Tag: #travelling

Outback: I Will Always Love You…

Two weeks of driving through The Outback have sadly come to an end – I would cry tears but every part of my body has dried up and started cracking…

It’s been hours of driving between Road Houses – looking at the scenery change from light dust to dark red dust, from yellow tufts of dried grass, to great big trees with white bark (which somehow manage to stay so white they look like the guys who invented Oxy Clean practiced on their bark).

It’s been even more hours of sleeping in awkward positions due to lack of a head rest and a full cramped van of 22 people.

It’s been many nights drinking out of the cooler in the back as we chugged along at 60kph, belting out songs at a volume that could be heard and rejected by all The Voice judges around the world, crossing our fingers that we would get to our hostel before morning (pitstops alleviated aforementioned drinking, and came with statements like “it’s a snake!” which struck fear into everyone’s bladders until statements were corrected with “it’s a stick!”)

Predictably, what brought our group together was our shared incarceration in Coco The Van (we love you Coco, even though you did try to ditch us, twice)

Once joined at the hip like a chain gang, we went swimming with Manta Rays, attempted to swim with Whale Sharks, practiced our best “Elephant Seal” impression as we tried to pull ourselves back into the boat….and hysterically laughed over nothing as we snorkelled, and then chocked from inhaling salt water.

We also hiked through gorges, wading through water so cold we all kept our hands up as though keeping our elbows dry was really going to prevent hypothermia, and saying “oh it’s so cold!” as though something could be done about it, as our guide said, “watching you guys is LOLs, I love watching backpackers suffer”

Here’s to a fantastic trip with fantastic people: there is no one else I’d attempt “I Will Always Love You” with (#returnwhitney because we are terrible). And also, no one else I’d let call me Grandma.

The Jolly Swag People

Sometimes in The Outback, there are no hostels, there are only Roadhouses – basically gas stations with over priced instant coffee (something you pay five dollars for and then try and give away), bacon/egg sandwiches, and crucially – patches of grass. 

It’s on these patches of grass that we set up swags – the Australian Wanderers version of a tent. Meant for a lone person, or if you’re feeling social, you can opt for the Queen Size, these rollups unfold into cacoons with a mattress on the bottom. You simply put your sleeping bag inside and you’re good to sleep. Super practical for nomads who don’t have time to set up a tent in the dark, or on a global scale – combating the the homeless problem, they can keep you snug as a bug as you look up at the sky and sleep. 

In my opinion, the only thing that was sways you into the “not having a good sleep” category is whether you remember to wear socks to bed (and possibly put on a hat) – oh, and obviously, if a spider crawls in with you (knock on wood).

And for anyone that remembers all the lyrics to “Waltzing Maltida” – now we know what a Swagman is…

If You Ever Need a Good Prank…

If you’re ever in need of something slightly evil, but not evil enough to get anyone super pissed off…may I offer:

The Disappearing Mattress Trick

– find the room of your intended (in this case our Guide)

– remove mattress (in this case a Queen size, supremely comfortable piece of furniture that would make a 4:30am wake up call slightly more bearable) 

– store mattress somewhere close by 

– replaces sheets, pillows and blankets over the frame 

– keep drinking until you intended declares, “alright guys, early morning, I’m off to bed”…and then keep drinking until they come back and ask “where the f is my bed?”

– tell them, with a straight face, “it’s on the roof.”

– be prepared for war to be declared 
To quote one friend “sounds like college.” Welcome to 1999, everyone. 

Is There a James in the House?

If you join a tour Mid-way, you must be prepared for hazing – you are, after all, joining a travelling fraternity full of inappropriate comments, clothes that haven’t been washed in ages and bedrooms filled with multiple people.

When we found out that four people were joining our (now bonded by a virtually broken down vehicle, alcoholic consumption in said vehicle and late night road-side pit stops), we demanded names and the right to Google. 

In our gleefulness at being provided such vital information, we only managed to remember one correctly, a James Walsh – not the easiest person to find on Facebook because, unsurprisingly there are 4 million people named James Walsh. 

