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Biking around Australia
Craig Update #1
(sent February 9th, 2002 from Melbourne, Victoria )


hey all!

I finally made it to Melbourne and am just now getting caught up with things. I actually haven't spent a lot of time in the net cafes (really!), so only a few of you have heard from me. I was going to hold off sending out a big email until I had my journal/pictures website running, but it looks like that is going to take longer than I planned...so I figured I'd better email all of you before you thought I dropped off the earth or something. I woke up this morning and realized I've been here almost a week. Time flies here also.

You will probably have to read the website when I get that going for more juicy details, but for now I'll give a quick summary. I arrived in Melbourne and it was a little colder and cloudy...just like Portland! I made it through immigration and customs ok, found an empty corner of the airport and put my bike together. It took a few hours to get the bike together since one of my shifters decided to break and I had to put on my new chain and whatnot. The ride from the airport to downtown Melbourne was complete hell. I pretty much took any road without traffic that headed south. People don't really "drive" here, they just turn push the gas pedal all the way down and turn the steering wheel at random intervals and somehow they make it to their destination. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time riding on sidewalks like I was a little kid again. One I got out of suburbia, it wasn't so bad.

Melbourne is kind of an interesting place. I'm staying at a pretty nice guest house in the St. Kilda area of Melbourne. The neighborhood is both upscale and seedy at the same time. Little old ladies carry their groceries down the same street hookers use. I swear that Grey Street looks a lot like the deck of an aircraft carrier in Top Gun, rather than F-14s...it is a constant barrage of beat up cars swooping in to pick up/drop off the women. People also seem a little less reservered also. Just today I was riding down the bikepath near the beach and passed a couple looking like they were trying out for a Jerry Springer guest spot or something. Nobody even turned their heads. Or the mom that was helping her child pee in the bushes. The other night I went out and had a beer with some people from the hostel, walking back up the street there was a couple going at it in a car right near the bar. Guess they couldn't wait to get home.

They have good coffee here, just not in large portions. People here actually sit and enjoy an 8 oz cup of coffee, then go about their day. Quite a contrast from my usual 24 oz of coffee that I carry around with me for hours on end. Maybe it is a sign that I need to drink less coffee.

For those of you wondering about the time difference. From Portland, I am 18 hours ahead. Easiest way to figure this is that I'm 5 hours back and a day ahead. This also means that I can see the future since I'm 18 hours ahead of you all. (e.g. Kevin will be riding his bike up Division St. in a few hours, and he will nearly hit a parked car when he turns to look at a girl walking down the street)

I've been doing a lot of exploring around the city and going out with people from the guest house. Went to the beach the other day (yes mom, I wore sunscreen). It was a nice break from the cloudy weather. There are a lot of cool people here at the house. Mostly Canadians and English. A guy in my room is from Liverpool and we've talked a lot. He said he used to be in a metal band called "Mortis", but then one day metal just dropped off the radar in England, so they changed into an indie-rock band instead. He said that he's only been to the states once, and he discovered that Liverpool wasn't the roughest/most dangerous place on Earth as he thought...it was Detroit!

Went out last night to this bar/venue that is so big, 3 bands play at the same time. Downstairs was a band doing 70's classic rock covers, playing to a bunch of people in their 40's and 50's. Upstairs was some band of 18-year olds playing music to a younger crowd, and in another room, playing their final show after 8 years together, were the Fuck Fucks. They kind of played a bunch of novelty songs and the crowd was a diverse mix of people. The band was all dressed up in drag and the lead singer was naked. Hmm, don't see that in Portland.

I'm going to Tasmania on Wednesday. (everyone here calls it Tas or Tazzy...havne't heard one person call it by its full name). It is a 15 hour ferry ride, you sleep in either a dorm room or regular room and they feed you dinner. The Bass Strait (between Tasmania and Australia) is supposed to be one of the roughest bit of seas in the world. I'm anxious to get out of the city. Melbourne has kind of been a continuation of Portland in that it is still a city and I'm still running around town getting crap for my bike trip. Almost done though....

Hopefully soon I'll be able to have the website up and running so you can see some photos. I can't find anyplace to plug my laptop directly into the net, so I have to write something tha works on my laptop that I can move over on a floppy disk (what a pain).

The only photo I have online right now is the one on the front page of the clock site. About 3 weeks ago a couple guys, Steve and Ross, wrote me from Melbourne asking me to swing by their office and get a clock picture of them and go get a beer later. A few days ago I went downtown and found their office. They were pretty happy to see me and really excited when they saw that I had the actual cardboard clock that is in a lot of the clock photos. We took a couple pictures outside and then Steve invited me to a friends house who was having a dinner party. It was a good dinner and I met a lot of people there. Steve and his girlfriend are pretty cool, we talked a lot about music and bands we had seen. Steve is a little older than me so it was interesting to see an Australian perspective of being into music. I rode back to St. Kilda along the beach bikepath in the warm rain, listening to Jane's Addiction version of "Nausea"..banging out the riff on my handlebars. By far one of the best bike rides I've had in a long time.

I gotta get to getting, hopefully by the end of next week or so I'll have the website up and running with pictures. There are only a few places to get on the net in Tasmania, but you'll hear from me at some point. Once I have the website going and my email announcement thingy running, you'll get updates from me on a more regular basis.

take care,
Craig




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© 2002-2003 Daniel Craig Giffen

Daniel Craig Giffen
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since yer down here, remember that math is fun!...
122434 + 32906 = 155340