Posts by Country

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back to Work!


Today some of us went to the lagoon to relax and swim a bit then went for lunch at PJ O'Briens. I had a delicious chicken schnitzel burger which cost $12... but, again, it was very good. Back at the hostel I did some odds and ends and talked to Tae Sun at the front desk about cleaning for the next couple weeks one hour a day for free accommodation. If all goes well I will start training tomorrow and get free accommodation starting the day after! Later we all went to the Woolshed for tea again and I met another couchsurfer named Pascal, from Germany. After eating we all had a few drinks which ended up being free after "ladies night" began because the girls we met just kept getting free ones and giving them to us. A while later we all went back to the hostel for some goon in the room which resulted in broken glass and some complaints. After that we ended the night with a visit to Gilligan's.


Today I woke up to one of the girls from last night asking about going to the Kuranda today. I checked it out but the bus had already left so we made other plans to go to the Botanical Gardens. It was so hot though so we went to the lagoon instead. Before going to the lagoon I booked my flight to Melbourne through Flight Centre - a New Year's trip to Sydney was just too expensive. When I arrived at the lagoon I only found Pascal (Germany) so we swam a bit and bought some Egg Nog at Bi-Lo. After work cleaning the hostel (only 25 minutes!) I went to take a nap. At 8 pm I woke up and went to the Woolshed for tea with some others and, on the way back, I found a job for the next couple weeks. One of the pedicab (aka tuk-tuk, rickshaw or bicycle cab) guys told me how I could do that during the next couple weeks and make some money so I'll probably start doing that tomorrow.


Today some of us went to the Botanic Gardens (Flecker Gardens, Tanks Arts Centre, Mt Whitfield, Centenary Lakes). After returning to the hostel and cleaning I headed out to check on my prospective new job as a pedicab rider.

After a $150 deposit I grabbed a bike and started riding around. As the night went on I picked up all kinds of people who paid me from $5 to $20 for rides around the locality. By the end of the night I had exceeded the capacity of the cart, gone out of our service area and been the victim of both serious flirting and insults. I rode for four hours and probably sat around chatting with other riders for three but still made $105 - not bad for a first night out.


Today I spent time with some friends at the hostel and went to the Woolshed with my Norwegian roommate for Nachos ($5 upgrade from free meal). Later I went to work as a rickshaw again and during my shift I met some interesting people. One guy named Joe works on a fishing trawler and he gave me $55 to get him 3k to his boat where he gave me another $10 and brought me on to have a drink and check out the command centre. Later I brought his buddies over as well and they gave me $25.

Another customer owned one of the clubs and in the end he wanted to pay $35 but when he found out I didn't take credit cards only gave me $10...


Tonight was a slow night so I only broke even. At one point I took two guys on the scenic route, through a car wash and dropped them off separately for which they paid me $20 each - a decent end to the night.


Tonight I had a guy pay me $50 after I gave him and his kids a wild ride up the road. Later some screaming drunks gave me $20 for one block and some locals paid me to do a mono (wheelie). After that a drunk guy promised me $50 but wanted to ride so I let him ride us to his place. He crashed a couple times but nothing serious and as I was leaving I thought I had dodged the bullet... then I realized my ipod was missing.  As I was riding back I started stressing out thinking it was all over (since I need my music to be a successful rider) but then I saw it - my ipod was just a couple blocks out of town sitting on the side! Another couple guys gave me $30 to take them up the road but it turned out they lived up by the airport... Yet another couple gave me $20 to take them up the road where they were having a gathering. They invited me in for some food and ended up treating me to free maccas, drinks and other food! Finally, as I was heading back into town to call it a night I got one more customer who I offered a ride. He decided to hop in and asked to just be taken a few blocks down the way. When we arrived he gave me $50, offered hospitality and a job as well!


Today we had a BBQ at the bike shed for which I was late due to my job at the hostel. When I arrived I still got food and some extra for later as well. It was a pretty lame night overall - I picked up some girls who wanted to go shopping on a Saturday night but swore that they had no money between the three of them to even tip me... After that I picked up a bunch of guys and split them between me and Marcus. At first they paid us $10 each then, after taking them around for over and hour we asked for a little more money for our services and one of the guys threatened to beat us to death... Later I had some fun racing Kiwi David to Maccas for which we each made $15 ($5/person). Then I raced Dean to the other Maccas during which he got stopped in plaza by cops and at light. At that point I went through with my momentum passing him laughing the rest of the way. One guy tried to stop me by dragging behind me but hurt himself and I still won and got $10. At 6 am I finally broke even when I met some nice kiwi girls who bought me pies and paid me $10 - I broke even when you consider the pie costs. Back at the shed all the riders sat and talked into the morning having done a very difficult night.


Tonight was great night. I got early money and continued while everyone else went home early due to the rain. It actually stopped raining and I met a guy with pit bulls that loved me but bit into all the other males that they had met. After we had a few drinks and talked for a bit he gave me some money and I continued what had already been a very profitable night. I met a group of funny people on the way back and they gave me $40 for taking them around a bit. I ended the night with $320 profit!


