Saturday, November 29, 2014

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

Well, the library is decorated for Christmas and they had a lighting ceremony for the big tree down by the lagoon tonight.  They’ve got Christmas music playing in the mall as well, so Cairns sort of has a Christmas feel to it, but with the heat and humidity, I’m just not in the mood.  I did watch my first Christmas movie of the year though – Louis and I both love “The Holiday” and it was the only one he had.  It was technically before Thanksgiving (which is generally a no-no), but since they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia I figured I was ok.  We had turkey for dinner and by the time he’d cooked and we’d eaten, it was a bit late to start the movie, but we didn’t have any other plans for the evening…we’ll finish it another time.  Well, we’ve both seen it before so I guess it’s not that necessary, but I do love the ending.

On Wednesday I was blessed with a lovely birthday package full of some of my guilty pleasures: nutella, peanut butter, oatmeal butterscotch cookies, and oatmeal fudge bars.  Tata, the new girl in reception, saw everything my mom had sent and immediately exclaimed, “They want to make you fat!”  I just laughed and said, “Yeah, I think you’re right.  Would you like a cookie?”  She only took one, but I took them to volleyball with me that night so that helped keep me from eating them all.  On Thursday I took some of the cookies to Nova to share with Shoko & Rei, and then Thursday night I stopped by Emma’s on the way home to share some with her as well.  What good are batches of cookies if you can’t share the love, right!?  Caterina fell in love with the oatmeal fudge bars and when Louis tried them he promptly decided that my Mom needs to open a cafĂ© & bakery.  He claimed they pair perfectly with a “long black” coffee, so you have to sell them as a package deal.  When I told my mom she claimed he’s only trying to get on her good side, and while I can’t rule that out, you also can’t discount the fact that those bars are AMAZING.

I haven’t seen Alicia in over a month, despite us both promising we’d get together for coffee sometime.  Well Friday afternoon she finally had some time off work and when she was done with school we were able to meet up for a bit.  It was lovely to see her and hear how things are going.  She works really long hours and sadly doesn’t even get paid minimum wage, which is technically illegal I’m pretty sure, but it seems to be pretty common if you’re Asian and are employed by other Asians.  Agatha still hasn’t found another job (she has to find a company that will sponsor her visa, so it’s taking her a bit longer), but she worked so hard, for so long, without any real days off that she’s just trying to enjoy the time off.  Their Mom, an Aunt, and two young cousins are coming on Dec. 12th, and from the sounds of it we might not be heading to Tasmania after all.  It’s not entirely ruled out, but also doesn’t seem very likely.  I’ll still visit at some point, but my travel route might be a bit different now.  Oh, and I learned from Alicia (and further explained to me by Louis) that Korean’s don’t count their age the same way Westerners do.  I’m still not entirely sure I understand it all, but you’re 1-year old when you’re born, so, if I were Korean I would actually be turning 27 in a few weeks.  Plus, I think they change their age with the calendar year too, so even though I’m born in December I would have already been telling people I’m 26, so in January 2015 I would say I’m 27.  Hopefully that’s correct, I’d hate to be passing on incorrect information, but from the explanation I received, I believe that’s correct.

That’s about all the new info I’ve got to pass along.  I was to work in reception all day today and then go immediately to the Casino to work until 1am, but I got really sick earlier this morning and had to leave reception early and cancel my shift with the temp agency.  I’m feeling a bit better now, still got a wicked headache though.  Hopefully that will be gone by tomorrow morning.  Either way, I’m thinking I’ve put off a chiropractor’s appointment for too long, so maybe I’ll head to the one near Nova on Monday and see if I can get an appointment.  Not sure why I never did this before, but here are some photos of my hostel, in case you all are interested:

View from the kitchen/dining room
My Room - classy, right?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Just Another Update

