Sunday, May 29, 2005

Cairns Day 26

Ok sorry for the short and boring pist but just wanted to let everyone know that I went to Vodafone today and bought a new cell phone. I am now the owner of a white Nokia 1100. It;s just like those blue ones we used to have back in canada but a lot smaler and thinner. It doesn't have many bells and whistles but it's a decent phone and the best thing is I got to keep the SAME phone number I had before. That being said, anyone who knows my phone n umber, call me or txt me so I can add your number to my contact list, or e=mail me your phone number.

Aside from that I settled in even more by getting a membership to the local video store. On tuesdays it's 1$ rentals, including NEW DVDs!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cairns Day 23

Ok so last night was really something and I thought I'd talk about it here.

First off, yesturday in the mall I bumped into Jacob, this guy from Holland who I knew from my room in the hostel I lived in in Melbourne. I was so excited to see him that we arranged to go out at night to a bar called P.J. O'Briens. Also, the other day I put up a post on the SWAP bulletin board (website from the organization whom helped me with the visa and arrangements to get here) saying that I'm in Cairns for a while and if anyone wants to meet up for a drink, contact me. So this girl, Andreea, sent me an e-mail and I invited her out to meet Jacob and I. Later in the evening I head over to the bar and meet Andreea, who happens to be French Canadian from Brossard. She just graduated from McGill and has a friend doing a PHD in Chemistry at McGill (For all my chem friends, does Jordan ring a bell? I don't think I knew a Jordan). After our little introduction, Jacob shows up and we go inside the bar.

Jacob wanted to meet up at this bar because wednesday night they are famous for Coyote Ugly Girls. 3 girls in bikinis and cowboy pants jump on the bar and dance for 5 minutes. Afterwards they have a dance competition between girls and another one between guys. They call it a "Dance" competition but it's more of a strip show because they try to get the girls to take their tops off and show their chest. It was no different for the guys since they ended up takng their shirts off and eventually their pants (but keeping on their underwear). Guess who won the guy dance comp?

I had NO intentions of entering! I just went to the bar to buy another pitcher of beer for my friends and I to share and this guy is on the bar and says 'I need 4 guys!' so I raised up my hand and he pulled me onto the bar, then I was told I had to dance. So I started dancing and took off my shirt, tried playing it a little sexy and then the music stops and the guy asked the groud to cheer when he points to the contestants. Myself and this other guy (who happened to be someone I knew from my whitsundays trip, Olie) end up with tht emost cheers out of the 5 of us, and we were told to stick around for the FINALS competitions. Next was round 1 for the girls, rounds 2 for the guys and round 2 for the girls, the cowboy girls danced a second time and then finally it was time for the men finals. I get back on stage and the music starts and we start dancing. I was standing next to one of the Cowboy Girls and she takes off my belt and starts smacking my butt with it. then she made a noise and put her hand over her mouth and got one of the other girls to come over and starts pointing at my back. She was hitting me SO hard that I have RED marks all over my back! When the music stopped the MC did the cheering thing again and I was first and got a pretty big cheer. He moved on to the others and they all had about the same amount of cheers but when he did it a second time he came to me last and when he finally pointed to me the whole bar went WILD! I ended up wining an 80$ snorkel trip to the reef. It includes a glass of wine, buffet lunch, trip on a boat, snorkeling in 2 spots on the reef and a scuba diving demo we get to watch. I'm going to have to call soemtime soon and book a day to go but theres no rush since it's good until December 2005!

As for my phone business, I double checked with the bus company and they don't have it so I need to buy a new phone. Unfortunately the only store for my phone company in Cairns, which is Vodafone, is being renovated and I have to wait until sunday for it to reopen. Until then if anyone needs to reach me just e-mail.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cairns Day 21

Wow the days are flying fast! (or I'm just really really bad at math...)

What have I been up to you may ask? I have settled further into the house i living in. I am now used to things and am getting along quite well with everyone living there. We are on completely different schedules. I work at night, some work during the day, at night, on call, etc. I have wednesday and thursday off, one guy has Monday and tuesday off, the other guy has the weekend off, etc. I still can never tell if someone is in the house or not so Im always trying ot be really really quiet in case someone is sleeping in or I'm home really late.