Today I deposited $600 cash and another $100 exactly in shrapnel. Later I had the free meal at Woolshed for the first time in days. At work a girl directed me the wrong way, promised me pizza but when I finally checked my sat nav and got us going the right way she got nasty. She was only offering $5 for a ride that had already taken half the night so I stopped for pizza at the only place that was open and when she said no I simply told her to get out. She would't leave the cab so I turned up the music which made her mad but she still wouldn't get out. When she tried calling her friends to come to where we were that made me a bit nervous so I decided to start riding again. She got mad and started kicking me so I got off the bike and she tried stealing it. I wouldn't let her so she tried fighting me. As she kicked me and started punching me in the head she dropped the $5 she owed me so I grabbed it. Security moved her on but before they could she tried to convince them that I had stolen a bunch of money from her. They explained that this being the case it was only fair as payment for my services. Considering she tried to get me to drive her to Sydney this was actually a good price! She tried to say she gave me $10, $15, $20, etc. but couldn't make up her mind so I said, "no, don't you remember? You gave me $50, no wait $100!" The whole thing was just a huge joke at this point. I went to get another customer after this and this guy paid me to bring him to his boat where he was having a party. After a few drinks and some guitar I headed back.


Today we had the day off for Christmas so I spent it playing pool with coworkers and eating lots of food that was being provided at the shed.


Today was an easy day. I had the free dinner at 8 pm and got $40 from first customer in the first 20 minutes. Things closed early for boxing day and rent was high but I still managed $110 profit.


Today while I was cleaning at the hostel some friends from work showed up and gave me my ticket for seeing "The Hobbit" so I rushed through it and met them just in time before they went into the movie. After the movie I had my free dinner then went to work. It was another high rent, low earning day but I gave a ride to some UW graduates and they gave me extra cash for being a fellow alumni. Later in the night I had a couple good rides with decent tips which put me in the positive. I only made $40 profit but, then again, I was pretty lazy and didn't work much so it's okay.


Today was a bit strange. I had some interesting customers including a bloke who fell off and rolled a bit while I was taking a corner... I warned him to sit down. Later some cyclists grabbed on for a ride while flirting with some old ladies I had in the back. I made -$100 + $30 from the guys but was still -$70... oh and Kiwi David was given a prostitute by a customer.


Today German David's bike was taken while he was receiving payment so I chased after and, as they came back, they crashed into my front tyre bending it out of shape. Then the big guy we had with us scared them away but scraped up against a car while retrieving the bike... I was at -$50 for the night and after all the police stuff I just went to the shed where I caught a ride back to my hostel with Kostya (Russian).


Today I went to Rustys market with the guys and Kiwi David made smoothies at the shed. Rick dropped $70 from the $270 rent last night for me and gave me free rent tonight. Observation: heaps of people in Cairns are on drugs. Kiwi David tried Cocaine and Exctacy tonight because someone offered it to him for free... I had a massive night, took guys back and forth just a couple blocks each time for $30-50 a go. Some guys bet at a casino on number some woman told them and won $400. They decided to spend most of that money on me throughout the night. At one point one of the guys told me not to pick up his buddy but I ran into the guy while trying for the tenth time to go home and gave him a quick $10 ride. I told him to tell his buddy that he tried flagging me down but, for some reason, I just wouldn't stop. As I was finally heading home the cops stopped me for taking notes on my phone at a red light. It could have been a $100 fine but instead we just had a conversation about how much they hate us riders in their town. One of them said he hates us getting in his way and that we need to stick to the road rules better. He told me, "tell your tourist friends we're sick of this." In deciding whether or not to fine me one of them told the other, "your call fuzz." Thankfully they couldn't be bothered and I kept all $480 of profit from the night! I also learned what to say for the most profit - "how much? whatever you guys think is fair, its all good, a couple of coins." Usually I'm weary about giving them that much leeway but when it pays, it really pays!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great Barrier Reef

Today we went to the reef, saw some fish/coral, ate lunch, broke my camera, went to a new spot, saw more fish/coral, and returned. Back at the hostel I found that my camera was working again and we met Ola and Isabel from Norway. We all went to the Woolshed for free tea again and ended up having a few jugs. Back at the hostel Sam and I declined a visit to Gilligans because it was $10 cover. Instead we sat back and had some goon while talking politics.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Arriving in Cairns!

Cairns Trip
Day #5
Today I saw a giant moth in the toilet before we headed over to the Babinda Bounders. Next we backtracked a bit to Josephine Falls which were pretty awesome. I slid down a natural water slide and jumped off a cliff into the waterfall pool (lost my goggles). 
After Josephine we headed to a car wash then over to our hostel in Cairns. At the hostel we dropped off our stuff then went to turn in the van. On the way we fueled up for the last time - final petrol costs were: $63, $78, $69, $81, $29 for a total of $320 split three ways ($105 each)... not bad for over 2000km! No problems with the van we took the bus back to the hostel and settled in. I immediately met new friends and booked a trip to the reef tomorrow then went out for free tea at a place called the Woolshed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pool Hopping

Cairns Trip
Day #4
Today I woke up and grabbed some coconuts from the beach with Giac. We juiced them and scraped out the soft coconut which I actually enjoyed despite my usual aversion to coconut. After brekky we spoke with some English girls and then headed out to Paluma where we navigated treacherous twisting roads with some near misses as we passed others coming back down. Up in Paluma we swam in a rock pool, went to the lookout, visited the village and made our way back down in the rain with some more close calls.

Our next stop was Jourama Falls where we stopped for lunch, watched some Germans in a "hippie camper" back into a fence (destroying their left bumper and tail light), hiked up to the falls, swam in a rock pool then returned.

