So I've been back in Australia a week now. Spent a glorious weekend doing absolutely nothing but hang out with the boy, watch movies (including the Dark Knight Rises for the 2nd time), sleep and relax. Come Monday, Nate had to go to work and I was left with nothing to do, seeing as how my cafe job would have to wait another week since they had already made the schedule (which didn't include me). I decide to apply for a few jobs since I'm going to have to pay for SE Asia somehow.
I decided to go for the promotions jobs since they're rather easy, flexible and pay decent. I applied for three and the next day, I got a call back asking if I wanted to come in for an interview that day. At the time, I was actually out trying to find Nathaniel his birthday present. His birthday isn't until the 22nd this month but I decided it would be a fabulousss idea to get us some bikes so we can go bike riding! Although this plan doesn't seem super brilliant right now, as I look at the weather forecast and it's supposed to rain the rest of the week. Like it does everyy week.
Anyway, I go on gumtree.com and find tons of bikes around the price that I want. Yes, I'm getting my boyfriend a used bike for his birthday. Sounds pretty lame, but the idea is that we'll go on lots of fun bike rides together - that is, if the rain EVER stops. So my one problem - actually one of my MANY problems, is that I do not have a car. So my idea is that I get a bike within about 10km of my house so I can just ride it back home. The first place I go - and yes, this blog is now ending up being about my bicycle hunt rather than my "big kid job" - I end up really liking the bike and so I buy it. It fits me fine and if the seat is raised, it will fit Nate too, so I figure it's a good bike to start with. So I pay for the bike and was meaning to ask this girl - or any person for that matter - if I'm supposed to be wearing a helmet. I don't know if that's a stupid question, all I know is that in California, you don't need to wear a helmet when you ride your bike. In Hawaii, you don't even need to wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle (random, I know).
So I text my friend Ash and ask him if I need to wear one. No response. I jump on the bike and see an older guy riding his bike and he's wearing a helmet - granted he's also wearing super short bike shorts with a matching shirt and helmet, so I figure this guy is just super hardcore. A minute later, I see another guy riding his bike without a helmet, so I'm like, wooo I'm in the clear! So I'm cruising down the street, headphones in, jamming to my music, thinking about how much I looove riding bikes and how free I feel and how it's going to be soooo awesome being able to ride my bike everywhere and then of course - I look over my right shoulder and I'm legit getting pulled over by the cops. Of course.
"Do you have some ID on you?" he asks. "Am I doing something wrong?" "Do you think you're doing something wrong?" "Am I supposed to be wearing a helmet?" And at this point, the cops are just laughing at me. Obviously I'm not from around here. I explain that I literally had just gotten the bike 5 minutes ago and that in California you don't need to wear helmets, etc etc. They didn't ticket me or anything (luckily). I just couldn't believe I got pulled over within MINUTES.
Anyway, I got one bike down, one more to go! So actually, as I was about to ride away, right after I texted Ash, is when this sports marketing agency called me about coming in for an interview that day. So I went in a few hours later and things went really well. There were a ton of people in there so I wasn't too hopeful I would get a call back, but a few hours later, they called me asking if I would come in the next day - today. They had explained that it was a sales job and that we represented a lot of major sports clubs in Australia, such as the AFL (Australian Football League), Special Olympics and so on.
Today, I went in and along with a couple interviews, actually went and job shadowed them. Didn't really seem like my kind of thing, unfortunately. Sales has never super interested me. We went back to the office and I spoke with another employee and she explained how the entire company works. Overall, there's a LOT of room for growth and you can do really well if you try hard and are motivated. And I actually think it's something I can do and be good at.
Unfortunately, this isn't the ideal job to get when I only have two months here until I start traveling for a month and then go back to The States. And they actually offered me the job at the end of all my interviews. I had a feeling I might get it because I was getting along with everybody I had met, and in my head, I said if they offered me the job, I would tell them I would have to think about it first. Of course when it actually happened and she excitedly offered me the job, I just said "awesome, sounds great!" which could definitely (and was definitely) interpreted as an acceptance.
