I don’t typically drink two liters of pale ale for breakfast, but when I do, I’m two hours from leaving this country with a grocery bag full of untouched Little Creatures, and the most prolific criminals in Australia (the government) have taxed all alcohol to the point it’d be blasphemous to waste.
From Melbourne to Byron Bay, to Sydney up the Gold Coast and Brisbane, I spent the last month surfing through perspectives. At least six weeks was dedicated to getting my grubby marsupial paws on the construction side of renewable energy solar/wind farm, which my inbox is just now receiving. Meaning: 70 hour workweeks. $2200 a week for 3 months, with nothing to spend the money on. But then I had these serialized epiphanies, each more potent then the next.
Amazing traveler-humans I met aside, conclusions on Australia are that it’s BOOOOOOOORINNNGGGGG. It is a country defined by the outback – a gigantic space manspreading across the majority of the surface area of Oceania, containing literally nothing. The cities, most of which dot the coast, are sterile and uninteresting. Melbourne is the best of them, a chill place to live, with little to offer when you come from from another ranked cosmopolitan ‘lifestyle’ hub. My greasy theory on this country is that municipal policies are regimented to overkill to combat the global ozzie stereotypes. My Melburnian colleages were exclusively bogans who never left the country or read a book in their life, subsisting off diets of McDonalds, Red Bull and sexism. Perhaps if I traveled to the outback, threw a boomerang at a roo and got murdered by a funnel-web spider picking bananas for award wage in the daily 12-3 inferno, I’d have greater claim to a more authentic Straya backpacker experience.
I thought my perspective was broadened living my first year outside of the heartland, and while it was, I still needed a life lesson – one that being in Australia taught me. TEFLing a second consecutive year didn’t reveal itself like so many other actionable travel visions. I wanted to wet my feet in a few more mysteries of the planet.
These days I’ve changed time zones more than I’ve had hot meals. I’ve been around Asia enough to watch it change. Kuala Lumpur thinks its Singapore / a nice place (it’s not). North Korea is getting diplomatically dunked on. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve sat, face to face with any Vancouver friends, and I know a bit more about the world at large. My temporary escape is prepared, because I’ve seen what’s out there in terms of settling down, and what’s out there is another classic capitalist shit sandwich: Long hours, double paid overtime, nine to five and twentyfive or six to four, shuffling through the unremitting repetition of work like the rest of the organ grinders hoping their triple shot latte is strong enough to get them through the bullshit. A little more money in the bank account, another week barely lived at all.
My future life / our future lives will be filled with these sandwiches, and we will unwrap them from the saran wrap and swallow them in swathes, and we will eat them steaming from gilted panini presses with dollar signs in our eyes, and shit will drip down our chins and it will fall upon our bodies, and we will smear shit over the walls and in our hair, and money will pile up in our bank accounts and our bank accounts will be brimming, our pinkies will point outward holding cups that overfloweth with fecal matter, and we will do 100k/yearly starting salary, and we will become the shit.
But I’ve barely been here a quarter of century & that’s for the future. One day there will be the final boss of law school, and perhaps not living out of a backpack. And in a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. What a tragic existence it would be, however, to sell my soul without first seeing the world.
Outside the hostel window, Upper Roma Street backpacker-ants trudge downhill, heaving whole lives on their backs. I’m sitting here browsing job posts for China, thinking about squatting, playing mahjong in a laundromat parking lot. My inbox is flooded with offers from private language centers in Fuzhou and Beijing and I refuse to end up like so many TEFL expats livetweeting their psychotic breakdown from a windowless classroom on the 20th story of a Seodaemun skyscraper. Asia is place known for giving it to you raw, and countless unprepared get diseased long-term.
I won’t do another rural M-F – despite the sometimes illuminating meditative textures, sort of like a monastery stay.
THIS TIME I WILL GO BIG.
I WILL GET A BIKE AND MAKE BEIJING MY BITCH.
I WILL STAIN GENERATIONS OF ATMOSPHERES SMOKING INDOORS LIKE SO MANY AJEOSSIS AND THEIR CHINESE ANALOGS.
I WILL GO TO KAZAKHSTAN BY RAIL AND I WILL LOOK AT THE MOUNTAINS AND MAYBE CLIMB THEM, AND DEFINITELY PICK UP MY TRASH, BECAUSE THIS PLANET HAS HAD ENOUGH.
I WILL SHOOT ROLLS AND ROLLS OF URBAN BOTANICAL QUIRKS, GROW GUANXI WITH MY STUDENTS. I WILL DEVOUR THE BEST DUMPLINGS RENMINBI WILL BUY. I’VE LOOKED AT POSSIBLE APARTMENTS, AND BURST OUT LAUGHING AT LITERALLY LIVING IN A LOVE MOTEL. THE SQUARE FOOTAGE IS HILARIOUS.
I WILL RECOUNT MY NIGHTS FROM AN AMNESIAC BLACKOUT. IT WILL BEGIN WITH MICROBREWS STANDING ON THE MAGLEV BECAUSE THERE NEVER WILL BE A SEAT. LIFE WILL ZIGZAG THROUGH FOUR STORY DIM SUM CATHEDRALS AND SPORADIC FUTONG MAZES INTO SECLUDED SINO-TIKI BARS. OUR BIKES WILL BE STOLEN FROM THE ALLEYS. THIS BLOG WILL DEVOLVE INTO A FUCKSTORM.
IN THE ISOLATED SOLACE OF COGNITION, ASIA WILL TRANSFORM UNTO THE HYPNOTIC NARRATIVE FROM WHICH IT GREW. AS THESE UNNERVING AVENUES ARE TRAVELED, LONG-HELD IDEAS WILL BE DISCARDED.
CHINA WILL TRANSCEND THE SAME OLD SAME OLD. THE LEVEL OF MENTAL STIMULATION WILL BE AN EXPONENT OF AN EXPONENT FAR GREATER THAN ANYTHING *HOME* COULD EVER PLEDGE.
LET IT BE KNOWN
THAT THE SAME IS NOT ENOUGH