Work has been keeping me really busy. I am now working 5 nights a weeks and I am now starting at 5pm instead of 6pm except on saturday when I start at 12pm and have a 2 hour break. When I finish all dependson how busy it is. Saturday night was quite busy and sunday was insane! It was so busy (about 50 bookings at 6pm!) that the chefs ahd me helping them out. At one point i was greilling some bread (which I burnt so they havn't asked me since...) and from now on when they scream out suflee I need to scoop some chocolate cream into a chocolate cup and shove it in the oven. I finished at 12:30am on saturday but at 1:15 on sunday! However, the other nights havn't been so busy. Monday I finsihed at 12:15am but only about 20 minutes after the kitchen guys leave (saturday and sunday it was more like an hour and half) and last night i was so on top I finished everything at around 11:30pm but it was really not that busy.

Now I have a couple of days off which is great. Sunday I bought a bike for 30$! I went looking around the other day and wither foudn really expensive new bikes (200$) or really expensive used bikes (120$-200$ - USED!). I bought saturdays paper and found an ad that said "Drive away bikes under 50$" and it had a number and an address. I couldn't call because unfortunately I LOST my phone (Mark, you're cue to laugh is 3... 2... 1... Now!). I don't know what I did with is but only discovered it was missing 1am after work. i think I left it on the bus I was sleeping on to work but not sure. At first it was ringing but now on my voice mail comes on meaning the battery is dead or someone stole it and it's off. in any case I'm going to have to buy a new phone an dmay need a new phone number all together. If anyone wants the new number (i.e. friends I met out here) e-mail me because I lost ALL of my friends contact numbers (never wrote them down ust put them in the phone). Going back to my story about the bike, I went to the address and it turns out its the appartment complex of this 80 year old man who buys bikes (used or broken) and fixes them up. He sold me a big bike that he painted black since the original paint was coming off and it makes a biut of noise but it gets me from A to B which is all I care about. I also bought a purple used helmet and a lock from him for 15$ extra. I rode the bike to the internet cafe and I REALLY need to get used to the fact that cars drive on the other side of the road because I never know where to look.

And now for something comepletely different... Here's a pic my friend Tina sent me of when I dressed up in Dingo. As you can tell, it was a wild and crazy night...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cairns Day 15

I've been in Cairns just over 2 weeks and just when I thought I'd never find a job, I found a job and yesturday I moved into a house. I'm now living at 461 Draper street which is about a 20 to 30 minute walk from the city but only a 5-10 minute walk to the bus stop so I could go to work which is key. I have a huge room to myself. There's not much in it in terms of furniture but I got a double bed, a little desk where I put some things in, a shelf, a little stand where I have my clothes folded on and a bar sticking out to hang things on a hanger. Yesturday I emptied out my bag and really made my room look like i"m staying for a while. I went to the mal to buy some posters but was disappointed to find out that the poster display was only temporary and moved to another mall far away. In the meantime, I went out last night and got a free sombrero when I bought a corona, so I hung it on a small hook in my room just over my bad. There is also a fan on the ceiling that apperently won't turn off, which could be worse (i.e. a fan that never turned on...).
As for the rest of the house, there are 4 other bedrooms and 5 other people living in the house (1 couple) and they all seem really cool, 2 from England (the couple), 2 guys from New Zealand and a girl from Japan. There is a huge living room with a giant tv and 2 guys just bought a DVD player (theres a deal at a music store where you buy 4 DVD's they give you the player for free!). The kitchen is quite large although there is no stove, just a single burner to cook on but I"m used to it by now for mall the hostels I've lived in. The bathrom is in two room - one with the sink, shower and even a seperate tub - a smal room for the toilet who's walls are painted blue with white clouds and there is a map of the world for decoration. There is a backyard with a patio are for people to smoke or eat etc. and there is even a pool! The pool gets cleaned every 2 weeks and the house gets cleaned every week (vaccuumed, bathroom cleaned, etc.).

The house is owend by a guy, Tim, and his wife Micheline. They used to live in it for many years before turning it into a shared house. It also turns out that this guy I work with, Marcos, used to live there as well adn is good friends with Tim and Micheline. Also, Tim manages the Wool Shed, the famous backpacker bar in the city. He told me if i give him a photo he'll make me up a VIP card for the bar, so thats a kool bonus.

