People from Perth

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I woke up this morning with a horrible hangover. Goon, fruit elixir, is the drink of choice for travelers on a budget. It’s a sweet tasting wine that comes in a bag in a box. Once done the wine, the bag can then be blown back up and turned into a pillow. If you hear a person in the hostel, moving there head on something squeaky, and quite possibly snoring. They have been officially “Gooned”. After two glasses of the stuff, I don’t care who you are, it’s almost a guaranteed hangover. Every time.

I spent the night playing a life sized chess game with two gentlemen from England and the other from Australia. Whoever lost the chess game and to chug two glasses of Goon. Seems easy, but let me tell you, I would have much preferred a different punishment to that. The thought of it right now makes me cringe.

Anyways the events of this morning went like this… I headed down to the kitchen. The only thing I bought to eat for breakfast was granola and yoghurt. Any sort of milk product, obviously do not go well with a hangover. I couldn’t even have milk in my tea which was absolutely devastating. I sat there drinking straight black tea with a small lump of sugar and sat at a table looking into space, trying to stop my head from spinning.

A kind older couple from Perth came in and set up a spread of hot eats at the table I was sitting at. We began to talk. The made topic was unfortunate events. They were travelling across Australia from Perth to Cairns in a camper van for two months. Neither one of them had been to Queensland and they wanted to experience the heat and the vast change in landscape. The crank for there bed broke and the top of there camper had collapsed and they decided to stay in the hostel for a couple nights until the parts arrived at the shop. Also during the last three weeks they had two flat tires, three batteries die and a water pump that failed.I told them about my misfortunes; the lost camera at Tully River, roaming phone bill, and my near homeless situation from the day before where all hostels in Townsville were full and I was close to camping on the beach. She commented on how she never sees me eat anything but apples. I told her it was my comfort food. She told me that it was not substantial and that I was going to get to skinny. She took out the last bits of food from her cooler. Two pieces of bacon, two eggs, and two pieces of toast with butter. She handed them to me. Times like these make me really appreciate a good meal and good people. I feel as though both are sometimes very difficult to come by, and I was privileged to receive them at the same time. It was a great morning to say the least.

Song of the day: Feel the Love by Rudimental

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Living in the moment with consequences.

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“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”
-Groucho Marx

In the last 16 days, a lot has changed. A recent realization of mine was that, unlike my last trip, I have about a third of the money and I am staying for about three times as long. Its work time and not every moment of this year can be a holiday. After an amazing week and a half road tripping all the way to Cape Tribulation, it was time to come back to reality. I have spent my emergency float money, and in those times I was living in the moment and not regretting a thing. I am soarly starting to regret my impulsive great barrier reef trip, staying in some not-so-cheap hostels, and more importantly having Bryan buy all the food and gas without me giving him a dime. Although I should not be regretting these experiences because they only come once in a life time, I can’t help have the thought go through my mind from time to time. It’s comes down to the fact that I was being naive when I thought getting a job here would be easy and that I would be more than capable of finding a job in one weeks tops. Not every part of a trip can be fun, and it is this part. Making a life somewhere else rather then my own hometown, without my families help, by myself and with no vehicle…what was I thinking. This blog is not to sit here and feel sorry for myself for I am still having an amazing time trying and soaking up the sun. But to point out the truths of working abroad.

I told myself before leaving home that I would not stress about money. Money is money and when I come home then I start dealing with the reality of it. But it’s easier said then done.

I was driven into to Townsville, a city of about 120,000 people to find work. I don’t know at what part of my journey I though this would be easy. But I would like to tell you all, that if your planning on doing what I am doing. Just be prepared to not find work for a lengthy period of time.

First: Always have an emergency fund. This will depend on how much you impulse lay spend and everyone’s will be different in some sort of way.

Second: I tried to find a job that would offer free accommodation. Do not bank on this. Find yourself a cheap hostel with weekly rates. Once you have stayed there for a while and rapport will be built and who knows you may be asked to do some cleaning in exchange for free accomodation.

Third: I see people all the time surviving on just noodles and bread. Buy yourself something healthy, at least this will make part of your day better. Nothing is worse than being penniless, jobless and without a good meal. It is crucial, may help you perform better.

