Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Discovery Darwin

A few days into my time in Darwin and I'm getting a feel for where I am. Finding your way around a new town is always an interesting time and this small town is no exception.
It is a small town. The central district just a couple of miles square making it easy to navigate and everything I might need before I venture into the outback is available in town. What I need depends on what the customs man decides I can't bring in to the country via the crate containing my bike and travelling gear.

I have sourced a replacement rear tyre for the bike at a kawasaki dealer on the outskirts of town. The tyre has been put to one side for me, I just need the bike to put it on. At least the ship now appears to be en route to Darwin.. 

In the meantime I've rented a car to get around a bit and have looked up a few tourist destinations to visit while I have the time.

With the weather at a constant sunny 34° it's summer time and despite the empty beaches and waters inhabited by deadly stingers there are safe places to take a cooling swim.
Inland billabongs and cascading waterfalls are apparently a local favourite. . Somewhere I will look into while I have the time.

I visited a crocodile tourist attraction.. The "swimming with crocs" (in a glass cage) was appealing until I worked out the cost for 20 minutes in the pool.. Think I'll save the money ta! 

The "Darwin waterfront" has a wave pool and a safe harbour for swimming with a small man made beach and grass banking. On a hot day during the week it is relatively quiet and drying off in the sun with my book to read after a cooling dip has been a favourite way to soak up a couple of lazy hours in an afternoon. 

I know England will be turning towards winter so I'm sorry to report that the Australian spring is more than pleasant. But then chasing the summer around the world has always been part of the plan.  

After mooching around Darwin central for a few days I took a trip out into the "bush" at an area called Litchfield Park  (which sounds more like a horse race track!) It's a 1500km² natural area about 100km south of Darwin. 

Without the car it would have been mostly inaccessible to me. But after an hours drive the modern world fell away, to be replaced by low trees with dark lower halves recording the effects of the last bush fire and white new growth branches on top. Apart from an itinerant herd of (bloody big) cattle wandering across the road causing me to make a dramatic reduction in speed the countryside seemed a little devoid of wildlife as it baked under a 39°C afternoon. I've yet to see my first Kangaroo, but I'm sure my time will come! 

Passing a sign to "Lost City" (surely not lost anymore then?) and with nowhere in particular to aim for the first signpost that didn't specify the need for a 4WD vehicle pointed me to "Florence falls". Despite the in car aircon the chance to cool off a bit was too good to miss and despite the climb from the viewing platform to get there is was worth every minute in the plunge pool under a natural power shower. 

Further on a second waterfall sign tempted me again to Wangi falls. Again too much to resist under the heat of the sub tropical sun. 

Travelling back with the car windows open. (I'm trying not to rely on the aircon too much as it doesn't help acclimatisation) I thought about the challenges ahead once my bike arrives. With approximately 2000km to travel to the east coast it will be quite an undertaking. Although having crossed Kazakhstan in July, not one that I'm overly concerned about. And with no need to cover big distances as I did in Russia, I plan to limit the mileage to manageable levels each day and take my time. There is plenty of fuel stops and roadhouses on the route so finding a place to stop each evening shouldn't be an issue. Even so travelling all day in near 40° temperatures will necessitate a little forwards planning for being a bit self sufficient with water supplies.

But that is all to come later. For now the adventure is exploring this part of the Northern Territory and enjoying the season. 

C'ya later!

(9ft high termite mound)

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Darwinian theories

The theory being that the stars had aligned and my bike would arrive a day after me. 

But natural selection is a bit more random than that and now the ship with my bike aboard won't dock in Darwin until approximately the 3rd of November. Damn!

Still, there's worse places to be stranded. . . 
A brief look around this little town in the wonderful isolation of the northern territory shows there is lots to see and do. I do need some transport so a hire car is needed. It was fine being stuck in one place on a beach but getting around in Darwin means motorised transport is necessary.

The beaches nearby look utterly wonderful but are equally deadly as it's box jellyfish season. . Not a single swimmer under the fabulous blue skies. It's slightly ironic that surrounded by acres of pristine beach, Darwin has a wave machine pool in a beachside development.

I do like the "vibe" in the town. There's lots of backpacker facilities. Outback equipped trucks and long haired travelling types rubbing shoulders with the local community. I should fit in easily with my current style statements of third world cotton shirts and shoulder length hair. !!

Peace and love man!

So with a couple of weeks to fill I'll take time to explore a little. . Time enough sat still over the last couple of weeks. I had hoped to be on the east coast in two weeks time but I'm stuck with it and will still have time to visit the great barrier reef and plenty of other sights in my time here. . I've just lost a couple of weeks out of my time.

