Australian Adventures Part Two
I am ten days into a twenty-four day business trip to South East Asia and Australia. And, I am missing home. And, I am still struggling to establish any sensible sleep pattern. Any pattern other than waking every two hours with my head buzzing with work and trying to figure out what time it is in the UK, Atlanta, and other parts of the world.
Many of those sleepless nights have been spent listening to the sounds of the city. I am in Sydney, Australia. Thankfully, I am only listening to the sounds of the city. So far, my hotel walls have proved to be very effective in blocking sounds from neighbouring rooms. Which is a relief. So, I have spent my sleepless nights listening to the sirens of emergency vehicles speeding through the streets on some mission of mercy. I have spent my sleepless early mornings listening to the sounds of empty bottles from the local bars being dumped into rubbish skips, and to the beep, beep, beep of reversing delivery vans. Rural Cheshire this is not.
Thankfully, so far at least, the social side of my time Down Under has been easy and enjoyable. I am travelling with three colleagues – two American ladies of a certain age, and a fellow male Brit. We are all playing nicely together and, as far as I can tell, no-one is being particularly irritated by the habits of another. Unlike on other long-haul trips with one particular diminutive Scotsman, I have not yet felt the urge to smother any of them in their sleep. But, there is still time. All of us have suffered with jet lag and struggle with the time zones when trying to make contact with loved ones back home. We Brits are plus nine hours from home, but the poor Americans are plus fourteen.
Americans remain a source of wonder, amusement and entertainment to me. They are very foreign. Very strange.
One of my travelling American companions is slightly OCD and insists on everything being neat, tidy, and in its place. I suspect, however, that she will not make it through to the end of our trip – she refuses to wait for the green man at the many pedestrian crossings here and on several occasions has come close to being wiped out by a turning bus, or speeding motorcycle. She also seems to be on a quest. A quest to find a mythical black napkin. One which will not leave visible lint on her lap. Go figure.
The other American lady has been well-trained by our company into the need to minimise expenses when on such trips. This is not a philosophy to which I adhere. So, while I have been pushing every shirt, pair of jeans, pairs of socks and underpants through the hotel laundry system, she is reluctant to pay and reclaim the truly exorbitant prices or to expose her “smalls” (being an American you can guess that is somewhat of a misnomer 😉 ) to strangers. She has also insisted that the hotel remove the entire contents of the mini-bar in her room so that she can fill it with cans of Coke Zero acquired at a local grocery store. This is no way to treat the elusive mini-bar which should be treated with deference, as a thing of beauty and an endangered species.
My fellow Brit has yet to display any such strange behaviour.
Now, put Brits, Yanks and Aussies into the same room together and you have the makings of a good gag. We do occasionally get tripped up with the cultural differences and in our use of language. Some of the more interesting, confusing and entertaining conversations have included references to “thongs” and “fluffers”…….
Sydney remains one of my favourite cities in the world but I have noticed a number of changes since I last spent any significant time here back in 2004. It is ridiculously expensive – things here cost at least fifty percent more than back in the UK. And, there is clearly more poverty around – almost every street corner has a homeless person asking for money. And, the number of people of Asian origin seem to be on the rise. But, it remains a beautiful blend of modern and Victorian, eclectic, vibrant and welcoming.
But, right now, I would very much prefer to be home……..