Peter (bigpeteb) wrote,

Superficial thoughts on Australia

Most of these could be applied to traveling abroad in general.

* There are not enough TV stations. Also, it's interesting how channels Eight, Nine, and Ten are on 4, 5, and 6 in my hotel. This idea of numbered stations is confusing (the only major one we have is ESPN2; I'm not counting local stations including their broadcast channel in their ID). In American hotels we usually have 20 stations, sure, but at home assuming you purchase cable, you get at least 60-80 channels, possibly many hundred.

* The power sockets are annoying. It's at least better than the UK where you have to have 3 prongs because there are shutters inside the outlet for protection. And it's inherently polarized, which I appreciate. But really, these outlets are huge. On top of that, each outlet has a switch on it, which would probably be unnecessary if you weren't using enough voltage to seriously injure a person.

* On the plus side, all of my equipment I've had to use can automatically adapt to any frequency and voltage, so I can actually use a very small adaptor for most things.

* From my observations, about 80% of Aussies tend to walk on the left. It's tough to tell because fewer than 10% of Chinese tourists bother to adapt to the local custom. Since I seem to walk faster than both of them, I end up dodging and weaving down the sidewalk.

Seriously, people. When you go somewhere else, don't take your own culture with you. Adapt. It shows that you're not a stuck-up asshole.

* Australian beer is disappointing. The major stuff is on par with the big American beers, which is to say it's all light lagers with little flavor that are hardly drinkable. I've been told the microbrews are better, but I've yet to actually find any. Even in microbrewery-deprived Georgia it's relatively easy to find a bar that at least has something decent on tap.

* The wines, in contrast, are fantastic. Every one I've had has been excellent, even the ones that aren't my preferred styles.

* Sydney is a really great city. It's clean and very walkable. Sadly, I'm not really getting to see any of it because I'm busy with the conference.

* The pedestrian crossing signals make funny noises as an audio aid for the blind; at first I thought it was in imitation of some local bird, but apparently that's not the case. They are, however, incredibly slow; and once they do change, they change back faster than you can possibly walk across the street. I suppose the slowness is due to Australia's laid-back, no-hurry attitude, but I don't understand why they don't give you more time to cross.

* WHAT DO PEOPLE DRINK AT MEALS? We've had some nice meals as part of the conference, and yet only at one has there been a true bottomless glass of water. (But there was also bottomless wine and beer.) The lunches have come with shotglass-sized orange juice and water, with only enough for each person to have 1 to 2 glasses.

* My hotel, where I've eaten breakfast a couple times, has a Fruit Fucker 2000. It's an imposing machine into which you insert a whole fruit, and it separates the juice from the skin, pulp, seeds, and other components, which collect in a hideous-looking container at the back of the machine.

* I only tried a dab of Vegemite once, and it was obvious why it isn't very popular. The individual servings (again, from the hotel) are very small, which is as it should be. I should try it again for real, but it's pretty overpowering.

* More generally, it's interesting to note how some parts of Australia resemble the US, and some resemble the UK (breakfast foods, for instance. Also, toilets. I hesitate to claim that our version of something is better than the worldly alternative, but... the waterfall toilets, which are also the style of UK and Europe, do not work as well. It doesn't drain the bowl, just trades old water for new, so sometimes the toilet paper doesn't end up disappearing, which in our toilets (which the Japanese also use) only happens in poorly-designed toilets, and only occasionally.).

* The coins are enormous! They are all very thick and heavy (roughly as thick as a nickel), and quite large. The 50 cent piece is about as big as ours, while the 2 dollar piece is so tiny you could easily lose it.

Sorry, it's not much of a travelogue, "Australia is awesome" kind of post. But really, I've only had one day free, and evenings there have been conference events/dinners, after which I go out for a couple drinks with some of the other attendees. So in terms of sightseeing (not counting pubs) I haven't really gotten to see much at all.
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