Leaving Ayr

The past five months has been quite the experience. It’s been fun and I’ve had some really, really good company as well as a high number of hangovers. I wouldn’t change much except maybe the alcohol bans, having less personal space than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs and getting a pay rise, but doing it once is more than enough for me.

It started off pretty brutal – eight hour shifts in 35+ degree heat with no shelter with a crippling back ache. There’s one day I remember looking at someone, probably to make a comment about how hot it was, and her face was just layers of sweat at 8.30am. The first couple of weeks were horrendous, but after the first couple of weeks and getting over how shit it actually is, as long as you can have a laugh it’s ok.

I probably owe the hostel around $3000 in fines for rules that I’ve not been caught breaking and managed to get my $200 bond back. One Thursday night we went out and ended up having a pool party for an hour at 1am, breaking six or so rules in the process; how we didn’t get caught is beyond me. I’d write a bit about the hostel and how it’s run but I will completely go off on one and end up writing an essay about it.

A couple of things that I learnt: if it’s Monday and you think you’re coming down with something after a heavy weekend, it’s probably a two-day hangover. I think most importantly, it’s about seeing the bigger picture and powering through. Next year I want to travel through New Zealand and Asia, and my second year in Australia I intend to earn a lot of money to pay for it, so I’m better off staying here for the extra year than going back to England. I’ve never wanted to work on a farm and over the past five months I’ve had some of the worst shifts that I’ve ever worked. When I’m chilling out in Thailand or visiting some Lord of the Rings sets in New Zealand, I’ll look back on the crippling back aches, almost being sick in a field on a hangover, sunburn, early mornings and RSIs in my wrists and hands, and it’ll be worth it. Looking back, I know I moan about it a lot, but I’ve had a great time and met a lot of friends who I’m sure I’ll see again.

Some things that I’m really not going to miss: boxing melons, planting melons, getting moaned at for something to do with melons, being in pain from some sort of melon-related injury, having less personal space than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, being threatened with my $200 bond, alcohol bans… the list could go on. I’m going to miss the times that I’ve spent the people who have grown to be close friends over the past five months.

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Farm Life – Almost Over

Not a lot has gone on over the past week, just melon packing as per usual. We’ve been working mainly five-hour shifts which is quite annoying as I’d like to earn some money. We had one day where we had four hours’ worth of break on a seven hour day but they paid us for five so a bit of money was earnt just sat doing nothing.

This weekend was my last one in Ayr, as well as five others; I was tempted to ask for Sunday off and claim that Jesus spoke to me and told me to go to church, but I’m pretty sure I know what the two-worded answer would be. Friday night was ok but the hangover at work on Saturday wasn’t great – a four hour shift felt like eight. Saturday night I acquired another roundabout themed binge-ury (I don’t learn, I know) on my hand which is now bandaged up, I got to work this morning and the first thing my boss asked was about going on a night out last night. Picking up melons for eight hours with an injured hand isn’t much fun.

I’m booked up to go back to Melbourne next Wednesday night, and I’m hoping to move into a flat on Thursday if nothing goes tits up. I’m determined to not live in a hostel for any longer than I need to; I’ve said before that I have less personal space than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, that I share with cockroaches so I think even a tent is better than this.

88 Days a Slave, Completed

The 88 days of glorified slave labour have been done, though I have to wait until next weeks’ payslip to apply for my visa, so I have to stay here a week longer than expected. I’m a bit paranoid about applying for the second year visa as there is actually no clear information on the immigration website about what counts as a day, but I’ve been to work for 88 days so hopefully my payslips can prove that.

Over the past week we have pretty much just packed melons and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. This morning I walked outside and someone told me that I looked like shit, then I got to work and had to ask my supervisor how to put the melons in the box so was pretty clear to them that I had a good night out last night. My title of being the only backpacker to not throw up on a Sunday at work on the farm remains.

This weekend has been a two night bender – both Friday and last night we went out and got absolutely twatted. When we first got here there was this obsession with jumping into the hedge that goes all the way around the roundabout on the way to the pub and we decided to do it again. It turns out that there is a metal box on the other side of where I jumped and I am now sporting the worst bruise that I’ve ever had, on my arse, after landing on it – it has started to turn black so maybe I’ll get that seen to on my day off tomorrow. It’s quite lucky that I landed on my arse and not my back because I would be in a really bad way. Not even five minutes before that I also fell out of a shopping trolley (sorry Mum) but that was injury free.

Also I’m quite surprised that there is not another alcohol ban. We behaved ourselves in the hostel but someone managed to shit the bed in the only available bed in their house that someone was meant to check into yesterday. The mattress was taken outside to air – apparently the person being showed around had to walk past the disaster zone; I don’t know what I’d be thinking about the hostel if that was me checking in.

