After a not nice sleep in Kuala Lumpur airport, although not too bad considering the situation and considering that I actually got a couple of hours of deep sleep, I woke up at 4.30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. The alarm was set up for 5am so it didn’t make any difference.
I woke up, did my best fixing my face and my hair a bit in the toilets and picked up all my stuff to head to the AirAsia counters. My quest was to find people flying to Laos to change the money I had left. The task got a bit difficult the first minute, because I realised there was no assigned counters for the destinations. And AirAsia had around 30 counters opened and many flights to many destinations at all times. The transit at their counters was crazy. But it didn’t bring me down. It was too early to give up and I started to ask everybody around. Specially all the European looking people and the backpacking type. I also asked to the Olympic Philipino Team, because why not? Haha, that was a mistake, but it is just the example to show that I was trying really hard and trying to find somebody at all costs.
I eventually did. Two girls close to me overheard me asking to somebody if he was flying to Laos by any chance and when I saw their look I didn’t hesitate and went towards them. I told them I needed a big favour and explained them my situation. They started hesitating and asked me what would happen to them in the case to have some money that might be not legal to get out of the country. I told them that the same that could be brought out, it could be brought in, I mean, nobody asked me or made sure I wasn’t taking any Laos money with me… But they were unsure and just didn’t want to do it… They started making up excuses and I could see how none of my insistence was going to have any different result: they had already set up their minds. Fair enough, I cried inside me because it was getting late and I had not been able to find anybody else. And it annoyed me a bit that they actually said I would find someone else. It annoys me that they had the chance to help me but they were better relying on someone else doing it, for the easiness of their minds. I thought that girls are assholes when they are in a group. I still think so. I mean, they were travelling the same way or similar that I am doing and they were not able to understand my situation and help me out a bit however, a solo female I found and asked me what I was looking for was totally keen on helping me should she be flying to Laos. Unfortunately she was flying to Cambodia. Everybody else seemed to be flying everywhere else. I started wondering if the airplane would be empty because I had asked so many people and found nobody else…And then I met this couple, I think Polish but not sure, and they helped me! They told me they only had US dollars and wouldn’t be able to change me all the money, but I was just happy to minimize my loss as much as possible. They doubted if the money was old and they would be unable to use it and asked me, but I assured them it was okay and they just believed it. I love humanity when things are like that. And I wished them the best in their trip and thanked the universe for showing a bit of compassion and prayed that karma is bringing nice things to them.
I kept asking around but I realised that it was too late for people flying to Laos to check in and it was time for me to check in myself! So I headed to the toilets to prepare my ritual of wearing everything until leaving around 7 kilos in my backpack and avoid checking in any luggage. I am cheap as that and I don’t care. Every penny counts here and these are a few pennies to save.
Once in the plane, I had the pleasure to meet a Japanese guy, Ryota, who was sitting next to me. I was amazed by him, firstly because he interrupted our chat to let the flight attendants give the safety instructions and secondly because he had 6 days of holidays of which he was spending 3 days travelling from Japan to Australia and back and another 3 to go from Sydney to Alice Springs and see Mount Uluru. I mean, that’s someone with enthusiasm and drive to do and see what he really wants to do! I admired his determination. Plus, he was sooo nice! I think I might see this guy some other time in my life, whether because I am going to Japan or because he is inviting me to Japan, because he said he wants to set up his own company and invite me to talk to the children to motivate them to travel as I do. I was impressed that he actually was admiring me that way and also flattered. But of course I agreed! Nothing I would like more.
The highlight in the 8 hours flight came with the sights of Mount Uluru we could enjoy from the air. Unbelievable. It made me think that only that was well worth the money I paid for the flight.
The arrival to the passport control was slightly messy. As usual, my mind played me and that added up to the fact that I was quite uncertain about the stuff I was bringing with me and the risk involved for the country. It all started when filling in the arrival card. The questions were hard to answer and they seem very concerned that you introduce stuff in the country that you are not supposed to. I answered to a few questions yes because I was unsure and preferred to be on the safe side, so I was sent to the quarantine area at my arrival. Then, besides being in this area, which was awkward enough for me, the Australian Border Force Lady pointed out something in my arrival card with a WTF face. I understood her face when I saw my answer to the “nationality as in passport”. My answer was: “PASSPORT”. I felt like laughing but didn’t know if it would be appropriately taken and limited myself to say: “ups, seems like I was still sleeping…Sorry!” And then I got the ‘continue, please’. And everything was fine.
