Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Margaret River Trip, W.A., 150411 - 160411


150411 - 160411

It's IRS Day in the U.S., and i've done my taxes for 2010.  God save the U.S.A., even though the largest corpo. there doesn't believe in paying any taxes, this after a $13 billion dollar profit!  Makes you want to pay yours, right?

So, after getting online at Ca-Fez (in Bunbury), where I have Earl Grey Tea and a blueberry muffin I'm off to the Post Office to mail my 1040.  This, not before the usual morning drill and saying goodbye and thanks to Rob Neal (my warmshowers.org host in Bunbury).

But, the Post Office's in Australia, are more like a boutique, complete with interesting things to buy.  Nothing like China or the U.S., in terms of Government blandness.  These are the 'coolest Post Offices I've ever encountered.  And, of course, everyone queues up, with no pushing and shoving, screaming or yelling a la China.

Then I'm off for Manjimup at a later 1000, which I'm thinking is a mere 70-80KM distance.  My mistake I should have checked.

But, outside of town, when I'm finally directed on the proper route, the sign says 132KM to Bunbury.  I go, 'Whoa, maybe two days!'   But, I chug off, after using the toilet at the Bunbury Airport.  This, the first private airport I've seen in a long time.

Next, cruising down the highway, I come across a guy riding a recumbent and pulling a homemade trailer.  I should have stopped, but just exchanged greetings.  I'm pretty sure this guy was local.  

Next, however, I see a 'real' tour-cyclist approaching in the opposite direction and he stops.  He turns out to be 'Stanley,' English name from Chinese Taiwan.  We exchange cards, as he's wanting to go east like me, and we might join up.  Plus, it's good to know that there are other 'crazy' people 'out there' as well as me.

On, and on I go, uneventful, up and down through rolling hills, until I come to a village so named,... Well, it ends in ...'gup,' which means place.  I stopped there to rest and buy a bottle of 'PowerAid.'   I remember many 'scarecrows,' or stuffed things on poles resembling people.  Also, there's an authentic French Restaurant.  Ah, I just remembered the name, Balingup.  I tried to call the Taylors, but no signal.

Then there was Bridgetown, later in the afternoon.  At 'Greenbushes,' I tried to call again again, and got David.  We discussed the options, but he said I was, 'still welcome to come that evening.'  

So, I ended up cycling in the dark on a dangerous highway, but my motto, 'Keep Going!' 

I got to Manjimup at 730P.M., but in the dark didn't know how to find David (and Camilla's) house.  Luckily, I had a map.  Thirsty, I stopped at a bar and had a draft beer for $9Aus. (one pint for $10 U.S.).  I kept calling but their number always busy.

I finally decided to go, after confirming directions with the bar maid. 

And I managed to find this remote house, 3KM from the village center, actually amazing on my part, but if I have any talent at all it's finding things.   I've cranked 140KM in ten hours, and not bad for an old man.  But, too long, and too much energy expended.

David opened the door, and we had a good time chatted, before I put up my tent in their backyard.  But, I was so exhausted, I could barely crawl into my tent!

And, that night another revelation, I should have brought my down sleeping bag, as I got cold in the night!  Another mistake!  I put on all my clothes, socks, down vest, etc. to keep warm.  But, when you're cold you don't sleep well.

Doesn't matter how old or how many kilometers you've cranked, you're always learning!  I suppose when there's nothing left to learn, I'll be 'checking out!' 

160411, Manjimup  (means, 'place where an edible weed grows)

A day of relative rest which starts out on the veranda, sitting with David Taylor.   He offered white bread, jam and coffee (which I'll bet he has every morning in the same way:  served on a tray).  

it's habits that ultimately kill us, as we grow inflexible.  And clinical death is the inability to adapt.  We lose the ability to adapt, and the body just stops!   If you want to live forever like Peter in Chengdu, China, keep growing, changing, adapting!  Don't do the same thing, in the same way every day!

I meet David's wife, Camilla, born in Germany now an Australian citizen.  A pert little woman that calls her husband, 'Darling.'  Note, when the romance dies the marriage evolves more into a 'partnership!'

David gives me a tour of their place, some two hectares in size.   They are almost self-sufficient, with a garden, chickens, even a vineyard (and his red wine pretty good).  I learned that white wine much more difficult to process than red.  I learn about the native trees and birds (which he knows much about). 

One of the great things for me in Australia is the variety of birds (and plentiful).  Even south Australia (the cold part) is sub-tropical, and thus has a species of parrot.

The Taylors don't eat lunch, so I take a hot bath in a wonderful tub.  

Afterwards, I can't remember what I did, I think I took a nap in my tent.

Later I ride into town (one shopping street) on the dirt bicycle path, David tells me about.  There I shop for a few food items, and withdraw money at an ATM.  

Later we have barbeque, the meat sausage, and chicken.  I, even though basically a vegetarian, eat it as so hungry by 7P.M.  Lucas, their 16-year old German foreign exchange student, a strict vegetarian, abstains.  She offers cake for desert and I eat everything!

We help carry off the table, then David and I 'repair' to the living room, for 'brandy and cigars' (just kidding).  David, a retired English Naval Officer (navigator on many ships), and later as a surveyor, has many stories.  I learn much about Australia, as well.

I'm in my indoor 'bag,' by 9P.M. (2100 hours).  And with a loaned blanket to keep warm, guess what?  This night I don't need as warmer!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Perth, W.A., 090411-140411


Day 7 (090411)

What did I dream about during the night, but something to do with 'The Wizard of Oz!' (story).  Note, Australians refer to Australia as, 'OZ,' from 'Aus.,' as sounds the same when pronounced.  So, I must have this on my mind.  I'm now in the 'Land of Oz!' 

I'm in no particular hurry today, as the Victoria Park Library is close, and I only need to depart 175 Swansea St. (Nola's place) by 0830 (Library opens at 0900).  But, since I'm up at 0600, I'm off early as usual.

I end up at the Park Mall adjacent to the Library with time to spare.  First, there's a trip to the toilet, then I spy a wonderful-looking breakfast roll that I can't pass up.

The morning sun in front of the Library still cool from the east wind, but I stand waiting for the doors to open.  I do some morning stretching exercises as people gather.

Inside I'm online almost immediately and 'chatting' with Xutan (in K.L.).  I have explained that we need to get him here after I heard Paolo (and Bruno's) stories.

Seems that for these guys Australia is the 'land of opportunity,' Paolo making something like $2KAus. IN TWO WEEKS (on a fishing boat), Bruno spending $6-7KAus. to get permanent residency via a 'migration agency.'   Paolo is nearing his goal of saving $40,000Aus. working less than one year -- with this he'll have his boat made in Africa.