Finally we moved on to a very tropically photogenic place called Mission Beach, took in the view and headed out to a free campsite in Babinda for the night.

There we set up, had some drinks, cooked with some South Africans, who have been traveling around Australia for the last couple years, and socialized with some Germans.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Saunders Beach

Cairns Trip
Day #3

Today we drove for the day, stopping here and there, and arrived in a place called Saunders Beach. As with many random travel detours, it ended up being a real gem. This small community has a wonderful beach with toilets, shower, BBQ, free camping, coconuts laying on the beach, free mangoes hanging off the trees, bonfire on the beach, etc. I found out about all of this from a local named Warren. Warren took me around in his truck showing me all of these things during which his 11 year old pit bull notably slid off the back going around a corner... he showed me the boat launch into the creek leading out to the ocean, a creek that a 6 meter croc calls home. He also showed me the local grog shop around the corner where they serve food (note: this is a neighborhood). He also commented that a lot of local French/German visitors hang out on the nude beach up the way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Cairns Trip
Day #2
Today we met with our travel agent, and fellow couchsurfer, Carolina at Tribal Travel. Most of the trips to Whitsundays were booked but she managed to find us one for about $95 which she reduced (couchsurfer discount) to $85. Next we hopped a bus to the docks then grabbed a boat over to Daydream Island, Hamilton Island followed by Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. There we spent almost two hours swimming in our sting suits and playing on the beach. After sighting a decent sized transparent white fish we ran up the beach a bit to check out some helicopters that were there for a wedding.

On the way I saw a dark figure in the water which turned out to be a full on Manta Ray! Our new friend Eric from Canada chased it with his camera then ran as it chased him. After it finished with Eric it chased me out of the water then swam away.

On the way back on the boat I caught up with an Aussie named Reece. Reece is from South of Brissy and got a real kick out of my Aussie slang repertoire  Back at the van we went to a local forest with Eric and set up camp. Giac and Robert then went to do some stuff in town while Eric and I had a couple drinks, played guitar and even sang a few songs that we could remember the lyrics to. Later in the night while we were all sleeping the police showed up and kicked us out. They gave us 15 minutes so we quickly threw my tent in the van and went on our way down the road looking for a rest stop. When we finally found one a guy told me that he had to put his tent up because of the ranger ten minutes ago so that I should probably try and hide mine. Just then the ranger showed up and made me put my tent away. That night Giac and I slept in the back while Robert slept sitting up in the front.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Open Road

Cairns Trip
Day #1

Today Giac and I headed to pick up the camper where we found out that we would pay an extra $50 or so for insurances against windscreen damage and such. We paid to protect the vehicle because they practically guaranteed that the construction on the way up would lose us our $1000 deposit... so we paid to lower the prospective damage cost to $250. We also paid to insure the windscreen because passing trucks will almost certainly damage it. Back at the house we picked up Robert and all our stuff then launched it for Cairns... first stop, Whitsundays! Out on the road we stopped to try and retrieve my Go Card money but they wouldn't do the refund because my account was active with "autotopup" so now I have to send in for it. After Giac drove a ways I began driving for the next 400km or so. Eventually my GPS brought us down some crazy back roads that were unsealed (against our rental agreement) but we eventually made it back out to normal roads and I continued driving till about 10 pm. After that Giac took over for a while and later I took over again for another 300km or so. At about 4 am I finally slept for the next couple hours while Giac took us the rest of the way.

Sunday, December 9, 2012



Today I finally finished my job. I trained up Jay and, after we got him some gas for the buffer, he took me home. I slept a bit and around 1:30p Robert and I went to the forest for a swim in the quarry.

While there I swam across and jumped off the cliff again. Some of the blokes up there thought I was Irish... that's a first! Back at the house I realized Robert's disposition is that of a quirky British hypochondriac, "is it safe to camp with all the venomous wildlife? Won't we be bitten by the snakes in the forest? Will we burn on the way back after swimming? Am I in any danger of burning in the shade?"


Today I went to the shops and when I returned I made rice pudding. While that was cooking I went out into the garden and dug up some potatoes with which I made another loaf of potato bread. Later in the evening I finally went to the fortnightly CS meeting at Greystone Bar where I met a Latvian, Belgian, many Germans, a couple Aussies, even another American and I ran into Giac as well. While we ate some free snacks we all discussed our lives here in Australia - places we've been, jobs we've had, plans for the future, etc. I didn't manage to suss out any upcoming activities as I had hoped but I did make some new friends.


Today Anita and I went to Parkinson's Forest where I got a distressed call from Jeff saying that the new cleaner had quit... so he needs me to train some new people. This cancels my plans for the night and makes tomorrow's plans very difficult. Anita and I still managed to go swimming at the artificial beach in South Bank and get $6 steak & chips in Fortitude Valley before returning.

At work the new guys didn't even show up and, since Jeff had me waiting for them, I didn't have time to finish my job. This made me very upset considering that I shouldn't even be there anymore. Hopefully I can truly be finished after tomorrow morning... and get paid. I'm still a bit weary for a few reasons. The job is illegal - no taxes, no payslips and I'm not supposed to be working seven days a week either. This makes it harder for me to contact the authorities if things go wrong. I do have witnesses at the store to say I've been working there and the store is responsible for employee payment, even for third party employees, but it just wont be easy to sort out any problems since pay day is Monday - the day I leave Brisbane.