After a bit of confusion with the public transport and the elected system to get to the place where I was supposed to meet my couchsurfing host, I finally did and he showed up and picked me up and took me to his house. He seemed super nice and showed me around to make sure I would be comfortable enough next day at his place and I delighted because everything seemed correct and nice. Then, it hit me up that we would be sleeping in the same room but the “beds” (if you could call my thing a bed) were separated and that was good enough for me.
Quickly enough, we got to get to bed and then Riz turned off the lights and turned on a penguin thingy that seemed a bit Christmassy and told me it was for talking. And talking we did for a long while, about different stuff. It felt nice and I was quite happy with everything, despite the place was not clean, I hadn’t seen Riz’s flatmate and the sheets had been used and I was wondering for how long and how many different people. It didn’t matter. I got a solid sleep and actually almost didn’t find any strength to get up next day, but I did because I wanted to do so much stuff around the city…
I took the train and went for a walk crossing the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and had fantastic views of the iconic Opera House. I visited the astronomic observatory. The surroundings of the Opera House, making sure I explored every possible view of it. I enjoyed the views of the bridge from across the bay. I walked to the Botanic Gardens. And between the buildings around Town Hall. And walked and walked. Enjoying the simple fact that I was there. I might make a few observations. One, I was more impressed by the bridge than the Opera House. The bolts. The amount of steel. The simplicity and greatness of it, all at the same time. Two, I was amazed by the amount of people engaged in outdoor activities. Running, fitness outdoors or whatever it was. Despite it was a bit raining, everybody seemed to be happy to do it and in good shape! That made me miss sports soooo much. It is a thought that has been in my mind a lot lately. But I was really missing it, as to think I should go “home” and start doing some sport. Right after that I was thinking but where is home? There is no home. Do I know where I want home to be? The answer was no all the time, as usual. But it just made me feel a lot of nostalgia that I didn’t know how to deal with because I think I should feel nostalgic about other stuff before this. The third thing that I noticed was how different everything was, wherever you were looking. The sky was beautifully blue at times even though there were a few showers and despite of the rain, it didn’t feel cold at all. It made me thought of rainy Dublin and how not warm is there, regardless the station. The animals were different as well: the birds were weird and even the seagulls were different (looking exactly like the ones that appear in the Nemo movie). Of course, the plants, trees and flowers were confusingly different as well. It never mattered where I was looking at. Everything was new and I was there to enjoy it.
Early enough, I decided to take the train back as Riz had offered to take me to a natural park to see kangaroos and that sounded like the perfect plan to end the day. He came back from work, took his cars and in 10 minutes we were there, looking for kangaroos. And we did find them! We also got to walk a bit around until it got dark. The fact that was wet because of the rain during the morning attracted leeches that I of course got on my ankles. No panic, they were removed with natural easiness. The park was beautiful and I was amazed by the fact that at times Riz was taking a stick and moving it in all directions before him as we advanced. It was to avoid spider webs that we could come across on the way and would end up on our faces, with the subsequent spider coming after that. And I remember what I always say about this country: everything here wants to kill you, I am surprised humanity survived here, against the odds.
On the way back home Rix “cooked” some beans in tomato that I hadn’t tried for moths and tasted like gourmet stuff. I swear. We went to bed, quite tired as I was and talked about stuff and had a cigarette after dinner and for whatever reason, I got paranoid about being there, with a stranger, in his house. I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong and tried to calm myself with the thought of the amount of good references this guy has. But I couldn’t and I was quite ashamed that all my good vibes were going away and I couldn’t trust him for a while.
Those horrible vibes were gone in the morning and I got ready to meet Julian in city centre. Julian is the guy I met in Bagan, Myanmar who I had been texting to sleep over at his house or somebody else’s but I never got replied until I arrived to Sydney, funnily right on time because he had been his phone broken.
We shared a nice coffee and a walk around Darling Harbour and I let him take the walk wherever he wanted because he was the local and I was quite easy with anything new. Then, we stopped for lunch in Chinatown and right on the middle of it he got a call for an interview for next day! So, after a nice vegan lunch we said goodbye and I directed myself to take the ferry to Manly. One of those touristy things to do in my list of stuff to do.
I took the ferry and had the chance to enjoy of different views of the icons of Sydney, but I also could see how rough the waters are around here. I went for a walk here and there and to several beaches around Manly and enjoyed the coastal walks very much. Then, stopped in aldi to do some shopping to cook something nice for Riz and myself. I was shocked by the prices, because I took the cheapest stuff to make something decent and easy (Riz doesn’t have much to cook, so I count on the very basics) and it was still quite expensive. Anyways, monetary issues apart, I got back to the city centre by ferry again and had an amazing return. It was magical. I had been calculating what time to take back the ferry to catch the sunset and so I did. After getting a bit wet with the huge waves formed as we advanced, the different peninsulas formed in the bay left us see the sunset right behind the Bridge and the Opera House. It felt great, I love sunsets. It was cloudy, but looked beautiful.
