Friday, July 18, 2008

We're alive!

First, two fun stories from the Vancouver airport:

1. My sweet, babydoll face ensures that I am always selected for the full search. I suspect they just know I won't fight them on it. The lady searching me asked if we had children, and when I told her we didn't, she proceeded to tell me about how Jesus might give me babies later. It was very strange.

2. Eric and I met a drunk Aussie in the bar. We had been chatting with him for about 20 minutes when he looked at Eric and said, "I'll bet you know what I'm thinking right now. You think I'm looking at your wife's tits." We assured him that we hadn't known he was thinking that, though we did now.

We got to downtown Sydney at about noon from the airport and were able to apply for Tax File Numbers and open bank accounts. Not too shabby on very, very little sleep. It took us 1.5 hours to open bank accounts -- banks in the US wouldn't stay in business if their employees spent as long with us as Asha did, but she was a wealth of information, banking related and otherwise.

It's very difficult to get a credit card here. We wouldn't have been able to get one at all except that I'll be working with a company for which I worked in the US. Your US credit rating does not apply outside of the US, so Australian banks generally require 6 months of good behavior with your bank account before allowing you to have a credit card. People really fear the credit bureau here. If you ruin your credit rating, you're history. You can't get a mobile phone, buy a house, etc. On the other hand, their tax agency, the equivalent of our IRS, has no teeth at all. Asha told us people pay their taxes when they like, often only every few years!

The Pope is in town for World Youth Day, so there are hordes of youngsters imbued with religious fervor running around everywhere. At least it lets us fit in -- everyone in Sydney is a tourist right now. The local are avoiding downtown if at all possible.

Last night after our errands, we went to the store. We're staying in China town, so we went to the Chinese grocery up the street. In the frozen foods section was a large fish -- no packaging, just a whole fish, frozen. We couldn't figure out what most of the foods were, and the preparation instructions were all in Chinese, so we bought candy and canned coffee. With our food needs taken care of, we set off for the liquor store. A 6-pack of Bud costs $25!!! Our drinking habits may change. I found a $9.99 bottle of wine.

Today we're off to get cell phones and explore some neighborhoods. We ate breakfast at a Turkish restaurant and found out that bacon = a slab of fried ham, and chips are a breakfast side dish. What will we learn next...

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