We went old school and started yelling, “James?”, “James Walsh?” Around the kitchen (on the assumption that he was staying at our same campsite). Two hours into this gag, Sammy tried his name in a German accent, and we heard and English guy say, “Why are you saying my name in a German accent?’ from a table a way. 

And yes, that was James Walsh, and we were caught. We gave him an appropriate welcome, said that we were excited he was joining us in two days, and then we went back to our rooms, armed with a visual, found him on Facebook and screen shot it to everyone. We stalked him. 

And the next day, when we were all on our Whale Shark cruise, while the rest of the boat was spotting a Blue Whale (biggest animal to have ever lived), Ana yelled out from the top deck, “It’s James Walsh!” – and there he was, on the bow of another boat, looking fully embarrassed as a bunch of people yelled out “James!!!”, at a pitch much higher than “Blue Whale!”

Welcome to the group James, just be glad we haven’t all changed our Facebook profiles to your face and sent you friend requests, yet. 

Dear Maps, Please Be Better at Maps

Remember that Meg Ryan/Kevin Kline movie French Kiss? Where she says, “Happy, smile! Sad, frown! Use the corresponding face with the corresponding emotion!” – maps need to be like that. 

If you’re a map, there is no point in being coy, coy doesn’t get you a second date. In fact, if your intentions aren’t clear not only is your date going to get lost, but the best that you can hope for is that the object of your affection gets lost in your basement, and you really don’t want to be THAT kind of map. 

Somewhere along the way this metaphor also got lost. 

Point is, maps, even if around an island that is only 11km long, need to be good.

Cue my adventure today – cycling around Rottnest Island, an island off Perth known as a “playground” (although, like most things in Australia it used to be inhabited by convicts and was home to a fairly evil prison that did pretty evil things to the Aboriginals). Today’s mission: find quokkas – the cute, furry marsupial that looks like a rat and a hamster had a big baby. 

I had this map:

Which seemed great until I got off the ferry and was faced with signs like:

“That way to birds”

Editor’s note: blue sign does not mean you’re on the blue trail

“Places that are not on the map”

“Two out of four directions”

Four way crossing, where two of those roads go, no one knows

So, I spent most of the day not knowing where I was, but I did think of possible solutions should I get fully lost and not make it back to the ferry, like:

“Potential home for the night”

“Dinner”

Luckily, it didn’t come to that, but – maps, you’ve been warned. 

Ghosting or Just Travelling?

Everyday travelling is like a first date, which means by the time I get back I should be medicore at first dates. Where are you from? Siblings? What do you do? Who would win in a fight, zombies or aliens?

That last question is actually important, do you actually think dead, brainless humans would win against space travelling aliens?

Most the time all of this is just asked because it is what you do when you don’t know anyone, but occasionally you feel a connection with someone and conversation becomes more than cursory and veers into the fliratious. 

If you have an over anxious brain, this means you spend time wandering whether it’s real or whether they are just talking to you because you’re on a tiny island and there aren’t many other options.

Anyways, I met such a person and at some point soon, we may be in the same city, so I asked for his contact details. He gave me an email address, which in travelling circles, is suspicious – unless you have something to hide (wife, girlfriend, kids, obsession with cats) you give out your Facebook info (easier to remember a face). An email address could be fake (luckily this one did not come with numbers and was not mrpeanut@aol.com) and never replied to – the person could just vanish away.

To sound like Carrie Bradshaw, “is it ghosting if it’s just passing through?”

Do You Have a Boyfriend? 

Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have a husband? Do you have children?

One the one hand, these questions could be percieved as progressive, “Do you have a boyfriend and is he so awesome that he is okay with you travelling around by yourself for the year while he takes care of your three children?”

On the other hand, the one I use most, I think “Why are you asking? Are you interested? I rate your opening line as a little forward, but I guess the world is coming to an end soon and no one has time for “what’s your name?””

One of the first question out of Fijian mouths is “Do you have a boyfriend?” If I answer no, the follow up question is “Husband? Kids”? I don’t think it’s meant to be creepy but to a New York brain it does have a little bit of a “I need a wife” or “I am recruiting for this cult and I need to find unattached women who could bear children” air about it. 

I’ve been told that these questions are in fact because here people are constantly looking to arrange someone with someone they know.

According to my current host to fend off this potential hoard (my host has an exaggerated idea of how many times this happens to me) I am to say that I have a husband. For extra emphasis, I’m going to add that I have three kids, and am such a bad mother that I’ve abandoned them for a year. Where’s my ring? Oh, my fingers got puffy in childbirth and I havent been able to wear it since. 

Sidenote: 

I hope two things:

1. Someday soon people stop asking this question to lone travelling women (or anyone)

2. The world changes enough that women can answer this question honestly without feeling like they have just surrendered themselves. 

Hitch Hiking: The Tinder of Transport Options 

“Hitch hiking is so safe in New Zealand, everyone does it” says, just about everyone. 

Yesterday, three 3 Non Blondes (of the non musical variety) wrote up some signs and stood by the side of the road. 

Tactics weren’t really discussed – we just stuck our thumbs out (cautiously at first) and smiled. Some people smiled at us, but no one stopped. It was like being swiped left in real time, people glanced at us, didn’t even look at our profiles and decided to keep going. Clearly, our outfits, what we’ve deemed, “Rape Prevention Kits” were working too well: no one wanted to pick up three women in cargo pants and non Lululemon exercise gear.

We laughed off being rejected, but began to question ourselves when a blonde hitch hiker gave us some side eye when we said we had been waiting 20 mins, as though that was an inconceivable amount of time. Note: we can also put the 20 mins down to the fact that there were three of us, and for the first half an hour, we were ambitious and held up a sign asking to be driven an hour away (turns out no one on their way to work wanted to drive to a glacier instead).

It was time to change tactics, be a little less hard to get, so we changed the sign to “Roy’s Peak”, a mere 7km away, basically the equivalent of changing a dating profile from “I am a princess, earn my love” to, “I love dive bars”. 

Once again we were thwarted by a second blonde (wearing shorts) who also laughed when we said we had been there for 30mins, and promptly picked up a ride within 5 mins. 

Embarrassed, we started walking and just hoped that someone would take pity on us, as with all dating, our standards had gone down, it was like 4am at the end of the night and basically we would have gotten into any kind of sketch camper van. 

Miraculously, finally, a very nice travelling Melbourner, took pity on us, picked us up in his very acceptable four door sedan rental car and drove us to the start of the 16km walk. 

Lesson: there is a lid for every pot, and the lid will come around when it’s good and ready.

Pre-Gaming St Patty’s Day

If you want to feel fresh before going out for St Patty’s Day, go to the spa. 

And so it was that three intrepid backpackers decided to treat themselves to a premium Polynesian Spa experience: 5 hot pools full of geothermal healing activity, one provided clean plush towel and a shower that came with shampoo (we would be lying if we didn’t say we did it for the shower)

It should be noted that the geothermal activity was sulfric, and hence smelled like rotten eggs. 

Three hours later, we were hard boiled. 

An hour after that, on our way to the bar, the smell of old breakfast eminated from our pores and slight concern lingered in the air. 

However, concern was unnecessary because St Patty’s Day in Rotorua (population 20,000) is just like anywhere else: the entire population crammed into one bar, getting sweaty, singing “Sweet Home Alabama” at the top of their lungs, everyone kind of on the same page about consciously not inhaling anything. 

In a town that always smells faintly of rotten eggs, humans that smell of rotten eggs was no big deal. Even in my giant man repelling green baseball cap men chose to talk to me (#thingsthatwouldnothappeninnewyork)

And now I’m scrambling on how to end this post, so I might just pull a Humpty Dumpty and crack off. 

Pity the Fool…

I just started a 3 week overland tour from Johannesburg to Cape Town. 
Our crew are super cute (and if we become Facebook friends and they ever read this, I’ll be mortified). 

Last night they called themselves the A-Team, I then said that they needed names- who was Murdoch, Face, Hannibal (there was only one choice for Me. T, our driver was forced into it)

Five seconds later we discovered that while they had seen the series, not one them were actually born in the 80s. 
So, when you date yourself by talking about the A-Team, you really do date yourself because there is simply no one your age left.