My 15-Month Travel Ended on a Therapy Sofa

Between June 2016 (when I published my last blog post) until today, shitload of things happened in my life: I became a cook at a bar & grill in the middle of Western Australian desert, kissed a stranger in Adelaide, did a tent-less camping in Ayers Rock, hiked on an ice mountain in New Zealand, ate bagels for breakfast in New York City, munched on Philly cheese steak sandwich in Philadelphia, saw Beyoncé’s original Superbowl dress in Cleveland, enjoyed Midwestern deep dish pizza in Chicago, hitchhiked all the way from Minnesota to North Dakota, froze in the wilderness of Wyoming & Idaho, had a Thanksgiving lunch at an old man’s house in Montana, went sleepless in Seattle, cleaned up a crappy hostel in Alaska, overslept in Qatar and almost missed my flight, said “fuck you” to a white trash in Sri Lanka, and returned to my office desk I had left for 15 months. In a country I am most uncomfortable with: Indonesia.

The long list above is what I told most people and acquaintances when they asked how my trip was. Only a few people received different kind of list: that I felt so lonely in such a vibrant city like Melbourne, almost booked my flight home when a guy in Brisbane broke my heart, got completely broke in world’s most expensive city (read: Sydney), had a severe fever & diarrhea (at the same time) in Queenstown and had no one taking care of me, wept tears at a diner in Wisconsin while thinking about my shitty love life, regretted the fact that my father is nowhere like that gentle & loving old man in Montana, went sleepless in Seattle cause I was disturbed by a scenery of a little boy getting kisses from his dad (cause I didn’t know how that really felt), and finally broke down on a New York’s subway train realizing the city was just one more dream I couldn’t make true.

Those travels ruined my life. I gained so many thing, but I lost many too.

Many people say, “Travel the world and you’ll find yourself,” and I thought that sentence was a total bullshit. I thought, how can a trip help you find yourself? And what the fuck is “find yourself” anyway? But now I realize my travels made me discover something real big about myself, opened something inside my heart I thought had died so long ago.

I was completely aware that my childhood wasn’t perfect: parents separated when I was two, as one of them turned to be a stinky cheater. And instead of redeeming his mistakes he chose to remarry and reproduce again, which later became his excuse not to feed me. I thought I was fine with all of that, cause my mom is pretty awesome and my life turned okay: I had good jobs, enough money, great friends, travelled to all continents and did not turn to be a vegetarian.

However when I was in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, it all became so different. I spent so much times sitting at a city park, chilling out by the beach, and hiking the mountains. I was free from stress and my old busy life. Little did I know, that gave an extra space in my brain to think about all those pains from the past. Unluckily, that space is enormous. It really bothered me to think how frustrating it is to be bullied by my schoolmates cause I couldn’t play soccer… then I blamed my father for never being around and teaching me how to do that. And every time I got dumped by a guy, that reminds me to my father again cause he was the first one to make me feel worthless and unwanted and undeserving of love. I know it sounds so dramatic, but whatever.

I was overwhelmed by anger, disappointment and every negative emotion you could mention.

Long story short, I spent countless night crying in my bed and some public toilets. I had a separation issue when I was completely terrified to be on my own. And it all happened on my fifth week in New York, the city of dream. Then something else happened that made me leave that awesome place, as if all depression I had ain’t enough. I came to New York to live there, not just to visit, and as my plane soared up in the air that night my already-broken heart scattered into pieces.

I hated it when people said “Welcome home!” to me as I arrived in Indonesia. The country isn’t my home. Smiling was not only hard; it was almost impossible. I couldn’t afford to be alone, so I stayed at a friend’s house for three weeks last January. I cried in my office restrooms. I literally experienced the worst time of my life, but I tried so hard to look strong and tough. I said to myself, “You’re good, nothing’s wrong.”

Nevertheless I’m lucky that I’ve got good people around me. Someone made me open and honest about my thoughts and the feelings I had. She said if I lie about things to make myself look stronger and tougher, it’s pointless. Mental health matters to everyone, and the first step I should take is admitting. Admitting that I’m wounded. That I should ask for help. She told me not be afraid to ask for help; so in February I hired a shrink.

