juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)
I realised the other day that I never got round to uploading my photos from cycling the Great Ocean Road, and meandering around West Australia.

Great Ocean Road to Mt Gambier
South and West Australia
juliet: (round the world)
It occurred to me recently that I never wrote anything here about my cargo-freighter-based return from Australia, and that perhaps I should rectify this.

turns out the world is very big )

[0] Container ships have a single accommodation block, usually of about 6 floors, at or towards the back, with all the people-space in it and the bridge perched on the top.
juliet: My rats Ash & Rowan, at 6 wks, trying to climb the outside of the baby-rat-tank (ash & rowan)
I am returned (came alongside at Tilbury around 2250 on Friday night)! Have spent the weekend hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] marnameow, [livejournal.com profile] dogrando, and [livejournal.com profile] uon, which has featured pizza and allotment and beer and so on. And failing to sleep properly. And tidying up / clearing things out. (I have a big pile of clothes & books for Freecycle/whatever; although Pete suggested a plan for the books, of which more anon.)

Anyway. I am too frazzled to say more at this point, tbh (due to only getting 4 hrs sleep last night, or thereabouts).
juliet: (Default)
I am in a hostel in Philadelphia, & catching up posting a few already-written things. It is *weird as hell* to be here -- I was last here (in this hostel, not just in Philly) almost exactly 10 years ago, after the whole door-to-door-sales disaster. (I lasted 3 days before I quit & came here instead.) Walking into the front room was peculiar; the shock of recognition I got on walking into the dorm was far, far more so. (I was quite emotionally erratic at the time, for various reasons, and I was never entirely happy with how I made the decision I eventually made to go back home again; so, hm. I will see this as an opportunity to process that!) Off on the next ship tomorrow; due into Tilbury on Saturday week, I think. Gosh. Anyway! Various things about the USA, in list form

Things I like about San Franciso:

  • The Haight. (Spotted on this occasion: a chap offering free high-fives; someone else being towed along the street on a skateboard by his bull terrier; an advert for a monthly peace demonstration -- just peace generally -- with cookies, signs, and humor (sic) available.)
  • The Goodwill shop on the Haight (this time: one top and one dress th at is the Correct sort of several-blues, $11 all in). The other second-hand shop I bought stuff in last time I was in SF (a decade ago now, slightly alarmingly) is still there as well.
  • $1.50 bus fares.
  • Friendly people generally.
  • More specifically, friendly people I actually know! (hello to Simon and Skud)

Things I like about Amtrak long-distance trains (Superliner or something, I think they're called):

  • Lots of legroom.
  • Proper legrests.
  • Surprisingly good veggie pasta in the dining car.
  • The observation car.
  • Being double-decker! (I know lots of countries have double-decker trains. I still get unreasonably excited about them.)
  • The women's washroom on the lower level. Lack of showers, but the washroom was big enough to have a reasonably proper wash. No lock though, possibly as it's intended I think for doing, I dunno, makeup or something (there is no men's washroom; all the toilets are unisex), and it has a couple of seats in and so forth. It also has electricity, and is thus a good place to sit and recharge your laptop, except that people keep trying to come in and getting confused.
Sad lack of powerpoints, though (the second train I was on, Chicago-Washington, had more of them in the observation car). The shorter-distance train, Washington-New York, had powerpoints at each seat. Much better.

Things I noticed from the train window:

  • Colorado has lots of mountains (some still snow-covered even in June) and canyons and so forth, and is terribly pretty.
  • This is however made a little less true by the fact that it is apparently the Done Thing among certain sorts of white-water rafters to moon the train as it passes. And there are a lot of white-water rafters along the Colorado River (or whatever the hell it's called). And all of them would do much better to keep their trousers on.
  • Iowa and West Virginia look like places where one should grow many things. Unfortunately too much of it is monoculture, grumble grumble.
  • Lots of houses (mostly those very American-looking wooden ones -- clapboard, is that the stuff?) and people's backyards and so forth. This is one of the things I really like about train travel, and always have been, ever since I was little and first took the train up to Victoria, peering at all the back gardens and backs of terraces along the way.

