Post from August, 2003

Aussie Entry 12

Friday, 29. August 2003 22:30

I’m back!  I had an absolutely amazing holiday to the eastern states.  I learned tons of stuff, too, including why cab drivers should never pick up Megan.  Why not?  I guess you’ll have to read through this whole essay to find out, huh?  As you can tell, this is very long entry.  I haven’t been able to upload pictures due to my slow internet, so this is all you are going to get for now.  Go ahead and print it out.  I’ll make for some good toilet reading, anyway!  So, let’s start, in chronological order, from the Friday before last.

Friday the 15th was a fairly busy day for me.  Since I am the king of procrastination, I held off packing and finalising all school-related stuff until the last day.  I figured that I could because I was able to pack for Australia in one day (not that I had a choice).  The day started off with my barrage of classes, from Forensic to Environmental.  During the break in my Environmental class, I headed off to the campus cashier to give up almost a thousand bucks for tuition, rent, and fees.  Hopefully that will take care of all of the fiscal responsibilities I have for Murdoch, other than monthly rent.  I got back to class just as we started watching some weird 1980’s movie about salinity in Australian soils.  Lots and lots of fun, I tell you.  Afterwards, I sped by Megan’s flat and whisked her off to church with me for that holy day of obligation stuff.  It was sort of interesting because the songs we sang (i.e. Immaculate Mary) used the same words and tunes, but the emphasis of certain words was slightly different.  Back in the states, we sing “Ah-vey, Ah-vey, Ah-vey, Mar-Eee-ah” but here, we sang “ah-Vey, ah-Vey, ah-Vey, mar-ee-AH!”  If you don’t understand that, then just forget it.  The homily was a little interesting because it seemed that the priest was telling us that the different mysteries on the rosary were changing.  In the past, it used to be the joyful, sorrowful, and so forth, but now it’s supposed to change to something else.  Maybe I didn’t understand him correctly, but whatever the case, it was a little strange.  On the walk back to Murdoch, Megan and I really started to compare Catholic and Episcopalian masses for the first time.  She was saying that she only recently has begun to understand some of the random prayers that we say during different parts of the mass.  For the longest time, she thought it was odd that we said “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, so only say the word, and I will become you.”  It does sound sort of strange, doesn’t it?  The rest of the walk, I tried to teach her all those little prayers that we say.  I, myself, though, still haven’t figured out this confessional prayer that we say during the first part of mass.  It has something to do with sinning and asking God, his peeps, and our brothers and sisters to forgive us.  I’ll figure it out eventually, but in the meantime, I’ll just move my lips around and look cool.

After Mass, Megan and I came back to my room to eat and eat and eat.  I had a few perishable food items that I didn’t want sitting around for the next week, so we ate a couple grilled cheese sandwiches, spaghetti with tomato sauce, and a few other random things.  After all that, it was late and finally time to pack for the trip.  Megan was a big help to me because she gets all organised.  She even made up a list of things to bring, and crossed them off as each one went into the suitcase.  I did that one time, but then I became too lazy to do that anymore.  I was able to squeeze everything into one suitcase.  I also brought along a day backpack that I bought at K-mart earlier in the week, which included my essential camera and CD player.  After all that was taken care of, I headed off to bed, fairly confident that I had everything that I needed.

I had to wake up pretty early in the morning, because I had even more things to take care of before I left.  That pretty much meant more eating of food.  I had a bunch of milk, orange juice, and eggs that I had to finish up before I left, so I ended up getting a hearty breakfast.  It’s not a bad thing, though, because Virgin Blue doesn’t offer any kind of meals on their flights, which kind of reminds me of Southwest.  I was curious just how similar the two airlines would be.  When Megan came over to pick me up, I made some final checks to my room, hid my laptop, and headed out the door.  Megan had this really huge backpack that she crammed all her clothes into for the week.  The thing ended up being just about as big as she is, and she couldn’t even stand up straight, else she would fall over.  I was content with my suitcase with wheels.

Megan had written out a long schedule of what buses to take to get to the airport and what stops to get off at, so that was a little comforting.  My biggest concern was that we wouldn’t be able to find transportation to the different places we needed to be, but it all worked out.  We hopped on and off two different buses to get to Perth airport, which included waiting at a stop that was right in front of some random person’s house.  I don’t think I would want to live in a house that had a bus stop right in front.  Sure, getting around town would be quite easy, and you probably wouldn’t even need a car, but the fact that so many people have to stop and wait around in your front yard is a little disconcerting.  Anyway, we eventually pulled up to the Virgin Blue terminal, which was almost barren when compared to Qantas.  There was virtually no queue to checkin, whereas the queue for Qantas looped throughout almost their whole terminal.  That made me a little nervous, as I wondered just how good, or rather bad, Virgin Blue would be.  We went through security without a problem.  I’m so used to airport security being incredibly strict.  When I left BWI in July, I had to take off my shoes and belt, but here, I was able to get through the metal detector with none of that.  When my carryon bag went through the x-ray, it quickly popped out the other side.  I wonder if anyone even looked at the scan.  I realised later that I had a key-sized pocket knife attached to my keychain, but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

Once Megan and I got up to our gate, we had to wait around for a couple hours, so I grabbed some lunch from a kiosk.  I just had some turkey and cheese sandwich, but it was delicious.  Finally, our flight began the boarding process, where we turned in our boarding pass, which was only printed on receipt paper.  I randomly got a window seat in front of the wing.  They assign seats based on how early you checkin, so it’s a fairly random selection.  Interestingly, I had never travelled on a plane without sitting in a window seat.  I love it.  Even still, it was a flight of firsts.  This was the first flight that I travelled with Megan, and it was the first flight where I sat in front of the wing, instead of behind or on it.  The flight was very long (about 5 hours), and Megan was able to catch a few winks of sleep.  I entertained myself by switching between my CD player and Virgin Blue’s limited, repetitious selection of music.  There were no movies or TV screens, but that’s alright.  I love music, and I don’t mind embarrassing myself in front of strangers by pretending to sing.  Virgin Blue did end up having a meal and snack service, but you had to pay for everything you got (even drinks).  I wasn’t that hungry and I didn’t feel like paying almost ten bucks for a TV dinner.  I ended up getting peanuts, though.  Towards the end of the flight, the flight attendants put on aerobic gear and had everyone do flight aerobics to get the blood circulating to our extremities again.  It sort of reminded me of Southwest, but it didn’t have that homey feel.  Southwest is still higher on my list, but is still in competition with Qantas.  When we finally landed in Sydney, it was already night time.  Megan was able to figure out how to get a shuttle to Eva’s Backpackers from the airport, so I didn’t have to worry about that either.

When we pulled up in front of the building, the night manager checked us in.  It was definitely a place for nothing more than sleeping, as the only two luxuries in the room were a hanging, bare light bulb, and a table fan.  Thank goodness for the fan, though.  It was totally unexpected, but completely worth it.  The toilets were down the hall, and shared by everyone on the floor, but Megan and I planned to get up early enough to avoid the crowds.  After we unpacked (or rather, opened our suitcases because there was no room to do anything else), Megan and I went for a walk around King’s Cross (the little suburb of Sydney).  As we were walking down the streets, though, some guy came up to us, all dressed up in a suit and tie.  He was obviously advertising the place of business he was standing in front of, as he said, “You two want to come in?  Couples are always welcome.”  I thought it sounded pretty nice, and I could have gone for a nice dinner with Megan.  I started to walk towards the guy, but Megan pulled me away from him and walked me down the street.  I asked why she did that, and she turned me around, showing me the big “XXX” sign behind the guy.  Just as she did that, another dressed up guy came up to us from another place of business, saying “Hey!  Honeymooners!  We have guys and girls so you can both be satisfied.”  Again, Megan pulled me away.  I was still in a state of wonder.  I’ve obviously never walked “the block” in Baltimore, but I didn’t realize porno places were so – fancy?  The people standing outside seemed so inviting, that it was hard to believe that it was actually a strip club.  Then I looked around and realised that half of the buildings on the street were indeed naked clubs.  It’s just a little dodgy, don’t you think?  To alleviate everyone’s minds, Megan and I just went to McDonalds to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Eva’s.

Guess what?  We are finally to Sunday!  We got up early on Sunday for a couple reasons.  First, Eva’s provides a free breakfast, and second, we had to be nice holy people and go to mass after wandering streets of strip clubs the night before.  Eva’s breakfast wasn’t really all that great.  They basically put a box of Corn Flakes and milk and bread on a counter in the lobby, and you could pour yourself a bowl, so long as you cleaned up after yourself.  Yep, they gave you bowls, but you had to clean them for yourself.  It was kind of strange.  Afterwards, Megan and I headed out towards Sydney to go to church.  She had looked up Catholic churches in Sydney, and came up with something named St. Peter’s, which was supposedly close by.  While we were walking, though, we heard a bunch of church bells coming from a huge church.  Since we still had some time on our hands, we decided to stop in to see what it was like.  It was called St. Mary’s Cathedral, and they were going to be having an all-sung mass starting in a half hour.  I’ve only been to mass in one other cathedral in my life, and I had a headache then, so I thought it would be pretty cool to have mass here.  Inside, it was really beautiful.  Since no services were going on at the time, I took out my camera and snapped a picture without a flash.  However, an usher came up to me and said that if I wanted to take pictures, I had to buy a registration in the church’s store.  I just said “oh, okay” and walked over to the store.  I wasn’t really going to buy a registration, but I did it to make him happy.  I put away my camera and Megan and I found a seat in a pew fairly close to the altar.  The sung mass primarily consisted of a bunch of choirboys singing long songs in Latin.  Some of the other parts of mass were sung, like parts of the consecration, but I’ve had masses back home with Fr. Aiken that had much more singing to them.  Heck, if it were up to him, even the homily would be sung.  About 80 minutes later, everyone started processing out.  Once everything was said and done, I pulled out my camera and took another picture or two.  I don’t think God minds.  I mean, if he walked into my house and started taking pictures, I would be like, “Cool!” and start posing.  I wouldn’t charge him.  He would probably yell at me, though, huh?  I think I’m thinking too much.

After church, Megan and I walked to the city.  As we were walking, I caught a glimpse of the Sydney harbour bridge, which was so cool!  It was almost surreal.  There are certain places that you see all the time in pictures, like the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Stonehenge, and, of course, the Sydney Opera House.  So, when I saw that bridge, I got really giddy and excited.  We went to this big tower that is only used by tourists to overlook the city and buy expensive meals.  It was so cool!  I could see the peaks of the opera house, and I realised that I was actually there.  I was in Sydney!  That’s when I started on my inevitable journey of filling up my digital camera’s memory card.  The lookout tower included a little “Australia Adventure” tour.  Megan didn’t want to do it because she said it was corny and took too long.  It was only about 45 minutes long, and I wanted to get my full monies worth from the tower visit, so I dragged her to the “tour group.”  Maybe it’s just because I don’t mind corny touristy things, but I thought it was cool.  Well, kind of cool.  I probably shouldn’t enjoy it too much because it seemed like something my dad would love.  It started off where we all sat in this room and wore headphones.  It was basically a stereo-audio story that we listened to about the history of Australia.  I already knew most of it, though.  Next, we walked into this “theatre.”  It was a series of chairs that looked at a model of a desert, which was fitted with screen-glass so that projected images could be shown on it.  It lasted about five minutes, and then the room spun around to point us towards another model of a city.  The thing went on about four more times, looking at different areas of Australia.  It was creative, but sort of corny.  After we exited the room, we walked through a “cave” of Aboriginal drawings.  It was really dumb.  Finally, we all walked into a room with moving chairs.  Have you ever been to a theme park where you sit in a theatre, looking at a movie taken from first person point of view, as your chair moves up and down and back and forth?  They have it at a couple places, like Six Flags, and even the Maryland Science Centre did it one time.  It’s supposed to get you to “feel” the action on screen.  I think they are pretty cool.  We all watched a movie that toured different parts of Australia, including areas of Queensland that Megan and I were going to visit in the upcoming days.  They even had a simulation of white water rafting on the Tully River.  In the film, we hit a rock and are sent flying into the water.  It made us both a little nervous about our upcoming itinerary.  Finally, after being forced through the gift shop, Megan and I started our walk towards the harbour. 

