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Melbourne, Australia

Written on: Wednesday June 11th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

Exactly eight months on from when we first left England Dave and I were reunited. I?d landed in Melbourne and made my way to the suburb of South Yarra where Dave had moved in to a share house with five others. I got off the train and was greeted by Dave at the railway entrance. We?d been travelling individually for the past 5 months and so it was great to see him again and we spent most of the next week catching up on each other?s adventures. Dave had settled in to his new abode with an Australian girl, two Canadians sisters, a German and a rather arrogant and annoying Kiwi. He?d got himself a job gambling on the horses at the various race-tracks around Melbourne and already seemed settled in to Antipodean life. I however, like many people had warned me found my first week in Australia very hard to acclimatise to, not that I didn?t have a great time trying to. The first shock I had was that it was cold. Not just a little chilly, but full on English winter cold. Despite my disillusioned view that I had before I began travelling that it?s summer all year round in Australia I had been warned that it does get a little cold, especially in the southern states, Melbourne being in Victoria, the most southern of them all and not being not all that far from the Antarctic. So that was the first thing to adapt to especially having just come from the sun-drenched beaches of Bali. Secondly I had to snap out of Asian developing country, cheap food, cheap drink mode and adapt once again to the Western way of things (not that Australia is in the West, but I?m sure you catch my meaning), to Western prices, to not just crossing the road whenever I felt like it, to not haggling with the shop-keeper over the price of a bottle of water, to not have to think what language I should say thank-you in, to not look for the bin to put the toilet paper in and most shockingly of all to not be so amazed at hot water coming from the taps when I turned them on. As much as I felt I was done with the Asian part of my trip, there was something deep down inside me that missed these very things (although you don?t know how good it felt to have a hot shower again). The main reason for me being in Australia was to attend the snowboarding instructor?s clinic in Thredbo, up in the Snowy Mountains on the 18th June so I had flown in to Melbourne a week earlier to catch up with Dave and to celebrate his Birthday with him on the 12th before heading up in to the mountains. Our first night in Melbourne, Cary whom we had met in Laos and had travelled with me in Northern Thailand and to Ko Phangan and who was now in Melbourne also came to meet us and we headed out on to Chapel Street, the classy main street in South Yarra, full of designer shops and fine eateries and had a great meal together and then a host of beers afterwards. Then on the Saturday evening Cary joined us once again and all of Dave?s housemates to a club to celebrate Dave?s Birthday. It was awesome to catch up and reminisce with both of them. In between I was invited to join Dave and his cousin?s family for a Birthday meal out in Toorak, another nice district of Melbourne. My days were spent either relaxing at the house with Dave or wandering around the city of Melbourne. One afternoon I was crossing a street in the city when I looked over to my left and saw Annie who I had also met in Laos, about to cross the road. She was on her way to work, but as surprised as I was to see each other. It?s one of those nice things about being on the road for so long and in so many different places, they you can be in a country on the other side of the world to where you?re from and bump in to a friend randomly. Back in Bali before I left for Oz I was fortunate to run in to a Finnish friend that Dave and I had met in Cambodia and was able to catch up over dinner. The other added benefit of travelling is that it?s extremely easy to meet new people, and generally the travelling type are a good type as with the likes of Alex and Anna, a couple who live in Melbourne who Cary had met on her travels in Thailand and was now living with. I?d never met this couple but on the afternoon of the day I was catching a bus north to the Snowy Mountains Cary and I were having a few drinks in a local pub when they phoned and invited me to come for dinner. Not only that they allowed me to print off my bus ticket which I still hadn?t done and served me up the chunkiest, thickest steak I?ve probably ever had he pleasure of consuming, accompanied by another cold beer, then an enormous glass of claret, before sending me on my way, it must be said slightly drunk, rushing off to get my coach on time with a doggy bag holding some leftover steak to munch on while on my overnight journey.