Of course, I pass all of this on to Xutan, who's somewhat 'lost' in Kuala Lumpur.  One moment he's going to Singapore (because one German man recommended), the next moment he's cycling to Bali (at my suggestion).  

Young people, particularly young Chinese people, don't know how to think for themselves, only to follow 'orders.'  Whereas, Paolo from Italy knows what he wants, Xutan from China has no idea...

But, I now think, after hearing from Paolo and Bruno, that Xutan should migrate to Australia, and make enough money for University in the U.S. (or Australia).  

So, tomorrow, when I'm with Mike Norman, I'm going to ask his advice on how to get Xutan a 'Holiday Work Visa.'   He works for the local government, so I'm hoping he has a 'connection.'  Interestingly, when we were driving to Nola's house, after he'd picked me up at the airport (one week ago), he told me that Australia doesn't have enough 'skilled workers.'  I made a mental note at the time.

Gad, the 'visa game,' which I just played for five years in China!  What a pain in the ass.

Paolo never responded to my email, so I decided to ride to where he and Bruno are staying, the Rainbow Lodge, in East Perth.

I found Summer Street, without too much trouble, but seems half of the guests, according to the woman behind the counter, had gone to Margaret River (300KM sourth) for some Surfing-Music Festival.  Not even Andres, Paolo's friend, was at the Lodge.  So, I left my card with a note to Paolo explaining I'd try to make it by there tomorrow night, after my outing with Mike.

Not only am I riding with the CTAWA group, but Mike's taking me out to dinner, and then a gallery opening.  The ride fine, but all the rest not really my 'cup of tea,' anymore.  I remember he had reminded me, like a good host, to bring a change of clothing so we might be 'presentable' at the gallery opening (where the 'Lord Mayor'  is the host).  So, I will, but this kind of thing I only do for Xutan's visa.

At 71-years of age, and cycling the world, I'm not really interested in attending anything where I must look 'presentable.'  

I cranked back to East Victoria Park, having dhal bhat at the Himalayan-Nepali Restaurant I've passed several times.  But, my God, with 2 cups of Masala Tea, the tab was $26U.S.!  This for simple rice with lentel 'gravy,' which in Nepal would cost maybe $2U.S.  Suddenly, I was thinking of Nepal, and how inexpensive it would be to live there... Tempting, as I know so many people there in Kathmandu.

Australia is beginning to remind me of cycling in Europe, except  here they speak English!

Reeling from my lunch tab, I go to purchase some items I need for my trip south, like contact lens solution, and a butane canister.  At a discount 'drug store' (we used to call them), the Moslem-girl clerk forgets to give me change of $5Aus.  Luckily, there was no problem when I explained and the $5 was forthcoming.  Note, in China, this would have been impossible. 

Note, the contact lens wetting solution was $15Aus., and the butane canister $13Aus.  With some groceries at $20Aus, I'd spent $50U.S. in short order.  And this didn't include lunch ($25U.S.) -- a $75U.S. day!

I"m going to have to slow down, and spend less, or run out of money before departing Australia (for New Zealand).

Thank God, for Rucha, 'waiting in the wings,' if I get in a jam.

I think now, in retrospect, with Xutan's visa problem, and the cost of living in Australia, we should have gone directly to Santiago, Chile.  But, of course, hindsight is always brilliant!  Then too had we done such, we wouldn't have ever partaken of Australia or New Zealand.

I've thought all along Xutan needs to experience Australia and/or New Zealand.  Now, since talking to Paolo and Bruno, I'm convinced.

Me, I'm just a 'bum on a bicycle!' 

Day 8 (100411)

Wow, what a day of cycling all over Perth, and then ending up on 100.1 FM. the Curtin University Radio station (with Brian Corr)!  This all courtesy of MIke Norman, a local Perth cycling advocate.

I start out with Nola cyling to where the CTAWA group is going to meet for a 35KM ride out to the ocean and back.  We departed at 0700, as the meeting time was 0800, and I didn't want to be late.  So, about 10KM, and we're there early, as Nola knows the way.  Had I been alone, it would have taken longer to get to the Loftus Community Center in Leederville (a northwestern suburb of Perth).  But, soon some ten cyclists, generally older and well equipped (new bikes, and cycling clothing) arrive, including Mike Norman my 'host.'  

A woman named Karen was the leader, and after an orientation (ah, westerners so organized) we depart.  Perthians are very safely conscious (they'd be shocked in China), and shout out all kinds of warnings, most of which I didn't really understand.  Also, the always signal when making a turn.  

I had brought extra weight, as trying to build up strength for the coming days on the road.  But, whoa, little did I know this group likes to go fast, and the entire ride became somewhat of a chore.  

The terrain basically flat, with some hills varied from city streets to some dirt around Herdsman Lake.  It was here I learned about their black swans native to the Swan River (so named).  Note, the first white swans I never saw were in The Netherlands.

The ride wasn't difficult, except I'm never in a hurry when cycling, and most people are (caught up in the modern pace of things) --  I felt a bit rushed with no time to stop, enjoy nature (like the black swans) and take pictures.  We had a short toilet break at a park facility on the beach.  Then up Reabold Hill (the steepest I've been on in the Perth area).  I did manage to get a group picture here with City center Perth in the b.g.  Note, all the pictures I take are available at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/.  And now of Western Australia.

Then back to the Loftus Center, where I made sure I spoke to Steven (maybe the youngest male) about getting a book from him that he'd mentioned.  Someone had written a book about cycling from Perth to Sidney, just my route, and the more information the better.  But, being who they are (organized westerners) he'd already made arrangements with Nola, so the book would be at her house when I returned.  I thought, this would never happen in China, this thoughtfulness!

Next, with Mike we were on our way to Swan Valley (east) for an Art Glass-painting exhibition at the Houghton Winery, but with a stop for lunch on the way.  We ended up in City Center Perth, but the places he had in mind were all closed as it was Sunday.  And Perth, maybe Australia, settled by the Dutch and English is basically Christian.   Nothing is closed on Sunday in China.

We ended up cycling east a ways, and stopping for lunch where I had a Falaffal pita sandwich, and paying for his a mere $30Aus. or something  like 200RMB (Chinese).  I can buy lunch for ten people in China for the same amount.  I did get 'double duty' out of my sandwich, so large, I only could half then, and then other half the following evening (in Golden Bay)  Mike, on the other hand, a healthy eater at 59-years of age.

It was here we took the TrainsPerth light-rail train to Swan Valley.  My fare for two zones, was $3.70Aus.  Note, off hours (Sunday, etc.) you can wheel your bicycle right onto the train, which I think is a great idea (similar to Europe).  Of course, in China, only in some places and they frown on it (you have to speak Chinese to argue why not).  China not yet, maybe for another 50 years, environmentally conscious (enough).

