Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Bittersweet Ending - Day Eleven

2007 was drawing near to an end and it was time for me to learn how to surf! We packed up our swimming gear and headed downtown. From there we bought tickets for the ferry that heads to Manly Beach, cause I'm a manly guy...

But there was one problem...after purchasing our tickets we boarded the ferry and saw a wonderful sign: MANLY BEACH CLOSED DUE TO EXTREME CONDITIONS. I was so pissed off. I think I did a good job of internalizing it, but boy was I angry. The whole point of going on this stupid ferry was so that I could learn how to surf...and now it wasn't going to happen.

Regardless of my great disappointment, the place was pretty cool.

The beach with no swimming

There were some adventurous lads braving the surf.

There was a little section off to the side where you could swim so Conor and I took a little dip while Jackie took pictures of men in speedos. We then decided to pack up and find a place to camp out for the fireworks. This pic above is the open ocean from the ferry.

My anger subsided when I realized there were more days on my trip to learn how to surf.

The Enlightened One.

As the ferry pulled in to the quay we saw the popular fireworks viewing spot. It's roughly 3pm at this point and this place is absolutely packed!

We decided to try our luck on the other side of the bridge. This area didn't have very many people and I think it turned out to be a great spot. Although, the couple sitting beside us were making out with subtle intensity. This would be a recurring theme throughout the night.

Much to my chagrin, something sinister was happening inside my body. On the ferry I realized something wasn't quite right. I was starting to get a headache, which usually means I'm dehydrated. So I bought a giant bottle of water and laid down on the grass. Except the headache just got worse and I started getting chills. Little did I know at the time how this would alter the rest of my vacation.

Jackie kept trying to take a picture of me asleep but I'd wake up right before she took the picture. Haha, and as we all know, I can't help posing for the camera.

This is the massive lineups for the toilets. One time I got to stand by a guy from Europe who was a little drunk, flirting with every girl around him, and continually making obscene suggestions. It was quite the experience.

As it got darker we decided to move closer to the action and Bernard joined up with us.

The city was absolutely beautiful at night.

Right by where we were was Sydney's Luna Park. It was quite the sight all lit up like that.

The pillars on the side of the bridge were lit up with different pictures.

Apparently while I was wandering around taking pictures, a couple was totally "doing it" right by where Jackie and them were sitting. Then when I went by there was a different young couple under the tree beside us pretty much "doing it" with their clothes on. There were people cheering them on. We weren't too impressed. Thankfully their friends came and interrupted them. But then they started going at it again. Also behind us some Lady freaked out at some people. Can't remember why though.

The bridge had an hourglass special effects thingy that would sorta countdown the night. It was lame, haha.

As the New Year was fast approaching I was excited to be there. Here's me, Conor, Jackie, and Bernard. The first self-shot I took missed Bernard (sorry buddy!).

Unfortunately, none of my fireworks pictures looked this sweet.

Here are some videos I recorded of the fireworks:

Some Cube Fireworks

Just before the Finale. It was amazing seeing the fireworks blasting off the skyscrapers.

I found this video from someone else. I didn't realize there was music accompanying the fireworks :(

It was so spectacular to see it firsthand. It was remarkable! And now it was time for us to well as time for a million other people to leave.

This is the crowd trying to catch the train. It was insane. We decided to walk a few blocks up and catch the train at the preceding station. A bunch of other people had the same idea, but I think it worked out better for us. At this point it was about 1am and I was feeling absolutely awful. When we got on the train I went to the lower compartment cause I knew it would be cooler than the upstairs one. As a result I missed out on the fun times had by Jackie, Conor, and Bernard. There were partyers up there that were causing everyone grief. At one point, one of them lit a cigarette and started smoking. Conor went up to him and said, "If you don't put that out I'll rip your arms off and beat you with them" (That was a paraphrase). Conor is such a hero!