Other random notes:

  • Do not assume that you can find a hostel bed in Washington DC when you show up. Furthermore, do not decide to walk to Hostel A (only 10 blocks or so...) rather than phoning first in order to discover this.
  • However! It is possible, starting from Union Station, to dump one's bags in the left-luggage; walk past the Capitol, Senate, Library of Congress etc (all helpfully in the same place), up the National Mall and to the Washington Monument, and then north to the White House; get the metro back to the station, and rescue one's luggage; all within 1h45. I'd have had time to grab some food as well if there hadn't been a problem with the metro (later turned out to be a fairly serious train crash) necessitating an extra 15 min of walking.
  • Washington DC in June is really very warm, and the Mall lacks any shade.
  • The Lower East Side of New York has lots of lovely tiny garden-park things, and is in general a really interesting place to wander round. I like NY a lot.
  • NY also has friendly people (hello to Mike!), and a really rather good vegan restaurant on 6th & Ave A (Lower East Side again), called Caravan of Dreams.

Chicago

Jun. 21st, 2009 05:03 pm
juliet: (Default)
Total quantity of Chicago I have seen or am going to see: Union Station. Which is very much like a train station.

Amtrak trains v comfortable, plus I got a double seat all to myself all the way from Emeryville (SF). They're double-decker, and there's an observation car, and the food in the dining car is actually reasonably acceptable, for train food. I could still kinda do without another 22 hours or whatever of it... speaking of which, I should probably go and find the next train. And some dinner.
juliet: (round the world)
Arrived in San Francisco this morning. We came under the Golden Gate Bridge just after 4am -- which I did get up for, and it was all very exciting. We came right past Fisherman's Wharf, as well, and I could see Grace Cathedral all lit up on the hill as we came into the bay. Docked just before 6am, had a nice chat to a very friendly, helpful Customs & Immigration Official, and was on US soil by 7am. I then hiked about 2 miles to the nearest BART station, which may have been an error (my knees hurt now), but after 24 days of no exercise at all, it felt good at the time.

Other things that are good: the TRULY ENORMOUS vegan burrito I had for breakfast (black beans and tofu!); free interwebs and squashy sofas at the youth hostel; being in contact with people again.

I am bloody knackered though (didn't sleep much at all last night, and haven't been sleeping well for a while now, possibly due to lack of exercise) and hanging on in there for another couple of hrs until I can legitimately go to sleep.

The ship was an interesting experience, about which I may write more anon. The diet (they're not really set up for vegans or even vegetarians; I ate a lot of boiled potatoes, although the cook was kind enough to cook veg separately most days for myself and the other veggie passenger) & lack of exercise I found really fairly tough. Being out of contact for so long was quite good in some ways (can't keep hitting F5... and I certainly found it a slightly stressful shock to get back online today and have an inbox full of 90% crap to deal with); and not good in others (no way of contacting people I actually want to talk to!). And of course it did the thing I wanted it to: I got from point A (Australia) to point B (the US) successfully, if slowly.

More excitingly, I saw DOLPHINS in Mexico & then on our way up the coast. And flying fish nearer the equator! I also came to the conclusion that the Pacific is really very, very large indeed.

It might be nearly dinnertime. I am going to make lentil bolognaise. I am looking forward to this quite a lot.

Tahiti

Jun. 5th, 2009 04:53 pm
juliet: (Default)
A quick post from Tahiti, where I've just had a very welcome few hrs ashore after getting on for 2 weeks on board the MV Hansa Flensburg. Which is a very nice ship, but even so it's not that large to spend 24 days on.

My cabin is enormous, which is good as I'm spending a lot of time in it. (Sofas, DVD player, desk, bookshelves: all most luxurious.) I was intending to upload some photos but the connection here is a bit erratic & the French keyboard is infuriating; so it'll have to wait till the US.

Tahiti is warm, mostly. I'd have liked the opportunity to see more of it than just Papeete, but with only 10 hrs ashore and no transport it wasn't really feasible. So I spent much of the afternoon sat in a cafe in the central market, drinking beer and listening to a band that did a couple of hrs' set. They kept getting various (obviously locally-known) folk up fron the audience to sing for a bit, and it was all very cheerful and suitably Friday-afternoonish.

I also had pizza for lunch. The food on board ship is fine, but not wildly veggie-friendly, so I'm eating a lot of boiled potatoes with avocado salad, and occasionally peas. I like potatoes quite a lot, but after a while they do begin to pall a little.

