A Travellerspoint blog

Aussie Slang

The corruption of Youth

overcast 14 °C

After my last trip to japan 2 years ago, i met up with a japanese lass that worked in my building. She had recently come to Australia and a mutual friend thought it might be helpful to met each other and exchange language; which we did. Occasionally we went out, had a few drinks and watch some Anime.

After 9 months it was time for her leave and, extending her hand in friendship, she said if I was ever in her neighbourhood, drop her a line so we could catch up. Last weekend I did just that.

We went out for coffee, had some takoyaki and chatted the afternoon away. At one point, I asked her if she remember any Aussie slang
"Gday mate" she said. "BBQ for Barbie". I smiled, she sure had a good memory. "Fucken awesome!" she beamed back at me. WTF?!?! Her words came out complete with aussie accent and cunning grin. She knew what she said and knew she said it well. Im sure I didnt teach her that, but she said it so perfectly, I couldnt have done better ...

Posted by ImpBob36 03:25 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Training

How to smile for 40 minutes

semi-overcast 4 °C

I crawl out from beneath the black and smack my alarm clock. Its 9am, an ugly hour of the morning.
I drag myself to the shower, turn on the gas and spin the level which ignites the pilot. The hot water streams out; I wash and shave barely aware of what Im doing. Presentation is everything in Japan, I must look good.
Another turn of the gas, a click and the flames erupt below my pot of water as I prep my coffee, the aroma begins to wake something in the back of my brain. Back in my room, I begin to metamorph, applying layers, today is a max of 7C and I need atleast 4 layers to hold back the crisp air. I take a final glance over myself, a deep breath and lock the door behind me.

The clouds hang low, gently embracing the skyline like a washed out faded blanket. The streets are alive with movement. Old people shuffle dragging carts filled with fruit and morning groceries, stopping for a chat here and there down the mall. Business men briskly wlak with determination; suitcase in one hand and an umbrella in the other. Cyclists dart in and out like sharks through the shallows, the bells and worn brakes cause the minnows to part briefly enough for them be disappear into the crowd.
At this hour, you can hear the distant rumble of trains growing louder as they approach, the constant hum of a crowd milling back and forth. A short tune plays athe the lights cause the traffic to a halt and the people swarm across the roads.

I jump and the train, and plug myself into an MP3 player to calm myself.
"... Cant find your heart but your body keeps moving ..." We glide along, rockly gently with the trains sway. The cityscape is dry, grey and bland. "... You cant tell your life, apart from a dream ..." We pull into the station, I am part of the flock as we exit and move in unison to the exit. In one motion, I slide my ticket into the machine, and with the beat, grab my ticket a few steps forward as the gate slides open. " ... Gently respond to the pull of a string ..." I walk through Umeda, the second largest station in Osaka. People are everywhere, the stores have all open and the shopping crowd is in full swing. I head for the Midosuji subway, the final leg of the morning trip. " ... Someone will fly ..." Im gliding across the flat escalator which extends for 20 meters, the caffine has not kicked in, the soft strum of the music makes for a surreal moment, as the world around me moves past.

The first few days of training past by and I find myself 4 days in, sitting at a cafe, holding back the nerves. Today, I will give a demo lesson. Has the training sunk in or did I just dream it? Will the caffine kick in before class? Will my face crack, and my head implode with the constant praise and encouragement I am require to give my mock students. Yet another adventure is about to begin ....

Posted by ImpBob36 17:25 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Japan

How to kill time in Umeda

overcast 7 °C

Having not slept on the plane, I staggered out into the cold air of Kansai airport, a small cloud of steam bellowing out with each breath. I stumbled onto the shuttle bus and prompted fell asleep with the gentle rocking and soothing hum.

I arrived early at the meeting point. I stood by a small fountain and waited for my ride to the apartment. A cool breeze tickled my sunburnt face, it was 7C. A westerner arrived and in a tiny ute, we were flying down one-way streets at breakneck speed, Guns and Roses playing from his tinny car stereo.

The apartment was quite large; 3 rooms of decent size, each with western style beds, a kitchen tucked along the wall of a communial area, western toilet, shower/bath and laundry. I recieved a quick tour around the local area (post office, best curry, cheapest bar etc) but nothing sunk in. The cool air (or lack of sleep) was making my brain fuzzy, hazy.