I’ve been meaning to write another blog post, but it just hasn’t happened.  I ended up working again on Saturday night (I almost told them I couldn’t work, but made myself do it because I finally had an opportunity to make some money so I figured I needed to take it) and despite being told I would be finished at 10pm, due to the fact that I had to be up for work at 5:30am, that didn’t quite happen.  A bit of a long story, but I was working at the Casino (it's more than a casino, it's a hotel, restaurant, catering venue and casino all rolled into one) and they had 4 functions going on so I was assigned to the Graduation dinner which was going to be buffet style.  Hannah, the manager in charge of our group, was super nice and I told her I needed to leave at 10pm (Signature Staff was supposed to tell them ahead of time, but I had a feeling it probably hadn’t been passed along) and she said that was totally fine.  Since it was a buffet I again wouldn’t have to worry about carrying three plates.  After we’d had our briefing for the evening and everyone had been assigned tables and tasks for the night, the GM came and pulled me to the Engineering Australia Awards dinner because one of the other guys didn’t speak English well enough.  By the time I joined that group I’d missed the briefing, so only got a quick run through and then we were busy doing other things.  I never got a chance to tell Tim, the new manager, that I needed to leave early, but based on the handout he’d given me, the function was to be over at midnight, so I figured two extra hours wouldn’t kill me.  Oh, and did I mention this was NOT a buffet dinner?

Holding a tray full of drinks for 20min. during cocktail hour did not help my sore arms from the previous night, and I ended up spilling 2 glasses of champagne at one point – thankfully only one of them broke, and since it was on carpet the whole entire room wasn’t alerted to my plight.  The guests near me at the time were very nice, so that helped.  Then not 10 minutes later, while putting dirty glasses in the dish racks in the kitchen another glass fell off my tray and shattered.  Everyone in the kitchen heard that one!  There were four people assigned to do the food run, 2 people to carry 3 plates and 2 people to carry 2 plates: lucky me, I got to be one of the 3-plate servers.  The first run was fine, no dramas.  But then it came time to do the main meal and the plates were significantly larger and they were hot!  The first ones weren’t as hot, because they sat out a bit longer and had time to cool, but by the middle of the run they were burning my hands.  Your hands start sweating and it hurts like crazy and you’re trying desperately, and I do mean desperately, not to drop one while walking as fast as humanly possible so that you can hurry and put it down.  Somehow I did manage to successfully deliver all the dinner plates.  I was never so happy to see a tiny little dessert plate in my life!

Anyway, the rest of the night went well and we started to clean up.  I then found out we had to set up for another function!  Tim wasn’t really around, he’d shown us how to rearrange the room and then disappeared, plus I felt a bit funny mentioning it now.  Most of us were really tired and just wanted to go home, so we just worked as fast as we could.  Hannah wandered in around 12:30am and saw me and exclaimed, “What are you still doing here!?”  I told her it was ok, we were almost done anyway, but she said, “No, let’s go” and told me she’d sign off on my time sheet.  Who knows what time everyone else finished, it would easily have been 2am.  Morning, of course, came super early.

Louis and I had planned on going to the beach Sunday afternoon, and despite both of us being quite tired we decided to keep the original plan and headed to Palm Cove after my shift in reception was finished.  It was a gorgeous day, and I’m always so shocked by how lovely the water is here – it’s the most stunning shades of blue and green (which sadly doesn't quite turn out in pictures).
 We had a picnic lunch on the sand and then decided to go for a swim.  The water was incredibly warm, I think someone said it was 24C (which is about 75F), my Dad would have loved it.  Thankfully jellyfish season isn’t in full swing and the beach had a stinger-net section, so we didn’t have to worry about that too much.  Monday was a rather lazy day, followed by an evening of volleyball.  As you might recall, Monday’s are the free VB clinic.  Erin and her friend Grace were there again (they only ever come to the clinic), as were Pukari and Caterina.  I’ve gone to the clinic several times and we usually “learn” the same techniques every time, but this week we actually learned some new things and finally got to work on serving again.  My overhand serve is coming along quite nicely now.  Anyway, since I didn’t have to work Tuesday morning I stayed until the lights went out, which I haven’t done in quite awhile.  It was a fun night because I ended up playing with such a variety of people, pretty much all of my volleyball friends were there at some point and I was able to play a game or two with them.  Louis usually has Monday’s off so we usually see each other at volleyball, but he never showed up and I rarely take my phone, so when I got back to my hostel around 10:30pm I wasn’t surprised to see he’d texted me, but was surprised to learn that he’d had to work and he’d come by to see me after finishing work.  I texted to tell him I’d just got back from volleyball and he said he was over in the restaurant.  I guess a bunch of his friends had made plans last week to go out for dinner but since he’d had to work and couldn’t go he’d never heard where they were having dinner.  He’d run into them while waiting around for me so it was nice to get to meet some of his Korean friends.  Several of them are masseuses and most of his guy friends are former futsal teammates.   They all mainly chatted in Korean, which doesn’t bother me after living in Japan; a few of them did talk with me in English though and they all seem very nice.  I guess they were surprised to find him there and even more surprised that he was dating someone who isn’t Korean.  Well, I think that just about brings you all up to date – I hope you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving with lots of cranberry sauce and pecan pie.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Recap of the week

