Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bangkok booking

I've been asking people who have been to Thailand for a recommendation on a place to stay in Bangkok for the first night I arrive, but haven't found any good leads yet.

I searched hostelworld.com but their ratings are quite confusing when you have like 300 places to choose from and so I'm really unsure still of what to pick.

I need to book 1 night ahead of time because I am arriving in Thailand around 10:30pm at night the first night, and so won't have enough time to look around and find something that I like.

Cowabunga dude!

I start surfing lessons in about an hour. I'm very excited about this. This is the 2nd most important reason why I came to Australia. (1st one was diving in the Great Barrier Reef)

I purchased a 2 day package from Style Surfing Byron Bay after comparing several different companies. That one looked the most professional as far as I could tell from their webpage. They are picking me up at my hostel at 12:50pm so I have to hurry back in about half an hour.
The weather is amazing once again today, so hopefully the waves are calm and I'll be able to stand up on the board today without toppling over like Jenga bricks on crack.
One of the girls I met on Fraser, Andrea, has done her 2 days of surfing lessons from a different company and she really enjoyed it. She won't stop talking about it :) So I hope to enjoy it as much as she did, because otherwise it will be a disappointment for me.

Super fast connect

Woah I just stepped into the global gossip in Byron Bay and tried uploading some pictures. It's uploading at 150 KBps! I'm going to try to do some movies from here too while I'm around.

Fraser Island

I didn't take the time to write about Fraser Island until now because my phone wasn't working right away when I got back (because of sand) and I was busy hanging out with the people I had spent Fraser with because it was our "last night" together in the hostel. Fortunately since then, I've met some of them again in the latest places I've been in. I'll talk about that later.

Fraser is an island off the coast of Hervey Bay. It's about half covered in sand and has beaches all the way around. The east coast of it is apparently the best part, because it faces the open ocean. The days that we went there though, the weather was very rainy, cold, and windy, and so it was tough to get by for the first 2 days.

The entire trip was 3 days 2 nights, with the 2 nights supposed to be spent in tents with sleeping bags. On the first night, one of the tents got rained in before we event went to bed, so 4 of the girls went to sleep in the vehicle. Not the most comfortable of accomodations but better than sleeping in a small lake all night.

That reminds me, so for whatever reason there was a lack of men on Fraser this week. I was in a car with 8 girls, and another car that we met had 10 girls and a single guy. Seriously weird. So I know that initially that sounds like "woah congratulations Jim" right? but I was a little worried about drama. You know girls and their drama. Let's be realistic. :)

Fortunate thing was that nothing bad happened and we all got along. I think the harsh conditions helped us work together as a team. Seriously, on the first night it was like we were playing survivor. We didn't know how the tents worked and where to place the tarps. We just used our best judgement and eventually figured it out. Then we made dinner of hamburgers and sausages and had plenty of goon and everything worked itself out.

The 2nd day was another dark one. For breakfast, we were too lazy to go up to the upper storage of the vehicle and take out silverware properly, and so the girls dipped their bread into the peanut butter and nutella jars to eat them. That was very cool and funny.

The 2nd night we did a lot better. We found a campsite and set up everything in a much quicker fashion and got our veggie pasta cooking quickly. The pasta had a little bit of sand in it but we all gobbled it down hungrily anyway. haha. It still tasted really good.

We didn't get to see everything we wanted to see because of the messed up tide times. On the 2nd morning we needed to wake up at like 5am to get up north near the top of the island to see indian head and the champagne pools, and we were just not going to be able to do that. The last thing you want to do when it's blowing like a hurricane and raining cats and dogs is step outside before the sun is up and put all your gear away so you can go up north and see a crappy view because the weather is terrible anyway.

The tide times mattered a hell of a lot because you're driving up and down the beach most of the time on the island and the tides reach right to the breakers, so if you're driving at the wrong time you could get hit hard by the salt water (possible car damage) and possibly even flip over if you're really unlucky. If you don't know how the car might flip over, please let me know, I can explain it in another post.

The avocado sandwiches and glasses of Sprite cola we had on the 3rd day were heavenly. I've never felt Sprite taste so good before, or at least I can't remember it. There was something about the carbonation that really hit the spot.

The last day, we spent most of it at an area called Lake McKenzie. The beach had very nice sand there and the sun started to show up, so it was beautiful and we finally got a taste of the paradise that Fraser is supposed to be.

