Oz life, 2 weeks down

Hello good people over the interwebs! I have been in the lovely lovely city of melbourne (sorry for the low case, but this keyboard seriously is making my life difficult) for exactly 2 weeks now. Impatient (and a tad perfectionist) as I am, I’ve had my moments of doubt and darkness; but very brief moments, since the shining new gym, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room in the apartment building I’m currently staying help with dealing with life crisis. So far I have walked across and around and up and down the streets of this beautiful city that has 4 seasons within one day. So far it has been rather pleasant even during the worst days, mind you.

Yarra river view.
Yarra river view.

After Asia times, coming to this Western environment has been such a shock that I have been eating sushi (hand rolls) every single day except for maybe 1 day. They’re everywhere! You can have them with brown rice, sometimes even black…and I can’t get enough. Specially when at the end of the day there’s discounts! I was not supposed to talk about sushi here…besides sushi, there’s a fair amount of other Asian heritage (and food), so one can easily feel homey, if the H&m and Ikea aren’t quite it. Food-wise, I also love the farmer’s markets. It is surprising how much cheaper food there actually is. And you get to have the conversations with the sellers, assuming they’re not too busy. And deals here and there as well, i.e a whole box of peaches for 2 dollars. From experience I can say that it is not easy carrying a box of peaches around town for a day.

You find this kind of stuff all over the place.
You find this kind of stuff all over the place.

I have kept myself pretty occupied with wandering and wondering about the future: I did agree to start writing blog posts for workingholidayjobs.com.au, which might mean more rambling on this turf, but who knows. I also got the opportunity to re-create the smoothie and juice menu for this one super cool and mouth-wateringly delicious semi-hipster restaurant-cum-coffee shop St.Ali, which I am pretty stoked about. Whee!
I do have a day job hopefully scored, but that remains to be seen, and today I finally managed to fix my missing apartment issue. Up until now I have had the luxury of staying at a friend’s well-set apartment in the CBD (Central Business District). I have truly enjoyed the brand new gym facilities and the rest, so we’ll see how I’ll settle to the “normal” life. It is about time I get a “normal” life, right?

I don't run here but I do see why some people do.
I don’t run here but I do see why some people do.

Yess, life. It is happening all the time but so far trying to arrange life has been a bit of a hassle. Like with the sim card that didn’t work after a week of trying, 6 online chats, 2 attempted phone calls from concierge’s phone, 2 promised calls to be made to my friends’ phone that never happened, and 2 days of waiting for a new sim card that never arrived. Amaysim, you did not deserve all that attention, attempt, and aggression I had for you. I hope no one will have to go through the same, when all the apartment ads and bureaucracies are asking for your phone number and you don’t have one.

Attitude.
Attitude.

There’s nothing wrong with hand rolls.

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Week END?

Constantly building something, view of Admiralty
Constantly building something, view of Admiralty

My last weekend in Hong Kong couldn’t have been better, even if it had been sunny instead of raining! On Friday we had a delicious, (almost vegan) dinner in one of the best Thai restaurants in Hong Kong (Cafe Siam).
The following day, I ventured to more art and explored an area I hadn’t been before; the industrial, artsy Chai Wan hosted Chai Wan Mei, a satellite event to the megalomane Art Basel.

Master chef at home
Master chef at home

Part of Chai Wan Mei included Bread Elements, a new – you guessed it – bakery. This company’s bread is not the pillows and other “breads” you find in the supermarkets; it is real, rustic artisan bread, hand-made from premium ingredients. I was lucky to visit the open days of the old factory premises, and talk to the master chef and cookbook authorGregoire Michaud, who previously worked for for example The Four Seasons hotel for several years!

Gluten-free raisin loaf, made with rice -, and tapioca flour
Gluten-free raisin loaf, made with rice -, and tapioca flour

It was truly inspiring to exchange ideas and opinions about the essence and quality, or the lack of quality bread, and the methods of making bread. We discussed the current gluten free trend and the reasons for the increase of gluten sensitivities (low quality, processed wheat was the chef’s suggestion). What comes to bread – it’s my Achilles heel. I think that bread should always be highest-possible quality, made without any additives or enhancers. At Bread Elements, I got to see the Mother of the breads, the sourdough starter, which makes yeast unnecessary. And I got to say, that oh man these French know how to bake a baguette!

Now Bread Elements only supplies to high end hotel chains and restaurants, but maybe soon Hong Kongers get to enjoy real bread from normal stores, too! Oh, yeah, there was other stuff than food in Chai Wan, too. Like 3,000 red-covered diaries from the Revolution era.

The Governor?
The Almighty Governor?

Saturday was topped off with some more art, wine, tapas, cocktails and dancing the night away in some of the fanciest clubs in the city with some rather interesting new friends.

Chilling at the gym
Chilling at the gym. Notice the mosquito-eaten legs!

Sunday dawned too cloudy to go to a beach, so I opted for a gym and rooftop pool instead. The sun even peaked out to say hello!

I could do this more than once!
I could do this more than once!

Summa summarum: the weekend definitely left a positive feeling and good memories about Hong Kong. Who knows, maybe this won’t be the end for me.

Gym class hero

After attending the gym guidance few weeks ago, I received my gym membership card and thus am eligible to use the APU gym. As long as I have my gym card, student ID card and a towel with me, and I wear my brand new 200yen indoors sneakers, I am good to go.

Check in before you go. There are several rules and guidelines to remember

When entering the gym, one must sign in and give their cards to the security officer. After that, you receive a locker key.

Nice pink style on the machines

The gym is equipped with some basic machines: few treadmills and bikes, some machines for arms and legs, plus free weights. There is also two mats for stretching, ab/back workout or practicing sumo steps.

Even though I don’t understand the different features of the bike, the main point is clear (on the scale)

I have to admit, that I do feel rather big in the gym, too. Back home, I felt like an insect compared to all those pumped up bodybuilders, but here the biggest guys are hardly my height.

Best thing about the gym: Japanese music from a boombox in the corner!

Confession: I have been to the gym only twice, even though in theory I would have the time to go there every day. I am in desperate need of a reasonable workout programme.

Guidance

I don’t know about Japan in general, but here in APU there is a guidance for everything. During the first 2 weeks before school started, we had guidances at least about the following topics: health, library (included 3 videos, one guide book, a lecture and a tour in the actual building), successful student life, clubs and activities and course registration. These guidances are of course rather important, but I think it is possible to go to the library, loan a book and get out unharmed even without watching the third video. Everyone here is very helpful about everything, and there is staff and students to assist lost people, so after the fifth guidance everything started to look a bit, ahem, goofy.

This is one of the things you cannot do in the gym. Beware.

In order to use the gym on campus, one must attend gym guidance. The first gym guidance session was held this week, so no I am finally able to go there (though I would have had much more time when I school hadn’t started yet…) We were told not to sleep during the guidance, since that would result in not getting the required gym membership card. 10 minute video explained the gym rules and the proper use of the machines, telling beginners what not to do (as if they would remember anything about techniques or the various ways they could harm themselves). One must always enter the gym in indoors shoes. You must sign in. You must sign the time you start using the treadmill. The list goes on. Of course there is a guard at the gym, who could assist people if needed.

After the video, we signed a card and so now I can finally go to the gym, since I got myself a brand new pair of (men’s) sneakers for 1980yen.