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Australia 2

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[Copied from it’s original location on Facebook]

Hello again!

I’d been meaning to write this second note for a while now… I’ve been surprisingly busy with work during the week and various activities during the weekends, which is a good thing :-). As with the last note, see my album “Australia 2” for pictures. I know this is a long one – no need to read the whole thing, I’m partially doing this for myself as a diary.

My weeks have settled into a usual routine. Kay and I leave the apartment at 8:30 and usually leave work at 6:00. We frequently stop by the supermarket on the way home, make dinner, and watch some TV on my computer (I brought all 5 seasons of Daria, which we’re steadily working through). I’m really enjoying my project at work, as well as the people. We recently celebrated Maps API’s (my team’s) 5th birthday. We had a conference call with Mountain View at 9am (4pm there) and had champagne; great way to start your morning :-).

Though Google is a lot of fun, the weekends are a bit more noteworthy. My first weekend started with another intern dinner party at our apartment (this time featuring a fancy tomato sauce), followed by drinks at a pub with the interns, the James’, and some of their friends. The James’ are a gay couple I met through work – one James works at Google, the other at Atlassian.

Saturday started off with an unusual (but expected) encounter – I awoke to find my Stanford research advisor standing in my living room! Kay (my apartment mate) is his daughter, and her whole family came for the week to do some vacationing on the reef. After they left for the airport, I left for what has certainly been my most amazing tourist activity yet: a helicopter ride over Sydney Harbour. The back story: 30 years ago my dad worked at Bell Labs with an Australian guy named Neil Weste. Neil later moved back to Australia, founded a company that made the world’s first all-in-one 802.11 (a.k.a wireless internet) chip, made a lot of money, and bought a helicopter. My dad sent him an email when he found out I’d be coming to Australia; one thing led to another, and I ended up getting a helicopter ride from Neil.

It was a totally amazing trip. I brought James McGill (my host) as my guest, and the two of us drove down to the airport to meet Neil. We had a great trip, flying up and down the coast and into Sydney Harbour. Check out my album “Helicopter Ride!” for pictures. It was unfortunately a bit of a bumpy ride; I got a bit queasy yet managed not to throw up, but James wasn’t so lucky – as soon as we touched down he opened the door and puked. At least it didn’t get all over the helicopter :-).

Even though the helicopter ride only lasted an hour, it totally wiped me out. I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city, and eventually met Abdulla for dinner and met up with Jim for drinks at the local pub/hotel. Sunday was also casual and relaxing; Jim and I went to Manly, a touristy beach town 30 minutes away by ferry. We spent the afternoon eating, walking around, and lying on the beach.

The next week (my third) was more or less the same in terms of work. The only difference was that Kay was away with her family, so I had the apartment to myself. I experimented with a chicken recipe, and actually succeeded! But then I tried to make asparagus and somewhat failed. Go figure.

Friday of the next week started off with a bang – Abdulla, Jim, and I went to the Crystal Bar after work for a coworker’s birthday party. This was a bar unlike any we’d been to previously – $15 drinks, guys in suits, and a bunch of under-dressed Googlers celebrating someone’s birthday. We met the (in)famous Rosemary, a loud drunk tourist from LA who was a friend of a friend of someone who works at Google. Rosemary couldn’t stop hitting on the guys at the bar – she insisted on seeing mine and Abdulla’s underwear, and offered to buy me a drink. I had to come out to her to get her to back off.

At some point the three of them (Rosemary, her friend Lily, and her friend Pamela who works at Google) and the three of us (Abdulla, Jim, and myself) all decided to go to a gay bar for some reason and set off for Oxford street. We wound up at Stonewall, yet another big gay club like the one I’d been to last time. This time was slightly different, however – I’d brought an entourage of friends. Rosemary proved to be an invaluable companion – the two of us sat down next to some random guy, Rosemary chatted him up, and got the two of us talking. There was a bit of kissing and dancing, and then it was over. Not unexpected, but not that bad either :-). The night ended with us drunkenly ordering kebabs (pronounced here like “slabs”) and making our way home.

Saturday was decidedly more low-key. I met Abdulla and the James’ for brunch, went back to the James’ for a round of The Daily Shows and Colbert Reports, and went to the National Maritime Museum (right across the street from my apartment). Jim and I met up for dinner, and went to Newtown (the area by the University of Sydney) to check it out. Newtown is definitely more of a college town; cheaper food and drinks, lots of book stores (which are surprisingly rare here), cute cafes, and exciting pubs. Jim and I ultimately went to the Marlborough Hotel for a few drinks and had a great time – a (good) live band upstairs and a dance floor downstairs with Beyonce, Rihanna, and more. It felt a lot like home: a dance floor with American music and college kids :-).

On Sunday Jim and I went to South Head (the south tip of the entrance to Sydney Harbour). The views were absolutely beautiful – check out my album for pictures. It was a great, relaxing afternoon.

Since then its just been another normal week. Kay came back from her vacation with her parents, and we’ve returned to our usual weekday routine. I’m starting to make some good progress on my project at work, which is definitely gratifying.

Some other interesting bits of news:

Steven, our third roommate, decided to bail on the entire Sydney trip / internship altogether. So its just me and Kay in the apartment for the rest of the summer/winter.

We’ve officially booked our first away-from-Sydney vacation! Abdulla, Jim, Kay, and I are going to Fraser Island during the weekend of August 6-8. Its the world’s largest sand island, with a 75 mile long beach, rainforest, and beautiful super-clear lakes.

They like to say the word “heaps” here, instead of “lots”. For example, it can be raining heaps, or you can eat heaps. Also, I’ve learned that people from Queensland (the province north of here) like to pronounce words beginning with “H” with a hard “H” sound. For instance HTML gets pronounced “Haigh-T-M-L”. They say “herbs” similarly. Australians in general also pronounce “caching” with an “a” as in “rate”. Lots of strangely pronounce tech terms…

That’s about it! Another very long note… I’ll probably write another one in 2-3 weeks. I’m continuing to have an absolutely amazing time, and hope you’re all having great summers!!


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