29 April 2008


Imagine if you can, Melbournians (or Melburnians, as it were), what Ringwood would be like if all the roads were forced into a grid, and if the suburb stretched out to the horizon in a sea of car dealerships and lacklustre architecture. Throw in an occasional ostentatious place of worship that somewhat resembles a toilet block, and there you have the vast part of LA. It is big, and grey, and concrete.

There are, however, some places that, if not hugely different, are at least less the same as other parts. Venice Beach is pumping in a touristy way on weekends (unless you’re up and walking at 8:30am, as we were, on a mission to find and photograph a large wall-painting of topless Jim Morrison), but two blocks in you’ve hit a suburb which is not dissimilar to, say, Merimbula. Rohan has compared the area to a cross between St Kilda and a seaside town such as Port Campbell. I think these descriptions are fairly compatible. [ETA: On my walk up the beach this morning, I felt almost at home - the sea doesn't actually smell like sea, which is odd, but it was warm and HUMID (so humid here) and relaxing.] The canals and canal-side houses are quite lovely in Venice, and I can understand why the rich people who also have taste/a brain would choose to live there rather than Hollywood.

Speaking of Hollywood, we hiked up the hill at Runyan Canyon today. In fact, we hiked almost everywhere today, walking somewhere upwards of 15km. But Runyan Canyon was one of the highlights, despite my whining – “I forgot sunscreen, I’m thirsty, can we walk slower, I’m jetlagged, it’s so hot, this is so steep, I’m going to die here, I’m scared of heights”, and from the top of the hill we got some shots of the Hollywood sign, and saw Uber-Ringwood in its full haze of glory. We also did the walk of fame, and I took photos of the following footpath stars. I do not see any logic or order to this list.

Judge Judy Sheindlin
David Bowie
Nicolas Cage
John Howard
Johnny Cash

I also had a proper coffee this morning, for the first time since leaving Australia (the aeroplane coffee looked fairly dodgy, and Az confirmed this). I found an Australian to make my soy flat white for me (one of Rohan’s friends). [ETA: Went there again this morning, I'll post pics eventually.] I felt so much better afterwards, apart from that bit where I tried to pay with a $1 note – all the notes looks the same! The coffee love was somewhat diminished when I later had an iced coffee at Borders (embrace chain stores and the native way of life, I say), which was dishwater coffee and, er, ice cubes. But I certainly got enough caffeine at the diner where we met the AWESOME queergeektheorist herself and consumed burgers and fries and BOTTOMLESS GLASSES OF CHERRY COKE OMG I CANNOT SIT STILL HOURS LATER.

Speeking of speed, many Americans seem to speak quickly (I now understand how people might think Australians talk slowly), and most residents of the city like to complain loudly to their mobile phones and dogwalking partners about gridlocked traffic and he said/she said affairs. I just wonder why they don’t move to Ringwood, really. At least they have supermarkets in Ringwood. Admittedly, one thing Ringwood doesn’t have to my knowledge is THREE people dressed as Cpt Jack Sparrow along the street for you to have your photo taken with. Wow, that sentence kind of sucked.

The long and the short of the day is – big, sore feet, good views, excellent company, tired now. Rohan has gone to his beau’s place for the night, which is AOK by me, because I can sleep across the whole bed and not worry about snoring (I think I am allergic to L.A., and if my nose had run any more today it would be back in Australia by now). However, it’s the first time I’ve been by myself since I’ve left, so now the missing of people is really starting to sink in. I have found a few tacky postcards to send (though not as many as I expected), and I’ve written a couple, but it’s no substitute for having a chat or reading all your blogs or something. It’s been hectic – too hectic to do internetty things. Hopefully I will be able to take this on a USB to an internet cafĂ© (maybe the good coffee place?!) and post it then. Photos can wait for another time.

Me after a long day in the sun with a runny nose!

Despite predictions, I'm kind of liking L.A. Possibly because unlike every other city I've ever visited, every second person isn't a bloody Australian!

27 April 2008


Sitting in Auckland airport, have 2 hours before we leave, 1 hour to check in. Flight from Melbourne arrived slightly earlier, so we have longer to wait. We’ve found a business desk in the terminal where you can use wireless . . . FOR MONEY. But I’m too stingy for that.

Az and me.

Instead I can tell you about the clouds that looked like flocks of sheep, the wing bouncing in the mild turbulence on the way into Auckland, the flight attendant who busied himself getting me a vegetarian meal because (surprise, sur-frikking-prise) they didn’t have one for me. Apparently Air New Zealand only do meaty and vegan meals from Melbs to Auckland, and if you’re not vegan you supposedly must eat meat. Bizarre. Have checked to make sure I’ll get vegetarian meals on the way to LAX. I plan to sleep a lot on this next flight.