Anyway: all going well, due into Ensenada in 9 days, and then Oakland 2 days after that.
juliet: (Default)
I am in Adelaide, on the ship. Which was due to leave 0700 today (this involved an 0600 Customs visit[0]), then 1100 today, and now 1300 or later. I am getting a little antsy; it's a bit neither-one-thing-nor-the-other, waiting to have left but not actually being gone.

I have just spent ten minutes trying to write things about one or more of:
- Australia in general
- the last fortnight in particular
- people I care about
- the waiting-room feeling of being sat on the ship, here but not quite
- the feeling of having a brain overstuffed with Things that I can't quite get a handle on right now
- [a whole bunch of complicated emotional stuff about going and leaving and people that I can't even manage to write clearly about in this kind of non-specific summary form]

and yes, have basically failed to be able to say anything that is not one or both of trite or uninformative (or something else equally unhelpful), so I am going to give up for now.

ION: my cabin is enormous (sitting room, bedroom, bathroom), my window looks forward towards the bow, and I've been watching big cranes loading containers since I boarded yesterday. I am right up top just below the bridge (which apparently I can visit whenever I like as long as I keep out of the way etc). Have met the Captain & Chief Engineer (both v friendly chaps), and a couple of the crew - I'm the only passenger until we reach Auckland on Saturday night.

Due into Oakland (SF) on the 16th, at present. It should be an interesting 3 wks; I am hoping that my belief in my immunity to seasickness proves to be correct!

[0] They asked me more questions than I'm used to getting from passport control - were you on a work visa, when did you get here, were you also working in Mongolia/Vietnam/etc (after looking at my Extensive Visa Collection), why are you boarding at Adelaide when you've been living in Sydney - and then had to hunt through their bag of passport stamps to find the right one. "We don't have to do this much - I've only ever stamped 4 regular passengers out!" one of them said.

Snippets

May. 8th, 2009 09:45 pm
juliet: (Default)
Two nice chaps from Pack&Send showed up this morning (on time, even!) and took my boxes away (2 x clothes/books/random crap, 1 x Cepheus-the-bike[0]). I am now left with (I hope...) belongings sufficient to fit into 1 x big rucksack & 1 x small rucksack. And the sheets, which I intend to post home from Melbourne, because 2 nights in a sleeping bag would feel just that bit too much like camping out, and would make me sad.

Last surf was this lunchtime. Wah. Conditions a bit choppy, but I had the fun anyway. I should mention at this point that Let's Go Surfing are awesome & I strongly recommend them. The instructors were good, but as well as that, all the staff have been consistently helpful and friendly every time I've been in. They look after your stuff for you while you're hiring, they're happy to advise on conditions (even by phone, so you can check if it's worth going down there), & the couple of times I've spotted an instructor when I've been out on my own & in need of information[1], they've been happy to help. Yay for them.

The ship I will be going to Mexico on! This is the couple I met on the train through Malaysia, back in November. I am v much looking forward to the trip, although sadly I do have stuff I have to get done while I'm on board. (ah, the joys of freelancing...)

Leaving Sydney on Sunday...

Oh yes, some links:
* Tiny pigs!
* Lovelace & Babbage Vs The Economy! Pt 1, Pt 2.

[0] The packing process would have been *easier* if they made bike boxes a bit bloody bigger. e.g. big enough so that you only need to take *one* wheel off. grumble.
[1] e.g. "I've just been stung by a bluebottle[2]. If I ignore it, will my foot fall off?" Ans: no. Also "This board is seriously playing up." "That's because it's 9' and you want 8' or 8'6". Go swap it with that one that's on the beach there."
[2] On Tuesday I was at the Australian Museum & found out that bluebottles are not actually single jellyfish organisms, but collections of zooids! This was v exciting.
juliet: (Default)
Finally finished uploading my London-Australia photos.

(The new ones start here.)

This afternoon I have mostly been putting things into boxes, which is a traumatic process. The boxes (two teachests & Cepheus-the-bike) go tomorrow morning. I have the FEAR that I will end up with random extra bags to carry onto the boat when I realise on Sunday that I forgot to pack $important_thing (which will doubtless also be *heavy*).

Test packing of the rucksack reveals a) things fit!, and b) luggage is about 50% books & other paper, & 50% clothes. I may end up either abandoning, or posting home, books at San Francisco[0].