Seeing the city of Sydney was positively awesome.  There were quite a few things we could have done, like tour the opera house, walk the botanical gardens, climb the harbour bridge, visit one of Australia’s first prisons, take a ferry ride, relax on Manly beach, and so on and so forth.  However, we only had two days to do it all, so we tried to prioritise everything.  Megan had already done it all, since she had spent so much time in Sydney in the past, and she sort of guided me into what we should and shouldn’t do.  She advised against doing the bridge climb because you can’t take a camera, it’s expensive, and it’s not all that worth it after going up in the tower.  As a later note, many people henceforth, including a tour guide and my flatmates, strongly encouraged doing the climb, and were shocked to hear we didn’t do it.  I guess that gives me a reason to come back, though, huh?  As we were going through the city, my mind flashed back to breakfast.  As in all accommodations, there is an array of travel brochures that you can pick up.  One that caught my eye included a tour of the Blue Mountains, which is about an hour or two west of Sydney.  It had decent rates, with pickup at accommodations, which can be booked through Eva’s.  I asked Megan about it, since she had done it in the past.  She said it was okay, but the views were not much different from Connecticut.  I kept going back and forth on the idea, since it meant that I would have to cut out half of the stuff I wanted to do in the city of Sydney.  Finally, so that I could get more of an “experience” of Australia, I decided to go for it.  We used Megan’s mobile to call Eva’s to organise the trip, and that was that.  The tour bus was to pick us up early in the morning the next day, and would drop us off later that evening.  Thus, since our flight was scheduled to take off for Cairns at 10am on Tuesday, Sunday became the only day that we could really experience Sydney.  Plus, half of our day had already been spent at church.  We narrowed down our trip to the city to do a few select things, which included the ferry and the opera house.

One of the first things we did, though, was get something to eat.  We ended up going to this outdoor restaurant by the harbour, and I got a bit of overpriced pasta.  Then, we walked over to the opera house.  It was so crazy to think that I was standing in front of one of the world’s most recognisable icons.  We were not allowed inside, however, unless we took a tour.  I was interested in doing that, so we bought tickets for a 1-hour tour, which was set to start in about 45 minutes time.  During that hiatus, we planned the rest of the day in Sydney.  The major problem was that it was winter, so it starts getting dark around 4pm.  I really wanted to be able to see the city from the ferry, but it would be a little hard do if it were dark.  So, we planned for a 5:00pm ferry ride at sunset, which would happen just 15 minutes after the tour of the opera house.

Even though it may not be at the top of the things to do at Sydney, I found the tour to be pretty interesting.  Megan wasn’t quite as thrilled, though, because it was her third tour of the place.  Come to think of it, I haven’t really been on many, if any, guided tours in my life.  I realise that it’s their job, but the guides are very well-versed in the details and statistics of the opera house, which is one of those things that really excites me – statistics that is, not tour guides.  We had the opportunity to explore most of the theatres of the opera house while learning tons of history about it.  Some of it I actually remember, too!  Like, Sydney “accidentally” spent millions of dollars in the construction of the thing.  At one point, it was almost never finished because the architect walked off the job halfway through because of major criticism.  That’s probably one of the reasons that it’s so publicised.  After all, if you spend so much money on something like that, you have to be a show off, else it counts for nothing.  Anyway, our tour guide showed us the largest theatre in the building, which was amazingly beautiful.  Unfortunately, we were forbidden from taking pictures of the theatres themselves, but I was able to snap a few pictures of the interior of the lobby areas, anyway.  Ultimately, I think it was worth the money.

After we bid our guide farewell, Megan and I skipped down to the ferry to catch the 5:00pm launch.  On the way there, she pointed out a building in the Sydney skyline that was shown in the movie The Matrix.  For those like me, who have seen it a million times, you might remember Trinity’s helicopter crashing into an all-glass building just before Neo is found to be “the one.”  Since I am a big fan of movie memorabilia, I got all giddy (again) when looking at the tower.  So cool!  Of course, I wasted more space on my memory card by taking too many pictures of the darkened building.

Megan and I boarded the ferry, which in itself perils in comparison to the Cape May Lewis Ferry, and took the ride all the way to Manly beach.  The beach is located outside of the harbour, facing the Pacific Ocean.  The ride was quite cool, and we sat outside on the stern of the vessel so that we could get a nice view of the Sydney sunset.  Once again, I took far too many pictures.  This was a little unfortunate, especially since I only had a limited number of pictures I could take, and we had a full week of holiday left.  By the time the sun had set on the horizon, we had made it to the beach.  This was the third ocean that I had seen from the shoreline.  Aside from a few pubs, taverns, and tourist traps, there wasn’t too much to do at Manly at night.  After chilling out on the beach at dusk, the winter night began to settle in, and we realised it was time to get back home.  We grabbed the next ferry back, which was pretty nifty because we got to see the city at night from the water.  I frantically tried to get a picture of it, but even after spending the whole time playing with shutter speed and aperture, I was only able to get about one or two un-blurry pictures of the city.

By the time that Megan and I got off of the ferry, it was quite dark, and we were hungry.  Since I have slowly begun a collection of Hard Rock Café t-shirts, we decided to make our way to the one in Sydney so we could kill two birds with one stone.  Now, it seems that for some reason, at least in my experience, only the United States makes a big deal about the Hard Rock.  I mean, picture the one in Baltimore or Las Vegas.  You have some giant guitar or neon lights to set the place apart.  However, the one in Sydney, just like the one in Montreal, is located on a random street with only a small sign outside the building.  It’s sort of annoying when you are looking for it.  Nonetheless, Megan had been there before and guided us in the right direction.  After picking up my obligatory shirt, we sat down for dinner.  Now, I had been in Australia for well over a month now, and I had yet to see an emu, koala, crocodile, or even kangaroo.  I figured that I might as well give up my search and buy one.  That’s right, I bought myself a kangaroo burger!  I wouldn’t have thought that my first glimpse of an authentic Aussie kangaroo would be between two slices of bread, but it’s all good.  It’s fairly good, anyway.  Skippy tasted a little sweeter than the moo-cow I’m used to, and since it’s a fair meat, it has to be cooked medium-rare at the most.  Even still, I was happy that I finally got to see a kangaroo.

After dinner, Megan and I headed back to Eva’s.  On the way there, though, I had another first.  Strangely enough, it wasn’t until that night that I saw a real-live prostitute.  It’s so sad and so funny at the same time.  I mean, here is this woman on a street corner, all dolled up in makeup and shiny clothes, and without all that glitz, she could be my friend’s mother.  Unlike the strip club people the night before, though, she didn’t say that couples were welcome.  We passed by a couple more on the way back to Eva’s.  Oh, I didn’t tell you the just how classy the street that our hostile was on, did I?  Surprisingly, this was the same place that Megan stayed when she first came to Australia a few years ago.  No wonder she didn’t think much of Sydney.  The night of fun didn’t end there, though.  Once we got back to our room, we heard some yelling outside.  Thankfully, Megan is just as much a voyeur as I am, so we turned off the lights and peered through the split in our curtains.  Some guy in front of our hostile was screaming at the top of his lungs every swear imaginable.  If I were to edit out the language, you would probably only be left with “I’m going to kill you!”  Eventually some security guard put his arms around the guy to try to calm him down.  It worked for a while, but then the screamer got a phone call, which fired him up again.  “You better give me his number!  No, I’m coming after him tonight!  Tell me where he lives!”  And so forth.  After the call, he lit a cigarette and smoked that for a while.  Megan and I watched the ordeal for at least a half hour, but probably a bit more.  There were some points where we thought they saw us, but they didn’t do anything about it.  From what we were able to discern, the guy’s girlfriend was cheating on him with some guy who is friends with his friend.  I wanted so bad to at least take a picture, but Megan wouldn’t let me.

Guess what?  After that exciting night of stalking strangers, it was bedtime, and then came Monday!  We are progressing so fast, aren’t we?  I’ll try to speed things up a bit.  As I mentioned earlier, as a last minute decision, Megan and I decided to take a trip to the Blue Mountains.  Believe it or not, it’s a group of mountains in Australia that are – dun-dun-dun – blue in colour!  Megan and I ended up in a 21-person tour group, plus a crazy leader named Jed.  I’m sure you know how some guys sometimes talk in a really deep, yet sarcastic voice, as if to say “Yes, I am a man.”  Our tour guide was obsessed with that voice and used it over and over again.  Sure it’s meant to be funny the first couple times, but then it just gets old.  Other than that, though, everything was pretty cool.  Since the drive out to the Blue Mountains is a couple hours long, we stopped midway at Olympic Park.  Remember the 2000 Olympics, hosted by Sydney?  Well, the main stadium and other buildings that made up the games have turned into a tourist destination.  Even though I didn’t really follow the games back then, it was still really cool to see the stadium and the place where the Olympic torch was lit.  Our next stop took us to a park on the outskirts of the Blue Mountains.  Last year at this time, Australia was going through a very harsh drought with wildfires springing up everywhere.  The park that we drove through had the remains of one of the burned out forests, but it had tons of new plant life springing up all over the place.  It was really quite interesting to see.  In fact, it was so interesting that I didn’t take any pictures of it.  Eventually, Jed stopped the bus near an open field where he guaranteed we would see wild kangaroo.  Sure enough, after looking around for a few minutes, we came across a group of about ten of them eating grass.  It was hard to believe that the things were wild because they were so at ease around people.  I guess I sort of expected them to be like white-tailed deer and run away, since they have been compared to them so often.  If you got within a few feet of the kangaroos, they would hop away from you, especially if it was a mother with a baby.  It was so awesome to see them in real life, though!  Nonetheless, I found a sort of eerie satisfaction when I realised that one of their former mates was sitting happily in my stomach.

After our very brief stop at the park, Jed called everyone back to the bus, where we headed off to the most popular part of the Blue Mountains – the three sisters.  It’s really just a rock formation in the midst of the rolling hills of rainforest that has three peaks to it.  However, the Aborigines came up with a fanciful story about three sisters, which I didn’t pay attention to.  The only interesting bits of factual knowledge I gained from the trip included why the mountain ranges are blue.  Apparently, almost all of the trees in the valleys are Eucalyptus, which give off a gas that looks blue when combined with dust and water vapour.  Look it up for yourself if you want to know more.  After overlooking the whole area from a high perch for a good while, our group (minus Jed) made its way to a set of stairs leading to the bottom of the cliff.  There were almost a thousand stairs that Megan and I walked down, and by the end we were grasping the railing just to keep from falling the rest of the way down.  Then, we took a nice, long stroll through a path cut through the rainforest to a train ride back to the top.  The train is actually the steepest transport train in the world, and it’s almost scary to ride it.  You probably know how steep it is when you are heading towards the top of a roller coaster, but imagine backing up from the other side of the drop without so much as a lap bar.  It’s a little intimidating.  We survived the trip to the top, though, where Jed was waiting for us with our bus.  From there, we headed off to a small tourist town in the mountains where we grabbed a bite to eat.  Then, we finished off the trip by driving to another part of the Blue Mountains to see Wentworth Falls.  It wasn’t that impressive of a waterfall in terms of the volume of water, but it was pretty nonetheless.  Jed explained how a bunch of people died by falling off the falls and gave a few graphic examples.  By this point, it started to rain and it was freezing cold.  Megan and I just wore a t-shirt, so we had almost turned to icicles by the time we got back to the bus.  We took the long ride back to Sydney and were the last people to be dropped off.  It was lucky for us, though, because we got to see just how much of a maniac Jed can be behind a wheel.  Megan ended up squeezing my hand really hard quite a few times as we cut off tons of taxi cabs and weaved around city traffic, narrowly missing pedestrians.  Overall, it was a fun day, though, and I’m glad I skipped another day of Sydney to see nature.  My hiking instructor from UMBC, T.R., would be proud.

On Tuesday, Megan and I woke up really early to catch a shuttle to the airport.  Even though Jed was a little scary on the road, he seemed like a mild-mannered Sunday-morning driver compared to this Russian shuttle bus driver.  I think I counted about three bicyclists that he forced off the road, not to mention the countless drivers he simply cut off.  You know, when we first got to Sydney, one of the workers in the airport told us that Sydney was a lot more tense and high strung than Perth.  He sure as heck was right.  If the buildings were higher and the streets were dirtier, it would be difficult to tell Sydney apart from New York.  Anyway, we got to the airport in one piece.  We checked in with Virgin Blue, and I scored another window seat.  Unfortunately, it was over the wing of the jet, so I didn’t get to see too much.  Plus, once we flew over Queensland, rain clouds started to block out the land.  After we broke through the clouds on our decent, though, the view was incredible!  There were rolling mountains everywhere, covered in lush rainforests.  It was almost like diving into a postcard.  Then, as we disembarked the plane, the jet way took us outside onto a covered portion of the tarmac, and the temperature difference was so drastic from Sydney.  Just hours earlier, I was shivering through 15-degrees, and all the sudden it was a nice, tropical 28-degrees.  It felt like I had just flown into Hawaii.  Even the view from the airport was incredible.  Instead of seeing smog and buildings, there were palm trees and mountains.  Palm trees!  This was the first time in my whole life that I actually got to touch palm trees!  I saw them when I flew through Los Angeles, but now they were just – there!  Megan said I’m sheltered.

