Thursday, 22 December 2011

It's Christmas time? Really?

I'm getting a bit annoyed with my job because they keep changing and cancelling my shifts all the time. The thing is, I'm staying in Brisbane only because of my job, but if I don't even get many hours a week and especially if I don't get my salary on time (it was supposed to be in my bank account two days ago but it hasn't come), I think it would be better to go somewhere else and find another job. I don't want to start looking for a job again but there's no other choise if I want to go somewhere else and if I want money.
My Australian bank account looks pretty much empty at the moment and I've spent a huge amount of money in past few weeks.... I knew I'd spend a lot of money when travelling in Australia but it  still scares me! Where does that money actually go? Living in hostels takes the most of my money, and food of course. But I don't understand how some people can go partying every night and spend so much money for alcohol, how can they afford it? If I bought loads of drinks in bars every night, I wouldn't have much money anymore at all...

So what to do next? I have no idea. I said to the people at my work that I'm going to stay in Brisbane for a few months. Yeah right... I didn't even plan to stay here for too long but that's the thing you have to say if you want to find a job especially in restaurants or cafes. They just don't want to hire people for a few weeks, they want people to work for them at least for a couple of months, usually even more. 
But backpackers always change their plans, make quick decisions and travel from place to place. So never trust backpackers. But does it really matter if I leave my job here because they can't even give me reliable shifts? 
I like that place though, and I'd like to learn to use the coffee machine properly. I mean the huge special coffee machine that makes all those different types of coffees.

I wonder why I get bored with one place so fast. I mean I've only been here for over 2 weeks and I already feel like I should see other places and go somewhere else. Maybe it's because nearly all backpackers are here only for a couple of days and then they're moving on somewhere else, some coast places or Outback or wherever. Brisbane isn't really the most traditional or interesting Australian place, and I'd like to see as many beautiful and amazing places as possible, with great landscapes or coast views etc.
Now I regret a little bit that I didn't decide to spend Christmas in some of those beautiful coast towns as everyone seems to be going there.

Last night I spoke to an Irish girl who had worked in Darwin and she said it's a very nice little town and it's easy to find a job there and the salary is good. So I might consider going to Darwin sometimes. There are a few types of jobs I'd really like to try in Australia: It'd be good to work in a pub/hotel where I'd get accommodation and food for free and then I'd also get salary but I could save the most of that money because I wouldn't spend it for hostels and food so much. 
The other thing is farm work, which would be an interesting experience. Many backpackers go and work at farms and it's pretty easy (?) to find that kind of jobs in some places here. And one thing is working in Outback. I don't know if it'd be the right thing for me but definitely it'd be an experience... 
So many options but I'm still "stuck" in Brisbane at the moment :D 

One day I went to Ikea with a Finnish girl Elina, who lives in the hostel where I stayed the first 2 weeks. I know it's quite "boring" to go to Ikea in Australia as I can do that in Finland too, but we wanted to buy some gingerbread biscuits and glögi just because it'd make us feel more like "home" here at Christmas time. Well, it didn't... They were too expensive and didn't taste right. And Australians had decided to sell some fish and chips and squid in the Ikea restaurant, which I'm pretty sure they don't sell in Finland and Sweden. It was nice to eat some swedish meatballs though. But maybe I should stop spending my money on useless things such as "going to Ikea to buy food that I can buy in Finland but which is too expensive here". 

Well, it's only a couple of days until christmas and I'm sat in a sun chair at the sun deck and it's veeery hot. Could it feel any less like Christmas? But I don't really mind if I don't get Christmas feeling here because I'm on the other side of the world and I didn't come here to spend a traditional Christmas.
Last Christmas wasn't traditional to me either but it felt like Christmas because I spent it in England with my lovely host family, which was very nice. 
It's always good to do something different and spending Christmas in hostel with random people in Australia is definitely different... I don't know if it's the best thing to do but I'm here now and I'll see how it goes. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