[0] The last time I was in San Francisco was when I was 21 and spent the Easter vac driving round the SW of the States (bless Oxford & its 6 wk vacations, even if the 8 wk terms are actually designed to generate insanity and overwork). As I didn't have to *carry* anything anywhere, due to having a car, I ended up buying enough books that I had to buy a bag to carry them home in. And then I forgot that I also had a bottle of vodka in the bag, which obviously broke on its way through baggage handling. Thus all my Arnistead Maupin books are slightly crinkled and vodka-ish.
juliet: (round the world)
I am going to be in the US probably between 16th June & 25th June (starting in San Francisco & finishing in Philadelphia). I'll also be stopping off in New York (or such is the plan). Anyone around on either coast in that sort of area who wants to meet up while I'm out there? ([personal profile] damned_colonial, I will have yr eucalyptus oil :-) )
juliet: (Default)
A thing I forgot to mention before: I stopped off at Chester Forest Camp on my way to Pemberton -- it's a protest camp on a site where they're due to start logging in the New Year. It's an absolutely beautiful area, pristine forest (which, y'know, you can't get *back* once you've chopped it down), and the extent of the logging that's going on all around there is pretty shocking. I saw the banners up as I rode past them, hence stopping to say hello & talk about direct action & compost toilets :) Another piece about the support camp at Karridale.

Currently I am in Adelaide, staying with Pat (the sister of a friend of my Mum's), who is v nice. There is discussion of winery-visiting at the weekend... The two days on the train back from Perth were fine -- I had a double seat to myself, & had a nice chat with a lawyer from Sydney over dinner. Plus we were all serenaded in the dining-car last night by one of the other passengers who was a musician & had brought his guitar with him. Quite bluesy stuff, not at all bad. I am kind of fed up with sleeping on the floor, though, even if it *is* more comfortable than the seats.

Melbourne on Monday, then Tasmania at the end of next week! And it is getting alarmingly close to Xmas although I find this very hard to get to grips with as it is *sunny* out. Does. Not. Compute.
juliet: (Default)
A thing I forgot to mention before: I stopped off at Chester Forest Camp on my way to Pemberton -- it's a protest camp on a site where they're due to start logging in the New Year. It's an absolutely beautiful area, pristine forest (which, y'know, you can't get *back* once you've chopped it down), and the extent of the logging that's going on all around there is pretty shocking. I saw the banners up as I rode past them, hence stopping to say hello & talk about direct action & compost toilets :) Another piece about the support camp at Karridale.

Currently I am in Adelaide, staying with Pat (the sister of a friend of my Mum's), who is v nice. There is discussion of winery-visiting at the weekend... The two days on the train back from Perth were fine -- I had a double seat to myself, & had a nice chat with a lawyer from Sydney over dinner. Plus we were all serenaded in the dining-car last night by one of the other passengers who was a musician & had brought his guitar with him. Quite bluesy stuff, not at all bad. I am kind of fed up with sleeping on the floor, though, even if it *is* more comfortable than the seats.

Melbourne on Monday, then Tasmania at the end of next week! And it is getting alarmingly close to Xmas although I find this very hard to get to grips with as it is *sunny* out. Does. Not. Compute.
juliet: (Default)

And lo! I am back in Perth again. Where it is sunny and warm and other suchlike things which I was led to believe that Australia would feature but have so far been largely failing to materialise. Also I am staying in the One World Backpackers which is lovely -- cheap wireless, free towel, free breakfast, nice garden with hammocks, lovely sofas in the living room.

The last few days of cycling have featured: hills; trees; a crazed avian cyclist-assassin. Finally, a use for the helmet, viz, protecting my delicate scalp-fleshes from the CLAWS. Shouting at it had no discernable effect, so I sprinted instead. Apparently I can go quite fast when I have the incentive. All scalp-fleshes thankfully still intact.

The trees were all very nice. I climbed to a 61m fire lookout (up pegs stuck in a treetrunk;, went on a tree-top walk on a slightly alarmingly swaying walkway (it was fabulous, though, to see the trees from that height); and cycled for 27km through forest on a road which saw a car about once every 15 min, so it was mostly just me and the trees. And the hills. And lots of birdsong (but no crazed assassin-birds).