Fourth: Adapt to the culture. I was told by the Swiss manager here at Civic Guest House in Townsville that every culture has a certain way of getting jobs. Design your resume in a way that is specific to the culture. For instance, people in Canada don’t typically put references… It is almost absolutely required of you in Australia.

Fifth: Australians are all about experience. If you have no waitressing or cafe experiences, you can almost guarantee yourself your not going to get it. Responsible Service of Alcohol licenses (RSA) is absolutely required of one who is servicing alcohol. No ifs ands or buts.

Sixth: This one may be harsh, but true. Australian culture is very laid back. If they do not call you, you have to be aggressive and go back and back. Show your interest

Seven: Do not apply for more than 3 jobs per day. People almost always accept the first job that comes there way but the could be better opportunities. Three per day allow you to control the situation and focus the time and energy into those ones rather than trying to follow the names of 15 places who are all trying to call you.

Eight: Wear nice clothes. I don’t care where you are, first impression is everything

Nine: Do online searches for agencies and send in your resume. Don’t forget to call them back. This is still counted as one for the three per day rule.

Ten: Dont tell lies. If your not planning on staying for a long time, don’t tell them you will. You are wrecking the chances of people like me to get long term jobs.

If anyone has any other advice or would like to correct me, please do. For I could use all the tricks for this next week. It will be a difficult one.

Song of the day: Trembling Hands by the Temper Trap

Queensland Roadtrip; Take 1

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Geez…where do I even begin? Bryan and I decided on Saturday night to go on a roadtrip. Nothing planned, nothing booked. We just decided to drive, and when we decided to pull over, we would.

Sunday, Bryan’s climbing club in Townsville was doing some sports climbing on some rock on a place called Mount Stuart. This was the first time I would climb real rock and all I have to say is that indoor rock does not even come close to preparing you for this. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Attaching new lines to the top of the wall, tying the belay/ climbing the wall. The atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was one big family. Very careful or everyone elses move and considerate. Everyone looking after one another. Good people and good times, and I would definitely like to try this again when we work our way up North.

Last night crashed at Bryans highschool friends place in Townsville, enjoyed a few beers and a few too many pizzas. The night was cut short as we needed to be up at the crack of dawn for a chat with the man that may or may not be capable of getting me a job. We continued to a grocery store to pick up some supplies for however long we decided to be away for. Then we drove…

Our first stop, Wallaman Falls. The largest single drop waterfall in Australia. Never in my life have I ever seen anything like this. I thought the Rockies had amazing glacier falls, but this hardly compares. The surrounding area was rainforest, so humid I could barely breathe. We were at the lookout and being who Bryan was, he wanted to be closer. I highly agreed. We walked down the trail, hopped the “Caution: Please do not pass, fallen rock” sign and headed down. This trail was completely fine… The bottom was amazing. Misty and cool. Refreshing after the melting humidity in the jungle after a 350m decent. We had a quick bite to eat and went back to the top within half an hour. 

We quickly washed the sticking sweat off from a tap at the trailhead and continued on our way. Next destination, Mission Beach…where or on the way we decided to book an Extreme Whitewater Rafting trip for the next day at 8:30 am. How fun…. never a dull moment

I apologize for the short blog, but I am exhausted and there are so many things to say. I cant even put into words all the amazing things I have seen and experienced in the last 24 hours. I am totally content with everything, which is something I haven’t been able to say for quite a while. Feels good, feels really good. Totally free.

Song of the day: Save Tonight by Eagle Eyed Cherry

Ocean Fishing

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“Give and man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed for a lifetime”

-Chinese Proverb

Its been a week since I first arrived in Charters Towers. Every single day I have done something completely new and different. The last two days have been no different. Yesterday, was a prep session for what was done today. Yesterday,we dragged the bright orange boat of Bryan’s brothers out into the water for a quick spin. Bryan was water skiing, professionally I might add… I passed as I was still feeling quite ill and the water was what the Australians consider cold. I also passed because the last time I tried, oh about, 7 years ago, I seriously twisted my ankle and was excluded from group activities for the rest of the weekend while I limped around, pathetically. I told him that my goal before I leave Charters is to get up on the water skiis and actually get off the wake, without so much as a bruise, scrap, or twist.