After work today Anita and I went with some CSers to Surfers Paradise to do some surfing. When we arrived we ate fish and chips then hired some boards. After some surfing, body surfing, someone losing their top in a wave, and general mucking around in the sun, we went to get pizza. During this walk we sussed out many places but eventually settled on one with a large $20 meat lovers which I split with Jacquie. We spoke about a lot of random things throughout the evening including rubbers that Anita had in her purse (Aussies refer to pencil erasers as rubbers!) and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gilliard's gratuitous speech on the impending doom resulting from the ending of the Mayan calendar. No one is sure if she is serious but apparently many are very concerned with the possibility of the world ending.


Today I got a call at 6:30a from Jeff about another new guy. Apparently he had shown up just then and didn't have time to do everything. Of course I was expected to come down and help but the first bus wasn't until 7:25a and the store opens at 8a. Jeff still asked me to catch that bus down so I did. After helping out for about an hour (even after the store opened) Jeff was very happy with me and assured me that he would pay for everything by Monday. Tonight and tomorrow I will train a new guy then hopefully I will be done. Back at the house I made Portugese Flat Bread again followed by some more rice pudding then took a nap before work.


Today I trained the new guy for the morning. He is experienced (worked at Woolies for one year) but still couldn't believe I could finish the morning shift in four hours... this morning they were polishing the floors so we had to wait a bit but then didn't have to do as much. After work I went home and started packing. Ben tried getting me to deal with his car tyre again but I was simply too busy and sick of dealing with him anyways... with the regular threats and negative attitude I don't really get the whole "friend" vibe anymore and this so-called friendship is the only reason I've paid out over TWO THOUSAND dollars fixing his car since the accident. After going for the shampoo machine I quickly did the shampoo in my room then left for dinner with the Engs.

After the dinner I met up with some couchsurfers in the city: Stephan (German), Jeff (American transplant), Kev (Aussie) and one American guy, Dave.


Today I went to the church meeting with Anita. Before leaving I had to finish packing, tell Robert how to return the shampoo machine that I had hired and go to Salvos which had moved. At the meeting we had Mexican food in honor of my leaving Brisbane and then headed to Queen St where I met Robert. We then went to Giac's and over to a pool party/BBQ. After several hours of fun eating, swimming and meeting couchsurfers, we headed back to Giac's where we attempted to do some planning, but fell asleep.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Coming to Fruition


Today I went to a BBQ for some CSers that were leaving. I brought potato bread that I made yesterday and oatmeal biscuits (cookies) which were a hit.

I ended up having a few drinks and speaking some Spanish. After eating and hanging out a bit I unfortunately had to leave early to go to work. After work I found out the store now opens at 3a.


This morning I woke up a couple of times startled by hallucinations. Due to my sleep deprivation I am now seeing things. I saw several spiders that weren't actually there including one bird sized one hovering over my face... I only managed about an hour of sleep then had to get up at 2a. I dragged myself through the morning during which I saw a shifting shadow - probably another hallucination.
Back home I slept for a couple hours then organized a trip to the forest with Couchsurfing friends Giacomo, Anne-Sophie and Mike. It turns out I actually met the other two before during the park crawl. After we all had some pasta I had a little run in with Jenny. She decided to call me a liar in front of my friends because I said the pasta in the bin wasn't mine. We all knew that it wasn't mine but I wasn't about to argue about it with company over.  Her timing could have been better but at least now I know where I stand - all the angry whinging over the last weeks has been because she thinks I'm lying to and stealing from her... After Jenny stormed off we all launched it for the quarry where we met a lot of really interesting people including a 20 year old entrepreneur with four interconnected companies. We got some video of us jumping off the cliffs and even did a sequential jump where I almost got skewered on an underwater tree. What happened was Anne-sophie was supposed to jump left (because I assumed she would hesitate and, therefore, would be better off going first), Mike in the middle and me to the right. Instead Anne-sophie jumped right, Mike jumped far right and I, not wanting to be a hypocrite by hesitating but also not wanting to jump on my friends, jumped so that I was to the far right, out of the safe area. As I fell I didn't have much time to think and, when I saw rocks and the tree just below me, I leaned so that I landed with just my toe nicked by the tree. Of course, the saying, "look before you jump" comes to mind here.


Today Jenny went off on me again about stuff in the bin.. started calling me a liar again. I told her the facts - I haven't lied to her once since I moved in here. She flipped out like that was some kind of blasphemy and I simply pointed out that she was being rude. I've never really confronted her like that but it was about time. She tried to pick a fight about it but I just told her I wasn't going to argue so she stormed off calling me a lazy &*$% and saying that this is why I'm getting complaints at work. Of course, none of this makes any sense coming from someone who lives on the dole and makes excuses to avoid undesirable jobs. My job isn't real flash but at least I make an effort...


Today Jenny had another go at me while I was talking to Anita... I don't know how much longer fuse is on this powder keg but I figure it's best to just lay low. Later I made my potato bread again then went to work where I had to do the Sunday clean in the back bay - took up till the last possible minute and I almost had to leave it unfinished. By the time I got out at 9p the rain had already started to dry from an earlier shower which was nice. Unfortunately I had another run in with some brain damaged Australians... these little punks pulled up behind me at a light and started yelling at me to get off the road. I gave them the usual confused glare and they opened their car door to yell at me. I told them the facts - you have to share the road with cyclists, its the law. The kid yelled at me about my push bike not being registered to which I simply replied, "what is wrong with you?"

