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Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

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Archive for the ‘Kings Cross’ Category

Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales

Posted by: melissa

The wifi in the marina is pretty unstable, and I have a lot of high bandwidth projects that need to get done.  As such, my last chore on the shaky wifi was to find an Internet café that I can walk to.  The closest was in the Sydney neighborhood called Kings Cross, which is the red light district.  This part of town is on a fairly large hill, so historically, wealthy settlers moved up the ridge away from the city slums and waterfront squalor.  Kings Cross developed into a pretty snazzy neighborhood, but as always, slums spread and the rich migrate to the suburbs.  By the 1920s, Kings Cross earned a bohemian reputation providing safe haven for artists, immigrants, and drifters.  Pubs, clubs and cabarets started to spring up, and by the 1970s, Kings Cross was a seedy and crime-ridden combination of drug addicts, mob bosses, and prostitutes. 

These days, Kings Cross has been cleaned up quite a bit, and appears to be trending upward.  The iconic symbol of the neighborhood is the huge glowing Coca-Cola sign at the intersection of William and Victoria.  While there are some sketchy pockets, I found the Cross to be very “seedy chic” and pretty much safe in a “just keep your wits about you” way.  There are lots of shady bars, sex shops, massage parlors, and of course, strip clubs, and several are quite humorous … Two Hands Required, the Bada Bing, the Pleasure Chest, the Landing Strip.  One displays a banner out front proclaiming “No NRL Players Allowed.”  The NRL is rugby league, and many rugby league players are notoriously badly behaved while fans and management look the other way.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of street people just milling around.  There’s no mistaking the drug-addicted prostitutes who hook to support their habit … they are very haggard, bruised and battered, and frequently heartbreakingly young.

There’s the occasional odd ray of hope in Kings Cross as well.  There’s a former drug addict turned street-cleaning janitor who walks Darlinghurst Road everyday bidding “G’day” to everyone and tending to those in need.  There’s the famous Russian hawker at one club who has been greeting customers at the door and protecting the strippers employed there for over 30 years.  There’s the alcoholic who sits at the bus stop on the corner of Darlinghurst and Bayswater every single day screaming four-letter-word insults at passersby.  Okay, that’s not the greatest example.  Nevertheless, the Kings Cross neighborhood appears to be improving with the appearance of higher end establishments catering to a normal crowd (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), rather than the street crowd (strip clubs, massage parlors, etc.).

Happy Independence Day from the Southern Hemisphere

Posted by: melissa

Of course, it’s just a regular day here in Australia!  Nevertheless, being in a colonial country with not only independence from, but a certain amount of historical animosity towards, British colonialism, we can all relate a little!

I’ve been spending a lot less time at my home away from home … the Internet café in Kings Cross.  But I headed over there today to catch up on some Internet stuff and have lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  I think it’s called Tapatio but I honestly can’t remember.  It’s pretty good … kind of a Chipotle concept, the Subway of burritos basically. 

Walking around the Cross is, to quote Forrest Gump, like a box of chocolates … ya’ nevah know what you’re gonna git.  Not surprisingly, Friday dusk is the best as the party is just getting started.  But today is Saturday, and Saturday mornings are usually bad … everyone’s hung over, coming down, cold, hungry, haggard, and tired.  The highlight of my day in the Cross today was an extremely intoxicated street person who kept yelling nonsense and stopping traffic.  Usually giving the residents a wide berth, the cops showed up and as they wrestled him to the ground to handcuff him and take him away, he started belting out the Star Spangled Banner at the top of his lungs.  He was doing pretty well too, until “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” and then it all just fell apart.  I placed my hand over my heart, and wished myself a very Happy 4th of July!

And because I was so impressed that a drunk homeless guy knew the Star Spangled Banner and the significance of today’s date, I looked up and memorized the Australian national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. 

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
 We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.