I am ludicrously healthy at the moment: lots of energy, clear skin, cold wet nose[0], that sort of thing. Apparently getting 8 hrs sleep a night and lots of outdoor exercise, on a diet of lentils, rice, veggies, and porridge, with very little alcohol, is good for you. Who knew? I have developed legs that Chris Hoy would be proud of[1] and I laugh in the face of hills[2]. I look forward to all of this deserting me in the New Year when I go back to *not* spending my entire time on a bike. On the downside, WA is apparently Mosquito Central, and my legs are all over bite marks/scabs where I've scratched too much. Bah.

I have also developed a list of Good Songs For Cycling To, which includes:

  • Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang)
  • Baby I Don't Care (Transvision Vamp)
  • Up In Our Bedroom After The War (Stars)
  • Born To Run (Springsteen) (sadly I do not actually have this with me on this occasion, but I once got from Trafalgar Sq to home via the Embankment in 17 min flat with this on repeat.)
Since I am of the opinion that if you're not capable of singing at least a bit whilst cycling, you're trying too hard[3], I have been able to cause much alarm in roadside cows. Transvision Vamp in particular seem to make them stop and stare, although tbh roadside cows will stop and stare at pretty much anything. I guess there's not much entertainment for them.

Off back to Adelaide on the train tomorrow; for now I think it may be dinnertime.

[0] This is actually true on occasion, e.g. when going downhill fast into the wind.
[1] This is a gross exaggeration, which is probably for the best as Chris Hoy, whilst a splendid and very impressive chap, is also a freak of nature who has leg muscles where normal people just have, like, skin.
[2] This is an outright lie.
[3] This is not actually as lazy as it sounds. Broadly speaking the higher your heart rate, the more you're using carbs instead of fat, and breathing hard is a decent stand-in for heart rate. And high carb usage = more chance of bonking. Which is bad, if doing long-distance.

juliet: (Default)

And lo! I am back in Perth again. Where it is sunny and warm and other suchlike things which I was led to believe that Australia would feature but have so far been largely failing to materialise. Also I am staying in the One World Backpackers which is lovely -- cheap wireless, free towel, free breakfast, nice garden with hammocks, lovely sofas in the living room.

The last few days of cycling have featured: hills; trees; a crazed avian cyclist-assassin. Finally, a use for the helmet, viz, protecting my delicate scalp-fleshes from the CLAWS. Shouting at it had no discernable effect, so I sprinted instead. Apparently I can go quite fast when I have the incentive. All scalp-fleshes thankfully still intact.

The trees were all very nice. I climbed to a 61m fire lookout (up pegs stuck in a treetrunk;, went on a tree-top walk on a slightly alarmingly swaying walkway (it was fabulous, though, to see the trees from that height); and cycled for 27km through forest on a road which saw a car about once every 15 min, so it was mostly just me and the trees. And the hills. And lots of birdsong (but no crazed assassin-birds).

I am ludicrously healthy at the moment: lots of energy, clear skin, cold wet nose[0], that sort of thing. Apparently getting 8 hrs sleep a night and lots of outdoor exercise, on a diet of lentils, rice, veggies, and porridge, with very little alcohol, is good for you. Who knew? I have developed legs that Chris Hoy would be proud of[1] and I laugh in the face of hills[2]. I look forward to all of this deserting me in the New Year when I go back to *not* spending my entire time on a bike. On the downside, WA is apparently Mosquito Central, and my legs are all over bite marks/scabs where I've scratched too much. Bah.

I have also developed a list of Good Songs For Cycling To, which includes:

  • Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang)
  • Baby I Don't Care (Transvision Vamp)
  • Up In Our Bedroom After The War (Stars)
  • Born To Run (Springsteen) (sadly I do not actually have this with me on this occasion, but I once got from Trafalgar Sq to home via the Embankment in 17 min flat with this on repeat.)
Since I am of the opinion that if you're not capable of singing at least a bit whilst cycling, you're trying too hard[3], I have been able to cause much alarm in roadside cows. Transvision Vamp in particular seem to make them stop and stare, although tbh roadside cows will stop and stare at pretty much anything. I guess there's not much entertainment for them.

Off back to Adelaide on the train tomorrow; for now I think it may be dinnertime.

