Tag Archives: travelling

Good things and sad things

7 Aug

We still keep in touch with a lot of the people we met during our travels and had some happy news recently as we heard that Pathum, one of our friends we met in Sri Lanka, got married. We met him and his lovely family near Hikkaduwa (in this post) and again when we returned before we left Sri Lanka (here) and we are really pleased for him and his wife.

9404_560317354007540_859039061_n

Sadly, he also let us know that his Dad, Silva, passed away before the wedding in a road accident. The danger of the roads in Sri Lanka were made light of by us for the purposes of the blog, but bus journeys and even crossing the road were genuinely scary and we are sad for him and his family that such a nice man has died in such a way. He was one of our favourite of the many characters we met along the way in Sri Lanka and we are very sorry we won’t be able to keep our promise to see him again when we return.

Also heartbreaking was the news from Cambodia the other day that our amazing puppy, Namnam, whom we rescued from the jungle (here), nursed back to health, took on a beach holiday and to restaurants and on buses halfway across Cambodia before finding a suitable expat adoptive family for him to live with in Sihanoukville, has gone missing from his home. Having seen the evidence for ourselves in various markets across SE Asia, the inescapable conclusion is that there is a high chance that he will have ended up on the table. Cambodians were urged by their government several years ago to eat more dog as a way to access cheaper meat and also to reduce the stray population, and sadly a well-loved and fed dog is often more appealing than something mangey and starved on the streets. Apparently this happens quite a lot. Having come from such a bad start, I hope the year he had with his new owners and the ridiculous amount of love and affection we showered on him whilst he was ours made up for the potentially unbearably grim ending to his story.

Namnam

Advertisements

Cyclones, Valentine’s Day and a something resembling a plan

14 Mar

Another month of working hard and being hot (possibly not in that order) has drifted by and we find ourselves nearly at the end of our time in Broome. Aside from all the work, there have been a couple of interesting things that have happened recently – the first was Valentine’s Day, which was lovely as we actually got to spend some time with each as we’ve been like ships in the night…Craig leaves before I get up, I leave for job number 2 before he gets home and then he’s in bed before I get back in the evening. So it was good to see him and have a meal together…at the pub where I work because we get 50% off, needs must! However, I can’t doubt Craig’s true feelings towards me as I got home from work the other day and found the last of the pork crackling from our housemates’ roast in the fridge

If that doesn’t equal true love, I don’t know what does.

Craig’s Valentines raspberry upside down cake I made for him

Of course the other thing that happened was Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty. I was incredibly excited, not having experienced a cyclone before, and was shamefully actively hoping it might hit near us (obviously not for it to smash straight into Broome but somewhere near would have been fine!) but sadly it veered off South and decided to hit the tiny community of Pardoo instead. As far as I know everyone there is fine. Broome was on ‘blue alert’ for a few days so everyone went to Woolies and literally cleared their shelves of tinned food and bottled water (and later, veggies and bread when the road from Perth was closed and they didn’t have any deliveries), cleared up all the junk in their gardens, took down their shade cloths etc and battened down the hatches, crossing all fingers and toes for a yellow alert as that means everyone has to go home to prepare, also known as a DAY OFF WORK. That didn’t happen so it was business as usual, albeit business as usual in torrential rain and wind as although Rusty didn’t directly hit us, we were only 400km away so still felt the sting in it’s tail. Winds of up to 90km per hour were felt, trees came down and it rained for a week.

So cycling to work and back was ultra fun and so was running room service at the hotel – coming back in behind the bar absolutely drenched. For the entire week, I don’t think I was 100% dry at any one time. However, the rain and wind meant the temperatures were not blistering as usual so it was actually a welcome change. Obviously things have calmed down now so when I looked at the temperature at 9am this morning the ‘feels like’ temp (factoring in the humidity) was 42.2 degrees.

Having basically just worked and slept for the last few months, we decided to go and do some nice touristy stuff whilst the weather was less mental so borrowed our housemates’ car and drove to the crocodile park just outside of town.

Whilst we waited for the rain to stop a bit, I held a very cute black-headed python – or rather it held me, snaking its snakey body all the way around my waist! – and a baby crocodile. Then we went off to throw chickens into one of the croc reserves – this one had around 70 adult males.

Some of the crocs who had not been brought up in the park were kept in seperate pens, lurking underneath the algae so you couldn’t see any part of them. When the keeper whacked a chicken down in front of the water, the crocodiles would leap out of the water and catch the chicken before it had hit the ground. One of the crocodiles was 5m long and enormous. We were slightly worried about what would happen if the park flooded and all the maddest and baddest crocodiles from around the country (other croc parks ship their delinquent specimens to this one as they are better at handling them apparently!) floated over the fences and down into our bath taps?!

Talking of mad and bad, this little bluetongue lizard was neither of these things

Kym caught him and Tanya and I fed him slices of banana which he happily chomped his way through. Very sweet.

We chomped our way through kangaroo steaks for tea – not sure this is exactly traditional Aussie fare but it turns out teriyaki kangaroo was actually lovely!

We booked our flights to Brisbane for 25th March (six months nearly to the day we arrived in Broome so we can get a portion of our tax paid back, yay!) and have been scratching our heads as to what to do next, as discussed in the last post. Going home to see family and friends is something we obviously were looking forward to, but seeing as the financial news is so dire, although we have saved up a fair amount of cash in Oz, it would not be enough to live on for any length of time whilst we searched for jobs (a process that in my case took 6 months in 2008, never mind now!). Besides, we want to do something amazing with the money, like set up our own business, not use it to buy food and boring things like that. So we looked into where else we could work and New Zealand popped up as also having a working holiday scheme.

All of New Zealand looks like this – FACT.

nz

We were sold. Unfortunately this means we won’t be home soon friends and family, but hopefully it will mean that we won’t need to ask to live on your floor when we do get back! Sadly, Craig’s too ancient to get a working holiday visa so after some frantic googling, I found another visa that he could apply for with only two downsides: it was £500 and you had to be in England to get it. Why I asked…because we have to post your passport back to an English address. Ah-ha! So Craig’s passport was popped into the post for its journey round the world and back again (Mum’s going to post it back to us here) – it’ll be more travelled than us when it gets back! – and Craig was put under strict instructions not to get into any trouble whilst we were as he was now abroad and passport-less! We got the great news today that his visa has been issued, now it’s just a race for it to get to Mum’s, for her to post it, and then receive it in Broome before we fly in 11 days. If it doesn’t come, Craig’ll have to wait for another few days whilst I go back to Brizzie to save both of us from having to change our flights and incur more costs.

So we are very excited about the next stage of our trip. NZ particularly appeals as it’s coming into their winter and they get Properly Cold, so that means we can finally pack the shorts and teeshirts we’ve lived in for the last six months away and wrap up warm, something we haven’t done in FOURTEEN MONTHS. Insanity. We might even get snow!!! Also, as Aussie jobs pay more, Kiwis are moving over here so there appear to be plenty of jobs around for both of us. I have a skype interview for a job in Wellington on Monday so fingers crossed…and there seem to be quite a few tradie jobs for Craig to do dotted about the place so hopefully we’ll both be earning. We will also get taxed less as NZ don’t have a ‘foreigner tax’ like Oz, so should be easier to save…oh, and its gorgeous and I’ve heard its teeming with hobbitses so expect lots of pictures soon. Never fear photography fans, me and my camera lead which I left in Brisbane will soon be reunited so the quality of the pics on the blog will increase substantially!

Christmas, NY and a whole lot of work

13 Jan

Christmas and New Year pretty much passed us by – it just felt wrong having them in summer time! We had a barbie for tea on Christmas Day

and a long-staying guest at my hotel bought me a bottle of Baileys so that served as lunch and then watched the utter rubbish that was on tv (any good programmes here go on the Aussie equivalent of Sky so all the free channels are left with are reruns of To the Manor Born and Doctors. Dire!). There was an amazing electrical storm out to sea when we popped to my friend’s house for a drink though. New Years was spent in much the same way – when a pint costs $10 in a pub – £6.50 – and you only earn $350 a week, going out loses much of its appeal as after rent and food, $10 is pretty much all we have left! Craig marked our two year anniversary which falls on New Year’s Eve in typically romantic fashion by falling asleep at about 9pm so I watched Sydney’s fireworks (they’re two hours ahead) by myself and then went to bed just after 10. Bah humbug.

Martin emailed from back home to say it is -5 in the mornings…whereas Broome has just had its hottest December since records began, with highs of 44 and an average night time temp of 27. Even the sea is 32 degrees all year round. ‘Hot’ has now become an emotion:

‘How are you?’

‘Hot.’

‘How are you feeling?’

‘Like I’m on fire.’

‘What do you want to do tonight?’

‘Sit in a bucket of ice water, in the freezer. Or die.’

Gets a bit repetitive after a while! I think it’ll be a shock to the system going home…at least the coldest part of their weather is pretty much over now but will have to stock up on woolly things just in case :) So with our physical work, lack of funds and the weather, Broome is turning into an excellent test of endurance. But once we’ve earned enough cash and stayed put long enough to become Aussie residents for tax purposes (end of March – meaning instead of getting taxed at 32.5%…ouch…we get an $18k tax free allowance and then 22% on everything else, meaning we should get a nice refund when we leave Oz) we will finally be able to travel again. Getting up to go to work every day is hugely overrated and astonishingly, not something I have missed one tiny, tiny bit. But it does mean that when we get back to England we will hopefully not have to live in a box immediately so it will worth it in the end. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway as I scrub the loos.

As it’s the wet season here, there aren’t many tourists so I only spend 3-5 hours cleaning a day which doesn’t earn much so I got another job in a bar for the evenings. It’s an Oirish pub (or meant to be) so everyone who comes in asks me which part of Ireland I’m from…except the guy who said he liked my Dutch accent the other day! This has backfired slightly as the other girl I clean with is going to Melbourne for 6 weeks, meaning I clean the entire hotel by myself which can take 6-8 hours depending on how busy it is. Which leaves an hour to cycle home, have something to eat, shower for the nineteenth time that day – it’s a wonder I’ve got any skin left – and cycle in the opposite direction to the pub to begin another 4-8 hour shift. I am looking forward to the weight just dropping off me as a result of all this exertion! Our housemates lent us their car whilst they visited family in Perth for three weeks and it was absolute bliss not having to cycle everywhere. I think the first day we just drove round with the aircon on marvelling at how little time it took to get anywhere and going to twenty different places just because we could :)

Other than that, we’ve been plagued by monster bugs

…been catching fish (this is one of mine, my second fish in my whole life! Look how enormous he is!)

WOW! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT! He made a lovely fish finger. (He didn’t really, we chucked him back. It seemed like child abuse to eat him).

….playing lawn bowls as part of my work’s Christmas party

the lovely fools I work with!

…and enjoying the rain when it does finally come

It’s been an interesting week as there was a cyclone which for a while, looked like it might hit Broome (it didn’t, it hit further south). The nearby oil rigs all shut down and all the men who worked on them came to stay at the hotel where I work in the bar. They hadn’t been on dry land for a month so several of them got stuck into the beers despite knowing they could be called back the next morning. Oil rigs have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol – members of staff are breathalysed on the helipad before being flown back to the rigs. One person had alcohol in his blood and was sacked on the spot…from his $260,000 a year job. Hope that beer was worth it…

On Wednesday we will have been travelling for a whole year, which is an amazing thought.

NYE 2011

This time last year we were gathering up all our bags to get on the train to London to stay with Gemma and Joe for the last few days before our flight, tying up all the loose ends – or not!, saying goodbye to my lovely dog Holls and all our friends and family and trying not to burst with excitement. We were dressed in coats, hats, jumpers and boots and our bags were not woefully overstuffed like they are now :) We didn’t have a plan of where we were going, or how long we were going to go for, what we were going to do or when but looking back over this blog, we have had an awesome year despite being away our friends and family…we’ve done some amazing things, ate fantastic food, rescued a puppy, ridden elephants and camels, got food poisoning a rather extravagant number of times, met lovely people, worked hard, caught tropical diseases, put on weight, lost weight, drank Laolao with a dead lizard in it, nearly pickled ourselves in various different climates and temperatures and were real life cowboys for three months in the Outback. 2012 was our Year of Adventure…2013 is likely to be our Year of Bankruptcy and Harsh Reality, but we’re not quite ready for that yet. Please sir, can I have some more?