February 2nd – 6th
My Tasmania experience is not quite what I expected, but I’m enjoying myself. The original plan was to get out of Hobart to travel the island and see some nature, but after weeks of surfing I was a bit sick of the outdoors and craving the comforts of city life.
I guess I traded the chance to see platypi in their native habitat to meet some local transvestites in theirs.
Hobart has around 200k residents, and has a busy but compact CBD (Central Business District — Aussie for “downtown”). Tons of Indian and Thai places, with little pubs scattered around. The CBD pretty much shuts down at night, and most of the evening action being constrained to the Salamanca waterfront district.
It took me a few days to get used to the sheer quantity of daylight they have here — it’s the middle of summer, daylight saving time is in effect, and we’re pretty far south. It’s possible to walk out in search of dinner with the sun still up and have all of the nearby restaurants be closed for the evening. Not as wild as Scandinavian summers, but still…
By day I walked down to the waterfront every day, did some reading, scoped the babes, caught up on TV shows, researched the differences between ice cream and gelato, and sampled the local beers.
On my first evening I spent about 30 minutes wandering the streets with the sun up, looking for an open restaurant. Before finding a hole-in-the-wall Thai place, I passed by a guy warning two cops about a ridiculously drunk man in the area. I continued along and eventually spotted Drunk Guy, stumbling away from me down the street with a can of Rum & Cola in his hand (this is another Aussie thing I’m not used to — you can buy pre-made bottles of Gin & Tonic or Jack & Coke).
Eventually a guy on a bike starts coming down the street, and Drunk Guy decides that Bike Guy Must Die. Drunk Guy waits for Bike Guy to come close, and without warning tackles the bike, knocking both guys and the bike to the pavement. Drunk Guy is short, out of shape, and well… Drunk. Bike Guy is tall, in shape, sober, and angry. Bike Guy starts to kick the shit out of Drunk Guy, until the cops show up to haul Drunky McDrunkerson away.
The hostel I’m staying at, The Pickled Frog, is a mixed bag. It’s big and old — wood-paneled everything, small holes in walls, creaky floors, and floors/ceilings/walls that don’t always meet at right angles. It feels like a run-down fraternity house, for a few main reasons:
– Extremely loud drinking games all night. Good assuming you are interested in staying up and screaming at people to drink more goon. Bad if you are someone interested in, you know, actually sleeping.
– The dorm rooms are stuffy and smell like feet and farts, even while empty. Bad if you are someone who doesn’t enjoy these smells. Good if you smell like footfarts, because people will assume it’s just the room — a free pass!
– The common room is huge and has 10 different groups of people each trying to do something different at the same time, as loudly as possible. Good if you are a social butterfly with a short attention span. Bad if you’d like to watch a DVD on the big TV without turning on the subtitles, or hold a conversation without hearing one of the acoustic guitar guys trying to impress the German girls with his rendition of Wonderwall.
The staff are pretty cool, and the beer prices at the in-house bar are non-extortionate: $3.80AUD for a bottle of my new favorite, Cascade Pale Ale.
I can overlook a lot of the run-down crappiness when I’m out in the common areas being social, talking shit on the place with my fellow travelers. But when I’m actually in my room choking on mystery footfarts, or waiting in line for one of the two toilets that probably don’t have any TP, I’m anxious to move on.
Friday night was Goon Night for some of my amigos at the Frog. The boxed wine flowed heavily for a lot of people, while I diligently continued my quest to taste all of the local beers.
By 11pm, the goonheads were silly. By midnight they were stupid. Around 1am, the darling Sarah from Wales decided that we all needed to go out — but not to any of the cool Waterfront places with bouncers that frown upon letting in goonheads. The only option, she explained, was the local transvestite bar around the corner. Another test of my “Always Say Yes (to any reasonable request)” policy for this year. We got in without a hitch.
Now, I’m not a bad looking guy, but I’m no Adonis. Some girls allegedly find me attractive (granted, most of them are bat-shit insane, but that’s another story). Once in awhile I’ll get a genuine compliment from a female stranger that will make my day. But never in my life have I felt so appreciated as when I held court with the he/shes in that tranny bar.
There was a stage, and every few minutes we’d see a glammed out lip-synching performance by a different character straight out of the Aussie classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Our pre-op hosts treated us to an evening of Abba, showtunes, catty humor, and liberal use of that four-letter “see you next Tuesday” c-bomb.
Some “girls” looked more put together than others, but nobody was pulling the wool over my eyes. One reminded me of my stepfather dressed up as Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Another unfortunate soul was a dead ringer for Anjelica Huston’s character in The Witches.
At any rate, the girls bought free drinks for us breeders after a strange round of Breeder Q&A, with “Linda”, the alpha tranny:
“Hello lovely, who are you and where ya from?”
“Adam. Los Angeles.”
“Adam, from L.A.! Tell me hon, are you enjoying Hobart?”
“Yeah, I’m having a good time.”
“I could tell. Ladies, I saw our boy Adam this afternoon down by the waterfront, hiding his beautiful eyes behind a pair of sunnies and carrying a red bag.”
This was accurate. A bit odd since Linda was probably Larry or Lucas when he/she spied me earlier. I guess you never know who is watching you.
We downed our drinks and got out of there while we could still tell our boys from girls.
– A lot of the drinking games that people like to play are basically just improv warmup exercises with drinking penalties. Once I started approaching them from that frame of mind, I started mopping the floor with other people.
– If you go to the pharmacy here and complain about anything pain related, the pharmacist will give you painkillers with codeine and other fun stuff that is a bit harder to come by in the States.
– Some girls can pull off looking attractive while wearing a men’s hat. SOME.
– The little clique I fell in with here calls me “L.A.”, and demands my opinion on the latest celebrity gossip.
– There’s a Tasmanian Beer War. Before coming to Hobart I was a Boags man. Now I’m a Cascade man. Oh, how things change.
– The weekly Salamanca markets are a lot of fun. Good food, and extremely talented buskers. Ate a lamb burger and listened to some live blues.
– “I’ve been eating so much Indian food, my asshole looks like a blood orange” – Linda, the aforementioned alpha transvestite