Monday, October 26, 2009


Round Two. Yes, it's the second year, second city, second visa. It's my second take at Australia and my second take at a blog.

The new and improved iDon 2.0. With a name like that how could this possibly fail??

Ok, Cheesydon – twice as cheesy the second time around.

It's my second year in Australia but unlike the first, I have a sponsored job, large bedroom and private medical insurance. And unlike the first, I’m spending this year in Sydney, the largest city in Australia and home of about 7.2 billion gay people. For those not familiar with Sydney, there are no kangaroos waiting to greet you at the airport - only heaps of wealthy dressed-up douche bags. Sydney is basically a warmer version of London and a less-Jewish version of New York. It’s a transient city with a good-sized financial district (CBD), numerous tourist attractions and relatively good public transportation system.

But unlike Melbourne, Sydney is not a typical Australian city. My neighborhood has no trash cans filled with empty beer bottles or kebab wrappers, and in the four weeks I’ve been here I haven’t seen one jumping, one glassing or one public urination. Yes, there are 740,000 Fitness First centers, but I have yet to see an Indian be harassed or a Greek blast David Guetta through his suped-up Volkswagen speakers. In fact, not once have I been asked where in China I come from or when my boat arrived from Korea. No, Sydney is classier than non-Sydney Australia.

In fact Sydney is so classy that it charges me 10 percent more for groceries, 31 percent more for public transportation and 90 percent more for rent than tiny immature Melbourne used to charge me. Thirty-two dollars to see fish and $198 to walk a bridge make it one of the classiest cities in the world, behind only London, Paris, New York and Berlin. Yes, this is my new hometown.

I do, of course, miss Melbourne and everything it gave me during my first year in Australia - namely the beautiful young vibrancy pouring through the laneways, trendy streets and tree-lined boulevards. I miss the cool crisp twilight walks home through the Botanical Gardens, the Friday nights on Chapel Street and the effervescent weekends in the city. It’s a beautiful town. But Sydney’s my new home and for all the great work Australians did to make Melbourne Melbourne, there is probably no city in the world that can compare to Sydney and its natural beauty.

Every weekday evening I take the Northern Shore train over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and sit on the top deck, staring westward at the sun setting beyond the endless inlets of water. It’s barely a two minute ride over the bridge - not even enough time to listen to Walking on a Dream - but during those 130 seconds half of the people in my carriage do the same thing - put down their mX and stare through the window. The water glistens just before sunset - no reflections of the Opera House or shadows of the bridge staring east or west, just a hazy brightness that is spectacular on its own.

Sydney makes me smile. So too does Australia. It's no wonder people risk life and limb by boating or flying to this country. Round one had its challenges, but not enough to make me believe there was anywhere else I'd rather be than here. And round two can only be better :)