Sydney seemed to pass by in a blur of jet lag with glimpses of sunshine. Due to my slight delay in arrival time I got there late on a Friday night, 26 hours after the hostel was expecting me. I waited in the rain for about 5 minutes before someone heard me knocking (apparently check-in was only available from 10-5pm, kind of surprising for a hostel.) After dropping off my bags I went out to find something to eat. The part of the city that I was in, Balmain, was not the gastronomic capital of the world, especially at midnight, and I had to settle for a sub-par kebab outside a local nightclub. After inhaling that, I went to sleep dreaming of the delicious fresh fruit that I had left behind in Singapore and wondering if I would ever be able to leave the rain behind.
I was woken at 3am by an arm on my leg on the top bunk. I looked down to see a face peering at me through drunken eyes. I kicked the arm off my bed and turned over to go back to sleep only to be awoken a few moments later by the afore-mentioned arm joined by the rest of its owner as they tried to get into my bed. I kicked both from my bed, which made the won’t-remember-anything-in-the-morning owner fall into another lodger’s bed. This person was even less receptive of visitors than I was and she started shouting at the guy, which after a moment of confusion sent him stumbling back to his own bed. I turned over and went back to sleep.
Around 6am was awoken by a shrill cry of “He pissed all over my clothes! WTF!”; followed by a not-quite-as-shrill “and he pissed on the new guy’s suitcase”. After looking down to see that it was indeed my suitcase that had acted as the backstop for the cabinet-shaped urinal, I decided that I couldn’t do anything about it at the moment and would probably react better when I had slept off the jet-lag. A few hours later I got up to assess the extent of the damage and see if anything needed to be cleaned. Luckily my suitcase is apparently piss-proof in addition to being hard to handle, and everything inside the suitcase seemed to be dry and urine-free.
After a shower I set out into the late morning to find something to eat and got a nice tour of downtown Balmain as well. While it was a lot more inviting during the day than at night, I found that things were just as ridiculously expensive as they had been the night before, and that my dreams of surviving on $10 a day were a bit ambitious. Upon my return to the hostel I made friends with some of my fellow lodgers, all German, and went into town to explore the harbor with them. We meandered by the wharves and the Opera house before stopping in the botanical gardens to hang out and play with the massive parrots that lived there. After we got bored there we stopped by the supermarket on the way home where my hopes of inexpensive living were further dashed. I spent the rest of the night in the hostel mingling with the residents as they participated in the internationally practiced hostel activity of getting drunk on the low-budget alcoholic option, in this case- street wine, aka box wine or pinard, or “goon” in Australia.
The next morning I packed up again and headed back to the center of town. I locked up my bags near the greyhound bus terminal and went off in search of the Sydney Parkour group which was supposed to be hosting classes and a jam that day. After getting a bit lost I managed to find them, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with the guys. I took part in the morning class so that I could see how the classes were structured down under, and discovered that although the accents and some of the movements were different, we all did the same sport. I also found that I was just as tight and out of shape as I had feared after not doing any serious training for almost a week. While the class was good and reasonably well-run, I realized just how much I had taken Parkour Generations for granted. One thing that Sydney did have on London was the weather though, since it had finally started to be warm and sunny again, and most of the training that day was done down by the harbor with a beautiful view and nice breeze.
After the class I stuck around and trained with some of the more experienced guys from the area that came down for the day. While the dress-code was markedly different (I’ll explain in another post) the attitude was pretty similar to the Sunday gatherings in London. One of the things that struck me most about parkour in Sydney was the prevalence of water as either an obstacle or a backdrop to a lot of the stuff. The wharf formed a great training spot for the guys and included a number of water jumps that I hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me to document it, but there were a number of precision jumps from the new wharf to the decrepit bits of the old wooden wharf that were still standing. While the jumps ranged from about 7 to 15 feet, they all featured the 10 foot drop into the water below and lots of old wood. Something to try when I come back to Sydney. After giving me a quick tour of the wharf I went with some of the guys to meet the rest of the group, which was doing flips into the harbor from one of the lower docks. While I was initially surprised by the fact that someone would voluntarily jump into the harbor (Boston, London, or Paris aren’t exactly good places to swim in the harbor unless you want a 3rd eye or green skin), they guys assured me that apart from the jellyfish the harbor was fine to swim in. I hung around with them for the rest of the afternoon until it was time for me to head back to bus station.
This is a video that features some of the Australian guys, most notably Shaun Wood (long blond hair). I've included it since I don't have any pictures from my stay and one can get a glimpse of some of the training environments in Sydney. A bit different from London.... While I didn’t get to meet the majority of the guys in the video during my pass through Sydney I’m hoping to meet them at some point during my time in OZ since I keep hearing about them from people around the world.
For more information on Australian Parkour Association and the various classes offered in Sydney you can visit their site here.
12 hours on a Greyhound bus and one really horrible fried chicken sandwich later (it was that or candy for dinner, I probably should have chosen the latter), I was in Melbourne…