Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Australian Outback & Las Vegas

So another quick 2 months since my last entry has gone by, I really need to get around to updating this thing more. Since my last entry about Monte Carlo, I flew back to Sydney after stopping in Hong Kong for a few days again to visit family and dine in exquisite(ly tasty) places. The morning I got to Sydney, I met my friend who had flown in from New Jersey as expected, and we hung out at my apartment for the next couple weeks. Since we are both poker players, we would be play online in the mornings and then go out to the parks and city to explore during the afternoons and evenings. We even purchased a frisbee to throw around and thought about joining some ultimate frisbee leagues, but we didn't have time and they didn't seem to have openings. We also went to the Star City Casino and sat at the same poker table to own some old Aussies.

Not long after I got back to Syd, his friend from NYC who had been backpacking New Zealand and the northern coasts of Australia (Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast) came down to meet us (call her Jennifer). We all hung out for a weekend in town, even watching a performance at the Opera House for the first time; it was a orchestral/theatrical rendition of Amadeus about Mozart and his madness. It had a sweet opera singer lady dressed in red; that had to be the highlight :) After Sydney, Jennifer's plan was to take a bus to hit up Melbourne, Adelaide, and then eventually the Australian Outback. My original plan also involved going to Melbourne but staying there for a poker tournament and then going back to Sydney for my last 2 weeks, but then I decided to F that. I was not going to go to Australia 4 times and not check out the outback, so we all decided to leave that weekend on a roadtrip. And what a roadtrip of a lifetime it was...

We started out driving our Toyota Corolla rental car down the eastern coast of Australia from Sydney to a place called Woolongong to go skydiving. Unfortunately, the plane had "mechanical errors" and we couldn't do it that day; it was probably for the better. We continued driving down the coast towards Melbourne, arriving in the city by nighttime. During the drive, I got a prelude into our future... a kangaroo bolted across the road in the pitch darkness, and we were rattled for the next hour. Thanks to my smooth driving, I was able to avert disaster! In Melbourne, we spent a couple days there sightseeing like the American tourists we are. We visited a pleasant beach town called St. Kilda with a gorgeous sunset. The next part of the trip was a 1,500 km windy drive along the "Great Ocean Road," which is analogous to California's "Pacific Coast Highway" except longer. Even the body of water is the same! We stopped by the Twelve Apostles rock formation by sunset, pretty neato. After we reached the end of the road in a city called Adelaide, we ferried our car across a channel to Kangaroo Island, an inhabited island home to many wild animals, including...kangaroos. While there, we all got to feed and pet (and hop around with [or was that just me?]) kangaroos which was a unique experience. Following kanga island, my guy friend left for Melbourne/home and Jennifer et moi drove straight up north into the desert (think from San Antonio, Texas all the way up the midwest USA). During the way, nothing much happened- we (not me) hit a kangaroo, spun out on the road after swerving to avoid another kangaroo 30 mins later and ended up on the opposite side of the road in the wrong direction, blew a tire 30 mins after that, changed it in the middle of nowhere under a cloudless starlit sky, took a day-long expedition on the Oodnadatta Track- an 600 km legendary dirt road in the outback, visited Ayer's Rock and Kings Canyon, and finally got owned by Hertz Rental in regards to the damage to the car. These are the sort of memories I yearn for and why I do what I do. From there, we flew back to Sydney where we spent another couple days before saying bye to Australia. Packing up and moving out of my apartment was particularly sad since that was where I had so much fun and freedom for the past 3 months of my life. I might be coming back.

Once back in the states, I was home for less than a week when it came time to pack up again and head out to Las Vegas. I met my friends there and moved into a house outside of the strip (S Grand Canyon and Tropicana holla). Since most of them played poker, we all had a legit setup with monitors and everything. There would never be a set routine for me, as sometimes I'd play online for few hours, or I'd take the day off, or maybe 2-3 days off and chill with friends. Sometimes we'd go to the Rio Hotel & Casino (where the World Series of Poker events were being held) and play a WSOP event or some cash games. Other times we'd go to the Venetian and play some tournaments there. I busted the first 3 WSOP events I played as well as various Venetian tournies in stupid fashion as most live tournaments are just that. My decent run finally came in the WSOP Main Event where I lasted till Day 5 and got 270th place out of 6,494. I played with Joe Hachem for an hour, reraising him one time and afterwards getting a speech from him (lol), but that's about it for my poker celebrity encounters.

I just got home after catching some stupid sickness, it had to be at the Rio, and it's taken a week to get rid of that. I have no idea where I'm going to end up, and that's the biggest thing on my mind these days. I have such a strong desire to move out but picking a place seems to be so tricky because it requires such commitment. My top choices at this point include Northern Virginia (so many friends here), San Francisco, New York City, and going back to Sydneyyy. The latter three places are all supremely awesome compared to Virginia, and would force me to resume looking to meet new people, which could be really fun and good for me. Virginia would certainly be the “easiest” and safest choice for me, but I really don't plan on picking it because of that. For my immediate short-term plans, I'm thinking of flying back to Hong Kong for the pair of Macau tournaments that are starting in late August. Really thinking I'm going to do that...maybe I'll decide where to live after that ;)

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