I didn't finish uploading all the pictures from Fraser yet because of (yet again) crappy computer systems in Australia. I'm on a hostel computer right now and will be walking into town in a bit and will see if I can find a better one there. I also didn't have my camera when we did the group shot, so I need to get those pictures off my friends.

Fraser was definitely an experience to remember and I won't forget it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Random stuff altogether

I lost my camera case a couple of days ago. I think I left it in the shuttle bus that took me from my hostel to the Greyhound stop in Hervey Bay. It's not a huge problem but this kind of thing bothers me a bit. I'm going to have to buy a new case now. The hardest part is finding a store that sells the item I'm looking for.

I have about a week now before I have to head to Thailand. I have been trying to prepare for it. I looked up some places to stay in Bangkok for 1 night when I arrive. Hostelworld.com has a ton of different places on the list but because there's so much selection I'm not sure which one to pick.

I purchased a lonelyplanet thai expressions book while I was in Cairns over a week ago but I haven't looked in it yet. I don't expect to be a master at it but I would like to show the locals that I do respect their language and do wish to learn something about their culture while I'm there.

I'm on the greyhound now headed toward a place called Byron Bay. There's supposed to be a hippie culture there and be very friendly to backpackers. I'm guessing the average age there is pretty young as well.

Byron Bay will be the last stop before I hit Sydney again and prepare for my flight to Bangkok. I have 4 nights to hang out in Byron. The only thing I definitely have planned is surfing lessons. I've heard that Byron is the best place to learn to surf because the beaches are very wide and shallow, which make the waves even and long lasting (and safe). I hope so, because I don't feel like hurting my back again. :)

I've been having trouble finding a good way to call internationally. The computers in the internet cafes and hostels here are just not up to par compared to NZ.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I'm at Noosa Beach right now. It's finally sunny out again and the sky is a clear blue.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back from the Whitsundays!

I'm back from sailing. Arrived in Airlie Beach around noon and have been hanging out with people from the boat all afternoon.

I leave on the greyhound tonight to Hervey Bay. Until then I am going to be meeting with the people from the boat for a couple hours to have drinks and dinner and say goodbye.

The trip itself was nice. It wasn't as nice as the Pro Dive trip I did to the outer barrier reef last week but it was still good. The boat was smaller, probably about half as big with the same number of people and only 2 bathrooms. I think the crampedness was the only bad part of it.

I did 3 dives this time and I enjoyed them but they weren't as nice as the other trip either. The visibility under the water wasn't as clear (10m vs. 15m) and I didn't see anything special, like turtles or massive fish or sharks or a lionfish. The water probably just wasn't as clear because there's a lot more divers here than there were at the outer reef, so that means that more people are kicking up sand and also running into corals and stuff like that.

The dives weren't too expensive, I paid $110 AUD for the 3 of them. That's not half bad.

I think I'm starting to get a pretty nice tan finally. I'm currently uploading the pictures from this weekend up on my gallery, so they'll all be there soon.

One thing that was interesting about this trip was that I was 1 of 4 certified divers and there were about 20 people just doing intro dives. I felt like a veteran. The dive instructor was giving a lecture on the basics of diving on Saturday and he went through everything really fast. He actually told them that the dive computers that they'll be carrying on their gear are nothing they will need to be worried about, it just tells the instructor when you're going to die (which is actually true) but I laughed out loud when he said it that way to the beginners. I guess that's what you get when that's all the time you have to learn.

The intro divers are basically people who want to try diving but are not working toward certification. It's just a 1 day basic lesson on here's what to do and you have to be with the instructor at all times. They also have a max depth of 12m, which is still pretty far if you think about it.

My bus ride tonight will be 13 hours long. :) My bb has not been charged all weekend and so I can't really listen to music tonight either. Hopefully I won't have to sit next to some smelly bastard again on the bus. I'm crossing my fingers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Guess who's going sailing?

No, it's not you, it's me!

I'll be cruising around the Whitsunday Islands for the next 2 nights. I probably won't have reception again so I'll have to update everyone on Monday!

Have a nice weekend!

Got the lonely bug

When you're far away from home there are only a couple things that are always familiar:

1. My bags and the stuff inside them
2. The sky during the day
3. The stars and constellations
4. How the land or ocean looks in the far distant horizon
5. The moon

It's a full moon out tonight and while I'm sitting on this bus, staring at the moon is helping me feel like I'm not that far from home.