We got a shuttle ride directly to our accommodation at Queens Court, which was a few blocks from the centre of town, but was a bit more welcoming than Eva’s Backpackers.  Since this was really the only day we had to explore Cairns before being whisked away on tours, Megan and I decided to walk around for a bit.  Again, the views were spectacular.  We were only a couple blocks from the beach on the Coral Sea, which is not too great for swimming, but is still beautiful.  Clouds encircled the mountains and palm trees lined a walking path – very cool.  Plus, as we were walking around, we came across a couple of pelicans – another thing I have never seen.  Those birds are huge!  And they are funny-looking.  I was a little timid to get too close, but a couple of older men approached the birds with bags of fish.  It was pretty neat to see them being fed and fighting over the fish.  After spending some time with them, and taking too many pictures, Megan and I headed into town to get something to eat.  It was still a bit early in the evening, so restaurants were offering early bird specials.  Some places offered 10% off the meal, and others offered free dessert.  We picked the place that offered a free bottle of wine with the meal.  It was sort of an Italian place that served a bunch of different things, so as one might imagine, I got chicken parmesan.  I had the option of getting kangaroo, emu, and crocodile, but I figured that I would forgo eating Steve Irwin’s pets for the time being.  After dinner, Megan and I returned to Queens Court to get some shut eye before our first big and scary adventure – white water rafting!

On Wednesday, we had to get up really early to catch a nice, luxury bus at 6:30am.  Before heading out, Megan coated herself in suntan lotion, which I refused.  We made our way to the bus, which picked us up in front of Queens Court, and Megs and I were able to catch a little shut eye during the almost 3-hour long trip through endless fields of bananas and sugarcane.  On the way there, we watched a very short movie on safety, which included how to hold your paddle and what to do if you fall overboard.  I was already a little anxious about rafting, having never done it before, and the quick video wasn’t enough to calm my nerves.  The leaders on the bus also advised us to refrain from wearing jewellery and watches because they would most likely be lost or destroyed by hitting into rocks.  I didn’t like the idea of taking off my watch in the sun, though.  For over ten years, I have never gone outside without my watch on so that I could get a nice tan line.  You may think I’m weird, but it turns out that Megan did the same thing!  For me, I had a tan line there all the way back into elementary school when an old friend named Chris told me, “Boy, it must smell really bad under there.”  I got the feeling at the time that he was never fond of the shower.  But, I digress.  My point is that it was with much hesitation that I removed my watch and stowed it on the bus.  I didn’t think it would be that bad, especially since it is winter here.

We were split into groups on arrival and given life jackets and helmets.  There were four other people in our group #10.  Two guys were from Adelaide and two more were from Korea and another Asian country.  One of the leaders (Janet) from the bus rushed us down to the rafts so that we could find the “best” one that wouldn’t leak on us.  Her job was to sit at the back of the raft and steer while calling out directions, like “Forward paddle!” “Over-right!” “On the job!” and the exciting “Get down and hold on!”  Thankfully, she spent a good 5-10 minutes going over safety and manoeuvres.  I was a little worried, though, when she placed me at the very front of the raft with another guy, telling us that we would be the main power for the raft.  Hooray!  Then, she told us that a guy named Nick would be joining us for the trip.  It turned out that Janet was actually just a trainee who had never been a guide for the Tully River.  Okay, that made me a little nervous again, but I just dug my feet deep into the crevasses of the raft as we pushed off into the rapids.

Our trip on the Tully River was divided into two parts so that we could have a break for lunch.  During our first rapid we experienced, I was actually quite impressed with the levels of safety that Raging Thunder undertook.  There were always people along the shorelines with throw ropes.  Even still, hitting into boulders and falling down 6-foot high waterfalls was pretty darn exciting!  I had an excellent time.  Just before we stopped on the shore for some delicious barbeque, we took our raft directly under a pretty high waterfall.  Although Megan said it made her head hurt, I loved it.  It reminded me of those river rapids rides at amusement parks.  Believe it or not, real river rafting is fairly similar to that, except that you aren’t strapped in, you sit on the edge of a small raft, and you do a lot of paddling.

After lunch, we made our way back to the rafts to do a few more hours of rapids.  By request of the Australian guys on the raft, I moved back to the second row with Megan – just as I was getting comfortable with my foreword position.  Oh, well.  At one point when we came to a calm area of the river, we were told to jump out to take a swim and to catch up with the raft later down the river, as Nick and Janet paddled away.  It was pretty cool to be able to take a dip, but then we realised that the current was picking up.  In fact, it became so strong that everyone just needed to lay on their backs as the river pulled us to the raft.  It was awesome.  We got back into the raft, and did a couple more plummets down rapids and waterfalls.  Eventually, we came to a spot called the “guide’s revenge” in which everyone basically sat at the front of the raft as it fell over a pretty steep waterfall, forcing everyone out.  We finished off the day on the “Zig Zag” rapid, which was combined with a bunch of other exciting drops.  At one point, I came extremely close to falling in the water.  Actually, my whole body fell out, but I kept my feet buried deep into the ridges of the raft, which was the only thing keeping me on it.  My head and arms were dipping into the water, giving my body a nice upside-down U shape, as I sprawled my back across the outside of the raft.  That was the coolest part of the whole day!  I was able to stay on the raft, despite the tour guide urging my raft-mates to push me into the sink.  Overall, it was an absolutely fabulous day!

Once everyone dried off, we drove to the Raging Thunder Headquarters to watch the river rafting blooper reel, as well as a video from selected portions of our trip.  Even though it wasn’t too impressive, since no one in our group fell overboard, I still ordered a copy of the action.  Our trip ended with the long drive back to Cairns through a gorgeous sunset over the Queensland mountain range.  Back at Queens Court, Megan and I didn’t have much trouble falling asleep.

On Thursday, Megan and I both woke up in pain, but it wasn’t because of muscle aches.  Although it may be winter in Australia, Cairns is a mere 17 degrees below the equator, under a massive hole in the ozone layer.  Thus, both of our necks, shoulders, forearms, and legs were completely sunburned red.  I think it’s the worst sunburn I’ve had in a long time, and mine wasn’t much worse than Megan’s, who wore sunblock.  Plus, the most tragic incident of the day came when I looked at my wrist.  My perfectly, bleach-white watch tan line had turned a deep, dark red.  My only consolation in the matter was the Megan had to suffer the same loss on her wrist.  Oh, well.  It’ll just be another ten years until I have my “smelly” tan line back.

After a bitterly painful shower on my scorched shoulders, I headed down to the bus pick up with Megan for the Waterfall Circuit.  This tour was conducted through a group called “Jungle Tours.”  After a long wait, the bus finally arrived with Drew, our guide, and a group of 15 Japanese students that spoke little or no English.  It wouldn’t have been a bad thing, except that since they can’t understand English, they just continue to talk when Drew is talking.  So, apart from when they were corrected, we missed out on whatever neat facts and stories Drew was spitting out.

Our first trip took us to Babinda Boulders.  As with most other places in Australia, the boulders holds special meaning for Aboriginal people, who have a story that goes along with it.  Usually, I don’t pay attention to these things because they are so mythological that I can’t follow them.  My mind can’t comprehend that much.  However, this thing was so much like a Jerry Springer episode, that I couldn’t help but pay attention.  According to the story, there was this girl named Oolana, who married some guy in her tribe named Waroonoo.  Cool.  Well, all the sudden this rival tribe comes into town, and Oolana falls in love with this other guy named Dyga.  They decide to get all spicy, and whoops, adultery happens.  So, what do you do when you cheat on your husband?  You run away into the rainforest with your new lover!  Well, Waroonoo gets all jealous and tries to hunt them down, causing Dyga to get nervous.  So, Dyga ditches Oolana out in the rainforest all by herself!  Whooooo!  Anyway, Oolana follows Justin Timberlake’s advice and literally cries a river.  Eventually she dies off, all pissy with men and haunts the river, trying to lure young men to their deaths.  Interestingly, however, 15 people have died at the boulders since 1959, and most have been young men.  Cue The Twilight Zone music.  Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do.

So, what happens after we hear a scary story like that?  We swim in the water!  On the way to a calmer swim spot, there was a plaque on the ground with someone’s name reading, “He came for a visit and stayed forever.”  I didn’t end up dying at the boulders, but I took another barrage of pictures, running myself critically low on film memory.

After our stop at the boulders, we headed off to Josephine Falls for a walk through the rainforest and another chance for swimming.  The falls was more like a series of small falls over rocks.  One such fall created a natural rock slide, which I would have been delighted to try out, but my body was in so much sunburn pain, I decided to just take more pictures instead.

Shortly afterward we got back onto the bus and stopped at Johnstone River Plantation.  It’s a banana farm!  We had a chance to sample a few different types of bananas.  I had no idea there were actually different kinds of bananas!  There are these really small ones called “Monkey Bananas,” which are incredibly delicious.  I would have bought some, but WA is extremely uptight about foreign plants and animals (even from its own country).  I wonder they are sold in the States.  If so, pick some up.  They are yummy!  We got the chance to see banana trees, which grow bananas on big sticks, very much bunched together.  I always thought that bananas just sort of grew in bunches, like apples, but they are actually on one big stalk.  They are wrapped in bags to keep them ripening at the same rate while keeping out bats.  I bought myself a banana smoothie thing, and Megan bought a chocolate-covered banana.

Our next stop took us through the small town of Innisfail to see the town’s prize-winning gumboot.  Each year, there is a “competition” between the towns of Innisfail, Tully, and Babinda to see who gets the most amount of rain.  The winner gets to have possession of – literally – a golden rain boot.  As we passed through Innisfail, it was proudly displayed in the post office window.  However, Innisfail’s achievement was disputed by the residents of Tully, who claimed the rain gauge was wrong after it was moved from one area to another.  To compensate, Tully built a $30,000 golden boot to prove that they are indeed the wettest town in Queensland.  I thought it was hilarious, but Megan thought it was pathetic.

Speaking of contests, though, our drive took us past the highest mountain in Queensland, Mt. Bartle Frere, dubbed “The Pyramid.”  The thing is 1,622 metres high, and each year there is a race to see who can climb up and down the fastest.  The record occurred this year with a time of one hour and 16 minutes.  It seems almost impossible, but wow.  Yet another competition that takes place often is Cane toad racing.  Cane toads are toads that were introduced into Australia, creating a lot more havoc than good.  Every now and again, people decide to line them up, give them numbers, and have them race to the finish line.  There was a competition going on in Cairns while we were there, but Megan refused to go because she felt sorry for the little froggies.  Oh, well.

Finally, after a long bus ride, we got to Milla Milla falls for lunch.  “Milla” is Aboriginal for “Water,” so if you have 2 Millas you get… lots of water.  The falls was very awesome, but there wasn’t much else to it.  You always hear “save the rainforests” but you don’t really get it until you see it.  What I mean is that Milla Milla falls is just in a very small pocket of rainforest.  As we were driving to it, most everything was cleared for farming, and there were spotty patches of trees that at one time were lush rainforests.  It was almost like night and day when we came up to the falls because we started driving through farmlands and suddenly ended up in a rainforest.  Even still, we had the chance to grab some lunch there while staring at the pouring water.  Megan and I were lucky enough to see a big lizard, similar to my sister’s old iguana.  Once a bus full of old people pulled up, we boarded the bus for our next destination.

The next stop took us to a curtain fig tree, which was a really awesome looking tree.  There is a complicated nature behind how the tree is formed, but it still looks pretty cool.  When we were pulling up, we spotted a Tree Kangaroo.  These guys are extremely rare and endangered in the wild, so it was a lucky chance that we saw it.  There was seriously nothing more to the park we visited than the fig tree, so we just got back on the bus to travel to Lake Eacham to wrap up the day.

Lake Eacham was a pretty cool lake in the middle of the rainforest that was formed through volcanic activity.  Supposedly, a bit of lava was moving under the earth, near the surface, and it came across an underwater waterbed.  The stuff boiled and eventually exploded out of the ground, creating a massive lake in the middle of nowhere.  Some people took a swim, but preferring to stay dry at the end of the day, Megan and I just sat by the edge of the water, watching the fish and turtles.  The turtles themselves were a little odd, too.  They breathe through their posterior.  I’ll just leave you to ponder that on your own.