I’ve met her three times; I’ve opened up to her about my feeling toward my father and how that affects my relationship with men, and everything else about my sadness. I’m glad that I did. She gave me some therapy and assigned me with some exercises to improve my mood. My problems have not been solved, however I’m no longer a sad man now. Not happy yet, but certainly happier.

At first I was reluctant to write everything up publicly like this, but I also want to speak up about mental health. I realize some people around me experience so many shits in their lives. I can tell they’re sad, some of them even depressed, and I hope they are not afraid to admit it too. It’s okay to say you’re not okay.

Maybe some of my readers experience the same, and it’s also okay to say we need help.

From all results I’ve gained by fixing my mental health, my most favorite part is that I don’t regret traveling at all. It didn’t traumatize me. In fact, I’m glad that those travels opened up my wounds… so that I can learn something precious about myself before making many more important decisions, like getting married or having kids.

I’m also happy that I don’t have to spend so many time in Jakarta (God I hate that city). My work gets me stationed far far away from the city, about 7 hours flight and a chopper ride, with beautiful scenery of green mountains, river and fresh air. It helps me heal faster.

And while doing those efforts to be a happy person, I’m currently planning another travel that would be the biggest one in my life. It will literally change my life, and I’m up for every challenge coming along the way.

ZF

Once a wanderer, always a wanderer

If You Think You Can Travel Alone, Think Again

I used to be proud to call myself a solo traveler. I traveled all by myself in Asia, Africa, Europe… and I was really happy; those are the experiences I would never trade for anything. Those made me feel confident, independent, and tough. I said to myself that I didn’t need anyone else to make me happy. I can make myself happy, and those travels are the real evidence. With that kind of feeling & thinking, I decided to pack my luggage, leave everything behind in Indonesia, and start exploring Australia for one fucking year. Or even two. “In this continent I will travel alone again, and of course I’ll be fine as usual,” that’s what I was thinking.

Then I realized I was wrong.

This is a different kind of travel. A kind of travel that I don’t know when to return. If on my regular travel the biggest problem is wondering who’ll go out with me tonight, now it becomes: who’ll go out with me every night. And the problem started when I couldn’t find the answer. Uh ya, making friends in a new country is a hard work.

I had my first breakdown in Melbourne when my only friend went for a one-month holiday in Indonesia. That afternoon after sending her to the airport, I wondered what the fuck am I going to do there without her? We always strolled the city, ate our foods, and laughed our asses off together. I had lots of acquaintances I met from work, travelers gathering, or at my hostel. Most of them were extremely nice and friendly. But none of them graduated from “acquaintance” to “friend”. We had fun when we met, we shared lots of stories… but that’s it. Some of them were locals who already have their own friends, so it was hard for me to join their pack, especially because they knew I’m a foreigner who’d only be here for less than a year. What for? They prefer to hangout with someone who can “last” forever.

People at my hostel were definitely backpackers who moved around every week or two. On my first week I shared my room with two German girls who brought me to a nice party and introduced me to their Irish friends. We went out a couple of times, but then they continued their travel so I had to say goodbye. A week later I met some other people who were pretty cool, but then they moved again so I had to say goodbye, again. And it’s so tiring to talk to new people every week, introduce myself all over again, and have the same conversation every time: where are you from, what do you do, how long have you been here, bla bla bla.

If one day you do this kind of travel, all you’ll need is a steady conversation. A conversation where you can have an update about each other’s day, talk about things going on in the media, or just other random stuffs. In another word, yeah I felt lonely. But no, that’s not the worst part. All became worse when you have a problem but no one’s there to see your sad face or hold your hands.

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Alone in a loud city. Taken in Brisbane, January 2016

I’ve been there, done that, in Brisbane, three weeks ago. An asshole made me too broken to function, broke my heart into pieces. If that happens in Indonesia where my friends are around me, I’d be fine and just shake it off like Taylor Swift. But when I’m a million miles away from comfort, Adele dominated my feeling. I cried alone like a baby and didn’t eat properly for days. That moment made me realize, shit… I’m not that tough and independent. That I’m dependent and weak. That I need to be around people I know. That I need a shoulder to cry on. That I need someone to hold my hand and say, “It’s okay, I know…”

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One of the city views I saw with that asshole

This travel brings the soft part of my heart (yeah, surprisingly I have one). Now I am more sentimental and sensitive. I even cried watching Chris Evan’s Before We Go (note: I didn’t cry watching My Sister’s Keeper, The Notebook, or The Fault in Our Stars). I now have a higher respect to the presence of my family and close friends back in my country. Even one of my goals now is to travel with each one of them. I still want to travel alone, but now I prefer to do that with someone or some people I love because I think it’s good to tone down my big ego. I will finish what I started in Australia, but next time when I do this kind of travel I have to be with someone.