New place, new life

Right, it has been quite a while (again) since I wrote last time, sorry. Days are just flying past when you are travelling and earlier it felt like I don't have time to write in this blog because I moved from place to another all the time. Then I thought I can't be bothered to write anymore but I would be very disappointed with myself if I stopped writing in this blog. So.... It has been over 2 weeks (!!) since I moved to Brisbane and now it's like I'm settled here and nothing exciting is happening anymore. That's a bit worrying....
Let's try to remember what happened during the few weeks I didn't write anything here. We spent 3 days in Surfers Paradise with Pauliina, it was quite a nice place. High buildings, a long beach next to the city centre, many shops, a beautiful weather... It felt like being in a small Los Angeles. I've never been to Los Angeles though so maybe I'm wrong...
One day we went to the beach for the whole day and hired a body board which was a great fun. The waves were big, maybe not as good as in Byron Bay though... I still didn't try surfing because I realised I'd have to take some lessons if I really want to do something else than just swim with the surfboard. And the lessons are expensive anyway. So body boarding was good for now.

Then we came to Brisbane, to our "final destination". It was a bit different to come to a big city after those coast places because there is no beach in Brisbane and no beautiful ladscapes etc. Brisbane is a nice city though, and very easy-going and not as busy and hectic as Sydney was. 
We decided to book a trip to Australian Zoo soon after we had arrived in Brisbane. I'm glad we went to the zoo, it was a brilliant place. I've never been to a zoo like that, actually I think those "normal" zoos with bears and monkeys and random birds are a bit boring. But Australian Zoo is nothing like boring, it's a very very huge area and it easily takes a whole day to go through all the different areas there and see all the animals and everything. We spent there maybe 6 or 7 hours and it wasn't too much at all.

The tickets were expensive but I think it was worth it. There's no many other places where I can see and touch kangaroos and koalas, see crocodiles, Tasmanian devils (I thought it was just a character in Disney films but they actually exist, haha), dingos, wombats and many other cute or exciting or amazing animals. There was a crocodile show, a koala show, African area where we saw giraffes and rhinos and other African things and also an Asian area with some elephants and tigers. But the whole Australian area was definitely the best one, with all those hundreds of Australian animals. And I was positively surprised how the kangaroos were just runnign free in their area, and they weren't scared of people at all! We went to touch them and took some pictures with them, they're quite funny animals... But I decided I want to be a koala, they're maybe the coolest (and cutest!!) animals I've seen. Sleeping nearly all day in a tree, eating, chlling out, playing with other koalas. Can I be a koala, please?

After that day it felt like we've walked at least 100 km in just one day. Other days we just walked around Brisbane, moved to another hostel (which was very weird. Reminded me of a hippie commune or something... Maybe because it just was a bit different place than other hostels I've been to) and after that place moved to another place AGAIN. I think we stayed in 7 or 8 different hostels altogether! Well, it's good to see many different places so there's nothing wrong with that. Especially because after that I stayed in one place for 2 weeks which is the longest time I've stayed in one hostel. Pauliina went back to Finland and left me "alone" in huge Australia, which meant I had to start looking for a job. 

I hate looking for a job but since I have a working hoiday visa it means I should do the working part too, not only the holiday part of it. AND of course because I've spent a HUGE amount of money here and I realised that yeah, my money actually is running out if I don't find a job somewhere, I started looking for a job in Brisbane.

I sent some applications online but also went to some random places to give them my CV and to my surprise in one place the man started talking to me in Finnish. He said he's from Estonia and has learnt to speak Finnish and now he's living in Brisbane. So the next day they called me from that place and asked me to go and do a Trial, which means I had to work there for a couple of hours so they saw if I can handle it or if I'm totally crap. Apparently I did it alright because they said I'll get that job. 
So that place is a small restaurant (yeah, I still didn't get myself to some different job... I'd like to do something else but for some reason I always find myself working in restaurants??!), it's like a burger restaurant, quite an expensive place and very nice burgers and good salads. The place is in a popular and nice area in Brisbane centre, next to the river and other restaurants.
I was glad to get a job but it's not full time, only casual, meaning that I don't always get many hours a week. 

First I worked in the kitchen for a couple of days and then I got to work in the other side too, taking orders and serving customers etc. It's not very different from what I've done in Finland, the biggest difference is that here I have to speak English of course but it's not any difficult to speak to customers in English. 
Sometimes I speak Finnish with the Estonian guy. 
I'll write more about life in Brisbane hopefully soon, this post is getting too long because I have so many things to say, so I'll try to write more often than once a month!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sun and Swimming!

