Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Music, Wine, and Lots of Sunshine!!

2011 Good Vibrations Music Festival!
This past weekend I took a trip to the Gold Coast for the Good Vibrations Music Festival. It’s an annual festival here in Australia that features good music, drinks, and lots of partying. I must say, these Aussies know how to have a good time on account that everyone was wasted at this festival. This year there were many artists that attended the festival, such as Mike Posner, The Ting Tings, Faithless, Kelis, Erykah Badu, Nas and Damian Marley, and Ludacris. Everything was composed into different sections based on the genre of music. There was the Good Vibrations section, Roots section, Laundry section, Mr. J section, and the Star Bar section. It was such a hot day, 100 degrees to be exact, but that didn’t seem to stop people from drinking. The Nokia Dance Off tent was very popular at the festival and my favorite. Inside was '80s themed with a huge dance floor and DJ. There was a section for free slushies, fake tattoos, and even an area for massages! The DJ played lots of '80s and '90s hip hop while the crowd danced to the beats. There was a series of dance offs where people did everything from break dancing to pop locking. It was so much fun and quite entertaining, because not everyone knew how to dance and looked quite ridiculous. I headed to the Roots section and made my way towards the front when Erykah Badu came onto the stage. She did her thing and performed all of my favorite songs, such as Window Seat, Bag Lady, and Tyrone. When it was time for Nas and Damian Marley to hit the stage, more people showed up and the crowd became filled with dread heads, hippies and the smell of marijuana. The two did a great job and had a lot of deep songs about Africa, life, love and saving the world. The nice reggae beats created a very peaceful atmosphere. Nas did some of his hits, such as, "Nas is Like" and "Hip Hop is Dead" while Damian Marley did a few of his songs, such as "Welcome to Jammrock". Apparently Nas and Damian Marley have an album together, so it was cool to see them jam together. Damian Marley of course had to pay homage to his father, Bob Marley, and performed, "One Love". He sounded just like Bob Marley! My two friends and I managed to make our way to the front row for Ludacris, who was next after the duo. We were so excited, especially me because I had never been front row at a concert. The lights went black, and Ludacris began to chant, “LUDA, LUDA, LUDA!” off stage. Soon people, including myself, began to scream and jump up and down with excitement. All of a sudden the lights came up and Ludacris came onto the stage, looking very handsome. He and his hype man began to get the crowd moving, as Ludacris performed all his old hits such as "Fantasy", "Saturday", and "Area Codes". He then performed a lot of his more recent hits such as "Yeah" and "All I do is Win". The crowd had so much energy! He then performed "Move Bi**h" and "Get Back" which got the crowd pushing and shoving even more. Overall it was a great performance and I had the time of my life. My weekend at the Gold Coast was amazing. The area reminded me of Miami. The famous Surfers Paradise beach was amazing. My friends and I wanted to experience the nightlife in Gold Coast, and went to a club called, Shooters. It was a large club, with 4 rooms such as hip hop, techno, pop, and top 40 music. The clubs here are still something I’m trying to get used to. Australians listen to a lot of techno music, but with a few drinks anything begins to sound good to me! To sum up my weekend I would say it was both interesting and epic. I had a great time and can’t wait to explore more cities in Australia! Until next time loves! 
My amazing hotel view!

Miss Erykah Badu!

This guy was really trying to dance

Damian Marley



Front row baby!

Crikey! There are Crocodiles Everywhere!

Feeding the Elephants!