Todays my day off so Im in the city looking to buy a bike to make my trips to the city shorter.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Cairns Day 9

I've been in Cairns a little over a week. I spent my first couple of days going out and seeing the 'sites'. The fact is there are no sites except a giant swimming pool called the lagoon. Cairns is basically a portal for those who want to go diving or snorkling on the reef, sky diving or head further north to Cape Tribulation (a rainforest). The city center itself is nice but quite small, boasting only a few shops, restaurants and bars. There is also a mall but it, as well, is tiny. Outside the city, though, it's quite dumpy with building that look dirty and have peeling paint.

My plan once I reached Cairns was to go snorkling on the reef then head noth to Cape Tribulation and continue onto the city of Darwin (top of Australia), then cut down the center to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock (largest rock int eh world - I think). Unfortunately, I dont have enough money at the moment to accomplish all that and since I"m not ready to leave this beautiful country yet (sorry to dissapoint anyone, haha) I've decided to look for work in Cairns. After looking for a few days it was getting hopeless. There were no jobs available anywhere. I got a few 'We're not looking at the moment' or 'we might have something' followed by 'but if you want to leave us your resume we'll file it for you and get back to you'. Translation: but if you leeave us your resume I'll be sure to throw it out when you leave my store'.

I met this Englih girl Tina on the oz bus and she introduced me to Claire and Jenny, two Scottish girls who are also planning on staying here in Cairns and work. They are really nice people and have been helping me by giving me a few application forms from hotels and suggesting to try applying to hotels as well since they are huge organizations that own restaurants and whatnot. So with their advice I hit all the hotels and filled out 20 applications. Still no luck.

I was tempted to drop everything and go work on a farm fruit picking. At first I was excited about the idea but while hanging out with Claire and Jenny at the Lagoon after coming up with the idea, I was sweating bullets just lying on the grass. This turned me off completely since Id be working about 60 hours a week in the sun and making about 350$

Finally, yesturday I decided to venture an hour up north to the Northern Beaches area. I stopped at the most northern beach, Palm Cove. Palm Cove is 100% cleaner than Cairns and is known more as a resort area. All there is are hotels and a beach. The bus ride took about 1 hour and I hit a few restaurants. I got 2 'Yes we are looking and will get back to you' but I kept looking and reached an Italian restaurant called Vivo. I spoke to the owner Ivo and after a nice talk he offered me a job as a kitchenhand since they were in dire need for one. They had just opened up 6 weeks ago and their 2 kitchenhands left - 1 moved on with his travels and the other was a 15 year old who decided to stop coming to work without letting anyone know. I accepted his offer to try out in the kitchen that night and hopped on a bus back into the city, changed into my dishwashing clothes and jumped back on the bus to the restaurant.

The kitchen is huge and has up to date cleaning equipment making the job SUPER easy. When I was a kitchenhand in Melbourne I had to load the dishwasher with soap all the time and make sure the water was clean. I also had to wash everything by hand prior to putting it in the dishwasher. Plus, my workspace was so small I just stood in the smae place most the time. IN this kitchen it's all different. The dishweasher is automatic - I just lift the door, put in the tray, close the door and it turns on and washed without me even needing ot push a button. Instead of needing to wash all the plates, all that i"m required to do is hose the down with thee kitchen sink/hose thingy and they're ready to go!

I picked everything up quickly but since i"m not used to everything yet, I got really tired by the end. I have o confirm with Ivo my hours and what is expected of me but the head chef, Ashley, told me that my days will most likely be 3pm to 11pm involving prep first and then doshwashing during the dinner rush.

I'm hoping to be able to handle it for the next 3 months and then travel again. Until then I'm hoping to make a group of friends out here and hopefully find my own place to live. I hear there is a university enear Palm Cove so I may fit right in, haha.

Side Note 1: Today is Friday the 13th, I'm staying in room 13 in the hostel and I'm using computer 13 at the internet cafe...

Side Note 2: While looking at this blog to see what I last wrote about, I noticed a button on the top right that says Next Blog. Upon clicking o nit, it sends you to the next random blog. So I was cruisnig for abotu 15 minutes to see what kind of blogs people are writing. Some were journals like mine, one was a man looking for a wife, another was bulletin board on the topic of horses. What freaked me out was how I randonmly found 2 of them that were written by 2 girls in their 20's who seemed depressed/suicidal and were openly writing about it on the internet and that was from just reading the first few lines on eaither website. This is from a database of hundreds if not thousands of blogs.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Cairns Day 3

