Monday, 7 March 2011

The End of the World (Travels) as we Know it...

I'm not going to write too much this time...

Just going to share a video of some of the awesome people that I have met over the last 3 years of my life...




If you want to see what I have been up to this last month or so, just check out these two albums...

Leaving Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Pattaya and Pai

Mostly Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Also Burma

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Australia day, Birthday, and back to Asia!

Hey guys.


I feel like it has been a long time since I last wrote my blog! In fact it has been just over a month, but a lot has changed in my life since then...

My current life...
For a start I have left Australia for good! I can't say that I feel too sad about this. It is a great country, and I met many awesome people there, but two years is a long time, and I feel like I got my moneys worth out of Oz...

The last few weeks in Oz were mostly spent trying to find a few days of work to supplement my meagre resources. I'm not sure if I mentioned before, but the plan upon leaving Australia was to go to South America, see the carnival in Brazil, and to generally tear it up around South America for half a year or so...

Unfortunately this wasn't to be. Mother Nature, along with some girl called La NiƱa, scuppered my plans by blasting Australia with record amounts of rainfall! You may have heard about this on the news... Happily I wasn't caught up in the epicenter of the floods in Queensland; but we saw enough rain down south, at just the wrong time, to make the cherry season, normally very lucrative, into a washout...

This, combined with various expenses incurred in the course of the year, meant that my funds couldn't stretch to getting to South America. A one way ticket to Argentina from Australia seems to cost from $1800 upwards!

Anyway... back to the story... I eventually found a weeks work thinning pears near Shepperton. This was pretty good work, and I managed to add some much needed cash to my reserves. After this I made my way down to Melbourne to meet my sister and her boyfriend, and sell them my van. This worked out nicely a few ways. For me it meant that I didn't have to run around in the week before leaving Oz trying to sell my van. For them it had a similar advantage, as well as avoiding having to pay for a safety certificate... We found out that it is quite difficult to haggle with family members though!

I left Australia on Australia day... Which I thought was particularly fitting... During the day my sister arranged for us to go to the Australia day races... which were very nice, even though the races were called off due to kangaroos on the course! Very Australian!



From Melbourne I flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia... I had been here before, but i was staying with a friend that time, so I didn't feel like I saw the city from a travellers point of view... The return wasn't disappointing! I stayed in a hostel near chinatown. The food was excellent everywhere i went, every meal was completely different, and I never felt the need to "cheat" and have western food. A particular favourite of mine was the roti, curry and sweet tea combination that was the normal breakfast for the Indian locals.

I also celebrated my birthday in Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say I got very drunk. Had an awesome time, in part thanks to Murry winning the semi finals of the Oz Open, and in part to two Norwegians called Kristin singing me a Norwegian birthday song!

Two Norwegians called Kristin...
Since then I have moved north into Thailand. I spent a few days in Bangkok, where I caught up with various people and enjoyed getting back into Thai food again! Thai food is great! Chinese New Year also fell on my visit to Bangkok, so I made my way to Chinatown to check out the festivities that were happening there...

Now I am on Koh Pangnan. An island paradise most famous for its full moon parties... I'm not really in a partying mood... so I am here when there isn't a full moon, and at the opposite side of the island to the party beach. It is very, very chilled out here. I almost like it as much as Koh Tao...

And that is it for now... In another months time I will be thinking about my return home, so the next blog will reflect that a little... be sure to check in for that one...

Friday, 7 January 2011

Happy New Year!!! Well... kinda...

First things first, I'd like to apologise for the tone of this post... It should be cheery, but I think the overall mood is quite melancholy...

The second thing I want to do is to wish all of my friends out there in blogland a very Happy New year. I hope that 2011 brings you all of the things that you need. And some of the things that you want...

Next I will recount for you the tale of my New Years Eve celebrations...

I was kinda planning to spend my new years eve in Orange, have a few drinks with a few friends, and then maybe even go to work the next day. My need for money right now is that great!