[0] This is actually true on occasion, e.g. when going downhill fast into the wind.
[1] This is a gross exaggeration, which is probably for the best as Chris Hoy, whilst a splendid and very impressive chap, is also a freak of nature who has leg muscles where normal people just have, like, skin.
[2] This is an outright lie.
[3] This is not actually as lazy as it sounds. Broadly speaking the higher your heart rate, the more you're using carbs instead of fat, and breathing hard is a decent stand-in for heart rate. And high carb usage = more chance of bonking. Which is bad, if doing long-distance.

juliet: (Default)
Right, I finally have all the photos up to Phnom Penh (well, all the ones that I intend to put up) online. Hurrah. Of course, since then I have another 3 weeks' worth which I haven't even looked at, but no matter.

I also now have both of the two essentials for functioning in modern society: a bank account and a mobile.

And I went along to the pub down the road from the hostel, because they had some bands on, thinking to have a beer and listen to some music and head home again. Except I fell into conversation at the bar with a nice chap called Wesley, and then he bought me some beer, and then I bought him some beer, and somehow it was 2am and we'd spent the evening discussing things many and various, including the spirituality of Central Australia, Aboriginal beliefs, the difference between pubs in the UK and in Australia, urban planning, casinos, and race relations. So that was good fun.

The hostel I'm in - My Place - is also v nice. Friendly people, nice kitchen, free breakfast inc pancakes provided (cook them yourself, so not everyone copes particularly well with this...)

Tomorrow I am off to Melbourne, where I am staying with my cousin Carol who I have not seen since she & Mike emigrated some years ago! And Cepheus my lovely bike is there, ready for me to put him back together and then ride to the nearest bike shop to buy a h*lm*t, bah humbug.
juliet: (Default)
Right, I finally have all the photos up to Phnom Penh (well, all the ones that I intend to put up) online. Hurrah. Of course, since then I have another 3 weeks' worth which I haven't even looked at, but no matter.

I also now have both of the two essentials for functioning in modern society: a bank account and a mobile.

And I went along to the pub down the road from the hostel, because they had some bands on, thinking to have a beer and listen to some music and head home again. Except I fell into conversation at the bar with a nice chap called Wesley, and then he bought me some beer, and then I bought him some beer, and somehow it was 2am and we'd spent the evening discussing things many and various, including the spirituality of Central Australia, Aboriginal beliefs, the difference between pubs in the UK and in Australia, urban planning, casinos, and race relations. So that was good fun.

The hostel I'm in - My Place - is also v nice. Friendly people, nice kitchen, free breakfast inc pancakes provided (cook them yourself, so not everyone copes particularly well with this...)

Tomorrow I am off to Melbourne, where I am staying with my cousin Carol who I have not seen since she & Mike emigrated some years ago! And Cepheus my lovely bike is there, ready for me to put him back together and then ride to the nearest bike shop to buy a h*lm*t, bah humbug.

Adelaide!

Nov. 10th, 2008 04:14 pm
juliet: (Default)
I am in Adelaide! Train journey was once again not *deeply* comfortable, but I was in the seat at the back which has a big floor-space behind it; and this time I had my sleeping bag & pillow. So I curled up on the floor there which was a great improvement on the seat. (I think I have the same seat to Perth. Good.)

Things I have:
- an Aussie mobile phone. +61 414 149 280. Haven't actually switched it on yet, but when I do, I can now send cheaper texts, and receive calls without being charged nearly a pound a minute. I can also pick up voicemail. The UK number will still work under existing conditions, i.e. I don't have it switched on all the time & I basically can't use it outbound even for text because it's extortionate.
- a second Moleskine notebook (for journal) and more ink, as I am nearly out of both.
- new pants, see below.

Things I do not have:
- my hemp trousers.
- one of the pairs of pants that left the UK with me.
I suspect they both got left in the same place. Ah well; the trousers were really a size too big anyway, and instead I have lovely Young Person's Trousers (i.e. they come to mid-calf) in that colour they call mocha, which I picked up in Darwin.