So now here are my issues: Do I take a job where I won't be able to make a lot of money right away (when I'm trying to save money right now for traveling)? That also has reallyyy long hours? But it will definitely pay well in the future. But if I go home, then there won't be a "future" and then 2 months could potentially be wasted. Granted, I'll probably learn a lot, but it's not really fair to me or the company to spend two months here to just quit after not even getting anywhere. And so if I decide NOT to go home, then that means...I won't be going home. And I DO want to go home. I have friends visiting for a month in December that I'm supposed to show around California. And that was just always the plan - to go home for the holidays. But if I stay, it could turn into a really good job because it IS a really good opportunity. But then Nate's visa expires in March and he might not be able to stay in Australia either way. And also, am I really ready to have a big kid job? I still wanted to keep traveling. i wanted to go teach English in Italy or Spain or somewhere in Europe. I don't know if I'm ready for real responsibilities. But I DON'T want to be working at random cafes/restaurant the rest of my life. And working at a million different restaurants doesn't exactly improve my resume.
Decisions, decisions. Training starts on Monday so I have a few days to figure it out. To grow up or not to grow up...
Six Days of Fiji.
Definitely not enough time to see all the beauty this country has, but enough to fall in love with it.
Nathaniel and I flew into Nadi, which is on the main island on Monday, June 18, after a looong journey consisting of closed airports (damn you Avalon Airport - always fly Tullamarine in Melbourne, it's not worth paying less to fly Avalon!), waiting for them to open at gas station cafes, sleeping on airport floors, and racing to catch our connecting flights. Our first stop was the Hilton Resort, also on the main island. Our funds limited us to only one night here, but I'm glad we were only on the main island for a night since there are so many islands. The Hilton was GORGEOUS. 7 pools overlooking the ocean and beautiful rooms. We spent the day by the pool reading, drinking and watching the sunset.
After continuously checking the weather in Fiji weeks prior to leaving, only to finally accept the fact that it would rain 5 out of the 6 days we were there - we were welcomed by perfect, sunny, warm weather. It ended up raining a total of 1 morning we were there and the rest of the time we were blessed with the best weather we could ask for.
The second day we went on the South Sea Island Cruise
, which wasn't so much a cruise but more of a ride to South Sea Island where we would spend the day. This little island was beautiful and TINY. You could walk around the entire thing in 5 minutes. Day 2 was spent going on a glass-bottom submarine, snorkeling, drinking our unlimited supply of alcohol (included in the cruise package), kayaking, laying out and eating. It was my first time ever snorkeling, which was amazing seeing all the underwater life. They took us on a boat to snorkel the outer reef, which was 10 times more amazing than the reef right on the island. After missing our boat back to the main island and having to catch a separate ride, then getting lost on the way to our second accommodation, we arrived at Tropic of Capricorn, which was....no Hilton.
We only spent one night at Tropic of Capricorn and then we were off to the Yasawa Islands. Well, we tried, anyway. We arrived at Denarau Port, which is where all the boats depart for all Fiji islands and attempted to get on our boat, only to get rejected because our travel agent failed to let them know we were supposed to depart that day (Fiji only has one boat to go through all of the islands - departs once a day for the far islands like the Yasawas. Make sure you're booked for the exact days you plan on departing/arriving or else the boat might be full!). Luckily, they made room for us and we started our 4 hour cruise to the northern islands.
We got to pass through all of the other islands, which was awesome for the first half until I started getting sea sick. It was all completely worth it when we arrived at Blue Lagoon Resort on Nacula Island. All white sand, completely clear water, a beautiful resort and a welcome song by the Fijians. We snorkeled, hung around the beach and then had dinner. Everybody at the resort has dinner together and so we sat with a Kiwi family and the Fijian people served us our delicious dinner.
We started the next day off with a snorkeling trip on one of the Yasawa Islands outer reefs. We took a boat out about 20 minutes out and then all jumped out into the middle of the ocean. The reef here was, by far, the most amazing reef we had seen yet. The water was a little bit cooler - so about 77 degrees or so? (Compared to the 80 degrees at the shore... and compared to the 65 degree water in San Diego). After snorkeling for about an hour or so, we rode the boat closer to shore where they did a "fish feeding". They had us all jump out of the boats and then threw this corn bread/cake kind of stuff where hundreds of fish swarmed us to get the food. It was the craziest, scariest experience ever being surrounded by so many fearless fish. They're completely harmless, hungry fishies, but I was still slightly terrified they were going to eat my face.
