Monday, November 30, 2009

Melbourne continued - an amazing night is born

After a few restless hours of attempting to sleep in the noisiest dorm room ever, the club downstairs finally calmed down. Which allowed me to calm down.

Just as I was really feeling settled, these two sleazy bitches come rolling in, all noisy-like. And turn on the lights. And heat. Which was totally unnecessary. And positioned RIGHT above my bed.

I obviously wasn’t having and of that. And made sure they knew it.

I sat up, glared, and said “Turn it off. Please.”

“But we’re cold!”

“Then get under the covers.”

Total karma for the fan wars in Cairns. Seriously.

In any case, I got up at a decent hour and got myself to a café down the street for some brekkie. Met some blokes who lured me in with promises of dj friends who worked at local bars. I made the mistake of texting the one guy, who proceeded to leave 30 missed calls on my phone when I was out that night.

Ugh. Who does that? I met you at a café and said I MIGHT stop in. Get over it.

He continued to stalk me for 2 weeks, while he visited Sydney. One of my kids – the 12 y/o with the deep voice – answered it for me. Ha.

So I got breakfast, browsed the tourist materials and booked a tour on the Great Ocean Road for the following day. Finally, around noon, I headed out of my ‘hood – St. Kilda – and into Melbourne proper.

It’s a really gorgeous city, perfect for strolling, browsing and otherwise spending a lazy day. I, of course, skipped all of this at first and headed straight to the hugest open-air market ever. And got talked into buying a gorgeous leather jacket that I didn’t need at all but loved just the same. Had cake for lunch. It was all very awesome.

In the late afternoon, after some more strolling through pretty arcades and city streets, I wandered up to the ticket office for the Melbourne arts festival that was opening that very day. I asked about tickets for that night and possible student pricing.

Would you know it, they had a single seat left at student pricing for the opening of this abstract opera-dance-thing.

Awesome. I felt so artsy and cool.
As I stood at the tram stop waiting to get back to the hostel, it started sprinkling. Then pouring. And then pelting sideways. So much so that I was soaked from the waist down, even though I was standing under an awning.

It was so bad that I looked at the guy next to me, and we both just started cracking up. It was that kind of craziness.

After primping and opera time, I headed back on the same tram line. I took a seat next to a couple of girls who looked like they had been throwing them back since after work. They continued to sip out of a wine bottle – classily enclosed in a paper bag – for the entire ride.

As we rode, all of this random ass shit started to happen. The tram driver, I soon realized, was making super rude, hilarious commentary over the microphone. And the more material the riders provided, the better he got.

First, these preteen boys got on the tram and sat next to us. One of them asked the girls to hand him a ticket on the floor. A ticket that was obviously used up, as it had clearly been stamped with a big expired sign.

When you get on the tram, you are supposed to scan your ticket, and the machine stamps and returns it. If the ticket is expired, it spits out really fast and beeps loudly to get the driver’s attention.

So what does this kid do? Shove the expired ticket in the machine. Again. And again. And again. Because he thinks that beeping sound is funny.

OMG kid.

After about 20 hits, the tram driver gets on the system. “Hey kid. Why don’t you try one more time. It might work now.”

Silence. And then outbursts of laughter all around me.

Poor kid.

Next, these 3 guys get on and have to stand. Right above us. And they are all wearing jeans with red-ish tees.

They start to talk to us, go on about how they are master chefs at some restaurant and otherwise slur some compliment attempts in a thick Scottish accent. They put together that the three of us are friends from Europe or something. Which, given the fact that we just met and none of us are European, is clearly not the case. But he was very drunk and could not be convinced otherwise.

After a few more minutes of dodging his awkard, drunken, Scottish attempts at getting laid, the tram driver comes on again.

“I bet the gentlemen in red are currently figuring out that they might do better with the ladies if they dressed a bit better.”

More silence. And then the three of us girls started hyperventilating in unison.

The red dudes all of sudden were at their stop.

As we pulled up to the girls’ stop, they asked me what I was doing and if I wanted to join them for a drink. They were going to this great live music joint near my hostel that I wanted to check out anyways.

Yes, please.

We said our thanks to the tram driver, made introductions and entered The Espie. Properly known as the Esplanade Hotel.

And that was how a great night was born.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Arrival in Melbourne. The Last Hoorah.

For my last hoorah adventure in Australia before heading back to the States, I decided to take a long weekend in Melbourne. Which is the other big city in Oz.

