Bureaucracy is alive and well in Australia and that certainly includes Qld Uni. For the past couple of weeks I have been up to my ears in forms, forms and still more forms either on-line or hard-copy. There are claim forms and registration forms and forms to assure the government that you will indeed be living in the house you are buying (less stamp duty). If you ring up the phone or power companies you can have an operator ask you a series of seemingly endless questions and they will fill out an online form as you answer. I still have quite a few to fill out but they are a means to an end so I just have to keep ploughing on.

I’m bound to make a few mistakes on these forms as I am so damned tired because I just haven’t been sleeping all that well. Every morning right around 2 am I seem to come awake and its a battle to get back to sleep. It’s odd that, after living in what must arguably be the worlds noisiest city, I’m finding that the noise level or maybe the “type” of noise in Brisbane is very disturbing. Brisbane would have to be one of the world’s quietest cities, nobody uses the horn on their vehicles and overall the city is, as I have described previously, eerily quiet.

However, the inner city has a kind of a mechanical hum to it that we have attributed to all of the air conditioning units and because we are higher than most outlets the noise from them is very evident. Also, because the city is so quiet, any noise seems to be magnified, so when a street sweeping machine trundles down Mary Street and 3.30 am it sounds as though somebody is using a vacuum cleaner around the bed. The best (or worst if you like) is when the garbage trucks pick up and empty the large steel containers of empty bottles and the noise of smashing glass and heavy steel lid combine with the growl of a revving engine.

I guess that we will leave these city noises behind in a couple of weeks when we move into our townhouse, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will take me a while to get used to the night sounds there also. It’s weird because in S?i G?n there could be any number of things going on directly outside our bedroom window and I would sleep through the lot, in fact I found the various noises comforting once I understood what was causing them.

Even when we were staying in the Bamboo Hotel in Hang Bac St in the old quarter of Ha Noi in a room on the first level that had a balcony overlooking the street I could sleep through the cacophony of horns, traffic noise and street vendors that began about 4.30 am. The fact that there was a street light directly outside the window and the curtains were not up to the task of blocking any of it out didn’t worry me a bit. Nor did the 6.30 am blast of propaganda and stirring revolutionary music from the large loudspeaker affixed to the same pole as the light and no more than 3 metres from my head or the fact that there was the constant sound of running water coming from pipes somewhere above in the walls of the room.

Maybe my level of expectation is higher now that I am back in Australia. Perhaps I just realised when in Viet Nam that the aforementioned are things that you should expect and get used to if you are to survive. I’m not sure. But no doubt I will get used to the differences here, just in time to go back to Viet Nam and suffer culture shock all over again.