Friday, 18 November 2016

Coming to Oz....part 1

I’ve wanted to visit Australia for yonks. It was always at the back of my mind that I really had to go to the country that spawned two of my favouritest ever movies.

After a glorious holiday from June to July where I took in Israel, Moldova and Greece I returned to England to find Theresa May was the Prime Minister. 
It’s the little things that can make a difference and having the villain from Terrahawks as PM was the final straw.

I packed up my life in about 3 weeks and then upped anchor to stay with my father in Crete for about 6 weeks before finally taking the plane to the land of tinnies and big, fuck-off spiders.

I got up nice and early, took a leisurely train to Gatwick and arrived refreshed and radiant. Only problem was that the flight was leaving from Heathrow. After much swearing I got a National Distress coach over to the other one for about £25, still making it in plenty of time but cursing my lack of preparation.

Half past cunt in the morning.

One thing that always put me off flying for 20+ hours was the knowledge that I would have to be in a sitting position all that time. On all European flights I try to get a window seat but that proved to not be the sensible option due to my knee op just over a year ago. I also hate getting drunk on aeroplanes and can’t understand those who do, due to the fact that you are unable to react to being pissed with anything other than a subdued smile. 

Settling for heaps of black coffee and the inflight movies (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is a belter, if only for seeing Mr D’arcy as a zombie hunter while retaining his 17th century manners) I landed in Hong Kong after 11 hours for a 150 minute stopover before a further 10 hours to Melbourne.

My TV was busted and I gleefully told the stewardess, fully expecting a nice upgrade to Premium Economy….but she rebooted it twice and the bastard thing started working again so I had to stay where I was, enjoying the delights of Finding Dory and the jingoistic drivel that is Independence Day: Resurrection. 
I’d ordered a Hindu meal when I booked the flight online and this proved to be a very sensible option as the food arrived 20 minutes earlier than those on regular fayre AND it was tasty. Bloke next to me was tucking into what looked like prison rations as I was polishing off the last of my prawn curry. 

It’s the little things. 

As First, Business and Premium Economy get on and off the plane before the pots in Pauper class...all the shit they leave behind is still on their seats as we walked out past the robotically smiling stewards. I helped myself to one of the welcome packs that someone had abandoned and it was full of crap you could buy in Poundland back home. Oh well, the bag came in useful for keeping my plug adapters in.

I’d heard stories of the border control at Ozzy airports giving 3rd degree inquisitions over the contents of your luggage. As a Rescue Diver I have a diving knife and decided to take both it and my ID to argue the toss and remonstrate on the virtues of having a sharp blade if I ever got tangled up in a fishing net. Turned out that I wasn’t even checked, just waved through once they saw the stamp in my passport.

I’d arranged to stay with a guy via Couchsurfing and when I got to his house at about 1am it turned out his hobby was reenacting Viking battles and the living room was littered with shields, costumes and bits of leather, ready to made up into replica Danish invader garb.

My jet lag didn’t kick in until the next day when, after some sightseeing around the city I dragged myself home and crashed out by about 7pm, sleeping until 9 o’clock the next morning. My host said that if I got over the jet lag within 3 days it would probably result in getting sick as well, due to my immune system fighting the horrendous upheaval over light/ dark, while weakening in the process. Those who take the longest time to get over it apparently don’t usually suffer this. True to Sod’s Law the jet lag was over in about 2 days and I had a stinking head cold plus a very attractive cold sore on my lip. 

Soldier on.

Melbourne has a fairly awesome movie museum in the centre. Wandering in I was pleasantly shocked to find a replica V8 interceptor from the first Mad Max movie. A die hard fan of the first two Max movies (while hating the 3rd and loving the 4th) I got a staff member to take my photo next to it, even though he refused to let me sit in the driving seat.

Saturday was a picnic at a park named Edinburgh Gardens. It was organised by a group calling themselves the Burning Family. Rocked up there about 1pm to find people dressed up as trees, dinosaurs and carrying various pets including a duck and one young lady sporting two rats named Bubble and Squeaks. She gave me Squeaks to hold, who promptly climbed under my T-shirt and burrowed into my arm pit before falling asleep. Squeaks’ owner clearly thought this was endearing in the highest extreme. I looked at her and asked nervously, “I’ve seen Game of Thrones. If he gets stuck is he gonna try and get out the hard way….?”

My hangover the next day was minging, mainly as I don’t drink very often any more. My post piss up pantomimes tend to last at least a day and this one was no different. I traipsed off to the Melbourne zoo, not realising that it closed at 5pm…and I didn’t get there until 3 o’clock…and they were going to shut the sodding exhibits at four thirty. Still, 90 minutes was about enough and I had enough time to see a majestic tiger scaring the infants, a bored looking orangutan eating leaves and several gorillas sat on their arses.

I haven’t trained regularly in Krav Maga for a long time so it was great to find a KMG affiliated club in Melbourne. Run by an Irish guy named Riorray, he invited me down to join in with them on the Wednesday night. Had a great time practicing pistol disarms with a couple of advanced level guys and then made my way home ready to head off to Sydney. Only realised once I actually got back to my second couchsurfing lodgings that I’d left my KMG grading passport at the venue. Oh well, have to pick it up before I fly back to Hong Kong in 3 months.

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