It was here in Sydney that Trent finally perfected the Trent’s Beer Index, or TBI as we call it. It’s pretty simple. The TBI is a score that a country receives based on the cost of a draft beer. It’s obviously important, so you’ll read more about it in a future blog post. Let’s just say Sydney did alright.
Leaving our indulgence in alcoholic delights aside, we adored Sydney as another new and exciting place to explore. It also felt a lot like home. I guess that’s no wonder given the ratio of white people to everybody else. We were no longer in the obvious minority after four and a half months of standing out as foreigners everywhere we went in Southeast Asia.
That experience has given gave me a tiny bit of insight into what many of my non-white loved ones have described feeling at home in the US, which I understood on a theoretical level, but never on a practical one.
Of course, there are major limitations to my comparison. Trent and I haven’t been targets of racism, blame, suspicion, violence, or dislike for the color of our skin but rather targets for infusing the economy and individual pocketbooks based on our perceived wealth in a poor country.
The glimpse I got into being judged as different, based solely on the color of my skin, was that there is nowhere to hide from it. We really couldn’t while wearing big sunhats that screamed “we’re tourists and we will pay your $30 for sunscreen!” We were always on whether we wanted to be or not. It was exhausting sometimes.
But, still, we knew it was temporary, unlike people of color back home who must navigate and code switch through a white world every single day with no end in sight. Unlike them, we chose to be in Southeast Asia, putting ourselves in a situation where we would be different, and we can return home (or to Australia) to our non-standout lives any time we want. Well, Trent ” Dundee” Tarkenton will continue to stand out in his hat, but you get my point. Side note: repeatedly, walking the streets of Thailand, Trent was asked if he was from Australia because of this hat. We finally brought the hat home!
But the color of our skin certainly isn’t the only or the most significant commonality. We share a common background of British colonization, although admittedly the beginning and the end of our stories is quite different. We also seem to share a love of carbs as indicated by the somewhat fluffier physiques than we saw in Thailand. I fit right in!
There’s a shared humor that is more ostentatious, less subtle than the humor exhibited in public in our travels around Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. Self-deprecating, sarcastic, anti-authoritarian. These are my people. So we relaxed and slipped into the Sydney groove.
We make loud jokes with the other boisterous people in the elevator without getting odd looks and walk down the street jibber jabbering away and blend right in, that is until people catch on to our obnoxious American accents. Then it’s all, where are your from, mate? America? Colorado, eh? Where’s that? Is it cold there? Is it more expensive there? How much is a beer? Exhausted again. Happily.
And I’ll be happy to get back to Thailand too. We simply love it there, and not just for the cheap beer! The world is vast and people are interesting and kind everywhere we go! Sydney is just the latest in a long list of wonderful places with wonderful people that we have been fortunate enough to get to know on this sabbatical.
Below are some highlights from our five days in Sydney. Don’t be fooled by the lack of pictures of alcohol. We are doing our best to keep up with this Aussies.
Bondi Beach and the coastal walk was our favorite thing in Sydney.It was a cool and cloudy and windy (sometimes rainy) day, but we still loved it. Just a handful of surfers braved the rough seas.There were beautiful murals up and down Bondi Beach. These are just a few.There were swimming pools built into the cliffs on the coastal walk!The wind blew so strong that we could lean back into it.Sydney Harbour Bridge is the longest spanning single arch bridge in the world! You can even climb it if you are willing to pay $230. We settled for walking across it for free on the pedestrian bridge. I don’t think I have to tell you this is the Sydney Opera House.And a little break to assure you we drank plenty.View from the Harbour bridgeWe spent some time wandering Darling Harbour and came upon the National Maritime Museum This is a replica of the tall ship that Captain Cook was on when he discovered Australia. Of course the Aboriginals were already here but somehow that fact gets overlooked or downplayed in some versions of the history.Fish and chipsSaint Andrew’s Cathedral downtown
Trent chilling out with Luca, our AirBnB hosts’ cat.
On our last night in Sydney. Some friends drove up from the capitol city of Canberra for a visit. We met Lynda and Rae on a cruise in Vietnam back in December and have stayed in touch. One of the best things about travel is the cool people and lifelong friends you meet along the way.
On this particular night, I told the restaurant we were celebrating birthdays and everyone got a little surprise! Priceless. Oh, and no birthdays, but it seemed like everyone else was doing it!
Next stop: Somewhere north of Sydney as we set off on a two-week drive in a camper-van. This will take us a few thousand miles up the eastern coast of Australia to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef!