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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
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Reports

Monday, 11 March 2002
Katoomba --> Kings Cross, Australia – on television

With the Chinese Stan Fung as my next host a world opened up to me and I learned more about China and its culture than I ever knew before during dinner in a car-restaurant in Sydney.

I had a good sleep-in at the YHA in Katoomba and basically woke up when the others in my dorm were packing their bags.

I had to check out at 10am, which for me meant to clear the room and return the key card to the reception.

As the Wonderbus would pick me up in the afternoon to take me back to Sydney, I spent most of the day reading a good book, doing my laundry in the laundry room and walk up and down Katoomba Street.

At the local Internet café I got online and checked my emails. The technician of the place told me that he had arranged me a place to stay for the night in Katoomba. But unfortunately I heard that too late as I already had everything planned for the rest of the week.

The radio in the café was playing some promotional spots for the upcoming broadcast of the item about me on Channel 9 television, and I must say it was quite funny to hear the announcer talk about “Hear the true story about the professional freeloader, tonight on A Current Affair”.

The weather conditions have changed since I arrived in this town on a misty Friday. Today the sun was shining bright and even though I used sun cream I got burned in the neck.

The Wonderbus arrived at 5pm and dropped a lot of people off and let me in. The driver: “So you are that famous guy?”
“I suppose so,” I answered.
“Hey everybody,” he told everybody in the bus, “this guy is famous! He will be on television tonight! Channel 9! Anybody wants his autograph?”
Heavily blushing and with a big smile of bashfulness I dropped my bags in the back and took a seat.

Next to me sat a guy from Ireland that wanted to know everything about what I was doing. He had heard about my project and just couldn’t believe it was all possible. It was 20-frequently-asked-questions-time again and the driver turned up the radio to let everybody listen to the promo about tonight’s show - everytime it was on. He was having a blast!

The broadcast would be tonight between 6.30 and 7pm and I already knew I was going to miss it, as the Wonderbus would arrive in Sydney centre around 7pm. But my next host for today told me he would try to record it on video.

Once in Sydney I got off the bus and walked towards the Central Station where I had to catch the suburban train towards station of the Kings Cross suburb. This is where my host Stan Fung would await me. Fortunately I could take that train with the last coins I had left from the ‘scoop-protection-program’-pocket money I got from Channel 9, to survive this whole weekend.

While walking towards those trains two train attendants drinking coffee next to an office, yelled at me from an higher level. “Hey, you were just on TV!” one said. “Yes,” I said back to them. “Howazzit?” I asked back. “Great! You are doing great!” People around me were staring at me, not understanding what this was about and why I should have been on TV.

At 7.45pm I met up with the bright smiling Stan Fung at the Kings Cross station. As we talked about this whole day, we walked towards his apartment a few blocks away, passing all the adult shops, striporamas, take-aways and gaming halls that makes Kings Cross what it is known for.

I still didn’t know how the report would end up on television. For me it was some two days of filming, saying the 10-seconds quotes the film crew loved to hear. But an item called ‘The professional freeloader’ could also end up very negative and that would certainly not help my project – especially as Channel 9 is one of the most-viewed station in the whole wide country.

But Stan had seen the item already and was very happy with it. He even seemed very amused about it and about my worries. “It was good, it was very good,” he said.

In his modest apartment I dropped my bags and Stan poured me a drink and immediately put on the tape for me to see.

I saw the Channel 9-report. I was baffled. I was happy. It was good. My compliments to Sonia Madigan, who reported the whole thing about me and the rest of the crew. It wasn’t taking me down as I expected a bit, it wasn’t even breaking down my project at all! Everything was how it was supposed to be: good!

The best things were where Sonia asked me if she had to buy me lunch as she was my ‘tv-host’ for that afternoon and I answered politely: “It’s up to you.” Which immediately explains the point of my project. I don’t ask much, the rest is up to my hosts.

In another part I was asked if I would ever get a real job. I simply answered: “Of course. But not yet. I simply found out that there are more possibilities in life than to work for money only.” I was pretty proud on the fact that these quotes were used. It completed the whole thing.

With a big smile I turned to Stan, who enjoyed the whole thing all too much. We chatted a bit more and I found out that Stan had invited me almost one year ago!

It was on March 20 in the year 2001 when he submitted his invitation. He’s been following me around since my start on May 1 and never expected I would be in Sydney that fast.

The 40-year-old Stan Fung himself teaches architecture at the University of New South Wales. As a specialist in Chinese Gardens he often gives lectures in other countries, like China and the United States. In 1979 he went to from Hong Kong to study in Adelaide, and ended up in Sydney. He now frequently takes architectural students on a study-trip to China but prefers Australia as he has all his social contacts here.

As it was getting dinnertime, Stan took me along to the Fuel restaurant with a taxi. This place is a daytime showroom for cars and a night time restaurant. So basically our table was in between the most recent productions of Peugeot, very enthralling I must say.

We had Risotto of Asparagus as entrée and Roast Barossa Chicken with bacon, roman beans and tomato stew [/i]as main course. Stan himself doesn’t cook much himself and whenever he has guests he takes them out for a good dinner. I was lucky, because that food was great!

I asked him why he invited me over at his place. “Simply because [b]people who travel should be supported
,” he said. “Now and then I am a guest at other people’s places to.” That was very logic and very generous of him.

We talked about his native country and the Chinese cultures and a world opened up to me.

“In China it is all about networking, not about what you have achieved yourself,” he taught me. “People know each other by word of mouth, not by what you do in life.” And that was very interesting. “The Chinese are very much into destiny. Meeting you is probably fated.” For me it sure was, I learned more about China than I ever knew before.

I am almost very polite if I have to choose something, for example the dessert. “My idea of hospitality is that the guest is in control,” he told me and I was very surprised with it.

After dinner, around 10pm, Stan took me to Australian Square, a tallllllll building in the centre of the city where we entered the elevators on the ground floor and got up to the 47th floor within 25 seconds. On the top floor was a rotating restaurant where we sat next to the window and nipped a beer.

The view was beyond belief. In the darkness of the evening I had a view onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge (I was currently even higher than that bridge), the Opera House and saw the whole city passing by – 1 meter per minute. Talking about a space odyssey!

The place closed down when we were halfway around the city and Stan told me all about the different styles of architecture of the other sky scrapers that made city this world known place on earth.

We took a taxi back to his apartment and Stan put down a big mattress on his living room floor. It quite made this room a bit smaller, but he was used to it. “I once had an American friend staying over for a few days. It ended up that he stayed some three months. It is okay with me.”

It was there where I got online on his computer to check my emails. BOOM! That was frightening! I had over 100 new emails in the few hours after the Channel 9-show. The support of Australians is overwhelming. The invites for places to stay were running in fast and I had a hard time replying to all sorts of emails. Stan was laughing on the couch, as I got confused on what to do with this all as it would continue!

As he went to bed, he let me process the mails and write my reports. In some overwhelmed state of mind I went to bed later in the night…

Good night Kings Cross!

Ramon.