26 January 2009

1770, Bundaburg

We were both knackered after the nine hour drive and at half nine most of the people in our dorm were already asleep. So we went to sleep. It was a pretty good sleep, one were I had to be woken up, which I see as a good thing.

We went for a wee drive to a nearby national park which I forget the name off and can’t check because terry won’t get the guide book because he is watching the tennis and I can’t go as I developed an allergic rash and have cream all over the place and therefore cannot be seen in public.

Anyway, it was beautiful, gorgeous, wish you were here. Then we went to the beach of 1770. There was a large man running, with a dog under his arm, from a large woman who was trying to give him a fine for walking his dog on the beach. This is pretty much the start of the area where people can swim in the sea, as long as they don’t mind the sharks. We only went to 1770 as Bryn suggested it. It is a lovely spot to while away a few days but as we are a smidge time limited we decided to move on.

On the way to Hervey bay we stopped at the Bundaberg distillery so that we could do the tour and terry could get his picture taken with the giant plastic bottle.

It was interesting hearing how the different rums are made and how the barrels are still handmade by one local guy. Apparently they last a hundred years but they are not sure as they had a fire about 70years ago. It was also upsetting to hear that the taxman takes about 2/3 of the value of each barrel.

We all got two drinks in the cost of our ticket, which included drinks only available I the distillery. I was driving so I had one and terry had 3. We bought a liqueur that was only available in the distillery and was yummy.

I was speeding down the road and got caught and camera so I pulled myself over. I told the officer that I was doing about 95 and I had no reason to be speeding. He asked for my licence and then suddenly had a Dublin accent and tod me drive more carefully in future. I was delighted, (chuckling), and very thankful and have stayed in the limit since.

24 January 2009

Airlie Beach

We booked into a hostel in Airlie Beach and tried to book a day trip around the Whitsundays. To be fair the weather was poor and there was a cyclone warning so all of the sailings were cancelled but there was a possibility they would be sailing two days later. We decided to wait a few days and see. We did not realise at the time that there is nothing to do in Airlie beach.

The weather was a bad, there is no cinema, or other distractions. We did our laundry, checked our emails, watched a few movies, had a few drinks, chatted to other backpackers and advised someone how to bake a cake. She was only backing it as a distraction from the nothing to do. Terry was very excited by a rum bar that was in the town. They had loads of rums. It was very exciting.

A couple of days later the sailing were still cancelled so we decided to move on down the coast again. We were not really sure where we were going.
We decided to keep going til we got to 1770, which I was quite nervous about as lots of receptions close at about 7m and it was all ready half past when we made this decision, after driving for about 7 hours.
We got to 1770 and passed a hostel. I went in and the receptionist should have left at 9 but luckily was late leaving. This meant that we did not have to sleeping the car, which I was somewhat delighted about. We stopped at a few towns along the way, which I cannot remember the name of right now but I do remember that we stopped at hungry jacks for dinner. Hungry jacks is burger king which has strange Eddie rockets styling. We did not know this til we went in.


We hit road heading for Townsville. We Mission beach on the way and while enjoyig a stroll with the little crabs on the beach a bunch of skydivers made for our heads.

We had no reason to go there other than to do a dive on a wreck called the Yongala, which is apparently one of the best dive sites in the world. We spent most of Sunday waiting for the dive shop to be actually open and hanging around the lagoon. We had lunch in the surf club. It was mad being in a real life surf club. It is also mad how thrilled I am when we do something associated with an Aussie soap that I have watched at some point or another!
We also went for a walk about Castle Hill which has great views but, surprisingly, no castle.

When the dive shop was eventually open they said their dives were cancelled due to the weather and that they might be heading out Wednesday. Townsville seemed very nice but activities were a bit limited so we decided to move on down the coast, about 3 hours down the coast.
So, back onto the Bruce Highway, heading for Airlie beach and a sail on the Whitsunday Islands.

In Australia there area lot of sighs telling you to slow down as kangaroos, koala bears or emus are in the area. I get very excited every time we see one but so far no sign of any such animals. It is very disappointing. I am starting to think that we will have to go to Australia Zoo but then they are not so wild unless they are animals that might eat one of us.
Anyway, so off we went down the road passing some gorgeous scenery and no visible wild animals. It is actually fair frustrating driving in Australia as the max seed limit is 110, most of the time it is 80 but there are a lot of speed changes and it is easy to is one and you do not realise it until a truck is overtaking you, which is embarrassing, which I am sure you can imagine.

p.s. Happy Birthday sis.

23 January 2009


We drove from Cape Tribulation down to Cairns and decided to stay in a lace called the northern greenhouse, which we just happened to drive past. We booked to do a trip to the Atherton Table lands with Uncle Brian, on a fun, falls and forest trip. It had been recommended to us by Lorna who we had met on the Rum Runner and had had a night out with.

We had a wander around Cairns and bought some eskies and food and stuff.
The next day we hung around the man made lagoon. There are quite a few of these in Northern Queensland as there are so many stingers in the sea. I was well impressed with this lovely and free facility.
We had been chatting with our dorm mates the night before and we all decided that it was imperative to go and have a few drinks. God damn happy hour. We got back before midnight but this was still pretty late given we were doing a trip the next day.
Our guide, Shereen, was lovely but very very cheery at 8am on a slight hang over morning. I was contemplating doing something very rude and probably illegal with her microphone. This feeling past as the trip went on. We had a guided walk through the rainforest. This was followed by a snack break. We had lamingtons which was most exciting. Especially if you remember Esmie from a country practice. They were pretty good. We had a look at the Babinda boulders. Then we wandered onto Josephine Falls which were too flooded for us to swim in so we went to another falls which I forget the name of.

We then drove onto Innisfail and had a big lunch. Onto swim at Millaa Millaa falls which you have all seen if you have seen Peter Andreas Mysterious girl or a timotei add. Oh yes, we were there and it was most impressive. Especially when Terry tried to copy the timotei add and I could not quite capture it on film.

Then we went platypus watching which was successful. Woohoo, our first sighting of an Aussie animal. It was pretty extreme. Lastly we went to a volcanic lake called Malanda which was lovely and warm after the waterfalls. While everyone was swimming I went to change into warm clothes. When I came back, (all of five minutes later), there were almost no muffins or hot chocolate left and everyone was gone. Yes it is official terry abandoned me to go look at small turtles. I think that says it all. We then headed back to Cairns down the most windey road in Australia. More than 200 bends. No one got sick.

That night we all went out to for a few drinks. Terry and I left pretty early and got some pizza on the way home as we realised that we had not had dinner.
The next day we jumped out of bed, as you can imagine, and headed to Townsville.

22 January 2009

Cape Tribulation

We flew to Cairns and on the way we decided that we would rent a car and head straight up the road to Cape Tribulation. We got a lovely Mitsubishi Lancer which was automatic even though we did not ask for it but it turned to be handy when driving on some of the unfamiliar and windey roads with frequent speed changes.

The drive to Cape Trib was stunning, with the coast line and the rainforest looking for our attention.
We stopped in Daintree and asked about accommodation. We booked into PK’s, which is apparently the backpacker central. We were basically staying in a portacabin. There is a lot to do in Cape Trib, night walks in the rainforest, diving, canopy climbs, kayaking. We decided just to do a couple of dives.

There was only one company operating out of Cape Trib, the rum runner, so we booked on with them. We were a bit dubious as the trip is organized as a snorkeling trip with diving as an added option. This meant we did not really get to check out the gear or the instructor or any of that. Also it felt very expensive after Asia, very.
On our first evening we went to a lovely restaurant called Whet. The owner asked me what had happened to my nose. After I explained I asked her about her pregnancy and due date and she said she thought she was ion labour. Cool as the breeze she was, served us all night and was still there after we left. They had a kind of cinema there, which was as expensive as the real cinema. We saw the very exciting, and yet surprisingly crap, Journey to the centre of the earth. Terry even fell asleep in the middle but that could have been the recliner.
The next day we hopped on the Rum Runner and off we went to dive the Great Barrier Reef. How exciting. They had no stinger suits left to fit me and the wet suits were all 5 millimetres so I dived in my bikini which was apparently pretty cool of me. I know I was pretty cool when we swam through a thermacline. The trip was pretty good, very relaxing. We organised our dives with our dive guide, Sam.

The dives were good and we were with a nice group. There was one really irritating guy who kept picking stuff up. Mainly sea cucumbers, but still they are living creatures too. He was really bugging me so of course my buoyancy went mad. Terry had to hold me down a few times. Terry’s mask kept fogging up so had to keep taking it off and clearing it so I had to anchor him so he did not float away or bang into some reef. This sounds bad, but the reef was not all that to be honest, which I was surprised at. We did go to the reef where Steve Irwin died. We saw no stingers though.
After a big feed we headed back to shore with a complimentary glass of wine in hand. A nice end to the trip I thought.
That evening we had dinner at the camp ground and ended up drinking with some of the lovely people we dived with and three of the crew from the rum runner. It was a good night with some sneaking off with drinks to do a spot of night swimming. I do not know how the crew got up the next day to go to work, that is all I am saying.

The next day Terry and I went on a couple of walks through the rainforest and tried to spot a couple of Cassowarys, but to no avail. Then we hoped in the car and headed back to Cairns.

12 January 2009

Darwin - Welcome to Oz

We were lucky enough to be time travelers for a few hours. We left Bali in 2008 and we arrived in Darwin in 2009. If we had hopped straight back onto a plane to Bali we would have been back to 2008. I definitely think that is time travel. Because of the airline that Qantas had contracted our flight to we were unable to buy any duty free, which was fair annoying. Then we had a bit of an anti climactic new years eve in the air, not glass of champagne to be had on the whole plane.

We checked into our hostel and hit the streets of Darwin at 2am. We were sober as judges and everyone else was hammered beyond belief. I had about 3 drinks spilled on me in my first few minutes in the pub. We went to an Irish bar as we liked the sound of the band and stayed there for a few hours. We headed to sleep about 4am after watching two guys get manhandled out of the pub and then the police arrived and pepper sprayed the bouncers. Interesting.

The next day being a public holiday most places were closed but we decided to go on a walking tour outlined in the lonely planet. We wandered along smith street mall, where everything was closed but there were interesting information plaques along the street. We went to survivors look out and then went and peeked in the door of the WWII oil storage tunnels,(it too was closed). We strolled past the government house, the Supreme Court and Lyons Cottages. We then walked down the Esplanade. Terry was very disappointed that the deck chair cinema is closed during the wet season. We had a rest in the bicentennial park and then had a look at St Mary’s Cathedral and the aboriginal Madonna and the wounded Mary.

As we had run out of things to do and it was still only mid afternoon we decided to go to the other cinema, ie indoor. We booked tickets for Frost/Nixon and then to see Australia. It was cool seeing Australia while we were in Darwin and Terry was pleased to see the deck chair cinema in the movie, if nothing else.

The next day was a bit of a housekeeping day. We sorted out our flights with Qantas, picked up a parcel in the post office, booked a trip to Litchfield etc. we are booked to be home on the 25th of February and terry is very excited to be flying on the new A380. It does mean we missed out on a stop over in LA but apparently flying on the A380 is better than LA. I am not so sure. We then headed to a pub to have glass of wine and plan our trip down the east coast. A glass became a bottle, a bottle became two and then terry insisted on another drink. So we got another bottle of wine and were out until midnight after about 6 hours of drinking and chatting to some lovely African lads, I think mainly about dreadlocks.

The next morning I got up to get ready to head to Litchfield. it seems I was still drunk and after a series of unfortunate events I ended up whacking my poor nose off the ground and in the process got two big scabs. Needless to say i was well embarrassed and Terry went to Litchfield on his owneo.

Apparently it was great. Terry saw jumping crocodiles including a 6 meter monster of a fella. He saw magnetic and cathedral termite mounds. He ate a green ant, saw a river with lovely waterfalls and went swimming in a billabong. I am not a bit jealous and I only mostly blame him for my not being able to go. It is all his fault, that’s all I am saying and I did not want to swim in a billabong or eat an ant anyway. We went to the cinema that night so that my entire day would not be a waste and saw the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

We got the bus to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories. Tis very good, if somewhat of a miss-mash and funnily laid out. There is a nice section dedicated to the local Larrakia people, a section about local flora and fauna which includes some freaky looking critters and a fair large crocodile called sweetheart, and a section about Cyclone Tracy.

Overall, despite incurring serious facial injury Darwin was a great place. all lovely and compact, with loads to do and was well easy to get around. Who knew Darwin only had 70,000 people. I reckon a good chunk of them are backpackers, including the lovely Roisin from Skib who we met in our Hostel.

9 January 2009

Jimbaran Bay

We left Legian and headed a little bit down the coast to a place called Jimbaran Bay. We were staying at a cosy resort with self catering facilities. It has been nice to be able to cook a little bit after so many months of eating out.
Oh and we went to Carrefore supermarket which I loved, we were about 3 hours in the supermarket. we also decided that we had better buy a book on Australia.

This was yet another place that involved a lot of relaxing. We watched some dvds, hung at the pool with the Slight family, had a few bevies.

For Christmas eve we had a relly great meal in the hotel, but it just wasnt what we'd have at home. Xmas day we got go a walk along the lovely beach, and a load of drinks by the pool. Happy xmas to everyone by the way - Terry appoligises for his not calling/texting anyone.

We also went to visit a couple of up market resort. One had a stunning beach with a natural waterfall and a jungle backdrop. It was impressive.

So, we fly out on the evening of the 31st and arrive in Oz at 1am on the 1st. we are hoping to meet up with some of the friends that we have made along the way and friends and relatives who are in Australia at the moment.

Bali - Legian - Kuta

We got the ferry from Trawangan and headed back to Bali. We decided to stay at Legian which is quite touristy but we wanted to be near all of the services. We stayed in a place recommended by Milva.
I have to say that we really did not do much in Legian, we went for dinner with Milva a couple of times and we had a great night out with Milva, Dave and Cheryl.

We had planned to do some major beach hanging and possibly learn to surf as Kuta beach is supposed to be great for that. However once we saw the rubbish dump that is Kuta and Legian Beach we decided not to (we should have listened to Paul). Instead we bought lots of DVD’s and wandered about and had a gander at the shops. We looked for stuff for each other for Christmas.

That was it really for our time in Legain except we had meat fondue.
Also, we reassessed our finances and realized we are good senders and that we have had a great time but that the money was running out so when we get to Australia we are going to try change our flights. See you all soon.

8 January 2009

Gili Trawangan

We got to the airport and booked an afternoon flight to Bali. We posted home a few Christmas presents and had a wee wander about airport. While reading the guide to Indonesia the plane we thought maybe we would go to an island with volcanic lakes that change colors several times a year. When we went to book it the flights were awkward and boat travel to the island would take hours/days.
We spent the night at Tuban and left the next day for Panganbai. We spent the night there and then got the ferry to Gili Trawangan for some diving.

It is a beautiful and relaxed island. Terry stayed at a café with the luggage while I went to find us somewhere to stay. We booked into Pesona, where we met the Louise and Lars who we hung out with for a while. I spoke to Evan at Blue Marlin about doing my advanced dive course. I decided to do two dives in one day and then see how I felt. Terry booked some fun dives also.

We also met Milva, our favorite Swiss person of all time. The other lovely lovelies that we met were Cheryl and Dave. We were all in the happy situation of going to Bali after we left Trawangan.

On our fun dives the visibility was good. We had never really dived off a boat into such a strong current. We did not do the fun dives together but saw loads of green turtles and terry saw another shark. After that I decided I would do the advanced dive course, as my anxiety levels were dropping.
I had to do a module on navigation and on deep diving. I choose to do the last three on buoyancy, night diving and multilevel diving.
My first was the deep dive to 30 meters, which took a while because my ears are a bit slow to equalize. I had to do a timed task on the surface and then again at depth. It should have proved how your mind becomes fuzzy the deeper you dive. I was faster at depth. Seems my mind is fuzzy on the surface!

Then I did my buoyancy dive and it was fun, I did underwater scuba limbo and then get my nose onto the tip of a snorkel in the sand. On my multilevel dive I saw blue spotted rays and a shark. My navigation dive was the one I was most worried about as I have difficulty using a compass and I associate it with maths. Usually Blathnaid or Terry acts as the navigator. But I did all the skills right first time, which rocked. I did the night dive off the beach at a project run by all the dive shops called bio-rocks. They are large structures mad out of like a wire and a small electrical current is passed through it to encourage reef regrowth. It was mad. After a while the visibility dropped and, of course, my anxiety level became raised and so did I. thankfully we were no deeper than 18 meters and at the time we were at about 10 meters. I was a bit annoyed with myself but I passed the course so that was good.

In the mean time terry did more fun dives and saw a manta ray, then he decided to do a technical diving course using nitrox so that he could do a deep dive to see a military wreck that still had its cache of weapons. Apparently it was brilliant and well worth it. There were depth charges and large rounds scattered around the place. The best part is its at 45 meters so its not recreational diving anymore for him.
Otherwise we did a bit of snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming and of course drinking. The island was great, beautiful and relaxing and full friendly people.

7 January 2009

Singapore - Siobhan turns 30

We flew from Goa to Mumbai, (we had that one booked), and we went to the international terminal to get a flight our flight to Singapore. While we were in the airport we booked a nice hotel on Expedia as I was turning 30 while we were in Singapore.

We got to Singapore and it was a complete contrast to India. Even with all the traffic it seemed very peaceful and clean. The hotel sent us up to an unmade room by accident and they upgraded us to a suite for the inconvenience. This was very different to the service industry in India. It was the perfect place to go and catch our breath after the previous 6 or so weeks.

While we were in Singapore we went to National Museum and spent a few hours wandering around the wonderful exhibits.

We then headed to Raffles for the obligatory Singapore sling. The floor of raffles is covered with peanut shells which was weird to walk on. Then we headed back to the room so that I could have snooze before going out for my birthday.

Two staff from the hotel came up with cake and sang me happy birthday. It was nice of the hotel but it made it a little harder to be away from home on a day that I am usually around a crowd of people.

When I got up from my snooze terry has cake and a bottle of champagne waiting for me. We drank the champers as we got ready to go out.

We went to a centre called Chijmes, which had a few bars. We drank, we danced, and we chatted to strangers. We had McDonalds o the way home. We could only get breakfast as it was 5am.it was made though as there were a lot of runners in Maca’s as there was a marathon starting in the next few minutes.

The next day was a waste cause I was a waste. We had breakfast brought to the room and I was eating morsels til about 6pm. We then went for a walk about. Singapore was in full swing for Christmas, it looked magical, as if santa had upchucked the substance essence of the season all over Singapore. It was lovely.

The next day we went to the airport. All we knew is that we were going to Indonesia. We had no flight, no guide book and no idea where in Indonesia we wanted to go.