From the last stop (Midland) we rode some 10KM directly into the east wind (and pretty strong) to the Winery.

I was suddenly in Napa Valley, California, at least in terms of ambiance.  A lovely sunny day with children playing on the green, a crowd here for the art exhibition. 

It's an example of my 'culture shock,' as have been bereft of such for five years.  There are semi-hip events in China, particularly Lijiang, where I attended a wine sampling event at Banyan Tree Resort.  But, of course, it was slightly different.

Mike had invitations to get into the exhibition, where the 'Lord Mayor' (a woman) of Perth was the honored official.  

The art glass expensive, the paintings in the thousands (of Aussie dollars), supposedly going to some charity.  The art glass by a woman from South Africa, her printed material all about 'love,'  One little card sprinkled about read, 'It I saw a falling star I'd wish for love!'  Above the door, three words:  'Live, Laugh and Love!'    All good advice, by the way!

I had managed to 'shoot' what video I needed and was outside in the corridor when the speeches started.   Just in time to partake of the free wine and buffet table:  Ah, blue cheese, crackers, salmon, veggies, basically all what I like.  So, I indulged trying to not look like I hadn't had any for years.  I remember a man walking around with the veggie plate and dip.  You don't get raw veggies in China.

I waiting for Mike outside, and was engaged in conversation with an Aus. couple when he appeared having bought his wife a art glass pendant (a mere $25Aus.).  We had another sample of wine, and then departed, with two more items on the schedule.  Note, it's these kind of days that just wear me out (not cycling 100KM).

We took the train to East Perth, and then cycled to the Balmoral Hotel (pub) in East Victoria Park for beer, and ultimately dinner (which he bought, 'my shout' is the expression in the land of Aus.).  Somehow, the local draft revived me, and we finally had a good conversation.  

Mike has done some traveling, and has a connection in Nepal, where he supports an orphanage.  He's also trekked the Annapurna Circuit, and also Sargamantha National Park.  He did some climbing in Nepal as well.  Thus, we have something in common, besides cycling, and that is, Nepal.

Now dark after dinner we had to find Curtin University where I was to be interviewed on the radio.  Luckily, Mike had directions, and it was too distant from where Nola lives (and I was staying).  In fact, we were early.

This community radio station (FM 100.1) is a part of Curtin University, but how and why I'm not surej.    It was all very 'cool,' and what I have come to expect from Australians, a certain thoughtfulness, a certain professionalism.  Brian Corr, the on-air host and his producer, a woman whose name escapes me for the moment, were great!   

One of the songs Brian had asked me to suggest (his program mostly about music) was 'Waltzing Matilda.'  But, the version he played caused a few callers to comment.  For me, this song is associated with a movie (book first) by Nevil Shute entitled, 'On the Beach.' 

Mike and I were outta there by 8:30P.M., but I still had one more task.  I wanted to see Paolo and to purchase something.  So, Mike led me back into City Center and I returned to East Perth.

This time the Rainbow Lodge was jumping with young people, and Paolo was there sprawled out on a couch (his $15Aus. bed for the night).  We went outside, and he told me about how they'd got caught of in the trip to Margaret River and the Surfing Event.  But, much trouble as the man that drove lost the keys to his automobile and they ended up sleeping on the beach.  I thought, this is the kind of thing young people do, just go and do, not ever considering the driver, or what the situation might risk.  No way I go anywhere with a young person, without asking many questions.  If they appear irresponsible, I don't go, but this is the difference between being young and old.

I remember going to the original Woodstock Concert in 1969, on a whim, and then suffering through the mud and shit, stoned most of the time.  I was 29-years old.  Paolo, is even younger.

I cycled back to East Victoria Park through the rain, and arrived at 1000P.M.  But, I had accomplished what I went for (Paolo giving me some.)  It turned out to be a 15-hour day having cycled some 85 kilometers.   I told Nola I wasn't getting up at the crack of dawn as originally planned, and that I probably wouldn't depart until around 0900.

I was exhausted, and after a shower, and something to eat and drink fell into bed.

I actually slept most of the night!

110411 (Monday)

I managed to get up a 0600, as had much to do...

After having coffee and eating breakfast, dealing with the Caravan, moving what I was leaving behind in her little store shed,  but bumping my head on the trailer door hard enough to cause bleeding.  I put a wash cloth under my cap so it won't stain my cap.

I'm ready to go at 0830, but my bicycle so heavy (with food, water, and all my camping gear).  I now am spoiled having had a support vehicle on our trip to Tibet last summer).

I hugged Nola goodbye, this woman now a friend.  She has offered her beach house in Golden Bay, and I have accepted as something like 80KM distance.  A free bed, and so much hospitality hard to refuse.  She'd drawn a map, called the neighbors, and done everything else but cycle the trip for me.  I told her we needed to clone her and place her clone wherever I was going in the future.  She reminds me so much of Rucha.

On the way, I made a wrong turn and lost 30 minutes getting back on the two-lane bicycle path that follows Forrest Freeway.  Rob Neal had suggested this route as the fastest, but also most boring way to Bunbury.  However, when I'm trying to make time on a bicycle, never having taken the route before, I don't mind boring (as never is).

On the way, a fellow cyclist pulled up and we chatted for a moment.  Most of the cyclists in Western Australia, at least the locals, are all on fast road bikes.  So, when the see a 'bloat' (local term) like me so laden they're curious.  And when they hear I'm cycling all the way to Sidney, they always tell me about the Nollunbur Plain (means 'no trees'), a long stretch you have to cross (maybe 1K KM), where there's nothing, not even a turn in the highway for 160KM.  But, cyclists, as least foreign ones, do this all the time.  This cyclist, a professional fisherman, having never come this far south, points out an Emu (large bird) at a farm nearby.

I remember Emus at Prude Ranch in far West Texas.

I get to Golden Bay in 5 hours, so it can't be 80KM, or I'm averaging more than I thought.  Note, the bicycle path is wonderful, and nothing but rolling hills.

I locate Nola's house, as her maps are very detailed!  At the house there's a dog upstairs where a guy named Chuck lives, but he's friendly.  Later when Chuck is at home the dog comes for a visit.

I'm unusually tired for some reason, which gives me some concern.  Maybe I'm getting too old to do this kind of cycling.  But, I remind myself I haven't cranked a heavy bike this far in six months (since Tibet).  This is my first real day of tour-cycling in Australia, and after a stressful time departing China with all the problems encountered no wonder.   It's the mental, not physical stress that kills you.

After a short nap, I walk to a nearby store to purchase some needed items like a lighter (not allowed on commercial jets).  When I return I eat the remains of my fallafel sandwich, and with a bottle of orange juice.  The food and juice help.