Today was our last day at Byron Bay and luckily it was a very hot and sunny day, the best weather so far! In the morning we had to wake up early and ring some office to reserve our seats on coach for tomorrow when we are going to travel somewhere else. There aren't many places before Brisbane anymore so we decided (it's quite surprising that we managed to make a decision...) to go to a place called Surfer's Paradise that is quite close to Brisbane. Somebody said to us that Surfer's Paradise is not a good place but I think it's worth checking out anyway.

So today we got up early and went to the beach because it was very hot in the morning already. There are absolutely awesome beaches in this place and all of them are full of surfers and the waves in the sea are amazing.
I don't think my skin loves being in the sun at the moment because my shoulders are quite red... The sun is so strong here that if you spend only for a little while in the sun, you get some tanning straight away. I don't think it'd be a good idea to spend the whole day on the beach here but we were there only for a few hours.

We went swimming in the sea and it was amazing! The waves were huge and it was so great to swim in the big waves, much better than swimming in the sea without waves. I wanted to have a surf board or body board but we didn't hire them today, we are definitely going to do it some day though! It'd be awesome to try surfing in those big waves. Or maybe it'd be more like swimming with a body board because I have never tried surfing and it must be very difficult.... But I'm going to try it while I'm in Australia because it's the most common sport activity in this country and Australia is full of great surf beaches on every coast!
It's still very hot and it's 7 o'clock in the evening now.
We had a nice BBQ lunch at our hostel earlier today and then we've just been walking around. And I bought sunglasses so now I finally can throw my fake dolce&gabbana glasses away!

I've started liking Byron Bay even more now, this is actually a very nice little town and people are easy-going and nice. But right now all the places are full of teenagers because the school summer holidays just began here and everyone is going out and drinking and going to the beach. It feels funny that in Australia summer holiday starts in November but well, it's summer here now.

Our hostel is very nice as well, it's only our apartment that needs some improving... There are a few people in the same apartment with us and nobody even says hello. Luckily there's no other Finnish people in the same apartment so we can say what we think of other people there and they don't even understand us, hahaha. There's only one shower and bathroom between all of us so that's not very fun either... And the doors are open all the time so anyone could just walk into our apartment and steal something etc, we haven't even needed the keys we got when we came here! I was a bit scared that the apartment is full of huge and ugly spiders because the doors are open all day but luckily I haven't seen any...
Some beaches here are full of small holes and we noticed that there were hundreds of small white crabs that look like white spiders! Eeww, I don't like them.

So tomorrow it's time to go and explore some new places! Bye bye Byron Bay, hello Surfer's Paradise and after that we're going to Brisbane I think. Let's see what we'll find there!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Coast life

We left Sydney with Pauliina on Wednesday evening and started our journey up to the east coast. We bought bus tickets to go from Sydney to Brisbane and they are "hop on, hop off" tickets which means that we can get off the bus in some places between Sydney and Brisbane as many times as we want to. We chose the night bus because that meant we didn't have to get a hostel room for that night. So we travelled on bus all night and it wasn't any short journey: it took 14 hours to go from Sydney to Byron Bay where we are right now! We thought it's going to be very painful to sit on bus for 14 hours, I had never done that before. But to my surprise it went very fast! I still can't believe we spent the whole 14 hours sitting on bus because it felt a lot shorter. I tried to sleep but couldn't really, and it was dark outside so we couldn't see any landscapes either. But still the journey was alright. We stopped somewhere a couple of times in the middle of the night.

