I sat there trying to figure out what to do with the car in Simon and Kat’s apartment – with a pretty bad hangover.
“Maybe we could just drive it off a cliff somewhere, tape it, then sell the tape. Then you could make some money on it!”, suggested Simon.
“Yeah…that would be cool. But, you know, it’s kind of like 1000 times worse than throwing a wrapper on the ground. That’s like hardcore pollution. Unless we cleaned it up after. And I’m not up for that today”, I replied.
“Dude, just make a flier and say $250 bucks for it. You’ll sell it today.”
See, the problem was that 1) The transmission had some problem, 2) It leaked a lot of oil, 3) I couldn’t, in good conscience, sell the car without telling someone about that stuff, and 4) If I were to sell the car for anything near what I bought for it (assuming I would be dishonest), it would take at least several weeks – which I didn’t have time for.
“If you help me with it, I’ll do it”, I said.
And we were off. Simon and Kat had just sold their car and knew all the good places to put the fliers. So I went to an internet cafe, made a flier, put a picture (the only one I had) of me with my shirt off and my hands in the air at the border of Queensland here in OZ.
As we printed it up at the Internet place, a guy looked and called his buddy. His buddy called me and tried to bargain me down to $150. Funny stuff. What a cheap bastard. So I told him I wouldn’t budge and he said he would call me back. Simon and I proceeded to put another few fliers up and at one place, there were two guys looking at the board.
“Hey, you guys wanna buy a car?”, I asked.
Twenty minutes later, my car was sold. I explained the problems and we took it for a drive and they decided that they would try their luck. They just had to get it down the coast and I think they might be able to make it. And my problems are done. I bought a ticket to Sydney for $200 bucks and was there the next morning.
First on the agenda was getting to the Chinese embassy to find out if I would have problems getting into China on a one way ticket. I went to the address I had after getting off the plane (with my huge backpack and all) via the train, only to find that it had moved. Eventually, I maneuvered my way on trains and buses to arrive at the new address, only to find that I was one minute too late (they work really rough hours at the embassy, 10AM – Noon. I noticed a Chinese travel agent next door so I stopped in and chatted with the guy. He said that I shouldn’t have a problem with a one way ticket. He sells them to Australians all the time. So I went to STA Travel and bought my ticket for the 12th of this month for about $690. After hanging around in the city for a few hours, I met up with Matt (the guy I met in NZ) and we headed back to his place and he showed me the couch I would be able to live on for the next few days. Cooooooool! We celebrated his roommate’s birthday that night and stayed up pretty late talking and catching up. It was great.
This morning I spent a few hours cleaning up the house in payment for accommodation and the food from last night and headed to the city to try the embassy one more time. I got in, sat around listening to all the Chinese and when it was my turn was assured I wouldn’t have a problem with a one way ticket. I then called Thai Airways and was assured that I wouldn’t have a problem with a one way ticket. Remember this guys. Especially if I have problems with a one way ticket when I arrive.
So right now I’m just hanging out in Sydney. I bought an unlimited public transport pass and am just popping around the city checking everything out. In a few minutes, I’m gonna meet up with Lucy, a girl I met out here when I was here a few years ago and that should be pretty cool. At this very moment, I’m on a street I walked on quite a bit when I was here last time and it feels really strange to see it. My life has changed in every conceivable way since then and now that I am back here, it’s interesting to see how differently I feel walking the streets now that I am an experienced traveler.
When I landed at the airport yesterday, I walked up to customs completely relaxed and with a half grin on my face (as usual) and the lady at the desk looked at me and smiled and said, “Wow, you shouldn’t look so stressed!”. I cruised through the airport, found the train I needed got on, walked around and didn’t feel the slightest hint of intimidation. Compared with my first visit to Sydney several years ago, it felt pretty different. I was so lost my first time, it wasn’t even funny.
I didn’t know where to go, what the coins looked like, how much stuff should cost, who to trust, who to ask, what to do with customs, etc… It was my first time traveling and it was a very new experience. And now, after exactly nine months of travel, I’ve gotten pretty good at getting thrown into a completely foreign place and calling it home without too much trouble.
At least, in western countries it’s no longer a problem. In 11 days I leave for China. I can’t read or speak Chinese and I have no idea how things get done, where to go, or the customs of the people there. If I don’t see food in the window, I wont even be able to find a place to eat. It’s going to be interesting.
It’s going to be fun.