Don’t worry, I feel better now. I now can see the silver linings behind that “Brisbane tragedy”. After crying all shits out of me, I decided to take a job that will keep me busy so I’ll forget that shithead. And now I have that job. It’s a nice one. I work at a motel as the housekeeper and waiter at its restaurant. The people I work with are cool. Everything about this job is better than what I had in Melbourne; now my boss no longer “corrupt” my money. And I rent a house too, with two other people (one Australian, one Kiwi). I still feel lonely, but now I can handle it better. I join a book club, and the people there are also fun. I know I’ll like it here in Queensland, I just have to walk patiently.

"I said you can quit the travel anytime. But I prefer to see you at the finish line," a friend said

“I said you can quit the travel anytime. But I prefer to see you at the finish line,” a friend said

Humans of Tasmania

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. People say the journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks. On your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

And yes, I hope I left something good behind.

Tasmanian wilderness hurt my eyes. Because it’s too pretty. Wineglass Bay’s water was too clear and the sand was too white. Launceston was a too-unforgettable city, the memory card in my brain was going to explode. And people that I met on this travel, oh God, they’ve taken a very big chunk of my heart. It’s even aching now. And I’d like to dedicate this article to them, those fun and beautiful souls I’ll always remember.

 

There’s “Art” in Hobart

I arrived in this city on a Tuesday afternoon. After studying the city map for less than three minutes, I could tell this city’s very easy to navigate. I could directly spot where my CouchSurfing host lived. I was hosted by a local guy named Rhys J Anderson who lived in South Hobart. I was a lil anxious when I was about to board the plane, as he gave me a wrong phone number and hadn’t sent me his home address. But at the last minute thankfully he was contactable.

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Rhys’ lovely-looking neighborhood

And I’m glad that I stayed at his awesome house. It’s located down the hill with the view of Mount Wellington from his backyard. What made it more awesome, he’s a board game expert, wine lover, and vinyl collector. That night he invited his friends Ellouise and Lucy to play a board game while listening to his vinyls and drinking his wine. He has a great taste of music. I didn’t know most songs he played, but I really enjoyed them. It was a fun night. We played The Settlers of Catan, the adult and complicated version of Monopoly. I liked this game, I even think to buy one for me to play with friends.

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Board game, wine, music, talks…

Talking to Ellousie and Lucy was also fun. They’re really nice, we talked a lot about so many stuffs from travel, movies, foods, to religion. And it wasn’t the only moment I shared with them. Two nights later after driving me to the top of Mount Wellington, Rhys brought me to his friend’s BBQ party where Ellouise and Lucy were there too. I had another fun that night. Ellousie is originally from Brisbane, and we plan to hangout together when I’m in Brisbane by the end of this month. It’s amazing how travel connects me with so many interesting people.

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When he drove me to the top of Mount Wellington

 

No WiFi in the Forest, But I Found a Better Connection

That morning in Coles Bay (Tasmania’s east coast), I went hiking to Freycinet National Park, this state’s most famous natural spot. I’m a lazy traveler; I didn’t do a proper research about what kind of track I was going to take there. I only brought 600 ml water in my backpack, and that was a huge mistake.

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My lips were too dry to be photographed

The walking trail was very steep. Very very steep. Twelve kilometers. Sharp rocks and bushes everywhere. And it was hot at noon. I finished all water supply I had after 4 kilometers.

I almost gave up at kilometer 6. I took a rest and sat on a giant rock. My throat was so dry. A minute later, a couple came and sat on a rock next to mine. We had a small talk, then the girl said, “It’s a mistake to skip my breakfast this morning. Now I’m famished and we have no food. My head is so dizzy.”

“I have a bacon & cheese bread,” I told her. “You want it?”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, but only if you want to share 200 ml of your water supply. I’m so thirsty.”