The drive home to Cairns was done by a guy named Dan.  Drew headed off with a small portion of the group to do an overnight stay of the area.  The drive was along a mountain pass that had over 200, 90-plus degree curves in it along a very short stretch of road.  I think everyone was feeling a little dodgy by the time we got back to town.

It’s time to take a breath.  We’ve made it to Friday!  Friday was our chance to explore the Great Barrier Reef.  We got a ride down to the wharf where Reef Magic Tours took over.  It was a little difficult trying to find the vessel, but when we did, we were pleased to discover that only 30 people were on board.  It made things a lot easier when trying to get around and use facilities.  Megan paid a few extra bucks to go scuba diving on the reef, but I just preferred snorkelling.  She actually frightened me away from scuba diving a long time ago when she told me about all the different ways you can die underwater.  Anyway, the trip out to the reef was a fast hour and a half.  I say fast because we went all the way to the edge of the ocean – the continental shelf.  In fact, we went as far out as we could while staying in Australian waters.  At the continental shelf, the reef suddenly stops and there is a drop-off of hundreds of metres.  You could actually see that area on the horizon, which was pretty cool.  The water was a little chilly at 26 degrees, so I hired a wetsuit.  It was really difficult getting the tight-fitting thing on over my sunburn, but I managed.  I grabbed my flippers and goggles and climbed down a ladder into the Pacific Ocean.

I didn’t see what was so great about the Great Barrier Reef at first.  There was nothing that could be seen from the surface.  However, once I put my goggles on and took a look under the surface of the water, the view was incredible!  It was a completely different world, like I was living in an aquarium.  Fish were everywhere, and within arms reach at all times.  I kept putting my head in and out of the water to see if it was for real because it was so hard to believe that so much life existed just under me.  I swam around the reef a little, and it was just like you see in movies and pictures.  The coral is amazing with millions of different colours, shapes, and sizes.  There were tiny fish darting just on the surface, clown fish swimming in and out of anemones, sea cucumbers sitting on the sand, and so much more.  I could hardly believe what I was seeing.  Earlier in the day, I had signed up for a guided tour with some “world-wide known botanist” named Selina, so I had to head back to the boat to get ready for that.  The thing was supposed to be included in the tour package, but they still charged us $22 each.  It was pretty cool because she showed us a couple different things in the ocean and explained what they were, but it wasn’t worth the outrageous price.  Oh, well.

After the exciting dive, I grabbed some lunch, which didn’t even include drinks, but was okay nonetheless.  Megan got ready for another scuba dive, and I took a ride on a glass-bottom boat so that I could change out of my wetsuit.  Actually, I learned more on the boat ride than I did with the botanist.  It was kind of funny, though, because the reef comes all the way to the surface of the water.  As the driver of the glass bottom boat was explaining how humans have had a terrible destructive force on the coral, we slammed right into one of them.  It was a little ironic, but hopefully we didn’t do too much damage.

A couple hours later, we were heading back to Cairns, but not before we happened to spot a couple of humpback whales putting on a little show for us.  They were quite a ways away, but since it was the first time I had ever seen a whale, it was an incredible site.  So, yeah, the trip to the Great Barrier Reef was really incredible, and I can see why Megan likes it so much.  I still have not been persuaded into scuba diving, but snorkelling was quite enjoyable.

After we got back home, we had a couple hours to spare before bedtime, so we got some pizza at Domino’s.  The guy ahead of us ordered about 75 pizzas, and was set to pick them up at different times.  I was shocked, though, because Domino’s let him take home 50 of the pizzas before the others were made, and before he paid for even one of them.  Anyway, Megan and I just got plain cheese with tomato sauce, by request, and took it home to Queens Court.  The TV there actually had cable, meaning that we could get a full ten channels instead of the usual four.  One of the channels was a movie network, and playing that night was “Jeepers Creepers.”  I remember that movie came out a while back, and it was supposedly decent enough for a sequel, so we decided to watch it.  Blegh.  It was probably one of the worst movies I have ever seen.  There were a couple parts that were intriguing, but it was definitely not a movie I would ever recommend.  I had no problem falling asleep after watching that boring “horror” flick.

The final day of tours at Cairns was on Saturday with Jungle Tours.  Just as before, they were late, only this time, twice as late.  Sidney pulled up his bus 40 minutes late and took us to a Rainforest Habitat Sanctuary, which was visited by Bill Clinton a few years ago.  The place was really cool.  It was like being on a drive-thru safari while being out of your car.  All of the animals and birds were all around you, including koalas, emus, and especially, kangaroos.  Megan and I both got the chance to feed the little guys, which was really awesome!  I got to get right up next to them!  I had practically run out of film over the past few days, so I had to lower the quality of pictures to fit more of them onto my camera – I took plenty of pictures here.  The place was really cool, but we had a full itinerary, so Sidney called us back to the bus rather quickly.

Our next stop was to the Daintree Rainforest and River.  We took a cruise on the river, which was filled with crocodiles.  It was really awesome to actually see them in the wild.  We saw everything from a mummy with her little babies to a 4.5 metre croc!  The guide for the tour was informative and interesting, which made the trip even more enjoyable.

After that, we stopped by Cape Tribulation, which is an amazingly beautiful beach.  We got to grab some delicious lunch there before walking about a kilometre down the long stretch of sandy beach.  There were tiny little piles of balls of sand all over the place, which were created by hundreds of sand crabs that bury themselves down into the sand.  It was actually a little freaky, but in a neat way.  At least they weren’t bugs!  I don’t like bugs.

Our trip continued to Mossman Gorge, which had us cross a cable ferry over the Daintree River.  It was an interesting little ride, because it’s basically just a barge without a motor that is pulled along by a pulley system.  I don’t really understand why they can’t just build a solid bridge, but it’s cool.  It’s probably a little boring for the people who operate the thing, though.  Back and forth, back and forth.  The stretch of water is only a few metres across, so it’s not really all that interesting.  We also passed by a wild cassowary and a chick – not the woman, but the baby bird.  Cassowary birds are similar to emus and ostridges, but they have actually been known to kill people.  Scary thought.  The birds backed up traffic for a while as people stopped to take pictures of them.  We stopped by an ice cream place, which makes ice cream out of four different flavours of natural local fruits, including one that tastes like cappuccino – not that I like coffee, but, eh.

Once we got to Mossman Gorge, it was getting a little dark, but we sill had some time to take a stroll through the rainforest.  It was a neat little place, but not too much different from the boulders that we checked out earlier.  Sidney was quite talented with the amount of knowledge that he knew of the area, but as I write this on a Friday night, I can’t remember even a quarter of the cool stuff he told us.  We ended the tour with a drive through Port Douglas, under a beautiful sunset.  We got back to Cairns a couple hours past the original itinerary, but it was all good.

Once we got back to Queens Court, Megan and I decided to be healthy again, so we got more pizza at Domino’s.  This time the movie “Spaceballs” was on the movie channel – another one that I have never seen.  It was interesting, to say the least.  There were some funny parts, as it was basically a big parody of the Star Wars movies.  However, I’ve never really been a fan of all those movies, so I didn’t really get all of the jokes sprinkled throughout it.  It was a Mel Brooks film, though, so it was good, but not one of my all time favourites.  The next movie on the channel was Scary Movie 2 – another parody film.  I’ve wanted to see that for a while, too, so I started to watch the first 15 minutes, only to realise that I haven’t seen most of the movies that were being spoofed.  I was tired anyway, so I just flicked the TV off and decided to watch the real movies before the parody.

Sunday arvo found me flying high above Australia on my way back to Perth.  We had a layover in Brisbane, which was a neat little city, similar to Perth.  There was a gorgeous sunset over the Alps as we made our decent, but unfortunately, we didn’t have any time to explore the town.  I’m not sure if there is really anything to do there, either.  The flight to Perth was very long and very cold – and I missed my window seat.  Actually, this was the first time in my life that I went without one.  Megan sat at the window, and I sat next to an old lady whose skin was falling off.  I tried to get into a comfortable position, but it was actually quite difficult.  I might have gotten about a half hour or so of sleep, but that was it – I should have brought some Tylenol PM with me from my flight here.  Once at Perth airport, Megan and I grabbed a taxi to get back to Murdoch.  Wait.  Megan and taxi?  Didn’t I mention earlier that taxis shouldn’t pick up Megan?  Hooray!  You’ve read this far!  Once we got to Murdoch, we paid the cabbie, but didn’t leave him a tip (which is not really necessary in Australia).  I told Megan that it must be sort of odd to not tip the driver, but she said that she never tips them!  And that, my friends, is why they shouldn’t pick her up.  Was it worth the wait?  Nope.  Oh, well.  That finally concludes my long, drawn out story of my semester break on the eastern states!  Thanks for reading!  But, I’m not done, yet.  I still need to tell you what I’ve been up to this week!  No worries, though.  It’s a lot shorter.

On Monday, I had to scour my room and flat to find clothes and food.  I had worn almost everything during my trip, and had consumed everything just before I left.  Thankfully, there was still a Pop Tart and a cup of yogurt left in the refrigerator to make up my breakfast.  As for clothes, well, I just had to play the pick ‘n sniff game.  That means, I pick clothes out of my hamper, take a whiff, and if they don’t have a smell to them, they are good to wear.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am a lazy bum, I ended up playing the pick ‘n sniff game all the way up until Thursday.  By that point, all of my clothes had a nice odour to them, my towels were mouldy, and the stuff I had been wearing had a nice coating of dead skin from my peeling sunburn.  Aren’t you sad you aren’t here with me?

On Tuesday, I had my flat dinner.  I was a bit nervous about the whole ordeal because I had planned to bring hot dogs to the potluck.  Everyone else had listed really interesting and hard-to-make foods, and I just had hot dogs.  Even still, as the deadline of 8:00pm approached, everyone was busy in the kitchen mixing up different ingredients and spices and sauces.  I wasn’t even sure how I was supposed to make the dogs.  When I make hot dogs for myself, I just pop them in the microwave for a minute or two, and boom, it’s done.  If I feel a little more ambitious, I get a pot of boiling water and cook them in that.  I figured that would be my best bet for this dinner, but the packaging read in big letters “Do Not Boil.”  What’s that mean, now?  I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but seeing that everyone else did, I decided to pretend.  I pulled out my frying pan – against the advice of Megan, who I was consulting via instant messages – and threw the dogs onto that on a low flame.  I just sort of turned them every so often, but I wasn’t sure if they would be any good.  Would the flavour be lost from plain heat?  It’s not on a grill, right?  Even still, I decided to get out a pot of boiling water to let them take a dip.  I carefully plucked the hot dogs off of the pan and placed them into the pot, but lo and behold, they started to fall apart!  The things were almost turning to mush and disintegrating!  Is that why they can’t be boiled?  I quickly grabbed them out of the pot and threw them back onto the pan in a motion that made me look like a retarded Emeril.  I kept a wary eye on my flatmates as I carefully placed each dog into a bun and placed them onto the dinner table at a minute or two before 8:00.  However, everyone else was still perfecting their food.  In fact, they were still cooking 15 minutes later.  Cold hot dogs are really nasty, I’m sure, so I grabbed the plate of eight dogs and popped each one back onto the frying pan (without the bun, of course).  I kept them on there for a few minutes before placing them back into the buns and onto the table.  By this point, everyone was finishing up their meals and bringing the bounty to the table.  My hot dogs looked so pathetic.

Everything on the table looked incredibly delicious, and then there were my wieners.  Being polite, someone commented on how they looked good and asked what they were.  I replied bashfully “hot dogs.”  She asked what kind of meat that was – chicken, beef, or something else.  I bit my bottom lip and muttered “I’m not exactly sure.  Let’s look at the package.”  I pulled the plastic wrap out of the rubbish, and it only said “hot dogs.”  What are they made out of, anyway?  They did look pretty gross – and probably cold since everyone wanted pictures taken.  Nonetheless, we sat down and dished out the food.  Six of my dogs got eaten.  I didn’t have any.  I was too afraid to even try it for myself.  That’s pretty bad, huh?  Everyone else’s food was delicious, though.  I wish I knew how to cook real food.

After everyone filled their bellies with food, we took a trip outside to check out Mars during its closest encounter with Earth for the next couple hundred years.  It wasn’t too much different from how it looked when I photographed it with the moon a few weeks ago, but it was still pretty neat.  We came back inside after not too long because it was freezing out there.  What better to warm us up than some chocolate ice cream?  Well, even though dinner was a little awkward for me, the night still turned out very nicely.