We arrived in Byron Bay on thursday morning and I felt very weird and too tired because I hadn't slept at all during that night. Byron Bay is a nice little seaside town on the coast and it has many beautiful beaches and forests and nature and it's  full of backpackers because many young people want to come here to party and surf and go to the beach etc.
Yesterday we went for a long long walk to the lighthouse which is quite a famous thing here. Next to the lighthouse is the most easterly point of Australia. It was cloudy in the morning and it had been raining the whole Wednesday so I didn't think the sun would be shining at all yesterday. But I was wrong: the sun came out and it turned out to be a very warm and sunny day. And I didn't take any suncream with me! We walked all day in the sunshine so it's not hard to guess what happened: yes I got bad sunburn. My arms and chest are bright red and it hurts a little bit, and I don't want to look red because everyone else here is well tanned and brown!
We saw very beautiful and amazing places and landscapes as we walked on the roads that are very high and we saw some beautiful beaches from there. We walked up to the lighthouse and then all the way down to the beaches.
After our walk I noticed that I've burnt myself quite bad. The sun is extremely dangerous here because the UV rays are stronger than in Europe.
In the evening we went for a dinner in the bar at our hostel again and later we bought some wine and drank it at the hostel and then went to a couple of bars.
We were planning to stay in Byron Bay for 3 nights but it seems like we are staying one more night, because we "forgot" to reserve our seats for the bus for tomorrow. I guess it's alright to stay here because this is quite a beautiful place and we have time to see other places a bit later... I'm not sure where we are stopping after this place but maybe we should do some planning before we leave Byron Bay on Monday...
I'd like to try surfing somewhere!

Good days, bad days

I haven't written in this blog for a while because I just haven't had time and sometimes it's a bit difficult to get a chance to use the internet. I know I should write more often though. Loads of things have happened since I wrote last time and I'm still alive here and any spiders or snakes haven't eaten me (yet).

My life in Australia didn't begin very well because on the second day in Sydney I heard very very sad news from Finland. After that I didn't really feel like doing anything or writing in my blog but I can't really stop doing things here so I've had to move on even though I felt like I wanted to go home rather than be here. Apart from that everything has gone alright.

On Monday 14th we went for a walk tour around Sydney with a big group from the hostel and saw some popular places and sights, such as the Opera house and the harbour and some nice parks. It was a very hot day and I felt like boiling all the time. I didn't even have sun cream because I hadn't bought any, but for some reason I didn't get any sunburn this time... And after the walk tour we got a free beer or a glass of wine so it was good. Before the walk we got some information about different things what we have to do now that we're in Australia and start looking for a job soon (hopefully...). The information thing was only for those who had booked the starter package from Kilroy travels or the Wake up hostel package. We got a SIM card which is an Australian network so now I have an Australian phone number. And the best thing is that because I chose the $29 network packet I got a free Facebook in my phone, yay. And quite a lot of credit for texting and calling other Australian numbers.

I also opened a bank account so now I have an Australian bank account which is still empty though. Anyone want to sponsor me an put some money in it? I found out it costs quite much to transfer money from Finnish bank account to this Australian account so I don't know how I'm going to put some money in it... Maybe the best option would be getting a job, but I can't get a job quite yet.

On Wednesday the 16th  there was another walk tour which was a beach walk and we walked in some rock areas and saw some Sydney beaches. We had to go there by bus and then walk a very long way and there were loads of stairs and hills, so it was kind of good exercising at the same time.

I met some very nice Finnish people at the hostel and we went out on a couple of nights and spent some time in the centre and went to shops etc. What I have noticed since I first arrived in Sydney is that it's a very very expensive city, and I really mean very expensive. Even if I wanted to buy something very simple and small, like a chocolate bar or a bottle of water it cost at least twice as much as it would cost in some other city for example in Europe...

I left Wake up hostel after 4 nights and stayed in some other place for 2 nights (it was much worse than wake up -hostel but it had  free WiFi connection in rooms, which was maybe the only good thing about that hostel...) and after that Pauliina finally arrived here, 24 hours later than she was supposed to come because she had problems with her flights.

We stayed in Sydney for a few nights and one day we visited Manly, it was a nice place. Manly is a small town near Sydney (I don't know if it's a part of Sydney or something, but anyway) and you can go there by ferry from Sydney harbour. So we took a ferry to Manly and walked around that place. We found some nice forest path and then it started raining a little bit.