Essentially, I will use the LA vs. SanFran example again. Or LA vs. NYC. Melbourne has shitty weather, but more awesome and attractive people.

Like NYC. Clearly.

Here's a map to help you out.

For those who don't know, Canberra is the capital of Australia. Why? Because Melbourne and Sydney both wanted to be the capital. And no one could agree. So they created a little district in the space between them and called it the capital.

Very interesting, I know.

So, yes, I went to Melbourne. Alone. Awesome.

I booked myself into a "VIP" style all-girls dorm that I found in my Lonely Planet. With the hopes of not finding any more condom wrappers in my bed.

My flight arrived pretty late in the evening - like, 11 - but I figured it wouldn't be that bad. What I didn’t realize is that my flight landed in the oldest, shittiest airport ever, super far away from the city. Not the new Melbourne airport.

So I had to take an hour bus ride to get there - then a tram to my neighborhood - and then stumble around in the dark to find my hostel. At 1am. Alone. In a city I've never scene. With luggage.

After stealing a tram ride because I can't figure out the machine on the bus and successfully avoiding arrest, I wandered around this really cute little area with a bunch of drunk people passing by me. Fun scene, so it wasn't too bad. Just effing cold.

I realize I'm getting super close to where my place should be, but I don't see it anywhere. There's a HUGE line of people waiting to get into a bar down the road a bit, so I walk up to ask for help. I know this hostel is huge – someone will know it, right?

Oop, wait. This is my hostel. I'm sleeping in the only crowded bar in the neighborhood.

I had to show my bags and irritation to the bouncer to cut the line and get through the front door.

As the clerk checked me in, I just kept screaming “WHAAAT!?!?” until he gave up, threw me the key and said goodnight.

At this point it’s 1 in the morning. Everyone in the place is a 19-year-old backpacker who’s been drunk for at least 6 hours. I tried to socialize - everyone was veeerrry friendly - but quickly went old-lady style and went to bed.

My mother would be ashamed. And so would Ufer.

I did better the next night. Stay tuned.

Oh, and there were no condom wrappers. Just nice little bottles of Aveda shampoo.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birthdays all around

First and foremost, THANKS to everyone for the birthday wishes. Via gmail, facebook and traditional Hallmark greeting, I have enjoyed all the love.

24 is kinda a lame age, but you know. It's cool.

What's WAY cooler is a 1st birthday. On October 21, ExpatEscapades celebrated its first year of life!!! Yay. Which means, over a year ago, I landed in Bangkok.


My mom celebrated her birthday on the 21st too. But I'm not allowed to tell you how many candles she got.

Thanks for virtually hanging out with me for the most amazing year of my life. Hope it's been entertaining.

Cause, let's be real. It's all downhill from here ... ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Singapore – where lashing WORKS!

As we all learned on GLEE a few weeks ago, Singapore is a very very safe, clean country. Because they lash people there. And it works.

Singapore is also the end of the line for the Asian blog chapters. I know, it only took me 6 months to finish.

So, yes. From Malaysia we caught another night train to Singapore, a gorgeous island country that is basically a little Australia in a lot of ways. Nicer, even.

The official language is English, which caught me by surprise. Traffic laws are obeyed, there’s no trash on the ground. People are courteous and have very Western-like mannerisms. But everyone is Asian … crazy. I know.

Due to a serious decrease in the value of the American dollar, Singapore was by far the most expensive country we visited. It took us a while to find a place, which ended up being a bare - but clean - room above a bar. Which, I recently learned, was a rip-off of another bar in Melbourne. But that’s beside the point.

It was a really quick trip – 2 or 3 days – that we filled with museums, culture centers, etc. One night we made the awesome decision to visit the night safari, which is basically a zoo of nighttime animals.


Oh, and proof that ligers DO exist!

Most of the place was meant to be explored on this little tram thingy, but we did a lot on foot first. There was this little bridge over a pond at the end of one stretch. It didn’t look like there were any animals around, except for this little deer the size of a chihuahua. Weird.

As we sat there and watched this little deer-rat, backs to the pond, we heard a loud POP. All of a sudden, 5 of THESE bitches surfaced only a few feet away from us.

Apparently, they are called gharials. And they are scary.

Creepy. Seriously. Remember, it was dark, and we were there kinda late.

Then they sank away without a sound. And then resurfaced. And went back down. In sync.

I think they wanted to eat Adam.

Either way, it was nightmare material.

Other than that, we explored Singapore in the same manner as the rest of the trip.

