A Travellerspoint blog

The Campervan Chronicles

It was with heavy hearts that we handed back the keys for the campervan, drew our west coast road trip to an end and said goodbye to Australia.
Attempting to sum up the time that we had 'down under' is as mammoth a task as the distance we covered after departing Perth five and a half weeks ago (I say 'we' but in reality I have in fact been comfortably chauffeur driven 5500 Km by my ever patient, ever trucking wife, and it is in fact she who has covered the distance)

From the tropical beaches to the sun scorched red deserts, Whale Sharks to Camels and from the apparently never ending open road (again, you'll have to ask the driver about that one) to the breakdowns 300 Km from anywhere with no cell phone coverage, it is safe to say that we truly embarked upon a great Western Australia adventure!

In a place that is so fantastically big and monumentally unpopulated it initially takes a while to re-adjust your expectations of what you can, and more importantly, what you can not take for granted. Jana, for example, who is famous for her ability to drain a petrol tank to the maximum before refilling had to contend with the fact that gas stations are evenly spread out at 300 Km intervals. Therefore, riding the gas until the warning light comes on wasn't necessarily the best approach.

However, there is a certain charm that comes with such a set up and you quickly begin to appreciate life away from nearly all of humanity. It was not unusual to find ourselves sat on powder white sand staring out over the turquoise ocean and have the entire place to ourselves (The one family who dared sit within one hundred yards of us suffered the full wrath of my best stink eye until they moved out of sight).

And now, as we sit here amidst the hustle and bustle of Singapore a new period of adjustment is now underway where we will have to accept that even giving the other tourists a stink eye with the full fury of hell fire, the best we can hope for is enough room to lay down our towels.

As we look back at our time in Australia we can not help but smile at every memory, which absolutely includes the time we fled like little sissies to the nearest motel having been gouged on by a ton of mosquitoes at our campsite.

But now we start a new chapter in this globe trotting adventure that even the boys from Harlem would be proud of and I have a feeling that I personally will be embarking upon a culinary voyage that may once and for all put my food fussiness to bed.

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Posted by davekrohne 16:58 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

A Whale Shark Tale

A fishy Story

Imagine, if you would, a goldfish- all gold and fish like, nonchalantly floating around in his bowl minding his own business. Perhaps he's marveling at the multi-coloured stones at the bottom or attempting to befriend his reflection or perhaps even pondering the likelihood of his bowl being cleaned any time soon to save him from swimmingaround in his own excretions any longer.

Now if you would imagine that this goldfish is actually 23 feet long by 5 feet wide and doesn't snack on the occasional dry flake that is dropped into his bowl but instead eats a ton of goldfish sized krill a day in the iridescent turquoise of the Indian Ocean.

Having come this far please continue to join me along the twists and turn of this cerebral roller coaster and imagine that this fish is in fact not a goldfish at all but is actually a whale shark- You are now imagining the inspiration for this blog -the Whale Shark and more accurately the day Jana and I had a close encounter of the big fish kind.

Several years ago I bungy jumped for the first time. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time and as i climbed up the bungy platform I was 100% confident that it wasn't going to faze me at all. It was only when I was stood with the bungy rope tied around my ankles and was staring into the wide mouth of the abyss that i felt the chords of fear being tugged in the pit of my stomach.

The reason I mention this is the feelings felt that day atop the bungy platform were not too dissimilar to the feelings i felt having fought my way through the forrest of flippers and past the other 10 shark seeking hopefuls who jumped in the water with me and found myself suddenly faced by the 3 feet wide mouth of the largest fish in the ocean.

Now I must apologise for I have got ahead of myself a little, so let me back up.

When Jana and I started planning our world trip we discovered that Western Australia is the only place in the world that you can go swimming with Whale Sharks in their natural environment. So needless to say, we were chomping at the bit to try it for ourselves. When the time finally arrived for us to don our snorkel and fins and we were stood on the back of the dive boat awaiting the signal to jump in alongside this gentle giant of the deep, we knew we were about to embark upon a once in a life time experience.
The emotions felt as I swam frantically in the direction of the Whale Shark were excitement coupled with a slight sense of fear as I found myself staring down the throat of a colossus fish. It had been explained to us that there was no danger of being eaten by these timid creatures as they only feed on tiny fish. However, it quickly became apparent that a human could, in true Jonah style, be swallowed into the whales abyss and just like I knew the bungy chord would keep my safe, you can't help think 'what if...'.

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Posted by davekrohne 02:34 Archived in Australia Tagged animal Comments (0)

Camper Van Envy

sunny 30 °C

When I was growing up as a kid, my dad drove an old VW camper van. It was two tone blue with accents of orange rust, and to be perfectly frank I was completely embarrassed to ride in it. I used to beg my dad to drop me off around the corner from my school so the other kid wouldn't see the old rust bucket i was arriving in.
However, as it transpired, VW vans are now incredibly cool and are an icon for generations of surfers and endless summers. In the naivity of my youth I failed to appreciate that my dad, in his choice of vehicle, was in fact a cutting edge trend setter who managed to fly under my radar as a true style guru. I consider this introduction to and slowly developed appreciation of campervans a prerequesit to the situation I now find myself in.

I will now get to what inspired me to sit down and write this blog...

In the summer of 2005 I went on a camping trip to Wales with my brother-in-law, Luke, and some of his friends. In the evening, after a hard days mountain biking, we were sitting around the campfire and before too long Luke and his friends started comparing and contrasting their camping equipment.
There were conversations about whose pots and pans were better and who had and didn't have the new titanium tent pegs. Anyway, after enduring this for a little while I got to the point where I'd had enough and declared 'If I ever sit around and compare who has the best camping equipment, you have my permission to shoot me!'