The world is a wondrous and big place. It's nice to feel like you belong where you are once in a while. The moon is looking down on me and it's letting me know that everything will be good.

It's a calming feeling to know that the world is still revolving and everything will keep moving the way it has been for a billion years.

Can't believe this is on a public sign

Holy horrendous grammar batman!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Goodbye Magnetic Island

I'm waiting at the greyhound bus terminal for the next southbound bus to come and pick me up.

I'm headed to airlie beach today and after 1 night in a hostel named Magnum's, I am getting on a big sailboat tomorrow with 20 other people and cruising around the Whitsunday Islands for 2 days and 2 nights.

The Whitsundays are what people have talked about the most in Australia from the people that I've met traveling so far. I'm really looking forward to this part of my trip.

Magnetic Island felt like a small piece of paradise in the middle of Australia. Once I got on the island I felt like I was in a different country, somewhere like Fiji. Very unindustrialized and very homey looking area. Tons of brush and forest everywhere, including palm trees. There were very few people. The bars closed at 10pm. Lots of beach area.

Not many people told me about Magnetic Island when I asked them about Australia. I guess I can see why. It's not really a party spot and that's what most travelers are looking for. As for me, I'm so glad I stopped here. I basically did it on my own choice. Even the guy I booked greyhound with in cairns didn't think I should stop here.

I wish I had a couple more nights to spend here. I would definitely enjoy the peaceful surroundings. If I wasn't so tight on time in Australia I would stay longer. There's so much more to see, I have to keep moving.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Duke Nukem style

ok I heard that in Laos you can pay $200 to fire a rocket launcher at a cow, or fire ak-47 or some other fully automatic rifle at a pack of chickens. Hahaha

Who's in with me?

Canyon Swing pictures

Phil and I did the Canyon swing together in Queenstown. This is a picture in the office when we were signing our forms agreeing not to sue if we get hurt. We both thought these underpants that you could purchase were hilarious.

Those jokers. Check out the length on that arrow.

This was the 2nd swing drop that I did. I started that one upside down with my hands pointing into the ground. This one was much scarier than the first one, which I had just completed by falling off the platform backwards.

This is what the gondola restaurant looks like high above Queenstown city. The gondola path isn't lit up even though the restaurant is, and therefore if you look up it just looks like a bunch of floodlights in the sky. It's so dark you cannot see any shape of the mountain.

Even more pictures

This is a picture of Lake Wanaka. I just really love how this tree turned out.

This was during a day trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown (the last city I visited in NZ). We stopped at a little pond called Mirror lakes and we saw an official sign that was purposely placed there as a gimmick to show how reflective the water is.

This is a good picture of exactly how reflective the Mirror Lakes were.

Check out the shapes of the sunlight on the ripples on the water in Milford Sound.

The sign above Phil's bed reads "NEVIS WANTS YOU, COME TO NEVIS." I was messing around with Phil before we did the Nevis (134m bungy) because I knew he was a bit afraid of it. I didn't realize that he was really scared until he backed out of it inside the cable car 10 seconds before he had to actually jump. After that happened I actually felt bad that I had teased him. I didn't actually want him to back out.

Pictures from partying in Franz Joseph

These were some of the cool guys I hung out with for about a week from the Magicbus. From left to right: Paul (Ireland), Richard (England), Lee (Ireland), Tom (England), and Lasse (Denmark).

And here are the girls. From left to right: Shelley (England), Becky (England), and Jenny (Ireland).

In the faded distance of this picture you can spot the pole that I climbed at the bar. :)

I also went quad biking while I was in Franz. This is just an actionshot. I actually had messier actionshots that I could show except they were so messy you can't recognize who the driver is so I decided to show you this one.

This is what happens when you have to get up to hop on the bus at 7am the next day.

More pictures

This is what I looked like dressed in my skydive suit during the pre-interview. Our skydivers were very talented with the videocameras. The whole editing process is completed automated in the editing room. They've got it set up so that you just attach the original videocamera to the input wires and then let it go, and you magically have the final DVD.

We practiced the aircraft exit before we took off because they said that this part and the freefall were the only technical parts of the whole jump.

This is right before we jump out of the plane. The pictures is taken by an automatic camera on the wing of the aircraft.

This is a sweet picture I took of myself and my tandem skydiver who controls the fate of my life for the next 5 minutes.