“We have plenty of water. You can have one of our Snapples.”

“Really? Alright, I think that’s a fair price.”

Then the exchange was conducted. One bottle of Snapple for a piece of bread. Everyone was happy, we all continued our walk. And I believe this is how world economy should work.

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Laurell & Adam, my life saviors

 

Hitchhiking Mission: FAILED!

I was bored that day. I had explored most parts of Coles Bay and wanted to see Launceston as soon as possible. Coles Bay-Launceston isn’t really a popular route, so I tried to break it down: Coles Bay-Bicheno, then Bicheno-Launceston. It was quite easy to find someone driving to Bicheno. An old dude named Chris who works as Freycinet National Park’s cleaning service gave me a lift until that small beach town. In Bicheno, I waited for someone to picked me up near the highway.

It was harder than I thought. For almost two hours, there was only one guy who stopped his car for me but he wasn’t driving to Launceston. At 1 pm when the sun was too bright, I decided to give up and find a ride back to Coles Bay.

In less than a minute, a couple pulled their car over for me. I jumped in, and they asked, “Which part of Coles Bay are you heading to?”

“Coles Bay Village Area,” I answered. That’s the “city center” of Coles Bay where you can find holiday park, hostel, supermarket, cafe, bakery, and bottle shop.

“No way, we also live there!” answered Dylan, the car driver. He was with Ronnie, his girlfriend. They’re both 19 years old.

“You stay at the backpacker hostel?” I asked him.

“No, actually my parents own that area. The whole business belongs to them. We have a house next to the hostel. My room is basically above the bakery, if you notice.”

“Ah, I do! So we’re actually neighbors.”

“Yeah, we are! Anyway how long have you been traveling in Aussie?”

“I arrived last October. I lived and worked in Melbourne until last month, and now just traveling in Tassie.”

“What did you do in Melbourne?”

“I was a waiter. At a Mediterranean restaurant.”

“Ah cool! Do you make coffee?”

“I do. Why?”

“Are you familiar with Australian beers and wines?”

“I am.”

“Perfect! There will be an open mic night at our cafe tonight. It will be very packed, but the guy who’s supposed to run the bar is calling sick. Can you replace him, from 3 pm until around 8?”

“Sure thing, I have no plans.”

“$20 per hour.”

“Sounds like a deal!”

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When bad luck turned to be a good fortune

So yeah, that day I worked for and with them. It was more than a job. It was great. Dylan and her girlfriend are perfect as a boss and a working partner. I served drinks to the happy customers during my five-hour shift. And the cafe is located just in front of the beach. Perfect, right? That day I didn’t reach my travel destination, but I have two new amazing friends and some cash in hand. That was a great day.

 

I’m Glad My Bus Didn’t Show Up

It was 7 am in the morning when I waited for my bus from Coles Bay to Launceston. The bus was scheduled to pick me up there at 7.20. But shit happened, it didn’t show up. I was waiting until 7.50 until I finally decided to call the bus operator. They gave me the driver’s number, and I called her. She’s a freakin’ liar, she said she was there but didn’t see me. Non sense. It was a very small and quiet place, there’s no way we’d miss each other. I debated her, but obviously she couldn’t turn over for me. And it was the only bus of the day, so I had to figure out something else to go to Launceston.

I started asking people at a gas station next to the bus stop. I asked them one by one if they were driving to Launceston or not. An old dude said he was, but he didn’t want to pick me up. He was rude as hell. Then I spent almost an hour to ask other people who filled up their tanks. Even though they couldn’t give me a ride because we were heading to different directions, most of them were very friendly and wished me good luck.

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The best hitchhiking experience ever!

Around 10.40 am I saw a couple filling up their tank. I almost didn’t approach them because I had a feeling it would be another rejection. But I almost jumped like a monket when they said they could give me a lift until Launceston. At first they were a bit skeptical, but after exchanging looks to each other they said yes. And they turned to be really nice travel partners. The guy’s name was Adrian, and the woman’s was Michelle. They let me sit in the front seat so I could see the view clearly, told me some insights about Tasmania, and talked about my travel and their life. When we arrived at a small town named Campbell Town, we even stopped and had drinks together at a small cafe. And as we arrived in Launceston, they also showed me their house and brought me to see the city for about an hour. It was so good to meet them, I even thanked God my bus didn’t show up.

