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01 March, 2011

And I'm Here

Wow, I really wasn't kidding around when I said 2011 was going to be my last year in Sydney. That sure escalated quickly. Oh Lordy, what have I done to myself? In the space of three weeks I went from brohemian, brunch-loving Newtownian, to fish-out-of-water, international travelling neophyte.

And the verdict? In the words of DJ Pied Piper and The Master of Ceremonies: I'm loving it, loving it, loving it, I'm loving it like this.

I knew my friends were right, I knew the travel thing had to be done, but what I didn't know, and what I'm quickly coming to realise, is that this is pure awesome.

****

I arrived in Singapore and the first thing I noticed was the carpet. It was an ugly shade of black, grey and maroon squares. But then I looked up, and realised I was in an airport, and that I shouldn't get stuck on such pitifully dull details on my first sojourn through an international airport.

I walked out and after making sure I had all my necessary documentation, walked into a guard and asked with a faint tinge of trembling: "How do I get out of here?"
"Down that way", he said with a smile.

Being subjected to Border Security on Australian TV had me quaking in my shoes at the prospect of passing through immigration. I was envisaging savage customs officials, machine guns, and maybe a rapier.

Instead, there was smiles, stamping, and a pleasant bid on my way.

I've never experienced duty-free shopping. I've heard murmurs of what it encompasses, and the vast, bountiful value that accompanies these purchases. But 1 Litre of Smirnoff for $18 SGD?!?! Yes please. I also grabbed three Tiger cans for under $6 bucks. They came in handy later.

Picking up my luggage was wait-free, and I rather expertly got into a taxi and pointed the driver in the right direction. Perhaps the way in which I accomplished this task had gone to my head, because when I got to the street I was staying in the taxi driver exploded. I didn't say I had a Visa Card. How the shit am I meant to pay for it!

So I fucked up my first cab experience. We drove to an ATM and I got some cash out and paid the good man. I then walked up to the address I was given and had no idea where the agent was. I stood around scratching my head. I called her from a phone on my way through the airport but she was nowhere to be seen. I pondered what to do, as I didn't have a phone and figuring out a local telephone box with a currency I haven't used before seemed like way too much effort given I'd just been in the air for eight hours.

"Luke?!"

I have to say, it's was the first surreal experience in another country. Another country where you know fuck-all people. Another country where you don't expect to hear your name. I smirked. I think the penny dropped there and then that I was in for a fun ride, even the simplest little things are going to take on new meaning, and this was only the beginning.

Of course, it was the estate agent. She let me into the shophouse, and we navigated three lots of stairs to get to my pad. After an inventory check and receiving the critical "dongle" for Internet, she bade me farewell and I couldn't stop smiling. I was in my apartment, in another country, with absolutely no idea what to do.

Before I left, I spied a 7/11 on Google Maps right next to where I was, so I decided I'd go to that and get some mixer for my vodka. I grabbed my orange fruit drink, paid for it while fumbling around for the correct money, and scurried back to my pad.

I was pretty tired, and after slamming the vodka down, I had my first fitful sleep fighting between the sound of the air-conditioner blasting, and wallowing in the heat.

****

And that's how I got here. It's now my second day of work and I'm settling in. New market to learn, new procedures but I'm prepared for the challenge.

This aside, I'm now sure coming here was one of the best decisions of my life.