What a busy week!  I worked in reception Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, taught at Nova on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, then last night (Friday) I also had my first shift with Signature Staff!  The students this week were great, not that I’ve had a bad one yet.  We had three students, Rei (23), Yuika (27), and Tazuko (71).  Rei and Yuika had their lessons together and Tazuko had lessons by herself because her English level was higher than the other two girls; I taught Rei & Yui twice and had Taz once.  Yet again, despite the age difference the three of them got along famously.  I think it's in large part due to their culture of respect for your elders coupled with the fact that any women over the age of 60 willing to travel alone, to a foreign country to study English, has got some spunk.  And who doesn't love spunk? The girls called her Mom all the time and made sure to look after her when they did tours together.  Taz told me that she probably would have been too nervous to do some of the tours on her own, but the girls took such good care of her that she was having a great time and making so many memories.  When they did the night tour of Paronella Park, she told me they were careful to make sure she didn't trip on anything in the dark.  Taz has a great sense of humor and is very chatty; we rarely did the lessons the usual way because most of the subject matter was too basic for her; we often just went off on rabbit-trails and talked about whatever subject came up.  I figured as long as she was speaking English it was good practice for her.  She learned to speak English from American & Canadian teachers so she liked my pronunciation of words since that’s the way she learned.   Yuika and Tazuko left today to go back home to Japan, but Rei is staying for another 3 weeks, so I’ll be teaching her again next Thursday.  Her final two weeks are special one-on-one lessons and only Anne has been trained for that, so, unfortunately, I’ll have another month off.
 After lessons yesterday we all headed to Rusty’s Market and sampled some of the fruits and veggies.  It’s coming into mango season, so we definitely took advantage of those samples.

Last night was also my first night as Food & Beverage Staff with the temp agency that hired me.  Despite the crazy heat and humidity, our uniform is black pants and a long-sleeve black shirt.  Luckily for me, and to my great delight, Louis texted me to say he’d drop me off at the Cruise Liner Terminal (where the event was being held) so that I wouldn’t have to walk there in the heat.  We were serving at the Tropical Tourism North Queensland Awards Banquet, so there were about 300 guests there and everyone was quite dressed up – someone said it was about $165/person to attend.  I was lucky to meet up with a nice woman named Tash when I first arrived and we quickly bonded as we were both completely inexperienced and this was our first shift with Signature Staff.  Fortunately, we got put on the same side of the room and were both put on beverage service since neither of us had experience carrying 3 plates at a time without a tray.  They had shown us how when we were hired, but I’d never actually done it.  When they were splitting us up between food and beverage service they asked if any of us weren’t comfortable with the 3-plate carry and I quickly raised my hand.  They’d already stressed how big of an event this was for them (they were actually up for an award so wanted to be extra impressive) and I just didn’t want the pressure.  I found out later from another guy on our side of the room, who had done this many times, that beverage service is a lot less work, so it seems I made a good choice.  By the time they cut us it was 11pm and my feet were killing me.  I thought I’d bought a decent pair of shoes, but knowing how much I hate wearing shoes (and how infrequently I actually wear shoes), I probably wouldn’t have been happy no matter what shoes I wore.  But all in all, the night went pretty well; I didn’t drop or spill anything and I only mixed up drink orders a couple times (that I know of anyway).

This morning I got a lesson from Tusa (the Samoan gentleman at my hostel who randomly gives me meals) on precision cutting.  He's taking a course on hospitality management, or something like that, and I had helped him with his homework one morning last week.  The assignment was to write up a plan for giving a coworker additional training in something.  So he wrote out the things he need to do and used me as the employee he was going to train.  By the end of the assignment I realized he thought he actually had to do the training (not just write an assignment proving to the teacher that you knew how to prepare and plan a training), so I explained (or so I thought) that he didn't have to actually do the training, just write up a plan for giving the training.  Then on Thursday he asked me if I was free Saturday morning, he was going to buy the vegetables and show me how to do the "precision cutting."  At this point I decided to just go with it.  He's so sweet and it was actually interesting to learn how to do it - looked pretty impressive as well.

Other than volleyball evenings and dinner with Louis, that's about the jist of my week.  Another muggy day here in Cairns, so I think I'm gonna go jump in the pool....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

God & Ramen

My church here in Cairns sings this song quite a bit and we sang it again last night - I love the words, when you stop to think about them they're very powerful, and hard to sing at the same time.
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the water wherever you would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior... I will call upon your Name, keep my eyes above the waves.  My Soul will rest in your embrace.  I am Yours, and You are mine.  "

While talking with my parents this morning my Dad and I talked about my need to be intentional with my faith.  I have no problem answering questions when people ask me about church, like Emma did last night; but I never take it that extra step and ask them what they believe or what they know about God or Jesus.  I'm far to complacent to just answer questions, and never ask any of my own or go deeper and tell them (without them asking) why I go to church and why my faith is important to me.  As my time in Cairns winds down that's definitely something I need to work on with the people I've met.

Friday night I got to do another famil request and was able to bring Louis along for the ride.
 We did the Cairns Harbour Cruise and despite it being too cloudy to get a good sunset it was really fun; I always love being on the water.  We searched for crocodiles in the mangroves along Trinity Inlet, but didn't see any (I'm not sure if it's that common or not and I didn't think to ask).  I had a totally lazy day on Saturday and then yesterday after my morning shift in reception a group of us went to one of the movies that was part of the Japanese Film Festival.  Rav had told me about the festival (who doesn't love free movies - even when they are in Japanese) and since he wasn't able to go since he's back in Brisbane now I recruited a few friends of my own.  I knew that Pukari loves Japan so he'd probably go, I wasn't too sure about anyone else though. Louis ended up having to work and couldn't come at the last minute, Caterina was going to come until she realized it wasn't going to be in English. In the end Rith joined us, as did Mei (Caterina's friend who came to our first dinner together), and Emma came as well and brought one of her Japanese friends from her hostel.
 Everyone (except Pukari) was late and since it wasn't a regular movie it started on time (the nerve!) and I missed the beginning.  I really enjoyed it though; it was a documentary about the life of Kazuo Yamagishi and his famous Tokyo ramen shop, Taishoken.  This blog post explains it pretty well:
"The God of Ramen traces the life of Kazuo Yamagishi and his struggles. Yamagishi was the inventor of tsukemen aka dipping ramen, where the noodles and broth are served separately and you dip cold noodles into hot broth. It’s a style of ramen that has become increasingly popular in Japan. Thus, Yamagishi is considered the God of Ramen. It’s a raw and unpolished piece of film, cheaply shot....the story is so much more compelling and heartfelt. You gain much respect for Yamagishi’s work ethic and his treatment of apprentices, but you also see the hardship, sacrifices and loneliness which I guess is part and parcel of being a chef sometimes, but you rarely see that side displayed in such human terms."
When the film was over we all decided we should have met up for Ramen before hand (the good ramen shop was already closed by the time we got out).  Anyway, most of them headed off to volleyball and I told them I'd stop by after church.  It was a good service and I enjoyed the topic (God as our Father) and afterwards I headed to the VB courts (they're only a block away).  I managed to get in two games before I headed off to the night markets to finally do my opal necklace recon work.  We were waiting to get on the courts when Emma asked me what a church service was like.  I'm still not quite sure how I could have used that opening to talk more about my faith, but I'm praying I can think of something if the opportunity presents itself again.  Well, I guess that's all for now.  I get a whopping three days of teaching this week, so that's a blessing.  Guess that will keep me busy too!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Under the Sea