Now, it's dark, nearing 8P.M., and I write this in Nola's garage apartment, complete with a warm shower, which I'm about to partake of (it's so humid you have to shower daily).

Tomorrow it's something 130KM, to Bunbury where I'm staying with Rob Neal (warmshowers.org).  God willing and the creeks don't rise too high!

Oh, God, I pray... give me the energy!

129411

I get off at 0800, it a bit cloudy with wind out of the southwest.

I crank back to the Forrest Highway,  but this is only 7KM.  I feel better, stronger, after taking my vitamins (for stress), last night at dinner, and this morning.  My prayer answered!

Then south on Forrest Highway, the 2-lane bicycle path (on the west side).  But, now the wind at 2 O'clock and no help.

The 2-lane path ends in another 10KM, and I must cross over onto a single-marked lane on the highway.  This uneventful, except for the incessant sound of passing vehicles (going too fast).

I see my first highway sign warning of kangaroos (I think old, as this area built up).

I end up in the 'Peel Area,' a more unsettled area, with farms and wineries.  This is highway #1, which is near the coast.  Note, all of the settled areas of Australia are near a coast, as this is the only country in the world that is a continent itself surrounded by water (like an island).  This, of course, except for the 'famous' Alice Springs, which I hope to visit.

After 3 hours I stop to rest, and having something to eat.  I watch an ant pull a sunflower seed down its hole (must weigh 10X what the ant does).  Bunbury still a long way, but I press to make by early evening as something (from Rob) about a 'gathering.'   At this point I'm wishing I had the strength of that ant!

I'm welcomed to 'South Western Australia,'  a sign advertising all its virtues. 

I stop to rest appropriately at a 'rest stop,' where there are picnic tables in a shaded grove of trees..  I'm fascinated with the old, dead, giant trees, most likely Eucalyptus (part of the gum family of trees).

By late afternoon, I'm still a ways from Bunbury and getting tired.  I haven't cranked a heavy bicycle this far in six months (since Tibet), and am feeling it.

I stop at a petrol station/reataurant advertising many amenities.  I want to call Rob from a pay telephone, but after getting change, I'm informed they don't have one.
I'm still about 40KM from Bunbury.

Onward against the wind, persevering as I can.  But, looking forward to a nice rest.

Another 20KM and I pull into another rest stop (nice, as they're regularly spaced), and place my hand on a huge tree, asking for strength to get there.

I stop to get a 'shot' of 'Fergis,' a huge cow sculpture designed to get your attention, and have you buy some dairy product at the little store.  Note, such is part of  today's video episode entitled, 'Discover Australia by Bicycle,'  ultimately uploaded to www.youtube.com 

A few more kilometers and I see an exit for a town called, 'Australind.'  Thus, I know I'm on the 'outskirts' of Bunbury.    I've been on the road cranking against a steady 7-knot wind for 8 hours, and ready for the day to end (happily).

Finally, at a petrol station I'm able to get Rob's wife's answering service, but she's in the U.S. (Rob had given me the wrong mobile number) -- I leave a message, hoping he has her mobile in Bunbury).  There's a street map of Bunbury on the wall, but I can't find Picton Crescent (where the Neals live).  

I go to the 'Internet Section' of the petrol station, and a huge (overweight) man, with nothing to do, helps me.  I get directions along with a diatribe about the traffic, road construction, and how the nearest 'roundabout' is the 3rd most dangerous in all of Western Australia.  He follows me out to point the way, and agrees, 'Mr. Fetes,' is heavy.

I follow his directions to a point, but then my intuition takes over, and suddenly I'm on Picton climbing a hill.  And this hill, although short, turns out to be the 'second most steep,' in all of Bunbury (I'm guessing a 7-8 degree grade.).  I make it to the top, but exhausted when I get there.  

I'm catching my breath when man with much gray hair and dressed in a tie, comes up, me thinking it's Rob.  No, it's a neighbor, and with timely directions to Rob's house (when he saw me on a bicycle he knew).  Rob had given me #45, but I notice #13 is on the house.  And yet another 'guarding angel,' helping me, or I'd been confused.  Note, Rob changed the # while I was there (something about the City reordering the numbers).

Nobody is home so I park and sit on the driveway happy to be there after nine hours cranking against the wind.  Rob's house is near the downtown area perched on a hill with a view of the city.  Turns out it was the Buddhist Center before they purchased it 13-years ago.  Buddhists like the high ground.

It isn't long before Rob comes walking up the driveway, and his first words are, 'You found it.' 

We spend some time getting acquainted, and then he shows me a bedroom and the adjacent bathroom.   He offers me a welcomed beer, and suddenly I'm revived at least long enough to unpack Mr. Fetes, and make it to the bathroom.  He's having to go off somewhere, a job of sorts.

Suddenly I'm luxuriously in a long bathtub full of hot water.  I get so relaxed I can barely walk next door to the bed, and I'm asleep by 7:30P.M.

I sometimes wonder how long I can do this kind of thing, now at 71-years of age.

140411 (This is a Wednesday.)

I'm up before Rob, and heat up the oatmeal left over from yesterday morning's breakfast (in Golden Bay).  Note, 'Waste nothing, want for nothing!'

Rob and I get more acquainted and I learn he's a 53-year old retired science teacher.  I'd just assumed he was Australian, but the more I listen I notice he doesn't have the Australian accent.  I finally ask where he was born?  North Carolina.  He was born in the U.S.A.  He met his Australian wife in Alaska when there were going to school.  I discover he's a cycling advocate, something I kinda knew from our communications (anybody who's a member of www.warmshowers.org generally is).

He's preparing the house as they're (his wife already in California) going to be on an extended five-month trip to the U.S. (his mother still lives in N. Carolina) and Europe.

I'm directed to the Bunbury Library, so I can get online.  It's conveniently located just a short walk.  But, it's a little crazy at this Library, as the 'free' WIFI (email) doesn't work, and their email (computers) cost $2A. per 15-minutes.

Rob and I meet for lunch, and after I tell him the story, he recommends I go to Ca-fez a cafe where, if you purchase something to eat, the WIFI is 'free.'   So, after our $20A. (two sandwiches), lunch I follow his directions to Ca-Fez. 

Later that evening he cooks dinner for us, a 'sitr-fry' mixture of rice and vegetables.  I learn about the leafy vegetable Kale, and Jan's admonition as to its value.  Note, Jan Rodda, Rob's friend, a woman I've been trying to contact, is obviously into Kale.  I make a mental note to eat more of it.  God knows, I need to improve my diet, as I was indulging myself in Lijiang (too much).

I'm in bed early.

140411

Again, I'm up at 0600, only to discover Rob's been up since 0430.  He's been cleaning out his garage.  There is something, about a neighbor making noise that awaked him.