On Thursday, Megan and I headed out to Garden City to pick up the pictures that were taken with the dodgy photo centre a couple weeks ago.  The deal was that we would get one really big picture and have the opportunity to buy other poses.  I was surprised by two things (though you think I wouldn’t be after they told us to get naked before).  First, all of the pictures were already printed and done.  If we wanted to take any home, we just had to pay for them.  Otherwise, they would end up in the circular file.  Second, the ones they showed us turned out really well.  It was a little awkward picking up our free, huge picture, but nonetheless, it was pretty neat, since this was the first time that we got our picture taken together professionally.  Megan really wanted to purchase another pose besides the free one, but, as always, they were really expensive.  There was little to no pressure to buy, though.  Back at home, Olan Mills puts so much pressure to buy, buy, buy that some people can’t resist.  Here, they showed us the pictures, told us the prices, and left us alone to decide.  It was pretty cool.  We ended up buying small wallets of another pose, but that was it.  It was a little on the expensive side, but I’m very pleased with how they turned out.

Once we had picked up the pictures, Megan and I wanted to check out the movie Finding Nemo.  Even though the setting of the cartoon movie takes place in Australia, it didn’t come out until that day.  It was in theatres for a good month or two before we left, but we never got the chance to actually see it back home.  I’m a little glad we didn’t either, because it was so much cooler seeing it after our semester break trip.  The story takes place on the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney, which are both illustrated to amazing detail and accuracy.  I was so excited to realise that all of the sites in the movie were places that I had just been!  In terms of the movie, it was indeed a must-see.  Megan claims that it’s one of the best movies she has ever seen.  I’m not sure if that’s the case with me, but I admit that it was really good.  It contained a few topics that would have been a little disturbing to children, but it was very well-done, and hilarious, too!

That brings me to today, Friday.  Today, I just went to class, met up with my partners for forensic science.  We met today and talked about criminal profiling, an upcoming dance, dresses, makeup, lipstick, serial killers, puppies, boys, and murders.  That’s what you get for being in a group of three girls, I guess.  I found the conversations amusing, anyway.  Since then, I’ve been typing this insanely long entry.  And now, I know you thought you would never read this, I have run out of things to talk about.  That must mean the entry is over!  Halleluiah!

Category:Australia | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan

tgif

Friday, 29. August 2003 18:29

Well, it’s the start of the weekend and I have nothing planned. Hopefully it’ll be a mixture of fun and school work. It sure feels good for it to be Friday.

I think that time is passing more quickly here, than back at my home university. Maybe it’s because I’m having more fun, being with Ryan. Or maybe it’s because I don’t do *any* school work. I just don’t know. I don’t want time to go by quickly. I want each day to last forever. I don’t want this semester to be over. I don’t want to go back home, and be apart from Ryan again. ::Sigh::

Yesterday, we saw Finding Nemo. It was SO good. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the best movies that I’ve ever seen. It was so cute and so funny, but it had a sad/serious side too. It was just good.

I hope I find something to do tonight. I’m partly too tired and just want to sleep, but I also don’t want to spend the night in front of the computer until I decide it’s late enough to get into bed. Unfortunately, Ryan has a lot that he wants to get done, so I doubt he’ll want to do anything with me. Eh, we shall see

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

…i’m back

Monday, 25. August 2003 10:33

Ryan and I had a fantastic week. What a great holiday! It sucks to be back at uni though, especially because I should have been doing work this past week. I suppose I’ll give a brief-as-possible, scattered synopsis of what we did.

Day One – Saturday
We managed to get to the airport by taking a few buses. I felt funny with our lugguge, but it was all okay. I brought my new hiking backpack and Ryan had a suitcase. The flight wasn’t too bad. We landed in Sydney in the evening and we took a shuttle to Eva’s Backpackers. I stayed there 2 years ago, so it was really neat to be back. We went out for a little while and got some dinner, and then just crashed.

Day Two – Sunday
We went to a church service at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which is absolutely huge. It was cool to go to church in such an awesome place! Then, we walked around the city, trying to cram everything in. We went up in the Sydney Tower, to get a view of the city. Then we got a tour of the Sydney Opera House. This was my third tour — how pathetic is that? I don’t think many people can say that they toured the damn thing three times. We hung around that area for a while, taking pictures of the scenery. We took the ferry to Manly at sunset, which was pretty awesome. We didn’t stay in Manly too long; we just walked on the beach for a while. The ferry ride back was neat, because we saw the city all lit up. I’m so familar with Sydney, it’s funny. I know that city better than ones back home. I navigated our way to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, and then we headed back to our room.

Day Three – Monday
At the last minute, Ryan and I booked a daytrip to the Blue Mountains. The tour bus picked us up fairly early, and we drove around the city picking other toursists up before driving there. There were 21 of us, so it was a nice-sized group. We got to stop at the Olympic Stadium, which was way cool. Of all the times I’ve been to Sydney, I never went there. After that, we stopped at an area in the Blue Mountain park thing, and saw lots of wild kangaroos. That was pretty cool. I’ve seen kangaroo in the wild a few times, but it’s always a neat experience.

But anyways, yeah. We arrived at the Blue Mountains and hiked down the 900 stairs to the bottom. It’s quite a climb. Fortunately, this time I didn’t have to walk back up them too. We hiked for about 4 km until we reached the train that brings us back up. It’s the steepest train in the world, I’m pretty sure.

It was kind of a weird tour, because we weren’t given lunch. Usually that’s included in the price, but instead we were brought to a small nearby town and we just walked around and found places to eat. Ryan and I went to the Parakeet Cafe, which was a cute little place. The food was alright.

The last thing we did was go to an overlook of Wentworth Falls. Last time I was at the Blue Mountains, I hiked to the bottom of that, as well as the stairs, and then back up. I’m glad that we didn’t do that today though. I was pretty tired. ;) It started raining just as we were leaving, so it was timed perfectly!

Day Four – Tuesday
We left Sydney today and flew into Cairns in the afternoon. I had a terrible, terrible headache all day, but I insisted on walking around the city for a few hours. I love Cairns. It is so beautiful. Not to mention that it was actually hot! We saw two huge pelicans, that an old man was feeding fish to. It was pretty cool to watch. Other than walking around, Ryan and I didn’t do all that much today. We had dinner at this nice restaurant, and got a free bottle of wine. That didn’t help my headache though, and actually made my mood quite a lot worse. I got the calamari for dinner, and it was delicious.

Day Five – Wednesday
Today we went white water rafting!! There was a whole bus load of people that did it, and we all got separated into smaller groups for each raft. There were 4 other boys in my raft, plus a trainee (Janet) and a trainer (Nick). We got “lucky” and our guide was still in the training process. This made me a little more nervous than I already was, but it was alright. The first rapid that we went down was really scary. Janet kind of messed up, and it was a really bumpy experience. It got much better from there though.

We sometimes had to all shift to one side of the boat, to get through the rapids. I hated this so much. Whenever we would shift to my side, I felt like I was going to fall out! Most of it was awesome though. I’m definitely glad that I did it. See, I have this small hatred of water splashing in my face. It’s not a big deal, I just prefer not to do things like water slides. I know it’s weird, especially because I was on a swim team for over 10 years. I just don’t like it when water is splashed at me. Rafting includes a lot of that, but it was fine.

We went down lots of scary rapids, one with a 6-foot drop and another where we had to tumble out backwards. But luckily, none of us fell out by accident, although Ryan was really close one time. During the calm spots on the river, they let us get out of the raft and swim for a while. The water was really cold and the rocks were slimy. All-in-all, it was a great day. Downfall: Both Ryan and I got burnt pretty badly on our thighs, shoulders and [old] watch tanlines.

Day Six – Thursday
Today was our Waterfall Circuit tour. We were supposed to be picked up at 8am, but our tourguide was a half hour late. That wasn’t very nice. Her name was Drew, and she was alright. We were with 15 Japanese students from ages 12-18, who were learning English. It was.. interesting.

It wasn’t the best of all tours. We basically just drove around a lot, stopping at different waterfalls. They were beautiful, it just was a very spread out day. Something that was really cool was stopping at a banana plantation. I had no idea that there are different types of bananas!! We got to try three different kinds. The small “Monkey Bananas” are really, really sweet. It was a neat thing. I could describe today in a lot more detail, telling you about each place that we went. However, that would make this way too long. So, if you’re interesting, let me know and I can post more about it later.

Day Seven – Friday
My favorite day! Wow, wow, wow. We took a boat out to one of the reefs in the Great Barrier Reef. I went scuba diving and Ryan snorkeled. There were only 3 other certified divers (Alan, Michelle, Dani), so it was pretty great. This was only my 14th dive, so I don’t have much experience. Dani works for the boat that we were on and Alan has done around 65 dives, so they’re both pretty experienced. Michelle has only done one more dive than me, but she went the day before, so she wasn’t as rusty as me. I wasn’t nervous at all, which was good. But I still felt like a beginner compared to them.

Usually, more experienced divers are better at conserving their air. However, both Alan and Michelle ran out of air way faster than me! I felt so proud of myself. Dani and I were able to stay down quite a bit longer. We went on two dives, and the same thing happened on the second one. At the end of the day, Dani told me that I am a really good diver and am excellent at conserving my air. That’s a huge compliment, and I don’t really care if I’m bragging. ;) It made me feel really good!

I saw lots of amazing fish and coral, plus a sand shark and a sting ray. It was so gorgeous. And then, on the way back into shore, we saw two whales! They were jumping out of the water, like they were performing for us. What a great way to end a great day!

Day Eight – Saturday
We took a tour up to Cape Tribulation today, and hiked through the Daintree rainforest. We stopped at a wildlife habitat place, where we fed some kangaroo and saw lots of animals. We also saw a Cassowary and her chick on the side of the road. I believe they’re endangered, so that was a rare thing. We also took a boat in the Daintree River and saw lots of crocodiles, the longest one being 4.5 meters (over 12 feet) long. Yeah.. this day was fun.

I think I’ve written enough. On Day Nine – Sunday, we flew back to Perth, going through Brisbane. That was one heck of a long flight. Ugh, I just couldn’t get comfortable.

Yay for such a great time! :) :) :)

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

Aussie Entry 11

Thursday, 14. August 2003 23:00

This entire week could probably be summed up with about three words: Worms, Monopoly, and work, but of course, not necessarily in that order.  You wouldn’t think so with the length of this entry though, would you?  Before I came to Australia, I picked out certain CD-ROM disks that I thought I would need in here.  Most of them were for backup purposes, such as Microsoft Word and Windows XP in case my computer decided to self-destruct at some point.  I also brought along an outdated, but still useful copy of Microsoft Trips (why does this all seem to centre on Bill Gates?).  It’s a software program that is similar to mapquest.com, but it’s all on a CD.  It is good for the whole United States, so I decided to run it over the weekend so that I could figure out how to get from one point to another in Los Angeles.  However, stupid me only brought the disk to run the software, but nothing to actually install it.  So, basically that was a complete waste.  However, as I was putting the disk back, I noticed that I had “accidentally” thrown a computer game called Worms Armageddon into the mix.  Without much else to do, I decided to install the thing, and since I have, I’ve been addicted. 

Now, I’ve never been much of a computer-gamer.  Okay, that’s not true.  My first real computer-crush was with this “intellectual” problem-solving game called Myst.  I loved the thing, even though it was basically a pretty slide show with cool music.  The point of the game was to try and find blue and red pages of a book that two brothers were trapped inside of (yes, I know you can’t end sentences in prepositions, so sue me).  Anyway, it seems like a strange concept, but it was incredibly fun.  When the sequel, Riven, came out a couple years later, I became re-addicted to the thing.  Heck, I even made a screen name on America Online called “ManOfRiven” so that I could help out other people who might have been stuck in different areas of the game.  Good times.  After that whole phenomenon, I started playing The 7th Guest, which was similar to my previous addiction, but dealt with a haunted house instead.  It was pretty cool, but it was a smart-person’s game, and I couldn’t figure out more than about four of the puzzles.  All my time spent trying to figure them out left me “feeling lonely.”  That’s an inside joke for players of that game.  You don’t get it, do you?  Bah.

There were only three other games which brought me to the glowing computer monitor each night: Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, and The Sims.  Each of them were incredibly awesome, and when Rainbow Six could be played online against people, I thought I was in heaven.  Then came Worms Armageddon.  It’s a fairly simple game, yet highly addicting (just like Snood).  You have a team of worms with highly-destructive weapons, and your mission is to kill a whole second team of worms in a turn-by-turn approach.  This was also able to be played online, which I ended up doing quite frequently.  Then, I went off to college, and ended my magazine subscription to PC Gamer (which is where I got the ideas for these addicting games).  Since freshman year, I haven’t bought any more games, and I haven’t had the desire to play them either, since I have had so much more work to do otherwise.

