tastes pretty much the same as cow (though I am not a steak connoisseur [is that how you spell that?] so I am not really a good judge) but a little milder in flavor, and the flavor doesn't last as long. It also tastes a bit 'wilder' though perhaps this was purely placebo effect.

After lunch it was still rainish but a walk along the beach was in store anyway, it was fun to see the rather large waves. Due to the weather there weren't alot of tourists out and about but there were some local real surfers and it was great to watch them show off for awhile.
The South end (that bit of green is very near where I took the photo of the beach from the park)

there were also alot of sailboats out since it was windy

After this, with the clouds and on and off rain still not letting up I went to Oceanworld since I had a free pass. nothing to see there that cannot be seen (and indeed was already seen) at the Sydney Aquarium (fair warning future tourists, Oceanworld is really nothing do NOT spend your money there). That day though they did have a 'touch me' day so I elbowed through the crowd of 5-10 year olds and got to pet a stingray the size of myself, some starfish, and a seaurchin.

15 minutes later I was on my way walking down a beautiful little walkpath around another bay of Manly trying to get to the Nature preserve on a different point. There are some Aboriginal Rock Carvings there that I was interested to see. However, after having walked 45 minutes and only reaching the halfway point to the park (much less the rock carvings) I decided that I would instead try to see the ones near Bronti later instead and I cut through some lovely neighborhoods on the return to the main area of Manly near the main beach. To remember from this is that Manly is really not part of the City, it is more like its own little town or village suburb.

I really enjoyed the walk, it was lovely to just gaze at the quaint buildings with tended teeny tiny front yards and pretty flowers, all throughout the very hilly landscape of Manly.

some pretty flowers near a house named "La Bella Luna"
I caught a bus back to Uni for a quick dinner and to drop off stuff (before heading out, see later in the post) and since I was pretty much the only one on it I struck up conversation with the bussdriver. He told me that if I visit nowhere else I MUST visit the Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock). Hooray! these are the places I had decided I MUST visit already. Nice to have a local confirm my desires. He also instructed me that hitchhiking in Australia is a nono, there are some 'yahoos' around. Well, there goes that idea, oh well.

Another tip for the future tourist. Chocolate from Australia IS NOT CHOCOLATE. Do not be fooled. No matter how fudgey, how gooey, how brown and yummy it looks it is plastic with chocolate hints of flavoring. Even the cookies or muffins taste more like flour with chocolate hint, even the ice cream, even the hot chocolate, even the cocoa cereal, everything. If you want something chocolate go for the Belgium stuff, the Cadburys, the Lindts, even the M&Ms, but do NOT eat the Aussie chocolate if you want anything even remotely similar to a cocoa experience.

Mardi Gras:

Evening involved another bustrip to Sydney to experience the second largest Mardi Gras in the world. For this I have two words. No and No. that is not to say that I doubt this claim, I am merely expressing how I feel about this particular festival, again, not the message, just, I shall explain.
My bus was boarded by some drunk highschoolers...correction, highschool girlygirls who proceeded to shout as loud as possible and scream and chant etc. all the way to the city. On this busride I got communication from the group I was to meet up with in the city that I should head back IMMEDIATELY. Why is this? Well,

I was to find out in the morning that they had been in the only entry area to the parade street and people had been literally crawling on top of each other to get in.

Needless to say I did not know this at the time, and my bus ended at Hyde Park anyway so I thought "well I can't go and not see anything" and I was already on the bus I couldn't really turn around, so, planning to find my group upon arrival at Hyde park, I joined the mass of people in trying to find a way to the parade street. Since it was closed off even to pedestrians from pretty much every entrypoint. After getting stepped on, shoved, and doing my share of elbowing and bumping into people...hard...I am not a mean person, this was just necessary otherwise one would get squished. I finally glimpsed through a crack in the fence what looked like the tailend of the parade. This was enough for me and I quickly made my way to the bustop where I was to board the bus home.

Conclusion: I am glad I can say that I went. but. Never. ever. do I ever in my life ever again want to go to a that I am not particularly familiar night...where there are a bunch of, correction, tens of thousands of drunk and smoking people...especially when I am by myself...especially when I have forgotten my map on my bed at my dorm in my haste to leave...especially when the only bus that I know to get home leaves from a station that I had to run to to make it on time...This was not cool.

For those who may be concerned for my safety, I was at no time in any danger, I knew where I was it just would have been nice to have a map so that I could have met up with my group, and/or find a better bus station, I was at no time afraid of the people around me, they were docile enough and there were police everywhere and I am a strong and belligerent person. It was just not any fun. A good learning experience, but one that I am happy to never replicate again.

Not wishing to end on that note I will say this.

I have decided that maps are indeed useful. For those of you who know me this may come as a shock. I say though that I have learned. Even if it takes one forever to orient oneself on them, they do help out significantly. While there are posted maps in the touristy areas (and these areas are small enough to navigate without them), having a map on ones person gives a good sense of security to the holder and are a good 'just in case'. Personally I find that it is they that provide me with a sense of direction and where things are relative to my position. Even when I am familiar with my surroundings already, since I am a visual person, picturing a map really helps. This is not to say that I cannot find my way without one, but at least having one in ones mind is really nice. Hence maps = good.

And finally, lastly but not leastly...
"LJHooker: Nobody does it better"...'Nough said

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Post Fifteen: Things Accomplished/Recap

Australian Experiences to Check off the list:

1.) See wild kangaroo
2.) See/visit (deep breath) Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbor, wildlife world, aquarium, the Rocks history museum, Bondi beach, Harbor bridge, Paddys markets
3.) Eat aussie meat pie
4.) Blue Mountains
5.) ANZAC cookie (called a biscuit here)
6.) Meet some Aboriginal people and see boomerang throw as well as Dijeredoo played

Macquarie Uni:

1.) Finished first official assignment! A presentation on the Enlightenment period in history and the Macquarie Era in Australia and how the two were related and reflected
2.) learned to walk on the left of the sidewalk (still takes conscious effort to remember this though)
3.) right left right NOT left right left!
4.) Train station genius

Still to do in Australia:

1.) Manly (day trip for sure)
-Manly beach
-kangaroo steak
-coastal walk to see aboriginal rock carvings and art
2.) See a show at the Opera House (I have ordered tickets for Mahler's 7th Symphony coupled with a Mendelson Violin Solo) note: back row is perfectly acceptable its the OPERAHOUSE for cryin' out loud
3.) OUTBACK!!!!!!!! I don't know when but I cannot say I have been to Australia and NOT go here
4.) Re-visit Bondi to walk from Bondi to Bronti to Cooge
5.) Great Barrier Reef

Still to do at MQ:

too many things here to much homework!


1.) Inside tour of Opera House?
2.) Melbourne?
3.) Broome?

reason # 5,248 why I have decided that I must live here....NO MOSQUITO BITES! THATS RIGHT PEOPLE! I went to the RAINFOREST and STILL no mosquito bites, and they are definitely here because I have seen them and seen them bite people! However Aussie mosquitos just don't like my blood. AHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

however, on the downside I found a cockroach as big as my my room...and another squished in the hallway...hmm