Found A New Home
Hey Hey and a Big G'Day Toya,
Upon my arrival in Melbourne I took the sky bus into the city. It dropped me off at Spencer Street Station where I stood slacked jawed wondering where the hell I was. When I had lived in Narree Warren our next door neighbour was working at Spencer Street Station helping with all the underground work before the above ground work could begin. By the time the above ground construction began we had sold the house and moved to Queensland. What the? Where the? WOW!
I took a train to Flinders Street and headed across the Yarra to South Gate to visit my Tribunal pals. I received a warm welcome and we headed out for cold beers and a chat whilst I watched the Melbourne girls walk on by. Summer is a beautiful time anywhere in the world. I spent the night at a friends place.
We sat chatting into the early hours about all the stuff you talk about when you have just given everything up.
Melbourne to me is the greatest city on earth. It has something for everyone no matter what time of the day or night it is or where you are from. I had spent many years living in Melbourne's inner most suburbs. My life was work, music, bands, beer, movies, biking and walking. I was never in a band but most of my friends were and still are jumping around stage.
Brisbane's 'The Onyas', Sydney's 'Astroid B612', Tassie's 'Mustang' and Melbourne's 'Bored' to name a few.
If and when you visit Melbourne head to the Tote Hotel in Collingwood and tell Richie Ramone (yes that is his real name) that Shane sent you. He'll either scream obscenities at you for knowing me or throw you out the door or if your lucky, both. No really, the Tote was the second home.
It's Melbourne's greatest band venue besides Richmond's Corner Hotel.
I preferred Richmond so I always lived a short stumble from The Corner Hotel and drunkenly paid for taxi's home from the Tote. Made no sense then and still doesn't now. Richmond is a much more beautiful part of Melbourne. That's my defence! Both have their fair share of overseas bands, but the Tote sees a lot more local acts. Riche also has his own small Record Label called 'Full Toss Records'.
He re-releases many older bands albums along with current bands.
Quick plug: the greatest Australian bands of all time would have to be either Sydney' Def FX or Melbourne's The Underground Lovers. On a more gutter level next in line would be Bored, The Hardons, The Celibate Rifles, Exploding White Mice and anything that Fed Negro (St Kilda) is in, has been in or is conjuring to bring forth from his deranged mind (to name a few; The Brady Bunch Lawn Mower Massacre, The Band Who Shot Liberty Valance, I Spit On Your Gravy, The Gravy Billies &The F*ck F*cks whom at one stage changed their name to the C*nt C*nts as one of the pubs they were playing in insisted they change their name...so they did!
Ok, back to the Travelogue.
Work took up too much time, but for that to happen you must allow it. I spent most of my work years in different Commonwealth Government Tribunals during the day and at night doing the live video links for the AFL Tribunal. The AFL hired both myself and my day time Tribunals court rooms several nights per week.
Hey, I had the dream job of most Aussies whom followed footy. I of course had never followed Footy and had no idea who was who and why the media was trying to break down the door. I got to have dinner with the Tribunal each night and listen to a lot of Law and Police talk as that's whom made up the AFL Tribunal, QC's, Police and ex-Police. I'm unsure about currently as they have gone through big changes. I found that more exciting than footy and footy players.
I would usually be reading Lonely Planet guides.
Both jobs gave me many perks such as free footy tickets, black tie do's and dinners at the MCG with all the big wigs, access to free door lists at certain band venues and great views of Melbourne city, Western Port Bay, the Dandenong Ranges, the or THE MCG (sorry guys) and the cities garden areas...a 360 degree view baby! Both were great jobs, paid a heap of money and I got to meet the 'those and thems' from the court room to the footy field. I had to say good bye on two separate occasions before I could finally let go of it and the people within.
Once in 1999 and the second and final time in 2003.
In the morning I made my way back to Flinders Street Station, boarded a V/Line train and I comfortably railed into Gippsland. I was met by my family with huge smiles, a couple of tears and some very cold beers from bro. I spent the following few days at my brothers and then headed back to the Kettles (Mar N Par) where I stayed for the next week.
It was fantastic to be home and spend time with the Kettles.
We spent breakfast, lunch and dinner together each day. It had been many years, maybe too many years. I met up with friends I had not seen for several years one of whom works in the retail industry. One sunny after noon I left his store with a 40 gig iPod for the price of a 20 gig and several other small items. I busied myself for many hours trying to figure out a 10,000 song, song list to fill my iPod.
It's much harder than you think!
