Tag Archives: sydney

I hate you, Scary Canary

January 15-16, 2010
Days 3-4


Those hard-earned vodka tonics from the night before did me no favors this morning.  I slept in as long as I could, then hit the city in search of something to help my stomach.  A pork and rice platter from a place in Chinatown called BBQ King did the trick.
All I wanted to do was read, so I hopped between various city parks and coffee shops to get my Tom Wolfe fix.  I will finish this 700 page beast so that I can give it away and rely solely on my convenient Amazon Kindle for reading material!
After starting another night at Scary Canary I realized how much I dislike the place.  They play the exact same crappy dance songs every night, and it’s way too loud to hold a conversation.  I did a quick Google search for “best dive bar sydney” and discovered The Gaslight Inn in Darlinghurst.  I finished my meal and walked the 2km over to the Gaslight.
I walked in the door and was happy to discover a few things I like in a bar: a complete lack of screaming German backpackers, cheap beer, and a good jukebox.  I ordered a Toohey’s New, sat down at the bar, and within two minutes a group of Aussie girls came up to chat with me.  One named Kat had a calculator watch that I immediately started making fun of.  Dork alert!  We got along, so they took me over to their table to meet the rest of their friends.
The group of people were coworkers at an internet company down the street.  Programmers, artists, project managers — the usual.  All young and attractive, lots of girls — unusual.  What’s up Sydney?  Even your computer nerds are hot?

The first day that the sun really came out!  My first sunburn!  My first day of taking pictures!
I took the ferry from Circular Quay over to Manly and spent the day moseying along the beach, taking pictures and checking out the various scenic nature walks.  Should have put suntan lotion on my arms and face.
Finished The Bonfire of the Vanities — finally!  After reading A Man in Full and this one, I have really come to appreciate Tom Wolfe’s work.  No detail is superfluous.  Like a good Tarantino movie, or a Dasariski show at iO West, the most random little things end up having huge significance.  Styrofoam peanuts!
As usual, Scary Canary was a hot mess.  Another hostel was doing a pub crawl, so there were even more screaming backpackers to deal with than usual — the guys were all dressed up like Tarzan, and the girls all had those strap-on angel wings and fairy wands.  Ugh.  Went to the Gaslight again, to escape.
After walking all day, a few drinks with the locals made me sleepy, so I headed back to the room to call it a night, only to find my roommates (minus the creepy tattooed old guy who never talks) and some random German guy playing drinking games with a box of goon (cheap box wine, for the uninitiated).  This seemed like a good idea at the time (protip: it wasn’t).  They finally scampered off to find food, and I tried to go to bed.

“Tried” being the key word here, because at that very moment I was treated to the sweet sounds of the FIRE ALARM going off.  The entire hostel had to clear out to the street at 2am — a strange mix of sleepy nerds in their pajamas, and people whose party evenings were still going strong.  Since I was still in my going out clothes I was able to pretend to be part of the latter crowd, and pass judgement on the sleepers.  No calculator watches to make fun of, though.

On meat pies:

WHY DON’T WE HAVE THESE IN AMERICA?  Amazingly tasty street food.  Hot, savory meat… in a pie crust.  I’m excited to try all of the flavors I’ve seen: Mince meat, chicken & mushroom, spicy thai chicken, mashed potato and bacon… the list goes on!

Future plans:

I need to get out of Sydney — or at the very least, find a hostel with better options for socializing.  Surf camp should be an excellent adventure.  I’m itching to head to Tasmania, but I’ve been told that spending Australia Day in Sydney is a great experience.  Then again, it’s probably great in Hobart too!


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Now that I’m not completely jetlagged…

Day 2: Sydney, Australia

Woke up at 8am and went for a 10km run through Darling Harbour, The Rocks, Circular Quay and the Royal Botanical Gardens. I hurt my knee a bit last week in LA, and it started acting up again near the end of this run, so maybe I’ll play it cool for a few days.