Another beautiful day out on the Great Barrier Reef yesterday!  All the companies take their customers to different part of the reef, and I’d say this part of the reef was much better than my last trip.  This company (Reef Magic Cruises) has a “pontoon” (named Marine World) anchored out there, so the boat docks alongside Marine World and gives everyone more space to move around while we’re out all day.  So instead of scuba diving and snorkeling off the side of the boat everyone goes out from Marine World.  Another cool thing about this trip was that there is a glass bottom boat and a semi-sub and you can take trips on them throughout the day.  I attempted an introductory dive again and the dive instructor Jim was fantastic, such a nice guy.  There were only about 10 of us doing the dive and I was in the first group of 4, so as soon as we docked at Marine World I put on my stinger suit (it’s jelly fish season here in Cairns right now and since the suit covers you from head to toe it also protected me from sunburn which I appreciated) and headed to the dive platform.  Jim asked me while we were getting all our scuba gear on what had happened last time I’d tried diving.  I told him about my ears and he said we’d give it a shot.  I made it a lot deeper this time, but I was a bit gun-shy I guess about saying my ears had equalized.  As you make your way down (holding on to a rope) you equalize your ears as you go.  He kept giving me the “ok” sign to see how I was doing.  I wasn’t really feeling my ears pop like they usually do on an airplane, so I kept giving him the “sorta ok” sign.  In hindsight, since they weren’t killing me like they had been the time before I should have just kept saying “ok” as I worked my way down and once I got to a point where they actually hurt and I couldn’t get them to stop then tell him it wasn’t working.  Since I still hadn’t given him the “ok” and there was apparently quite a ways left to go he took me back up, telling me it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else to get further down and then have to bring me back up (you only get so much time in the water and I was slowing them down), which I totally understood.  He told me I might have thin eustachian tubes and that I should try the helmet diving instead and see how that goes.  I don’t know if that’s standard procedure or if that was just because I was there on a famil request (you wear a wristband so all the crew basically knows) and they wanted to make a good impression.   Kelly, the girl up top who helps you in and out of your scuba gear, told me she had trouble as well at first and it took her a week in the pool just trying and trying to finally be able to do it – so on the bright side, there might still be hope.  Anyway, I got out of the water and heard the announcement that the semi-sub was leaving soon so I decided I might as well hop on that before heading out to snorkel.  It was pretty cool, I was of course the only person on the boat that wasn’t dry.  Quite a few people come out on the reef and never actually get in the water, so the boat trips are a great way to still see the reef.  When we got back it was nearly time for lunch and the lunch they provided was amazing.   I couldn’t believe the variety of foods they had: vegetarian lasagna, pasta salad, potato salad, Caesar salad, two kinds of curry, a variety of fruits, a meat tray, bread and rolls, plus sushi and shrimp!!