They inched toward me as the light changed and I continued on my way... ignorant children should not be allowed behind the wheel.


My boss was pretty happy about my work today so it looks like I won't be having any problems, hopefully. With only a couple weeks left I've been eating everything in my cupboard in an attempt to use what I have and live as thrifty as possible for the upcoming period of unemployment.


Over the last five days I've made Shortbread, Honey Oatmeal Bread and more Potato Bread. I also found that some nights I can just work through till 5a and not have to ride back, which is nice. Today I went to the shops, post office and then the bike shop to replace my front tyre tube this time. Back at the house I gave landlord Jenny two weeks notice and slept. On the way back to work my front tyre went flat again so I had to replace the tube for the second time in one day. Turns out the tyre had some sharp objects in it - probably should have checked that before putting in the new tube. Fortunately the attendant took pity on me and gave me the new tube for free since they're only $8.


Today I got off work at 7:20a due to all my extra preparation after finishing the night shift last night. I received my $1400 pay today and it just so happens that I have two weeks left so I called Jeff to tell him and he found two guys for me to train.


Today my bike finally fell apart so I had to ride the little one.

At work I trained three Indian guys to do my job - Navi, Sukh, and Hamet. Afterward I hid the bike and they gave me a ride home. After a bit I met up with some friends from CS, including Mike from last time, and we all went to the quarry for a swim and a hike. While we were there Mike and I spoke about politics and Maori culture in NZ. Back at the house again I took my second nap of the day then Sukh picked me up for work. At work I trained the guys in the bakery, deli and tea room. While we were cleaning the bakery the guys were referring to Hamet, the eldest, as the "perfect cleaner" so I said, "hey 'perfect cleaner,' come over here for a sec."

As he approached I threw a bucket of water on an area that slopes into the store (as is necessary) and we all laughed as he frantically tried to help me pull the water back into the bakery. In the deli I was trying to tell Sukh, a guy who likes to look away while I'm explaining things, about the hose leak. When I got his attention he started holding the leak up to his face... so I decided the easiest way to explain would be to show him. I blasted the water and we both had a good laugh. Finally, after finishing work, we grabbed my bike and the guys dropped me off at home again.


Today I caught a ride to work with the guys at 5a - which is late considering I usually go in at 3a. The store staff had a bit of a problem with this but I assured them it was a one-time thing. The only reason we came in late was because the four of us easily finish in half the time and we really had planned on coming in on time at 4a. After work I introduced them to the store manager and, since Hamed had to go to another job, the rest of us took the bus back.

I realized today that Jeff was actually replacing me a week earlier than we had agreed on and this would reduce my budget considerably... but it just so happens that the guys decided the job didn't pay enough to split three ways anyways. They called and asked Jeff for more money and now my job is secured for another week.


Today the tyre on the little bike went flat on the way back from work... fortunately I was almost home but this complicates things... I now have to walk to work or find a new bike.

Later in the evening I found that Giac has plans to do a rental relocation, something I was really keen on doing. So, come December 10th, Robert and I will be leaving with Giac on a 4.5 day road trip to Cairns!


Today Vicky gave me a ride to work - I will only have to walk to work tomorrow and Saturday... or maybe I could stay there at night and just hang out at McDonalds. Back home I made Portuguese Fried Bread and did more planning with Giac.


Today I had an inspection... I worked really hard and got some key areas looking perfect. Jeff was really happy and only had a couple things to point out in the toilets which, considering that I only get $50/week for cleaning the whole staff area, aren't really a major concern anyways... or so I thought. The toilets were apparently such a concern that they cancelled our contract. At home I got a distressed call from Jeff which left me wondering what would happen next. A cancelled contract is a big deal and could even result in me not getting paid. Well, I explained my extensive efforts (coming in early, consistently fixing any problems brought to my attention, etc.) and Jeff conferred with his superior, Helen. Later he called me back to say that the contract is no longer cancelled and that I will be training a replacement tonight and in the morning - plus, I get to finish as early as tomorrow!.. of course, the guys that showed up had other jobs and, upon hearing the prospective agreement, didn't even stay long enough to suss out the details. So, back to square one...


Yesterday I bought Ben some globes (indicator lights) for his car and Robert from England showed up. Today I went to the meeting hall with Anita for the church meeting then came back, slept, did Ben's cleaning (in exchange for pizza he bought me the other night), and went to work where I trained a Korean guy who calls himself Mr. Won or, for me, Jay. He used to work as a cleaner at a pub, has no other job right now, and was pretty capable which makes me happy - he may actually succeed and set me free!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nanny State


Today a lady tried to get me to go and dry up all my mopping as my shift was ending. I told her I could put some wet floor signs up but that didn't seem to appeal to her so I just left. I mopped under the shelves where nobody walks anyways... Later, on the way back to work, a truck backed out in front of me and then pulled over a bit further down the road behind a girl who was walking. As I passed her she started running and as I looked over she told me not to talk to her... so I just kept riding. Hard to say what was going on there but I'm guessing the guy in the truck was up to something and she was trying to avoid some sort of confrontation. At work I had another incident with the store people not sharing the cleaning closet - they took my mop, bucket and cleaning chemicals. I don't know why they're so territorial about that closet but it's really starting to bug me. They also blocked off my cleaning cage so I can't get to my equipment...


