Cheap Life in an Expensive City

I’ve been in Melbourne for seven weeks now. Been experiencing some ups and downs, happy and sad days, lonely and with friends, rich and broke. But no, hungry is never on my list. I’m always able to afford my foods, no matter what. That’s because living in world’s most livable city doesn’t always make your wallet unlivable. There are several tricks and tips I’d like to share, who knows one day you might end up in Australia like me.

First, most foods in Melbourne cost you above $14 per portion. But, there are also so many delicious option under $6. Yes, you hear me. And this is the list:

  • KFC’s $5 Lunch

Everyday before 4 pm, you can grab a $5 lunch at all KFC branch. See my receipt below, and you’ll know what you get with $5. A drumstick/wing, chicken sandwich, mashed potato with gravy, french fries, and a can of Pepsi. Crazy, isn’t it?

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$10 for two lunch packages

 

  • Domino’s 5$ Pizza (per Pan!)
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No caption needed.

 

This one is even crazier. It’s 5 cent cheaper, but I think it’s slightly better than Domino’s.

You can’t say no, can you?

 

This cafe ruins the market pricing. When every other place sells $7 shitty pie, they serve $4 pie full of meat, mushroom, and spinach. And it tastes so good. Need something sweet afterwards? Their lemon custard pie is so big and will only cost you $4. Damn.

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Cheap desserts galore!

 

Japanese fast food restaurant never tasted this good. My favorite menu is their curry rice. So good, lots of chicken slices.

 

Not only being wise in spending money for foods, budget cuts can also be applied in other sectors. For transportation for example. If you travel a lot around the city, it’s cheaper for you to buy a weekly $37.6 Myki pass to have an unlimited access to trams, buses, and even trains. Don’t buy the daily one, because it’s around $14 more expensive. And if you only travel in the city center, you don’t even have to own a Myki card; because it’s a free tram zone!

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The most loyal travel companion

You’re a movie freak like me? Bad news, because movie ticket in Melbourne is freakin’ expensive: at least $21 per show. But I also have a good news, that on Mondays at Cinema Nova, you can enjoy your the show for only $7 (before 4 pm) or $9 (after 4 pm). Oh, your favorite movie isn’t playing there? Go to HOYTS on Tuesdays. It offers $14 ticket (normal price: $23).

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Cheap thing comes to those who wait… until Monday

Feel like buying a new clothes? In Melbourne, there are sooo many “opportunity shops” aka charity shop. If you have more time to take a careful looks to their collection, you will find good cheap stuffs. You know what, last month I bought a $795 Peter Jackson suit for only $10. Yes, ten freakin’ dollar. It has an awesome cutting and flawless material. I bought it at an op shop called Vinnies. You can also try Sacred Heart or the biggest one, Savers, that claims themselves as a recycle superstore. All money these op shops earn will go for charity.

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From $795 to $10. Insane!

And last piece of advice, if you’re looking for a job in Melbourne, try restaurant. I repeat, restaurant. Not cafe. Because the law requires every restaurant owner to give a free staff meal after your shift ends (and you can choose anything from the menu, except the super expensive ones). I work at a restaurant, and I eat delicious meals everyday. And you also can get 25-50% discount when dining in.

The Majestic Ocean Road

Because “great” isn’t enough to describe these places…

I took a three-day trip to visit five most beautiful spots across The Great Ocean Road and see countless (literally) breathtaking views along the way. I captured hundred photos, but these are the top 21.

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The Twelve Apostles, the most famous attraction (but not my most favorite)

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Selfie with one of the apostles

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Actually, there are only 7 apostles. Not 12. But who cares?

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“Two Survivors” at Loch Ard Gorge, only five minutes from The Twelve Apostles

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An awesome secluded beach at Loch Ard Gorge

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I stayed two nights in Port Campbell, a charming small town near all the attractions.

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Lovely park by the beach in Port Campbell.

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From Port Campbell Discovery Walk, you can see the town from above

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Port Campbell Beach

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The edge of Port Campbell.

I mostly walk from one place from another, to admire the beauty...

I mostly walk from one place from another, to admire the beauty…

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It took me 90 minutes to walk from one place to another…

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…but I hitchhike when I had my feet sore.

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London Bridge, but not in London. It used to be a long rock bridge there, but it collapsed in 2011.

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But it still looks pretty, right?

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Everything looks pretty here.

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I followed an undesignated walking trail between bushes…

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…then I arrived at this hidden paradise where no one was there!

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Another fantastic spot, at The Grotto.

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Stairway to heaven at The Grotto.

PS: None of these pics was photoshopped/filtered/edited. Scary!

Fall for Flores

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Flores 9

Flores 10

 


All pics were taken in Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Parks by my friend DANIEL RAHADIAN NUGROHO. He’s a Jakarta-based graphic designer and the captain of Indonesia’s national rugby team. His passion in photography can be seen on his Instagram account, @drnugroho.

6 Secrets Restaurant Waiters Will Never Tell You (but I’m a Bitch)

Working as a restaurant staff is a humbling experience. All my life, I’ve spent so many time and much money to hangout at restaurants/cafés/bars and being served by the waiters. I have to admit that sometimes I act like an asshole to those food servers: being unfriendly & snobby, cranky when I didn’t get what I wanted, and too cheapskate when it came to tipping. I’ve been working at a Mediterranean restaurant in Northcote, 25 minutes from Melbourne CBD, for over a week now. I work between 3 to 8 hours per shift, and those shifts made me hate myself because I saw the bad side of me in my customers.

