Saturday, 30 December 2006

New Years

It's 9am and after a fantastic night's sleep - due partly to unsociable (mostly japanese) travellers in my hostel and my rapidly shrinking travel funds - I'm about to set off on a pretty massive trek to Lavender bay to nab a vantage point for the bridge to see the fireworks. The walk will take me about three hours but i've been told it's the place to be. Hopefully there at lunchtime to grab a vantage spot before the hoards arrive. I've got a big book and postcards to wruite and i'll pick up some bevvies and nosh on the way. I haven't managed to find anyone to spend the day with so it'll be a quiet one I think. Just want to see the fireworks really then start the trek back to the hostel!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year in advance!

Friday, 29 December 2006

Cruising the Wetsundays!

Why did no one tell me before I headed out that summer in Aus is actually monsoon season???? As ever, I step near a boat, the waves swell and it starts to rain. My maxiaction trip around the Whitsundays on a racing yacht was not the skin frying experience I imagined - although probably just as well as even when it was overcast some folks fried.

Despite the weather, the trip on Ragamuffin II was superb. The group was made up of 12 bikini clad girls and Jake - a slightly overwhelmed 19 year old Gap year student. The mix was made up of Germans, Americans, Swiss and myself and Jake as the honoury Brits.

We set off on an overcast but not soggy day and sailed to Whitehaven beach - apparently one of THE most beautiful beaches in the world because of the high silica levels in the sand. It was absolutely stunning but with an overcast day the colours of the sand and water weren't as vibrant as I had seen on the postcards. We had three hours there to enjoy the sand and surf.

Donning our stinger suits we were soon all in the water. The water was pretty shallow and beatifully warm. As I swam a shadow passed beneath me. I knew there were stingrays about so I wasn't too fussed. It was only as i got out on the sand bank sticking out of the water that anyone mentioned sharks. Not 1 shark but 15-20 all feeding on the fish by the sand bank! Addmittedly they were only about a metre in length but I was glad no one had mentioned they were there whilst i was swimming as i probably would have paniked. They were absolutely stunning and I spent ages watching them.

That evening we chilled on the boat with food and drink beneath non-existant stars. Everyone was pretty shattered after an afternoon running around the beach getting sun burnt so the 'party' ended about 9pm and we all headed to bed.

Following day we sailed to Dunbell Island where we went for a snorkel along a stunning piece of coral reef. Unfortunately, clouds and waves meant that visibility wasn't great but we still saw some stunning fish and negotiated ourselves around the odd stinger.

In the afternoon the weather took a turn for the worst. The rain pelted it down so we all donned bright yellow fishermans' macs whilst we sailed. With the wind the sailing was absolutely awesome and I had a fab time - even if the girl next to me did throw up inches from my bare foot. Absolutely love sailing now. The boat was at 45 degrees going full pelt and it was an amazing feeling.

In the afternoon we docked near South Molle Island where there was a resort with swimming pool, hot showers and cocktail bar we could utilise the following day if the weather continued to be shitty.

It turned out to be a great stop. The island had a fabulous walk up to Mount Jeffrey - a lookout point over the Whitsundays. It was a stunning walk with lots of wildlife to be seen. Within 50 yards a girl had spotted a snake - a 1.5m silver snake with a yellow bellie. Thankfully off the track. However, 2km into the walk my snake attracting antennae took action and despite being four back, a snake decided to wriggle practically across my foot - it was literally two inches from my big (bare) toe. Needless to say it took me a tad by surprise! We also came across some parakeets, some road runner type birds and some beautiful butterflies.

After our mini trek it was cocktails by the pool before back on the boat to sail back to Airlie Beach. The whole trip was fabulous (i won't mention the bed bugs - apparently a fact of life in Aus)and was only partly ruined by a few grumpy germans who decided to complain about the food (which I actually thought was amazing considering Ado the deck hand had to cook for 13 in a tini galley). The group from that point split in half and it all got a bit nasty. I chose to stay out of it.

In the evening instead of meeting up with the group for drinks I caught up with Shane - an aussie skipper i'd met on Christmas Eve and we headed out for a top notch seafood dinner.

Today i had an early morning rise to catch the boat to the airport - sounds weird but true! The boat actually pulls up to the airport terminal on Hamilton Island. Had a great flight down and am now in Sydney. Just realised its 4pm and i've only had a croissant and a packet of crisps to eat today so i think it's time i find food. Sorry not going to spell check this so it may be a bit messy on the typo front!

Monday, 25 December 2006

Crimbo in the sun

What a fab Christmas day! Had a lie-in after the alcohol fuelled Christmas Eve (sorry mum n dad for the phone call :))before heading down to the lagoon with a bottle of bubbly. I managed to shake off John - a german guy who'd been following me around like a bad smell since the day before and who'd decided he would like to share my bubbly - and headed down on my own as planned.

Laying by the lagoon i popped my bottle and chilled out on the grass for about an hour until a rather burly lifeguard moved me on saying no alcohol was not allowed by the lagoon. I felt like a naughty school girl - I packed my stuff and headed off. I moved to the beach where i was free to chill with as much alcohol as i desired and dozed in the sun for a few more hours.

Around three i decided i was hungry and set off in search of food. Unfotunately, despite there being hundreds of hungry backpackers around, the whole town had shut down bar Domino's pizza which was doing a roaring trade. I got lucky and found a fish and chip shop open so i tucked into grilled Barramundi and chips!

In the evening I met up with Rachel who was one of my roommates and she introduced me to a multinational bunch of guys she'd been hanging out with. We ventured out for dinner and guess what - yep, we had Domino's pizza! The Koalas Resort where we are staying was the only place open. There was a party by the pool so we chilled out there with a few beers. I cut my evening short as i knew i had to be up early to head out to the Whitsundays.

Unfortunately, my early night was a bit of a waste in the end. Sat by the marina in the morning, an hour passed and no one appeared to pick us up for our three day-two night trip on 'The Card'. After an hour and a half the skipper showed up and told us the trip was cancelled because his deck hand had to go to hospital with a bladder infection (or could that be alcohol poisoning??). We were all gutted. Thankfully i had a bit of flexibility in my timing so i've managed to get on to an almost identical boat doing the same trp for the same price tomorrow. I've also got a free night's accomodation which is good.

After sorting stuff out for tomorrow, I spent the avo on the beach again chilling in the sun. This trip has been very good for me - no work just complete chilling out. The last time i did that was in Peru two years ago.

Instead of working 14 hour days to avoid stuff, I've spent time thinking and have managed to come to terms with everything that has happened over the last few months. I feel far more positive about things now.

It has also got me thinking about travelling - my feet are as itchy as ever and i'm uber jelous of all the people I keep meeting who are travelling for months or even years.I'm not looking forward to returning to London and work :(