Wow, I’ve been away from home for a year. Time runs quick, I remember being nervous to leave, now I’m nervous to be in one place for too long.
New Zealand was totally rad. It was exactly what people say regarding seeing all aspects of the world (nature-wise) in one little island, sooo primo. It takes quite abit to get on my list of places to come back to because there is so much to see in the world, but I’ll go back to New Zealand. I was there for 4 weeks, I stayed in Christchurch for a week. In Christchurch, I did an equal amount of skiing and skydiving (props to Lee at Skydiving Kiwis). Then I went to a speedriding event where I learned to speedride and skied for a week. After that week of epicness, living on the ski field for 9 days with 40 other crazy fun people, I took about 7 days to do a mini road trip around the north end of the south island. I worked my way to Queenstown and stayed there for a few days. Queenstown is a magic seasonal tourist city where the mountain peaks cascade down to the lake in the city and you can walk around the city in all of 30 minutes. In Queenstown, I went Bungy jumping and whitewater rafting for the first time. Epic.
New Zealand Pics
Then, I came back to Aussie on my travel high and hung out in Maitland for a few weeks, “working” and having fun. Then I was off to a skydiving event, the West Coast Sundowner in York, Western Australia (a 5 hour flight from Sydney). Skydiving with some awesome people and meeting some new and old friends. That brings me here. Now.
I’ll be on my way to visit my cuz in Japan in the later half of November and back to Minnesota in December. Anyone know of some short term jobs, preferably computer related?
My road trip up and down the east coast of Australia ended in August, a fair few weeks ago. I drove 9000 kilometers and spent over $1000 in diesel (yikes). I was on the road for two months. I saw some cool stuff along the way. I basically drove 300-400kms per day and stayed “somewhere” for the night. If I was to do it again, I would go with someone else to split fuel costs and make the driving bits more exciting. I was planning on going farther on the road but some opportunities came up and I didn’t trust the van in the outback with hundreds of km’s between towns and no cell phone coverage. There is still much to see in Australia but that will have to be another time. So, I ended up back in my home base (Maitland) and worked at the dropzone. Up next is New Zealand, specifically the South Island. I’ll be there for a month to ski, speedride, skydive, and sightsee. Excited…YUP. After being in Australia for 6+ months, this is a holiday within a holiday, haha. Then I’ll come back to Australia and figure out what’s next on the agenda but I can’t think that far ahead yet! (Some ideas: Japan to see my cuz, SE Asia, dare I say…homebound (??) )
A month on the road isn’t so bad, eh? So far, I’ve been living in my van & finding car parks to sleep in by the ocean mostly, it is a tough life! Haha.
Notable so far:
- In June, I set up camp at Skydive Ramblers and made 30 skydives over a few weeks. That was fun, good dz there with nice people. It was an awesome break from “working” at a dz.
- Took a short paragliding course at High Adventure and figured out how to get the wing over my head and run down a slope. You will see the motivation for this below.
- Ran north to escape the New South Wales rain/cold (winter).
Just today, I spontaneously decided that I was going to drive 500km to Cairns and go for a 3 day scuba liveaboard trip! I made it, though my van tried to stop me. Slight overheating once I got to the tropics. The next 11 days are filled with scuba and skydiving! After that, I’m not sure where I will go. I’m leaving for New Zealand on August 29th, the plan is to go winter skiing and speedriding! So excited for that, even though it probably did cut my road trip short. How good is life?!
I’m leaving my home base in Australia, Skydive Maitland, and venturing off. It all started with an idea, and this:
I took the seats out of the van, put a bed in the back and now I’m ready to go.
My grand plan is to go all the way around Australia. Some people tell me it is 25,000km or so. I have no real time commitments (as always), so for now I’m heading “north” – to where it is warmer. I think I’m the only guy chasing mild winter on my rtw trip, no more! I’m leaving Maitland with new friends to visit again and I did about 250+ jumps in the 3 months I was working there, good times.
Well, the title says it. I’ve now been here for two months. I’m working at Skydive Maitland, which is 40 minutes from the coast and 2+ hours from Sydney. So far, I’ve broke even on my Australian travel/living expenses AND I’m skydiving 3-4 days a week, what could be better? I did 99 jumps in March, normally I do 400 per year. Australia is pretty nice, it is easy to live here and there is plenty to see but it is hard to get places since the country is so big and I need a few days break to go someplace.
How did I end up here? I knew I would goto Australia at some point during my trip since I would be passing by and it is a long way from home. (Sidenote: Of all the travelers at hostels in Europe, about 40-50% that I met were Aussie). In December, I bought my right to work in Australia by getting a working holiday visa. That required $270 and 10 minutes to fill out a form on the internet, overnight I had my approval. So, that was settled, I could now work for 12 months in Australia and show up there within a year. I knew I would be working in Australia because it is a rather expensive country to live/travel in. I thought about picking fruit in an orchard since they always hire backpackers, but skydiving sounded more fun in the end (of course!). So, in January, I emailed a few dropzones stating that I would be in Australia in the near future and looking for work. Crickets… I didn’t hear back from anyone. Fair enough, most businesses will have adequate staffing in the middle of the busy season. But, one place did get back to me some weeks later. Then, it took one Skype convo to come to a friendly agreement and I was looking for flights after. Due to some insane price scheming, there was one flight in two days that was 1/2 price of the others (thank you skyscanner.net). That sealed my decision, and I was off…
Onward looking, full time instructor for March and April then become part time in May and June so I can see more of Australia. I have a few road trips in the works, I just need my own vehicle to make that happen. Working on it. After Australia, I’m probably going to Japan or SE Asia like I planned.