I went to the world famous Australian Zoo last Sunday and I must say, I approve! Plus if Oprah says it’s amazing, then it must be true. So we arrived at the the zoo and of course I forget my wallet which had my student ID. Admission is 58 dollars if you’re a non-student. Oprah didn’t mention that. The price almost gave me a heart attack. Besides the cost, it was such a beautiful place. There were so many wonderful animals! Australia has one of a kind wildlife with a range of plants and animals that are found nowhere else on earth. We went to the famous “Wildlife Warriors Show” which featured flying birds, elephants and jaw snapping crocodiles. Yes, crocodiles. Now I’m not talking your everyday average crocs. No these were freakishly large, man eating, twilight zone looking crocodiles. They were so huge I feared the thing was going to eat the animal keepers. After a few tricks, such as making the crocodiles jump in the air for food, we left and headed for “Kangaroo Heaven.” That’s exactly what it was, a large section where kangaroos and wallabies roamed freely. You could purchase food for 2 dollars and feed the cute creatures. At first I was a little scared. I mean I've never actually seen a kangaroo in person, so feeding one seemed completely unreal. There were so many! All types of people were feeding the animals, even 3-year-olds. So I told myself, if a little kid can do it, then I could too! I walked up to the kangaroo, bent down and fed him. He reached up with his two arms, grabbed my hand and began eating. It was so cool! Several kangaroos later, I got more confident and tried feeding two kangaroos at the same time. It wasn't such a good idea, because the two animals stood on their hind legs and attempted to take the food from me. I thought about the documentary I'd seen on Kangaroo attacks and freaked out, luckily the two just ate the food and hopped away. Kangaroos reminded me of large rabbits. They have two front teeth just like rabbits, facial features like them and obviously hop around like them. After rubbing and feeding the kangaroos, we went to view all the wetland birds. We saw everything from red pandas, Australian snakes (12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you), rhinoceros iguanas (which looked like mini dinosaurs) and a Komodo dragon (the largest species of lizards found in the Indonesian islands, whose saliva can kill you!). We saw Tasmanian devils (which by the way do not risible the cartoon but instead look like little mole rats), dingoes (which look like regular dogs), wombats (which looked like giant furry round gerbils), and a giant cassowary bird (which was a cross between a turkey and ostrich). We finally ended our tour viewing my favorite, the cute koalas and elephants! Here are some cool koala facts. They are NOT bears. They can sleep between 18-20 hours and have a very large digestive system. They eat eucalyptus leaves which are hard for them to digest and is the reason why they sleep so long! They curl into tight balls when they are cold, and when it's hot they lay out with their legs spread to let their stomach get air because the fur is thinner there. They're also very territorial creatures and are sadly on the verge of being extinct. They're killed by vehicles and mostly dogs due to the fact that they sometimes roam in people's backyards. After learning so much about koalas, I thought why not hold one of these cuddly creatures! So with courage, and a small fee of $20, I held a koala! It was like holding a baby, minus the fur and claws. I believe the koala and I had a connection. After a few poses later, I had a very adorable picture! Next, we went to feed the elephants which was amazing! Until next time loves! 
Me and the baby Koala

Look at the length on this guy!

The Cassoway bird!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 3 in Aussie Land

Today was beach day number one for me! I took it upon myself to be adventurous and catch the bus alone. First, I woke up and attempted to make an omelet. It didn't go so well. After my mediocre meal, I headed to campus to take a tour around the area and buy my tickets for the zoo. The campus is not very large, but has great architectural detail and is very modern. After my tour, I went to catch the bus for my beach adventure.  I met a nice bus driver who told me all about Australia and his visits to the States. He was quite friendly, which is no surprise, and he bragged about his traveling daughter who works in marketing. He was so helpful! The further we traveled, I slowly began to gain more confidence in my bus riding abilities. On the bus ride to the beach we began to go downhill and from a distance I could see all the homes along the coast. This view was a reality check that I was indeed on an actual island! I finally arrived at my destination. The sand on the beach was white and soft, and in the distance I could see large mountains along the coast. It was absolutely amazing. After setting up camp, I took a stroll out into the water. It was cold, but once I dove into the water, I got used to the temperature. As I began swimming I noticed that the deeper I went, the more the current pulled me further into the ocean. I found myself struggling to get back to shore. This was both scary and exciting for me because it took every bone in my body to not get sucked deep into the Australian water. After that experience, I decided to rest a bit before I attempted to wrestle the water again. Rain clouds began to form and it started to drizzle, so I decided to head back. As I proceeded to pack up, a New Zealander attempted to put the moves on me. It didn't go so well for him because I could barely understand his accent. I caught the 2:30 p.m. bus and walked back to my room and greeted by my new roommate! A Canadian girl named Kim who was very sweet. After we chatted a bit, we went by the pool and met more Australians who ended up inviting us to the beach tomorrow morning and a small party tonight. The party was great! I noticed how the Australian residents were so amused by us foreigners. Everyone sat around outside, huddled in a circle, drinking Australian beer, and listening to techno music. It was a very social yet chill atmosphere. The Aussies proceeded to tell us about the many deadly animals in Australia, and how a kangaroo would probably kick us to death if we got too close. I also learned some Australian slang. For example, “Skull” is used when someone is forced to drink liquor abnormally fast. Sort of like when Americans scream, “Chug! Chug! Chug!” I also learned that a “Sloppy Joe” is a person wearing a baggy hooded sweatshirt. A university is referred to as “Uni". A shopping cart is called a “Trolley” and that smoking pot seems to be a global past time, go figure.  My roomie and I ended the night after she was asked to jump in the pool, which she so bravely, and I must say gracefully, did. I feel so much love from these Australians, and I must say the kindness is quite refreshing. Until next time my loves!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goodbye States...Hello Aussies!

