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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:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Wednesday, 13 March 2002
--> Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia – pub crawl

With a typical Chinese tea-drinking tradition, I moved on to my next hosts and got quite well introduced with the Australian beer-drinking tradition. Pubtrek.com took my hostess and me on a pub crawl through Sydney!

This morning I was awake at 10am and my host Stan took me out for a fine breakfast near Chinatown. We walked all the way towards the centre of town and took an elevator to the top floor of a Chinese shopping mall.

We were seated on a table for two in the Regal Marigold restaurant and got a can of Chinese tea. Stan told me that this is a place where people come to socialize. When you come here on Saturdays or Sunday, you’ll have to be here around 11am, otherwise you’ll have to wait in line. And the place would be full of big families, as it is a unique way of getting together.

What we were doing here is called yum cha in Cantonese, which on the essentially means ‘drinking tea’. And yum cha often goes together with eating dim sum, small pieces of food.

In this restaurant you don’t order from a menu, you get what you want from various sorts of trollys that are being pushed around. One has the rice specialties, the other one fried chickens, sweet things, cookies, etcetera.

And Stan filled my little bowl every time with something else. For western people things might have looked awful, but the taste was wonderful.

We left the restaurant around 2pm and I very much had a full stomach. I wasn’t really used to this kind of breakfast, but it sure was unique for me.

Back at his apartment it was time to get packed again. With my backpack on my back, laptop bag and camera on my shoulder, Stan made a photograph of me as I left his place. I thanked him very much for his exceptional hospitality and took off towards my new host in Surry Hills, near the centre of Sydney.

But first I had a meeting with a photographer and a reporter of the Associated Press, who’d loved to have a word with me about my project, after seeing me on Channel 9 last Monday. I had arranged to meet up halfway to Surry Hills and had an interview-chat with them on terrace while drinking a strawberry smoothie.

After this meeting I walked down Liverpool Street towards Hyde Park and got to onto Commonwealth Street. In this narrow street, some nice small Victorian styled houses interrupt the sky-scraping atmosphere of the city.

I meet up with the 28-year-old Bronwyn (a Welsch name) Howard, a communications student and technology consultant, who lives with her brother Marc in a diffident apartment. She has a back garden at the top floor balcony, but with the high-rise buildings surrounding this place there isn’t much chance for some good fertile sunlight.

As we drank a cup of tea we talked about how my project was going in Australia and what my expectations are. I have decided to move up north within a week and when she heard that she become very excited and showed my cards and photos of places up north. Beautiful beaches, rainforest and tropical islands. Wow, I’ll be having a great time there!

She told me that she’d like to help me out with the transport, as hitchhiking in Australia might become a problem for me. She said she’d make some calls around to see if some transport company could sponsor me on the road.

With her father being a civil engineer, she had lived a long part of her life in different countries in Asia and she has travelled through Europe when she was young. She told me about life in different countries and had some good talks.

The doorbell rang. Her online ordered groceries had arrived and one of her favorite hobbies, cooking, could start as the evening set in.

We had to hurry the fish and rice dinner on the balcony a little bit, because at 8pm we would be picked up to join on a pub-crawl through Sydney, sponsored by the Sydney Pubtrek Company. And according to Bronwyn that idea was ‘ace’!

After dressing up for the party mood, we were picked up by Matt, one of the drivers of the Pubtrek busses and he took us to a Irish pub called Scruffy Murphy’s. We were given a beer and were introduced to all the other Pubtrek-people and saw a full load of backpackers inside, enjoying a few drinking games with the microphone-man James.

And we got another beer. When the whole shipment of young travellers had entered the bus, Bronwyn and I both had the same thoughts about the rest of the night. “From this point, it can only go downhill”, of course pointing out the amount of drinks that would be passed on…(See photo on Pubtrek.com)

The old bus drove us through Sydney with it speakers on the maximum volume and many party people hanging out of the windows. It indeed was going to become a fun night!

In the next pub I met up with the Canadian Angus, who had heard about me before. He immediately wanted to get on a photo with his friends. And there was another beer and there was Matt with a handful of Sambuca-shooters. Also in this pub a few drinking games were organised. Women had to try to be the fastest person in collecting certain things, like a bra and a left shoe, or a pair of boxer shorts. Obviously laughter between everybody!

At the third pub Bronwyn and I stayed on the terrace as the place was very hot and crowded inside. It was at that point (and with the help of a few beers) that we decided to get on the roof of the Pubtrek-bus. Vough, the other driver (and world known for his fame in belly dancing), was getting anxious with the idea only, but Matt and James helped us out to get on top for some serious promotional photographs. Yeah, right. The only problem is: getting off is never as easy as getting on…

The fifth place we ended up at (with staying some 1,5 hour at each place) was the nightclub Empire. Everybody was getting quite tipsy (and the young Europeans were already pissed drunk). As I got my grooves together on the dance floor, Bronwyn was after a German backpacker that she kept mentioning as “oh, he’s so cute!” Haha.

You might understand that things became very blurry from here on, so we were both happy that the bus brought us all the way back home.

I thank Pubtrek for their contribution, it wasn’t the alcohol only that made my first night out in Sydney this fabulous! Now, let’s go for the hangover!

Good night Surry Hills!

Ramon.