I have just heard that BT has bought out many of T-Mobiles wifi hotspots with the aim of keeping the prices high. Not a very enlightened approach to giving access to mobile computing… Continue reading Monopoly
At O’Reilly’s you get to spend time in the cool mountain rainforests surrounded by gorgeous tropical birds, a free treetop walk through the jungle hammock and a fine wine produced by the O’Reilly vineyard. This made me chuckle as the idea of a good Irish wine is a little bit of an oxymoron – well kind of. I drank a little too much and manged to fall out of my hammock and keep the neighbours awake.
One O’Reilly relative was kind enough to save some plane crash survivors as they clung to life on one of the remote mountain slopes nearby, there is a statue to commemorate this with ‘a great Aussie Story’ written on it as well as something about mateship. I like the idea of mateship, I think it’s all about keeping your buddies beer glass full or something like that, saving your fellow bod from a lonely demise on a mountain is also included along with anything in between these two bookends.
The top thing for me at O’reilly’s had to be the treetop walk. Cleverly constructed so that you walk out over a slope so that it seems as if you have hardly gone up into the canopy of anything at all, you soon find yourself up there with the birds. And what birds they are…
Byron Bay is one of those places that has been eaten up by it’s own success, a bit like the Thai islands, or any little idyll that has suffered the spotlight in fact.
Little more than 30 years ago it was just a quiet spot with green rolling hills a stones throw from a gorgeous beach, these days it has that patina of Americana that would scare the purist hippies into the hills.
I don’t have to lament these changes having not visited before so I loved the walk up to the lighthouse to see the views around the vast curving beaches either side. It was also a grand feeling standing on the most easterly point of such a vast continent.
For the night we slung the jongle hammocks up just back from the beach so we heard the rolling surf all night.
The east coast of Oz has so many gorgeous places to see, yet one of the most well know crowd pleasers is The Big Banana that sits glaring over the road just outside Coffs Harbour.
Now the problem with having the moniker ‘Big’ before your name is that you expect it to be nothing less than, well, big. The big banana didn’t really live up to it’s bigness in my books, but let’s not get Freudian about that or we’ll be here all day.
Here is a picture of the big banana, admittedly it would fill up your bowl of muesli should you slice it up for breakfast.
Well that’s about it right now. I have to prise myself away from this idyll to take a look up country or I’ll have to take up residency here in Bellingen. Now that’s no bad thing and we are considering it as an option, along with half of the rest of the world too. It’s a nice dichotomy to be in, but for now we are up for a trip to the gold coast and some of those little waterfalls with idyllic little pools we have heard about up country.
Australia is a bit more smoke and mirrors than I expected it to be. Maybe this is because over in the UK we think we know about Australia, it crops up in conversation and a good deal of it’s population think of London as a second home, so when I arrived I expected it to be familiar. But no, to be honest Hong Kong feels more like home – not only because I lived there for a year, but because more people seem to speak English than they do in Sydney.
Don’t get me wrong here, I know Australia is a melting pot, I just didn’t expect it to be melting quite as much as it is.
On a practical work front it is difficult to get Internet access too. I found it easier in Cambodia than I do here, which I explain to myself as being the result of Australia having a huge infrastructure to support – but this doesn’t compute.
I do love this city though, we went swimming in the Olympic sized harbour side pool today where you can swim lengths while the harbour bridge stretches above you and over the bay. This is such an outdoor place. I am having to adjust my white skin to the outdoors though as it is hot and humid here, in my 6 weeks across S.E.Asia I haven’t come across heat like this yet.
We have walked everywhere – a bicycle would be better and a canoe better than that, but for now we have walked. The markets over at Balmain and Rozelle were a treat – at Rozelle a jazz quartet played whilst I got my aching shoulders massaged, I was enjoying that melting pot right then as well as when we tucked into a Singapore Laksha at the Darling Harbour food circle.
Sydney is going to take a little longer than I imagined to get the hang of and I’m glad for it, it’s those songs you always learn to love the most isn’t it!
I went up to the travellers hostel in the evening to see if any old faces were still around and found ‘George’ still living there. George is a long term tenant of Chung King Mansions who gets very cagey whenever you ask him about his past. He told me that John the Book had died in March of this year.
John the book was one of the characters I most remembered of my time in Hong Kong. He survived by selling old magazines or hiring neat clothes to travellers wanting to look nice for interviews. He was nocturnal.
But it was Alan who I met that evening that had the most strange tale to tell.
Alan is on remand at the moment. He is on remand because he was stopped by the police on a routine check, they found a knife and a knuckle duster in his pocket and decided, on this basis, to search his room at the hostel. What they found amazed them.
The police found a whole armoury including home made smoke bombs and a batman like outfit.
Alan had taken a disliking to the triads after splitting with his Chinese wife, so he decided to become a vigilante, getting rid of the scum off of the streets. He is handy with his martial arts so he would dress up in a mask and cape and then pounce on people that were up to no good. One trick he told me was to chuck ball bearings down an alleyway to confuse his prey.
Not being a witness to this I am not sure how comedic this effort would have been and indeed in the beginning I thought he was telling porkies so I doubted the validity of his story. But Alan showed me photocopies of the police report. He also has a video of them searching his room and pictures that the police took of every itemised weapon.
It might just be all true.
Apparently the police quite like him but they have to do their job and prosecute him.