 

I Found Love in the Valley

Beautiful city in the valley

Beautiful city in the valley

In Launceston, a beautiful city surrounded by hills & valley, I was hosted by Kylie, a single mom of two who lives with her friendly daughter, Alice (11), and super adorable son, Ethan (8). It’s my very first time being hosted by a parent on CouchSurfing. This community is dominated by very young people (mostly younger than me) who live on their own, so it was kinda “different” to be hosted by Kylie. But of course, different in a good way. She’s a very decent woman, polite, and I had a great time talking to her. She’s very curious about life in Indonesia and my travels, and I was so glad to tell her those stories.

On the first night I cooked them an Indonesian dish: ayam panggang bumbu pecel (grilled chicken with peanut sauce). In the kitchen we had some interesting conversation, but there was one moment I will always remember. It’s about her view regarding sexual orientation.

I asked her, “Is it okay for you if one of kids is gay?”

She answered, “Yes, of course. I want my kids to know that we can love anyone we want. That some men have girlfriends/wives, but some other can also have boyfriends/husbands. I also want them to think that homosexuality is a normal thing, so they will accept anyone in their life who’s gay/lesbian. And I believe their father will also be okay if they’re gay.”

That’s a very powerful statement I don’t usually hear from a parent. I have lots of friends in Indonesia, my country, who accept their homosexual friends, but I’m pretty sure they will be so mad if their kids are gay. I believe we all need more people like Kylie in our life.

Not only Kylie actually, but also their kids. Alice is fun girl to talk to and hangout with. She’s talkative, energetic, and humorous. We went to the park, horse racing court, and swimming pool together… that day was really fun.

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Having fun under the sun

And Ethan, her little brother, is definitely one of my most favorite people I met on my travels. I even want to cry when writing this. He had been so friendly since I first arrived in their house. He asked me to play this and that with him, and on my last day in Launceston he said, “I don’t want you to leave.”

This little kid made me feel so loved. He wanted to sit next to me when we had dinner. He invited me to come to his school holiday program. He hugged me. I was supposed to go to Queenstown Wednesday morning, but I cancelled my plan because of several reasons, and Ethan was actually one of them. I didn’t tell them this. I decided to stay longer in Launceston so I could see him again that day.

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I’ll definitely see you again, little brother!

I went downtown and bought a box of paper plane for him and a travel diary for Alice. When we had our very last dinner together, I gave those farewell presents to them. Alice said the diary was so cool, and Ethan hugged me four times because he was happy with the gift. I almost wept. And I almost wept again when he made me a paper plane on his own design, “You must carry this everywhere you go, so you’ll always remember me.”

Of course I’ll always remember him, with or without that paper plane. That night he also downloaded Skype on his iPad so we can talk anytime we want. In the morning he told me once more that he didn’t want me to go. After I left, Kylie said he cried. Oh dear, so did I. On the bus.

A few hours later Kylie sent me this picture above, with #BrotherFromAnotherMother hashtag. I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy because he feels that way, and sad because I had to go. He’s super awesome, and I want him to be my brother. I promise to myself I will always come back to Launceston to visit him, because our goodbye was the most heartbreaking one I have ever had on my travels.

#PaperPlaneBrothers

#PaperPlaneBrothers

Uh ya, it’s strange how travel can leave a huge marks in my heart like this. It hurts and breaks a little piece of my heart. But hopefully I left something good behind. For Ethan. Also for Alice, Kylie, Adrian, Michelle, Dylan, Ronnie, Laurell, Adam, and Rhys.

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.

Melbourne is a Mistake

In the beginning of this year, I made a big decision for my life: moving to Australia. I planned to do it in June/July; and Northern Territory was supposed to be my first destination, because: I heard it was pretty easy to find a job in Darwin (June-September was harvest time, and they’re lack of fruit pickers), the salary was quite high, and everything was more affordable than any other states. Then shit happened to my working visa. It was delayed for four freaking months, thanks to Indonesian government. It was granted in October, when those fruits had been picked and delivered to supermarkets all over the continent. Bye, easy money! So I decided to go to Victoria instead. To Melbourne, the capital. It was a really brief decision, I made it in just a couple of minutes, two weeks before my departure.