I was dropped off at the airport by Saj and Es, and got lots of hugs from them and Dan before going through the chompy gates of doom. Met Az at the airport and also got to meet his brother and mum, yay! Have not yet been harassed for gender variance, but have been misread all over the place. The man at check-in had to “go and check something with the passports”, the boarding staff checked my pass and called me “Jonathan” when most other people were “Sir” and “Ma’am”, and the meal-hunting flight attendant (who produced a very nice meal in the end) called me “Miss Williams”. I’ve decided to use the men’s toilets for this whole trip – just suck it up and get used to it.

I watched “The Golden Compass” during the flight. Wow, it’s packed with awesome actors, isn’t it? It was quite fun, but obviously not as rich as the book, and I still feel like there’s something missing, something that makes it all a little . . . flat. I found with the books, too, that they felt a bit “and then, and then, and then” – that is to say, saga-iffic. I suppose, though, that it’s not a whole story, so you have to take it in the context of the trilogy. Of which I’ve only read 2, because the death of my favourite character just made me stop caring. *Sigh*

OK, enough rambling. I’ll write more from LA and post it when I arrive. Ciao.

lights below the clouds
swimming ghostly in the night
I see atlantis

slow, a rim of light
dawn slips across the planewing
we sink through our dreams

Rohan and me

Arrived safe and sound. Was picked up by Rohan, Trav and Tasha, and waved goodbye to Az at LA. The 12 hours from Auckland to LA could have been worse – they could have been slightly better with more sleep, too. Strangely, I’m not feeling too jetlagged, just very tired as I might be on any night if I only got 5 hours sleep.

As soon as I arrived at Rohan’s I felt I was really in America – Venice beach was in full weekend mode, with the footpath market pulsing. Mats gridded with handpainted, bejewelled skulls, a different band every twenty metres, photos, paintings, beggars, people on bikes (all with enormous curved handlebars – seems to be the thing over here). Rohan pointed out the landmarks – the place Romy and Michelle live in High School Reunion, the basketball courts, the outdoor gym where one might linger to admire/gape unbelievingly at the enormously muscled, sweaty and oiled men. The fake boobs. I had strawberry lemonade (lemons, sugar, real strawberries), then we went to the drug store (actually called a pharmacy) and got A GALLON of milk and some bagels and BUTTER IN STICKS. AHAHAHA!

Then I had a powernap and we caught the bus to Rohan’s beau’s house in and played boardgames and drank wine and OMG RAW BROCCOLI WITH RANCH DRESSING! And now I’m nicking their wireless and eating VEGETARIAN HOT DOG WITH TOMATO SAUCE AND MUSTARD. YUM! And Rohan made bean curry!

I can’t wait to go to sleep.

I hope you're all well.

21 April 2008


i leave for canada in 5 days. ok, well, technically for l.a. via auckland, but then to canada.

i have yet to redraft my paper, but i *will* get it done!

i have written a large list of things to pack, and am trying to cut back on things. how did i manage 5 months out of a backpack in 2005? ok, i do know how. i didn't really need 'nice' clothes, and i didn't take my hiking boots. i also didn't bring bulky gifts (tins of milo for homesick friends, etc). i'll have to do a test pack today or tomorrow to see how it'll all go.

to make matters worse, IT SNOWED IN VANCOUVER just recently, so i am thinking i might have to take my extra warm winter coat. but since it is warmer than melbourne in l.a. i am also going to have to pack warm-weather gear. argh!


it's going to be exciting, but i am going to miss dan lots.

13 April 2008


in mid march, dan, sajee and myself walked along the yarra from heidelberg to templestowe and back. all up it was about 12km. we were once again hit with the curse of the uk08 preparation walks in terms of weather. it was a scorcher. we started at 9am, walked to the manor for lunch, and by the time we had walked back down the hill to the river it was in the high 30s. *sweats* but we made it back, and felt quite pleased with ourselves.

there are a few pictures here, where you can see how enamoured we were with one particular playground! we'll probably do the walk again with es later in the year, and will start a little further down the river and do the whole 17km as outlined in our guidebook (where it's a medium difficulty walk - it's mostly flat, only one big hill up to the manor, and a few bits of incline/decline but it's upgraded to medium for length).

2 April 2008


finally got my passport. *sighs of relief*