After that magical feeling I decided to hang out a bit around the Opera House to see how it was getting dark and I experienced true happiness as I thought I still couldn’t believe I was there. My steps had taken me here, all alone, all liberated, all free and I was simply enjoying my moment, experiencing happiness. It got dark, there was some music around, the city was lively and I even spotted a very well dressed couple heading to the Opera. It was time to head home. Unfortunately I was feeling a bit bad for Riz and thought more than fair that I had to spend a bit of time with him. It was my impression that he was doing the couchsurfing to give him some company and people around to talk and I wanted to give the favour back, thankful as I was to have a place to stay and such a nice person next to me. He was caring, he showed me that the very first day and the second taking me to the park and giving me his house keys… Everything in general. I also wanted to cook that night for the two of us. Unfortunately it was late enough and the commute took forever and by the time I got there it was time to almost get in bed and so I did. We still shared a bit of talk over the pillow, but I was a bit busy with some stuff that was going on. I will recap. That very morning I got to talk to a girl that I had been talking before to organise a trip and a bit of trekking in New Zealand. But that morning she actually contacted me to cancel it because she got a spot in a 10 days tour with transport, guide and food paid. She had been extra nice including me in the application, unfortunately there were only 12 spots and she filled in the last one. However, I was first in the waiting list and should somebody call it off, I was in. And she contacted me that night to confirm me that somebody had called it off!!!! So, I was in and this was happening. New Zealand, the place I had no plans for, getting a bit stressed about what would happen and what I would end up doing…stressed also about how expensive it is and how careful I had to be with my choices to make sure I could keep travelling…. The amazing feeling of true happiness and good vibes, the good feelings…all translated into more! Definitely positivism brings more positive things! And Karma exists, for some reason. I start believing so. I was over the moon and barely could sleep of excitement.
But next morning came in, and despite being really tired with the jetlag and the emotions from the previous night, I had to get up and get the most of my last full day in Sydney. I got up and headed to the famous Bondi Beach to do the walking I had been recommended by so many people. It was stunning and relaxing at the same time. Seeing all these people surfing or chilling at the beach or just enjoying a picnic or going for a run… It made me feel like Sydney is a place I could definitely be living in. All I had seen was excellent. People had been nice when asking around, like very very nice and smily. It had all I needed. After the walk, I wanted to return early-ish to make sure I was cooking and dedicating time to my host. I got home with time enough and when Riz arrived he showed up with another girl that he was going to host as well. Quite a surprise. This German girl was quite young and started having a bit of weird behaviour. Riz actually advised me to be careful with my stuff and I got a bit annoyed with this, but I understood we all were doing the same thing and…sharing is caring! So, after some nice pasta with bacon, vegetables and cheese that I cooked for the three of us (which tasted amazingly good because I haven’t eaten pasta in months!!!!) Riz thought of a walked and I actually felt like getting some air because my face was on fire after walking around Bondi Beach and getting a bit of sun between showers.
The walk was nice, everything was quite and too dark and reminded me of the suburbs of Dublin but again, without the cold temperatures. We went to the other side of the station, chatted about couchsurfers, nationalities, first impressions and weird people in general and then he wanted to show me whatever special house that was around. When we got there, it was so dark that we needed a torch. We advanced on the way to the house and then I saw a huge web spider. I inmediatly stopped and told him not to keep going. I lighted my torch and there it was, with the corresponding huge spider that could have end on Riz’s face without my warning. The way was probably filled with these and I was not taking any chances. Riz neither. So we turned around and came back to the house, the spider didn’t allow us to continue.
Once we got home, we had a laugh because the German girl had the door of the room closed and we just had been talking about that the first night. I pointed out to the door situation in our first night as I wanted to keep it open. Otherwise, it would have felt awkward. He told me that Germans say that sleeping with the door open indicated that you are scare and that they always sleep with the door closed. And there she was, with the door close. Haha.
After that, we said goodbye and hugged. I thanked him for everything, knowing how nice he had been and that I wouldn’t see him next morning when he left for work. And then I went to my bed, shared for that night with the German girl.
Next day was my very last day in Sydney and I just got my stuff ready, ate and relaxed a bit before facing a long commute to the airport on the way to my next adventure.