I could smell gas cookers and fish sizzling somewhere down the local mall as hundreds of people raced past me. "Friendly street", as was the name of the mall sitting barely 10 meteres from my apartment, was alive with Monday morning shoppers. It was lined with pharmacies and shoe shops, gloves and hat stores and hot food stalls. The supermarket was crowded, it felt like x-mas eve, 8pm. There was little room to move as people grabbed fresh vegetables and seafood. Rockmelon - $45. Milk 1L - $2.20. Bread is available in packs of 6 slices, each piece twice the size as back home - $2.50. There are no bread ends and it tastes as sweet as McDonald buns. Red meat is less red, but more marbled and speckled with fat. It costs twice as much as back home and Im positive it would shrink to half the size as the fat oozes out.

If that was friednly street, surely one block over was "Friendly street". My tour guide had point out that it was more a "male entertainment area". Indeed, billboard were plaster with naked women, block dots strategicly placed across their bodies and expressions of lust (or was it pain?) painted across their face. Gruff old men stood outside, attempting to draw people in. $90 for 45mins said the signs. Video stores filled the spare spaces and their curtained off entryways and suggestive posters suggested there would be no Disney favourites.

That night I would met my flatmates - 2 canadians and would head out for a drink. J and I found a small bar hidden in a back alley near the station. We drank beer and Chuhi (like a Ruski) until 1am before staggering back to the apartment.

I have spent the last few days wandering around familiar places. I have eaten Takoyaki (Octopus dumplings) from street vendors and Steamies (hot pizza pocket type things) from 24/7 Lawsons. I have weaved through the back streets of Umeda, and wiped the drool of my chin from 7 story building of PC equiment in DenDen Town.

The weather has been overcast, today there was a even a snow flake or 2. Training begins tomorrow.

Posted by ImpBob36 20:28 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Sunburnt in Paradise

30C and no relief

sunny 32 °C

I woke sometime around 9ish.As my consciousness slowly crept foward, I could feel the skin on my face tighten around my skull. My arms tingling with tenderness. It had been a long day wandering around Singapore and my skin now resembled a ripe apple, rosy and slightless squishing in all the wrong places.

I remembered seeing some creams in Little India the day before, and proceed to find them again.

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Little India street

I wandered back through the streets, clinging to side alleys where the shadows were longer, less the sun release it wrath upon me again. I was glowing.

The backstreets appeared to be in more decay. Dozens of burnt out husks, black and eroded lay abandoned throughout the area, some still wrapped in police tape, others tied with vines as nature reclaimed their shells.
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I found the creams in Mustafa and hide on the basement level, lathering my limbs with Alovera cream and then a thick layer of sunblock. I had the feeling I was being watch. Someone staring down at me. I turned to see the store mannequin glaring at me from above. I glanced around the rest of the floor and noticed they all had facial hair either molded onto them or painted in thick black pen.

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Tough Mannequin

With my new protective layer, I felt confident to explore once more and made my way on foot back down to China Town. On the way, I ran up and down Sin Lin centre, 6 floors of electronics and computer; each one had staff emploring me to enter, all escalators and elevators manned with girls in mini-skirts handing out photocopied pricelists.

ChinaTown was large and by this stage my battery had worn flat. My memories would not be limited to pictures but the smells of fresh seafood in the bustling fresh food markets, the smooth cold touch of cheap jade statues and ornaments, the bellowing sales pitch of countless tailors offering fine silken suits made to order in 5 hours and shipped across the world. Huge shopping centers stood on every conrer, market stalls weaved into side streets, ice cream vendors sailed with carts; the place was alive with people spending and collecting.

I need some food and began to wander. Everywhere were food centres with cheap curries and asian noodles. After finding one that smelled less offensive, I ate some Brasied Duck noodles for a mere S$3

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Food stalls

I sat down in Speakers Corner, a large grass area and listened to various middle aged women single out kareoke numbers while old men played chess and suck on their sweet smelling cigars.

Checkout had been at noon but the pickup bus wouldnt arrive till 10pm. I would spend the rest of the day going on Myster Walking Tours (MWT), picking complete strangers and following behind them until they went somewhere interesting. Its a great way to see places you wouldnt go. In Brisbane it would often lead me to carparks, in Singapore it lead me to an anti-drug dance-off by high school students ...

... State funerals...
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... Majestic boats ...
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... Huge fountains promising fortunes ...
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Wealth Fountain at Suntec Towers

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Enter at own risk ... buts its just a park right?

Goodbye Singapore, perhaps one day we will met again one day ...
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Famous 1/2 lion, 1/2 fish status, the symbol of Singapore

Posted by ImpBob36 05:14 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Singapore

Day 1

sunny 32 °C

I dropped off my bags in the room and armed my self with serveal city maps, the Stopover vouchers and S$115.

