Thursday, August 22nd, 2002:

Koala Doo

Something’s messin’ with either my iBook or high-speed hotel Internet; no matter, I got my Treo checking email and WAP pages again, but more importantly, site updates are gonna have to wait until after my return from Melbourne, so that I can fully exploit every minute of my hosts’ hospitality.


Today I visited Taronga Zoo to see three things: A Dingo, a Koala and a ‘Roo. I got to the grounds just in time to queue up for the hour-long Koala photo opp, cleverly scheduled during their feeding time. Standing in line was brutal, the sounds of tourists complaining intolerable in any language — yes, I realize that I’m a tourist as well, but at least when travelling alone I mind my Ps and Qs! When my turn came up one of the bears had already fallen back asleep, which they tend to do for about twenty hours a day. I took my position beside the other one, whereupon it immediately started chewing on my hair, making for a fantastic photo if only the Koala-keeper could have figured out where the zoom button was on my camera. The one he did get was moments later, with a big fuzzy grey butt parked on my shoulder, ready to squeeze out a big eucalyptus dump on my shirt… Or so it seemed by the smell!

The rest of the critters were doing as well as they could under the circumstances, I suppose, though the last time I had seen a tiger endlessly pace around the perimeter of its cage was at Siegfreid & Roy’s wildlife hick-tasia in Las Vegas. What ruined this zoo for me was the total lack of respect the other patrons had for the animals. I’d be pacing back and forth seeking escape myself if I was beseiged by people pointing and screaming at me every thirty seconds. In a rare moment of solitude I think I experienced a zen moment with one of the dingos, but it may have just been smelling the Koala crap on me.

I finally got around to sampling some Aussie cuisine, splurging for the twenty-dollar buffet breakfast in my hotel — hey, that’s only nineteen Canadian — just so’s I could sample me some vegemite. Alas, no biggy. I had a girlfriend once who said she’d break up with me if I didn’t like the similarly-flavoured marmite the first time I tried it, so I knew what I was in for. For dinner, I had a lovely local beer, and an Aussie burger. What’s in an Aussie burger, you ask? Well, take your regular hamburger, cooked in the usual way (easy, right?), add caramelized onions (a no-brainer), a fried egg (stay with me; they do it at Fatburger in LA) and sliced beets. And if that doesn’t make your face turn sour, consider that I had my particular Aussie burger at McDonald’s, because there was a forty-five minute wait for food at the pub I started at!

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