WHITE NIGHT MELBOURNE

I moved from Sydney to Melbourne two weeks ago, and I love it.  One of the things I love in particular is the abundance of artsy things to do.  Like go to White Night, which is the city’s transformation into “a celebration of music, food, film, art and light, for one night only, from dusk till dawn.”  It’s one of the most anticipated city festivals, so of course I headed over to check it out.

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Projections on the downtown buildings morphed the streets into a fantastic, surreal carnival-land.  I was obsessed with the amazing detail, and the fact that they constantly changed.  Here are two pictures of the same building taken about five minutes apart.  Impressive!

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And here is Flinders Station.  Trippy!  Remind me why Melbourne can’t always look like this?

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The other thing I couldn’t get over was this giant light art piece, which projected images of faces onto five huge trees on the opposite bank of the river.  The faces moved very slightly – one seemed to be sleeping, another listening, etc.  Very ghostly and Wizard of Oz-like, and I thought it was JUST SO COOL, especially since the pictures I took turned out like double exposures.  I haven’t seen double exposures since messing up a roll of film at the age of ten or so, but I love the effect.

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Below is the inside of a maze of mirrors, sheer white panels, and stripes of light that bounced up and down.  So bizarre (but in a good way, of course).

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And here is a gigantic projection of some of Melbourne’s tattooed people – a variety of shapes, sizes, genders, and tattoo styles represented.

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In one of the parks near the ghostly faces:

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EARTHCORE PHOTO DIARY

So, Earthcore, that bush doof / music festival I bought tickets to ages ago, finally happened!  It was SO MUCH FUN, obviously, because how can you not have so much fun when you’re dancing like mad and jumping around in the dirt and camping out of a ride like this?  We rented this hippie beast from a company called Wicked.  The guys were initially disappointed that we got stuck with the Flower Power van – the other ones were a bit more badass (think Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Shrek).  I thought it was hilarious though – driving around we got loads of funny stares that never made sense until we remembered what the outside of our van looked like.  The back actually said “Pollinate the Nation, Ban the Pill.”

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Vroom.

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This is Tony’s lucky leprechaun mascot that held up the GPS.  He was ultimately unlucky / useless because…

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…we BROKE DOWN.  Halfway between Sydney and Melbourne we heard a POP and smoke started to rise, green fluid was leaking everywhere and a big tube underneath the hood had violently split open like a roll of premade biscuit dough.  As it turns out, when this happens it means your radiator has busted and you have to get towed back into civilization to get it fixed.

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Not the plan at all.

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Civilization meant a town called Holbrook, and we had to spend the night there.  It’s the sort of place where excitement involves setting off fireworks behind the bakery and people put up HAVE YOU SEEN ME? signs in store windows when their chickens go missing.  Abbey and I spotted a sign for a burlesque show at the town bar that night – we wanted to go, but surprisingly enough the guys shot us down.  Lame!  Anyway, this is Holbrook in all its glory.

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The town has 1400 people and one claim to fame – the very large WWII submarine sitting in the middle of it.  Sitting on it is one of the things you can do when you’re done setting off fireworks and looking for your neighbor’s lost chicken.

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Our radiator arrived at 1 AM on a bus from Melbourne.  We got up and snagged it and got the van sorted out in the morning.  (We actually broke down again five minutes after leaving town.  Luckily they were able to fix what was wrong and it only took them about an hour, during which time we sat in the park and hung out with a couple of Japanese hippies who gave us a demonstration of these little African shake-y gourd instruments they played.  We met them several more times at the festival but they didn’t seem to remember us.)

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But we finally made it!!

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The main stage.

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Somehow in my 27 years of being alive, this was the first music festival I’d ever been to.  I’d been to concerts and one-day events before but never camped out.  There were four stages that played music the entire three days – even shows at 6 and 7 am.  Intense.  I hadn’t heard of any of the artists that played – most of it was trance, which I knew (and, ok, still know) almost nothing about.  To be honest I thought it might be too much for me because I’d never been much into that sort of thing.  Previously, when I’d go out with groups of people on my travels, I used to get frustrated because I was forever outnumbered (especially by the Europeans) when it came to music choice.  They always wanted to find some electronic nonsense to dance to, and my little American hip-hop-loving heart just wasn’t having it.

So I was really surprised to find that I loved it.  Live trance on massive speakers in the dark out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by an energetic crowd of people wearing fake fur coats/headdresses/hippie ponchos/steampunk goggles/things that glow is pretty surreal.  I consider myself converted!

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SYDNEY TINDER: BEST OF

So I know this was supposed to be a travel blog and all, but since I’m in a saving phase and living in Sydney at the moment, I now proclaim Wilds of Wherever a…regular living blog…or whatever…as well, to also reflect on what it’s like living in another country after you spend your cash on a backpacking trip.  But don’t worry guys, I won’t get boring on you!

Let’s talk boys.  A lot of my friends back home like to ask if Australian men are attractive. The answer is, on the whole, yes!  More so than back home.  The average Aussie is pretty cute, and even the OK ones are still usually sporty – I have yet to see one with Cheeto fingers and a neck beard.