I tried the “helmet diving” right after lunch.  I couldn’t believe how heavy the helmets were, thankfully they were a bit lighter once fully submerged, but I’ve got bony shoulders and they’re a bit sore to the touch today from where the helmet was sitting.  Since I didn’t have to worry about getting my ears to pop and trying not to hold my breath (that’s a huge no-no in scuba diving) with the helmet on I was able to get them to pop and had a good time.
 With the helmet diving you basically walk (maybe 15 feet) along this submerged walkway about 3 or 4 feet underwater, and stand there while Jim feeds the fish.  I even got to pet the huge Maori Wrasse that hangs out at Marine World as well.  The helmet dive is a great option for those with ear problems (you’re not as deep as when scuba diving), glasses, or those that just don’t want to get their hair wet.  After all that I got to do lots of snorkeling and since I’d figured out my camera settings, I got much better photos this time around.  I just love being in the water and snorkeling is so incredibly relaxing.  You can’t hear anything and there weren’t actually that many other snorkelers so you weren’t running into people all the time either, it was great.
 God is truly a master artist, because the colors and patterns on the fish I saw were astounding, the most beautiful shades and that’s only their looks; not to mention the complexity of the coral and how they reproduce and the fact that fish breathe underwater, I mean, let’s be honest – that’s pretty cool….

On the cruise back to the port I ended up sitting inside and chatted with this lovely, older Aussie couple, Allan and Pat.  They were so incredibly sweet and I just loved how they joked and teased one another.  For some reason he reminded me a bit of a since-departed friend of mine, Mr. Baker.  I had wanted to go up top and watch the scenery once the boat was under way, but I decided to just run up and take a few photos and then come back and chat with them.  They were on their own and had told me earlier, when I’d asked if I could sit at the booth with them for the head count, that no one had sat there all day so I was free to sit down.  All in all it was an extremely enjoyable trip, made all the sweeter by the fact that it only cost me $25.  And that my friends is the perk of selling tours.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Surprising Sandwich

Monday morning was slow in reception so I was able to call home and talk with my parents and Grandma.  Sadly, I didn’t get to talk to my Grandma too long since the French couple from last weekend came back to book 3 more tours with me.  I don’t get a commission from the tours I sell, but when we sell tours I’m more likely to be granted a Familiarization Tour (“Famil” for short) later on, so I’m hoping to get a free Harbour Cruise out of the deal.  Anyway, by the time I called my parents back they’d already taken my Grandma home.  Despite the brevity of our phone call, I was able to collect this conversational gem.  I’d asked Grandma if she’d won anything at Bingo recently.  *The first time she’d ever played at her nursing home was the last time I saw her before I left and she’d won the jackpot at the end, which equates to about 25 cents.*  She replied that she had played, and she’d won 10 cents.  I congratulated her and asked if she had already spent it or if she was saving it for a rainy day.  Without pausing to think she replied, “I’m saving it for when my granddaughter comes back from Australia and I’ll buy her a lollipop.”  She’s always got an answer.

Monday night was Rav’s birthday dinner and it was pretty good fun.  I knew a few of his friends that were there, so that made it feel less awkward; I’d met Murray, Steve, Ray, and Mick before and they’d all come to volleyball since I’d first met them.  There were about 12 of us total, I think, and we had dinner at a Turkish restaurant, so that was pretty neat.  Spent most of the dinner chatting with his friend Murray because he was sitting beside me and Rav was busy chatting with an old friend who just happened to be up from Brisbane for a few days visiting.  Murray is an interesting chap, he’s also a med student, graduating this week, but he used to create films and documentaries and had entered them in film festivals and such.  After dinner about half of us headed to the Salt House, but thankfully we didn’t stay too long – I’d been up early to work in reception and hadn’t slept well the night before so I was “knackered” as the British say.

After another early morning in reception yesterday morning I managed to catch a brief nap in the afternoon – it’s so stinkin’ hot here now and I should have turned on the AC, might have got a better nap that way.  I headed to the library and was reading the paper when Louis showed up.  He’d told me he’d made sandwiches for dinner and we just needed to run to the grocery store because he needed to buy some peanuts and milk.  After our quick trip to Woolworths we stopped by Bohemia so I could change for volleyball and then headed to the courts.  There are picnic tables and BBQ areas all along the esplanade, so we grabbed an open table near the courts and he pulled out the sandwiches.  As I pulled mine out of the container he started telling me what was in the sandwich.  I nearly fell off the bench, I couldn’t stop laughing.  In fact I’m still chuckling as I write this – no joke, there were cucumbers, egg, lettuce, sausage, peanut butter, and jelly.  And maybe cheese, I can’t quite remember.  He said something to the effect of, “you love PB and Jelly”.  He knows I eat peanut butter on my pancakes and that I have PB & Jelly toast for breakfast most mornings, so he must think I eat PB&J on everything.  Thankfully he hadn’t overdone it on the PB&J, but it was definitely the most unique sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  Volleyball was good fun; Steve, Ray, and Mick came, along with all the usual people.  I won’t bore you by listing out all the names, but Pukari and Caterina were there as well so the four of us were able to chat and play at the same time.  I managed to stay injury free for the night, so that’s always a bonus.  Well, I’m off to the GBR again tomorrow – a famil request, so I’m only paying the levy fees, which is awesome, because the trip would otherwise be costing me almost $300!  Hope you all are enjoying your fall weather, because, although I enjoy the constant sunshine, the humidity on these 92 degree days sometimes gets to me….