On the 16th January I said my sad good byes to my family and I headed back into the city to then head back out of the city but on a different side. I stayed with the person whom had been and still is the most special person in my life. Late the next afternoon we said our very sad good byes and I headed back into the Law Courts. I stayed at a buddy's new abode. In fact I slept on his surfboard cover. If you haven't tried one, give it ago.
Heaps of padding and very comfortable.
The beach smell reminded me all too much of the coast I had just left. I sat wondering whether I was doing the right thing. All too early the alarm went off and I grabbed a taxi to the Melbourne Airport where after a few hours delay I waved good bye to the greatest city on earth, my friends and family and what was my past.
Several people have contacted me through my Travelogue and have asked me many questions about my past and the hows and whys to the question of teaching over seas. I don't mind writing about it, I just never thought anyone would actually want to know.
For those reading this and are either travelling or considering travelling, join Travelpod, live your life's dreams and truthfully tell people about the stories that make up your past that then allow for your future! Don't question what you have no way of knowing the truth of, especially if you are also writing publicly about yourself and expect others to believe your writings! That's also for the misery guts whom questioned my Trans Siberian adventure.
Travelpod is for family and friends to keep in touch. It's for those whom have the eternal flame that creates the courage to leave the safety of their homes for destinations far and wide. It's also for those whom like to sit back comfortably with a hot cuppa, relax, read about it and happily write to the writer of the Travelogue with their questions.
It's not for your criticism and unfair judgement!
Enough said, please read on and enter the world that has now become My China.
Beers N Noodles Toya...shane
***If someone was to ask me the question, 'Mate, how hard was it to give up life on the Gold Coast?' I'd say, 'Mate, one of the hardest things I've done. I had a DREAM life there in paradise!'
OK, ready for this;
I'd wake and swim for one to two hours. I had a choice between the pool and a short ride to Surfers Paradise Beach. I'd then ride my bike for up to four hours. I'd ride down to Coolangatta and back, or way out the back of the coast, past Hinz Dam and make my way back down towards Burley.
I'd then return home along the beach track, shower and ride to work at Southport.
Work was in Australia Fair on the 12th Floor. My desk over looked the Marina Mirage and the wonderfully big blue ocean. The side windows over looked the coastal suburbs all the way back to the hinterlands. Work was raising money for any charity that needed it most at the time. If there were bushfires in Queensland we'd raise money for the Queensland Red Cross and hospitals such as the Gold Coast Hospital. If the Deaf Blind Institute was down on funds we'd all jump in and raise as much money as we could in the little time we were given.
I worked with a heap of great people with big hearts.
After a long five hours work (tee hee) I'd head across for Korean or Japanese and several beers with friends and I'd then ride home, swim and then relax in the spa. Of course my salary was nothing compared to what I was earning at the Law Courts but my happiness, relaxation and health was up by 500%. My working hours were also down by ten per day when the working day included the AFL Tribunal. I was earning enough to eat, pay the rent and patch my bike tyres when needed.
I'd also throw a couple of beers in there too.
At home I'd sit with my Spanish buddy whilst she made beautiful clothes in her little sweat shop, 'the garage turned sewing room'. Man it was hot in there over summer! Accompanying her beauty was a beautiful soul. I was so happy I answered her add for her spare room. She was a self taught seamstress. She had taught herself whilst moving from Spain to several countries around the world living with different family members.
She made clothes for all sorts of people, from the unknown to several television personalities. Her creations were also well loved by a rather expensive boutique in the Marina Mirage. The owner was a flamboyant man who would drop in to collect Angela's creations, flutter his eye lids at me and we'd all then sit for coffee and a chat.
The second room was taken by a beautiful young university student. Her man was a fantastic guy who always had a big happy smile and a friendly hello. They would spend most nights helping down at their second home, The Church. At night whilst the 'children' (as my Spanish friend called them) were at their second home or out for dinner somewhere we would either head to the beach or chat over cigarettes and play with my Boy and Girl Katz.
At any given opportunity I would be teaching her English for her benefit as well as mine. Both Boy and Girl Katz had developed great love for her as she spared them no expense. To the Seamstress's horror they also developed a great love for her sewing room and everything within. Boy and Girl Katz are now, as always, over loved and over fed.
The one thing I miss most, besides friends and family of course, are my Boy and Girl Katz.
I had spent several confusing months sorting out my life's belongings. I was always a collector of all things unneeded and never to be used again, therefore I carried a house full of 'stuff' around. I went from box to box trying to decide what I needed, and of course I needed it all...NOT! One morning I woke up and said *&%$ it! I decided there and then that I needed none of it.
I spent several nights following borrowing a friend's station wagon, loading it full of my life's belongings and dropping it all at Charities Front Door.