Now that I am at Murdoch, where there are relatively few assessed assignments, and I only need to achieve a passing grade, I have had a little more time on my hands.  Thus, when I installed Worms Armageddon, I suddenly was thrown back in time about 4 years, and I picked up on all the little talents I had in the game back in high school.  I couldn’t play it deep into the night, though, because I had to wake up early for church the next morning.

On Sunday, Megan and I walked up to church, came back, and had scrambled eggs for breakfast with those brownish-coloured, free-range chicken eggs.  Then, I thought that I would show her Worms Armageddon.  She thought it was pretty cool, and we played it for only a couple hours.  Then she spied another CD in my collection, which was a computerised version of Monopoly.  So, I decided to install that and play a game with her.  If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know how long those games can run.  Well, let’s say that we played about 3 or 4 games in between some rounds of Worms Armageddon.  All I really remember after that was looking at my watch, which read “11:30pm.”  I’m not kidding.  Megan and I wasted the entire day on Sunday playing computer games.  How depressing is that?  Although, all in all, it was actually pretty cool.  Since Megan and I live so far apart back in the States, it is very rare that we “waste the day together.”  Instead, there is always something planned, even if it’s a trip to Baltimore or New York, or a movie, or a concert – there is always something pre-planned.  Now that we get to see each other every day, we can afford to actually spend time together doing more spontaneous activities, which is quite awesome.

Since Sunday, I have been pretty much going back and forth between school work and Worms and Monopoly.  I even sent Kelly a copy of both games so that if we are ever awake and not busy at the same time, we can play each other online.  We probably won’t be able to do that until I get back from my holiday next week, but hopefully we’ll be able to work out some time to do that because it would be sweet.

Speaking of my little venture to the East coast of Australia, I happen to leave in less than 2 days.  Have I packed?  Not in the least!  After all, I was able to pack everything for my trip here in just one day.  I don’t expect it to take too long for me to pack to get out there, and I’ll probably do it Friday night.  Instead, I’m more concerned about transportation.  Somehow I am going to have to get to Perth airport on a Saturday morning, to Eva’s Backpackers in Sydney that night, back to the airport relatively early on Tuesday, and, most importantly, back to Murdoch late Sunday night.  My Cairns transportation should already be taken care of.  I guess Megan and I could always call a taxi, but that trip is going to end up being pretty expensive.  She seems to know what’s going on more so than I do with planes and trains and buses, so I’ll just rely on her.

Anyway, like always, this entry is getting pretty long, so let’s continue where we left off – Monday!  Really, the only thing to talk about from then was my flat inspection.  We had inspections of our apartments and dormitories back at UMBC, but they were fairly cursory, as the RA would just take a brief look to make sure we haven’t trashed the place, and we would pass.  However, Murdoch is a little bit more anal about cleanliness.  For example, each week, every person in the flat is assigned a particular thing to clean up, and if there is an inspection during your week, and your duty is not complete to their satisfaction, you will be heavily fined.  They even provide you with a laundry list of things that you need to accomplish.  Which, I guess could be seen as a good thing, providing that our bathrooms are forced to be cleaned on a weekly basis.  However, back at UMBC, aside from picking up trash, we were able to get away without cleaning our bathroom or shower for the entire year.  Whatever the case, my duty this week was to clean the stovetops and the oven.  Since we were warned ahead of time about an inspection, I knew that I had to work pretty hard on it.  I took quite a bit of time cleaning out and degreasing the stovetops, and they looked pretty good from how they started.  I checked out the oven, but aside from a few crumbs and minor dirt, it looked good, and since I spent so much time on the stove, I figured I could forego the oven.  Sometime around noon, about three people, including our RA, barged into our flat, yelling out “Flat Inspection!”  They literally ran through the flat, checking every bit of it, including our rooms to see that we had compulsory “mattress protectors” on our beds.

They really gave little to no warning about what they were checking, and since they have keys to each person’s bedrooms, I’m sure some people were caught unexpectedly.  In Megan’s flat, someone was still sleeping when the cleaning lady raced into her room, and I’m sure that someone could have just gotten out of the shower when they came through.  So, the results of the inspection showed that we failed a number of things, including the oven.  Thankfully, we were given a day to fix the mess before we were fined, and since I haven’t heard anything from them since I spent Monday night scrubbing the thing, I think it all worked out.

On a completely unrelated subject, my flatmates thought it would be cool to have a flat dinner during Tuesday of Week 5 (the week after my holiday).  It’s supposed to be a potluck sort of thing, where each person contributes something.  I was a little nervous at first because I can’t cook worth anything, but I realized I could make pasta or buy dessert, which would be a heck of a lot easier.  Then, panic set in when I realized that someone already decided to make pasta, another make salad, and another bring chocolate ice cream.  Great.  So, now I have to either learn how to cook or make sometime simple in one day of getting back.  Megan suggested that I make hotdogs or hamburgers, which I would be fine with, but I feel a little awkward since most other people put so much work into making stuff.  I guess I could do that, though.  I could buy some tomato sauce and onions, and perhaps relish and mustard if that stuff exists here.  If anyone has any more ideas, please let me know!

The rest of the week has pretty much followed the three words I mentioned a long time ago with work and computer games.  On Wednesday, I got my first Aussie haircut.  Megan told the hairdresser to cut it long and I told her to cut it short, so she got to figure out some alternative that would make us both happy.  I suppose we both are happy, but I have to tell you, for $16.50, that was the least amount of hair that has ever been snipped off my head.

On Wednesday night, I spent some time over Megan’s flat watching The Simpsons, because that is when we get the one hour special of the friendly yellow people.  I actually saw two episodes that I had never seen before but were pretty good.  One had to do with Homer trying to tell people about the local baseball team moving to Albuquerque by going on a 12-day hunger strike.  The other was about Marge getting a Canyonario and having to deal with anger problems.  Afterwards, as I was heading back to my flat, I noticed a bright red dot next to the moon, which was, of course, Mars.  It is supposed to be closer to the Earth now than it ever will be again in my lifetime, so I took the chance to take some pictures.  They didn’t turn out too good, but I posted one onto Webshots.  The most interesting aspect of it came when Megan showed me a picture on WUnderground of Mars next to the moon from California.  While Mars was at the 4 o’clock position for us in Australia, it was at the completely opposite 10 o’clock position in that guy’s picture.  If anyone doubts that the sky is upside down in the southern hemisphere, just look at the two pictures.  It was pretty cool.

Today, Thursday, Megan and I went to Garden City for a photo appointment.  That’s right – we got our picture taken, which was a little bit of an odd experience, from beginning to end.  Firstly, when we were shopping in Coles over the weekend, this lady came up to us to tell us about Portrait Place in Garden City.  She explained that while it usually costs $22 for a sitting and a complimentary large photo, we could get it for only ten bucks.  I figured why not, since we had never had a professional couple photo taken before.  It was still kind of odd to meet up with her in a supermarket in a completely unrelated shopping centre, but oh, well.  When we got to the place, it ended up being a tiny place in the back of a larger department story on the third floor.  We got there about a half hour before our appointment, but they decided to take us early because no one else was there.  In fact, they seemed surprised that we had actually gotten there early.  Two girls led us to the photo room, which didn’t seem to have much camera and lighting equipment, but they had a nice backdrop.  Then, after all of the introductions, they asked us what kind of poses we wanted to have.  I thought that was kind of odd, since I had been used to photo people telling me what to do, so I just said “I’ll let you decide, since you are the experts at this.”  The one girl (who did most of the work) got this strange smile on her face and said that we should do some contemporary poses instead of the normal traditional ones.  Even still, the first few poses seemed to be somewhat normal.  I sat on a box while she sat in front of me.  Then she stood behind me with her hands around my neck.  The odd thing was that she just told us very general directions, like “Megan, you go behind Ryan and put your arms around him,” and then they snapped the picture.  I’m used to photo people playing with your posture over and over again before they take it so they get the perfect pose.  After those shots, they took the box away and told us to lie on the floor in opposite directions.  They took three shots like this, looking at different angles each time.  They took a couple more in what I guess was “contemporary positions,” and then they asked if we had any ideas.  I told her I didn’t really have any, unless she could think of something.  She replied, “I think it would look really nice if you both took off your shirts with Megan standing behind you, Ryan, with her arms around your chest.”  Megan and I both sort of glanced at each other with eyebrows raised, as we quickly said “Nah, I think we’re good.”  Then they asked us what pose we wanted to keep as the complimentary large one.  They didn’t even have a computer for us to see how they looked, so we just told them that the one with Megan behind me would be good.  I wish I could have seen how they turned out, but what can you expect for ten bucks?  They gave us a sheet, showing an example package of photos, which costs $1,100 retail and only $555 with them.  We have to return in a fortnight to pick up our picture and listen to their sales rap.  Did you even read those last couple sentences or are you still focused on the half-nude photo idea?  I know I am.  It’s been bouncing through my head over and over just how odd of a thing it was.  How many people get their picture taken like that at a professional place?  Maybe I just don’t go to photo studios enough, but I thought the idea was completely bizarre.  Then, I continued to think about it as we walked through the mall and noticed all the half-naked-but-not-showing pictures of women advertising everything from books to hair styles.  We passed by a photo kiosk that had example pictures in a binder, and even some of those were the partially naked kind that Portrait Place wanted.  How weird would it be, though, to walk into someone’s house and see a half-nude photo of the owners hanging on the wall?  Megan thinks I’m analysing it too much, but as my grandmom would say, “I’m shocked.”

After that whole experience, Megan and I walked through the mall for a little bit because she wanted to find some stuff for our upcoming Northwest Trip.  We also stopped by the food court where I got a cheeseburger at McDonalds, and Megan tried out their new “healthy” menu, which has salads and stuff.  She got some chicken fold-over thing.  Then, she stopped by this “all-natural” smoothie place, and got a shot of grass.  No, it’s not alcohol, and no, it’s not pot.  They literally put grass into this blender thing until it becomes a fine drink that they sell in shot glasses.  I took a sip of it, and it was nasty!  It was like I shoved five and a half handfuls of grass into my mouth and swallowed them.  I took a long sip of Megan’s smoothie, but the taste still remained in my mouth for a good hour.  She liked it, though.  So, if you don’t like to spend money and want to make Megan happy for Christmas, get a bunch of grass and mix it up in a blender.  Blegh.

And that brings me to now.  I still have a paper to write for class tomorrow, and I still need to pack.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day with classes, packing, and church (it’s a holy day of obligation, folks!), so I probably won’t have any more updates to this thing until after my holiday.  I won’t be online for that week, but I might still be able to check my e-mail.  If you need to contact me, Megan will have her cell phone with her, and the number is on my Australian home page.  Have a great week!  Cheers!

Category:Australia | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan

let’s get naked!

Thursday, 14. August 2003 21:28

I’m having trouble packing. I’m going to be away for 8 days and I’m trying to cram everything into one of those small carry-on suitcases. It’s just not working. But, the next largest suitcase is huge and I feel kind of weird bringing it. I may change my mind though. Right now, I have everything packed into the tiny suitcase and a backpack. I really didn’t want to bring the backpack though. So I don’t know what to do.

One of my major problems is that I’m bringing too many clothes and an extra pair of shoes. But when I think about it, 8 days is a long time. I need to have enough clothes.

Considering that I packed everything I have in two large suitcases just to get to Australia, I shouldn’t have a problem packing a small one for a week! We’re going to be doing lots of activities though, so I want to have a variety of outfits. Plus, I’m bringing a pair of black pants, which means I need to have black shoes to go with it. It’s just such a hassle!

I also would like to bring my scuba gear (fins, boots, snorkel and mask), but as it is now, I only can fit the mask. I need that, because it’s prescription and I can’t see without my glasses. I don’t *need* the other stuff, but I think I’ll have to pay a rental fee if I don’t have it. Plus, I like to use my own stuff.

I’m getting a headache thinking about all of this. You know, it would be so much easier if I just brought my big suitcase. It’s going to be a pain in the butt taking it on the city bus, but it would make packing so much easier. Hmm. Such choices.

See, I own two suitcases and my backpack. One suitcase looks like a classic one and the other is a huge upright one. I like upright ones much better, which is why I don’t really want to use my regular one. However, my upright is just too big.

The carry-on that I have stuff squeezed into now is actually Ryan’s. He has three suitcases (because he cheated and went above the allowed two), and two are tiny and one is normal. Since they’re his, he’s using the normal sized one. I’m just really not sure if I want to bring his carry-on or not..

I should stop rambling about suitcases, huh?

