Sunday, August 16, 2009

Australia Part 4: Australian Rules Football

Friday, July 24 I went with Tung and several of his friends to see an Australian rules football match. To a non-sports expert American like myself, the game seemed a lot like rugby, but my Aussie friends didn't agree. Apparently, it's totally different. For starters, there are four goal posts, with a ball kicked through the outer posts worth 1 point and a ball through the center worth 6 points. If someone kicks the ball into the air and another player catches it, he gets a free kick where the other team must back off. To my eyes the game often looked like a random mob of men running around on the field. There are no set positions and there are no offside rules. It got pretty crazy sometimes.

The field is this interesting oval shape.

The match was held in the Melbourne Cricket Ground, referred to by Tung as "the MCG". According to the Ground's website, it has a capacity of 100,000 people, and I believe that this game was sold out. Tung said that the two teams, Carlton and Collingwood, are rivals and that's why it was so packed.

One little way that I found Australia to be a bit different to the US is that things were less likely to be free. For example, if you were to buy four beers at this stand in the stadium, you would still have to pay another 50 cents if you wanted a tray to carry them in. During my various meat pie eating, I noticed that people would always ask me if I wanted ketchup before they told me the price, because it cost extra. It's a small detail, but it feels significant.

Sarah bought these little candies. Fantales are chocolate covered caramels and each wrapped is full of random movie trivia. Kinda fun.

Next are just a few pictures that I like but don't fit anywhere else.

This is a little food stand I noticed at a train station. "Lord of the Fries" is pretty amusing.

Unlike Japan, where every bus and train ticket is checked at just about every single exit, Melbourne's system was often just based on the honor system, with large fines on the off chance you get caught without a ticket. This funny little sign was on a train.

I found something new on the dessert menu at a restaurant inside the Crown Casino and attacked it. This was called sticky date pudding. Pudding in the US is usually a blob of chocolate or vanilla mess, but in Australia it seems to mean something completely different. This was like an extremely moist and sticky cake. Very good.

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