Monday, April 14, 2008

Australia II

Well, last I blogged I was in Gosford, Australia. Now I am in rainy Sydney a few blocks from the Opera house.
Sunday night we went to Hillsong church a very famous Christian congregation I suppose for their music and I think they have put out several CD's. It was interesting to see and fun to experience. The music was loud and rock-concertish, but the speaker was pretty good. Then again anything is better than sitting in a hot, fanless church in Phnom Penh being given an unemotionless sermon in another language. Have you ever heard how grocery stores set up their stores to ensure that you never leave with only what was on your list? First, they play certain music, use certain color schemes, and position products and sale items at the easiest convenience. They even position the level of the products to attract the kids. That is how I felt at this church. Almost hopeless to leave as I came. They had Barney size costumed characters dancing with the kids at Sunday school, hip graphics, funky lights, a coffee shop in the foyer, and all the attractions that would attract people just like popular club. It was interesting.
Yesterday, we took the train to the City Centre where we walked in the rain. Did I mention it is really cold here? Well, I can't tell exactly how cold, I'm probably just a wimp becuase I am more accumstomed to 90 degree weather. Another thing: Why oh why does the US have to be so stubborn? Why can't the whole world just use the metric system? I never know gas measurements, distances, nutritional information, temperature, or anything else requirig numbers. Can't we all just get along? Either way, I don't know how cold it is 20 degrees celcius, whatever that means. So, I bought a sweater, a sweater! I need a sweater! I brought tank tops and flip-flops, I am ill prepared for this weather. We walked to the Opera House (Ha, I wrote Oprah house the first time, I wish!). We took some pictures. I dragged Ross and Kamrong to the Modern Contemporary Art museum. It was nice to see beautiful and creative things. We walked through the botanical gardens, we watched street performers. It was a nice day.
Today, I am on my own. I kinda needed a getaway. I spotted a book store yesterday that I fully intend on inhabiting for several hours.
I know, I know, "Heather is in Australia and instead of seeing the sights she is sitting in a bookstore?". Yeah, well you would too if you had been deprived for months. If I was coming here from the states, my itinerary would be different. But coming from Cambodia, all I want to do is sit and loook at people walk by. I want to soak up the clean streets and the beautifully kept lawns. I want to take pictures of flowers I have seen hundreds of times back home. I want to just sit on the train and listen to people speak English, a language I understand. Strangely enough, all I want to eat is Asian food, but that is another story!
As I rode the train the other day I thought, wait no, I wrote, the following, as I absorbed my new environment: "Places like Australia do still exist! The whole world hasn't turned into Cambodia! I don't have to live like this forever. Istn't that the problem? I find comfort in knowing that better places exist. Places I obviously prefer. So have I even learned anything? Is it okay I can't live like the Cambodians do for the rest of my life? Because I can't. Can I live a more comfortable life, but still not forget that not everyone does? Do I have to live in poverty to understand poverty? Do I have to live miserably the rest of my life to truly help and understand those less fortunate? Ist there really balance or do we just say that as we sit in our wonderful homes and fine education? Will I feel guilty the rest of my life if I don't?"
It is nice to be here and forget about Cambodia if only for a week. I hate that I feel that way. But I don't want to go back. I like organization and familiarity and safety and understanding. I appreciate beautiful sights, nature, and convenience. This is like culture shock before the culture shock. I feel homeless and overwhelmed, again.
Traveling alone without any of you to share this with is, not the best. I wish I could share these experiences, giggle at the street performers, and just sit and absorb the sights. But alas, I turn to share this with someone, and I all can do is say, "Well, I'll blog about it later I suppose."
So until the next blog, I will do my best to enjoy the experience and realize I may never be back here again.


ashley said...

According to the world section of your temperatures are in the 60s there in Sydney.

The rest of us are pretty excited by those temperatures around here but we haven't been in brain-boiling temperatures for the last 8 months! You have every right to feel cold, I would in summer clothes too!

I've struggled with the same guilt and remorse that you're feeling for all that you've seen now, and are now enjoying. But a wise man said (loosely), "If we feel guilty if we relax (and enjoy where we are), we lose the pleasure of living" (quoting Chris Blake loosely from "Swimming Against the Current"). It's understandable that your joy for living feels skewed. Keep seeking it...

Love you.

ashley said...

P.S. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures of these amazing places!