Tomorrow I am off which means that I need to download some TV series from Netflix onto my phone in the library and Tuesday is supposed to be busy again at work. I’m now leaving on the 30th – I was looking at going to Tokyo straight after but that’d mean spending five hours on a bus to get to Cairns, then staying the night, getting to the airport then arriving really tired and having to find my accommodation. Instead I think I’m just going to go when my job in Melbourne is finished so I have more money and something to really look forward to.

Two Days a Slave to Go

I’ve been working over the past nine days straight so not really a lot has gone on besides dealing with melons. If all goes to plan, I shall be out of the hostel next Thursday which I’m really, really excited for. Over the past week at work I have been banned from working next to the backpackers from the hostel, I think because I talk and laugh to keep myself from going insane. Earlier today we were talking about when we were going to finish with hand signals from the other side of the machine and got told off so trying to separate us hasn’t done much to help. After a few weeks of working at the farm we had a speech about how we were all slacking off and are all replaceable, but now I think we just get humoured. There’s one or two other things that I’m banned from doing at work as of the past couple of weeks but that’s a story for another time.

Wednesday we went to the cinema to see Wonder Woman which is one of the best films that I’ve seen in ages. It really wasn’t what I was expecting; it was a WWII film with the main character being a superhero. Once I have WiFi again I’ll definitely be playing catch up with Marvel films.

Last night we went out on a piss up, pretty much the same as every other Saturday that we go out – luckily we only worked for three hours today so we could get a solid afternoon of bed rest in to recover. I downloaded Netflix and have started watching the next series of Orange is the New Black; it’s a bit of a pain in the arse to download a whole series with our situation with the wifi, so today I had to sit on the floor outside the library whilst my laundry was on to download a few episodes.

If we work until Tuesday without a day off then I’ll be done with my days. It’s been a bit difficult the last couple of weeks mentally because, I’m not going to lie, I don’t give a shit and I never want to see a rock melon again.

Nine Days a Packer To Go, One Workweek Left

 

On the work front it’s been less busy so we’ve had a few days off that haven’t been complained about; I have no problem working ten plus days in a row, but when it comes to only packing melons for hours I get way too bored after not even ten minutes of day one. Sometimes it gets so boring that I sometimes start wondering, sometimes for hours on end, how much I don’t give a shit. Over the past few weeks, people have been outside in fields, picking and getting tans. On the melon farm, we’re just inside and getting muscly hands and fingers. Brilliant.

I set a date on when I’m getting out of here: 22nd June. The plan is to get a flight to Melbourne, take the weekend off, then start working again. I need to remember to let the hostel know that I’m leaving three days prior so that I don’t get fined $200 (surprise!). I’ve also set a date to go to Japan in August so I’ll be booking that when I’m out of here/

On Wednesday a group of us from the hostel went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film. It was pretty good but not as good as the first three. This coming week we’re off to see Wonder Woman and there’s a late showing of the film on backpacker night so even if we’re working till 8pm, we can catch it. We have to try and not get busted bringing our munchies from Coles into the cinema this time.

So. Many. Rules.

Also, the alcohol ban has been lifted after three weeks of it not being 100% kept to so now there’s a pretty empty crate of what was 30 beers under my bed. We went out to celebrate on Friday night after some drinks at the hostel and I only had an hour and a half’s sleep so work wasn’t much fun on Saturday. I now hold the title of the only melon packer who started in April who hasn’t been sick at work after a night out.

I’m hoping for no days off between now and day 88, and am applying for my second year visa in two weeks’ time. It’ll be a really, really good feeling when day 88 is over and done with. Although people say never say never, I’ll never be in a rush to work on a farm again.

23 Days a Melon Slave Left

It’s not been a very big week – our last week of melon packing lasted eight days, then we had three days off. Us being us, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to drink for three nights in a row. I couldn’t manage to go out on Saturday night because I just couldn’t do it so instead I stayed in and watched movies. Today we did a nine and a half hour shift packing and us backpackers were so slow. Somehow, we didn’t get into any trouble for it, though I did have the supervisor moan at me for being shit.

I’ve had another melon-related injury to add to my suspected RSIs. There’s a conveyor belt above where the melons get dropped and I needed a huge one so I leant over and pulled one from the back. It got caught on the conveyor belt and the melon rolled over my wrist – it was so painful. Almost like the film 127 hours but more like 1.27 seconds.

Yesterday one of my roommates (one of the most annoying people I’ve ever had to put up) and someone who I’ll refer to as psycho bitch came in at 2pm whilst I was attempting to watch Transformers with their music on literally so loud that I couldn’t watch my movie and someone next to me was attempting to sleep. I found this as the perfect opportunity to have a bit of a foul-mouthed rant at them to turn their shit off and got told off by them for being rude when they were the ones being inconsiderate in the first place.

At 3am this morning, they came in from a night out, turned the lights on which I turned off straight away and made a shit load of noise. I expect it for half hour or so on a Saturday, but they went on for an hour and a half. Our new roommate was getting so pissed off so as I am a native English speaker, I went out to tell them to shut it. Apparently before I got out of the room, Psycho Bitch was covered in tomato ketchup and was punching the fridge. I told her that she needed to be quiet and she went mental at me, to the point where I thought that I was going to punch me and you could hear her from one of the other houses. She questioned me as to how she was waking the entire hostel up. I complained to reception this morning before work and one of them heard me so I had a nice little dispute with a roommate. Since coming home, Psycho Bitch and none of my roommates bar the ones I like have spoken to me which is very very nice, though I do now have to stop breaking the rules so blatantly as one of them will dob me in.

This coming week I’m not too sure how busy it will be in terms of work; I’m hoping it’ll be busy as not only do I want the money but also to get out of here sooner rather than later. We think that the next few days will be busy as we weren’t working because of the rain, but if we do eight days in a row again at the same rate as today it may be a 53 hour work week.

26 Days a Melon Packer Left

I didn’t post an update yesterday because I spent 8 hours at my get-fired-if-you-turn-up-hungover job packing melons with a hangover, and I wanted nothing more to lay in bed with a pizza and watch movies when I got in.

Work has really picked up this week – I think that I’ll be able to save $1000 from this weeks’ payslip. Packing melons is getting really boring so I’ve been told off for pissing around at work; I’m going to have to behave myself for the next couple of weeks at least so that I can get out of here quicker.

During the week we’ve had a couple of piss-ups; Saturday night as usual which was pretty decent, though we had to pre-drink down the park due to the alcohol ban and Thursday night.

By now you would think that if my living conditions were to change, they could only get better: currently I’m in a three bed room the size of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs with no door to a six bed dorm, so effectively it’s a nine bed dorm. My stuff was organised in such a shit state that the owner just looked at me and said “what. the. fuck.” We have no air con – instead there’s fans that blow hot air around the rooms, WiFi has been banned unless you want to be robbed in daylight to use it at $2 an hour and I could probably go on for a while. The room next door has had their outside/front door confiscated because someone in the upstairs took a spring off their door – the owners got pissed off and wanted to prove a point. There’s now what is supposed to be a garage which has been turned into an eight bed dorm with no toilets, showers or kitchen so now our already overcrowded kitchen that I was under the impression I shared with seventeen other people I now share with 25, with two tea towels to last the day. There is also two bathrooms to share between all 26 of us.

I’m not too sure when my next day off is – tomorrow is day seven in a row and I’ve heard that rain is due so hopefully Wednesday we’ll be off. I’m going to stay a couple of weeks longer here because although I do just chat shit about it, I have grown to like it here and I also need to get extra days done as I’m pretty sure that if my visa application gets investigated, days that are two hours long that I’ve counted probably don’t count.

Bloody Melons

If anyone wants any idea how sick I am of melons, I dreamt that I was throwing up whole melons during the week. I also dreamt that I went back to my old job in London that I left because they treated me like shit because I didn’t want to see another melon.

Bit of a same shit/different day week. Not as much work as last week, and spent the start of the week recovering from the weekend. Monday and Tuesday I worked with Tuesday spending 3.5 hours straight of packing melons before a break – usually we spend 2.5 hours max. We were off Thursday to Saturday, with work on Sunday. I didn’t go out Saturday night so I was the only backpacker not drunk at work.

It’s about halfway through autumn and I had to go out and buy a hoodie. It’s still hotter than the English summer during the day – around 27 degrees, but at night it is FREEZING. By that I mean around 20 degrees, and during the week I was half tempted to get in the pool but I wasn’t too sure if 28 degrees would have been comfortable. I have no idea how I’m going to cope in Melbourne.

Wednesdays are backpacker nights in the cinema so the tickets are cheaper so I went out with some people from work – we saw Guardians of the Galaxy which was brilliant, then decided to see the next movie, Fast and Furious which was alright. Before anyone asks, we did actually buy tickets for both showings.

I mentioned in a previous post that we’re not allowed nice things. They took away our wifi, they took away our alcohol and now they took away our adopted/possibly kidnapped hostel cat. To add to that, an alcohol ban is in place because everyone who went out last night got absolutely twatted. Me being me, I managed to borrow a movie collection from someone at work which for sure will see me through the next couple of months here so now I have something to do in the evenings.

Melons Melons Melons

I have honestly never seen so many melons in my life.

Like the previous week, Saturday had taken a couple of days to recover from and Monday we didn’t get our lay-in. There is always a first time for everything, and this week I had to ask a work colleague if they were responsible for me waking up next to a McDonald’s breakfast.

The first couple of days were spent packing watermelons; I wouldn’t be surprised if we did hundreds of tonnes over two days. On Monday my job was to look at a conveyor belt for seven hours to make sure that the melons didn’t get stuck or fall off. Tuesday started with throwing watermelons to/at people depending on how big they were to sort them, then after a break I was back to looking at them. I really do think that I have found my calling, and that is throwing and catching melons, though I am terrible at throwing them up into a truck – instead they hit the side of the truck, break and go bloody everywhere then I get moaned at.

We also did a ten hour shift; it got to the point where I was debating whether or not to pretend to collapse to get out of it. Other people were considering taking themselves out with blunt force by melon. Around nine of us sorted 24 trucks.

One thing we were not warned about was how much it hurts to have a melon hurled straight at your hand off of a conveyor belt. During the week I was leaning on a conveyor belt and a melon just flew at me and pinched the skin down and Jesus Christ did that hurt and require several swear words. I also thought that I broke a finger at one point when a melon came at me from out of nowhere

Another injury I had this week is absolutely ridiculous, as in perhaps the most stupid thing I’ve ever been admitted to hospital for. I really over-enthusiastically got into the van for work and smashed my head on the frame – all my body weight going straight for the head. I was OK during the day but the next I had a migraine all day, not helped by the fact that the melons are fluorescent. I went to the hospital and got told that I gave myself whiplash from getting into a car.

Of course, last night we went out, and of course, we are in recovery mode. Yesterday, I went out with some girls from work who wanted to watch the local rugby, then we also went out in the evening at our regular three spots. I came back to the hostel and one of the girls from next door was sleeping in my bed so I hung around for a bit and did my laundry, then ended up going to bed at midday.

Running out of melon-themed titles

Monday, we were back at work. It was one of those days where I was more thankful than normal that we leave the hostel at 10.30am and not 5.30am as last Saturday night took a while to recover from. Our payslips over the past month have failed to cover our rent, yet alone food and beer money, but next week it’s meant to get busy. Friday night someone asked me if I wanted anything from the supermarket and I replied with “a payslip that gives me enough money to last the week,” and the owner of the hostel was stood right next to her. Whoops. There has definitely been a lot of bad timing like that over the past week.

Monday next week we have to pick up watermelons all day so that’s one new back ache to get to terms with, as well as waking up at 5.30am. We managed to work a 5.5 hour shift on Friday which has left the week with 43 work days left to go until I can leave; hopefully it’ll be around the mid-June mark.

It seems as though we aren’t allowed to have nice things or have fun here; once the alcohol ban was lifted, the free-but-not-supposed-to-be-free WiFi was replaced with $2/hour WiFi and no one can connect to. We think that someone accidentally dobbed us all in by complaining that their internet had stopped working when it wasn’t supposed to work anyway. We have gained one good thing: a cat. It turned up on Easter Sunday, no one knows where it came from but it must like all the attention and petting it receives.

Saturday was a retro fancy dress night at one of the bars we frequent. As we weren’t working on Sunday we scooped our watermelons out and made ourselves a nice little cocktail with our contraband stash of cheap wine (my status in what I should’ve been fined for must be at the $3000 mark and haven’t been fined a dollar.) It was a pretty good night out, though my memory is a bit patchy. During the night I bumped into one of my supervisors from work who lost her brother and had no phone battery so I took her back to the hostel to charge her phone so she could ring him. I’m assuming this morning she came back to the hostel because I woke up next to a Macca’s breakfast. There would be some pictures from the night but I’m using my phone data.

I’ve been having a bit of a research on places to visit in Asia, in particular the ones that I don’t know too much about; I want to be getting back in the swing of things and ending up travelling how I was last year. Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been to South-East Asia has had an absolute blast there, so Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Burma are on the cards for next year. I’m also intending to visit China, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as perhaps a tour of India. Within the next month I should be booking flights for going to Tokyo – a direct return flight from Melbourne is £400 which really isn’t bad.  I really am lucky to be able to just ditch the life that everyone expects you to have as in sticking with a job, buying a house etc, and instead pissing around somewhere in the world, enjoying my 20s and just not giving a shit about half the stuff I’m supposed to.