Friday, June 11, 2010

Culture and climate shock

It was an 8 1/2 hr flight from Osaka to the Gold Coast. As another funny aside about how close to home Japan is to me, the Japanese girl at the check-in counter in the Osaka airport spontaneously told me that she had studied and worked in North Vancouver for 3 years, and then on the plane, the Japanese stewardess (it was a mix of Aussies and Japanese) that was strapped in just in front of me on take off and landing started talking to me and turns out she had studied English at PGIC in Vancouver also. What are the odds? Actually, probably pretty good, but that is a further strong memory and link to Japan in my mind.
Brisbane is not the coldest place in Australia by any stretch of the imagination but being this far from the equator in my first winter in a year and a half had me worried. Turns out the temp is running from a high of about 20C and a low of about 10C and when I arrived at sunrise it was 14C. I kid you not, in the time it took me to walk from the plane to the airport I was freezing and literally went through immigration shaking and answering questions through chattering teeth. I was already wearing a fleece but as soon as I got my bag I quickly threw on a third layer and ran outside again to catch the bus. You can imagine my horror as still-frozen me walks outside to see the bus driver and many other locals standing around in shorts and/or t-shirts. Had it been raining I might've just asked them to deport me... I've been here 5 days. It's nice and sunny, Brisbane looks like a great city but I am still wearing 3 layers at all times.
I've walked around a lot getting oriented and trying to get info on finding work. I needed to find something quick but there isn't much around right now. I'm staying at Ben's apartment at the moment while I get settled but Ben isn't there. He's in S. Africa so it's just been me and Ben's Aussie roommate Tom.
As far as culture shock goes. Wow, I am so now used to western prices. It's horrifying. I'm glad the city is very multicultural, with a lot of Asians especially, but I can't say I feel like I belong here when I'm walking around. It's the whole first world thing of order, rules and regulations. I did a rough calculation and even if I count all the borderline countries that you wouldn't really think of as first world per se, so in total, my brief return to Canada, all of Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Kazakhstan, Turkey, South Africa, the Persian Gulf, Australia, Israel, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, I've still only been in 1st world countries for a total of just under one year (about 50 weeks) out of just over the last 5 years (about 266 weeks) with most of it being in the first 2 years. So it's going to be a bit of an adjustment I think. My gut has also gone to hell with the change of diet, worse than it's been in ages. I need to get back to rice, rice and more rice I think. It's not 3rd world food that ruins you, just the change in food, as any long-term vegetarian knows after digging into a steak.
I did get work though. I went into a hostel and they had a little job agency guy there and put my name on the list. He called back a couple days later to say there was farm work available. As there was nothing else coming up that I could find quickly, I'm off to go do some field clearing and stuff preparing for planting. I go with 2 British guys (whose accents I can barely decipher) for 3-4 weeks to a place called Dirranbandi, some 500km from here into the outback. Could be interesting, for sure it will be an experience. I'll tell you all about it if I survive.


At 9:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
Sorry was away then came back to insane hours of work, haven't had a chance to really catch up on your travels. I can't imagine how your not feeling total culture shock with the changes your are experiencing. Pretty much the extremes of technological advancing.
Where to now?

Bear hugs Shean


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