To make the most of this situation On a completely unrelated note, I downloaded Tinder about a week ago.  Oh morbid curiosity and abiding love for all that is hilarious, you get me every time!  Since my readers – and by that I mean my immediate family – probably don’t know what this is (my dad’s using Vine now, though, so who knows), I’ll explain.  Tinder is sort of a dating app thing where you log in through Facebook.  Your profile consists of four or so decent pictures of yourself from your Facebook profile and a short tagline – no other info.  Mine says “Ready to be dazzled by your biting wit,” though I think it’s more normal to put in a Marilyn Monroe quote or something reflecting one’s cheery outlook on life / propensity to make lemons into lemonade.  Or what have you.

The app shows you people of the opposite sex (there are gay/lesbian ones as well but I think they’re a bit more hookup-focused) and you swipe them to the right if you like them and to the left if you don’t.  If you both swipe each other to the right, you have the chance to chat.  If either person says no, neither can send a message.  Once you’ve swiped, a new one appears.

If this sounds addictive, well, it is, a bit.  You never know who’s going to pop up next, and it’s a little rush when the cute guy swipes you back – the pictures twirl around with a message that says “It’s A Match!”  It’s like being a lab mouse in a psychology experiment – one of the ones that occasionally get a morsel of food or a bit of heroin or something when they press a bar in their cage and are therefore willing to press the bar another five hundred times until they score again.

According to word on the street, normal people use Tinder.  HOWEVER, fortunately for us all, there are some weirdos on there as well.  I’ve been screen-grabbing the best ones for your viewing enjoyment, and because I’m a merciful human being I didn’t include the close-up, high-res shot one guy put up of the open sores festering on his back.  You’re welcome.

Without further ado:

IMG_0109The old nose-cigarette.  Works every time.

IMG_0104OH BABY.

IMG_0126Poll: Is this duckface or Blue Steel?

IMG_0127Because every gal wants a man who passes out in front of the gambling machine.

IMG_0106What is this photo’s context?  Did you take it with a self timer, scrambling to get into the “great explorer staring deeply into the unknown, but also with his ass hanging out” position before the allotted twenty seconds were up?  Did you ask someone to take it for you, and if so why?  Or did you just not feel the breeze?  SO MANY QUESTIONS.

IMG_0105The beer in his hand says ‘costume party’ so I want to give this guy a pass, but…oh lord, I’ve seen an A&E special on adult babies…

IMG_0122Yesss, my precious.  I will smother your fine ass in nacho cheese and devour you right here in this Taco Bell.

IMG_0125This is actually a little bit impressive.  Looking at this one again, maybe I actually should have swiped right?  Maybe he’d just survived being stranded in the woods?  That would be hot.  He’s actually quite good-looking under that crazy beard.  Guess I blew my chance, so I’ll never know now.

IMG_0116I can has cheezeburger?

IMG_0117So this guy’s face is obviously squished up against this window, but it also sort of looks like he’s in pain because a ray of light is poking him in the side of the head.  Am I right?

IMG_0119WHEN can I start staring at your picts?  You are so attractive to be real.  I won’t hate, I promise.

IMG_0128This guy (who thinks he’s Miguel) would seduce you INSIDE A GIANT SMOKE RING and then give you lessons on how to add a soft-focus effect to images in Photoshop.  Win.

IMG_0115This guy…actually, in all seriousness, any man that thinks of doing this and then finds the time to execute it needs to be my husband.

Fess up: have any of my lovely readers used Tinder?  Do you have any epic screen grabs for me?  Please share!

DOOF PLANS

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Excitement!  Three weeks from today I’ll be going on a road trip to Earthcore, which is a bush doof in Victoria.  This is something that’s been on my bucket list since…well, since about a month ago, when I first heard of it.  A bush doof is basically a big trance party out in the middle of nowhere – somewhat like a rave, but with more of a hippie vibe.  My Newtown friends and former housemates Abbey, Sean and Tony spearheaded this whole shebang, including the rental of a psychedelic van.  I don’t have a tent or anything, so I’ll be sleeping in this van as well.  See?  Still a backpacker, even though I own pencil skirts and heels now.

Abbey is a fashion student.  The first thing I knew about her before we actually met was that she has an impressive collection of tall tough shoes with spikes sticking off the back.  I saw these lined up in the kitchen (of course?) when I was looking at the room for rent.  I’d been instructed to let myself in because nobody was home, and I was paranoid that Abbey would be there, just with her headphones on or something, and that she’d wonder what this psycho was doing creeping around her house and possibly throw a shoe at me.  Luckily she’s cool, and even if she had found me poking around in the living room and testing the water pressure in the bathroom she’d have probably just asked if I wanted a cup of tea.

Tony is the bartender at the tiny Italian restaurant I worked in for a couple of weeks when I first got to Sydney.  I didn’t know his name for a while because everybody at work just called him Irish.  Since I work all day and he works all night, we’d run into each other once a week, usually every Sunday afternoon.  I’d be lazing around streaming TV shows on my laptop and he’d be washing one of his four black shirts in the sink and trying to dry it on the space heater before work started – and that would be it.  Ha.

