King's Cross is the notorious Red Light district of Sydney, Australia...unless you're me and it's a Monday night. Then it takes on more of a light pink, maybe salmon colour. Fully expecting a bit of dredgy craziness and debauchery, I ventured on the train last night to King's Cross, taking extra special care to make sure I didn't look too much like a tourist that simply stepped on the train on the wrong platform. Which really meant leave the camera at home. I wish I hadn't; the area was kind of neat, with good night views of Sydney CBD and some interesting architecture. Yes, there were strip clubs, adult stores, $$/hour hotels...but no real feeling of danger, adventure, or even slight discomfort. I mean, I was only propositioned by one...uh...lady. One! Apparently I creep out even hookers.
I snapped a couple pathetic pics with the iPhone (which I may be able to update this post with at a later date), trained back to Sydney CBD defeated, and scrounged around for something to do or somewhere to go. Alas it was not meant to be, as I began to realize that Sydney and I (at least the area I'm in) aren't entirely compatible. Let's face it - I'm far too old to go hang out at a dance club full of young club-goers, too 'David Lynchian' to be at a pub frequented by backpackers, too poor and designer-labelless to be at a posh Sydney hot-spot (they would spot the faux-leather jacket a mile away and beat me to death with it), too here-on-a-weeknight-and-no-where-near-the-suburbs to find any punk or metal bars open, and too by-myself (sans wife and / or children) to really get much of anything from your typical tourist trap. And I have noticed that the burned-out has-been aging-emo-goth-lite-wannabe look is really, really rare here. So the dilema: what to do? Well, go to the only place my personal decor fits in nicely - a graveyard.
Soundtrack: Hello London / Scarling
OK, a crematorium - the Northern Suburbs Crematorium and Memorial is a beautiful place just west of snazzy and weathy-seeming Chatswood in the northern area of Sydney. And I did go here with a purpose (c'mon, I'm not that emo!) - I apprehensively approached the elderly receptionalist and inquired that, although it may seem a bit childish for a man my age, that I would like to visit the cenotaph of Michael Hutchence. The wonderful woman responded that it wasn't childish in the slightest, and that "if she were 85 and could visit John Lennon's apartment, she wouldn't hesitate". The other thing that I absolutely cherished about this woman is that, when she directed me to the cenotaph, she refered to it as "Michael's" - meaning a person: a man, father, brother, and son; not a celebrity landmark. And as I made my way to the memorial, I was actually saddened by this fact, that a person - famous or not - could die so young (younger than I am now) and so alone.
Now, I can't be classified as a true INXS fan - I had a couple albums, and always found the music listenable, but by no means auto-repeat worthy most of the time. I was here for a different reason. My wife grew up listening to Michael and INXS, and to this day it is her favourite band. I stood in front of the memorial (took pictures, obviously, and some video) - and very quietly thanked this man, whom I have never met and never will, for everything he did for my wife to make her into the woman that she is, the woman that I fell in love with and am still in love with. Without Michael, maybe she's a different person, maybe we never even meet - who knows. It doesn't matter - Michael was there and was a huge part of her life (and still is), so I thanked him, and quietly left.
Soundtrack: Factor: Misery / Omega Lithium
The weather all morning had been beautiful - but there were rumours of a storm coming our way. In fact, over lunch back at the hotel room, I could see the clouds in the distance. So I did what any self-respecting British Columbian would do in such weather - I decided to head to the beach. I packed up the video camera, iPhone and headphones, a book to read on the ferry, and headed off.
(Notice I didn't mention 'umbrella'? Like the one the front desk kindly provided on day 1? The one sitting right beside me now - stlll dry? Nah, too much to carry. Moron.)
The ferry ride to Manley Beach was cool, with the storm approaching from the east and us heading right into it. Didn't look that menacing from a distance. Now, I've made some bad decisions in my time, but this one was pretty damned noteworthy. By the time I disembarked, the rain was coming down in sheets. But what to do, I had come all this way? As I walked along the 'Corso' (the pedestrian mall, no idea about the name) I decided to look at umbrellas along the way. Did I ever mention I'm a cheap-ass son-of-a-bitch? No way I'm paying $10 for an umbrella I'll only use once! So I did the only thing I could - I wandered out onto the beach in the torrential downpour, because I figured it was important that I touch the other side of the pacific.
By the time I got back to the ferry, I went from creepy Canadian tourist to down-right scary, slick, drenched Canadian tourist. The ferry ride back was the roughest boat ride I've ever taken, in the huge waves and angry winds. I finally got back to my hotel room...and this was just outside the door, to give you an idea what is going on here right now:
Anyway, hopefully I'll be dry soon and I can find some food before I have to pack for the next leg of the journey, and the real test of my - ahem - character. I fly to Alice Springs tomorrow, and the following day will pick up my camper-van for my long, solitary road trip.
Have a good night everyone!