Australia: Day One – In Anecdote Form
Seoul food versus Soul Food
I never thought I had ever adapted to Korean food. Back in Canada, I come across as pretty easy going with a menu, but in Korea, I can be quite picky. However, on the flight from Tokyo to Sydney, we were served what seemed like my first truly westernized meal I’d had in two years – Pork in a rich mustard sauce with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The gravy was incredibly rich, and the potatoes were roasted just right, the skins especially flavourful. I’d almost forgotten what food like this could taste like. Despite it being airplane food, I was overwhelmed with how delicious it was, and how much I really had missed living in Asia.
The thing with wonderfully rich food is… If it’s too rich, and you’re not used to it, it can make you feel ill.
I didn’t sleep until the very end of the flight, and ended up missing breakfast.
I knew it was going to be winter, but…
When you think about Australia, you never think of it as a cold place. Ever. Despite knowing that it DOES have a winter, it never really clues in that it will be cold. It’s much like thinking about Canada, and forgetting that the summers can be really hot as well.
I didn’t worry much about the cold, because I had a plan. See, I’ve lived in South Korea for two years, and shopping is difficult for me. And since it was “winter” in Australia, I could use their end of season clearance to get new clothes for the upcoming fall and winter in South Korea. But I had looked at the weather forecast, saw it would be warm, and didn’t think much about it.
Stepping off the plane though, I felt something I hadn’t expected, and hadn’t felt in months.
I was COLD.
Leaving Seoul, it was a sweltering 35º and Tokyo was near the same. When I arrived in Sydney though?
8º. EIGHT. DEGREES.
That is a MASSIVE difference. I was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING and there was nothing I could do until I could go shopping. Needless to say, those first few hours were tough, and leads into…
Australia has always been #1 on my wish list of places to go for almost my entire life. I fell in love with the country when I was in grade 7 or 8 after seeing a whale shark on a National Geographic magazine. Sydney hosted the Olympics a few years later and my heart was set. But, life doesn’t always work out how we thought it would, and my path took me to Asia to teach.
When the opportunity to travel came up this summer, and all hopes of returning to Canada were dashed, my heart was set on Australia, 150%. It had an all new appeal to it: It was part of the commonwealth. It’s an English speaking country, and would have not only the comfort of speaking English, but many of the comforts of the UK, which is a second home to me. It also would have sizes for people who are slightly more curvy than your average Asian.
Once I knew I had to get a sweater, I had the staff at my hostel tell me where to go, braved the busses, and made my way to the Broadway Shopping Centre. Of all the shopping places to be overwhelmed with joy with, K-Mart is probably the least likely of all, right up there with Walmart. However, walking in there filled me with a joy I didn’t know existed. They had clothes that fit. They had bras I could wear, and they had size 10 shoes. There was makeup there made for people who are as white as paper, just like me. And best of all: there was Cadburys. The best chocolate in the entire world. (Don’t worry mom, I didn’t go insane and buy the lot. Just one bar.;) )
Two sweaters, one top, one jacket, and incredible set of boots later (All much cheaper than I expected to pay – bless you winter clearance!) and I was filled with that warm fuzzy feeling that is post-shopping after glow, as well as the wonderful feeling of connecting with a culture I’d been away from for two years, all with some clothes and a chocolate bar.
Karma is a bitch. And it’s daebak too
When I decided to go to Australia, it was a bit of an impulse decision, and fuelled by two years of being an outsider in Korea. I wanted to leave all of it behind me and have a week of pure English. I wanted to pretend that no, I didn’t know Korean or Japanese, and no it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to think it, speak it, or read it.
I’m in a 4-bed dorm in my hostel. My two roommates? Are Korean.
It’s good to see that Murphy’s Law is still in full effect.
When I decided to go to Australia, people would always ask me, “Are you going to eat kangaroo?” Some people asked with genuine interest, while some seemed to be making a joke. Either way, my answer always was, “If I get the chance to, yes. In a second.”
I think it’s a bit more commonly known know that kangaroo is a totally acceptable form of meat in Australia, because they breed like mad and can be a huge pest to farmers. But many still looked horrified, because “they’re so cute!”
No, lambs are cute. And delicious. But also cute. When I think of kangraroos, I think of very cute creatures with one of the most brutal forms of fighting I’ve ever seen. Go check out kangaroo fights. They’re brutal. (Giraffe fights are worse though.)
Thursday nights at the Sydney Harbour YHA are barbecue nights. GUESS WHAT WAS ON THE MENU?!
Kangaroo is super delicious. I wish we had it everywhere.