After Magnetic Island we travelled further north with a few stops for food breaks and to take pictures of funny signs. Far North Queensland is the home of the Castlereigh. It's this bird the size of an Emu, bigger then an ostridge and has a an axe shaped horn on it's head made of keratine and a a super sharp claw on each feet (click HERE for picture). It's an endanged bird so they have signs all over the highway to be careful not to kill it and of course the bus driver stopped to let us take pictures of one of the many funny signs.
Afterwards we stopped at a crocodile farm. It was quite interesting. Tons of crocodiles and the owner was a bit excentric. His farm is the home of the second largest croc in captivity and he just opens the gate and sat on it's back so we could all take photos! This, coming from a man who slipped in one fo the pools he was cleaning and got 2 of his fingers eatent hen recovered them and ended up getting them surgically re-attached to his hand! When he offered all of us the opportunity for work, I was actually interested but he admitted he was only joking. At least I spared my mom from having a heart attack.

I even got a chance to hold a baby croc and a snake. I pissed off the croc when I made a joke lke I was going to eat it... It started to try and run away.

After the farm we made our way to a bungy jump site for all the thrill seekers. My thrill seeking was to see if I could get away with eating 3 sausages (hot dogs) at the free barbeque when we were only promised 2. Thats enough thrill for me in one day.

By 6pm we made it to Cairns! I checked into my hostel, Hostel 89 which is righ along the water (no beach thought but another Lagoon i.e. public swimming pool) and for now I have the 3 bed room all to myself.

I went for dinner to ther Wool Shed which is a big backpacker bar similar to Cheeky Monkeys in Byron Bay. I had a good time and even bumped into Marius this guy I met while in Byron Bay.

The next day I started settling in by buying tons of grocceries to last me the week and bumped into 2 of my favorite people I met during my travels up teh east coast - Eric and Tom. I met them in Byron Bay (through them I met Marius) and we just hit it off and had a real good time hanging out. Great guys to hang out with and I'm excited I got a chance to catch up with them again, so we ended up going out to the Wool Shed.

Today I'm going to start getting my CV set up for job hunting and the front desk of my hostel was nice enough to point me in the right direction on where to go looking. Hopefully by the of the week I'll be employed! Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Magnetic Island Day 1

I have a LOT to talk about but have only 15 minutes left on the internet before my money runs out so heres the abridged version of what I've been up to the past week:

I left Hervey Bay on the Oz Experience bus and ended up in Bagara for a night. We stayed in a really nice hostel/resort. The next morning we made our way to Dingo and stayed on a 46,000 acre cattle station. It was great! The new Oz Experience owners are not havign Dingo as a stop anymnore so I was one of the last few people to stay there. We stayed there along with the southbound bus and had drinking games and tug of war against them. I saw a few peopel I knew from before and we all had a blast. There was a chest filled with clothes and the locals promoted us to dress up. Men were women, women were men, people were cowboys, pimps, hos and mecanics. Yes, I dressed up as a girl and i had a bra on. We partied late and even did some line dancing!

The next morning we had a little tour of the station and a bit of a talk on how it is runa dn what goes on. The guy giving the tour, Richie, was HILARIOUS. After the tour her showed us 2 guns, a rifle and a shotgun, and explained how they use it to fend of predetors of their cattle (dingos, feral pigs, etc). He let a girl shoot the rifle and she went flying and missed her target. We also had a go at a whip, but unfortunatley I wasn't able to break the sound barrier (thats hwat happens when you crack a whip correctly).

After Dingo I arrived into Arlie Beach. Or as everyone calls it Arlie No-Beach, for there is no real beach btu a fake "lagoon" which was just a swimming pool.

I stayed there 2 days and then went on a 3 day/2 night boat cruise on a tall ship called the DEFENDER. I wish I had time to go into details but it was the MOST relaxing trip I've ever been on. We sailed around the Whitsundays, went for walks, swimming, saw the stunning White Haven Beach (PURE WHITE sand, CLEAR BLUE water), slept under the stars on the deck of the boat (Saw the WHOLE Milky Way and the Southern Cross amongst other stars) and went snorkling with the fishies! There were so many fish and a huge one thats famous for the boat compagnies and they've dubbed it Elvis.

I'm currently in Magnetic Island known so because when Captain Cooke discovered it his compass went haywire and thought it was due to the magnetic field of the island. Tomorrow I'll be in Cairns and thus ends my Oz Experience trip. I'm planning on staying in Cairns for 2-3 months and work somewhere to make money so I can travel some more!