|Vegemite? Mmm not so much....|
Fiona and Elliott, my latest Airbnb guests from China, were telling me how much they liked Australia but after being here a week they had a few concerns.
I had to keep a straight face while sweet Fiona was asking me questions.
"As we are driving on the road, we only ever see nature and animals, there are no people. Where are all the people?" Fiona said.
I tried to explain that Shanghai (the city they come from) has the same number of people in it as the whole of Australia does.
"We just have way more space and so there are areas between towns and cities that are not populated or are farms."
"Ah", they said "we understand."
Then there were the 'guns'. They thought that if they made a mistake somewhere, like a minor road transgression, another motorist might pull out a gun and shoot them. They told me that they turned into a neighbours driveway by mistake and were scared the neighbour might shoot them.
This couple were well educated with excellent careers. I am not sure whether this fear comes from Communist propaganda of the West or they have watched too many movies. Maybe this how Australia is perceived to be in China.
I reassured them that we have strict gun controls here. And it is really only farmers, police and criminals that carry them. I told them that in all my years living here I had never seen a gun, seen anyone carrying a gun or witnessed a gun being fired so they were pretty safe.
They then wanted to know if we had Police here as they had not seen any yet. They told me that in China they were on the street all the time watching what people were doing and would keep the streets safe.
Then, we discussed the issue that worried them the most.
The night they arrived at my house they had taken a back road from Melbourne. Apparently they had seen a few Kangaroos along the side of the road and one had bounded in front of the car while they were driving and this had terrified them.
"Shouldn't the Kangaroos be in the zoo?" Fiona asked.
"Um, no", I said. "Kangaroos live in the bush and sometimes very late at night they get attracted to the roads by the car lights and engine noise and just come to check out what is happening. If they hit your car they can cause a lot of damage to themselves and your car. However, they will not hurt you unless you were to provoke them in someway."
I told them that they probably should stick to the highway when going back to Melbourne and avoid driving late at night. I said that while I had seen Kangaroos many times at my sister's property in the bush I had never had one approach me or hit one in my car.
"You will be fine. Kangaroos just do not come into urban areas where people are living unless it is a bad drought and they are starving."
That reassured them.
Well it did for 5 minutes anyway.
Because this video then came on the TV about two Kangaroos in another State who had gone into a suburban neighbourhood to fight one another. You can see where the term Boxing Kangaroos came from. Ten points for guessing what they were fighting over. A woman for sure.
I had no words.
Instead, I quickly gave my guests some Vegemite on toast and turned their attention to something else that people think is kind of weird about living here.
(Just as an aside, my sister told me that Chinese travellers adopt a European name when they travel. So I asked them how they chose their name. Fiona and Elliott? From Shrek and ET. Too cute. As were they. Gorgeous couple.)
Don't you love travel? There is always so much to learn about other places and cultures. What is the weirdest thing you have seen or done in your travels?