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Sizing up Sydney


G-Day cobber, Just about now I was slowly waking up, the first conscious thoughts floating around my in my head looking for a synapse to link up to, you know, the first reality check, nice and comfy under the covers a CroMoPiRo testifying that my prostata is still online (hey at 45 not a thing to be mocked) second part of the reboot, where am I? Hotel room yup! Checked in last night curtains still closed, pitch black, had a few beers at the bar went to bed, time for breakfast…look at clock… Sod it its only two thirty another five hours until I can get lifegiving coffee into the plumbing, let’s try to get back to sleep…HAL`s voice…. Sorry Ray, I can’t do this …against all reality my body thinks it’s lunchtime, time to get up, and goof of…. But…I am in… wait for it… Australia, the land of my dreams. Slowly the flight from Copenhagen is flashed back into memory, Johnny Mnemonic downloading hot RAM.

As I work for a cheap firm like Esko-Graphics I get to fly economy or cattle class; row 34, seat F; right next to the loo; the best seat in the aircraft if you find music in the sound of a very loud vacuum flush. For a moment I thought that the poor sod on the bog will be sucked down the U-tube, almost as you see it in cheap 70`s B-movies when the window in the 707 gets blown out and someone is sucked out into the void with a fading scream. Watching my fellow traveller emerge from the toilet and giving his wet hands a shake right next to me was my own kind of B-movie.

Behind the curtain in the galley the stewardess gets ready with… well let’s call it simply Airline food. I really don’t want to know how it’s made or what goes on behind the curtain but I did hear one of the crew say something about a passenger in row 27 after which the galley went quiet until one of the stewardesses gave a short giggle.

One thing that I always connect with airline food is the smell of burnt rubber another thing is my tyrannosaurus-rex impression. Not that I start eating people but the fact that a man of my bulk gets squashed into a seat three quarters my size with a food tray in front of me that just does not lie flat but is propped up on my knees at an impossible angle.

I am trying to juggle food and drink all at once using only my wrists and fingers to convey “dinner” and booze to my mouth, my arms squeezed tightly to my sides. On some flights, the stewardess will take pity and give me a seat with more room, not this time though.

The plane was chokker! Some rows in front of me a small child was screaming blue murder, mummy trying to clam her sprog down and just not succeeding, the kids high keening was driving me up the wall and other kids were starting to tune up as well in a kind of kiddy-symphonie. Maybe I should give my phantasie with the loo a try and flush screaming child out with the blue stuff. 

I was hot, sticky, and slightly queasy from the stench combination from the loo and galley and after 26 hours airtime and a 3-hour-dead-of-night stopover in Singapore I badly wanted to get to Sydney.

At the Airport I was picked up by William Ho a wiry Hong Kong Chinese, driving a sleek pickup car I didn’t recognise “It’s a Holden Wantanna” he said. “Hmmmm, nice” I think was my neutral reply.

My hotel was in Bankstown on the outskirts next to Paramatta about one hour from Sydney town centre, apart from the occasional drive-by shootings and ongoing gang-warfare not the most glamorous places Sydney side but hey who cares.

The next day William and his Wantanna drove me to the office of GSA, our dealer down under. I was taken to the conference room to be introduced to the CEO and his minions.

“G`day Ray sit down, wanna coffee?” feeling important and a man of the world I took a seat… “Be care…“ (Sitting down with a whump on the castor swivel chair, I shot of and crashed against the far wall at oh! Warp 5?). …full Ray the floor is slippy” Brought back to earth I was briefed about some small idioscancrasys of our customer; “Ray (Ray Fell the customer) can be somewhat difficult, “ I was told.

Difficult! Ha! That was an understatement if ever! Ray Fell is one meter fifty something, spindle thin and a Choleric with Ahhhh! A kind of selective Touretts syndrome; he is a Vietnam War vet and has Charlie shrapnel stuck somewhere in him.

The next day as we were getting the machine into the room I heard him shouting at the delivery guys, even my ears started to go red at the tips from his more juicy terms. The movers were four guys from the Tonga islands each the size of Jabba the Hut. I watched closely wondering what kind of noise it makes when they start pulling bits of Ray, but no! The Tongans where looking down at their shoes, hands clasped in front of them shuffling their feet I would not have been surprised if one of them had started crying.

Next day it was my turn to be chewed out, I had put the machine (I am not lying) 2 centimetres away from where she was supposed to go. A machine that has about two tons dead, may slip to the right or left and having no wheels or means for easy moving makes for a not very portable machine, it also takes a corner pretty bad. Ray went thermonuclear I will not tell you what he said to me because the thought of it makes me want to lie down and have a nap.  Too late…….!

