In the last episode of “A.B.C-Z オーストラリア縦断 資金0円 ワーホリの旅” (A.B.C-Z’s working holiday trip through Australia with 0 yen), idol group A.B.C-Z got enough money from working at a car wash in Cairns to get some dinner and aim to move on toward their destination of Sydney. What will they do in this episode, since they’re not going to be at work or looking for work?

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Predictably Tsukada-kun (who’s been the most responsible member of the group in the series so far) wakes up first and bangs a metal spatula on a pan to wake the rest of them up.

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After they all got ready in their cramped accommodations, they stepped outside to find rain – not a game-changer storm, but still not the pleasant scene they would have liked to start the day on.

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In the course of finding their car wash gig, Totsuka-kun had also called up a zoo in Townsville, 350km to the south, which had work for them. They have one day to rest and get to Townsville if they want that job. However, Tsukada-kun makes the point that while work is important, so is having fun. To that point, he brought out a magazine with a white water rafting ad.

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With those plans in mind, they set off. Along the way, they spotted a cassowary (which is an endangered species) by the side of the road.

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In the course of looking the bird up, I saw that they had this sign from Cairns on Wikipedia:

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That’s not in the show, but I couldn’t neglect including it.

After that, Kawai-kun checks that Tsukada-kun is all right driving in the rain, and Tsukada gives assurances. It was good to see that – I’d be nervous driving that big camper van in the rain.

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They arrive at the rafting location with the rain light (not that they should be worried about getting wet since they’re going whitewater rafting).

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They emerge from the van in trunks and tee-shirts, ready for action, but the guy at the rafting site is insane – proposing to charge them $185 per person (and the fact that he seemed to think about the price ahead of time made me especially suspicious). Now, even  in a country where working at a car wash nets you $20 an hour that is way too expensive – you probably buy your own raft at that price and tackle some less challenging waters, working your way up. I think the fact that they had cameras probably worked to their detriment this time – the guy probably figured they had money to burn given the equipment that was following them around. That is, unless someone who’s gone for rafting knows if this is a normal price – I’m not much of a thrill-seeker.

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They end up going down on their knees to beg him to reduce the price. Eventually he relented, but started leading them in a direction that was apparently away from the river. They also got helmets to wear. What’s going on?

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Well, he’s got a special (cheaper) thrill for them – an 8 meter jump into the river.

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As has been the pattern so far, Tsukada-kun is the leader on this trip (not to mention this was his idea), so he goes first. The rest follow, all saying the dip into the river feels good.

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Totsuka-kun actually films with his little camera on the way down. I think I have the same camera, and it’s completely expendable (that is, cheap enough to replace if something happens to it), so they probably didn’t think too much about what might happen to it if it got wet (which it did, but it clearly survived the ordeal). Totsuka-kun definitely likes to be in charge of the camera.

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After the dip, the guy tries to collect on his ten dollars – that’s ten dollars apiece at a total cost of $50 – for showing them the jumping spot (what a rip-off artist!). They try to negotiate him down to five dollars apiece, which is still a gyp. Will they succeed, or do they have to honor the original agreement now that they already got the goods?

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Moving on at one in the afternoon, they eventually stop for lunch at the town of Ingham. I love the way they walk into restaurants and say, “I’m hungry.”

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Looking over their shoulders at the menu, I have to come to the conclusion that Australia is much more expensive than I would have thought. The place had dinner dishes priced around $30 – that’s about what Takaki-kun and Chinen-kun paid for their entire meal at Mont St. Michel, and that was at a French landmark. No offense to Australia, but it’s not known for its cuisine, and Ingham is no monument. Too bad there doesn’t seem to be a McDonald’s in town.

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Don’t worry – the A.B.C-Z guys noticed the prices as well, and quickly realized that just one steak would cost the $30! Now that they’ve taken their seats, though, I suppose they were reluctant to leave without ordering anything. The waitress sounds quite surprised when they order one New York steak for all five of them.

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That’s all right, because she’s got a surprise for them when she asks whether they want sauce. Can you believe sauce costs extra?

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Seeing the steak that arrives, I’ll admit it’s a decent size, but certainly not enough for five people at lunch. I’d say the upper limit for what I’d pay for it is $18.

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They cut it into five pieces, then play a janken (rock-paper-scissors) mini-game to decide the order in which they’ll pick pieces.

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On top of the steak, they got charged $3 each for the soda – another massive rip-off – so the total lunch bill was $45, leaving them with $198. At these prices, it’s good working at a car wash netted them as much as it did.

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As they continued to Townsville, Kawai-kun pointed out that the fuel was getting into dangerous territory. They were still 104 km from Townsville, so trying to get there without filling up wasn’t an option, but could they find fuel without getting lost or running out beforehand?

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The show ends on that cliffhanger .

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Altogether, I think this episode was exactly what they needed to do. We saw them engage with people (especially the rafting guy) even though they weren’t force to for work reasons, and they had some fun so that this series doesn’t become entirely about working their way to Sydney without any enjoyment.

The biggest take-away, of course, is that either Australia is more expensive than I would have expected, or the A.B.C-Z guys have the worst luck picking restaurants and rafting pros. Thankfully, they seem to have a sense of what a good price looks like, but they might have to do a lot more cooking and a lot less eating out . There’s also the constraint that they have to make what they eat interesting (that is, they could probably have stocked up on instant ramen and stuff like that and gotten through their meals quite easily, but that wouldn’t have satisfied the audience), so that makes things more difficult.