And here are six “customer’s sins” I’d like to share with you. I hope I’ll never do this again to my wait staffs.

 

We’re paid to speak with you, so don’t be rude

Supermarkets sell foods, restaurants sell service. At my restaurant, every waiter has to ask how the customer’s day was, and introduce ourselves to the them while pouring water to their glasses. Last night I did that to a family of four that came for dinner. I asked them, “How are you guys today?” The mother answered with a sour face, “Yeah, so-so.”

I was like, uhm… awkward. “I hope you’ll have a nice evening at our restaurant. My name’s Frankie, let me know if you’re ready to order.”

She replied, “Whatever.” I was all smiles, but my heart screamed go fuck yourself.

What I’m trying to say is… dude, waiters don’t freakin’ care how miserable your sex life is. Yes your boobs look ugly and wrinkly, but you can distract people from seeing them by smiling and being nice. What we want to do is just smile while being at your service, get as much money as possible from your wallet, and kiss you goodbye.

When they finished half of their foods, I came to their table again, “Hi, is everything fine with the foods? Do you like the lamb?”

The father answered, “It’s okay. I just don’t really like the pasta. It’s too thin.”

My heart: “Uhm Sir, that’s pappardelle. It’s supposed to be thin. If you want to eat something thick, go to an udon house.”

My mouth: “Ah I see, I’ll deliver your feedback to the kitchen. Thank you. Just call me if you need something else. Drinks or desserts, maybe.” Gaah.

 

Waiters hate it when you ask for something that’s NOT in the menu

Still talking about that family, they confused me when making the order. The father said, “Are the oysters fresh?”

“Yes Sir, they’re fresh.”

“Can I have the baked one?”

That’s not in the menu, cocksucker. “I’ll check it to the kitchen first, Sir.”

A few seconds later, “No Sir, we don’t serve baked oysters.”

“You just need to bake the fresh ones.”

“We’re sorry Sir, we can’t do that. But I’ll note this menu suggestion. Maybe in the future we can serve you baked oysters,” I explained. He frowned. I don’t care.

The the mother asked the daughter, “Do you want smoothies?”

I interrupted, “We don’t have smoothies.”

The daughter, “But I want smoothies!” Oh kill me.

 

Screw you, picky whore!

This is my worse habit. I’m so picky when it comes to foods. I don’t like vegetables or anything green on my plate. I don’t want chunky garlic, and I hate the smell of onions. And when I eat at the restaurants, I always make sure the cooks do not put those shit to my foods.

And I just knew that it’s like a pain in the ass for the waiters. Last weekend I had a customer ordering a pepperoni pizza with gluten-free base. She wanted extra cheese and less tomato sauce. I panicked because I wasn’t fully understand on how to put a very special order like this to the computer. It made me spend years in front of the computer, until one of my workmate offered a help. And after the order had been sent to the kitchen, I prayed to God that the chef wouldn’t make any mistake. Because I didn’t want to serve an “unhealthy gluten-full” pizza without cheese and so many tomato sauce.

 

If we repeat your order, LISTEN!

Making a wrong order can destroy our career. So that’s why we want to make sure that we really write down your order correctly, by mentioning one more time to you before putting it in the computer. And please, listen. We believe you still have plenty of time to talk about Channing Tatum’s butt, after we walked away.

 

When we start closing the restaurant, get the fuck out of the door

On my first week at work, we had a couple coming at 9.55 pm (the kitchen’s closed at 10.00 pm). So we took their order and cooked for them. At 10.30 we started closing the restaurant by picking up all cutlery from the table, flipping all chairs, and mopping the floor. This couple didn’t show any sign of leaving. They even ordered a latte and a cappuccino (our bar’s closed when the restaurant’s closed). Grrr, coffee at this hour?

We even started cleaning the area around their seats, and they were still not moving. I was fidgeting, because the tram didn’t operate regularly after 11 pm. These two motherfuckers left at 11.15, and I still had to clean up their dishes and tables and continue mopping the floor. Thank God I still could catch my 11.53 train to be back home.

When I was in customer position, actually I did that several times. I didn’t move when they said they were closing soon. Now I know the pain. Some of them are very tired, some of them need to catch a public transportation because taxi is too expensive. So I hereby apologize to all waiters who suffered because of my action in the past. It won’t happen again, I promise.

 

We’re not tired. We’re exhausted!

I used to think waiting tables is an easy job. You only need to stand there and wait for people’s order. I was wrong. “Standing there” is a tiring job. My feet hurt so bad on my first and second day at work; I can’t even work normally on the next day. Wearing a not-so-fashionable pair of shoes looks ugly, but that’s what life saver means. Waiters walk more in one shift than most people do in an entire day, trust me. And after you all go home, we have to clean up all parts of the restaurant: wiping the tables, chairs, washing glasses, you name it. We sleep two hours after the restaurant is closed.

But the good thing is, we get staff meals (that’s my most favorite part of my job). I can order anything on the menu (except the super expensive ones), so at least I know how they taste (in case the customers ask for recommendation). And during my two working weeks, below is my most favorite staff meal. It’s a traditional spaghetti bolognaise with lots of meat and parmesan. I’ll have this again sometime this week.

Awesome staff meal!

Awesome staff meal!

Overall, the job is fun. And intense. And sometimes stressful. What I love the most, I’ve learned a very precious lesson on how to treat food servers. I promise to myself, I’ll be really nice to them for now on. Yes, I think everyone should be a server at least once.