I’m back! Later on at the hotel bar I watched the telly for a bit, commercials were on and Holden motors was advertising the all-new Holden Wantanna a sleek and sexy looking machine. Aussie adverts are quite good by any standards next time you are in google type in “bloody Volvo drivers” and enjoy. The programmes on telly though are pretty humdrum and standard world telly: Friends, Sex and the city, everybody loves Raymond (I know you all do) talk shows, Jerry Springer, CNN, BBC, VOX; are the people on Jerry Springer really that pathetic or is it all show. To my delight Wednesdays has two hours of the Simpsons followed by SG1 and then Enterprise. But apart for that highlight and a film on Sunday night the rest of the week is more or less electronic desert. Yes! I know that my choice of television entertainment programmes tells what a sad sack I am but I grew up on a diet of captain scarlet, Joe 90, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Star Trek, and Never mind the Quality feel the width and of course Dr. Who, can you remember the Handmaiden in the episode with the Inca King? My infant mind thinking, “wow neat chick”. I even had my mother, bless her socks, holding up the TV Ariel at an impossible angle somewhere under the ceiling standing on a chair supporting herself with one hand against the window on the top floor of the high-rise we lived in just so that I could watch the ghost and Mrs. Muir. Thanks again mom!

Never mind it is Friday and I am in Sydney I took a city bound train and got of at central quay. It is said that Sydnysiders are smug bxxxxrds and they have every right to be Sydney Harbour is fantastic; pictures, photos and programs on the TV just don’t give justice to it. The best place in town to take pictures is on or around central quay, the harbour bridge just looking in from the left and to the right you have the opera house. Across the bay connected by the bridge are the northern suburbs, everything in view is just how can I say “optically right” the whole town blends into the natural lay of the land. I walked in the direction of Darling harbour around the Rocks, under Sydney Bridge and through the south part of town until I got to said Darling harbour. The whole area from the Opera till way past Darling harbour is what I call a tourist trap; lots of juppi-bars, restaurants also called in Newglish “Event locations” Joggers looking trim and full of self importance, of course we mustn’t forget the eternal tourie; staggering around under the weight of a million cameras. For the record, the Sydney harbour bridge is also known as the “coat hanger” opened in 1932 is a monument for art-décor, the bridge is with the freeway 1149 meters long, the arch from pillar to pillars 503 meters long the deck is 59 metes over the water and the bridges highest point is 134 above sea level.

Famous is also the bridge-walk. For years now I thought that is one thing that I must try if I ever get to OZ so off I trotted to find the entrance…. Only to be gob smacked to find out that the “walk” will set me back by Euro 150, — that is just over hundred quid in real money! The girl behind the counter asked if I wanted to go up or did I just want to stand around in shock, I opted for a hollow laugh and went out the way I came. Instead, I settled for a walk over the walkways on the deck of the bridge which incidentally is a great alternative and just as exiting,  you will not get as knackerd as you would be after the climb. And free of charge.

I walked back towards the opera house, looking at the buskers and stalls stacked high with antipodian style hippie beads, coloured glass ornaments and wood carvings and of course lots of Australiana, didgeridoos, bullroarers and boomerangs, I had noticed that the cheap didges were made from bamboo and were crudely painted although some of the stalls sold didgeridoos and stuff made from Bloodwood and Eucalyptus, some without ornament showing the beautiful texture and grain of the bloodwood, others painted with scenes from the dreamtime, these were found on stalls run by Australian tribes; I spoke with one of the guys and was told with a wink that the bamboo didgeridoo and glass bead sellers came from “iindigenous” tribes as far away as Hongkong. Every fifty meters or so a group of Aborigines in well “costume” would show dreamtime dances accompanied with didge music and the haunting tones of the bullroarer (think Crocodile Dundee´s “phone call”)  The opera house is ethereal and spirit inspiring, to bad Urzon never saw his creation, my heart soared standing on the steps, the bridge in the background the ships and sailboats busying in and around the harbour everything seemed to glow in that curious sunlight typical to Australia. “UUUUGGGGHHHH!”

“Ka mate, ka mate
ka ora, ka ora
Ka mate, ka mate
ka ora, ka ora
tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
nana nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
a hupane, a kupane
a hupane, a kupane
whiti te ra.”

My mind snapped out its dreaming immediately, above me on the steps a group of twenty huge Maori had started a “HAKA” dance, in full regalia, with spears and clubs. This was not the wimpy soft PG rated HAKA shown on TV when the New Zealand All blacks Rugby team ram the English team unsharpened into the pitch, this was the full Monty. No wonder the Maori were the only ethnic people ever to stop and put the fear of god into the Victorian empire builders. The sight of a war party doing the HAKA would send the British red shirts climbing up and over each other to get back to the boats. And for them it was a party complete with feasting on the runners up afterwards. This war dance was fuelled with enough testosterone to launch a space shuttle, hell it made me want to run whimpering up a tree just watching. It is one of my frequent wet dreams to watch a match between the Rugby playing All Blacks and take your pick of any American football team. Sorry my American friends it would be a massacre, archaeologists would be picking bits of shoulder padding and helmet debris out of the field in generations to come.

I had this fix-idea in my head that I wanted anything with Kangaroo in it for my tea. I had heard, that the Aussies enjoy mixing all kinds of local foodstuff together with anything Chinese, Taiwanese, US, European and so on I thought it would be interesting to give it a try. Hmmmm! Kangaroo pie, mushy peas and chips! Maybe snake and kidney pudding. Or even crocodile tikka masala. I had also heard that, as our bees vomit honey Australien ants shit it, it is found underground in ants-nests it is called a honey pot and it is regarded as a great delicacy when served with bourbon vanilla eis and whipped cream. Some of the best places in town for grub are according to my touris-guide down by the rocks just under Harbour Bridge.

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