One day I went for a day trip to the Blue Mountains, it was a great experience! I had a voucher for that and I wanted to use it while I was in Sydney. The trip strated early in the morning and there was a small group of us that went there. Our guide was a very nice Australian man who talked a lot and explained many things to us and told us about some history and things about Australia. When we were on the bus going to the Blue Mountains he also told that some dangerous and huge spiders live there... and he showed a picture of them. Then I thought I might not want to go into those forests...
We stopped in some place and got off the bus and there was a kangaroo in the forest! It was quite funny to see a wild kangaroo and it was quite big as well.
The weather wasn't very good and it was raining a little bit so the walk in the mountains and rainforest wasn't the best possible, but it was still awesome. We walked a long way at the mountains and went through some rainforest areas and the on the mountain paths and the landscapes were amazing. The Blue mountains is a huge nature area with all the mountains and forests and if the weather is good, the landscapes are absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately the weather was rainly all day so when we climbed back up to where we started from, we couldn't see anything anymore because it was so foggy!
We missed our second walk tour to the valley because it was raining and the guide said that the stairs are dangerous when they're wet.
I still think the Blue Mountains were beautiful and it was great to see some real nature (and especially the kangaroo!) after seeing only traffic in the centre of Sydney.

We had planned to go to Melbourne with Pauliina from Sydney but we didn't have any idea what day we should go and we realised that we actually didn't want to stay in Sydney for too long, so we spent a whole day only for planning what to do next and where to go and when.
We ran from office to another asking about bus tickets and train tickets etc. but I don't think it was a very good decision to go to a travel office before we had even planned which direction we are going to go. The man in the office wanted to help us but I bet we were the most difficult customers on that day because we just said "we are planning to go somewhere maybe tomorrow" and when he asked where we want to go we said "to north or south, maybe to Melbourne or Brisbane." Then he looked at us like idiots and said: "they are in different directions!" Yes, we knew that but we just couldn't decide where to go :D so he was very frustrated because we didn't even know the amount of money we want to use to go somewhere, as he was trying to sell us some expensive packages that include some other things as well. So we left the office and decided to buy the bus tickets at the bus station instead. After many hours we finally decided to get bus tickets to Brisbane and not to go to Melbourne at all. Everyone said to us that the east coast is very nice and it's better to go to Brisbane than to south Australia. We really wanted to see Melbourne and the Great Ocean road too but it's too late now, as we already are far away from Sydney on the east coast in a place called Byron bay!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Down Under

I left Hong Kong yesterday and my flight to Sydney took off at 21.25 so I still had the whole day to explore some places in Hong Kong. I stayed near the area where my hostel is because I didn't want to go anywhere using the metro. It always gets too busy in the evening and then it's just too difficult and annoying to try to find the way back to the hostel to get my bag before going to the airport.
I'm glad I walked around that area because I found some family festival where everything had been made around Alice in Wonderland theme. There were some dance performances and Alice in Wonderland statues and art things. Then I kept on walking somewhere else and found some Chinese temples. They were small but traditional and it was nice to go inside them and take a few pictures. Of course I asked if I can take pictures there, just in case " I'd scare some Chinese spirits away" by taking photos... haha.
I have noticed that I don't enjoy very big cities so much anymore, just because it gets way too busy and there are people absolutely everywhere and at some times during the day it's just terrible to try to walk in the centres because you can't actually walk anywhere and people are pushing you from every direction. Cities are nice, but not when they're crowded.
So my flight to Sydney took about 9 hours and it went very fast. You couldn't imagine that 9 hours on the plane would go fast... But it did, because I watched films and tv again. I got very surprised when I noticed that there was a Finnish film in the film selection! I didn't see it on the flight to Hong Kong but now I realised it. And it's good that I did because I decided to watch it and it was seriously very good! I had never heard of that film before but I guess it's in cinemas in Finland now. It's called something like Rare Exports: the Christmas Tale. Or something like that. And it was quite horrible and scary too, which is quite surprising of a Finnish film...
But I can't believe I'm so far away from Europe and Finland now, it feels crazy... I didn't sleep at all again, even though it was a night flight. So that same familiar too-tired-feeling has been here again today...
But at least I got to Sydney and it's great to be here. I had a Kilroy voucher to get a free ride from the airport to my hotel so it was very easy to get here. This hostel is great, it's called Wake Up! hostel Sydney and it couldn't be much better for its price. This place is full of backpackers and there is a huge lounge with many computers, a big kitchen where you can cook, a relaxing area and bar and other things.
I haven't done much today because I've been so tired but I went to walk around a little bit and Sydney looks very easy-going and nice city. I cant really say much yet because I haven't seen much, but I think I'll like Australian lifestyle wherever I go here. I've heard so many good things about easygoing and nice Australian people. And it's so warm here! My summer began yesterday when it was the first sunny day in Hong Kong. And it was very hot at midday before it got cloudy again.
I've also talked to some people here and what a surprise; I found Finnish people very soon after I had arrived here! Three of them are girls who came to Australia on a working holiday together and later I saw two Finnish girls who are travelling around the world. They've been to quite many countries since October and are still going to some places. It sounded great when they told me some things about their travels.
It seems easy enough to find a job in Australia because there seems to be jobs everywhere, at least there are many job adverts in the hostel lounge. But I don't know how easy it's going to be when I start looking for a job so I can't be too sure about that yet...