This is after the parachute was released of course. I thought it was very cool that they let us take our own cameras on our skydives.

The new batman movie

Wow, it was good. Dark, deep, action packed and heath ledger's acting was well done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Medical fees

I forgot to mention about the doctor here:

I visited a 24 hour medical center without an appointment. They had 4 doctors in service at the time. It took about an hour wait for them to call my name after I registered. The entire visit cost $65 asd.

The office area was very clean and nice. When I got into the room, I noticed they do everything by computer. My name and details were already in the computer system. The doctor typed into the computer as he talked to me.

I did not feel rushed at all. He listened to everything I said. The doctor himself checked my blood pressure, my eyes, and my ears. I did not see a single nurse walking around except at the front checking people into the center. The antibiotics they gave me were $18 asd. The pharmacy was next door and gave me my prescription within 10 minutes after dropping it off.

This doctor visit was probably 1 of the top 10 visits in my life.

This is all without insurance for a foreigner. In fact everything falls below my deductible so I can't claim anything on my travel insurance. haha

Greyhound to Sydney

I purchased a greyhound pass one way from Cairns to Sydney for $330 asd. This pass is hop on hop off for 6 months. That means I get off the bus wherever, stay as long as I need, then get back on and keep going, just like the Magicbus was in NZ.

I've decided I'm skipping melbourne this time around due to lack of time. The only nice things I heard about Melbourne were that it had the best music scene and nightlife in Australia. I think I can afford to skip that for now. There's an area west of Melbourne called the Great Ocean Road that I did want to see, but again I think I will ok there as well. I've seen and will see a lot of great ocean views already.

My first bus leaves tonight at midnight. I'm heading to Townsville and Magnetic Island.


I went to the doctor today because I went on a bus tour called Uncle Brian's where we jumped in a couple fresh water pools to wade around. After I got out of one of the pools, I was drying the back of my head and noticed the back of my right ear was splitting from my head.

That's the only description I'll give you. If I showed you a picture you might gag.

Anyway, my doctor told me it's because of an infection on my skin that was caused by my eczema medication.

He gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me off on my way, saying everything should be good in 2 days or so.

Steve Irwin

Before I came to Australia, I thought Australians felt the same way about Steve Irwin as they did about Paul Hogan, the actor from Crocodile Dundee and numerous Fosters beer commercials.

But apparently it's not the case. As I've been traveling around I've only heard good things about him.

The fact I hear the most is that Steve Irwin apparently opened the Australian Zoo, which is in Noosa, slightly north of Brisbane. Most people love the zoo, saying it's well made. I haven't seen it yet, but I will in about a week and a half.

The whole crocodile hunter tv show thing isn't even talked about here. He is actually well respected by Australians.

They talk about his death by stringray as a terrible fluke and tragedy. Mainly because stingrays are said to never attack people and that it only happened because Steve was grabbing them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cape Tribulation

I spent 2 days up in Cape Tribulation. Yes Victoria pointed out to me that sounds like a bad 80s band. I agree. It's really a tiny peninsula about an hour and a half north of Cairns where the rainforest meets the ocean, literally.

Because of this, 100 yards into the forest it will be cloudy as heck but then you step 100 yards east to the beach and it's sunny and bright without a cloud in the sky (eastward, obviously if you look back above the forest it's cloudy)

While I was there I did the jungle night walk where we walked around with a guide and flashlights. The coolest thing we saw was a python. It was only about 2 meters long but it had just fed. Our guide was way more excited than we were. He said that was one of the rarest finds he's had on the night walks. There are trees in this forest called strangler figs which are basically predators that wrap it's roots around another living tree and then strangle it to death. pretty awesome.

Other than that it was just a nice looking place. Looked like hawaii but I stayed in a hostel that was 24 a night. The rooms were comfortable. I couldn't complain for the cost.

I made friends with a crab on the beach (the crab probably thought it was more like terrorizing) and took some pictures with him (or her).

That area is where a lot of saltwater crocs run around. We saw a couple from a small boat yesterday basking in the sun. The big one was about 4 meters long. Scary looking indeed. The boat driver said that we have about 15 seconds to live if you fall into that river. Everyone leaned back into the boat a bit more when he said that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The first thing I thought when I saw this

No, but we do have a spelling problem. It took me 15 seconds to figure what this sign is asking for.

Unreal prices

While I was walking around town yesterday, I found a couple stores selling random merchandise at crazy discount prices. 2 of these places were called Pricebusters and Singapore Charlie's. (good thing this charlie wasn't from vietnam because then he would have an uncomfortable store name)

For example: a full tube of Colgate toothpaste for $1, 3 roll pack of Mentos for $1, cds for $2, dresses for $15, T-shirts for $7. I wasn't sure how it worked but I did need toothpaste so I bought a tube anyway. When I came under brighter light, I read the back of the package carefully and noticed half the labeling was in thai.

So I guess it's just stuff that somebody moved in from thailand prices (and possible other asian countries) and is selling in Australia for mega profit per item, but they probably don't sell too many items. The whole store was really random. You couldn't actually shop there expecting to find an item you need.

Taking a day off from vacation

Yesterday I had some time to myself and so I walked around Cairns a bit. They have a mall that you can step inside and feel like you're back in LA for a bit. In fact if somebody hit me on the head and then dragged me in there and woke me up I would have forgotten that I was in Australia. (At least until I noticed the escalators are backwards and everyone's talking like steve irwin)

In that mall I saw the movie Hancock upon recommendation from my sister and I thought it was a good movie. I won't give away much from it but I would say that hardcore romantics would despise this movie. It did make me laugh and cry. That part was embarrassing but because I was sitting next to a teenage girl doing the same thing I felt a little better.

After the movie I was walking back toward the beach area and paused momentarily when I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Yep, it was boobs. There was a bar on the corner adjacent to the mall that was topless. I was a bit shocked. The doors are wide open. You can see the girls from across the street where you enter the mall where kids are mucking around. That place was called the Railway bar and now I realize why I'd heard about it before somewhere.

I also had some korean food for dinner which I'm pretty sure made me sick. It tasted ok, it was rice pot mixed with veggies and seasoned spicy pork. But about an hour after I finished, I started feeling physical pain in my stomach like something was jabbing me from the front so I just went back to my bed and waited until I was going to need to use the restroom and ended up falling asleep. I did get to the bathroom this morning and it wasn't pretty.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More pictures from NZ

The hostel we stayed at in Greymouth was called Noah's Ark and following that theme, they named each of their rooms after an animal. I stayed in the monkey room.

This is what you call "My face is so big I can't fit it into the hole".

That afternoon we made it to Franz Joseph Glacier, and I had the opportunity to do a helicopter hike high up on the glacier. We were given boots and crampons to wear when we got onto the glacier. The crampons had very good grip, you could walk up steep little areas just by slamming your foot into the ice for grip.

The guide told us that we could eat the ice for water because it was very clean. I tried some of it. It tasted very fresh, like nothing at all.

Near the end of the hike, we had an opportunity to jump into a glacial pool, but I had to break the ice layer on top first with the ice axe. I know this picture looks crazy, but I didn't know how many more chances I'd ever get to swim in water that was borderline freezing.

Once I had cleared enough of the ice, we jumped in together and felt my balls shrivel to a raisin screamed in pain + adrenaline fused craziness. We were only in there for about 10 seconds and then had to get out because of the inability to breathe correctly because our chest muscles were spasming uncontrollably. We took some pictures out of the water and then jumped in one more time to make sure it was out of our system. :)

Pointing out some more pictures

Sorry I'm behind but I still have a lot of pictures to finish up NZ. :)

This is inside the ferry that took us from Wellington (North Island) to Picton (South Island). The entrance to the ferry was surprisingly nice. The outside looked like a cruise ship. If I hadn't given it away already you may have thought it was inside a mall just by looking at the picture.

I took a short walk on the top level of the ferry and found a couple containers carrying cows by surprise. The tops are open and the cows are kind just smooshed together so that they don't really have anywhere to move. They're not hurt or anything, but it's not exactly traveling in comfort.

When we got to Nelson that night, I checked into my hostel and met Cassandra from Canada. She walked with me to the store to get some wine and on the way out we found a house with some wacked out decoration in front of it. Some kind of alien sign or beacon or something. So I took her picture next to one of the antenna things.

The next day I did the boat/hike/bus day trip to Abel Tasman National Park where the boat taxi driver pointed out to us a location called Split Apple Rock. I'm sure you can see why it's been named that. I think this is an especially cool picture with the bird silhouettes.

This is one of the multitude of stunning views I found while hiking Abel Tasman. It's difficult to describe in words.

That night in Nelson, there was a face paint and roast party for the hostel that we were staying at (Paradiso). So here's Cassandra with 2 guys that also put on face paints that evening. I have no idea what they are supposed to be. I guess this is where you learn the lesson of "don't drink and facepaint".

The next day, on the way to Greymouth, the driver stopped at an area called the Pancake Rocks. Layers of rock built up on eachother and eventually got flattened over time and became this way.

I still feel drunk

My world is still rocking a little when I try to stay still. Especially when I'm lying in bed. I hope it goes away soon because it makes me a little bit noxious.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Certified Adventure Diver

I've still got something called "sea legs" which is where you feel like you're still swaying on a boat even though you're on hard land. I've been back from the diving boat with PRO DIVE since last night but I still feel like I'm swaying if I try to sit or stand still

On the diving boat, I completed the 4 required dives to get PADI certification. This allowed me to get to 18m. Then they gave us the option of paying $150 to get the adventure certification, and so I went ahead and did that so that I could dive to 30m. From what I learned from the instructors, 30m is good to have in case I want to dive wrecks off the coast.

I had to do 3 more specific dives to complete that. One was a night dive, a deep dive, and an elective dive, of which I chose photography since I was already planning on taking the camera into the water.

The cameras cost $35 to rent from PRO DIVE, but I felt that it was well worth it. Now that I have my certification, I will have to shop around for a diving camera.

So the whole class took me 5 days. 2 days in the swimming pool in town (heated) and then 3 days on the boat.

The water in the ocean stayed at a consistent 23 degrees celsius. I think that's about 75 degrees fahrenheit. It was pretty warm for the middle of the ocean with our wetsuits on, but the weather was kind of terrible so the lighting was less than satisfactory.

I did get some pretty pictures of the reef on the last day right before we left because the sun came out at that point. It's definitely a beautiful place. It's amazing how many different types of marine life is available in that small area.

The night dive was very cool. We each had glowsticks on our tanks so that we could spot eachother and then held an underwater flashlight in our right hands as we descended into the water. It was definitely like something from the Discovery Channel or one of those Jacques Cousteau specials and it really made it special.

The reefs that we visited were called Milln Reef and Flynn Reef.

I met some great people on the boat, but just like every other time on this trip, I had to say bye to them last night at our celebration dinner and drinks, assuming I'll never see them again. I kept their contact info just in case. At the very least we could share pictures.

I'm trying to upload the pictures now, I will point out the good ones later on.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Great Barrier Reef

I'm leaving on a boat in 20 minutes or so to head out to GBR to do 9 dives over the next 3 days.

I will make sure I take some good pictures for you guys.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I'm in Cairnes and I've started my scuba lessons for PADI certification. It cost me a whopping $850 but I think it'll be worth it.

I did my first full day in the pool yesterday, and today is my 2nd. Tomorrow we leave on a boat for 2 nights out to the outer Great Barrier Reef to do about 9 dives including a night dive. You guys may not hear from me during that time because I don't think I'll have cell reception.

I thought it would be tougher to breathe with the SCUBA device but it's very pleasant. It's just like breathing through a snorkel but you get a lot of bubbles and a darth vader noise.

The only thing that didn't work 100% for me yesterday is my ears equalizing the pressure as we dive lower. Mine don't seem to even out as quickly as other people. No problems on the way up though.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stock market

I am going to have to pay off a credit card bill in the next week but my stocks crashed this week. This is not good. If the market doesn't shoot back up again this week I'm going to have to sell at a loss just to pay off my credit cards in time.

I am going to have to keep more cash on hand next time the market fluctuates back up just in case this happens again.

Happy Independence Day

I just realized that it's the 4th of July. My first holiday among a group of strangers who could care less about the holiday. Haha

Maybe I can find a group of americans celebrating together somewhere in Cairns tonight. Hmm on 2nd sounds like a good target for a bomb threat. :)

P.s. I miss golden gardens. I was telling somebody yesterday about golden gardens for 4th of July for the last 4 years

White sand

Oh yeah, the sand at Bondi was very white and seemed very clean compared to what I expected from a major city like Sydney. Basically like the north shore of Hawaii.

Bondi beach

I went to the beach 2 days ago to check it out and visit Sarah's new place. She's living in a shared room with 2 other girls for 100 per week. I forgot to mention earlier that property is rented per week in this country and in NZ. It's a nice place even though it felt like it would be too claustrophobic for me. But you know me, I need my space.