I'm off after oatmeal, to Ca-fez, and online for two hours (costing me something like $16A. / 100RMB.   

What am I doing here in Australia living on so very little money?  I'm three years too late, the 'Aussie' dollars having appreciated from only .48 cents U.S. now to $1.06U.S.  So, I lose .06 cents every time I convert.  Not, only that, but prosperous Australia is now costing like Europe, a 'double whammy!'  Poor timing on my part!  I'm hoping Xutan will get rich here in Australia and take care of me in my old age!

While online at Ca-FezI I had tried to activate my new prepaid Telstra mobile # (purchased yesterday for $30A.), but had no luck.  I find out that they have a shop in a Mall called 'Bunbury Forum,' and I decide to go there to solve the problem.

Soon I'm lost in a huge Mall, reminiscent of Dallas, Texas, U.S.  But, here's the difference between China and Australia, they understand me when I speak English, so it's easy to ask and get (usually good) directions.

At the Testra Shop, I'm 'activated,' and thus, now a 'full-fledged' member of Australian-mobile-telephone society (having given Nola's as my address in Australia)!  This comes in handy back at Rob's when I call the Taylor's in Manjimup.  Camilla welcomes me to pitch my tent in their yard (they have a German student living in their guest room).  Rob has 'suggested' I depart tomorrow, Friday, as he's 'got to focus' on his big trip.  So, tomorrow, on the road again!

According to Rob it's only something like 70-80KM, or one, and one-half hours drive in an automobile, Camilla (Taylor) informs me during our telephone conversation.

I look forward to meeting the Taylors tomorrow, as David Taylor, another avid cyclist (member of CTAWA in Perth).













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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Trip to Australia (010411-080411)

040411 (Perth, Australia)


I departed Lijiang on April Fools Day (010411), with help from 'Darling Daughter Dara,' and others, of course.  I couldn't have lived in China without my Chinese 'sons and daughters.'  This day involved moving stuff from the house where I was renting to Dr. Bruce's storage room (#17, behind the old Mama Mia's Restaurant).  He turned up after saying he couldn't be there, and with Hui, so I was happily surprised.  I was glad to see him, as I could explain and give him the tea MaRuxia had sent me.


Then Dara, our driver and I went to lunch.  During lunch the driver told me I looked 'weak,' or he could have meant 'strong,' as so much (in China) lost in translation.


By the time we got to Zhao Gang's/Merida bicycle shop,  they were all waiting:   Shingo, Zhu, Xuni and Muli.  When I hugged my 'daughter' Xuni goodbye, she said, 'I love you!'  It made my day.  It was a tearful parting...  I'd been in China for five years.


Dara and I got to the Lijiang airport early (my style), so plenty of time to talk.  When I ordered just hot water, to make coffee in my blue cup (with my own Yunnan coffee) Dara thought this was so funny.  Note, any time you do something different in China they just can't believe it.


Then, finally, Dara watched me until I disappeared through the security maze.  This sweet child who truly loves me -- I'll never forget her looking after me.  If I were just 30-years younger, at 41, I'd marry her!  But, being her 'father' (at 71) the next best thing.


At Gate 8, after a 30-minute delay I boarded China Eastern flight (MU5851) for Chengdu.


Not a seat empty (usual in a country with 1.5 billion)  but uneventful, we landed in probably one of the most unpleasant cities in the world (China has many).  Xutan and the girls (my other Chinese daughters, Crystal and Helen) were waiting.  But, true to Chinese style they hadn't introduced themselves to each other.


But, right away there was a hassle as the terminal crazy with too many travellers.  We had to figure out what to do with my luggage (including two large bicycle boxes).  I didn't want to take all of it to my hotel  for one night, but storing was too expensive.  So, Xutan took it to his hotel, and I went into the city with the girls.  


First they took me to a new hotel (Totem Impressions) then to a restaurant ('Helen's' driving bothered me as too crazy slow).  Then 'Helen and Crystal,' dropped me off and we said 'goodbye.'  


'Crystal,' my oldest 'daughter,' having met her in Lhasa, in 1999.  'Helen' I met through Crystal as they turned out to be sisters (I didn't realize until recently.).  This was way before 'Stephanie' Zhao who I met in the U.S. in 2003.  With no plans to ever return to China, I'll probably never see them again.


Dara, would be the only reason to return to China, maybe Xuni.


The Hotel room was cold when I returned from dinner, as the window has been left open (typical of Chinese hotels).  But, I figured out how to turn the heater on, and I slept in a chair under it.  It was an exceptionally good night too as so tired from all the excitement.


In the morning there was no water, so I couldn't take a shower.  When I went to the desk to inform them there was the usual 'explanation,' that I couldn't understand.  


Later when I checked out, they charged me for the two bottles of water I'd used for tea.  Pissed off about this, I sent an email message to 'Helen,' who booked me into this no-water Hotel.  Yes, it's new, and there are last-minute opening problems, but to charge me for bottled water, when none was forthcoming from tap, so typical of Chinese employees (they can't think when there are exceptions)!


I found a taxi, but the driver got angry when I soiled his white seat covers with my bags.  Yes, I made a mistake setting the street-dirt bottoms on the seat.  But, I'm the customer!  To make amends and him happier I gave him 10RMB extra.  But, no smile, no thanks.  I can't imagine having to live in Chengdu -- I'd be pissed off too.


Then the real 'shit' began at the airport, as International air travel all too crazy in this day and age.  At least the combination of China and Air Asia.


We were first in line at Air Asia, who had written on their website you could check in 3 hours prior, but on the electronic board, it turned out to be two hours, so we stood there for two hours.  But, at least first to get to the counter where they weren't going to let Xutan fly to Kuala Lumpur, because he has no return ticket.  Of course, nothing about this on Air Asia's website or when Xutan went to get his visa the Malay Consulate.  Xutan, getting more aggressive as he gets older, argued well and finally the 'loban' (big leader) relented.


Our overweight (3 bicycle boxes) cost an extra 1,800RMB, or some $300U.S  This turned out good news to me actually, as I'd expected it to be more.  But, because they don't take bank cards, poor Xutan had to run all over hell and gone, first because they wouldn't take U.S. dollar cash, only RMB.  But, again they don't tell you this in advance.


Finally, we get to security, where the guy can't locate, in my passport, the last time I entered China (stamp).  Luckily, the 'big guy,' waved me through, my heart pounding as we were running out of time.  I couldn't imagine getting stuck in China at this point.  So, we walked smartly to the gate with just ten minutes to spare.  We had arrived at the Airport at 1030 in the morning, for a 3P.M. departure.