If you recall I drank about 4 litres of water so I really really had to use the washroom, but the train took forever to get back. After we got off the train at about 3pm(!!!!) I rushed out to find the bathroom locked. So as we're walking back to Bernard's place I was ready to pee right there on the street, EXCEPT there was this group of people that were walking the exact same way and I couldn't bring myself to do it. And then there was a slight moment where I could have relieved myself on some trees , but then other people came out of nowhere. Oh the agony!!! Well, we made it back. I had a good pee and fell fast asleep.

End of Day Eleven (and 2007).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Heart War Machines - Day Ten

Sunday morning Jackie, Conor, and I made our way into town for a little church action. They went to the Cathedral and I decided to drop in on Hillsongs City Campus. The big Hillsongs Church is in the Hills, but this one I went to was still quite the production.

Upon entering the first thing that struck me was how different their "sanctuary" is from any other church I'd been to. The walls and ceiling were all black and the stage was brightly lit and colorful from the power point screens and various effects lighting. It was kinda like going to a concert. This is the only picture I could find online, and it doesn't really give you a sense of it unfortunately. It was really cool though, that's the only way I know how to describe it.

However as the service went on (and even before while waiting in the lobby) I felt quite uncomfortable at this church. Everyone was dressed stylishly and it just felt like I was surrounded by "the popular kids". The service was all ra ra ra and yay for everything. Didn't feel authentic to me and I was a little troubled with the way they asked for money and they dropped the "prosperity" bomb a couple times.

In looking at other blogs for pictures I came across a couple articles that are very similar to my experience. Check them out if you like. I'll quote some of what stood out to me.

"What has made Hillsong stand out among the plethora of churches trying to attract young parishioners is its trendy image embracing of values that idealise financial success and looking good in order to feel good."

"A young woman takes centre stage and leads the choir in a power ballad dedicated to the glory of heaven. Except for the religious overtones it seems remarkably similar to something you would expect to hear on commercial radio."

"Between songs there are sermons and what seem like motivational speakers from a real estate convention all of which the crowd happily listen to and politely applauds, but it’s the music that gets everyone out of their seats."

"I realised this rock concert-like show, full of literal smoke and mirrors, is what makes people think they’re in the presence of God."

"All in all, it seemed to me that people weren’t there for the teachings of Christ, out of a fear of death or sickness, or to find a partner or friends. They were there for the experience. They were there for a feeling of community - to be part of a group of people being warm and positive – a legitimate craving in our increasing insular lives. It is just a pity they’re asked to pay so much for it."

After the service I went and got some lunch at McDonald's (my first time in Australia!). Then I met up with Jackie and Conor near the Aquarium. We were planning on going inside, but decided to check out the Maritime Museum instead. Good choice Conor!

At the museum they had a submarine and a destroyer. Our first stop was the submarine.

Torpedo tubes

An adventure around every corner!

Comfortable living space

The kitchen is the same size as Jackie & Conor's kitchen

Shot of the city from on top of the submarine

Now to the Destroyer!

This is where you load the ammunition that spirals up to the guns above.

Like this one

Being on this ship reminded me so much of the Frigate in Goldeneye. It was breathtaking.

Jackie is foodsafe

"Make it so!"

I also once took a nap in Alcatraz

You had to pay more to get onto this ship...

Inside the museum they had loads of interesting stuff I didn't take pictures of. After that we went to check out downtown Sydney. Some lady dropped a dollar and I picked it up for her. I think she winked at me.

Downtown Sydney

The Famous Harbour Bridge,

and the Opera House,

with Jackie & Conor,

and my giant head.

For supper we weren't sure where to go. We walked by this place and I thought it looked interesting so in we went. What we didn't realize was that at this place you cook your own meat!

You buy your meat and head over to the grill. Throw it on with some seasoning and away you go. They had potatoes and a salad bar which you could load up on the side.

I loved it there and really enjoyed my meal. Afterwards we took the train back to Bernard's house. Saw some interesting bugs and had ourselves a wonderful night's sleep.

End of Day Ten.