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Published: November 27th 2009
First of all huge apologies for the extremely long time since my last blog entry, the last month has been hectic, intense and chaotic as you will soon find out...
Landing late on a thursday evening we made our way to the Balmain Backpackers Hostel tired and weary from the non stop few weeks in South East Asia. However we would have no time to relax. In a totally alien city we knew we had to get our bearings fast, find somewhere nice but cheap to live, and then get a job. Where the past 5 weeks had been about trying to appreciate as much culture, cuisine and fun as we possibly could, our time now was entirely dedicated to setting ourselves up in Sydney. Using the websites gumtree.com.au , domain.net , share-accomodation.net and general advertisements we saw on the street, we would attempt to get ourselves set up as quickly as possible.
Balmain Backpackers was a bizarre little place in its own right. Like most of the other hostels we had chosen on our travels, our reasons for booking it were simple - it was the cheapest one on hostelbookers.com. Whilst it lacks the extravagance of many of the hostels that our located in the city center, some of which resemble nice hotels rather than hostels, for a social aspect it was great, and for this reason I would recommend it - every weekend the Hostel would erupt into a big party and it was often the owners who ended up the most drunk.
Our first week we dedicated to househunting, basically viewing as many places as we possibly could in a day, which also helped us get our bearings of the city quickly. One of the most common forms of accomodation would be an appartment in a high rise building with city views, great location and with a communal gym, pool and sauna. At first we thought this sounded amazing, but after viewing many of these places we learnt that the places were normally pretty cramped as four people would be sharing a room. The reason for our househunting was to find somewhere to settle down, and these high rise apartments just felt like glorified hostels. Thus the next form of affordable accomodation was student residences, and it was these we focussed our attentions on, with mixed success. A particular one that sticks in the mind is a place we saw in Redfern - probably the area in Sydney with the highest crime rate. As we strolled up to the house we heard a loud heavy bassline coming from one of the windows. Where many people would have walked away then, myself being an avid DJ this didnt effect my opinion of the place. What was to follow however would... As we were lead into the house by the landlord we were met by a middle aged aboriginal woman who was maniacally laughing on the sofa with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a naughty cigarette in the other. Moving as quickly as we could through the living room as she didn't seem particularly impressed with us being in her house, we were shown the room where we would be living. The term "Pig Sty" would have been too complentary to describe it. The Egyptian man who we would have been sharing with had managed to create an entire new eco system in the place, with new species of wild life growing from the left over dirty dishes and clothes scattered everywhere. We made a speedy getaway after that.
After looking at around 15 houses, finally we came to the "Lively Student Terrace on Abercrombie Street". Three houses all backing onto a shared backyard with leisure facilities (A table tennis table) and a Spa (A very large paddling pool), the place had an extremely social vibe, we would have our own rooms, and it was in an incredible central location - 5 mins from the CBD but also 5 mins from the trendy student areas of Newtown and Glebe. And so we moved in and have been happy here ever since! With a list of nationalities including French, Australian, New Zealand, Chilean, Peruvian, Dutch, German, Thai, Norwegian there is a large mix of cultures that is unified by wine and beer. As we were looking round various terrible houses we often said that there was a perfect one waiting for us out there somewhere, and thankfully we managed to find it.
Thus with accommodation now sorted, a job was the next necessity. Checking various backpacker websites one particular advert caught our attention, something profound and intricately worded:
FREE BEER AND LOADSA $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
So naturally Tom and I rand the number and we asked to come in for an interview, still not entirely sure at all what we were being interviewed for. In fact it was probably only three quarters of the way through the interview that I realised what job I was applying for. Door to door sales. Definitely not what I had intended on doing when I arrived in Sydney, but having passed the interview and the training day Tom and I decided to at least give it a shot. Apart from the Top Dog at the company, who everytime you shook his hand you counted your fingers afterwards to make sure they were all there, everyone else was incredibly friendly and there was a really nice friendly atomsphere about the place - the only problem was the job. We were responsible for persuading customers to use the services of either Bridgestone, Midas or Goodyear mechanics "virtually for free." The product we were selling did on the surface seem like a good one - about $800 worth of car servicing that could be used any time in a year which would "set our customer back" only $150, however we were soon to find out everyone in Australia has an aunt, uncle, brother, daughter, son, father, grandfather, long lost cousin who is a mechanic and who does all their servicing for free. Yet the worst part of the job was that it was commissioned based - $30 per sale. Thus you could spend 9 hours walking around the suffocating heat in a next to nowhere place over an hour away from sydney only to come back with $30 in your pocket. No matter how good the social atmosphere was, this job was not for me, and there are many other door to door jobs which offer a base pay or at least a far better commission - the incredibly deep and ingenious advertising campaign had hoaxed Tom and myself into the job.
When I arrived in Sydney it had been my intention to work in a bar, and it was this that I now decided to pursue. I did my Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate, which is required for everyone who wants to work in a bar, which is also the biggest government scam to get money as I sat for 6 hours being taught what a drunk person looked like, I then set about systematically going around various bars asking if they had any vacancies. Having met various backpackers in Asia I had been warned that finding a bar job in Sydney was incredibly difficult, with the majority of people saying it took them at least a month. I was soon finding this to be the case, feeling that it was more a case of turning up at the right place at the right time. After two weeks of looking and now debating whether or not I should perhaps such for a different type of job, I came across the right place at the right time. Although the position they had going was a bar backer and not a barman, it was still an opportunity, and after passing my trial they offered me the job! In fact my first night at the bar is tonight, so Im pretty excited!
So after a month of being in Sydney I am starting to feel pretty settled! As for sightseeing i've seen the opera house and the harbour bridge, but life so far in Sydney hasnt really been touristy at all. However as the heat rises (it was 41 degrees the other day!!) I think Bondi and the beaches at Coogee, Manly and Maroubra will all be visited more often!
Apologies once again for the time it took to write this! I am having a great time down under and now that I am more settled I will update more regularly!
Much Love to all!
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