And now I realize it was a wrong decision. Because Melbourne’s a very beautiful city.

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Beautiful Brouke Street Mall

Too beautiful if I have to leave and move to other cities. Yep, my original plan was to move from city to city every two months because I wanted to live in all six states. But now I can’t really see that coming. I want to stay longer in Melbourne. Six months, at least.

I want to absorb the vibe, the energy, and the color. I want them to blend in with my body and soul.

I want to be a part of Melbourne. Although it’s fucking hard to find a job here. I’ve spent hours and hours sitting at the State Library of Victoria with my laptop to browse vacancies and send out my applications to countless employers. I’ve walked for miles and miles to knock every restaurant’s door that has openings.

I thought I wouldn’t experience this when I first came here, because on my second day in Melbourne I was called for an interview at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Brunswick. When I told people that I had an interview on my second day in town, they were like, “Wow, that’s fast!” It was, and it went really well. I liked the employer, and I believe she liked me. She said she’d get back to me with an offering in a week, but that never happened. I was worried about how my “future” in Melbourne will look like, until last Friday night when I received a call from another restaurant. The manager, Nicole, invited me for a job trial at her restaurant on the next day. I’d be asked to serve the customers, and my performance was going to determine my employment chance. I felt challenged!

She said I had to wear a pair of jeans and a plain white T-shirt. I didn’t have a plain white T-shirt, so I rushed to MRP and got me one. I liked how I looked in that $5.95 T-Shirt, and I said to myself, “I’ll wear this outfit everyday because I’m going to get the job.” Not only that. When I arrived at the restaurant on Saturday evening, Nicole gave me a cool brown apron that (I think) made me look cooler. I wanted that apron, and this sounds pretty much like MasterChef.

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My $5.95 T-shirt

I enjoyed my trial. A lot. I greeted the customers, poured water to their glasses, took their orders and input them to the computer, cleaned up their tables, and handled the payment. I also loved Nicole. She taught me everything step by step, and I learned a lot from her. The staffs were also great. They gave me friendly greetings and asked who my name was. Nicole gave me another name, Frankie, because “Fikar” was too hard for them. I didn’t mind that, I even liked it. From now on I’ll be called Franke and don’t have to repeat or spell my name anymore when introducing myself to someone.

Overall, I fell in love with that restaurant. Anyway the name’s Le Bon Ton, a BBQ joint in Collingwood area, very famous for its oysters, Texas-style chili fries, Lousiana crab cakes, and brisket; and Herald Sun loved them all! I wanna work in that place. But too bad, I didn’t get the job. I thought I worked hard and learned very fast at the trial, but maybe they had a better candidate to fill that position.

Was I sad? Of course. I wanted the job not only because I need money to live in this expensive city, but also to keep myself busy. I didn’t come here for a holiday. And oh, I need friends. Some regular friends I can hangout with in a daily basis. I’m tired of having the same conversation with different people every single day: “Hi, what’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do?”

I want some sustainable conversation I thought I’d have if I get the job. I had a feeling I could be friends with those friendly staffs. But maybe it’s not my time (yet). But at least, last week I went to a beach-walking and BBQ by the sea with one of Melbourne’s traveler communities, and met some new people there. Hopefully one of them can be my next good friend.

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First time cooking & eating kangaroo!

Beside writing, eating is also therapeutic to me. So after taking my apron off (yeah, this sounds like a MasterChef right?), I went to a supermarket and bought one big bag of chips, plus two medium bags of chocolate. I walked down the street, all the way from Collingwood to Fitzroy with those new buddies to find other restaurants that have openings. I want to be a waiter so bad, and I know I should never give up trying. I’ll take this time as testing to my patience. I’ll try not to worry and stay positive, that was what my ex boss texted me this morning. And yeah, I did what she said. Magically, in the afternoon someone invited me for a job interview at 6 pm. I came there, and I secured a job trial schedule next Tuesday. That totally brightened my day, and I hope I’ll perform better this time.

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Foods never let me down

Uh ya, I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite spot of the city. It’s St Kilda Pier, featuring Melbourne’s skyline, fabulous yachts, and stunning sunset. And after it gets dark, you can see penguins!

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Serenity