I kept my laptop which was my television, DVD player and stereo and two mid sized wheelie cases of clothes and 'things'. I had also spent the same several months converting my 1500 CD's into MP3 and transferring them onto DVD disk. I must say 14 DVD disks are much easier to pack and carry around than 1500 CD's. You can go an entire weekend and never have to change a CD. As for the $30,000 worth of hard back books I had been collecting for most of my life. They went to.
When hardback books reached $50 on the Australian market I joined the library, stopped searching second hand bookshops on weekends for 'the one I still need' and spent more time with family, friends and my bike.
My life was now ready to leave the past behind and live my dream of being a foreign teacher. How long for? I can't and won't give a time period. My family would love me to. Then again, even my parents want me away for as long as possible (hey, can you blame them!). No, not in a bad way (I think), they know me too well and knew my life wasn't going where I wanted it to work wise.
It seems that having almost everything in life can become empty, boring and meaningless. That is, if you wake up one morning and feel inside that it's not what you really want, actually mean it, listen to yourself and follow through on the feeling. My best 'friend' in the entire world, whom was losing me at the same time, helped me through it all with her big heart and understanding of what life is really about. She taught me a lot, maybe too well! No more on that subject and that is how myself and Boy and Girl Kats ended up boarding with a Spanish Seamstress.
I had also made friends with a lady whom I sat the TESOL Course with. At the time we both lived in the same area. We spent hours talking about our overseas dream. I explained to her what Asia was like from my perspective. It of course has to be different from every ones own perspective. I'm sure no two people can think the same thoughts on a place that defies logical comprehension. We shopped for our lap top computers together and I began teaching her how everything besides Email works on a computer.
By the time I left she was getting the hang of it all.
On the 12th day of February 2005 I gave my little babies a huge good bye squeeze, said my sad good byes to the Uni students and Spanish I then headed to the airport. I gave my beautiful Spanish Seamstress once last good bye hug and sadly smiled as she drove off waving.
I then stood in line waiting to pay the astronomical price for my over weight wheelie cases. Don't fly Jet Star with overweight bags! My Gawd! Even the checkout girl told me to fly Virgin next time I take these 'things' anywhere. Hey I said, you should have seen the truck load I actually brought to Queensland! She smiled and didn't really give a hoot what I was taking where.
It had been over a year since I had seen my family and friends in happy Melbourne.
It was time for a Big G'Day!
Hey Hey and a Big G'Day Toya
As you've already read on the opening page, this one will take you through my life teaching in China. Why in the world was I crazy enough to choose China? The answer to that isn't hard at all. After travelling through Asia five years ago the one country that dug deep and has stayed with me from then until now is China.
It is the hardest country I have travelled and from talking to many people on the circuit China is also one of the hardest countries in the world to travel.
I always thought countries such as India would be much harder to travel but after talking to many people whom have been to both India and China, China seems to be the winner on nearly all occasions. I believe that after 200 years of trying to keep us 'Westerners' out, it is finally opening its arms in a rather wide manner to us. Communication seems to be have been and still is one of the greatest barriers. Where India and friends share much English, China has very little English speakers and text to help you through your journey.
It can be frustrating, confusing and full of contradictions. Last time I was here, there was so much I couldn't understand. So this time I left Australia wishing and longing to stay a lot longer. I guess I wanted to and still want to comprehend what it is all about.
From research prior to leaving and after leaving Australia, china has the world's fastest growing economy. Not so bad for a country so recently opened. It population is so huge I believe around a third of the worlds people live within its borders. Though so many people live in China much of its land is free of people. In one city you can live in complete luxury whilst others continue to live in ancient times. Though it has the world's fastest growing economy, uncountable millions still live on dirt floors, farm with a hand hoe and live well below the world's poverty line. It is a country that, unlike Australia, is doing it's best to save its Minority peoples.
New and exciting places/areas are being opened up to fellow tourists each year.
I'm sure that my visit over the next however many years will see a lot of changes. From the day I first stepped foot into Yangshuo there were so many noticeable changes from the year 2000. I barely recognised the place. There is much more English or at least a couple of million more Chinese actually learning English whom do like to practice on any unsuspecting Western person that walks by. Over the past five years tourism has also skyrocketed like a Chinese New Year.
Tourism has woken the government from its big sleep and all things touristy have either been restored or tripled in price waiting to be restored.
To make it simple, along with the above, mate the culture is four thousand years old, some say five thousand. How could I choose any other! Once China and its people are 'inside you' they will never leave, nor would you want them to.
Beers N Noodles to you all...shane