I can't tell you the relief we both felt, when we sat in our seats!  We had overcome every obstacle and 'let nothing stop us!'  But, maybe I'm getting to old for this kind of hassle.


When the wheels left the ground, both Xutan and I said 'Goodbye to China, forever!'   Never again, at least for me!


Sitting next to Xutan, was a Chinese girl from Guangzhou, and once they started talking it became apparent, at least to me, that they had potential be become 'friends.'   I was hoping that, that would develop, and who knows for the night.  But, we found out later that someone was 'meeting her.'  


Once in Kuala Lumpur for the first time poor Xutan had to manage 50KM that night and on a bicycle!  But, according to him this wouldn't be a big problem!  He said getting out of China was the challenge, finding his couch-surfing host 50KM distance was easy!


Before we parted I gave him the amulet that Rucha had give me.  This to wear around his neck, a 'hidden,' money stash in case his backpack was stolen.  


By myself now I waited in the 'Transit Lounge,' and enjoyed a chocolate brownie!


The A.A. flight to Perth took off on time, and I crossed over the equator for the first time in my life (1300 hours, 030411).  I tried to sleep, putting my feet up on the seat I'd purchased for Xutan, and where he should have been sitting.  No thanks to the Australian Government who had rejected his visa application.


We landed at the Perth International A.P. at 0530, me anticipating a hassle at Customs, because a warning about 'dirty bicycles' getting quarantined. But, my prayers were answered, and I sailed through with little problem.


Suddenly, there I was on Australian soil for the first time, the sun just showing in the East.  I was so relieved at getting through Customs I celebrated with a muffin and coffee for !0 AUS. DOLLARS, OR ALMOST 700RMB.  Chinese families could live for one week for the same amount!  One muffin, one poor cup of coffee for $11U.S. dollars.  Welcome to prosperous Australia.


Outside, I put Mr. Fetes back together, and waited for Mike Norman to pick me up (all pre-arranged via the Internet).


A little early, at 0945, he appeared, and we loaded everything in or on his automobile (he has a Thule bike rack).


My first glimpse of Perth, Australia, reminded me of San Diego, California.  Suddenly, I 'was home.'   Familiar, but strange, I felt like I was dreaming in 'Dream Time.'


Nola Cray, where I'm encounsced at this very moment (175 Swansea Drive, in East Victoria Park), turns out to be a wonderful host.    She's taken care of me, like I was her brother!


After tea with Mike, I got settled in her 'trailer' (a Popette 400) where I am now.


But, that very evening we went on a long bicycle ride into Perth proper, and up a hill to King's Park (overlooking City Center).  This was great fun, and I got oriented as to the Perth area!  Inside one 'walking/shopping' court, a Chinese man played 'Waltzing Matilda,' on his violin.  How's that for a welcome!  I was going to give him some money, but I'd lost the coins in my pocket.  Australia has minted coins.


Note, the song, 'Waltzing Matilda,'  I remember from a book/movie entitled, 'On the Beach,' by Nevil Shute (an Australian).  So, poignant to me, the song, as the movie ends in Australia, where the last human being on earth succumbs to the effects of radiation poisoning from a nuclear holocaust.  Prescient maybe...


Back at Nola's house, she cooked scrambled eggs and tomatoes for us.  I am a fortunate man (or maybe a fortunate woman -- that should confuse you).


Exhausted, 'wanked out,' I had a delicious sleep in a comfortable bed.  Maybe the first good night (except for the Hotel chair) in three months.  I never slept well in the house in Old Town, Lijiang (Peter's that Keith is looking after):  'malerb,' or bad energy in that house.


Before entering the trailer I looked up into the night sky and beheld of the 'Big Dipper' (Ursula Majorus), and for the first time saw it completely upside down.  Thus, the two usual stars aiming at Polaris (to find the North Pole) couldn't.  I'm 'down under!'  But, I also glimpsed the 'Southern Cross,' for the first time, and will learn how to find the star that indicates the South Pole.


Australia, the word, means 'southern country.'


Day #2, Monday, 040411


I didn't get up until 0700, then made coffee in the kitchen.  Nola leaves her back door open all the time, as she has boarders (besides me).


By 0900 I was looking for WIFI, but the Cafe Nola had told me about only had wired computers.  The man behind the counter, informed me MacDonald's across the street had such.  So, one good turn deserving another, I bought some 'trail mix' (don't know what else to call this mixture of nuts, seeds, and raisons) from him.  One tiny container of such cost $2 (these are 'Aussie' dollars).  I lose .03 cents when I convert.  


Sad, what's happened to America, going to hell in a hand basket (2011).


At MacDonald's a poor cup of black tea, cost $2.35A., or $2.50U.S.  But, the WIFI worked and I was soon online, at least until my battery ran out after about one hour.  They have WIFI at MacDonald's, but guess what, no electric outlets.  I sometimes wonder about how people don't think.  I guess all portables (now iPod) have long-life batteries.  But, how 'bout the people that don't?  OOL!


I haven't noticed any Starfucks in Perth...?


Afterwards, I cranked back into City Center, Perth, and then up to King's Park.  All of this retracing our route of the previous evening to 'shoot,' for 'Discover Australia by Bicycle.' 


The thing I'm reminded of, being back in a Western country, is all the war memorials, and how we glorify military sacrifice.  King's Park is full of monuments, 'Lest we forget!'  But, the Botanical Garden, a treat, and the discovery of the long-living Boaba (Bottle) tree.  According to Nola, the Aborigines used them as 'prisons' for 'bad people.'  Can you imagine being encased in a 'Bottle tree,' for however long?  Such made me think of the Druids of ancient Britannia, as they communicated with  'tree spirits.'   Maybe there's a connection?


After sitting on a bench, feeding the magpies with my trail mix, I returned to Nola's via the Albany Highway.  On the way, I stopped twice, once to check out the Nepali Restaurant, and to see about purchasing an adaptor plug.  Australia is 220V, with a ground connection, my Apple Computer, being U.S., has but two, and I needed to recharge the battery for Macs in the morning.  I ended up buying an Apple cable, from an Iraqi man for $20A. 


Back writing in the trailer Nola yells to me to watch TV.  I thank her, but of course don't.  


I'm tired and soon am in bed, something like 8P.M.


Day #3 (050411), Tuesday.


I'm up at 0700, after a hot night, and I'm not talking with a woman!  One of the surprises about Western Australia is the heat, around 30C. by 4P.M., and everyday.  So, I 'jump cut,' from the beginning of Spring in China, to mid-summer in Australia, in 48 hours.  And I don't think my -15C down sleeping bag, is going to be needed here in Australia, even in the winter.  Note, the 'highest' latitude in Australia is southern Tasmania, and that's only 45 degrees south, equivalent to Portland, Or. (45 degrees north) in the U.S.,  This, if you want to compare relative temperatures based on proximity to the poles.  I'm sure in October (April in Australia) it's much colder at that time of year.  But, we're going to discover, as Tasmania, is on my list to 'Discover...'


