There was a bit of a delay outside the humid Brisbane airport but the shuttle driver came bounding over with the gift of chocolate. All was forgiven. My hostel was a mixed six bed dorm…sharing with FIVE females. Most guys reading this would be thinking I am a lucky son of a gun but if only you had seen the mess spread across the floor! I just about navigated across the waves of laundry and make up bags to make it to my bunk.
The life of a solo traveller is nothing you can prepare yourself for without actually doing it. Trips in the past have always been with friends or family. The first two days I spent in Sydney I felt homesick for the first time. There was not really anything important I was missing back in the UK apart from the fact that one of my best mates, Chris, has gotten engaged. I spent the last night in England at Chris and Damiana’s house and enjoyed amazing hospitality of home made pizza, an English breakfast AND a lift to the airport. He really is a swell bloke. So as I was saying, it was the first time I felt alone because the duration of the China trip I had made six great friends. We spent every day together and even though I spend a lot of time in my own little world (seriously terrible daydreamer) I thoroughly enjoyed my travelling companions. Now, I was solo again.
The social make up of the Sydney hostel did not help. It was extremely cliquey. Like most places, there are some serious douches. Inconsiderate, bad-mannered and those who think they are better than everyone else. They are not worth my energy to be written about though.
Fortunately, the majority of travellers are much more fun and sociable. In each of the hostels I have been to there has always been a Sarah I have gotten on well with. There was Dutch Sarah in Sydney who appeared to have the same travel goals as myself but she had done everything in Sydney already and was heading to Newcastle. Then there was German Sarah who had the bunk underneath me in my first Brisbane hostel and she was so sweet but she was only there on my first night and was heading to Byron Bay. Finally, there was Canadian Sarah who was my first roommate in my second Brisbane hostel. She had such a great sense of humour and we spent the whole night talking but she was sadly heading back to Canada in the morning.
Last but certainly not least were Aubrey and Yolanda, two Chinese foreign students who were studying in Adelaide and were in Brisbane for their holidays. They asked me where I was from, “South Africa!” I proudly stated. “Oh, the poor of Africa!”. I quickly started to defend South Africa’s honour and why it wasn’t poor at all but it turns out she meant to say “the pearl of Africa”. I tried to impress them with my tales of China and how I could count to ten on just one hand in Chinese hand gestures. I then started to tell them I was a master in Tai Chi and showed them some of my moves. They both laughed at me and said that Tai Chi was for old people and that the cool kids played basketball instead.
On their last day in Brisbane, Yolanda wasn’t feeling well so I spent the day with Aubrey, I taught her how to play pool and some card games and went to get some ice cream until she had to meet her friend for some dinner. As I was saying goodbye to them in the lobby, Aubrey gave me a bunny as a going away present. She was so sweet. I gave her my deck of cards that I’ve had with me since 2003.
I’m starting to love the Australian lifestyle. For example, nearly every morning for breakfast I’ll buy a pastry or some banana bread and a milkshake (I forgot how delicious lime milkshake is, it is by far my favourite) and sit in the park in the sunshine and just admire the skyscrappers poking up over the trees. It’s the little things, ya know? I tried to explain to Aubrey how the Australian lifestyle reminds me a lot of South Africa. She replied with “are people in South Africa lazy too?”
Over the last couple of weeks I have started to come into my own as a solo traveller and being by myself becomes less daunting everyday. Brisbane has the makings of an awesome city and I’m looking positively to my Australian adventure.