Saturday, July 14, 2012


The feeling of disappointment washes over me like a child who doesn't receive that toy he's been asking Santa to give him on Christmas day. While most view traveling as a once in a lifetime opportunity and vacation, I view it as a new learning experience and a chance to keep me sane and from killing everyone around me (especially the stupid, arrogant and moronic group. You know who you are).

What I love about my current job is not only the fact that the pay/benefits is far, far better than previous jobs I held, but management and fellow employees don't treat each other like shit. There isn't a problem with drugs or staff hooking up with staff and that right there is an added bonus. Moreover, I am able to take time off or swap shifts so easily without having to fight for it or risk losing my job. Needless to say, taking a weekend off for New Zealand in March, a week for New Caledonia in May and a week off for Singapore in July is pretty lenient and amazing compared to what other employers would offer or say.

So it devastated me when I was told that I could not get the time off for Singapore July 24th-29th as this is the second week of classes at Griffith Uni and things would be a bit hectic until mid August. What I found annoying throughout the whole process of getting the time off, is we had booked this trip in March when I returned from New Zealand and while mentioning throughout that time that I needed it off, I was told to 'remind me as the time comes closer'. Unfortunately, as that time came closer, it was noticed I was attempting to leave during a busy time-frame. Whoops.

So I entertained the idea of quitting and going to Singapore before realising how stupid of a mistake that would be. To leave a job for a $250 flight or just eat the loss due to error and lack of checking dates? I chose the latter knowing that the trip will be waiting for me in August and as the semester proceeds into week 4, I can take more time off to add Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Indonesia (Jakarta) and perhaps Thailand (Bangkok) to the list over the course of 9-12 days. Plus I did not want to go through the same issues I did when I left for Japan back in November and returning without a job (and money).

But during this process it got me thinking, why I would resort to such an irrational choice of leaving a job to go experience 4 days of bliss only to come back to nothing? Probably because I'm stupid and crazy and when it comes to traveling, I absolutely love it. Or because I'm reaching that point where it's time for me to get out of town once again as the Gold Coast continues to diminish my faith in humanity.

Whatever the case may be, I will not be going to Singapore Jul 24th-July 29th but instead cancelling and going a few weeks later. I know, I know, this is devastating to all of you, but don't worry, I'll be in the air in no time and back to Asia for a 2nd round.

In the meantime,

Cheers and 再见!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Sydney vs. GRE

There’s something about the big city that I absolutely love. Not just the sounds of cars honking, trains speeding by and continuous construction, but the feeling that everyone walking around has a purpose and somewhere to be or somewhere they are going. It excites for my own venture out into the real world when I get to dawn an expensive suit, carry a briefcase and carry two phones at once (ok maybe a bit far).
My trip to Sydney, much like my trip to Auckland, New Zealand, was a relatively short one that only served one purpose and that was for my GRE. I hitched a ride from Jimmy to the airport to save on the hassle of taking the bus before checking in and heading to the gate.

I want to go off on a slight tangent here and state that although Virgin Air considers itself a discount airline, I absolutely love what Richard Branson has done with the model of the company. Customer service agents greet you by name on check-in, ask you how your day is going, why you’re going to your destination AND my first time flying with Virgin, they upgraded me to an exit row seat! Needless to say, I love the customer service associated with it (and the hot staff they employ) even if it means I’m paying a bit more than flying with Jetstar.

I tried my best to sleep on the plane since I had to work all night but it wasn’t happening. So I arrived in Sydney exhausted, groggy and ready for bed. I purchased a multi-transport pass for $61 and that allowed for unlimited travel on any of the trains, buses and ferries including leaving and coming to the airport. Although now that I look back I did not take the full advantage of the $61, the pass is good for a week, so anyone going to Sydney, I strongly recommend getting it. Moreover, last time being here Sydney was lacking in the apps department for travellers whom have an iPhone and they have greatly improved this time around with transit schedules and such, so really helped out. Far better than my time here in 2007 in which I only had a brick phone Nokia.

I caught the train to the city and then a bus from the city to Cass’s place where I would be staying for my two days in town. She has an awesome place on a hill that has a great view of the city nightlife as well as the quietness of any suburb. She gave me a tour of the place; I met her roommates and then after an evening of chatting decided to finally pass out. I was a bit nervous, as I had not done any studying that night to prepare for my afternoon GRE test the next day, but oh well…

I didn’t sleep well that night and woke up with a kink in my neck resulting in a pretty painful morning. I left the house with Ally for the city as she was on her way to work and figured might as well travel with someone who knows the area. I’m glad I did because my intentions were to go to the library at Circular Quay to study until my exam and then head to it at 1pm. She advised me there was the state library (which I didn’t even know about), which was closer and offered more amenities than the local library. So I headed there, found a seat in the café and began studying furiously for the next 4 hours.

I skimmed the material for the last minute cram session before realising I hadn’t looked over anything regarding shapes! It sounds stupid now that I look back, but to completely forget a whole section, at this point I told myself “screw it”. I grabbed some KFC before heading to the testing centre.

To spare the long boring details regarding the test and to avoid getting sued by the GRE people, I’ll just say it wasn’t what I had expected. After the exam was finished it gave me a raw number regarding what my scores were without my verbal reasoning essays (as those would be graded by humans). I’ll spare the details now and wait until I get back my official results before announcing anything, but at this time all I’ll say is the ends justifies the means, clearly.

After the exam, I walked around a bit before heading back to the library to do some email checking, podcast downloading and connecting with Lani to meet up for dinner. She told me she was in Kings Cross, which I shuddered after hearing because that place is absolutely disgusting (and it’s apparently improved over the years!). We ate at a local hole in the wall Thai place, which was pretty spicy but also amazing. Afterwards, we went our separate ways and I headed back to Cass’s place before relaxing for a bit and heading to bed.

I woke up Thursday morning to the sound of rain, which I wasn’t to pleased with as I was not expecting it to rain until Thursday evening. I packed my stuff and headed to library to drop off for a few hours since they had hourly lockers, so that I could walk around the city as well as head to the harbour to take pictures of the bridge and opera house. Sadly, the rain was constant throughout most of the morning, so I bought a $15 umbrella to attempt to keep me somewhat dry.

I first headed to the rocks and took some pictures of the bridge as well as the opera house across the way before making my way over to the opera house. Luckily at this point the rain had stopped so I was able to get a few pictures as well as Skype my buddy Diaz from back home to show him the sights and sounds of Sydney Harbour. A pretty low-key day before I grabbed my stuff, headed to the airport and caught the 3pm flight back to the Gold Coast.

Overall, the trip was pretty good. A bit unfortunate that there were many friends of mine I didn’t get to catch up with but since airfare is relatively cheap to Sydney ($150 on a good day), I am planning to go back in August on my days off but with the mindset of relaxing and not worrying about a test. There are already plans in the works to go see an opera or symphony at the opera house! More to come.

Until then,

Cheers and !