Sean is Abbey’s boyfriend and a quasi-housemate since his actual house is way up in the very northern edge of Sydney (like actually bordering the bush) and a million hours away from his university and from civilization in general.  Sean and I figured out that we were both in Cambodia at nearly the same time and actually knew some of the same people (long-term Sihanoukvillians).  Small world!

Anyhoo, I’m pumped.  Is it November 28 yet?

THE COURIER CHRONICLES

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“PROMISE ME YOU’LL BUY SOME WILD TURKEY HONEY BOURBON AFTER WORK TODAY,” he tells me, but all I can look at is the way his index finger ends in a stump.  The stump isn’t blunt or neat but wide and a bit flattened, like squished Silly Putty or maybe the edge of a piece of ravioli.  Every time he comes by I wonder what happened to it, but I never ask.

Aside from the finger and affinity for Wild Turkey Honey Bourbon, all I know is that his name is Matt, he considers himself able to (through years of careful training) outdrink men much younger and fitter than himself, and that he delivers things to our office on a semi-regular basis.

I tell him I’ve seen it on the shelves at Liquorland but that $6,739 (an exaggeration, but only a slight one given that we’re in Sydney) is too much to spend on a bottle of anything that isn’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.  He promised to buy the unfinished portion from me if I don’t like it.  Now that’s service, or friendship, or maybe he’s a Wild Turkey rep on the sly.

Matt is just one of the people that delivers stuff to my desk.  Because I spend most of my time transferring calls and selling people pods for the Nespresso machine and watching the Bold and the Beautiful going through expense claims, I like when visitors come in (oh my god, that was such an old-woman thing to say.  Am I in training to be a cat lady?).  So I talk to all the mailmen, tell them to hang onto my signature just in case I ever get famous, and try to get them to tell me interesting things.

Dennis is the one with the twitchy eye.  Amit is the one who said he’d prefer to call me Kelly, as Callie is “difficult” and “too complicated.”  I don’t yet know the tattooed Uruguayan, the tall thin gentleman who appears rather dignified-looking until you notice how distractingly short his shorts are, or the one who likes to explain that things were much better under the White Australia policy (not that he’s a racist or anything) and that “you sure are lucky to have weekends off.  Bet you don’t get those in America!”

Then there’s Oscar, the quietly bizarre afternoon mailman.  When I first started, it took him a solid week to wrap his head around the fact that my coworker Julie and I aren’t the same person – despite the fact that she has black hair and I’m about a foot taller than she is.  Here is the conversation we had each of the first five days I worked there.

“Hi there.  Changed your hair color, did you?”

“No, but I did just start yesterday (/the other day/three days ago).”

“Ah, I thought you looked different.  What’s your name?”

“Callie.”

“Kelly, huh?  Good Irish name.”

“I’m not Irish.”

“Well, you sound Irish.”

“I’m from the US.”

“No wonder you sound Irish.  Same thing.  Where do you think the American accent came from?”

Perhaps he was drinking too much Wild Turkey on the job?

FAVORITES FROM MANILA’S CHINESE CEMETERY

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d put up some pictures from…the Chinese cemetery in Manila!

The Chinese believe that when someone dies, things buried with them go along to the afterlife.  This includes buildings, (paper) money, flushing toilets, etc, etc.  I’d heard that Manila’s Chinese cemetery was a great place to see this, and it’s true – what an elaborate way to send off the dead.  I want to say it’s the size of a town, but it actually is a town with streets and alleys and houses – AHEM, mausoleums.  I would say that any place where the dead outnumber the living is generally eerie, but this place is on another level.  Manila is famous for noise, crowds and chaos, but the cemetery is a vast, creepy, weirdly silent oasis in the middle – plus, I only saw ONE other traveler there.

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The edge of the cemetery overlooks a sort of shanty town.  When I stepped inside this pagoda and looked across the fence, there were a bunch of people in the windows yelling and waving.

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Typical street (see what I mean about empty?)

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Road sign.

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Inside each mausoleum is an altar to the person/people inside it.  Most of them had a portrait, some incense, and various other little offerings of one sort or another.

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Decorated tomb.

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And another.

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Decorative iron door and a lady’s portrait.

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Ornate roof decoration.

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Another of the altars with burned-out incense, dead flowers and faded flags.

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Portrait.

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And another.

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I thought these were fascinating.  Can you tell?

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In spite of the place being totally empty, I saw evidence of people living there, like this laundry hanging out to dry.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY: CLEVELAND STREET

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This is Virginia from Spain and Tommaso from Italy – two people living in the Cleveland Street sharehouse I called home for the month of July.  Nine of us lived there, and another eight or so lived next door.  At times I felt like I’d gone back to college, but we had a great group that got along well.  Comparing daily life with housemates from so many different backgrounds is interesting…and of course, unity can always be achieved through a game of King’s Cup.