So, needless to say. when just the other day I was sat in our newly rented campervan, I was shocked to feel myself experience pangs of envy flow through me when a newer, superior campervan pulled into the parking lot.
Now please don't get me wrong- we love our campervan- after all an Englishman's home is his castle. However, it can only be described as 'basic'. It consists of three storage boxes which double as a bed, a sink and a portable camping stove. I should also add that there is absoluely no standing room.
When I laid eyes upon this other campervan all shiny and new with it's separate sleeping compartments, full kitchen, onboard restroom and ample head room for backflips, I can honestly say I felt a little jealous.

Perhaps this is a coming of age for me or the fulfillment of the inevitable after that night in Wales when i declared my distain for comparing camping equipment. All i know is that having access to your own toilet and not having to rely on public toilets for your bathroom needs must be a truely amazing thing.

It appears you really get what you pay for when hiring camper vans. Perhaps in future we'll upgrade. Lesson Learned

STOP PRESS- As it has transpired the lack of head room was not the only problem with our campervan. It is a heavy burden to have to announce that on Friday the van broke down 300 km from anywhere in particular, leaving us stranded for 24 hours in a creepy road house that would not have been out of place in a Stephen King novel.
However, on the upside, we have a replacement that is about 2 feet longer and a foot taller (still not enough to stand up). We are now travelling with Benny, Bjorn, Anni and Agnetha in tow who are collectively known as ABBA (the van is ABBA themed).

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Posted by davekrohne 18:31 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Snoring-The Joys of Hostel Living

A Tale of no sleep

sunny 22 °C

In life there are certain things that an individual may find exceptionally annoying and hard to bare. For some it's that baby screaming in the row behind you for the duration of a long haul flight. For others it is the guy humming his own made up tune in the long line at the DMV. For me it is quickly becoming snoring and that selfish individual who believes it appropriate to inflict his/her nightime nasal orchestra on other hostel room mates when there is available, for just a few dollars more, private rooms where they can conduct their symphony in confinement.

Websters English Dictionary describes 'Snoring' as follows;

'Breathing during sleep with harsh noises caused by vibration of the uvula or soft palate that can cause immense irritation to others who are in ear shot and have to suffer whilst the culprit sleeps happily.'

When embarking on a globe trotting, hostel frequenting trip you accept the fact that there is a slight chance that from time to time you will have to endure the sleepless agonies that are brought about by being awakened and then kept awake by snoring. And having spent time living in hostels previously, my experience would suggest that the majority of the time hostel rooms are snoring free.
However, i am quickly starting to believe that i have had some kind of snoring voodoo placed upon me because, as i write this, i have not slept the whole night through for over a week because of the above mentioned ailment.
My troubles began with the 80+ year old lady in Mount Cook who believed it appropriate to snore, break wind and hiccup (something ive never seen done before) during her sleep. My initial thoughts were that perhaps she is travelling on a budget and could not afford a private room or a suite at the hotel across the street until it became apparent that she spent $60 a night on dinner at a local restaurant.

Next came the guy in Queenstown who felt it necessary to combine his snoring with the most insane teeth grinding i have ever heard. This situation was made worse by the fact that he was sleeping in the bunk below me so the sound would travel up the bed and reverberate through my matress making the sound blocking technique of covering your head with a pillow to drown out the noise useless. The teeth grinding was so loud that it was like sleeping above a goliath mouse-i find it hard to understand how he still has any teeth remaining.

Having subsequently changed rooms in Queenstown to get away from the snoring grinder we came across the next culprit-and perhaps the worst yet. This individual had nothing else going on other than the snoring, but it was so vicious that Jana and I decided we had to try and do something to get him to stop so maybe we could finally get a little sleep. It quickly became apparent that this guy had passed out drunk still wearing all his clothes and the usual techniques of throwing stuff at him weren't working. I began by violently shaking his leg hoping this would disturb him enough to stop. Nothing-the snoring continued. Jana then attempted to roll him over onto his side. She pratically lifted him off the mattress and he did not even stir.
It took our combined efforts to roll him over and finally the snoring stopped...for a couple of hours at least.

I'm quickly realising that paying a few more dollars for a private room is the only way im going to get any sleep around here...Lesson Learned

Posted by davekrohne 15:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Never Listen to Self Proclaimed 'Wise Men'

Jet Lag Remedies

overcast 15 °C

A wise man once told me that if you fly west the effects of jet lag are far less than if you were to fly east-something to do with chasing night and not day. He also described to me 3 'remedies' that can aid in lessening the effects of this mind bending, timezone hopping ailment. They are as follows;

1. Drink lots of water on the plane- No suprises there, not sure if alcohol is a substitute for this...

2. Right before the plane is about to land, gently pull the outside of your ears in all directions straight out from the middle of your ear. You will do this for about 20 seconds.- OK, that makes sense...i guess

3. Rub underneath your left armpit, right in the middle of your side. Rub this area for about 20 seconds, and remember, you can't rub for too long so rub away.- Right?...

However, as i have discovered since landing in Christchurch, NZ, yesterday after flying in from Denver, USA, that flying west does nothing to aid in the prevention of jet lag. Beyond this, all i got from these so called 'remedies' was alot of trips to the plane's toilet, ear ache and an annoyed traveller in the seat next to me having repeatedly jabbed him with my elbow as i tried to rub my left armpit...
I feel completely bent out of shape, and in the words of the great poet, The Fresh Prince, my life feels 'flipped turned upside down'.

It is probably worth mentioning that this so called 'wise man' was recently locked away in an insane asylum as he was convinced he was William Shakespeare. That's the last time i listen to someone who nicknames me Macbeth. Lesson learned...Be Warned

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Posted by davekrohne 08:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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