So, today, we decided to go Ocean Fishing. The previous night we prepped the boat. Loaded it with fresh food, fishing tackle, 5 fishing rods, nets, and all safety measures. We also decided to stop by the pharmacy where I would buy two packets of motion sickness tablets. After taking the night ferry from Zanzibar to Tanzania about a month and a half before, I have decided I would never be caught dead on a boat without it. It was hands down, thee WORST experience of my life. 8 hours on a ferry, even though it was a two hour journey, puking my guts out at the back of the boat for seven hours. Bryan also informed me early this morning  that another ferry in that exact same area has just sunk and that the water there is very unstable. It is not the first one to go down and I dare say it wont be the last. Even sitting here typing this my body is swaying back and forth from today’s trip and even thinking about past trips. Feels like I am still on the boat… Anyways, we were headed for a salt water river near the area of Townsville  named Haughton Riiver. We left at 6:00 this morning and got into the boat and into the water two hours later. I was given one rule and only one…

1. Never go into the water

Apparently this place was home to salt water crocodiles. One of previous entries I wrote mentioned crocodiles and every since that day I have had a slight fear of them. I am happy though they decided to mention this fact to me, rather than me hanging a limb of mine outside the boat and learning the hard way… an

The Haughton River had multiple different points and paths, all with particular names. Stingray flats, Connors bank etc. Every spot was different from the other. It was confusing. So many paths which to go down. We tied our lures on the rods and casted our rods in the water, we were practising a tactic called Trolling. Trolling is when the boat still moves while the lines are in the water. Bryan’s father, Peter, explained this to me as being lazy fishing. You literally stick the rod in the side of the boat and watch it,  without so much as holding it. Rather, you could hold a cold beer instead. We did this for two hours and caught nothing. Clearly, something was not working. Peter and Bryan decided we needed to do some Bait Fishing.

Peter parked the boat on a sandy shore, Bryan grabbed a huge net, and him an I hopped out of the boat. The net was cleverly crafted. The technique is to through the net, like your throwing a lasso. When the net is thrown, it drops immediately to the sand due to the weight evenly spaced out at the bottom of the net. You slowly rap the rope around your hand out of the water and lift it into the boat. If the fish is to small, it is not used. If the, whatever caught, is big enough it was thrown into a small compartment at the back of the boat. If the, whatever caught, was dead than it was considered utterly useless as it defeats the purpose of live bait. We got about 20 prawns. This was also my first chance to touch a prawn. Ugh, it was slimy, and completely creeped me out. haha

Well, two hours later and after trying live bait, floating lines, floating lines with bait, sinking lines with bait, just bait… nothing was working. The other boaters on the water weren’t catching anything either. The water was just to cold for the fish this time of year. Although I was disappointed, I have come back home with a nice tan on my face, good food in my stomach, 80’s songs stuck in my head and fresh air in my lungs. I had an amazing time on the ocean today.

Bryan and I have spent the rest of the night packing. Packing for what will be an epic adventure road tripping around North Queensland. Nothing is planned, all that is planned is we are getting in the car tomorrow and going climbing. Everything past that point is completely spontaneous. I will keep people posted in the next couple days of the adventures

Song of the Day: Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones

 

 

Fitness vs Flu

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“A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I am afraid of widths”

-Steven Wright

I woke up this morning feeling very poorly. The inability to breath through my nose, a sore neck and a headache. I have been sick with the travelling flu for the fourth time since being away from home. I was surprised by this because Bryan, for the last week has been wanting to get me healthy as he lives a very active lifestyle. I take a multi vitamin, krill oil and vitamin b complex every morning and accompany this by a protein shake and a bowl of granola with natural greek yoghurt on top. We have lunch about five hours later and normally contains a salad or a dish that is low in carb. We normally set off to do our daily activities such as TRX, rowing, running or some sort of adrenaline pumping activity. We come home and drink amino acid shakes to help our bodies repair. Dinner is prepared by the two of us, normally around 7:30, that is again low in carbs, lots of green and a good protein. What follows this meal is normally another protein shake, green tea and or hot water with lemon. Bryan constantly makes sure that I am drinking enough water. So since being here I have not felt dehydrated. After a weeks worth of carefully planning out all meals and eating quite well, I am as sick as a dog. Utterly useless.