Since my sister already asked, Yes, I do see kangaroos nearly everyday..
I wrote about how I ended up in Sri Lanka in my last post, here. I ended up with a GI sickness during my second week, from the a bad meal or water and it spoiled the last week that I was there, but I had my own room, bathroom, a good book, and a resort on the beach. Overall, the first week was fun, teaching English, living in a small village and being immersed in the culture staying with a host family. Hats off to volunteers that can live there long term. I was craving “western culture” after a short time. I didn’t see as much as a wanted to, like the wild elephants, Buddhist temples or surf lessons. There will be other places or times to do that stuff though.
Sri Lanka pics
Preface: It appears that I have fallen behind in my writings. It’s a shame really because I think of things that I should write in the moment and then forget. However, as I’m embracing slowish travel, sometimes I just don’t really do anything that is interesting to write about every day/week.
My last post was about my time in Greece. Since then I have been to Istanbul, Dubai, and (now) Sri Lanka. I was in Istanbul for about 10 days. My lasting impressions of Istanbul were:
- +: Istanbul was the first Muslim country I’ve been to. This is is a positive because it opened up some thoughts of what to expect as I continue east. To see all the impressive mosques, to hear the azan (call to prayer) in the streets, to talk to some Turks about religion, really made it a new experience for me.
- +: Istanbul receives many visitors per year, which makes it such that it is easy to converse, find stuff you need, etc
- -: Istanbul receives many visitors per year, which makes it very touristy in some parts.
- +: Istanbul is a huge city and there is much to see. I stepped on Asia for the first time. There are many old, old, buildings that leave you in awe. Oldest shopping area in the world, the Grand Bazaar, stuff like that.
- -: Istanbul is a huge city and the public transit is not well connected, I thought.
- –: Every shop owner harasses you to come in the store! The best defense that I can recommend is to walk with a purpose (like you are running an errand) but not in a hurry. This will bring the least amount of attention to yourself at risk of “missing” the finer details as you meander.
Let’s not joke anyone, Dubai was a skydiving trip, for sure. I spent 15 days in Dubai and made 30 jumps. It was a blast. I was at the dropzone most everyday and on the weather days, my generous hosts showed me around the city. I didn’t feel the need to take any pictures of the sites because, while impressive, they seemed too “fake” to me (outrageous, silly, etc). I went to the largest mall in the world, ate brunch in the shadow of the largest building in the world, largest aquarium, indoor ski hill in a desert, eventually it was just…meh. However, I will never forget “The Palm”
When deciding where to go onwards, as I knew I shouldn’t stay in Dubai too long (money matters, of course, I would spend my whole lot on fun and there is so much more to see). I ended up in Sri Lanka, because skyscanner told me there was a direct flight there on a budget airline. I don’t see the point in accepting layovers in my flight details at my pace. Then I found someone on HelpX that wanted an English teacher in exchange for accommodation. While I’m not a teacher, I am a native speaker, and that was acceptable at this level of classes. I did a week stint of that in a small village and now I’m relaxing at the beach…I’ll write more about Sri Lanka later and post pics, a fun photo so far:
No, the country is not in flames or rioting everyday, bad media, bad.
I spent 12 days in Greece. The Greek hospitality is superb, I can not ask for better friends in Greece. I first arrived in Thessaloniki, stayed there for a few nights. Then went to Larissa, and stayed with my friend and his family. There was a small communication barrier with his parents in this smaller town, they don’t get too many tourists. However, I had a very nice Christmas there and it was nice to be with such great people over the holidays. I went to a namesday celebration. Even though I couldn’t understand most of the conversations, they still welcomed me, gave me food and wine, and exchanged culture information. Then I went to Athens, stayed in a hostel, and spent New Year’s watching the fireworks over the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Cool experience! It was so great to be walking around the birthplace of “western ideals” – not the oldest civilization, but close. Some takeaway thoughts: 1) Greek hospitality is unlike anything I’ve experienced, really. I made sure that a I told everyone that they have an open door with me whenever we meet in “my new home” (meaning, I don’t know when or where), 2) you cannot go hungry in Greece, especially when they are cooking for you! 3) the cafe culture is great, 4) I want to go back during the summer
Of course, you will always find the not so nice parts. I got fooled by the old man scam, as seen here. Luckily, they only got 30€ from me, compared to some of the stories I’ve heard. Looking back on it, I just laugh at myself. Maybe I’ll be jaded towards a genuine experience in the future but, lesson learned. I don’t judge Athens by this one mishap, however.
I only have pictures of Athens since I had to buy a new camera.. Pics here