After the snorkel trip, we went on a hike. The island was much bigger than South Sea Island and was pretty "hilly" so we wanted to hike up the hill to get a good view. From the resort, it didn't look very high and so we decided to go on our own. What I assumed was a brief stroll up a hill (in flip flops - or barefoot in Nate's case) ended up being about a 5 mile, treacherous hike. Okay, not so treacherous in regards to steepness or even general difficulty at all - but we were literally walking up a mountain of reeds taller than me. Granted I'm not very tall, but they were a pain in the ass, to say the least, and made this allegedly leisurely stroll extremely unpleasant. Of course, the view made up for it at the top. You can't complain about a hike (oh wait, I guess I just did..) when you see this from the top.
Our last night on Nacula Island, we had another delicious dinner and then did crab racing with wittle baby hermit crabs! They had us buy a hermit crab (FJD$5 - which would be donated to the schools on the islands. & BTW - their conversion rate is a little over half. So $5 Fiji = about $2.65 USD/AUD) and then all of them were put on the sand where a circle was drawn out. First to make it outside the circle wins. Our hermies made it to the final round (1st 12 to make it out of the ring the first round) and one of ours ended up getting 4th - not too shabby, but unfortunately only 1st-3rd got prizes.
The next morning, we went on a tour to the Sawa-I-Lau Caves. We took a boat about 30 minutes out and after our janky boat died about 3 times, we finally made it to the caves. We got out of the boat onto shore and then walked a short ways to a man made staircase that lead to the opening of the cave. You climb up and then back down the staircase into the cave. The bottom of the staircase is just water so you have to jump into the water. After our tour group of about 20 debated about who would jump in first (our guides decided to let us endure the entering part on our own while they waited by the boats), a girl around my age ended up going and we followed her in. The ceiling of the limestone caves were super high and we couldn't feel the bottom either. When the entire group was in, half of the group went through the underwater tunnel, which was about a meter under water and 2 meters long, into the other caves. One of our Fijian guides was on the other side with a flash light, and the other guide was on our side to help guide us through. I had a slight panic attack but made it through fine without somehow getting lost in the tunnel and drowning.
The other side of the caves were completely pitch black. It was also mildly terrifying because images of all of those scary movies where the tourists go on these adventures and then a boulder blocks the entrance and they all die - were involuntarily flashing through my head.
After buying some souvenirs made by the Fijian people and packing up our stuff, we were off to Island #4: Bounty Island. We decided to stay one night here - it's a smaller island close to the main island and it would be convenient for transportation to the airport the following day. Bounty Island was surprisingly nice. We had low expectations after our maaany hours spent on tripadvisor.com and other Fiji resort review websites. Not that these sites had so many bad things to say, but we were expecting a low budget resort on an island not nearly as amazing as the Yasawas. The resort may not have been as nice as Blue Lagoon or Hilton at all, but the people there were one of the nicest we had met. All Fijian people are super friendly and hospitable - everywhere you go, they all greet you with "Bula!" (which is their normal greeting). The Fijians at Bounty Island were especially friendly and really made you feel comfortable and at home.
We arrived in the late afternoon, so we mainly just lounged around the beach and bar. The dinner wasn't amazing but they sang us songs throughout the entire meal, which more than made up for it. After dinner, most of the people at the resort, including the employees, hung around the common room area and played various games like monopoly or pool ("snooker", as the Aussies say). A lot of people gathered around the shore for a while taking pictures of the little baby sharks that swam right up to the sand.
The next day we left Bounty Island, all too soon, and were back on our way to the main island. We hung around Denarau Port until leaving for the airport where we had to say goodbye to this beautiful country.
FIJI DOs & DON'Ts:
DO pack light (just carry ons) - the weather is usually so warm anyway and you'll be in your bathing suit 80% of the time! (& you'll save $ on not having to check luggage!)
