Australia: Arrival, Bondi Beach

I’ve been to plenty of beaches in my life, and I can say that while Bondi is overrated, it’s nevertheless one of the nicer ones I’ve seen so far. It’s nothing like the chilly iron gray of Cannon Beach in Oregon. The ocean is a pure, rich blue and the sand is very fine. I’ve never seen the Pacific from this side, as an eastern ocean. They say the Pacific, it has no memories. That resonates with my mood. It bashes the beach forever.

The trip has been surprisingly smooth. I had no trouble with customs, my backpack arrived promptly and was not damaged, and the ATMs accept my card painlessly. I’m still getting used to the money out here: one Australian dollar roughly equals 2/3 of the US dollar. So prices look more expensive to my eye. They have these one and two dollar coins that I’m already starting to accumulate in annoyingly large jingly quantites. I had a little trouble finding the hostel that I wanted to stay at, which was Backpacker’s Headquarters in Kings Cross. It was no problem getting from the airport to Kings Cross — I took the bus, and tried unsuccessfully to get used to it driving on the left — but Cross is kind of ziggy and zaggy and a little confusing at first. But an old man noticed my difficulties and helped me find the place, even to the point of taking me right to the door. Very nice guy, he looks just like William S. Burroughs. So I checked in, dropped off my junk, took a shower and eventually took the train to Bondi. Why Bondi first? Because at this point I’m jet-lagged, and lying on a beach in the sun is about all I want to attempt right now.

Bondi Beach.

(An aside: The sun beats down on my back and head like a blast furnace. The intensity is searing, dazzling. It’s very impressive but I completely understand why two out of every three Aussies get skin cancer.)

But it hasn’t been all roses so far. The first big negative is that by practical necessity, I must leave my big backpack unattended at the hostel. Any guest could steal it, and it bugs me. Sean warned me about this convention, and I suppose I’ll get used to it over time. The other problem is that I haven’t met too many people out here, not yet at least. I met a girl on the plane over, but she was connecting to somewhere in Queensland. I met another girl at the hostel, a Swedish girl named Kaise, but she was checking out that morning to meet up with her boyfriend. That’s about it so far. I’ve met no guys at all. There are some at the hostel but they’re all still asleep. I need to learn the social rhythms of the backpacker’s hostel. I wasn’t planning on meeting thousands of people on my first day, but it gets kind of lonely to spend the day by yourself in a strange land.

The hostel I stayed at in Kings Cross.

But it will pick up. In the mean time, I’ll let the radiant sun and crashing waves soothe my nerves.

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