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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

Tuesday, 13 August 2002
Beaumaris --> Braybrooks, Melbourne, Australia

This Tuesday Menno brought me from his suburb Beaumaris back to the city centre again. Along the way we passed the suburb of St. Kilda again, where I noticed a film crew having a break during the filming of something in a pub. “They are probably shooting for The Secret Life Of Us again.”
“Huh? What?”

The Secret Life Of Us is one of those modern soap operas. On my way to Melbourne I had read about all these tour companies that take people up to the scenes of the famous soap series Neighbours, for which I would have absolutely no interest - especially because it would only attract Neighbours-addicted tourists.

But hehe, to see a filmset of Secret Life Of Us is a total different thing. That soap is made for people of my age, and I had actually seen a few episodes on Australian TV. It's a series that's not afraid to show the complexities and realities of life. Nudity, drugs, homosexuality - all integral aspects of this drama. And of course, it's nicely touched up with a bit of classic Australian humour. I think it’s great.



At exact 12 o’clock today I shook hand with my next hostess, Melissa Inch, on the steps of the Flinders train station.

Melissa is working in the travel industry, at the office of STA Travel in the city centre. She had to work the rest of the day, but it was no problem for her to pick me up, bring me all the way to her suburb Braybrook (only 10 kilometres out of the city to the west) and drive back to work again.

She had only heard of me since a few weeks ago, when the national alternative radio station Triple J talked with me while I was staying in suburban Adelaide.

With her travel experiences – in the car she told me about her exciting adventures while travelling thru Southern Africa – she could totally understand how interesting it is to stay with ordinary people.

She told me how she was received as total strangers in African towns and everybody took care of her, as if she was their best friend. For that reason she had invited me to stay for a day at her place, with absolutely no worries.

“My colleagues at work are worried,” she told me. “’How do you know he won’t kill you?’ they all ask. ‘How can you trust a stranger from the Internet?’, you know. But I have seen your website and read your reports. You just can’t be a serial killer.”
“Well, I haven’t really killed anyone yet,” I joked to her.

Melissa shares a humble hippie-style house with her brother and his girlfriend. It does look very ordinary from the outside, but the inside walls are painted purple, yellow and blue and the most wallpapers are from far away in the previous century. Funny. “It is actually a bit too big for three people, so that’s why we can have guests staying over, use one room as a walk-in wardrobe and my brother can play with his drums in another.”

I can settle myself in a bedroom in the back of the house and Melissa shows me her study room, full with magazines about travel, travel books and geographical maps. Surely someone likes to travel here!

With Melissa rushing back to work again, and leaving me along with her brother’s girlfriend Lorain (who was a bit sick today), I got on my laptop and started typing. Any free minute alone I can use to write whatever I need to write, is good for me. I even enjoy it!

Melissa returned late in the afternoon, actually at 7.30pm she arrived back from her work. That was no problem for me, I had enough to do on my own and truly forget track of time whenever I am having fun in writing.

She first offered me to go out for dinner, like at a Vietnamese restaurant or an Italian one in Footscray. Footscray is the suburb west of the city where many new immigrants have settled, like Asians and south Europeans. Nowadays it's becoming a very booming place.

But with Lorain still feeling ill today, we all decided to have a more simpler dinner: order-in! So Melissa called a Malaysian food delivery in town and ordered our delicious dinner through the telephone.

After dinner we relaxed in front of the television and watched some vague soap series and the Australian late night show Rove. The comedian Rove McManus hosts this show and he is pretty popular in Australia. Many people I have met told me that I should be one of the guests on Rove, haha.

Melissa knew about the amount of every-day-questions I get fired at me, so knowing already a lot about me, she came up with some rare questions that her colleagues at work asked her to ask me. Now, that’s something different.

“Do you really have no money with you?” No. Nothing. And to prove it I empty my pockets. A smackstick (lipbalm), a pen and a paper notebook appear. No money.

“Do you carry any items from the letmestayforaday-shop with you?” No. I already have a bothered back, I’d die if I had to carry my online store along with me. People can only order online and this great American company will make sure you’ll get your stuff.

We talked some more about television, and from one subject we ended up talking about this Tasmanian hit man and the underworld’s most feared headhunter, Mark Brandon Read, who now lives a normal family life around this suburb. He’s been caught for murders various times and clearly made quite a name around this area. And he currently writes books about his adventures! “I sometimes see him at the local supermarket. Vague.” A, there goes somebody who has killed lots of people.

Guess what, Melissa gave me one of his memoires, Chopper2: ‘Hits and Memories’. Well, it must be an interesting story, what this guy has written. The cover has the words of a police sergeant: “Read has done for literature what Hannibal Lecter did for vegetarianism.”

Mmmm… Talking about a good bed time story…

Good night Braybrook!

Ramon.