Friday, November 7, 2014

Revelations from Rav

On our way back Thursday evening (we’d gone to a hiking trail and ended up sitting by a little waterfall chatting), Rav mentioned that he’d gone to “Bernie’s Jazz Piano Cafe” the day before and that it was a great little spot and he wondered if I’d want to go with him the next evening.  I’d walked past the place several times and it looked like such a cool place, with a live jazz band playing every night, so I said, “Sure, why not!?”  We weren’t meeting up until 8pm the next evening, so since I wouldn’t be going to volleyball it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go to the night market and check out the opal necklace options (a friend asked me to buy one for her sister and I just haven’t gotten around to checking yet).  I headed to the library around 3:30pm to read the newspaper and finish my book.  Louis showed up around 4:30 and after chatting for a bit he decided we should go back to his house for dinner.  I’d had no idea he didn’t have to work (he usually works at 5pm), so off we went, pushing back my opal sourcing plans once again.  *My apologies for how long this is taking Amy.*  Anyway, we had a nice dinner on his back porch again – I love talking with him because I always learn random facts about Korea from him.  Plus, because he’s not a native English speaker he always comes up with the funniest phrases.  Sadly, I can’t think of a good example at the moment that would prove my point…  By 7:30pm Louis had dropped me back at the hostel and I quickly changed and headed off with Rav (surprisingly, I have quite the social life here).

I loved the jazz cafe and definitely enjoyed the live music; it was a bit loud for such a tiny venue, but they musicians were great.  Rav doesn’t drink so we had some cranberry juice and enjoyed the music.   Two of his friends, Ray & Murray randomly showed up at one point which I found hilarious.  Murray claimed Rav had told him to come, in person of course, because Rav had text messages showing that he had not invited him – his friends are funny.  Murray asked me what the Constitutional Amendment for the day was, as if we have a rotation of amendments and corresponding days.  We chatted about volleyball for a bit and then the band came back from their break and they decided to leave – I think they were heading to crash their other friend Mick’s dinner with his girlfriend….  Anyway, by around 10:30pm he decided we should go for a walk down the esplanade, and despite being tired I figured a short walk couldn’t hurt.  It did not end up being a short walk though – we walked the whole way to the other end of the esplanade and about halfway back he decided we should sit at some picnic tables and chat.  He’s very chatty, in case you haven’t picked up on that yet.  I can’t say that I was totally shocked by his revelation, thankfully I’m old enough to realize that guys don’t usually go to so much effort to hang out with a girl if they aren’t interested in them; but at the same time I never felt like we were going on dates – which I guess is because we weren’t.  I always paid for my own dinner or movie tickets or whatever and we just enjoyed our conversations with each other.  In his words, “I take relationships very seriously, and I don’t want to start something I can’t finish,” which, for a 22 year-old I thought was pretty wise.  He didn’t want to regret not telling me how he felt even though he knows I don’t live here and won’t be around much longer.  He told me I wasn’t a heartbreaker; he’d remember me mentioning that fact in an earlier conversation.  Thankfully he didn’t ask me if I felt the same way about him, because he might have changed his mind after hearing my answer.  Thankfully, his revelation didn’t make things awkward, because his birthday is on Monday and he really wants me to go along to the celebration.  Thankfully I have met his friends a few times and they’re all really nice, so hopefully it will be fun, whatever it is we do.  He finishes school next Friday and heads back down to Brisbane on Saturday to spend the holidays with his family.  Hmm…my life in Australia is so strange…  In other news, jellyfish season is starting here in FNQ so hopefully my free (or at least discounted) reef trip comes through before the season is in full swing.   The coral spawning should also be happening within the next week or so and I’ve heard it spectacular to see – only happens once a year in Nov. or Dec. around the full moon.  There are other conditions that have to be just right, but the experts seem to think it will be sometimes next week.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Australian Pancake Palooza