The daily activity today was again climbing. Bryan called up one of his friends, Wayne, from his climbing gym in Townsville. He had a bouldering wall in his garage, set up for him and his children Blaine and Taryn. Blaine was good, he had recently won a $75 cheque for being first in a climbing comp. He was 10 but what could be a rising climbing star. 

We popped on our shoes, still soaked from jumping into Echo Hole, two days before and began to climb. I tried, failed, tried, failed. Jesus, was I ever out of shape. Bryan and Wayne saw that I was getting frustrated as I watched them successfully climb every route. Wayne told us we could start making our own routes on the wall. We took of holds that needed changing. I picked a colour. Yellow it was. This was not my favourite colour, but it was chosen for the shape of holds. They seemed easy. Bryan picked the blue holds. They were the smallest holds, the trickiest. Typical Bryan, always wanting a challenge.

Once there were completed, we analyzed the routes. Ho to begin them with the least physical strain. Bryans was hard. I could not rate it. Wayne and Bryan tried it, both failed after repeated attempt. Moving on, was what we had all decided. My route was next. I tried, failed, tried, failed. I was so frustrated with myself. ” How could you let your body get so slack?” I talked about climbing all the time and when it actually came to perform, I was utter rubbish. I just wanted to climb, I loved the sport so much. Bryan and Wayne both gave it a go, and within very few attempts, they completed it. Successfully climbed my route without any issues. I was discouraged and looked down at my hands. They had gone numb and bright red. My forearms were pumping yet again. This was bound to be a bad blister in the morning. I had to stop. Bryan and I had planned much more climbing in the coming weeks and I had to let them heal.

At that same point I decided to rest, Michelle, Waynes wife called everyone inside for tea and biscuits. I felt ill and tea felt nice on my throat. I savoured everysip and enjoyed the chocolate biscuit, because there was no way in hell Bryan was allowing me to eat one in his house. This did not upset me, full knowing that he was only looking after my best interest. The young girl after showed me her guinea pig and the farm on which she lived. The boy came up to me and showed me the bow and arrow he hand crafted from a tree he had recently cut down in the field. I enjoyed the rest. What a beautiful farm, I thought to myself. What a beautiful day and the first one with no rain since I arrived.

We are currently back at the house, contemplating what to cook for dinner. All I know is that I want to be healthy, I want to look healthy and I want to eat healthy. I’m going to beat this flu and make myself healthy again. One step at a time. Period. Never again will I say that I cant do something because of my physical fitness levels. 

Song of the Day: Lion Heart by Emancipator

Echo Hole

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“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 
– Eleanor Roosevelt

This was one of those spur of the moment days. There was no plan in place to do anything. All Bryan and I knew was that we wanted to climb. The weather looked clear and we decided to head back down to the river where we were three days earlier.

We spent the mid-afternoon prepping. Hot our dry bags full of climbing shoes, chalk bags, apples, water, dry towels, extra footwear, clothing and all other essentials. We were headed to a place called Echo Hole, where a friend of Bryans had ice climbed once. He had never been and we had both decided to try it out, but it wouldn’t be necessarily easy to get there.

As Bryan experienced, about 8 weeks prior to the day in Zanzibar, I was not a good swimmer. Our diving instructor had asked us to do a 200 meter swim near the shore. Needless to say that my attempt was pathetic, but it passed and it was good enough to get my PADI Open Water Certificate. I knew I could swim to save my life but when it came to saving anyone else’s or anything technical. I just didn’t have what it took. Maybe it came down to the fact that I was slightly afraid of water. It was a powerful element. An element that nearly claimed the lives of my Japanese family in the tsunami. The element that nearly drowned my brother one summer out at camp. It was also my worst event in the triathlon I had participated in when I was 10. I had failed the same aqua class four times, after the last attempt, I decided to quit it altogether. I just couldn’t get the right technique while doing the front stroke for the bloody life of me. Maybe it was time I faced it, tried a little harder. Conquer it.

As we arrived at the river, I noticed straight away that the water levels had not gone down. The current was not strong but still foreign to me. Bryan took all the gear and the dry bags, said it would be better for me not have any. He plunged into the river and got swept 30 meters downstream. He did it with such poise, looked like  a professional. He made it look easy. I thought he might be slightly mad. He loved the thrill. As soon as he was clear to the other side I took one big breath and with that lifted my feet from the rock and started swimming. Kicking and paddling with all my might. Well, after about, 20 seconds, I was on land. Solid once more. I felt powerful, that one little bit stronger.

We dropped our life jackets in the bush and walked. We walked about two kilometres to the “Hole.” There was a fence protecting one from getting too close to the cliff. It couldn’t stop us, just like the water. Across the river were white rocked formations, sand bank and beach. This place looked like a lagoon. It was a hidden gem. It was a paradise and it was all ours.  I dropped my head straight down to the water below the cliff. The cliff was sheer, made of basalt rock. Negative slanting. I hadn’t climbed in months and I was never really good to begin with. Yet, I was never really good at swimming and swam a current. I was a wild woman. I could do this. I would be brave. I would try and I was excited.

We started to do some bouldering with the water below. I felt comforted by this fact. My fall, no matter from how high, would be cushioned. I picked a route and went for it. Bryan moved cautiously behind my trail. Observing the rock very diligently , making sure that every hand pocket was secure, that his foot holds were stable and that his mind was clear and focused. I moved along, but came to a problem I just couldn’t solve. I must have been hanging there for about five minutes. I was so puzzled. I was unable to find a hold, I would grab, slip, repeat, grab, slip, repeat…None of the holds met the criteria I was looking for and my lack of technical skill and body strength didn’t help. My forearms were pumping. Building muscle to fast for my skin to stretch. I turned around and looked down at the water. I had to jump. I was out of options, officially. Another deep breath I took, a second for the day. I pushed off from the wall, did a miniature belly flop and plunged into the water with less grace than anticipated.

 It was cold yet refreshing on my burning heads. This was the first time I have ever done that. I had both a minor fear of heights and water. I had conquered them, and at the exact same time. I felt on top of it. So alive. I quickly swam to a part of the wall I knew I would be able to climb and scrambled for the top of the cliff. I looked down at the water again. Couldn’t have been higher than five meters. Small to some, but I felt like I just achieved something big…took a huge leap. After about another thirty minutes of climbing in Echo Hole, it started to rain. Bryan’s shoes were soaked from his dip in the water, as were mine. The rock was too slippery to grip. It was time to call it a day.

One more thing needed to be done, I needed to swim back across that damn river. One last time. Bryan went first, this time, I did not wait for him to get to shore before I surrendered my body to the river. I kicked, paddled, kicked and paddled. The other shore was closer than I thought and far more shallow. I was safe once more. I was unscratched from the day. I conquered my fears during the day and I felt unstoppable at the end of the day.

When we got home, Bryan and I told the family about the events of the day. His Mum spoke up” Aren’t there fresh water crocodiles in that lake?”

Mandy replied with “Yes, there are”

I wondered as to why no one had said something  to me before. I took a risk, and a big one at that. I laughed with a crooked grin on my face. Knowing full well that could have been my demise. For some reason though, I craved the risk and still want to go back, after all I was a wild woman.

Song of the day: Crazy by Seal

Travelling without Means (Part 1)

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“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

-Oscar Wilde

After coming home from my three month Europe trip to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, I had four months at home where I would literally have to work my ass off, cut my social life and completely limit the amount of things I was able to do. I was able to save $6,000 ($5,000 of that was from a generous tax return), pay off my visa of all flights, bookings, other visas and all other bookings. What I was completely unaware of was how expensive Africa would be. I told myself, “I will not spend more than $1000.” This was in fact a falsehood. I left Africa one month early and spent nearly three and a half times the amount I wanted to. Who would of thought that Africa would of burnt such a hole in my pocket…So, Australian working holiday requirements needed one of two things…either a return flight home once the year was done OR a minimum of $5000 in your bank account. I didn’t have either. Therefore, I had to swallow my pride and did what I told myself I would never do. Ask my Mum for $2500 (which needed to be sent right back after my arrival in Australia) to allow me to safely and legally enter the country in which I was going to live my life for a year.

Well, now that I am here. I don’t know what I was expecting. Its not like I was in Europe anymore, living like a queen on $10,000 for three months. I am currently at $1,800 in my bank account and in a $1000 rears with my friend Bryan. I am open to share my current bank situation because I know there are many travellers that are in the same predicament as me, some are even worse.

I have never been the one to owe people money nor have huge visa bills. I am typically debt free and quite stable with my money. I am able to save when I have a goal in mind which is far more than a lot of folks can say. I have always had the mentality of “if you want something enough in life, you just have to work harder and reach it”. I am living with a family that does not expect me to pay them money, just help set the table, cook dinner and clean up after myself which is where I consider myself lucky at this point in my life. Looking for jobs when under the stress of your bank account, and not wanting to be a dead weight in a family is more than hard-work. It’s stressful, and what’s even more hard-work is trying to have a good time and enjoy your life when you have all this weight on your shoulders. At home, I had a good job, a solid income. Where I was able to save money and do whatever I wanted with it. Very little of that money was going to bills, which made it easier to achieve the things I wanted to do. I was being given a free ride where I chose to put my money wherever I wanted. What did I chose to do? Travel. Even though I am living out many peoples dreams of travelling over seas for a year, its not all “fun in the sun.” It’s hard yet fun work, especially with the intention of working and wanting to have an income. I am alone and self-sufficient, yet loving the independence, freedom and the excitement of seeing new places.  Hell, both lives need a lot of money and perhaps the only reason I was feeling nervous now was because it was hard work finding a job in a foreign country. Travelling, in my mind just seems to be the easierlife. Travelling without funds means instant noodles…three meals a day, saying “No” to the drink at the bar, saying “No” to going to the bar”, sleeping on a park bench, working double shifts, working two jobs and strict no buying clothes policy (not for the sake of money even, but the amount that can fit inside my backpack). Even after typing the last sentence out, it still sounds like so much fun to me! Perhaps a small binge is okay once in a while though. ALL about self control and  ALL in moderation.  “Work hard play hard” is what my Dad always said, and that’s exactly what I will do, for the next 11 months.

Bryan and I were each looking at our banking situations this morning. We were looking at travelling to a place called Bowen, a two hour drive south of Townsville to do some climbing. We learned how to tie knots this morning, how to fit a harness, proper techniques for belay devices…we were preping ourselves for what would be an awesome adventure filled day. The climbing day quickly seemed, not even possible, as we each took a brief moment to check up our current financial situations online. With visa bills we are both barely able to pay off and issues with both of our banking cards. It almost seemed impossible to achieve such a thing. It became clear to me that not everyday can be a holiday and not everyday can be spent doing something utterly great or even be classified as memorable. Priorities must be met and the priorities for each of us were to get a job…but why not have fun while looking and waiting for call backs? Well, after must talking and consideration, we are still planning on going. We can budget the gas, and the food and hey…we don’t need accomodation, all we need is a camp ground so we can pitch our tent. We could do this and for CHEAP, again, all about moderation. Its not a for sure yet that this mini road-trip will even happen or even if it’s smart that we go with the plan. This decision will be made in the next couple of hours.

Sometimes I would prefer to be one of those people who just sit at home, have no imagination, no motivation, no personality, no personal goals/achievements and no passion…for it would be easier perhaps, less fun, but far more cheap. Haha. I have been given the fortunate lifestyle though of wanting to try everything, having deep passions for many activities and wanting to do them, no matter the cost or physical repercussions. A lifestyle I am sure that will come back and hit my bank account, pretty hard. I have promised myself from here on in, I will not regret a thing.  I only live once and if I go back home with a small debt where I can look back, not regret a thing and be able to say that some moments or activities were 100% worth participating in, why not…right? Maybe this is a naive thought of mine, but it will only be discovered later. I think it’s safe to say though, I am living the dream.

Song of the Day: Blind Faith by Liam Bailey