Things I temporarily do not have:
- Little Bagpuss, who is travelling independently (via the Singaporean/Aussie mail systems) from Singapore to Aus. Oops.
- a bank account. I went to ANZ & they said that their standard account costs $5 a month & charges for non-ANZ ATMs and doesn't pay any interest at all. I left the account-opening until tomorrow so I can investigate whether this is standard.
- a haircut. But I am going to get one in 5 min, so hopefully I will look a bit less like a hedgehog. (I have decided to grow the ultrashort out, but it needs *something* done to it.)

Adelaide!

Nov. 10th, 2008 04:14 pm
juliet: (Default)
I am in Adelaide! Train journey was once again not *deeply* comfortable, but I was in the seat at the back which has a big floor-space behind it; and this time I had my sleeping bag & pillow. So I curled up on the floor there which was a great improvement on the seat. (I think I have the same seat to Perth. Good.)

Things I have:
- an Aussie mobile phone. +61 414 149 280. Haven't actually switched it on yet, but when I do, I can now send cheaper texts, and receive calls without being charged nearly a pound a minute. I can also pick up voicemail. The UK number will still work under existing conditions, i.e. I don't have it switched on all the time & I basically can't use it outbound even for text because it's extortionate.
- a second Moleskine notebook (for journal) and more ink, as I am nearly out of both.
- new pants, see below.

Things I do not have:
- my hemp trousers.
- one of the pairs of pants that left the UK with me.
I suspect they both got left in the same place. Ah well; the trousers were really a size too big anyway, and instead I have lovely Young Person's Trousers (i.e. they come to mid-calf) in that colour they call mocha, which I picked up in Darwin.

Things I temporarily do not have:
- Little Bagpuss, who is travelling independently (via the Singaporean/Aussie mail systems) from Singapore to Aus. Oops.
- a bank account. I went to ANZ & they said that their standard account costs $5 a month & charges for non-ANZ ATMs and doesn't pay any interest at all. I left the account-opening until tomorrow so I can investigate whether this is standard.
- a haircut. But I am going to get one in 5 min, so hopefully I will look a bit less like a hedgehog. (I have decided to grow the ultrashort out, but it needs *something* done to it.)

Australia!

Nov. 4th, 2008 01:17 pm
juliet: (Default)
Also excitingly, I have reached Australia! I arrived in Darwin at about 0430 local time this morning, having been confirmed in my deep hatred of planes. (Cheapass flight = about half an inch of knee room if I sat bolt upright in the distinctly uncomfortable seat. Plus whilst I'm not claustrophobic, I do not like small enclosed spaces, and seats on cheap flights are pretty small and enclosed, never mind the plane itself. Given the option between experiencing that flight again, and experiencing the Horrendous Siam Reap Bus Journey again, I'd be inclined to go for the bus journey.)

However, I got off the shuttle bus at the same place as some sensible people who had pre-booked and thus had hostel staff there to open the place up for them. And me, as a bonus. So have now slept, had breakfast, slept some more, had lunch, and had a look at the SEA. Also I may have seen a bat, or at least a large flying thing that had the sort of wing-edges that bats have, this morning just before sunrise.

Darwin is (you will be amazed to hear) very hot. But there's a nice breeze, and it's less humid than Singapore, and it's now 3 weeks or so since I got to Vietnam and started thinking it was hot, so I'm a bit more acclimatised. This translates into "I still find it incredibly hot and would rather it wasn't, but I don't actually start seeing spots and feeling sick and have to sit down on a regular basis".

My second day in Singapore was also splendid - [livejournal.com profile] euphuistica is an fantastic Singapore-guide as well as excellent company. We went up and down the river on a bum-boat, had a little wander round the quay, went to the very good Asian Cultural Museum, and then had afternoon tea at the Fullerton Hotel. Terribly decadent but very very nice - they just keep bringing you scones and sandwiches and little chocolate thingumajigs and more tea! Also there's a chap playing the piano.

I even made it to the post office - special mention here to [livejournal.com profile] bluedevi's UK Autumn Care Package, which showered me with dried leaves as soon as I opened it :) (Sadly the leaves had to stay in Singapore as Australia is very pernickety about such things, and quite reasonably so.)

I am now trying to sort out the whole Alice Springs/Uluru thing. I wanted to do a tour with these people, but it looks like getting a bus from Alice Springs to Yulara (the place near Uluru where there are places to stay) independently is between "difficult" and "impossible" - everyone just does tours. (And my time is v limited which makes life more difficult.) These people look like they're going to be the best bet.

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