On McDonalds:

For breakfast I went to McDonalds of all places. They don’t call it “Mickey D’s” — instead it’s “Macca’s”. The food wasn’t the draw — Macca’s has pretty decent coffee and offers free wifi with purchase (but it’s slow and cuts you off after 50MB of traffic, so it’s no good for important stuff).

On meals:

To save money and eat less I’m considering going down to breakfast and dinner, and stocking up on fruit and energy bars for afternoon snacks.

On banking:

I showed up to Westpac to prove my identity and finish opening my bank account. When setting up my online banking the lady explained the rules regarding passwords to me: all passwords must be EXACTLY six characters long, but must contain at least one letter and at least one number. No uppercase letters allowed. No punctuation allowed.


Any other computer geeks getting a case of nerd rage? I normally don’t care too much about computer security (I’ll leave my wifi router unlocked), but passwords that protect MY FREAKING MONEY should be more complex than this. If a bank allows me to choose my own password, it’s always over ten characters long and includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, includes numbers, and punctuation symbols.

For people who have no idea why this is important, I’ll just say that if I got to choose my own password, it’d be over 100 billion times more resistant to random guesses than the one I ended up choosing. Just saying’.


On Starbucks:

A venti drip coffee costs over $3AUD.

Went back to Scary Canary for cheap eats, and Ladies Night: drink specials for ANYONE wearing a dress. To encourage participation they were handing out dresses to the guys… they gave me a hideous blue thing you’d expect a fat grandma to wear. I wore it with pride until I’d had my fill of $4 vodka tonics (regular price $6 — win!)


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First day in Australia

Day 1: Sydney, Australia, NSW

I eventually arrived in Sydney and checked into Base. Seemed decent, if not a bit generic. Calypso Backpackers is still the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and I’m excited to stay there again once I hit Cairns.

I went to a local shopping center and compared cell phone plans. I ended up getting a pre-paid SIM card to pop into my unlocked iPhone 3GS from Optus. For $50AUD I charged the account with more minutes and texts than I need, and 500MB of data — all of which expires after 30 days. I have the iPhone linked to my laptop so I can use the phone’s connection to give internet to the laptop, which comes in handy. ~15MB of data per day is a decent quota, as long as I’m just doing quick browsing/email/Facebook/Twitter/etc.

When I need to upload pictures and video I’ll have to pay to use the connection at one of the nearly infinite internet cafes in the neighborhood.

After shopping I was exhausted and jet lagged, took a nap, and was woken up by two of my roommates returning from their day out shopping. A South Korean girl with a name I don’t remember, and Kimmy from Holland. I figured I should wake up and try to get on local time, so I went downstairs for dinner and drinks.

Base has a pretty lively bar attached to it called Scary Canary. Like so many places in Australia, the food and drink aren’t cheap, but luckily there are specials every night. I made friends with the bartender (Mary, cute little American blonde from Washington state) For $10AUD I went with the bacon cheeseburger, fries and a schooner of Toohey’s New.

After dinner I hung out with a Canadian girl, an English girl, and a group of Ozzie guys. I forget everyone’s name and don’t expect to ever see any of them again. Fun people, though.

Around 9pm they removed some of the tables from the bar to make a dance floor. A shirtless American guy started to DJ, and for some reason he was only allowed to play songs that he had the music videos for, so that every flat-screen TV in the bar was showing what we were listening to. Every popular song from the past 5 years was played over the course of the night. Backpackers love Black Eyed Peas — fact.

Scary Canary has a theme every night of the week, and the night’s drink specials are only valid for people who dress up according to whatever the night’s specialty is. Luckily, they seem to realize that most backpackers didn’t pack their Halloween costumes with them, so they actually provide people with themed gear for the evening. For instance, tonight was a glow-in-the-dark theme, so they handed out tubes of suntan lotion you could paint yourself with that glowed under backlight.

This post is getting long and stupid, so I’ll bullet-point the rest of the night’s highlights:

  • Australian guy telling me about all the times he’s been deported from America
  • Watching creepy old guys trying to pick up the young backpacker ladies
  • Getting a wicked nosebleed and going to bed

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