Off again about 0900, I head directly for Macs, appropriately with my MacBook.


Then I return to Nola's bicycle shop, to have the check my derailleurs which have been acting up since the trip. The maintenance area, in such contrast to Zhao Gang's in Lijiang.  All the tools are hung up and organized, and everything neat and clean in order.  The mechanic, a man with a withered arm, turns out to be a good, and he first informs me my chain is stretched slightly, only good for another 300KM.  When I tell him it's only gone about 2K KM, he replies with, that's 'quite a long way!'  Note, in China they run them 10K KMs, or until the break.  A new cassette/chain will cost something like $250A. or 2,000RMB (in Chinese money).  This about 10X more expensive than at Merida in Lijiang, China.  Again, welcome to prosperous and rich Australia (as China making them rich, buying up all their resources:  iron ore, minerals and natural gas).


I buy some Teflon lubricant, and the total charge is $25A. or about 200RMB.  Zhao Gang, or any bicycle mechanic in China hasn't figured out to charge for 'shop time,' or their work.  In China, they only charge for parts.


I don't mind being charged for 'labor,' here as this guy knows what he's doing.  Thus, no problems now with my derailleurs. Ah, what a difference a country makes.


I head for Fremantle, the oldest community in the Perth area, as is the mouth of the Swan River.  I am looking for 'The Painted Fish,' a guest house, I've connected to via the Internet and Sarah, the owner.  It's about 15KM on the Leach Highway, a few hills and then I'm in this quaint little tourist town on the Indian Ocean.  


I stop in the midst of tourists, and tourist shops, healthy eating places, check them out, but walk into HempCo, selling clothing made out of hemp. Where there is hemp, there is 'dama!'  This company headquartered in 'Margaret River.'  I shall have a look when down there next week.  I also peruse 'The Blue Buddha,'  for incense, but so expensive.  A young man on the concourse is selling 'live painting.'  Everyone is in shorts or 'sun dresses,' as it's only the beginning of Fall or 'October' in my mind (actually the month of April here). 


I crank on now in quest of 'The Painted Fish' a Guest House.  I stop a young man on a bicycle with an iPod, and checking, he finds Holbert St.  He points south, which I think is north, and for one of the few times in my life I'm confused about directions.  My body compass, living in the Northern Hemisphere for 70 years, is turned upside down (down under).  But, I go in his direction, up (actually 'down') South street, to the end and then left on Duro, and Holbert is up on the right.  


I find Holbert a cozy community of artists.  On a public blackboard it reads, 'Happy Birthday, Lizzie!'  I crank up a shallow hill, amidst cute little beach bungalows, some decorated with sculptures, one I stop to take a picture of, a 'Wet-suit' man, stuffed like the Straw Man in the 'Wizard of OZ.'   I should have stopped there, as this turns out to be 'The Painted Fish,' but with no sign I move on.


I end up on a bike path looking for a higher number (I'd written down something like 100+), but end up on a busy commercial street.  I stop and ask many pedestrians, but nobody, two French tourists, have no idea.  'Viva La France,' in Fremantle, Australia.


Finally, after a restaurant (for a toilet), cranking through a residential area, and passing the Old Prison, I decide I must retreat and ask at the Visitor's Center, I remember coming into town.   Here, they know, it as 37 Hobert Street, with a missing 'l.'  Seems I was right there had the a sign with 'THE PAINTED FISH.' 


Back again, now it's obvious even without a text sign, as many painted fish scattered about (had I looked closer it might have dawned on me).  Nobody is home, however, so I leave my postcard.  But, I'm surprised as this is a funky deal, compared to what I saw on their website.  Ah, reality is always different from advertising pictures, and as we say, 'the map is not the territory.'  


I return to purchase an avocado, yoghurt and some water at a market.  I'm close to South Beach, and go to partake of sand and sea, and the Indian Ocean.


I have my little picnic lunch in the shade on a wooden picnic table/bench, but an avocado and yoghurt turn out to be a strange combination.  After eating I sit in the sun to digest my food, trying to 'snatch shots' of the locals (or tourists) enjoying the park.   Then I crank on a bicycle path further south (toward Coburn).  The Ocean is aqua-marine, and inviting under a bright sun (small lapping waves).   But, not being drawn to water, I stop only to 'shoot' video for 'Discover Australia by Bicycle.' 


At 3:30P.M. I decide it's time to return, as about 20KM distance.


But, oh the rushing traffic on the Leach Highway, so much more now!  Even with six lanes, the big trucks come to close, and certainly too fast. Australians are into speed and the illusion of power and freedom (nothing new here, the same all over the world).  At least there isn't the 'honking madness' of China!


I arrive back at Nola's about 5P.M., and meet Tom, Nola's ex-husband.  Tom, a former postman, is erudite, and I enjoy learning much about the world, particularly Australia.  He has some 'migraine' problem with his ears, but can hear well enough.  You can't talk if you can't hear.  After an hour or so, I return to my trailer, and continue writing this...


At some point I realize I must call Mike, and do (Nola's wired telephone is a fax machine).  But, he's at a Council Meeting.   I leave a message with his wife I will call tomorrow.


Welcome to Australia!


Day 4, (060411), Perth (East Victoria Park)


I cycled into City Center, Perth, this route, the one Nola had taken me on the first night.  But, I had to do a little searching before I got close, but then a wrong turn led me to one of YHA facilities.  They advertised 'WIFI,' so I stopped and yes, but for $1A. per 15 minutes.  I paid for 2.5 hours, some $10A.  Then BOHICA time as the WIFI doesn't work with your own computer but only theirs (and they couldn't refund the $10A.).  Now, here's a great example of modern-day stupidity, that these people wouldn't even understand.   Why would I buy WIFI to use their computer?  Stationary computers don't need WIFI, as they're wired.  PEOPLE JUST DON'T THINK!  Anyway, I didn't complain, as the woman informs me about 'free' WIFI at the City Library.


Inside the LIbrary, is a Cafe so I decide to have lunch first (bean salad, a slice of banana bread and tea for $10A.).  Then I ask at the desk about WIFI, which they have, but then so many people using the WIFI-Internet, no site will load. 


Finally, an employee came by to tell me I couldn't run my AC cable across the carpet to an outlet.  Safety first, of course!  I get the message and decide to return when they open in the morning (0900).  Note, whereas there is no such thing as public safety in China, maybe too much in Australia.  Oh, where is there a country that's 'perfect?"


