Sunday, June 20, 2004

Australia really is a strange country. Because it is an island continent that has been seperated from the rest of the world for millions of years, it has spawned its own branches of evolution that have created plants and animals that are alien to the rest of the world. European colonisation has bought with it much foreign life (and therefore familiar to me); but merely strolling around even a major metropolis like Sydney has caused me much nature-related consternation. The plants are weird, the trees even odder, and there seems to be a completely different animal hierarchy than what I am used to. There are these huge and fat long beaked birds waddling around the city called White Ibis'...

The Australian White Ibis

....and odd odd odd looking trees....
The Queensland Bottle Tree. Stupid tree.

Sydney is a very beautiful city, although the traffic lights have ridiculous sounding pedestrian crossings, pubs are called 'Hotels' although few actually rent out rooms and the prices here are extremely expensive . So much so that I wonder how much time I dare spend here before flying back to the cheapy cheap south-east Asia. The meat pie looms large here and nationalism is strong. I have to say the "100% Australian Owned and Managed" signs on some shops are disturbing to say the least but in general Ausralians are extremely friendly and approachable.

One of my last nights in bangkok was an interesting one. A Canadian chap I was travelling with from Cambodia for a couple of weeks idioticaly accepted the invitation to smoke a joint whilst in the Khao San Road area. Which is an idea even more stupid than Australia's animals and fauna. The Thai government has really been cracking down hard on drugs (overdoing it in fact, much to the consternation of the world's civil rights groups) and being caught in posession of even a trace of narcotics of any kind brings with it a long spell in a dark and unpleasant prison, followed by deportation and a criminal record. And so Brandon (for that is his name) was inevitably arrested with spliff in hand and marched down to the local police station. I saw the police surrounding Brandon and I followed them as he got taken to the station along with a couple of other concerned friends. But Brandon was a fortunate boy as members of the International Red Cross happened to be drinking at the pub and witnessed the whole thing. One of them came down to ensure things were conducted properly and to help Brandon say the right things. In the end I had to run off to a local 7-11 (great places - air conditioning and massive Squishys for only 20 bhat) to buy a bottle of whisky for the coppers. Classic SE Asian bribary.

Lucky Canadian git.

Thinking about going to Byron Bay next - but must be careful regarding the Euro 2004 fixture list.

No comments: