Sunday, April 19, 2009

farewell Honolulu, hello Melbourne!

  1. Honolulu City Lights - by Keola Beamer. This is a pretty random video, but it was the only recording of the song I could find on YouTube!
  2. The Horses - by Aussie singer Daryl Braithwaite, from the album "Rise"
  3. Back in Black - by rock legends AC/DC, from the album "Back in Black"


The weeks and days counting down to my departure from Honolulu are a blur of laughs, first-time experiences, and happy good-byes. It is surreal how quickly my departure day was upon me, as I boarded the plane it felt like I was watching a movie of myself, you know the one with Jim Carrey where he runs down the jetway yelling, "It's OK, I'm a LIMO DRIVER!!!"

Funny how when you are about to leave a place, all of a sudden you meet the coolest people and start to do all the funnest things you didn't do but wanted to the whole time you were there: paddling on a stand-up board and then a one-man outrigger canoe off Kaimana Beach were firsts on the 3rd-to-last day in the islands [i'm hooked!]. And, I've done more rockclimbing, hiking, camping, motorcycling, volunteering, and just hanging out with loved ones in the last 2 months than I have in the last 12 years of living in Honolulu.


Since I pulled an all-nighter to pack 12 years worth of accumulated "stuff" into two oversized suitcases, I slept through the 9-hour flight to Sydney and awoke in a new hemispehere, a new country... the 60-minute connecting flight to Melbourne was over by the time we finished the tiny butter chicken dinner with peas swimming in a tasty curry-like sauce over rice that they served up; QANTAS always did have decent airline food...

...but this was nothing compared to the delicious meal Mum, Dad, Sis and I enjoyed at the Pacific Seafood House, a new contemporary asian restaurant in its new location at the edge of Melbourne's Chinatown. This neighborhood smells just like Honolulu's Chinatown: a mix of five-spice, char-siu, and steamed dumplings on the main streets, with the faint underlying stench of hum-ha, stale beer and urine wafting through
the air from the back alleys. Chinatowns smell the same all over world.

We get home late, and as I walk into the house that my family has lived in for the last 12 years, it feels like I am home. Mum says, "I'm glad you're here," before turning in for the night, and I am fast asleep in the back room soon after.

I wake up to an empty house as everyone has left early to get to work, and Yuki the cat greets me with a loud meow before settling into a chair to wait for a beam of sunlight through the windows she can bask in. She doesn't have to wait long, as I am making my breakfast of crumpets with honey and tea, the autumn sun appears and streams through the windows to both of our delight.

The crisp Melbourne autumn morning is too inviting to stay inside the house, so I take my breakfast and the old naval war novel I am reading [thank you, Hawaii Yacht Club book exchange] and find a warm sunspot in the garden to sit and read in. Mum interrupts [it's "Mum" when I am in Australia, "Mom" when I am in Hawaii] 1 chapter before the thrilling finale of the book - she only has a half day at work and has come home to take me out for a Melbourne latte and lunch.

We go to Batch Espresso in Balaclava, a trendy cafe three stops up on the train line. Young families, artistic types, dapper executives, and orthodox jews in black suits, hats and sporting beards and sideburns bustle about the street here, which is lined with cafes, restaurants, and specialty shops. This kind of vibrant street culture is one of the things I miss most about this place, and is something that Honolulu could certainly learn from. No newbie police officers pouncing on their prey to hand out jaywalking tickets here!

The cafe's menus are cleverly presented in old refurbished hardback novels, with notches in the pages cut out to the places where the menus are hidden - reduce / reuse / recycle at its best in the artistic simplicity of the idea. I order the avocado-feta mash on ciabbata bread [toasted], with a side of bacon [thick, satisfying rashers that are far more decadent than the thin, crispy, burnt stuff Americans are so used to], while Mum goes for the fish special, a pan fried fillet of "roughy" served on a bed of pilaf lentilis with a glass of rose.

I order myself a latte, and soak in the whole scene. There are two ladies seated right next to us, bistro-style so that our elbows are rubbing, talking animatedly about their clients' latest purchases in her boutique, while an artsy lesbian couple sip lazily at their lattes on the sidewalk tables, scratching their dog's belly with their feet. When my drink comes I grin broadly and breathe in the java; there is nothing quite like a Melbourne latte.

It is difficult to describe why a Melbourne latte is so special; perhaps it is the hormone-free milk that is used in every other country in the world except for the united States, or maybe it is simply the sheer volume of espresso that Melbournites consume, forcing barristas everywhere to be on their toes because their discerning audience demands it.

A good Melbourne latte is velvety smooth and doesn't have the bitter bite that many Kona blends do. You could drink three or four of them at one siting and still want more. Think of the creamiest, most expensive, espresso ice cream you've ever had....and imagine that coming out of the espresso machine steamer into your steaming mug...and that is close to what a Melbourne latte is like. Glazers' in Honolulu comes close, but Melbourne still has my vote when it comes to "Best Latte in the World"... is good to be back in my new old home.


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  1. aw, matt lynch. we never got to say good-bye. but that's okay, because i just would have loaded you up with books you hadn't room for. i am supremely jealous of your adventures and will follow your words, mile by mile, country by country. maybe i'll sell my eggs for 5 bajillion dollars and leyla and i will meet you in thailand for a climb. hell, i'll take 5 grand at this point. maybe i should just try hawking them on the street to the highest bidder? cardboard sign--"hungry. need thailand. buy my eggs?" i admire your ability to give fear the middle finger and leave as much as you can behind, at least for a little while. thanks for introducing me to leyla, my new kickass female climbing partner. i'll miss your 'umeke drop-ins and will drink a PB&B every now and again in your honor. high-five on the weekly article too!!! yea!!!! belay on motherfucker!!! jenn

  2. awwwww shucks, thanx jenn! if i had 5 bajillion dollars i would totally buy your eggs you guys in Thailand! Top Gun quote: "i'll be your belayer....anytime...." cue music: DANGERZONE LoL rock on you guys!! ;-)

  3. Awww, shucks, machoo!!"B-b-b-weaudy!" Good onya, mate! Welcome home, again. . .

  4. Geez, 12 years, and I hardly spent any time with you while you were in Hawaii........Time surely flies. I'm hoping to get to Australia one day, hopefully before you decide to venture off on one of your exciting journeys! Love ya!

  5. yah matty leench! take on the world. it's yours for the taking. kickass and have a blast. jus fuckin' rush it. I'm soooo excited for you! luv you bro', take care.

  6. too bloody right, welcome home, mate! siiiiick!!

    man. i miss pootie. can we *please* bring him over?

    great post, yo.

    i think that is the cutest pic i have seen of mommer outside her bobby-socks days.

    beer o'clock what?

  7. Vai-vai u have such a way with words. thank you!

    Mezz...aint Mum the cutest thing??

  8. I am beaming with pride after reading your blog. I like how your friend Jenn said you were giving "fear the middle finger." You rock, my friend and I look forward to meeting up with you somewhere in the world. I'll be following you like twitter, except different...


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