After cycling around City Center (up into 'West End') Perth, as far as I can tell, is bereft of WIFI connection cafes.  No Starbucks either!   I wonder why no Starbucks...?  Well, I know of course.  On the other hand, they have MacDonalds!  Coffee must have a louder 'voice' in Perth, than hamburgers.


On the way back to E. Victoria Park, I come across a cycling couple from Austria trying to find the Train Station.  We chat awhile as they want to cycle China.


Then back to MacDonalds to get online, finally.  I make a mistake and order a Strawberry 'Smoothie,' made from pre-packaged ingredients, and with too much ice (too cold).  When will I ever learn? 


While I'm dealing with email an Australian man comes up to inform me my MacBook screen is in sunlight, and not a good idea (he 'repairs computers').  I thank him and move it into shade.  Later he tells me about how 'idiots' (vandals) had unscrewed the oil plug, taken the oil, and he, not knowing, drove his automobile/engine until it exploded.  And the insurance won't pay!  Thus, I curse all Insurance Companies (in the world):  'Oh, woe be unto you!'


I see Xutan (in Kuala Lumpur) is online so I launch a 'chat.'  Then 'Jerry,' in Xining, China, wants to as well, but I beg him off.  Before I can't do much as my battery runs out of juice. 


Back at Nola's I make my Yunnan Yunlu instant coffee  (with 'fat water'), and sit in her porch swing.  Her back porch, in the late afternoon, is like a tranquilizer, the wind chimes lulling me into reverie.  But, soon Nola sits, and we're talking about her family:  five children (one died of cancer), and 11 grandchildren., 'No great-grandchildren, yet, that will take another 10 years, and I don't know if I'll be around.'  She was born in 1944, and is 66-years 'young!' 


She's quite a 'gal,' this Nola, a professional nurse (about to retire).  Short, full of energy, she's not shy with men ('good for only one thing!').  But, she has a heart of gold, always thanking me for any little task I do for her, like washing the dishes.  She also plays the violin in the Fremantle Symphony Orchestra.  Their next concert, in June, dedicated to Gustav Mahler!


Soon, however, she departs for one of her granddaughter's and I hand wash some clothes, then take a shower.  I'm taking many more showers than Lijiang, almost one per day.  This because of the humidity.


Maybe, I'm beginning to adjust here in 'W,A,' (Western Australia), but certainly it is a 'jump cut' from China. I made a mistake not returning to a Western country in the five years I lived in China (Hong Kong twice).  I should have taken a little vacation in a Western country.  Now, the difference, 'culture shock'... challenging at my age!


This is 'strip malls Dreamtime!' 


Day 5 (070411)


I returned to City Center, Perth early to be some of the first when the State Library opened at 0900.  The ride in only taking me 45 minutes, so I stood around and watched Australians waiting along with me.  


One, an Aboriginal man, asked me about my little 'flex' jointed tripod attached to my camera.  Another was wearing a t-shirt which read, '3-3-3, only one-half evil!'  Note, for those who don't know the 'Fundies' (Christians) believe the numbers '6-6-6,' are symbolic of the Devil!  I take some pictures before the door opens promptly at 0900.  But, things are orderly, there's no big rush, no pushing and shoving as in China (where they suffer the 'too many rats in a cage' syndrome).


Now, because so few users the Internet servers work, and I can load gmail.com.  Xutan and I chat later, but when it gets too busy we're cut off.  He has an idea to ride to Singapore, 400KM from Kuala Lumpur, at the base of their peninsula.   This, influenced by one German man he met that had suggested this.  I responded with, 'When three people, and some research tell you it's the right thing to do, then go!  But, one German man does not a decision make!'


Young people, particularly young Chinese people, haven't been taught how to think.  Therefore they usually make poor decisions.  But, then again when I was young, I made many (bad decisions).  When young, you don't know that you don't know.


At 1100, I had lunch in their 'Aroma' Cafe (part of the State Library), a rice dish and toasted raison bread.  With black tea this cost $16.18A., or $16.50U.S.  This should give you some idea how expensive Australia is for me.  I have to stop doing this.


Why are the prices so high in Australia?  Money, the economy, dictates... When people are $ rich, prices are generally high.  Why are they rich in Australia?  Australia has many natural resources that the Chinese (who are rich also) need (iron ore, natural gas, minerals) are buying.  So, Australians have money.  And when people have money, lots of money, prices are high (because people can afford).  The real estate market here, hot, with a small home costing $500,000, a moderate house worth $1 million.  They, don't think it will change (that it will always go up), but someday the 'bubble with burst,' just like in the U.S. in 2008.  What goes up, must come down!  This is Taoism.


I ride around City Center looking for two things:  Hydrogen Peroxide (food grade), to use as a mouth wash.  And I also look for a watch repair place, to have a bucket added to the nylon strap I bought in Hogsaeter, Sweden, five years ago.  Walking on Hay Mall, I find one on a sign that says, 'second floor,' but decide against, as the Mall too crowded with people, and I'm concerned about leaving Mr. Fetes (MacBook inside one of my panniers).


I head for the Victoria Park Library to check out their Internet connection.  Nola, told me about this, and no doubt smaller (than the State Library in Perth), less people.  And less people means maybe I can get online, and even in the afternoon.


I get just inside when it starts to rain.  It's been cloudy all day, the front coming from the northwest (Indian Ocean).  But, now actual rain, Mr. Fetes parked under cover.  


After waiting a bit I'm able to get online, and chat with Rob Neal down in Bunbury.  He's my next host, a cyclist I connected with via www.warmshowers.org.  Ironically, Rudi and Lisa, an Austrian couple I'd met on a bicycle path yesterday, are staying with him.  I get his address, as I'll be looking on Tuesday afternoon.


Then after reading the newspaper (an English-language paper, what a treat), I return to 175 Swansea St. and my little Popette 400.  


I make coffee in Nola's Kitchen, but nobody seems to be around.  Nola, as I wrote earlier, seems to operate kind of a 'boarding house,' as many men coming and going. 


Editing 'Discover Australia by Bicycle,' Nola yells, for me to come eat fish.  But, earlier craving peanut butter I bought some in the Swansea Market (just across), and now I'm eating a sandwich with green olives.  So, I have to beg off.


Cooler, because of the wind and rain (change in weather), I put the quilt back on the bed, and am off to 'Dreamtime' at 2100 hours.


Day 6 (080411)


I'm at the Victoria Park Library early, so I lock Mr. Fetes, and then visit the adjacent Mall.  What deja vu, as reminds me of being in Colorado Springs.


Online at 0900, I get an email message from Paolo, he's in Perth!


NOTE, MAYBE NOT MORE FOR ANOTHER WEEK, AS busy visiting with Paolo, or on the road again!


H.






 




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