DO visit the outer islands away from the main island - they're more expensive but definitely worth it! The Yasawa Islands were the definition of PARADISE.
DON'T be scared of the crazy humungous bugs - even though I was. The bird-sized bug that resided in the bathroom for almost 24 hours prevented me from being able to use the bathroom without an escort (AKA boyfriend).
DO bring your own alcohol - duty free!! It's cheaper this way and will save you lots of money.
DO bring a waterproof camera/go pro - hence all of my amazing snorkeling pics ;)
DON'T forget to negotiate a cab price before getting into the cab - they sometimes try to rip off tourists. Cabs shouldn't ever be more than about FJD$30.
DON'T stay on the super small islands for more than a night or two. They're small and you'll run out of things to do.
DO island hop as much as possible! Our original thought was that islands are islands, but each of them have different personalities & different things to do!
DO bring bug repellent - I got eaten alive.
When I first arrived in Australia, they told us at our International Students trip that we would experience emotions on the "W Curve". Which, initially, relieved me because I realized I wasn't the only one that was having adjustment issues. I have a tendency of putting up a front like everything is okay and I'm having the time of my life at all times. Not the case when I first arrived, which I have already explained. But anyway, Got through the culture shock and have been going through the recovery the last week or so. Nathaniel finally got here so I'm sure that was part of it. But even if he wasn't here, although I'm obviously glad he is, I think I still would be okay.
Anyway, I moved out of my sh*thole of a house, pardon my language. You know how I said before that the hard part was finding someone to fill my room? Wrong (again). The hardest part was finding a place for both me and Nate to live in. I decided I wanted to be closer to the city & basically just out of the middle of nowhere (AKA Burwood). So we went through the grueling process of searching for places and calling/texting/emailing dozens and dozens of people. We finally found a place that was a tad bit expensive, and when I say a tad bit, I mean extremely and ridiculously expensive, yet BEAUTIFUL place in Hawthorn. It's an amazing location right by all these shops and restaurants and bars and shopping and EVERYTHING. It's about 15 minutes to Deakin and only a 10 minute express train ride to the city. MONEY. (Literally, a LOT of money hah.) But it was soo worth it so we decided to go for it. If we both decided to do housing separately, we'd each be paying more, so it's really not that big of a deal that I'm paying almost as much a WEEK as I did for a MONTH of rent at my old place in San Diego. It's on the 4th floor at the top of the building, has a huge balcony/patio, the whole place is huge & clean and new and beautifullll.
So we moved in and that was yet another arduous process. We had to take multiple trips to the new place from my old place via TRAM and lug all of our luggage on and off and walked miles and miles (okay, Nate did most of the carrying). And so the last 2 days have been spent making our room a room. Because, oh yeah - this room wasn't furnished either. So we made due with an air mattress for the first couple of nights and then decided to finally hit up Ikea - yup, they have it here too - and break the bank a little bit. We didn't do half bad either. I feel like a broke college kid all over again:) We also had a great time lugging back a bed (in a box of course because it's Ikea. But it's stil a bed, which is very heavy) and a bedside table along with other random stuff.
I also opened up a bank account here finally (& a joint bank account w/ Nate - yikes! Our bank teller thought it was very exciting that it was our first time opening a joint account together. OOOH, and the savings accounts here give you 5.5% interest. RIDIC. If you ever come here, get an account where you can withdraw or transfer all of your money from your home country to Australia and just keep everything in your savings so you can earn interest). We've finally cooked some real meals for ourselves and have groceries in the fridge for the first time in months. This is also the first time in 3 months that I've had a real closet and a real room. I've been moving from San Diego to the bay to Sacramento to Vegas back to San Diego to Australia and had roughly 14 different residencies all together. So it feels nice to finally not live out of a suitcase.
A few great discoveries I've learned the last couple days: Australia has Groupon! They also have Yelp, which is equally as exciting! We found a couple good asian restaurants and markets that were pretty cheap (the only cheap thing we've found in Australia). We walked around the city yesterday for the first time and discovered how HUGE it is and amazingly beautiful as well. & Nate made some delicious rootbeer floats with Captain Morgan, A&W & cookies 'n cream ice cream - BOMB:)