Asia

My journey to Asia started somewhat rough. The airport bus that was supposed to pick me up at eleven ran late and didn’t arrive before 11:20. The driver did his best to get us to the airport in time and an hour before check-in closure I was at the terminal.

The domestic terminal, cause that’s what it said on my ticket. Turned out to be a printing error and my flight was leaving from the international terminal as one would expect. They’re not far from each other fortunately. At the check-in counter I was asked about my onward flight from Thailand. Told them I didn’t have one cause I don’t know how long I’ll stay.

Too bad they said, can’t let you check in without a booking for a flight out of Thailand. I was starting to get slightly annoyed by then and pointed out the visa in my passport. ‘Oh, you have a visa, well then you can check in.’. Almost surprisingly I came through security and customs without any problems.

On board my neighbour turned out to be a moronic ex-Yugoslavian-now-Aussie who told me Hitler should have killed more people so there’d be less idiots in the world today. Good thing I had a hangover anyway and just wanted to sleep so I could avoid further discussions about that matter.

Nine hours later, after a calm flight, we touched down in Bangkok. I filled out my paperwork and headed to the immigrations checkpoint. I didn’t understand a word of what that guy said to me. He checked my passport and paperwork for a minute or two and then gestured me to go ahead. Boy was I happy that went well.

From the airport to the city I took the train and half an hour later I was in the middle of Bangkok. It’s hard to describe but it sure looks different to anything I’ve seen before. Only seen something like this in the movies.

It was still another 5-6km from the station to the hostel so I wanted to take a taxi. I knew that ride should cost about 80 Baht so I couldn’t help laughing when the first cabbie suggested 500. They always suggest a price cause even though they are called ‘meter taxis’ they don’t use the meter.

After another two or three attempts I found a driver who was willing to take me to the hostel for 100 Baht. Still too expensive but with an exchange rate of 1 AUD = 31 THB nothing to get upset about.

The hostel is quite nice and has air-conned rooms which are very helpful, it’s midnight now and it’s still 30° outside. I went on the street to get a little dinner and tomorrow I’ll have a look at Bangkok in daylight.

Niras Bankoc Cultural Hostel, far away from Khaosan Rd but close to the Grand Palace, the Golden Mountain and other sights. Situated in an old building it’s a stylish and comfortable place although not the cheapest.

Footy

Aussie culture is often described as evolving around three things: footy, beer and barby. As I already experienced and enjoyed beer and barby I wanted to give footy a try as well.

Melbourne is the uncontested sports capital of Australia and as such the perfect place to see a live football game. With 11 of the 18 premier league AFL teams based in Melbourne it’s not hard to find a game but rather to choose which one to see.

Having no clue about the game whatsoever I asked the local couchsurfing community for advice. Promptly I got an invitation for the Sunday afternoon game, Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs. Amber, a Canadian who went down under to live with her partner, was to take her nephews to the game and had a spare free ticket for me. Sweet!

Venue for this game was the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). With 100,000 seats it is the largest of the Melbourne stadiums and roughly twice the size of an average Bundesliga stadium.

At half three I met with Amber at the stadium, got my ticket and we went inside. Being used to extensive searches by the security in Germany I approached the local security guy and got a surprised look. Apparently they only check your bags here, whatever you have in your pockets is good to go.

The next surprise came when we went up to the block where we had our seats. The whole crowd was colourfully mixed, Collingwooders sitting next to Bulldogs. Except for a small part of the stadium the whole area doesn’t have anything like fan blocks. I think that’s absolutely remarkable, tens of thousand of sports fans sitting next to each other and cheering for different teams without trouble. Kudos.

At 4:40 was kick-off to my first football game ever. Aussie rules football fortunately has little in common with the American sport that goes by the same name. The game is fluent and doesn’t have more free kicks than a Bundesliga soccer game. A match lasts about two hours divided into four quarters.

During the game I got a solid introduction to the rules from Amber. She even knows all the players by name and her commentary reminded my of watching a soccer game with my father. Just without the swearing that is.

When it comes to atmosphere the game I saw today couldn’t compete with a soccer game. Maybe it was the weak attendance (54,000), maybe the stadium is just to big or maybe its due to the fact that fans in Germany have a different mentality. The mentality that nurtures the 90 minutes of singing and shouting but also creates the need to keep the fans in separate blocks.

Nonetheless the atmosphere was still great and I had a really good time there. Nice to smell stadium air again.

A TV Appearance

During the last two days I got a couple of offers for the car ranging from $100 to $400. Not really convincing but would be better than nothing. This morning I got another call from a guy who works for a TV company (Southern Star) and he offered me $500 and a cab ride if I dropped the car of at their place.

No better offers came in and so I drove the car to the studio this afternoon. The deal went smooth, got the cash, had a little chat and didn’t even need to show any form of ID or proof of ownership. Too easy.

From what the guy told me they are buying stunt cars to be used in an Aussie TV series called ‘Rush’. It’s about cops in Melbourne with cars, guns and explosions. It’s a bit of a shame to use that car for stunts but at least it’ll be an end with style.

The buyer also mentioned what a good time it is to get cheap cars. Overfilled market, few buyers, tell me about it.