We got majorly ripped off by the taxi for our last journey, booked through the homestay we paid 70,000 rupiah for a “15 minute” journey…absolute bullshit, it took 5 minutes, if that, and would of cost us less than 20,000 rupiah had we used the meter! Security at Bali airport was tight, our bags were scanned before check in, we then went through normal security only this time it included taking your shoes off, and before we were allowed to board the plane we once again had to have our bags searched. So by the time we finally boarded the plane we were 30 minutes late for take off. I was buzzing when I saw that we had TV’s and Finding Dory was available to watch, this soon turned to anger when I discovered that it would cost $10 to watch one film, no thank you.
The 6 hour flight felt like forever, and neither of us managed to get any sleep, this didn’t put us in a great position for the 3 hour time difference upon arrival. Immigration was a ball ache, the guy we chose was thorough and spent a good 15 minutes checking each persons passport, he also made it so we had to go through quarantine on our way out too, only before we got there we had to wait at over sized baggage for half an hour for Kyle’s penny board. Safe to say he got a few laughs from all the suffers collecting their boards when that tiny thing was handed over. The queue for quarantine was long, and most people in it had at least 20 bags each, thankfully once we got to the front we were dismissed and allowed straight through…all this fuss for a few bags of insulin.
Poor Luke had been waiting an hour and half in arrivals for us, and thanks to all the carry on we ended up coming through the wrong arrivals hall. But bromance must have reunited the boys and we met up half way between the two halls, and I swear there was almost tears from the pair of them. We took a taxi to Luke’s house in Coogee, a 10 minute walk from the beach and complete with swimming pool, hot tub, a sofa and a bacon and egg sandwich. The plan was to eat and nap, but we soon finished our food, showered and set off to the pub at 11am….bad move! The pubs in Coogee remind me of Chelsea and you hear more English and Irish accents than Australian, we literally dominate the place, but it was nice to catch up over a few drinks and some halloumi with a view of the beach. Shame that we fell asleep at 8.30pm after a pizza though.
We slept for 14 hours straight and thankful felt fresh when we woke ready for a day of sightseeing with Luke as tour guide…let’s just say he wasn’t the best when he came to local information. After a bowl of crunchy nut cereal (which was amazing) and a hair straightening session (the first time in 4 months) we caught the bus into central Sydney. I refused to wear trousers, sticking to my shorts, and froze my tits off in the wind and rain, whoever advertised Australia as all year long sun was full of shit, the locals even had scarves and hats on! The centre of Sydney is beautiful, very clean and quiet with great architecture amongst the huge skyscrapers. Our first stop was the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House was a lot smaller than I expected but I shit myself when we walked along the bridge, it’s pretty bloody high. Thanks to the weather it was quiet and we were also able to explore The Rocks, where the first houses in Sydney were built and Nurses Lane, which is where the hospitals used to be. Our last stop of the day was Darling harbour, a little less classy than the first one with all the hen dos and people throwing up in bins, but nice non the less, so we found a nice bar and stopped for a drink or two. Oh and Fosters is bullshit, nobody drinks it here despite what the adverts have you think, it isn’t even available to purchase in bars or shops.
Coogee reminds me of home, with all the old style buildings and bungalows you could be on Tadcaster Road, a fact which became more true when we went passed the race course. This came complete with people dressed in the usual race attire, make of that what you will, the only thing better than York is the traffic is managed so you don’t get stuck in traffic jams for hours. Walking round in general is just weird after so long in Asia, its clean, quiet, you don’t have to worry about getting mowed down by a moped, people actually walk their dogs on leads, you can read all the street signs, and the best part, you don’t get toilet fear coz they’re all bloody clean and come complete with loo roll!
Luke was nice enough to make us a tapas style tea, which we enjoyed with more drinks whilst watching really old, really shit Jackie Chan films. When it comes down to Australian TV and shit films, the films will win each time…Aussie TV is pretty hard to take, they’re loud and enthusiastic about everything, even paint rollers.
Me, Luke and Lisa woke at 8.30am but Kyle fancied himself another 14 hour kip and we were left waiting for him to drag his eyes open before we could make a plan for the day. As the weather was a little better, well sunny but still bloody windy, we decided to do the 5mile walk from Coogee to Bondi. It was a nice walk that took us along the coast, over the cliff edges and across the beaches. It’s a shame that the tide was so high and the waves so strong, as the sea looked so blue and inviting but you would have got swept away with in 5 minutes, at least we got hit by the ice cold sea spray along the way. It wasn't long until Luke was showing off his famous mangina on a cliff edge when we hit a quiet spot, some things never change (if you don’t know what a manjina is, I’m sure Google can tell you). As we neared Tamarama beach the path started to get really busy, turned out it was the beginning of Sydney sculptures, meaning the paths, cliffs and beaches were lined with art work which drew in the crowds. Some of it was pretty cool though, especially the giant rhino sticking out of the sand.
