Since I've gotten here, I have been pretty much chilled. The week before leaving, the weather in Sydney was beautiful - sunny, warm, the advent of summer! Right now, I am gazing out the window at pouring rain and pondering purchasing a wool sweater. Ahh, well! At least I don't feel like such an idiot for leaving the bathing suit at home...
So far, The Gathering has been a phenomenal success. With upwards of 200 people flocking in for the vendor night, the full weekend registration option or the VERY clever and should-be-copied-in-the-US availability to purchase just four classes out of the weekend - a sort of do-it-yourself mini-conference - this has become, or will soon become with tonight's big play party, the largest non-gay fetish event Australia has ever had. Miss Dee, the organizer and my host for this trip, deserves massive kudos for bringing it all together with the help of a dedicated and delightful staff.
But numbers don't say it all, of course - there are huge events where I feel like on the whole I'd rather be home reorganizing my spice shelf. The vibe here has been truly excellent - warm and friendly, interesting and energizing. It's not that often I feel like hanging out between my gigs and chatting with the attendees - I am better known for escaping to my hotel room for quiet time and Advil. This...has truly been fun.
Yesterday, I did manage to get out of the hotel for a little while, though, and wandered down to the Market City, which is a few blocks away. I was curious about what was UNDER the building though - a giant flea market/vending space called Paddy's, which was exactly the sort of vibe I was looking for. Individual stalls with everything from wonderfully cheap and tacky souvenirs to some pretty decent bargains on life's essentials like socks and batteries. I am sure I saw maybe...one fifth of the place? I was rushing through to look at warm layering items and a certain special present for someone at home. I fully intend to go back, though. I was able to get some lovely chicken satay on a stick while browsing and came back to the event feeling energized. Is this me? Social, shopping and energized?? Very weird. Apparently, Sydney agrees with me.
In addition to hanging out and chatting with the locals, I've managed to snag a few local dates to see more of the area, including a trip to a wildlife park - Featherdale. I totally want to hold a koala bear. Sue me. You know you'd want to, too.
Things that remind me I am on another continent -the slang. I mean, of course, the local accents, duh. But the slang and idioms sometimes throw me and make me grin like a maniac. A jimmy hat? Love it.
Things that are the same - cheap Chinese food in Chinatown is always better than anything in a mall.
Something I didn't think I would need but would have proved useful - knowing how to use one of those damn international phone cards, the kind you buy at convenience stores. I spent at least 20 minutes looking at the rules and guidelines and restrictions and instructions on at least a dozen different cards, carefully chose the one I thought would work for what I wanted and keep getting a "this call cannot be connected" message. Makes me feel like an idiot. I mean, how hard should this be?
Cheap souvenir of the day - I decline to mention.