After my class today, Ryan and I went to the Garden City Shopping Centre to get our photographs taken. I’m not sure if I already wrote this, but last week when we were in the grocery store, we were given a good deal on a photography session. So, we went today to get the pictures taken.

It was pretty cool. The two of us have never gotten professional pictures taken together before, so it was neat. They had us pose in several positions, some of which should turn out pretty cute. It was weird, because they didn’t have them on the computer to preview. We have to come back in 2 weeks when they’re developed.

With the deal that we got, we’ll get a large picture with the $10 cost of the sitting session. I’m planning on buying some others though, as long as they came out good. Ryan and I really don’t have that many pictures together. I like pictures a lot.

After we had done about 6 poses, she asked us if we had anything in mind for poses. We really didn’t, so she suggested something. She said it in an interesting manner, but I can’t remember exactly what she said. But basically, she wanted Ryan to take off his shirt and me to take off mine, but leave my bra on. Then, I would stand behind him (with my arms around his neck reaching onto his chest), so that you could see my bra straps, but nothing else. Um, yeah right. Like I would *ever* do that! I could tell that Ryan was somewhat tempted, but come on!! I don’t think so! And logically, I don’t think Ryan would want to either. It just felt so weird. Me taking off my shirt in front of strangers and a camera?!? How about not.

But yeah, it was a good time. I’m glad that we did it, especially because it only cost $10, unless we want to buy the pictures. So, if they don’t come out good, it really wasn’t a waste.

While we were at the mall, we got dinner in the food court. Is it just the McDonalds in Australia, or do the U.S. ones have this new Salads Plus thing? I got a chicken pita, and it was good. If I didn’t know, I would never guess that it was from McDonalds. It’s actually a “chicken fold-over” and there’s cut-up white grilled chicken, lettuce, a little melted cheese, a few onions, and sauce that tasted like Italian salad dressing. The pita thing had little spices in the bread. It was so yummy! I really hope that all McDonalds are doing this. They have lots of other healthier options too. It’s great!

Alright, time to close this entry and do some homework. ::cough:: not ::cough::

Before I go, I just want to add this paragraph that Ryan wrote. I find it pretty funny:

We also stopped by the food court where I got a cheeseburger at McDonalds, and Megan tried out their new “healthy” menu, which has salads and stuff. She got some chicken fold-over thing. Then, she stopped by this “all-natural” smoothie place, and got a shot of grass. No, it’s not alcohol, and no, it’s not pot. They literally put grass into this blender thing until it becomes a fine drink that they sell in shot glasses. I took a sip of it, and it was nasty! It was like I shoved five and a half handfuls of grass into my mouth and swallowed them. I took a long sip of Megan’s smoothie, but the taste still remained in my mouth for a good hour. She liked it, though. So, if you don’t like to spend money and want to make Megan happy for Christmas, get a bunch of grass and mix it up in a blender. Blegh.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

mmm dinner

Wednesday, 13. August 2003 23:10

On Wednesday nights, there’s an hour of the Simpsons on TV. I asked Ryan to come over and watch it with me. Halfway through, Linnet (one of my flatmates) asked us if we wanted some of the pasta stuff that she had made. She had a friend over, but made too much food. Ryan and I had a little bit. It was pretty good. There was some meat (beef?) in it, and it was a tad spicy. I wish I could cook.

Earlier that evening, Linnet and Tan saw me microwaving some gross Spaghetti-O type thing for dinner. We got to talking about food, and I told them that I really can’t cook. So, Tan invited me to cook with her, Seda and Rachel tonight (and whenever I want). I accepted, figuring that it would be cool to have dinner with some of my flatmates.

Of course, that was before I realized that Linnet was going to offer me some of her food too! Around 8:30pm, Ryan left to go back to his flat. I went into the kitchen, because Tan was starting to cook. I asked her if she needed any help, but she said that she was all set. Rachel and Seda were already helping her, and the kitchen is tiny.

Before I knew it, they brought me a heaping plate of food. There was rice, tofu, ground lamb (I think), and stir-fry vegetables. Oh my gosh, it was so good. Usually, they make it really spicy, but I told Tan that I didn’t really like spicy food, so it was mild tonight. It was so incredibly nice of them. Now I’m absolutely stuffed.

Afterwards, I figured that I’d help clean up and wash dishes, since I didn’t help cook. However, Seda and Tan beat me to it. I was at least going to wash my own plate, but they practically grabbed it away from me! So, I got a free meal (actually, sort of two) without doing any work at all. Now that’s the way I like it! hehe.

Rachel told me that if I ever want to eat with them again, I should just tell them. However, I’m not sure that I’m going to do that. I just feel weird. The three of them alternate cooking. I think that one person buys the food and creates the recipe, and then the other two just help out. I can’t really be a significant part of that, since I can’t make meals very well. I would feel very weird just mooching off them for a semester. But it was a very nice treat tonight!

Afterwards, I was watching some TV and a show came on. The guy in it looked really, really familiar, but I couldn’t place him. And then when the theme song came on, with the main characters’ names flashing by, I realized who it was — Anthony LaPaglia ~ Joe from Empire Records!! I found it funny that I recognized his name before I recognized his face, especially because he looks the same. The show was Without A Trace and it was pretty good. They are FBI agents, who investigate missing people. I like shows like that.

And speaking of Empire Records, I ordered the new DVD from Amazon. It should get here sometime next week (when I’m on vacation, grr). They released a new version of it, with some good extra features. I was waiting to buy it until this one came out, because why would I want a DVD without extra features? It’s costing a tad bit more, since I’m having it shipped to Australia, but oh well. And it kind of sucks, because the only DVD player that I have is in Ryan’s laptop. So if I want to watch it, I have to make sure he does too. :-P

And now onto a completely random subject, I saw a commercial for a store called Big W. On it, they talked about “rolling back” prices and it had that same smiley face that Walmart has. It was quite weird. So, I just looked online and Big W does resemble Walmart. The commercial just really reminded me of both stores, but I can’t find anything that says they’re related. Big W is owned by Woolworths Limited. I’m too tired to pry any further into this though. I just found it interesting. Big W says “We Sell For Less” on their website — doesn’t Walmart say that too? They must be connected. Just like Burger King is Hungry Jacks here.

Okay, I’m sleepy. It’s time for bed.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

food

Tuesday, 12. August 2003 13:49

My last entry was so incredibly random, that I’m going to post another entry that has two random comments. (I’m bored).

First of all, I think that eating oranges makes me even more hungry! I wasn’t hungry at all, but when I went to get the mail, I walked past the refridgerator. I have two oranges left, so I figured that I’d eat one. Well, now I’m hungry! Does that make any sense at all? Next time I eat an orange, I should do it *before* I eat real food. That way, I won’t be tempted to have unnecessary meals.

The second thing is also on the subject of food. Earlier today, when I was hungry (before I ate lunch and was full, and then ate the orange — following?), I was thinking about what I should eat for lunch. All of a sudden, I got a huge craving for these wraps that my home university makes. I would often get a wrap with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese. Oh my gosh, they’re so good!

Taryn, my old roommate, used to get wraps every day and I would make fun of her. She told me that they were really addictive though, so one day I just decided to try one. She certainly was right. I don’t know what it is that makes them so good, because it’s pretty simple. But yeah, I was totally wanting one today. Too bad I’m on the other side of the world..

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

laundry

Tuesday, 12. August 2003 10:06

I strongly dislike doing laundry here. I normally don’t have a problem with it; I actually kind of like it. However, it costs AU$2 per wash load and AU$1 per dryer. When I do two loads a week, that really adds up. But that’s alright — it’s only money. I can deal. The thing that drives me crazy is the dryers.

I tend to be very picky with my clothes. I only put socks, underwear, and old tshirts (that I wear to bed) in the dryer. I don’t put any of my jeans or normal shirts in, because I don’t want to risk shrinking anything. When I’m at my home university, this works out great because I end up saving money.

However.. I’m having great difficulty doing that here, because for some reason my clothes don’t want to dry in my room. I bought a drying rack and sometimes I use hangers as well. There’s just something about the air that keeps the clothes damp. It must be humid in here, even though it doesn’t seem like it.

So, I’ve decided to make a sacrifice and put in clothes into the dryer on the lowest heat setting. However, the dryers are crap here and they don’t like to dry the clothes even on the hottest setting. So, I end up putting my clothes in at least twice, and they still come out damp. I’m really getting sick of it and I don’t know how to work around the problem.

I need to figure out something before I drive myself even more crazy.

Wow, I’m sure interesting today. Making a whole entry about laundry…

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

fun waste

Sunday, 10. August 2003 23:38

I feel so ashamed. You want to know what I did today? Well, I’m going to tell you even if you don’t want to know.

I woke up at 7:30am and got ready. Ryan and I went to the 9:30am Mass. We walked a half hour to get to the church and a half hour to get home. That was *the* most I did for the rest of the day.

When we got back, it was around 11:30am, I think. We made eggs for breakfast/lunch. Once we washed the dishes, we went to Ryan’s room. He did some stuff on the computer and I took a nap for about an hour or so.

Around 2pm, Ryan convinced me to play a computer game with him. Last night, he installed Worms Armageddon, which he used to play as a kid. It’s not very hi-tech, but it’s a pretty cool game. I learned how to do it last night, but I wasn’t very good at it.

Anyways, today I got some more practice and I wasn’t doing too badly. Plus, we recorded our own voices to be the worm’s, so it would sound like we were saying stuff like “Amazing,” “Ow”, “Grenade”, “I’ll get you for that”, “Revenge”, “Stupid,” etc.

It was a lot of fun. We played several rounds of that, and then I convinced Ryan to play Monopoly on the computer. We were playing that last night too. I *love* Monopoly, and I tend to always win when I’m playing at home with the actual board. However, I’m not so great on the computer. We played 3 or 4 games of it (and they were fairly long, which you know if you’ve played Monopoly before) and I was definitely winning by the end.

Once we finished our last game of Monopoly, I said that I should leave. We both have work to do for tomorrow, plus we have to clean our flats for the inspection tomorrow. Our bedrooms have to be perfectly clean, and I have to clean the bathroom and Ryan has to clean the kitchen. Quite crappy.

But, do you think I left? Of course not — Ryan and I are both huge procrastinators and get easily addicted to things. Instead, we played some more Worms Armageddon.

I *just* got back to my room now — at 11:30pm. That means we were playing computer games for 9 and a half hours! I dunno, I guess that’s not *that* bad, because I’ve probably done it before. But, we both had stuff to do!

Eh, it was fun though. Ryan and I never get the chance to just sit around and waste the day. When we see each other back home, it’s for a visit and we keep busy all the time. But here, we have a whole semester to be together, so we can afford to just rot away in front of a computer together. It’s great!

Of course, this means that I now have 3 long readings to do for environmental history and 4 for religion. I also have to dust and vacuum my room (it’s clean otherwise)… *and* clean the bathroom. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I’m going to wait to do the bathroom until the morning, so that people won’t make it dirty after their showers. Ugh. :-\

So, yeah. That’s all I did today. I’m such a loser, but I love it.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

Aussie Entry 10

Saturday, 9. August 2003 2:00

Since over a week has passed since my last post, I reckon it’s time for an update to this bloody thing.  So, what has been going on since last week?  There’s been far too much to mention in this little journal, for sure.  Most of it is pretty much boring, school-related stuff anyway.

Last Friday, Megan and I went to the awesome STA Travel office (which is located on campus!) to book tickets for a little holiday during our first break.  STA Travel is the travel agency that booked my flights here to Australia, and they are probably the friendliest company I’ve ever dealt with.  The travel agent that we worked with was Katie Lim, who was unsurprisingly helpful and nice.  Since our first break is only a week away (2 weeks at the time we booked), she still worked with us for a good while to try to get us the cheapest airfare, even though they were closing for the day.  Qantas is one of the best airlines I’ve ever come across, but to save a couple hundred dollars, we decided to go with Virgin Blue to get us from Perth to Sydney to Cairns and back. 