As I sit at the Quantis Airline terminal waiting for my flight to be called for Brisbane, I look to my left only to see a small group of Asian businessmen all dressed in black suits wearing black glasses and I can’t help but smile at their cuteness and style.  How can I describe Australia so far?  I say, refreshing friendly. I don’t know about you, but I have flown a lot over the course of my life and never have I had such a friendly welcome as I did when I arrived in Sydney. “No worries” was a common phrase whenever I said “Thank you” to someone’s kindness. Surprisingly there are a lot of American brands here, such as Nine West, Krispy Kreme, and Hungry Jack (which is really a Burger King). When I ordered my chicken sandwich from Hungry Jack, I asked for BBQ sauce and was given “plum BBQ sauce” instead. Not as delicious as regular BBQ sauce, but it got the job done. There are a variety of nationalities here in the airport, from Spaniards to Frenchmen. The largest being Asians, due to the fact that Asia and Hong Kong are right above the country and many conduct business in Australia. I search the airport for even the slightest person that I can identify with, so far I have only seen two and I’m assuming they were African. Funny story, while I waited for my flight from LAX to Australia, an African woman came up to me and proceeded to ask me a question in her language. I stared blankly at the woman for 3 minutes until I realized that she assumed I understood her (probably from my braids). Finally I told her I didn't understand and she smacked her lips and walked away, it was pretty awkward I must say. My flight wasn't too bad, if you like being squished between random people with bad breath and disgusting airplane food. The flight from Chicago to LA was a breeze; it was only four hours so surprisingly I was able to sleep. I also had an aisle seat, which always makes a difference. The flight from LA to Sydney however--not so glamorous. I sat next to an Australian boy, who was really friendly and an elder woman from America. Me and the Australian guy (never caught his name) instantly began to hit it off. We began talking about school, snowboarding and of course Australia.  He was cute and though he had bad breath, I was able to look past that and see him for what he was, a friendly Aussie. Maybe they all would be like this, I began to hopefully think. So eight hours later, finally we arrive to Sydney and as I began to leave the plane, my Australian friend didn't even say goodbye. Hmm. Stepping off the plane and into immigration I had a great chat with the gentleman working. He told me that in the past weeks Sydney had temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit! My jaw dropped because he said this so nonchalantly as if being cooked alive was normal. After leaving immigration, my bags proceeded to get checked, or shall I say "sniffed" by this little cute hound dog. I was so busy “ooing” and “awing” at the dog that I didn't realize that the matter was serious business, so I fought my urge to bend down and pet him. Plus, by the look on his puppy face he meant business. I finally got to the baggage check-in and this very friendly Australian woman working there asked me if my nails were painted green for the Green Bay Packers. I laughed because I was surprised she knew about the Superbowl, seeing as it's not as big of a deal in other countries. From there, I went through security where the man asked me if I was from North Carolina, due to my so called Southern accent I unknowingly acquired while attending The University of Tennessee. I laughed and informed him no. He then asked why I had such a common Australian last name, which is Smith. I laughed again and told him maybe I’m a 5th Australian. So now I sit here, at 9:34 a.m. Aussie time (4:34 p.m. American time) and I realize that I’m not at the right gate. I could possibly miss my flight! I'll come back to you when I arrive in Brisbane!