Today a couple of the ladies gave me a condescending lecture about the floors again. I had "wet floor" signs up but they were still concerned that some illiterate fool would slip and sue the store... I also got stared down by one of the deli ladies while I was buffering the floor. Finally, after I returned home, I got a call that the store people complained but weren't clear on the problem. First it was that the store was dirty, then it was that the floors weren't shiny enough, then it was that my mop and water were dirty... well, of course the water is dirty, I just finished mopping the floor with it! Doesn't help that they hid my cleaning chemicals... with all of the complaints and constantly derailing my work efforts it would seem that I am not quite welcome there.


Today I spoke with the manager in charge and she gave me a couple things to fix but nothing major. Apparently the floors were a bit spotty from the scrubber having issues yesterday and the stockers left some marks by the milk after I finished that area so none of it was actually my fault but all of it is my problem...


Today I didn't get any complaints and I met a very Aussie sheila in the bakery. She told me about some good hiking around Brisbane and a job at the meat works that looks specifically for backpacker and pays $30/hour... probably too late for me now though since they require a few months but, then again, I've heard that the meat works factories are very disgusting, depressing and full of gore so maybe it's best that I'm just now hearing about this one. After work I went home and bought some chicken pies from Jenny for $10. A bit steep on the price but a nice arrangement nonetheless.


For the last couple days I've been sleeping a lot and fortunately avoiding the rain on my way to and from work. Today I got back with just enough time to leave for the meeting but after brekky it just wasn't going to happen. Around noon I finally received my first major pay but it wasn't as expected. Apparently when Jeff told me $700/week for my new job he was including my other one as well so the new job only contributes $500/week... this will still be good, just not great.


Today is my birthday. I had an awesome brekky with three slices of ham, three eggs, cheese, toast and hash browns. Later I spoke with Jeff because he was short $50 on my pay. Apparently he forgot that I'm doing the extra job for a total $200/week for the evenings so he only paid me $150 for the first week of the fortnight. What I don't understand is that he says the morning shift is $500 more a week so he knows that $700 is $200 more than that. Anyways, we eventually sorted it out and he will send me the $50.


Today I got told to dry up a "puddle" by the checkouts... of course, as usual, it was just a bit damp by the edge but the safety patrol deemed it a risk and made me dry it with some towels. I wouldn't mind but its near the end of my shift when I'm just trying to finish up and its nothing that wouldn't dry in a few by itself anyways ...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Karawatha Revisited

After the meeting this morning I went home and met up with my Italian friend Giacomo for a hike in the Karawatha. I took him to the new area that I found.

After checking out the new lookout and water tower we went along Wallaby Track. The fire had severely damaged one side but left the other as green as it was the first time.

Finally, we went back to the house and both got ready for work at our respective jobs.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back to the Grind


Today I brought Anita to the meeting. On the way I got a call from Jeff offering me a new job - this one is five hours a day and will result in an extra $700/week, a total of $1800 a fortnight when you add in my current wages! This should pay off my credit line, give me a good buffer on my student loan payments and provide me with all the funds I need to travel around NZ for the next year assuming I find a way to cover room and board. Happy days!


Today I trained 4-8 so I could take on my new contract cleaning the whole store. Back home I slept till noon then ended up teaching Anita how to ride a bike. I noticed my tyre was flat on my bike so I had to ride down to Browns Plains and replace the tube. I came back briefly to eat but then had to return back to Browns Plains for work...


Today I left for work at 3a again; on the way I saw wallabies skipping around by the freeway.


After my night shift today I was on my way back when I started hearing sounds of something smacking into the pavement. I didn't realize at first and when I heard the bushes move I figured it was something in there. Then I heard some laughing and saw the projectiles coming from across the road. I figured it was just some kids but I wasn't sure what they were doing so curiosity got the best of me and I headed over. Sure enough it was a group of about four adults and a kid all hucking eggs out at passersby. They explained that they were throwing them as a Halloween prank. I figured they seemed pretty harmless and was about to leave when their leader told me I had five seconds. Of course, I assumed they would start chucking the eggs as soon as I turned to leave so I told the guy, "you throw that at me and I'm coming after you."

I figured that comment would either buy me more time to leave or get them to give up altogether... I was a bit groggy from work and didn't realize how aggressive that came across... They chucked a few eggs at me and as one hit I realized they were trying to inflict some pain so, after they ran out of ammo, I walked down the hill to have a go at them (verbally). The others dove into the car (to reload) and I was about to tell this guy off when he started shaking and moving into a fighting stance - this drunken idiot wanted to fight. Judging by his body language he was about to come at me so I told him to relax and left.

As I was leaving they began the assault again but kept missing so I got away with just a little egg on me. After I had made some ground I noticed my arm was bleeding so I decided to stop and report them for being excessively violent. On the phone it took a while but they eventually transferred me to the police who were more concerned with what I was doing out on my push bike then what had actually happened. I told the officer on the phone that the main guy had red hair, seemingly an Irish background, to which the he said, "oh right, he has red hair so he must be Irish?"

I said, "well, he does look Irish."

He kept a sarcastic tone in response and asked a couple of times if I wanted to press charges. I explained again that my arm was bleeding but I just wanted these guys dealt with before they hurt someone - they were throwing eggs into traffic and the aggro guy was clearly looking for a fight.


