12 March 2009

Australian Beginnings

'I tell you what' said Nick on the bed opposite 'I'm glad I had that virus in that Bali guesthouse rather than in some dorm room. Especially this shithole.' Yeah you're right, I thought to myself. I would much rather be spewing my guts up in a clean Bali guesthouse providing air-conditioning and an en-suite bathroom than some dive backpackers in the Northbridge area of Perth, in a dorm room with 8 other lads and the nearest toilet a five minute walk away and the sign on the door proudly boasting that it had not been cleaned since January the 12th. Two months ago.

As Nick returned to his book, I slowly made my way to the door and once through it sprinted along the corridors attempting to hold that nauseous feeling down. I burst into the toilet, found the only available cubicle and bought up the remains of a god awful Chinese meal I had eaten earlier in some Perth shopping mall. Yes, I thought to myself as I slumped against the cubicle door, it would be much better to be doing this in a clean bathroom in Bali.

That was my first day in Australia. After 6 reasonably healthy weeks through South East Asia where I was careful about every meal I had, my first day in a Western country was to be spent looking down the toilet as I ignored one of the unwritten rules of travelling- Never eat in a place that boasts luminous food on it's menu.

But that was three days ago and while I have not quite recovered from the food poisoning that so cruely struck me down, I am enjoying this place a lot more. In four days time I will be beginning a dream that I have had for a long time. A proper road trip around Australia, well not really around Australia but from Perth on the South West Coast to Darwin in the far North. 3 weeks and 4000 kilometres will be covered.

I'll let you know how I get on.

5 March 2009

What I have learnt so far

Six weeks ago I arrived at London Heathrow airport bigger, cleaner and had much shorter hair than the mess that I know own. But there were a few lessons that I had not learned back then, things that I have picked up over the last month and a half travelling through South East Asia.

Tomorrow the first part of the trip is over. Nick and I will be leaving behind unpaved roads, and squatting toilets for more familiar surroundings in Australia. So here is what I have learned during the brilliant first part:

1) Remembering a street name just because it has a swear word in it can sometimes be the best way to direct a taxi driver home when you are half-cut.

2) Eating Western food in an Eastern country can be incredibly satisfying.

3) Irish people will only put up with a certain amount of 'Potato, potato, potato' and 'Tirty tree tree trunks' before storming off in a huff.

4) A missed bus is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a change of plan can throw up positives you did not expect.

5) Every Aussie that has ever travelled in Asia is from Melbourne. And they are usually very friendly.

6) Welsh people don't travel. Certainly not to SE Asia anyway.

7) Cambodia is not full of mud huts and there are actually people there that drive Mercs and Lexus'.

8) Tubing is worth missing.

9) Pol Pot was not the sort of person you would invite to your house for Sunday lunch.

10) 'Hocking' and gobbing is not considered rude in Asia.

11) There is a clock that runs to 'Asian time' and it is 20 minutes behind all over world clocks.

12) There is no safe way to travel around Vietnam (and that includes by foot).

13) Drunken decisions are often the best ones.

14) Never pick up a stray cat without having first had the Rabies jab.

15) Never shake an Asian person's left hand.

16) Four year old kids can be good at Tic Tac Toe.

17) A monkey in a dress may be cruel, but damn it is funny.

18) The hose is more refreshing than toilet paper although can lead to partial flooding of a toilet cubicle.

19) A sleeper bus is not as attractive as it's name suggests and should be renamed the 'light doze then breakdown' bus.

20) 12p tastes like it really should cost 12p.

21) Surfing in Bali is tougher than in Devon.

22) A floating bamboo hut may look like a good place for a room but is not ideal in aiding a blissful night's sleep.

23) Ear plugs are a sound investment.

24) Watching a 2 foot pike being fed dinner is a worthwhile piece of afternoon's entertainment.

25) Water puppetry is not.