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Written on: Monday June 16th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

I finally know what it feels like to be in the Big Brother house, and although a good experience not one I would have wanted to endure for too much longer. The house I speak of is the YHA Thredbo where I stayed for six nights while taking part in the snowboard instructor?s clinic that I had come to Thredbo for. Before leaving England I had no idea Australia had a winter ski/snowboard season, I assumed that it was sunny beaches all year round. But in fact they do indeed have a few ski resorts and a fair amount going on there in its brief three month season. When I arrived however from Melbourne via the capital Canberra, it didn?t look particularly snowboardy weather. The sun was shining high in the sky and it was extremely difficult to spy any snow at all.The YHA was empty from residents when I first arrived along with a Belgium girl, an English girl and an Australian guy that everyone strove to avoid upon speaking to him for the five minutes. We entered the hostel together and immediately set out exploring the communal areas, furnished with giant, brightly coloured sofas, an electric fire and a giant chess set. It was these furnishings combined with a group of strangers all meeting one another for the first time and about to spend a week living together under the same roof that gave it this Big Brotheresque feel. Over the next few hours and days we were joined by more housemates and all shared beers together finding out each others? stories. I constantly found myself looking in the corners of the room to check for cameras. The hostel staff were friendly enough, the building clean and the group of people who shared the six days with me were mostly good going people who were easy to get along with. But from the very beginning there was a problem, I felt old. The average age was about 20 and my room mates for the week were all even younger although a really nice bunch of lads, two from Brighton, two from Oz and one South Korean. To make matters worse we were to find out on our first day of the clinic that the odds were stacked against the snowboarders. There were 39 of us attending the clinic and only 12 full time positions to be had, whereas the skiers had the more relaxed time of knowing there were only 25 of them for 20 jobs. Sadly the place presented these negative viewpoints to me from the outset and never really recovered. We managed to snowboard a fair bit on the first day, but by the second day we were restricted to Friday Flats, the beginner slopes which barely had enough snow to make a snowball, let alone board down. The clinic though was excellent value, more for me to gain an introspection in to my own boarding than anything else. I spent a lot of my time during the clinic cringing at having to pretend to be ?knarly? and listening to my Aussie instructor who bore a very similar resemblance to Bradley Walsh, constantly apply the torturingly annoying phrase ?too easy? to everything he asked us to do. As much as I love snowboarding and would have relished a season teaching others to board, it just wasn?t my scene. The 6 others I had in my group spent the three days before the first cut talking about various jumps and stunts they liked to perform on their boards and how they liked to ride at -180 on their backfoot, and +9 on their front foot, whatever the hell that means. I just stood there trying to look cool , nodding and occasionally saying ?knarley? to appear that I knew exactly what I was talking about. Much more likely I looked like the dad switching from skiing to boarding to look cool in front of his son?s friends.I was lucky to have all my own equipment at least as my Mum had been running around like mad back at home trying to get it shipped out, but at the beginning of the second day with the small amount of snow that there was rapidly disappearing the instructors informed us the clinic would be cut short from the intended five days to just three when they cut the group down to just 18. This sadly was as far as I got, and to be honest I knew I wasn?t going to make the cut from day 1. I just wasn?t clued up enough about the sport and hadn?t been involved in it anywhere near as long as most of the other applicants had. It was my turn to be evicted. Many others of course were cut and were extremely disappointed so we all went out to the village bar and sort homage at the bottom of a schooner of beer or two. Many went out searching the next day for other jobs that might be available for the season in the village, and if you were willing to scrub bath-tubs or clean rooms there were quite a few going for an excellent wage of $25 an hour too, but for me personally Thredbo was already tainted with a negative energy and so I?d thrown out the idea of remaining in the resort for the season working elsewhere. It took me the next two days, several games of chess, some running and a game of Basketball that affirmed the fact that my fitness has gone down the plughole, for me to finally come up with a decision as to what and where to go next. I thought about heading back down to Melbourne where Dave is and finding some work around there, or perhaps doing the same thing up in Sydney, but in the end the ?Without a Plane? thing was still firmly embedded in my head so I bit the bullet and booked another flight, returning back to Bali. The clincher was that every morning I was waking up, looking at myself in the mirror while I brushed my teeth and noticing with growing depression that my golden, healthy tan was fading faster and faster. The Australian winter too was a big push for me to head back north. Seven months of chasing the sun through Asia has made me completely intolerable to any climate that is less than 20C so roll on more sun worship on those ever so nice beaches of Bali. But before that a trip back down to Melbourne.