Friday, 11 November 2011

First destination: Hong Kong

My adventure finally started on Wednesday morning when my flight to Amsterdam left at 8:15, which means I didn't sleep at all at night because I travelled to Helsinki airport all night.
In Amsterdam I had to wait for about 3 hours and then it was time to fly to Hong Kong. I thought that the flight would be painful because it took about 11,5 hours to fly to Hong Kong, but to my surprise it wasn't very bad at all. Of course it's a long time to sit on the plane but luckily there were quite many things to do. Everyone had a small tv screen and there was a huge selection of different films and tv series to watch and a lot of music to listen to and the food also was great! We had a nice meal with a starter, main food and dessert, snacks and drinks all the time and in the morning a big breakfast which was delicious. So as long as there's a lot of food to eat I don't get bored.....

I also thought I'd be able to sleep on the plane because I was very tired but I should know that I can never sleep when I'm travelling. So I felt absolutely dead after the flight. At least I watched a good film on the plane, it was  Bad Teacher.
When I arrived in Hong Kong I was so tired that I could've gone to bed straight away, but I had to get away from the airport which was very easy though. I think Hong Kong airport was very simple and it was very easy to find the right the bus that took me near the place where my hostel is. So everything went great. I don't know why some people get so stressed about travelling and worry so much about how they survive at the airports etc. I think everything is quite simple in the end... And if you don't understand something, you can always open your mouth and ask other people because there is always somebody who can solve your problem.

But anyway, it took a little while before I found my hostel because I didn't know what way to go. I asked some people but I noticed that most of the Chinese people here don't speak English or they speak it very bad, and if they're trying to talk to me in some Chinese-English-mixed-language I just give up. But the people who I asked where this street is just said "I don't know". Maybe they actually knew but didn't want to explain...
Then I finally found this place and still had to wait for 2 hours because the room wasn't ready. I was so tired that I couldn't even go out so I just stayed at the lounge. Thank god there's free WiFi in the whole house.
When I got the keys to the room, it still wasn't ready, the whole room was one big mess and I got a bit annoyed.
Today I went to Victoria Peak, it's the highest place in Hong Kong and you can see the whole city from the sky terrace. There is an old tram that takes people up the hill and the tickets weren't very expensive. Nothing is really expensive here and it's good because I don't want to spend too much money before Australia. I also have to avoid shops that sell clothes or bags or something like that because I can't buy anything... I have a lot of stuff with me anyway so I can't go shopping. Unfortunately.

When I was at Victoria Peak place today and I was sitting on a bench outside the building, suddenly some Chinese woman came next to me very close and then I saw that a man who was with her took a picture of us! The woman didn't even ask if she can have a picture taken of me and her, she just came and smiled at the camera next to me. I wonder what celebrity she thought I was... Or maybe Finnish people just look so cool that they want to have a picture of us.

The Hong Kong metro was maybe the cleanest and simpliest subway system I've seen, it was very easy and the tickets seemed cheap as well.
It's so busy here in the evenings, the streets are absolutely full of people and everyone is pushing each other, and I've noticed that Chinese people are not very polite and they don't talk much to tourists. I must say that Finnish people are like that too so I can't really complain....

It's very warm here but it has been cloudy all the time. I haven't seen any sun at all.
Tomorrow (Saturday) I'm going to fly to Australia, yayyy! I still have the whole day in Hong Kong because my flight leaves in the evening. It's "only" 9 hours flight so it's not too bad... Hopefully they serve good food again, then everything's fine.