Today was a miserable day. I was exhausted, more of my cleaning supplies were missing, the scrubber vacuum wasn't working and I received complaints for missing a spot - there was even talk about having me go all the way back down just to spot mop for about five minutes. Note: they have heaps of staff...


Today I filled out my election ballot then checked online for the hours of the post office. Most branches were closed for the weekend but a couple were open till noon. It was about 11:20a so I rushed out and arrived just in time to post my ballot.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Life in Brissy


The garden has sprouted! Today I went up to the shopping centre and got a couple pairs of cheapo headphones for $20 paying all in shrapnel (change) from my jug bank. Needless to say, this got me some funny looks from the attendants.


Today I explored the Karawatha Forest with housemate Anita from Hong Kong. As we arrived we noticed there had been a bush fire. Thinking back to my last visit I remembered seeing some smoke plumes up in the trees where the Aussie dudes were hanging out - could they have started this?

Apparently, it was more likely caused by controlled burns, but you still have to wonder about those smoke plumes... At the quarry I swam across twice and we went up to the lookout. We ended up taking the scenic route which ended up being a lot more interesting than the usual route - completely different environments just up the way from where I usually turn back.


Today I cooked up a steak and made biscuits aka scones - Australians call them scones, we Americans call them biscuits. Of course, Australians refer to cookies as biscuits... a bit of potential for confusion there.


Today I went to the meeting then home where I cleaned followed by work where I cleaned some more. While I was at work my boss Jeff called me. A few days ago the day cleaner complained that I wasn't charging the scrubber but I knew I was, so I stopped using it. Sure enough, the day cleaner complained again today so when Jeff called to tell me that I needed to charge the scrubber properly I explained that I wasn't even using it anymore. Hopefully this will make the day cleaner think twice about blaming others the next time he has a problem with his equipment...


Over the last few days I had another interview and Jeff offered me a new job. Unfortunately, the new job would be across town and doesn't work with my current schedule so I had to turn it down.

Today on my way to and from work I got honked at twice. Once while I was turning into Coles and again was I was turning onto the highway. Without any alternative bike path I have no choice but to ride in these places but people don't seem to understand that. In Adelaide people would yell, even circle around to do it again... here it's worse. Here I cycle (on the left hand side) to and from my job at Coles every evening and people completely lose it as if I'm some kind of deranged lunatic, "a push bike on the road - preposterous!"


The garden is looking good; I went ahead and separated the corn to give them more space to grow. Later Ben paid me $10 to clean for his week of cleaning. Unfortunately, it seems that the cleaning has not been successful - we now have a rat problem... a big black one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hot Enough?

The weather here is nothing like what you would expect in the Springtime but I guess that's what makes it a sub-tropical climate. Today I decided to make a special trip to the Karawatha Forest for a dip in the quarry. After I arrived I jumped in and swam straight across to the other side where I met a bunch of Aussies who were jumping off the cliffs. We jumped off a few times then I raced one of them back to the other side. This guy, Cameron from Cairns, told me that people they actually swim in the ocean in Cairns even with the credible risk of being eaten by a croc. I've had this image of the ocean up there just teeming with crocs and the idea of large groups of people wading out into the death waters is a bit of a surprise.

After the swim I said goodbye to the Aussie blokes and decided to explore another section of the forest that I hadn't yet seen. I figured it would be more of the same as the rest of the forest but I was wrong. I went down on path called Wallaby Track where, go figure, I saw a Wallaby. Then I found a massive water reservoir with some cheeky signs about snakes and not climbing the reservoir.

Next I found another rock outcrop overlooking the other side of the forest and cycled down to the main entrance to the forest.

There I finally discovered a legitimate map of the hiking paths, cycling paths and the rest of the forest as well as signs discussing the various flora and fauna.

At work I picked up an extra job during my night shift for an extra $50/week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Odd Jobs


Today I followed up on a few jobs and seared up some smoked salmon.


Today I went to interview at a place called "Tuition Fruition" for a tutoring job. Vijay, the owner, was very keen to get me on a couple computer projects with him and a client as well as possibly tutoring some kids after I get a blue card. Vijay is a kiwi from New Zealand and he suggested getting work at the universities when I get there. Apparently they have a lot less "red tape" on the hiring process there as opposed to Australia where serious certification is required for any and all work. After the interview I headed up to the Sunnybank Shoppingtown and had a release of interest notarized by a JP (Justice of the Peace) for free then sent it off to America for Brian to transfer my car into his name.


Today I met my driving student in Browns Plains and made another $50.


The last few days I relaxed, went slack lining again and went to the church meeting. Today I did some graphic design for Vijay and he paid me $25 for a couple hours of what I consider playing on the computer. At work I finally got my money from a guy named Money - Jeff accidentally gave my money to Money so I had to get my money from Money today.


Today we got a new housemate from Hong Kong named Anita - she is also a backpacker.

Saturday, October 6, 2012



Today I applied for a bunch of jobs and later I rode down to the bike shop in Browns Plains and used their tools to replace a tire and adjust the brakes. I ended up making friends with the guys there, and I didn't have to be at work down the street for another hour, so we had a couple drinks. We talked about the Northern Territory's killer crocs and political sovereignty - a similar governmental disposition to ACT (Australian Capitol Territory). Apparently the highways in the NT just recently set up speed limits at 130 km. While we were talking I gave them my resume and one of the guys helped tweak my bike a bit so it would operate more smoothly.