There was a nice walk there along the water that we took and then Sarah made dinner for us of steak and veggies and we had some box wine. Boxed wine is apparently called Goon here which is a nickname from the aborigines. Goon means "pillow" in their language and it gets that name because the bags inside the box that the wine comes in looks like you could blow it up and make a pillow out of.

Goon is apparently all the fad out here in Australia among backpackers because regular alcohol is expensive and goon is only 9 bucks for 3 liters of cheap wine. I normally can't really take box wine but I guess we'll see how much I can take.

I'm currently in line waiting for the Qantas ticket counter. I'm flying to Cairns today to see Cape Tribulation, the Great Barrier Reef, get my scuba cert, and start heading down the east coast toward Brisbane.

New daypack

My Rick Steves daypack finally broke down completely on me, so before it did, I ran into the mall and found a store called Jack's Warehouse which sold sports equipment. In there I ran to take a look at the backpack section and they had regular looking backpacks for half price at 19.99 so I picked one up. Hopefully this one lasts a bit longer.

Blue Mountains

I made a day trip visit to the Blue Mountains about 2 hours west of Sydney today with an OZ Experience bus. OZ Experience here is about the same kind of thing as the Magicbus was in NZ.

There's a good chance I will use OZ Experience in the future to get from Cairns to Brisbane. I'll have to decide later to use them or to use Greyhound.

The Blue Mountains are given that name because there's a ton of eucalyptus trees that grow there, and those leaves absorb the entire spectrum of white light except for blue because it has the highest wavelength, and therefore it reflects blue haze back.

The eucalyptus tree is the leaf that only Koalas eat, and because it has so little energy (nutrition) in it, the Koala sleeps for 20 hours a day.

I have some pictures but like I said in the post below, I can't share them yet.

I did get to ride the steepest train in the world today. It's in the Guinness Book of World Records. It literally felt like going up the beginning of a roller coaster at like 5x the normal speed. It was quick and very steep.

Oh yeah, I also learned that female kangaroos can flip off their ability to give birth on and off like a switch. They basically have a built in birth control method. And they can send out different types of breast milk in each of their teats depending on how old the joey is that is using that nipple. Wow?


I finally got on a computer that seemed to be great but as soon as I tried to upload more pictures the computer told me that Java wasn't installed and it won't let me install it because of the permissions set on it.

That means I can't upload any pictures again tonight. I was even going to start uploading them to Facebook as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Got a haircut yesterday

I got it cut a little shorter than normal so that I could wait a while before I had to get it cut again. I searched through a mall for a while and then decided to get it done at a place called "Trendy".

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Koalas are out of my league

It costs $20 to take 1 picture with a koala here so I passed. I'll find one in the wild someday and kidnap it instead.


I just noticed that I get cell signal here while underground in the subway and had a Keanu Reeves moment. Cool.


When I arrived I still hadn't been able to contact my cousin so I decided to take the train to her house anyway.

She has guests over from Korea right now so I'm not able to stay with her. I've been sleeping at a hostel in downtown for the last 2 nights.

Walking around the city for a couple of days has reminded me of London. Basically if you thought of London and then imagined what it would look like if it was a harbor city with about 5x less pollution and 10x less bridges you'd get Sydney. Funny fact is that I thought London was a harbor city until about age 16 when I looked at a map.

The buildings here are fabulous, each in their own way. Before I came here I was expecting a trashy port city that basically provides a safe haven from the desert.

I haven't had much on the agenda much like when I first arrived into NZ, so I've been walking around town taking pictures of the opera house and the harbor bridge, which look pretty in the evening.

Yesterday I met Sarah, a girl I met in NZ, rather haphazardly during lunchtime in my hostel, and so we walked around together during the day to see the opera house again. Then we had a few drinks together to celebrate her new life in Sydney. In the last 3 days she has come to Sydney, found an apt on Bondi Beach, and found a job as an event planner. How crazy is that? She's planning to stay here for a couple of years. She had this all planned when she left London.

The computer terminals have been sucking at my hostel so I haven't had a chance to upload any pictures.

I'm on the ferry headed to the Taronga Zoo right now. Hopefully I will get some good pictures with koalas and kangaroos. They won't be cuter than me but maybe they'll be some good competition.

So cliche but I had to