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Allson Hotel room

I decided to start with Little India, the sites, smells and tastes of its namesake, and headed north. The city came to life over the course of a few blocks. Shops began to open, buses were now full and emptied capacity loads on street corners. I crossed the canel into Little India and was immediately hit with the smells of burning incensce drifting from the tiny shop-ettes. Compared with the CBD, this was dirty. Piles of rubbish hugged alleys, odours drifted up from fermenting puddles, shop exteriors were covered in decades of built up grim and smog which looked like a frozen black waterfall on a now grey wall. It was great, a distinct "lived in" look which reminded me of all the student accommodation I have had.

I wandered up Serangoon Road, zigging in and out of the many sidestreets. Bustop advertising models were slowly being replaced by Indian faces. Faded old Bollywood posters lined 2nd story walls. Curry and eateries were everywhere. Old leather men smiled toothlessly as they sipped on their soups and brothes in outdoor eateries. After several blocks near the end stood Mustafa, a 24 hour, 6 storey department store and supermaket in one. It had everything and anything in atleast 10 different brandnames all crammed in. I left to find food.
"Pigs Intestine soup" scream one advertisment. "1 frog soup", "2 frog soup" and just incase you need more frog in your bowl, they even offered "3 frog soup".
Finally I settled on some Mutton curry with naan. It was very satisfing and tasty for a bargin of S$3.

I wandered back towards the CBD and past through a park market filled with men selling odds and sods. Shoes sat next to PC motherboards, apples kept pink hats company. A textile alleyway filled with coloured silks beckoned me over, and as I past through it I crossed the Victoria Street Wholesale center and finally into Little Arab with a large golden Mosque sticking out from behind the trees. I continued down to the famous Rafflers Hotel and into the giant Suntec City Mall with 4 large towers ontop of a sparling shopping arcade.

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Skyline in Singapore

My vouchers included unlimited use of a city loop bus and by now my feet needed the rest. I grabbed a coke, found the bustop and waited. There were a large number of Police and camoflarge soldiers on the street corners. Something was going down. I thought about asking them but a voice called behind me, "if your waiting for the SAI Hopon it doesnt stop here." Apparently my new dutch friend had been waiting and just discover that the streets had been blocked off. There was a state funeral for an ex-minister and we would have to try the next stop. Together, we wandered down the North Bridge street and noticed the crowd outside Parliment house. We stopped to watch the procession and show our respects.

Eventually, we got the bus and headed for Singapore river where we went on a boat tour. A recored voice, a lost Steve Irwine twin, enthusiasticly told us about "the amazing bridge where dreams became reality" and "the hotel which is not only great to say but fantasic to look at"
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Boats used for the tour

Back on the bus and we were out at the orchard gardens. We walked around the parklands and stopped to appreciate a band practising for a wedding. A mist filled enclosure contained orchards of every shape and shade. Another area was aircondition with a waterfall, high walkway and rocky walls, carnivorious Pitcher plants hugging its face.

I had to return to the hotel. I was hot and sweaty and needed to change. Vulcan Logic Teaching #472 - If you are going to do research on a country and watch the weather conditions for a month, for god sake follow the advise. For some reason, it never occured to me that it would be as hot and humid as it was. My arms were now tender, red and tight. My nose was doing its best Rudolf inpersonation. Why wasnt I immune to Sunburn, I get exposed to enough radition from computer monitors, dont I?

I caught a cab out to the Night Sufari Zoo that night. It was a good 25 minute trip but only cost S$15. Kerosen laterns flicked up and down the pathways and frog and bird calls filled the air. It was 8pm and cooler down to only high 20s (uugh!). I opted not to pay extra for for the train and wandered through the park on foot. The animal enclosures were small but generous, strategically placed spotlights allowed view of the animals while they foraged and play. Inidan alligators, lepeords, giant flying squirals, porcupines were all active and up close. An enclosure contained bats and after scanning the walls, I was still unable to find them. Then I looked up and one hung 40cm above my head. I could have reached out and touch it. I could have run away screaming. I nearly did both. At 10pm I watched the show where Barn owls fly amounst the crowd, a giant python was pulled out from the crowd and otters placed cans and bottles into the correct recycle bins.

By 11pm I was exhausted having been awake for almost 40 hours and walking around for most of the day. The taxi driver gave out advise on things to do tomorrow, China Town, an electrical center, the island playground. He also warned me not to be out in Little India after 12pm. Apparently, men dressed as women wander the streets and are bad. Im not sure wether hes implying Little India was over-run with a Tranvesite Crime gang or wether the local "escort services" were not up to scratch. Either way, I wasnt to find out, I was falling asleep anyway.

Posted by ImpBob36 01:59 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

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