We drank, we walked, we drank.

Oh, and we rode this CRAZY ASS slingshot ride on the main drag, which is called Clarks Quay. Pronounced "key."


They had a video thing on you the entire time you were on the ride, including the few minutes before the launch. Then, when you got off, you got to watch the video of your ride (with the option to buy).

Of course, I was a SERIOUS potty mouth the ENTIRE time. Especially at the end, when we were dangling in the air and I figured no one could hear us. Adult rides are meant for adult language, right?

When we got down, they played our video. On the big screen, with surround sound. In front of a line of 30 people, including some young children.

I’ve never been so embarrassed in my entire life.

That might be an exaggeration, but still.

Oh, and I decided at noon one day that I wanted to pierce my nose. By 3pm, I was sporting a stud.

Unfortunately, said nose ring recently fell out during one of my drunken escapades. It closed overnight.

Bummer, dude.

After that, we headed back to BKK. Adam hitched a ride back to MI, I meditated for a few days, and eventually, landed in Oz.

You know what happened after that ;)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some flava

I'm an awesome nanny, and I've started baking once in a while. Good for the kids, bad for my waistline. Blah blah.

I couldn't find my grandma's banana bread recipe. So I did a little searchy-searchy online.

Apparently, there is a whole website dedicated to banana bread recipes alone

Not only did the site have great recipes. It also had comments from fellow bakers - including this little gem from Barbara Louis Underwater:

"Here in the south, people are getting a little chubby so I needed a healthy banana bread recipe to serve at my get-togethers to give my guests some flava. but after hearing that my best friend paula broke her scale the other day, i knew i couldn't use my butta flavad crisco recipe nomore. thanks banana bread recipes!"

Amen, sister. Thanks banana bread recipes!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicken vs. fish. Cairns, part 2.

After the waterfall extravaganza, Team America took a day to relax and enjoy the beaches of Cairns. Not that Cairns really has beaches – but, you know, the neighboring town does. The actual coast of Cairns is covered in clayish mud instead of sand. Not exactly sunbathing material.

Trinity Beach, however, was sunbathing material. And looked like it could be a topless beach, judging from the girls around us. So, for a brief moment, just to make Amanda uncomfortable, I went topless as well.

But then I stopped, because I didn’t want to get arrested.

This kinda became a theme of the trip. Getting naked to make Schrama uncomfortable. I think at one point I got up on her without pants on or something.

I didn’t care, but she totally did.

I would have done it to Cait, but she didn’t care either. “Whatever, man.”

In any case, we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon, during which we ran into one of our touring English friends from the day before. She asked Caitlin how her date went, referring to the American guy with the crazy friend that she knew from Sydney, and again from the bar in Cairns.

How did this lady know that Caitlin was going to see this guy again? Oh, because Cait told the whole damn bus how great this guy was in bed. And how excited she was to see him again.

1 more point for Team America.

After a bus ride back to the hostel with the most annoying southern ladies with the grossest hackers cough voices ever, we showered up and headed out for a fancy coastal dinner. With wine and appetizers and everything.

The whole specials menu sounded great, and seemed kinda cheap. There was one dish I didn’t quite recognize.

Umm, maam’, which is your favorite fish? And what do you think of this one on the specials menu?”

“That’s not a fish. That’s chicken.”


After dinner, and half a bottle of wine to myself, we walked back towards the hostel, gelato on the brain. Some Aussie dudes walk by and compliment me on my dress.

“That is gorgeous on you. Great color.”

“Thanks. I don’t suppose my tits hanging out is what caught your attention?”

Umm, wait, lemme see?”

As I turned my head to follow up on my sassy-ass comment, my body continued on without me. Before I could throw another zing out, I ran into innocent little Caitlin. We both nearly fell over.

It was super smooth and cool.

We got awesome gelato and headed home.

End day 3.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just an afternoon in the office

While sitting, drinking tea, watching kids eat afternoon snack. Talking with my 2 middle boys, 6 and 10 years old.

6y/o - (Getting up from table after finishing sandwich) "I don't have hiccups anymore I think I'll have one of those nut bars my penis hurts."

Me - "Drink some water anyways ... Wait, what did you just say?"

6 y/o - "I think I'll have a nut bar."

Me - "Before that."

10 y/o - "His penis hurts."

6 y/o - "Yeah, it stings a little."

Me - "Umm, that's not good."

10 y/o -"It's from playing with it too much. (pause) It happens to me sometimes too."