Our trip to Sydney is going to take place first, in which Megan and I are pretty much on our on for what to do.  Thus, we probably won’t know what exactly what we will be doing until we get there.  We will probably take a ferry across the harbour to Manley Beach.  Supposedly, it is a cheap way to see a good skyline shot of the city, including the opera house and the bridge.  Speaking of which, we could take a tour of the opera house, but I’m not sure how expensive that will end up being, or how worth it.  We’ll figure it all out later this week, though.  After a couple days in Sydney, we are taking a flight up to Cairns.  That trip is going to actually be part of a tour package, which was reserved for us by the lovely Lim.  It seems like it’s going to be a lot exciting and a little scary.  I’ve never really been much of a fast-paced adventure person.  Heck, it wasn’t even until my final years of high school that I actually rode a roller coaster.  Therefore, when I see that the first day of our trip to Cairns will consist of a river rafting trip, it gets me very much excited, but a tad nervous at the same time.  I’ve always loved the river raft rides at amusement parks, but now that there is a chance that I can fly out and hit my head on sharp rocks, it sends a little bit of a chill down my spine.  I’m sure it will be awesome, though.  The other three days that we will be there will consist of bushwalking, hiking though the rainforest to swim under a waterfall (hopefully without leeches – Reiner’s film, Stand By Me, freaked me out about that), snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, and going for a crocodile cruise down the Dainetree River, among many other things.  I’ll have our exact itinerary available on my website sometime in the next couple days.  Of course, last week I said the same thing about the pictures from Garden City, and I still haven’t posted them.  So sue me.  Classes are hard work.

After we spent lots of money at STA Travel, Megan had to pack up to leave for a little holiday of her own at a family farm.  How did she end up going and not me?  Well, there are basically two ways to study abroad.  One is by applying directly to the school yourself.  It’s the same as applying to any other university, where you fill in one, specific application for the school, and you take care of everything else yourself too, including transportation and correspondence with the school.  The benefit to it is that it is a little cheaper than using an intermediary to take care of all that for you, which, if you couldn’t figure out, is the second way to study abroad.  I applied directly, and under regulations from her school, Megan had to use Butler as her liaison to Murdoch.  However, she gets a bunch of other benefits, as well, including a one-week outback excursion (which she did earlier in the year), and a couple other perks, including this farm stay.  During the farm stay, Megan, and a group of about two others, hooks up with an Aussie family that lives on a farm in Western Australia.  She got to stay with them for a whole weekend and see what life is really like in Australia.  In her case, she got to stay with a couple that had a 5,800 acre farm, which is primarily used for farming (duh) and to raise over 10,000 sheep for wool.  Those numbers are incredible, aren’t they?  Needless to say, she had an awesome time.

So what did I end up doing for that whole weekend?  Well, lucky for me, the internet cut out basically as soon as she left, and it didn’t come back on until sometime on that Sunday.  I had plenty of other things to keep me busy, though, and I got a lot of stuff done that I meant to do before I even left.  Starting on Friday, I walked to the post at Kardinya to mail a form to Brian – the study abroad guy at UMBC who helped me apply here.  He needed me to send him a copy of my address, my phone number, and my course load.  In other words, he needed everything that is listed on my Aussie home web site.  I got there at around 5:15pm, but they had closed at 5.  The walk wasn’t a complete waste, though, because I got to go to Coles to pick up some foodstuffs, which mostly ended up being soda and bananas, but it’s all good.

The post was due to open for a couple hours on Saturday, though, so I headed down there then and was able to finally mail out the information to him.  I wandered over to Kmart while I was there, too, so that I could get a saucepan.  I’ve had Ramen-like noodles sitting in my room since I got here, but I haven’t had a chance to cook them because I didn’t have a small pot.  I had also been meaning to make some spaghetti, as well, but I didn’t have anything to cook the tomato sauce.  Now, Megan told me that I don’t need a saucepan for that because I can just put the sauce in with the spaghetti while it’s cooking.  I thought that was sort of weird because I’ve been so used to having plain spaghetti and then topping it off with sauce and cheese.  She argued that it tastes better when it’s all cooked in together, but I was still a little wary of that because I thought that would actually cause it to lose taste, as the sauce is diluted with the water.  However you are supposed to make spaghetti, I decided to do it my way while she was off on the farm.  It was so awkward, though.  I mean, I watch my flatmates casually throw all these vegetables and sauces and stuff together, while at the same time cooking up some meat and rice.  Meanwhile, I’m standing there in front of exactly 8 cups of boiling water, while trying to piece together the instructions on the back of the spaghetti bag that I had torn apart a couple minutes earlier.  Who says that cooking pasta is the easiest thing?  It’s actually quite tricky!  I was reading the back instructions, which said that it serves five people.  I sort of laughed to myself as I was holding the lot of it, thinking, holy smokes, I could eat this whole handful in a couple minutes.  Who would have thought that spaghetti gets bigger when it soaks up the water?  It’s like some sort of trick.  When I drained it and poured it on my plate, it had just about tripled in size, filling up the whole thing about 13 centimetres high!  After pouring on the sauce and cheese, it was enough for three people!  Okay, so the serving size didn’t really lie, but even still.  You can’t take things that are small and make them big when they are cooked – except for cookies.  It’s not fair for those who want a simple meal.  I mean, imagine some old woman trying to cook spaghetti.  She pours in the whole bag, thinking it’s just a small container.  Before she knows it, the stuff is practically crawling out of the pot, attacking her.  Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but it was still a little unexpected.  The spaghetti was very good, though, I have to admit.

After filling my belly with a pot of spaghetti, I went back to my computer to do some catch up work.  Ever since the end of high school, I’ve been keeping track of every penny of my money in this program put out by Microsoft, aptly called Money.  It lets you input every transaction that you make along with assigning categories and comments to all of them.  You can keep track of anything you want, from phone cards, to checking and savings accounts, to credit cards, and even day-to-day cash transactions.  I had been really good at keeping track, too, up until college started last fall.  I got about a week behind, which become a month behind, which eventually worked itself up to a full year behind.  Even still, I kept every receipt of every transaction I made, as well as all my bank statements.  It took hours and hours for basically the entire day of Saturday and Sunday, but I was finally able to catch up to today.  I am quite happy about that.  I do it for two reasons.  First, I want to make sure that Bank of America isn’t over or undercharging me.  Second, Money provides these really awesome graphical reports, showing you where you spend most of your money and how you can cut down on certain areas.  It’s quite cool.  After all those receipts were totalled up, the internet came back on and Megan came back home.

On Monday, classes started up again.  You know what isn’t all that great?  It almost seems like I’m actually going to school now, rather than just spending a holiday in Australia.  I suppose that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, though, huh?  Classes here take a little getting used to, though; there is so much independent study that is required.  Take forensic science, for example.  Although the subject matter is quite fascinating, the teacher doesn’t even teach us.  Instead, he sits at the back of the room while students (like me on September 3) give presentations on the particular chapter.  Plus, we have to do additional personal research outside of the textbook readings because anything is fair game for exams.  That is basically the same way that my other classes are structured, as well.  Australian Environmental Issues is primarily taught through guest speakers, who come on a daily basis, and the programming teacher is basically as useful as air conditioning in Antarctica (I was going to say as useful as FedEx is with delivering packages, but that brings up too many bad memories).  I wouldn’t say it’s all bad, nor would I say I dislike this way of “teaching,” but it’s definitely an adjustment.

On Wednesday, we had a compulsory meeting for the Northwest Trip that Megan and I will be going on at the end of September.  From what we hear, it’s going to be unbearably hot at times, since it takes us out to the middle of the desert, but it should still be quite fun.  It’s a ten-day excursion across Western Australia, from the outback by the Gibson Desert (where Rabbit-Proof Fence was filmed) to the coastline and Shark’s Bay.  It sounds really awesome, and I’ll post that itinerary sometime in the upcoming weeks, after surviving my trip to Sydney and Cairns.  Just as a teaser, though, it’s definitely an exciting trip to the middle of nowhere.  In fact, for two days we won’t even be near any facilities to take a shower.  However, the thing that I’m most excited about will be the stars.  Yeah, I’m a dork, but so what?  I’m used to tons of light pollution back home.  In fact, a few months ago when there was that huge meteor shower, Stan, Becca, and I travelled all the way out to west Howard County, early in the morning, to get away from the lights of Baltimore.  It was a sight to see, but there was still a bit of light pollution.  From what we hear, this trip to the outback will be free of all light pollution.  Plus, there is supposed to be a new moon, making the sky completely black, less the stars.  I’m really excited about that.  Oh, and speaking of the moon.  I had mentioned earlier in my pictures on Webshots that Megan was under the impression that the moon is upside down here, and I sort of kidded her about that, not believing that it was true.  However, I guess I didn’t look at the moon close enough back home because after doing a bit of research, I regret to inform everyone that I was wrong and the moon does indeed appear upside down, along with the constellations, in the southern hemisphere.

And on that note, I might as well take a second to discuss the question that everyone has been asking me – do the toilets flow the other way down here?  Actually, they just flow.  Not really in any particular direction.  Every toilet that I have visited flushes the same way, and that is every which way.  In other words, the water sprays out in all directions when it flushes, so there is no real spin to the water.  I might take a picture later for everyone to have a look.  As for the draining in sinks and whatnot, Megan and I tested it, and the water did seem to flow clockwise, but it’s hard to tell.  Try it for yourself.  Fill your bathroom sink with water and let it go down.  There’s no real spin to it.  I’ll have to pick up food colouring or something and try it again later.

The rest of the week has been pretty good, especially since I only have one course between Wednesday and Thursday.  In fact I had enough time on my hands so that Megan and I could head over to Garden City on Thursday.  We walked around the mall a bit looking for hiking boots or good tennis shoes.  At the Northwest Trip meeting, we found out that whatever shoes and clothing we bring on the trip will pretty much be worthless afterwards, as the desert is harsh, and the fine, red sand is impossible to wash out.  I’m pretty upset that I didn’t bring my hiking boots with me.  I had a great pair of waterproof boots in my hand on the morning I was set to leave, and at the last minute, I decided not to bring them because they would take up too much room.  So now I am in a bit of a quandary.  Should I buy a cruddy pair of boots here that will just fall apart on me by the time I leave, or should I have my folks ship me my good boots for a little more money?  I’m tempted to do the former because there is a chance the boots might not get here in time, they might be taken by customs, and they could be destroyed by the time I’m done.  It’s just a little aggravating, that’s all.  So, Megan and I walked around to find shoes and a hiking backpack.  There was a store called “Spend-less Shoes” where Megan got a new pair of sneakers and reef thongs for only $20.  There were some cruddy hiking boots there for about $25, but they felt really awkward on me.  I might try back later.  Another store sold the same pair of waterproof boots I have back home, for the oh-so-low sale price of $230.  No, thank you.  Anyway, after looking around for a while, we decided to check out the movie theatre, as American Pie 3: The Wedding had just come out (a week later than the States).  Tickets were $13.80 a piece, or $10.50 student concession, which turns out to be about US$8.00, which isn’t too bad.  The theatre was quite nice – a lot better than I had expected it to be, and the movie was very funny.  If you happened to see the first two AND you enjoyed them, then you have to see this one.  It’s a nice closure to the series.  A lot of the characters were missing from the original movies, but it didn’t seem to matter much at all because everyone else more than made up for them.  After that, Megan and I had some dinner at McDonalds.  I’m not sure if they are doing the same thing back home, but here, McDonalds has introduced a whole new line of McSalads and veggie burgers.  I didn’t have any of that healthy junk, though.  I went for a nice quarter pounder with cheese, chips, and a Coke.

After all that, though, I ended the day with a nice migraine headache.  I haven’t had one of those in a while.  Advil and Ibuprofen don’t exist out here, so I took this random drug called Disprin, which has aspirin in it.  Actually, it was one of the only medications that could actually be swallowed.  Everything else, including this one, was to be dissolved in water.  I find that to be pretty nasty, though.  I would rather just swallow the thing whole rather than drink sip after sip of disgusting white liquid.  Plus, the thing wasn’t even that “easy to swallow” as it claimed, since it could also be dissolved.  Actually, if you pick up a US penny and paint it white, that’s about what the medicine looks like.  After choking those things down, I went to bed early and slept for the next 12 hours.

I’ve just realized that I’ve probably written too much for you happy folks to download.  Did you notice that I moved all those other entries to another site entirely, though?  Now you don’t have to use up as much bandwidth!  Ha!  Anyway, I’ll just mention one other thing, and that is the game show The Price is Right.  I checked their website today, and it appears that they will be filming episodes during the week that Megan and I will be in Los Angeles.  I already attempted to get tickets to see Jay Leno, so it looks like this is another favourite show of mine that I will try to get tickets to see.  There are some technical things that need to be worked out in that regard, but hopefully it won’t be too bad.  Speaking of which, Megan and I happened to catch an episode of The Price is Right, Aussie style.  All of the games, sounds and slogans (i.e. “Come on down”) are the same, but there are a few minor rule changes, and it’s just not the same without Bob Barker.  And with that, I’ll end this entry here. There isn’t anything more to say, anyway, so ha!  Until next time, cheers!

Category:Australia | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan