Australia: Bye Fam!

I get up after a few short hours of sleep in order to see my parents off to the airport. They are flying back to Toronto today which means I am back to my backpacker life style after weeks of delicious meals, comfortable beds and fabulous hotels. I am not ready for this.
I see them to the lobby of the hotel because I am still in my pyjamas. I do my best not to cry, but having them come visit and then leave again is even harder than when I left the first time around. Luckily it is a quick goodbye, because as per Lai usual, they are pressed for time to make it to the flight.
Ilona and I pack up our bags and say goodbye to the deep bathtub, plasma tv, and sink-in double bed. We’re moving to a different area of Sydney, mostly because we booked a hostel too late, but also because we want to check out more than just the main downtown area. We do our last non-backpacker thing, and take a cab to our new location. It’s New Year’s Day. We’re tired.

We are paying 50 dollars each a night to stay at this new place, due to late booking and lack of options, so I’m expecting something pretty fabulous for our first back-to-backpacking hostel. When we arrive, I am surprised to find a small Irish pub at the address we have been given. The pub owner is just opening up, and lets us know that this is in fact a “hotel” on top of the pub. He takes us to the check in desk which also doubles as the bar, and where someone has just ordered a beer at 11am. We walk up the narrow staircase to our 50 dollar room. It is a box with two twin beds, a fridge, and very small television. We are to share a bathroom with the room next to us, but there is no one staying there so technically it’s our own. I cannot comprehend how any of this can logically amount to 50 dollars a night in anyone’s mind, but I remind myself that there are no other options for the time being. The owner is kind, and offers us a discounted breakfast at the pub, but we choose to walk down to the local grocery store to save some money instead.

When we get back to our room we go straight to sleep in order to make up for what we lost last night. I wake up in the late afternoon to some Australian television playing on our petite square screen. The acting is truly awful on these programs, but it’s also quite entertaining. Our television has a total of about 8 different channels, some of which all play the same shows, so we don’t have much to choose from.

Ilona and I are hungry and decide to have some watermelon that we bought from the store. We realize that we have no appropriate cutlery to cut into a quarter slice of a full watermelon, so Ilona decides to improvise. She pulls out some floss, ties it tight between her two index fingers, and slices chunky triangles of watermelon from its shell. We are definitely back to roughing it, but what resourceful backpackers we are!

We walk down to Darling Harbour which is only about 15 minutes away from our “hotel”, where we hope to find a wifi connection. Did I mention that our place doesn’t offer any form of Internet? I shouldn’t really be surprised. Starbucks is a sure-thing when it comes to wifi so we grab a drink and sit with the iPad in search of a fruit picking job, and a new place to stay. We find a hostel on Coogee Beach without a problem, and book two beds for the rest of the week. Finding a regional work job is much more difficult than I expected. For those who do not know, completing 3 months of rural work in Australia while on a working holiday visa, allows one to come back to Australia for another working year in the future. I haven’t decided if I love Australia enough yet to spend 3 of my remaining months out in the middle of nowhere picking fruit, but I would definitely like to give it a shot. If nothing else, I’ll get some farm experience and save some money, so Ilona and I are in search of a place which can offer us cheap or free accommodation while we work. The more money I can save, the faster I can go back to Asia!!

The wi-fi connection at Starbucks isn’t exactly impressive, so we are ultimately unsuccessful. We don’t have any luck finding the perfect farm job, but we do e-mail a couple of places anyway just to keep our options open. I’m willing to do just about anything if it means I can make good money and potentially lengthen my visa.

We walk back to our little hotel, where we discover one small gem in contrast to the rest of the crappy features. There are two large windows in our room which face out towards the street, where we can fully lift each panel just wide enough to sit inside the window pane. We spend some time sitting and chatting from our ledges, which are not particularly comfortable, but certainly do make me hate this place less when I can sit out in the fresh air and watch the world go by. I feel a small taste of Asia, where no one cares about safety and regulation so much as they do here, and in all the other western countries. I can’t wait to go back to a country where I can feel as care-free as I did in Thailand and Laos. I still have not adapted to the expensive, very Toronto-esque feeling that Australia offers. It feels much less like traveling, and much more like being at home. For now, this small window feature will have to do.

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