 "No worries"

Monday, 19 October 2015

Easy like a Sunday morning. .

After two weeks of doing mostly nothing it's time to rouse my lazy self and move. . Days of swimming. Sitting in the sun, reading (three) books and generally doing nothing comes to an end tomorrow. . 

Not before time really. . It's been enjoyable to take some time off. . Contrary to what you might think, travelling all the time does get difficult at times and mentally as as well as physically draining. But I feel rested and ready to go again. It will be good to re-acquaint myself with my bike.

So an overnight flight via Perth will see me deposited in Darwin with a few days to sort out the customs requirements.
Ko samui has been a relaxing, warm comfortable venue to kick back. I haven't seen a lot of it which is a bit of a shame but I've spent very little money, which is good for my antipodean adventure to come.

Monday mornings aren't very difficult but this one closes the chapter. Packing up my small bag and getting ready to move on brings the familiar sense of anticipation for travelling. .

 There is something fabulous in that thought of not being where I am now tomorrow. The wanderer in me feels fulfilled when it happens. There's something to be said for stability, but I think it leaves me slightly frustrated with life. Thinking there is so much more to experience. So much more to see. Life isn't forever and time it seems accelerates as I get older. 

I have a few hours to spend waiting for the flight that will take me to the mainland to take the overnight flight to Australia ... Land of the young and free, of golden soil and wealth for toil. Where home is girt by sea and land abounds in natures gifts, Of beauty rich and rare.

Advance Australia fair

Friday, 9 October 2015

Desert Island dreamin'

Arriving after sunset, stepping off the narrow bodied short haul jet brought the familiar sensory shock of humidity. None of the gentle introductions of arriving by sea. Easing into a new country.

Travel by air holds no such pleasantries. . Bam!. . There you go. . Get on with it.

A suitably rustic airport building is approached via an open bus, but luckily my single "travelling light" bag completed the same journey as me and a £2 taxi ride delivers me to a welcome air conditioned room at the north of the island.

Welcome then to Koh Samui. Ex backpacker hippy paradise more recently discovered by the less open minded but slightly better off hedonists in search of all night beach parties and all day sleeping in the sun at the obvious resort.

But away from the party populist beach there is a peaceful island that has not been spoiled by lager lout reputations. like any holiday destination there is charter boats and tourist traps but it's easy to slip aside from that. 

A beach front room on the north coast is as peaceful as smooth sea lapping against soft palm lined sand.

This then is "home" for a while. A chance to recharge and sit with a cool beer, a book and sunglasses, easing my way through the day. 

A little supermarket across the road will provide most things I need. A fishermen's market a short stroll along the beach will supply fish for a bbq .

Time to chill in the heat.

My bike will be delivered to Darwin on the 21st, although I expect customs clearance will take a little while after that. Which is picture postcard perfect thanks as my flight to Aus is booked for the 19th. In the words of Hannibal Smith "I love it when a plan comes together"

Thursday, 8 October 2015

lets play Korean or European...

Slight difference from normal blog posts
(with apologies to those completely uninterested in cars - who can move on - nothing to see here)

Still here? 
I played a little game of "Korean European" with the cars while I was there.

But can you spot one from the other?

click each image to see the answer in a new page. 

First one should be easy.

second one not so sure? 

Third one - you'll get this one

Fourth one - tricky?

Fifth - hows it going so far?

Sixth one

Seventh heaven

Eighth one - you know this one

Ninth one - Almost done

And to finish on

Normal service will now be resumed....

Monday, 5 October 2015

Moving on. . .

Well that's that. . After a week out of town offline from the connected world I've re-entered the 21st century. 

The bike is in a wooden crate and will soon be on its way by sea to antipodean shores. Guess I had better be there to meet it!
In the meantime I've got time to spend travelling to exotic shores for a little RNR. 

So an island off the coast of Thailand beckons for the coming weeks. 

South Korea is a heady sometimes difficult mix of traditional and modern. It is very unlike my own and probably most people's preconception. Dog isn't on the menu of every restaurant and rickshaws don't fill the narrow streets instead wide well surfaced modern roads are populated with 21st century cars. And as I've already talked about burger bars and western food is easily and readily available. 

Outside the crowded towns the countryside is lush and hilly and beaches are good where you can find space away from fishing villages. 

But now I'm on my way. . I've avoided air travel on this trip so far but it's not very realistic to travel this leg by ship so airline ticket in hand I'm about to board the big silver bird and take to the sky. Ko Samuai island is my destination. Soft white sand. Crystal clear waters and a beach front apartment will be home for a couple of weeks before I get myself to Darwin to collect my bike. 

Expect pictures of palms and sunsets over the beach in my next update. 
It's a dirty job...