City of golden opportunity, convenience and high quality living
– I’d been travelling for 3 months and in that time I had heard a lot of stories from different travellers I had met along the way. Apart from the usual trendy (outdated) stories of Vang Veing a lot of the best recommendations I had received were to come to Australia, specifically Melbourne.
Needing a capital boost, I headed to this place having done no research on anything, only going on the stories I had heard. Everything people said about Australia being expensive was true and especially if you are coming from Asia where everything costs very little.
Landing at the airport on the 27th of December, I took advantage of the cheap antisocial flights. Travelling from the airport to Southern Cross Station at 2am, I could not believe how much Melbourne looked like home. I booked in one night at Habitat HQ hostel on St Kilda and stayed there just one night. Because it was so close to new years eve, all of the hostels were very booked up and they had all put their prices up to around 30 dollar-a-night. I managed to get 6 days over New Years in the Nomads hostel at the end of Flinders street. One plug between 8 was not cool…
I spent a couple of days looking around and I could not get over how expensive everything was. Buying food at Aldi still seemed too much and this was where all the backpackers were going. For New Years Eve I met up with Randy, a friend I met in Cambodia. He had a crew of people assembled at the other Nomads hostel and we went and celebrated the New Year in style walking around the streets and South Bank. Here I lost about 4 hours of memory due to drinking a huge amount of vodka, but still managed to make it back to my bed unscathed.
Next morning I woke up to a girl freaking out. She was covered head-to-toe in bed bug bites and the hostel guy was very unsympathetic. We did all get $8 dollars to wash all of our stuff which was a nice touch. But the guys at this hostel were generally ass holes.
After a few days I went on a farmworking mission with Hendrik and Julius and a couple of other German dudes I had met in the hostel. We headed to Shepparton which was about 3 hours North of Melbourne. It was like a different place. A ghost town from the wild west with tumbleweed-esque quietness and architecture that had not changed in 200 years.
We stayed at the Merrigum Caravan park for just under 2 week and I did 1 morning of farm work. This was set up by the Thai farming cartel and they didn’t even end up paying me my $10 dollars for the 10 kilos of green beans I picked. At this point I had already began searching for jobs on Gumtree and Seek and I had already set up an interview for an office job and a Bar Tender job in the city. So back I went to do some interviews and find a place to live.
I interviewed for both roles and got both jobs. I should explain that at the start of January I had some bad luck with the mis-management of my student rental property in the UK. This meant that I had to earn a lot of money to keep things afloat and I was lucky that I could leverage the awesome salaries that this county has to offer.
After staying in hostels for a few more days I got a house share for $120 a week in Caulfield North which was a steal. Trouble was, it was with 10 Israelis fresh out of compulsory military attendance (both boys and girls) and 2 German stoners.
So the house was a crazy party house and I had to share a room with 2 others. I really enjoyed living here but having 2 jobs and trying to get sleep in a party house was too difficult.
After 4 weeks I moved into a really quiet house in Albert Park 50 metres away from the beach. This was $220 all-in a week which was alright and perfect for me as I wanted to stay of all the bills. Here I had my own double bed room and shared with Sally an older lady who was never there, so I was able to recharge and get some sleep again.
For the best part of 3 months I worked my ass off – doing two jobs and by the end of it something had to give and I quit my SEO Account manager office job. Before I went travelling I had quit my office jobs in the UK as they made me really unhappy. I hate the restrictions of the establishment and the lick-ass office politics. I found myself hating it more and more everyday. Whats more I had starting seeing a really amazing girl and my zombie-like exhaustion was putting strain on my ability to operate socially and I wanted to be the best person I could be. So after 3 months I dropped the office job and continued to work in the restaurant at night.
The restaurant I worked at was called Rare Steakhouse. This place was a top restaurant on trip advisor and Urban Spoon and while I was working there we had Pennywise and David Hasslehoff both come in for steak which I thought was pretty cool. The staff atmosphere here was really cool. Everyone was really nice and everyone got along. When you work in the service industries there is an unseen level of camaraderie that you just don’t get in the rat race. All life aspirations aside, I really enjoy working in a bar and if that makes me happy then why should I want to go slog it out in the rat race and die of stress. Life is short and happiness is one of the most important things to me.
On the 14th of April I booked my flight back to the UK for the 28th of May. This meant I had 6 more weeks to chill out in Melbourne – see some of the tourist stuff and places I had not had a chance to and generally compose myself and get me into good stead for my return home to the UK.
Melbourne is an awesome city with so much opportunity and wealth everywhere. The quality of life here is far greater than that of any city in the UK and you can feel the happy / positive energy that comes with a general population who are happy and enjoying their lives a lot more than the negative, complaining society back in grey blighty. Winging Poms they would say.
With six weeks left, the plan is to see as much of Melbourne as I can but also to be happy and be a joy to the people around me. I want to remember this place with a smile and all actions from now on will only build toward this.