We buy a Ford Falcon panel van from Kings Cross car market. We pay $2700 dollars for it. It is a 1985 4.1 litre beast. We intend to drive this van right across Australia. It has just about everything we need in it. We will buy some extra camping gear.
Australia & NZ 1998
I get a job with TK services, cutting grass in many of the parks around Sydney.
I work days and sometimes party at night. I meet a lot of people staying in the hostel.
I start work at 7am, so I get up at 5:30 am and catch a bus to central station. I then take the train ride up to St Leonards. The train carriages fall silent each morning as we cross the harbour bridge, as everyone takes in the sun rise over the city. The view from the train is amazing.
I have an interview with Select Appointments. It goes ok, but I haven’t made much of an effort. A guy in a bomber jacket tries to sell me acid on the bench outside the museum before my interview. Seeing the inner city is interesting.
We move to Coogee Bay and check into a backpackers. It costs AUS$120 per week. I phone a few agencies to look for work.
We go to Coogee Bay and Bondi Bay. We also go to the harbour and see the harbour bridge, and the Sydney Opera house. Both are amazing. We have beers at The Rocks, an area of Irish bars.
We go to the shopping centre, and then to the beach.
We see more of the streets of Manila. The bay looks fairly polluted and there are some big ships out there. The streets are busy and dirty, the traffic chaos. The Philippines are one of the few countries that the USA colonised. Because of that English is widely spoken and there are many Jeepneys, shiny buses made from the remains of jeeps and other US vehicles. They operate around the city, most are very colourful and quick. Christianity is common, and many have biblical names. People hop on and off, paying at random it seems.
We take another breakneck journey through the city in a mini-bus. We are late for the flight. The roads are bad, people ignore the lanes, and the lights systems seem to work at random. We get the airport on time though, and I’m told that if I wear trousers I can have a business class upgrade. Not bad for my second flight!
The flight to Australia is long. We land early in the morning in Melbourne. From the airplane window everything looks parched and desolate. We go into the airport whilst it is refuelled. The airport is the opposite of Heathrow. It is light, clean, friendly, smells good, and you can’t smoke. We get back onto the plane and fly to Sydney.
I am keen to see Sydney as we land, so I get a widow seat. We fly over the ocean on the approach to Botany Bay.
Customs is not easy, and I learn to be a bit brighter in airports. Jason’s brother is there to collect us. We drive to the beach and get a juice. There is a lot to take in.
Jason and his girlfriend live in Cronulla. It’s a lovely quiet suburb. I take a walk around the sports fields. The warmth and smells are very welcoming, and I enjoy being in Australia. We get some beers.
We arrive at Manila airport after a long 16 flight. Fly ing is an odd experience, but I don’t dislike it. We get through customs, I am intrigued by all of the different types of people. As the doors open to the outside world the heats me, as I stand in my jeans and jacket. Welcome to somewhere other and England.
We wait 2 hours for the bus, which then projects us through Manila at breakneck speed until we arrive at out hotel.
The hotel window opens onto a view of a similar hotel wall about 3 feet away. It’s best to keep the curtain drawn. We eat at the hotel restaurant.
Everything is very cheap, even in this inflated area. The
At late evening it is still 28 degrees Celsius. We venture onto the streets, with the constant bustle of street life. People selling food, guitars, just about anything. We buy some snacks from a 7 Eleven store, which I notice has an armed security guard.
Jason and I catch the 11:45 train from Truro station to London. We change to Heathrow airport at 15:30. This is the first time I have been to an airport, and I am surprised by the scale of it. I can see only terminal 4, there are 3 other terminals.
We catch our flight at 17:50, Philippine Airways to Manila, The Philippines.