However, I was royally pissed off by the security guard on my last day. I was suddenly told, after four days of taking it in, that I couldn't take my handbang with me because it was too big. I tried to explain to this super rude guy that I'd been bringing it in with me over the past few days, so it didn't make sense that my bag was suddenly too big. I mean, the bag is either too big or it's not, right? How can it be fine on the prior four days but not fine on this particular occasion?
He made me put it into this little box that they have at the entrance to determine whether a bag is too big or not. I managed to stuff it in, but he was not happy. He said that I had my laptop and notes all in the bag when I entered, so somehow it didn't count that I could put it in after I emptied it on its content. This made absolutely NO SENSE to me. The only reason I had everything in my bag was because it was raining when I walked there, and obviously I didn't want my things to get wet. So essentially he was saying that if it hadn't been raining, and I would've had just my laptop in the bag and my notes and book in a little carrier that I had with me, my bag would've been okay? Once again, absolutely zero sense was made.
He told me to put the laptop in the bag and to fit it into the box again - which I did, after some struggling. But it was in. As I went back to the counter, a female security guard came over and relieved him of his shift. She was nicer, but she didn't make much more sense. She asked me to put the bag in again, saying that the bag had to fit in the box. After I managed to do this, she changed her story and said that the bag had to fit from the top of the box, i.e. it should drop into the box with no difficulty, without the stuffing that I had to do in order to get the bag to fit.
At this point, I was really bloody annoyed. I told her that I was absolutely fine with putting the bag in the locker, but it did not make sense at all why I couldn't bring it in on this occasion when I was able to do so on four separate occasions. She said, 'I don't know why.'
Well, what could I say to that? I couldn't be arsed to argue with someone who did not see that I had a legitimate expectation that I could bring the bag in, and that it was not my fault if the rule was arbitrarily enforced, according to the whims and fancy of whoever happens to be on duty at the time of my entry to the library. Instead, I wrote a strongly-worded complaint after sighting some feedback forms.
I can't begin to express how much arbitrariness annoys the living shit out of me. Arbitrariness is equivalent to senselessness, and when things don't make sense, I get upset. When I'm told that I can't do something and this directive is arbitrary and senseless, it really annoys me. Once, a few years ago, I was told at the airport that I couldn't bring my tennis racquet on board with me. My immediate reply was, 'I've brought it on board with me before, so why can't I do it now?' In the end, it was fine - which just goes to show that sometimes, the people who are supposed to enforce rules don't know what they're doing, either because the rules are vague to begin with (which is more likely than not) or they're just not good at their jobs.
Anyway, I was really annoyed by the male guard because he was so rude. That was definitely the downside of the library; some of the guards are rude for no reason. There was this other guard who was completely unhelpful and retarded. I had some things in a big paper bag which he said was too big to bring into the library. I took out my things and thought it would be convenient if I could leave my things on a table in the library, then chuck the paper bag into the locker; so I asked if I could leave the paper bag at the front desk for 30 seconds while I zipped in and put down my things, so that I didn't have to carry all those things with me. Guess what he said? 'No, I can't hold things here for you.' Hello?! It was fucking paper bag. Better still, I had to fill out this form certifying that I brought in my own books, and I had some of my things on the desk in front of him. As I was about to fill in the form, he told me to move to one side because he needed the space.
Needed the space for what?! There was NOBODY around. Would it have killed him to give me a minute to fill in the stupid form? This guy was really a jerk. I'm usually quite polite, but I was so pissed off that I just stopped talking to him. No 'thank you' as I left.
On hindsight, I should've complained about him too. But his problem was just a lack of character; the bigger problem was the arbitrariness.
How sad that my tales of Sydney are basically shitty encounters with library security guards, right? On the bright side, the first guard that I encountered was very nice. He was also the one who told me that I could bring my bag in, so maybe he was too nice. But I'd take that over rude and unfriendly and unhelpful assholes anytime.
Anyway. I didn't see much of Sydney, but it was no loss because there wasn't much to see. I did go on a walking tour on Sunday morning with the family. The most interesting place was The Rocks with the weekend market. Other than that, it was dull. The whole city is dull. The infrastructure is dull. The skyscrapers are dull. It does not have the same charm that Melbourne has. And I don't mean to be racist, but why are there so many Asians? I felt like I was in an Asian city and it was quite a turn-off. I mean, if I wanted to associate with my fellow Asians, I would stay in Asia, not go to Australia.
I saw mostly the CBD/Chinatown/whatever area. The food is fucking expensive. We went to a Hong Kong restaurant one night, and four hargaos cost $8.80. That is just bloody insane and a huge rip-off; even Li Bai in Sheraton Towers, which is expensive in its own right, doesn't cost that much. Food portions are also huge, which is perhaps why a simple dish such as fish porridge costs twice as much than in Singapore - the portion is also twice as much.
My brother wanted to spend six days in Sydney and I have no idea why. We could've gone to the Blue Mountains which would've been nice, but I wanted to work on my paper, and I also didn't feel like freezing my ass off. We went whale watching too, which was fun for the first couple of hours. My brother, his girlfriend and I sat right at the front of the boat, in the open air, and it was really, really cold. We saw a lot of dolphins; they kept swimming around the boat, as if racing it, and they were so adorable. It was too bad that they didn't leap out of the water; that would've been cool.
As for the whales, there was a mother and a calf, but all I saw was their humps emerging from the water for maybe three seconds. It got a bit repetitive and dull. It was good that we didn't get too up close because these kind of eco-tourism should have the welfare of the animals as its primary concern; but honestly, it got really boring.
It wasn't just boring; it was uncomfortable. After 1.5 hours outside in the open air with the frigid ocean breeze hitting me repeatedly in the face, I was cold as an iceberg. I even felt the cold radiating to my head and I was convinced that I was going to get a fever (thankfully, I didn't). As such, I spent the last hour or so of the boat ride feeling sick and cold and seasick. My dad was seasick after 30 minutes, poor thing.
We walked around Darling Harbour on that day after the whale watching. There was nothing special about it. My mom and I went to the Hyde Park Barracks museum, about the lives of the convicts whom the British shipped to Sydney in the 1800s. It was not as interesting as it sounded.
I think the highlight of my six days in Sydney was a cafe that I found in between the hotel and the library, Pablo and Rusty. I had the most delicious Asian-fusion brunch in recent memory: miso-buttered mushrooms on top of sourdough smothered in some kind of pumpkin puree, topped with poached eggs, broccolini and the Japanese chilli powder. Delicious. The coffee was also really good, too.
But all in all, unless there is a pressing reason for it, I'm never going back to Sydney. It was definitely one of the most boring cities I've ever been to. That's a good thing; it made me feel at peace with the fact that I spent most of the time working on my PhD.
I had dinner with Adrian on my second night in Melbourne, just before going off to Sydney. We went to a random seafood restaurant in South Bank. He did something that I was supposed to write about here that would cast him in a favourable light, but I can't remember what it is. Oops!
He did pay though. The bill was $170. He refused to take my feeble 50-dollar note, and he apparently left a 30-dollar tip. How generous!
We're playing tennis tomorrow and I gotta wake up mega early to take the train to his village, so I'm going to go to bed now.