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Published: April 29th 2008
Once in a while you meet a person and everything just clicks like you're two halves of a whole that's just waiting to happen. I met Kieran in Bangkok. To my surprise I met Kierans dad at the airport (later referred to as my baptismal fire). He spent the morning showing me around Melbourne, giving a little history lesson of the architecture and origins over a warm latte and a walk around the CBD. Once I was given a map and instructions of the best tourist-type stuff to see I was on my way through the vast and beautiful botanical gardens. It's fall in Melbourne, the air is crisp and the leaves are just beginning to fall making lovely patterns of orange and red across the deep green grass. The botanical gardens were beautiful and I managed to follow a tour around to catch some info on the vast array of vegetation. The tranquility didn't last too long though; within minutes I was apprached by a man from Cyprus who didn't hesitate to propose to me and follow me arround the gardens. Although he was selling a life on the back of a motorcycle in Greece, I convinced him that I was unfortunately unavailable he spilled out his recent life story. He was apparently a very attractive man once upon a time with too many girlfriends to keep track of, in a drastic turn of events he was in a massive car accident that left him very disfigured. After several surgeries he regained most of his facial structure but was still blind in one eye, he had arrived in Melbourne with the expectation of completing several more rounds of plastic surgery (he said the surgons in Melbourne are the best in the world). Soon enough (mostly due to my hastened pace at having a lonely 30-year-old man folowing me) I reached the end of the botanical walkway and we parted ways. From the gardens I continued up the riverside along a very trendy scenic walkway. Melbourne is a beautiful place, it has the "everyday is a Sunday" feeling that a lot of large cities try to capture in their cafe/promenade areas. I took a stroll through the huge crown casino, an interesting, yet disgraceful sight at 11 in the morning. After wondering around the CBD and checking out the Victoria library it was time to make the long walk back across the CBD to meet up with Kierans father for a lengthy drive to the smal city of Ballarat, home of the mars bar. There, I met Kieran's brother, sister-in-law and a twin niece/nephew combo who were absolutely adorable. After becoming acquainted with Kierans' family without the help of a buffer, Kieran arrived. I was so happy to see him again. We spent the next day doing nothing at all, as was our specialty in Bangkok, and in a last minute turn of events decided to go on a roadtrip around Victoria. Our first stop was the Murray river, the boarder between Victoria and NSW. It was magical, almost unbelievable. We arrived to a peach and gold streaked sunset, still waters of a winding river, and hardly another person in sight. I taught Kieran how to make smores (spreading the Canadian delights at every chance I can get), and we sat around the fire all night. I have missed camping more than almost anything back in Canada. I remember summers when I used to live for the weekends, spending every extra moment in the mountains, waking up with the sun and smelling the clean air. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to go back to work. After a day on the Murray and a freezing cold swim we headed to the "mountains". We stayed just outside of a place called Mt. Beauty and it made me realize that Australians really don't know what they're missing. Kieran toook me up to the old cattle graazing grounds to one of the oldest cattle huts in Australia. It was freezing (compared to Bangkok) but beautiful. After spending the night next to a gorgeous little creek in a lush mountain forest we headed back to Ballarat for the night en route to the great ocean road. The great ocean road is a fantastic drive. It has all of the adventure and danger of the Cocahaulla (sp?) highway that winds through BC, but with smooth new pavement and amazing ocean views. The little town of Apollo bay is a tiny vacation paradise, very small-town feeling, with parks and families eating fish and chips oceanside, and old couples holding hands on the beach. After settiing up camp and having our fill of fish and chips, Kieran and I sat oon the beach under the bright full moon drinking champagne and listning to the waves crash against the shore, a picture of perfection. Our road trip came to an end the next day with a trip to the Cricket grounds to watch an AFL match. It's an interesting game, not really rugby, not really football, unlike anything I know of. The game was fun to wwatch and even though it was a regular season game between two notoriously poor teams (Carlton and Melbourne) it was by far better attended than any regular season hockey game I've ever seen. Kierans team won, which was great because he hadn't seem them win in ages. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better roadtrip, or a better tour guide. The next few days were spent doing very little: looking around Ballarat, sorting out things for Japan, enjoying relaxation while Kiran worked 12 hours per day. All good things cometo an end though and eventually it was time for me to hop a flight to Japan. After an ambush-style family dinner andsad goodbyes it was time to go. I ended up accidentally missing my first flight to Japan because I didn't bother to read my itinerary properly so I had to spend the night in the Bangkok airport. My arrival was interesting though. Thre was an irate drunk man threatening people on the plane so we had to have a delayed landing and our plane was surrounded by security people. In the airport I slept on a nice patch of seats I was able to claim before the sleep-rush came (lots of people sleep in the Bangkok airport) I awoke next to a woman who was moving to Holland. She was kind enough to give me some Tjai money that she said she would never need again. Thanks to her I was able to eat a fantastic breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That's one thing the Bangkok airport definitely has over all of the others i've been in: affordable food, and lots of it. After 28 hours of hanging out and doing laps of the floor I finally boarded my plane to Japan. Sumo and sushi await...
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