Today I went up the road to apply for a few promising local jobs then drove over to Karawatha Forest for a hike up to the quarry with Jenny and Liam. After Liam and I jumped in a couple times and had a nice swim we all headed back.


Today I went up to the city to catch a ride with a group to Sunshine Coast but the car we were supposed to use broke down so I started on other plans. After having some Sushi for lunch I went to the artificial beach on South Bank and had a swim while waiting for my friend Jack from Western Australia to join in. We hung out a bit then he dropped me off at the City Botanic Gardens where I did some slacklining with some couchsurfers. One guy could do back flips on the line; it was a risky maneuver so early in the day but he gave it a go for the camera.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tamborine State Forest

Today I went to Tamborine State Forest with Jenny and Liam while down interviewing for a job at the Coles in Beaudesert.
First we went to Cedar Creek to check out the falls. It was a short walk to a lookout then another trail down to a swimming hole. The water was a bit cold so we dare not go in.

On the Curtis Falls walk we saw some interesting trees/plants, an Akidna and, of course, the falls.

Next we had a barbie in the park and hiked the Knoll Walking Track.

There we saw more strange plant life...

The rain forest was very jungle-like, some parts very reminiscent of the movie Tarzan.
Finally we went to my interview at Coles in Beaudesert, where my visa was a concern yet again, then headed back and made ice cream. Later in the evening I saw my little lizard friend on the window again and caught some video of him hunting a moth :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

River Fire


Today I woke up late - still sore from falling off my bike. Back at the house I looked for a car but ultimately ended up making a deal with Jenny for a ride to my upcoming interview in Beaudesert - an hour away. Ben and I went for pizza and then caught a ride with Vick and Vicky up to South Bank for River Fire - a loud and entertaining fireworks display.

Later, after work, one of the night fill managers was letting me out and complaining about how late they would have to work to finish - which prompted me to ask if they needed any more people. She told me this is absolutely the case and to talk to her boss so tomorrow I will bring my resume for her to pass on for me.


Today I was supposed to go on a trip to sunshine coast but it was moved to Saturday because of the weather. Instead I expanded the garden and planted Beans, Corn, Carrots and Rockmelon (Cantelope).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fair Dinkum


Today I received my $980 tax back and later some of us from the share house went to a friends engagement party. Vick knew the owner of the restaurant and got us all free Indian cuisine for the night.


Today I got my RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certification after a five hour online class then applied for some more jobs.


Today I went to be a driving instructor again. This time my student drove and, while she struggled a bit at first, we seemed to be making a lot of progress. I started to become very confident in my student, even felt a bit of pride in my teaching abilities... until she crashed. We were going around a roundabout for probably the 20th time when she neglected to fully turn out of it and went straight into an island. She ran over a sign post and busted off the front bumper... I sorted it out for her and took her home where we had some lunch before going to a couple of smash repair joints to see what it would cost to fix. Of course, in Australia this simple job costs well over $2000.


Today I watered the garden then a few of us went to the West End Block Party. Ben and I went with Vick and Vicky stopping first at a small festival in Garden City. That ended up being for kids so we headed up to West End and spent some time hanging out there. We played some pool at a place called the Archives then met up with a friend of mine. After a bit we all got some "Yiros" while waiting for a couple Columbian friends to show but they didn't so we headed back to the house and sat around the fire.


Today I went up to Chermside again for fellowship then, after lunch, I sat and read all day. At about 6p we had tea then Samuel brought me into the city and I took the bus home. On the way I was next to a crack head who left a needle laying on the floor... before I got off I had him pick it up.


Today I waited all day for an interview call from Flight Centre. The call came but unfortunately the first thing they asked me was if I was on a working holiday. They then apologized for having overlooked that fact and told me they could not hire me. This isn't the first time I'm being rejected for being a "transient" and it wont be the last.


Today I applied for a few jobs online, went to the shopping centre, got a library card, printed a few resumes, handed out a couple at the shopping centre then took another one over to Woolworths to apply in person. Later my housemate Vicky got me in touch with a friend and I ended up getting a daily cleaning job down the road. I start on Thursday night.


Today I made a map of all the turfs I knocked in Adelaide then went to work. For the first day we were very thorough - apparently Coles is a new client for my boss and he wants to get off to a good start. Unfortunately, this took so long that I missed my bus and had to take a taxi back. Before leaving the bus station I met a Russian who has lived in Australia for the last 15 years. He told me that my first stop if/when I ever visit Russia should be St. Petersburg, not Moscow. I made my way over to the taxi pickup and there I met another transplant. This guy just so happened to be a former tenant in my house! I only had $10 but I told him I would run in and grab the rest from my room. He didn't trust me until he realized that I was American - seems Aussies are a bit sneaky about cab fair. As thanks for his help I gave him a little taste of America by giving him a tip.


Today I bought a men's bike for getting to work for $20. On the way back I rode it while steering the old kid's bike back with one of my hands. This seemed an alright idea until the spare one hit a bump and came crashing into me. This sent me hurtling into the cement which I thought for sure would put me in the hospital. Fortunately I just ended up with a bloody toe, some road rash up my back and some slowly fading pain in my tailbone. After recovering from the shock I continued on carefully. Later on I tried riding to work in Browns Plains but couldn't find a way past the motorway - I did find a cane toad though. I returned and took the bus. This time I worked fast so I could be done by 10p and take the bus back instead of a taxi. My boss was actually impressed that I finished as quickly as I did.