Instead of that, I decided at the last minute to head to Sydney and experience the celebration there. "After all," I thought, "I'm only 250 kilometers away... and I'm not going to get the chance to see the fireworks show in Sydney again anytime soon..." (scroll down to see the video I took of the fireworks...)

There are a few places in the world that have world class New Years Eve celebrations... Two of the main ones are Edinburgh and Sydney... Having lived in Edinburgh for several years as a student, I am well acquainted with that celebration, and I felt the need to see this one, if only to compare the two events...

So, it was with a feeling of excitement in my heart that I set off from Orange at around noon on the 31st of December 2010. It was only a week since I had made exactly the same trip to celebrate Christmas in Sydney (see previous post). I made excellent time and arrived in Sydney at around 4pm. I was expecting lots of traffic, as everyone for 500km descended upon Sydney, but clearly most people were rather more sensible then me...

I parked my van outside Jo's house, and then went inside to prepare myself for the celebrations... This mostly consisted of mixing some rum into a coke bottle so that it would pass a minimal bag check, and putting on some shoes...

Jo herself was going to a party with some friends, and the picking her parents up from the airport at around 10pm. I have no idea why her parents chose that day of all days to fly.. but that is another story. I could have joined her friends, but I decided to go for the Sydney experience... after all, that is why I was there!
 
Little trev poses for a picture...
At around 7pm I made my way into the city, accompanied only by my travelling companion little Trev and a bottle of rum and coke. I took the train in. The packed state of the train gave me my first clue as to what the rest of the night would be like... That was nothing however to the sight that greeted me when I got off the train at Circular Quay! There were people everywhere! It took 20 minutes just to get out of the station!




Once I got out of the station I received some bad news! Circular Quay was full! They weren't letting anyone in or out of the viewing zone! I took action and walked up the hill towards the botanical gardens, only to find the same story here! You could get in here with a ticket, but not otherwise... Then I heard something on a loudspeaker...

"This area is full, ticket holders only will be admitted." no good news so far, "there is limited space in Circular Quay West and the Rocks. Accessible from George street"

No-one else seemed to be listening, but I jumped into immediate action! I made my way as fast as I could to George street, and headed to the north end of it, where I figured the entrances were likely to be... It was as I was walking up George street that I noticed a large crowd to my right... At the front of the crowd was a man, stood on a gate, shouting at everyone to get back. This looked promising! Eventually the crowd was stood far enough back to satisfy the man and he ordered someone to open the gate and in we streamed! I was in!! With alcohol!!!

Inside the area seemed pretty relaxed. There weren't too many people... yet... I wandered around the area to get a good idea of the lay of the land, and where would be a good place to watch the show from... It was about 8pm by now, and the place was rapidly getting more and more crowded. I decided to pick my spot for watching the 9pm family show. It was around this point that Edinburgh scored its first point (other then the fact that everyone can drink as much as they like at the Edinburgh NYE celebrations).

The thing was, it was very boring! There was literally nothing to do, or to see, while the fireworks weren't on. In Edinburgh they have processions, jugglers, clowns, acrobats, street performers... generally lots of things to do and to see. It is a party! In Sydney nothing like that happens. They don't even play any music (even though they could... They played music while the fireworks were going off...)!  The most entertaining thing that happened was a sky-writer writing "Jesus" in the sky... What Jesus has to do with NYE I never found out...

Most people weren't even talking... There were some playing cards... I saw a few guys and girls playing on PSPs... In short it wasn't really a party atmosphere... more like the atmosphere in a very long queue...

The family fireworks went off at 9pm (preceded by a lone firework at 8.45... which made everyone stand up, quite excited, and make lots of noise). They were pretty good. Some impressive fireworks technology was on show, including some that exploded into a heart shape!

After the family show there was some general confusion, as some familys left, and they opened up the gates to let more people in. I took advantae of the brief extra space to have another wander arund. It didn't take too long to get crowded again though so I made my way back to my spot... This wait was even worse then before! The kids were gone, so their infectious joy wasn't around, just leaving all the adults, crammed into the little space, with nothing to do but wait for the next 3 hours!

It probably wasn't as bad as I have made out... Certainly if you were there with friends it wouldn't have been so mind numbingly dull (you'd have had someone to play cards with for a start...).

Finally the midnight show came... And how! This part was excellent. The fireworks were well coordinated, and for the fireworks they played music to go along with them. (why they didn't have music the whole time is beyond me...) I was slightly surprised how short the show was... but you can't have everything...

Once the fireworks were finished everyoe let out a loud and heartfelt cheer of "HAPPY NEW YEAR". This is the last time that Edinburgh beats Sydney hands down...

In Edinburgh (I won't even mention that the fireworks go on for much longer there), once the fireworks are finished there is a huge cheer, and then everyone spends the next 2 hours wandering up and down the street wishing everyone they meet a happy new year! Good times are had by all! In Sydney, there is the huge cheer, people wish the people they came with a happy new year, and then everyone heads for the exits as fast as they can!

I have never felt more alone then I did in Sydney, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, at the new year... Not one single person wished me a happy new year! I joined the general exodus to the exits, and onwards to the train station. This was a little surreal... thousands of people, walking in the same direction, through the deserted streets of sydney... Kinda cool to see that.

I got onto my train (packed of course) and took the 10 minute train ride to Jo's nearest station. Once I got off the train... finally... I got wished a happy new year! I think 3 different people wished me a happy new year in the 10 minute walk to where the van was parked...

Somehow I felt kinda melancholy from all of the lonliness, so I wasn't in any mood to go to sleep... I decided to go to a local park, and sat there for a while.. looking out over the water...

Eventually my mood passed and I walked back to the van and went to sleep...

So in conclusion... Don't go to see the Sydney fireworks on your own! I'm glad that I saw them... It was an amazing show... But it is friends that make new years eve (or any party) worth celebrating...

I look forward to seeing some of you, my friends, in the coming year... And here is the video of the fireworks show!






:)

Friday, 24 December 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2010!!!

First of all I'd like to wish all of the important people (ie, the ones that read this blog! ;) a very merry christmas, and seasons greetings for the new year...



And now for a quick update on my travels, as I know it has been a while since I posted.

To be honest I haven't done very much since the last post. I have been living in Cudal, in New South Wales. Just in case you haven't heard of it (and, lets face it, why would you?) Cudal is a tiny town, population roughly 400, that is about 30 kilometers west of Orange. It has a post office, a pub and a caravan park... It used to have a general store... but it closed down. Just about the only kind of shop that seems to survive are garage sales, which I assume sell all of the things that the other stores left behind when they closed down...


View Larger Map

What I have been doing in Cudal is mostly picking cherries. Let me tell you... If anyone tells you that picking cherries is an easy way to make a lot of money fast, then they are lying! To be fair, some people make a lot of money very fast... Maybe 5% of people manage this... the other 95% though make a little bit of money. I was one of those people. On a good day I could make around $120... which isn't bad I suppose, especially when my fixed expenses are so low...

Recently however I have started making real money! I am finally on supervisors wages! This means that I am responsible for checking the quality of the cherries picked, and in return I get $20 per hour! I think that with the exchange rate being what it is this is the most hourly rate I have ever had! (As a side note I recently found out that an 18 year old swimming teacher in the UK also makes more money then I was making as a university educated designer... but that is another story...)

So, now it is christmas. I have a few days off. Then I am going back to work for the next 4 weeks! If you have read my other blog, The Real Man Project, you will know that my plans have changed recently. I cannot afford to go to South America and do it justice, so after Australia I am going to hop back to Asia, before returning home to the UK. Once in the UK I am going to start up a business, and re-start my life. I am also going to get back into my salsa, as I am horrendously out of practice! I went dancing last night, and my available repertoire is a shadow of its former self!

Anyway, enough about me...

Merry Christmas to all of you out there once more!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Life in panoramic detail...

Awesome views are like subtle aromas, or closer to home, they are like travelling. Easy to appreciate in person, but almost impossible to convey to someone else using words. It is almost impossible to capture an awesome view with a regular camera. They always feel like the view has been cropped, and much of the grandeur is somehow lost...

Anyway, back to me trying to convey the awesomeness of travelling using only words...

I think that the last time I posted I was in the middle of my New Zealand trip. I have to say... New Zealand is a beautiful place. The Kiwis are a friendly people that don't seem to be able to see a large cliff without putting a platform at the top for people to jump off!

In New Zealand I went scuba diving, sea fishing, shrimp fishing, climbing mountains, walking in forests, black water rafting, bungee jumping... in short... had an awesome time with my family!

But all good things come to an end. After returning to Australia I have paid for a new passport, paid to have my van fixed, driven about 800km, seen the blue mountains and waited for a job... At least the blue mountains were nice....

The good about waiting in Orange is the library. It has unlimited free wifi, and all the magazines that you could wish for... also free power!

I have used the time here to create panoramas of some of my pictures. I like panoramas... They capture a whole lot more of the grandeur of awesome views. Of course the problem then is to share this grandeur.

To this end I have decided to use Picasa. I chose Picasa because unlike facebook it doesn't shrink down your pictures, so they can be appreciated in their full glory. Here is a slideshow of some of the most awesome views I have seen in the past year. There will be more pics added regularly, so keep posted....

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Trails and Tribulations of Traveling...

It has been a rocky couple of months since I last posted... I have experienced emotions from the deep depths of despair, to the red hot rage of anger and the exhilarating heights of excitement...

So... do you want the good news or the bad news first?

I guess I'll start at the beginning. My last few weeks in Gayndah were pretty uneventful... though I do look back on those times wistfully as a time when I was surrounded by good people, many of whom I hope to stay in touch with. All good times must draw to a close though so I left Gayndah on the 20th of September, planning to have a nice relaxing trip down the coast to Sydney, from where I would fly to New Zealand to meet my family...

My plan was destroyed after only two days when I left my van for an hour to use the internet at a MacDonalds in Surfers Paradise and returned to find that someone had broken into my van and stolen a bag containing, among other things; two hard drives, my speakers, all of my power adaptors and cables, some notebooks, and my passport! Obviously my passport was the most urgent issue, but the thing that hurts the most are the two hard drives... They contained ALL of my photos from over two years of travelling, a huge collection of ebooks, over 300 films, about 15 full TV series, a large selection of porn and various documents including the originals of all of these blog posts! As you can imagine this hurt tremendously... especially the photos... After all, most of that stuff can be replaced, but the photos were unique, and I'll never see a large number of them again... Luckily I have uploaded a large number to facebook, but the quality just isn't the same, and I was hoping to print out some of these photos when I eventually return back to England and use them to decorate my pad...

I cannot describe to you how losing all of this made me feel... There is a kind of internal dislocation that takes place when you lose something like this. Something that you have had for a long time, and that you have always assumed that you would always have... Your brain has to adjust its whole way of thinking, thoughts you never even realised you had will lead straight to anger as you realise that part of your world has been violated...




As for my passport... obviously this would just have to happen days before I was due to fly internationally! I reported the theft to the police, and they gave me the phone number of the British consulate. Speaking to them I realised that my plan of a leisurely trip down the coast was out of the window. I would have to race to Sydney and get to the consulate buildings by 10 am on Friday in order to get my emergency passport arranged. If I didn't make it on time there would be no way to get an emergency passport, and no way for me to make my flight on the Sunday! All I could do was hope that my van could withstand the 1000km+ journey that was required...

I set off down the highway, undergoing my own version of therapy... This mostly involved turning my music up very loud and singing along to it at the top of my lungs while shooting down the motorway... This seemed to work... After a couple of days I was more or less back to my usual, laid back self.

To cut a long story short I made it to the consulate on time, got my emergency passport, and made it to my flight... Next stop... New Zealand!

I've taken up a lot of space with that story, so I'll just give you a brief run-down of the New Zealand experience so far.

For a start New Zealand is beautiful... The landscape really does look like Hobbiton in the lord of the rings, with rolling hills and grass covering most available surfaces... While I've been here I've been sailing, climbed mount doom, jumped off a bridge (actually a cantilever... but who'se splitting hairs?), been scuba diving and been to some thermal springs. Check the links (click on the underlined words) for the pictures.

It is all as awesome as it sounds!

(Especially the jumping off a bridge, see my realmanproject blog for how that experience was.)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Two years on the road!


This month marks two years since I left England to travel the world! So far the trip has gone pretty good I would say!

The map above shows my route as I have made my way to various locations. The yellow lines are the flights, and the red lines are the overland routes.

1. I started off in England. It was pleasant enough there, but travelling was something that I felt that I had to do. So I said goodbye to all of my friends, and set off to pastures new with Sharlene... My new friend who I met around two months before setting off!

2. My first flight took me to Cyprus! I have to confess that I wasn't really travelling in the pure sense of the word... In fact I was staying at my parents holiday villa! It was very pleasant all the same and I did some scuba diving there. I also got involved in the local salsa scene, and went to the Salsa Jam in Cyprus. I also took a boat over to Turkey from here, and spent a long weekend looking round Alanya.

3. Also from Cyprus myself and Sharlene took a side trip over to Egypt. There I met some very good friends, Alaa and Rero, that I knew through facebook! We went inside the pyramids, smoked a hookah and I went diving in the red sea... which was amazing!

4. Sharlene found herself a job in the Czech Republic, so I took my leave as well... only waiting to see my parents for the last time in a long time! I headed over to Nepal... I was trying to get to India... but no-one told me that I needed a visa BEFORE I arrived there... this led to a pretty exciting adventure... A pretty good way to start my proper travelling. In Nepal I went trekking in the Himalayas, met some people and saw some animals. The trekking was an amazing experience that I will never forget!

5. From Nepal I flew over to Thailand. I hung around in the north of Thailand for a while before meeting my friend Kathryn and spending a very pleasurable couple of weeks touring round Cambodia with her. We saw Angkor Wat, freshwater dolphins, a bamboo train and some awesome sunsets! Kathryn left for her home in Malaysia so I visited some of the Thai islands, did some diving, before meeting up with her once more in Malaysia. I spent a very pleasurable couple of weeks with her in Malaysia, celebrating Christmas there with Kathryn before...

6. ...heading south overland to Singapore and flying to Indonesia... Singapore was very clean, nice, anal, and expensive. The zoo there was pretty awesome! I met another good friend (from facebook), Elaine, there. Indonesia was a complete contrast to Singapore... Dirty, busy, hectic... I loved it! I went to a theme park in Jakarta, a volcano in Malang and chilled out in Ubud, Bali.

7. After Bali I flew into Sydney and the next chapter of the journey started. I had very little cash by this point, so a job was a priority. I tried to apply for the best job in the world... unsuccessfully! So instead I got the coach to Brisbane and found a job there selling electricity door to door. I met another good facebook friend here, Jan. I did this for three months waiting for Namrin to come to Australia. I had met her in Thailand at the Bangkok salsa congress. She had decided she wanted to come travelling with me and made it over by May. Together we bought a van and worked and travelled all around Australia. Fun times and good people... After a year of this however her visa ran out and she had to go back to...

8. Thailand! I visited her there for a month with my good friend Allan (not from facebook, from school!). We travelled through Laos, visited Chiang Mai (one of my favourite places), and took a trip over to Koh Tao (another of my favourite places). We also visited her second hometown of Ratchaburi...

9. Before too long though I had to return to Australia for the final time... I'm mostly working now, but will be visiting New Zealand soon for a mini family reunion! Life is still good. I'm hoping to collect enough cash together in the next few months to get to South America and spend some time there... but we will have to see how that goes...