Back when we had dinner at Louis' house, during our Korean pancake making experience I found out that Emma loves pancakes and Pukari is terrible at cooking pancakes.  So, I volunteered to make pancakes for them some morning when Emma and I were both off work.  It ended up taking a few weeks before our schedules aligned, but Wednesday night when I got back from volleyball I had a text from Emma saying she didn't have to work the next morning and would we be able to do our pancake breakfast.  I quickly texted Louis and Pukari to see what time would work best for them (the both work night/early AM shifts) and it was decided that 10am would work.  Thankfully I'd purchased pancake mix the day before, anticipating that some day soon we'd finally be able to get together.  So yesterday morning after a quick trip to buy milk and syrup, I headed back to the hostel and started mixing up pancakes.  I should have taken a photo of the kitchen with my varied assortment of items - hostels aren't known for their cooking utensils.  I didn't have a whisk and there were no mixing bowls.  I had purchased measuring cups several weeks ago because there weren't any and I found that to be rather inconvenient.  Anyway, with three skillets on the stove and the insert to an old rice cooker for my mixing bowl I was able to whip up a batch of buttermilk pancakes (well, several batches really).  Louis came early and helped me get everything ready, Emma brought coffee and honey plus 2 of her friends from her hostel, and Pukari supplied the beverages.  By 10am we were ready to dig in to our feast!  It was a fun morning and everyone really enjoyed the pancakes and I was happy to be able to host everyone.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Day 250

I did my first tour booking yesterday.  I've done the leg-work before, but never had anyone actually decide to book.  Of course, the couple came in 10 min. before my shift was to finish and since Ethan doesn't speak English that well he couldn't really take over for me.  Thankfully they did book so I didn't feel as if I stayed longer than necessary for no reason.  Louis had the day off, so once I was finished we went out for some lunch and then to a coffee shop by the pier and sat talking until it was time for me to go to church and him to go to choir practice.  I had planned on going to volleyball afterwards, but I was so tired from not sleeping very well the last few nights and getting up early that I decided to skip it.  We had a guest speaker, Graham Sercombe, at church and I really enjoyed his sermon.  He brought out some really interesting points about the passage in Luke 5 when Jesus tells Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat.  When you've grown up hearing the stories it's sometimes too easy to forget to put yourself in the story - how would you be feeling and what would you be thinking in such a situation?  They're real stories and the characters have the same natural, human responses we might have in a similar situation.  After being out all night fishing and catching absolutely nothing Jesus tells them to go back out.  There's no engine on the boat, they have to do everything manually and I'm sure even empty nets are heavy - they had to be tired!  There they were, professional fisherman, being given advice by a professional carpenter about how to fish!!  At that point it became a battle of logic vs. faith; going back out was completely illogical and yet they did and were blessed with the catch of a lifetime.  As if that wasn't amazing enough, Jesus then calls them to be fishers of men and they leave everything - their boats, nets, and the catch of a lifetime to follow Him.  It would be like winning the lottery and just throwing the ticket on the ground for someone else to claim...  Anyway, the speaker went over so by the time I joined Ruth and a few other people for the weekly dinner after church and had chatted for a bit it was 8:15pm.  Too late to go to volleyball anyway, so it worked out in the end.  Well, I hope you enjoyed my sermon notes from the message last night.  If you'd like to hear the sermon you can listen or download it here.

Happy Monday!