No trip to the seaside is complete without fish and chips, so once we hit Bondi we found the closest chippy and tucked into the most expensive fish and chips I’ve ever eaten…good job it was tasty. It’s been nice enjoying Western food again, I mean I’ve even had a bounty, but I can feel all that weight coming back already, and now I can’t poo, when will I be normal in that department? Felling windswept and tired once we returned home it was time for Netflix and chill, the movie of choice, Ant Man. The rest of the evening was spent back in the pub. It pains me each time we pay $10 for a schooner which is practically three quarters of a pint. Already steep compared to England, it feels like were buying a car compared to Asia prices…it’s crazy!
It was an early rise and a doctors run the next morning for Kyle’s insulin, not ideal for Luke who was feeling a little worse for wear after drinking a lot of rum and wine the night before. Luke took Kyle to the MediCare centre to register for cheaper health care whilst me and Lisa went shopping. It was a quick trip for the four of us and we met up once again in the doctors…which was packed, thankfully Kyle was seen within 15 minutes. His doctor, Callum, was Irish and partial to a swear word or two, even telling him that he had a “fucking good tan”, he was in there for ages trading travel stories rather than medical advice. We were shocked to learn that 4 months supply of insulin was only going to cost $38, we had heard that it would be more like $100, so it was more than a pleasant surprise. I took myself off to get my eyebrows done whilst we were waiting for Kyle, turns out that it’s even more painful for a wax here than it was to get my legs threaded in Cambodia…don’t know how that works, but my eyes were that red and swollen that Kyle compared me to Cyclops on X-Men!
After lunch we bid goodbye to Luke and Lisa and took the bus to Sydney Harbour before boarding the fast boat to Manly. We’ve been on many boats in the past 6 months and all of them, bar Halong Bay, have been a little ropey, so you can imagine my joy when a huge, stable looking boat turned up. It came complete with comfy seats, beer, a TV and wifi, the journey wasn’t entirely smooth but it was a lot better than the journey from the Gili Islands to Bali. We were met by our friend Dan and his housemate Avi, they drove us around Manly to see all the beaches before taking us to their home in the North of Manly. Before tea that evening we took a drive to the beach to see the sunset, however we took the wrong turn and missed it..the thought was nice though and we did get to see they sky change colour, shame it was fucking freezing.
The next morning we drove to Palm Beach, the location of choice for Home and Away. The 30 minute drive took us around parts of Sydney that can only be compared to the likes of Beverly Hills, the houses are stunning, the roads are wide and lined with palm trees and shit cars just don’t exist. As Home and Away was one of my nana’s favourites TV shows we decided to release some balloons into the sea as mine and Kyle’s way of saying goodbye. The afternoon was spent sunbathing, yes it was finally warm, and watching Dan and Kyle attempt to surf, though they did have to wear wetsuits as the sea was like ice water.
Kyle’s quickly adjusting back into western life and is loving Australia, I don’t know if it’s catching up with old friends or the many, many beaches but he is being drawn to moving here. Me, I’m missing Asia, I liked the challenges we faced and I’m missing the kindness of all the people which we met. If we decide to permanently move out of England I think it’ll be a long discussion on where we select to live. I’ve also learnt about the hardships of 3 months farm work which you have to complete to live in Australia. There is no chance you’d get me fruit picking, in the heat, with the bugs! I personally think it’s bullshit, we don’t ask people to chimney sweep in England do we?! What point is it actually proving if you do it anyway?
We had a great time at Dan’s and it was hard for Kyle to say goodbye the next morning, after not seeing him for 8 years they quickly fell back into their own routine and it was like they’d never been apart. Upon arrival back in Sydney CBD we took a wander through the Botanical Gardens and relaxed in the sunshine whilst waiting for Luke to finish work. We misjudged how big the gardens are though and didn’t have enough time to complete our exploration. What we did see was beautiful, a mixture of tropical plants and normal, different birds and ponds filled with eels, as it was a week day we pretty much had the place to ourselves too. After an ice cream at the beach with Luke and Lisa in Coogee, we went back to their apartment and whilst the boys swam in the pool, we relaxed in the hot tub….the sea is still nowhere near warm enough to swim in!
As Luke was at work today it was Lisa’s turn to play tour guide, so she took us to Watson’s Bay. We walked through the park and around the cliffs, this took us to some of the most beautiful, empty beaches and to an old lighthouse where we were lucky enough to see two whales out in the distance. I didn’t feel lucky though when we went to Lady Bay beach and saw some old man with his willy out, I thought Lisa was joking when she told us that it was a nudist beach!
We’ve had a great time in Sydney and can’t thank Luke, Lisa, Dan and Avi enough for their hospitality, it’s been great to catch up with friends and it’s given us a helpful insight in to life in Australia. Tomorrow we will head back to the doctors as Kyle has been prescribed the wrong medication, this means a long bus journey back to Bondi before packing our bags and preparing for the early morning flight to Adelaide on Saturday morning. Apparently it’s going to be 29 degrees there, finally warmth!
Love Carrie xxx