Sunday, 28 January 2007

Swags, Grubs, Caravans and Keithy with no Teethy!

What a week! We arrived safely in Darwin and checked into a lovely hostel with a roof top pool! We only had a one day stop over so we took a little stroll around town and down to Cullen Bay Marina.

We caught the Ghan train the next day and spent 24 hours travelling from Darwin to Alice Springs. The train journey was comfortable and the scenery was amazing. It has been a very wet summer so the Outback looked a lot greener than usual.


Alice Springs is a bizarre place! With a population of about 28,000 the town has a distinct 'redneck' feel to it! The town is full of hostels (and a few hostiles!) and is largely a base for people travelling to see Uluru and the other local landmarks.
Below is the Todd River that runs through Alice Springs. The water usually runs underneath the river bed and it is a rare sight to see water in the Todd. We also saw some Aboriginal kids playing in it!

We took a walk into the town centre to buy some lunch and shady hats and on the way we passed loads and loads of Aboriginal people sitting around on benches and street corners. Being honest, we initially found the large groups of men quite intimidating but after spending a few days learning about their culture and getting a chance to chat with 'Keithy with no Teethy' we have quickly grown to empathise with their situation. There are only 250,000 Aboriginals left in Australia and while the government seems to be working hard to make amends for past atrocities, the damage to their authentic way of life is beyond repair.

After our rock tour (pics and info to follow!) we had dinner with the tour guide who introduced us to one of his Aboriginal friends. The gumsy Keithy proudly called himself a 'first Australian' and he told some amazing tales of his own life and the difficulties he has faced. After dinner our group and Keithy went to a local bar however Keithy was refused entry because his jeans were ripped- Tom the German had no such problems with his ripped jeans. It would appear that in Alice, if not Australia, Keithy's genes continue to be a barrier to full integration.

We stayed at the Alice Lodge hostel on our first night and imagine our surprise when we were shown to one of the six 'cosy' caravans in the back garden! We also saw quite a few scary looking bugs but later discovered these were nothing compared to what we would be encountering on our 3 day rock tour!
We got picked up from our hostel at 6am and grabbed a few other people on the way. The group turned out to be really great with a couple of Irish nutters, some Germans, a couple from Korea, a Danish girl and a fellow Scot - all mixed in with an English tour guide. First stop was a camel farm at Stuarts Well where we got to ride a camel and see some kangaroos and a dingo. Then it was a stop for some tasty sandwiches before picking up another German at Ayres Rock airport. With the whole team on board we made our way to Uluru for a walk around the base in the soaring heat.The climb was closed due to temperatures being too hot! 37 degrees was far too warm for us so we didn't take too much time to stop and enjoy the view! Climbing on the sacred rock is frowned upon so this made the decision much easier although we probably would've died climbing as it's rather steep!
After walking round Uluru the guide spent some time telling us all about the Aborignal traditions and beliefs. Then we picked our spot to have dinner and watch the sunset!
After sunset we travelled to our camp site- had much needed showers then climbed into our swags(padded sleeping bags) to sleep under the stars! It may have been the heat or the fear of snakes, spiders and dingos but we didn't sleep that well and were up at 4.30am to catch the sunrise! We had breakfast and watched the sun appear behind Uluru.

The next stop was Kata Tjuta another sacred site for the Aboriginal people. Yet again the scenery was outstanding and because it was earlier in the day the walking was a lot more enjoyable. On the way to out next camping spot we stopped to collect fire wood and had a look for some bush tucker! The guide was very good and he knew his stuff but had actually never successfully found any grubs on tours that he had led. The trick was to find a group of bushes, clear away the ground from around the roots, break of the biggest looking root and snap it and look inside! Excitement and terror struck when the very first root produced a huge wriggling beasty! Irish Tom and Scottish Ryan! had said they would give it a go but both looked rather reluctant- a toss of a coin meant Tom was the 'lucky' one! The trick was to hold the head and bite the tail so that you didn't get the grubs teeth to crunch on! Yummy!

That night we camped out under the stars and ate a tasty dinner cooked on the camp fire! The trully international group were amazed by Pamela's knot trick! Thanks Josh!

Another 4am start the next day took us to King's Canyon with the best scenery so far. The walk was really nice and by this time everyone in the group was getting on really well. We stopped at an Aboriginal art gallery for lunch and then slept during the long drive back to Alice Springs. After two nights sleeping on the ground amongst lots of beasties we couldn't wait to get back to our little caravan! We had dinner with the group on Sunday night and exchanged lots of email addresses and travel tips for the rest of our time in Australia. If anyone is looking to do a tour of Uluru, 'The Rock Tour' comes highly recommended.

We caught our flight to Adelaide on Monday and arrived in the stunning Glenelg Beach that afternoon. Glenelg is a very cool little beach side town with a town square full of little cafes and shops. The highlight of this town has to be watching the sunset at the end of the pier with a Starbucks, after having eaten at Nando's!

We spent a little time in Adelaide city but actually prefer Glenelg Beach area. We have made contact with Rhona Swan's cousins and it looks like we'll be staying with them tonight!

Thanks to everyone who has been posting comments, it's great to hear from you all and we hope anyone sitting prelims recently has done well!
We have loads more photos of this leg that we will update soon!

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Singamore...

Here are the last of our adventures in Singapore! It's a cool place with lots to do but five days has been just about enough and we're now looking forward to getting to Australia.
Some of the highlights from the last few days not making it to film have been: The Night Safari! a moonlit safari where you slowly drive past lions, zebras, hippos, rhinos, tigers, tapirs and some weird animals that we can't spell! Being a night safari it was difficult to get good photos and the zoo didn't allow flash photography. This didn't stop a lot of annoying people still using their flashes! Unfortunately none of them were devoured by any startled lions.

We have also visited the 7/11 shop next door for Big Gulps and watched the Arsenal v Man Utd game in a bar. Pamela loved it!

Here's the pics:


Raffles Hotel

The famous Raffles Hotel. Very 'British' and posh. We weren't allowed into one section because they were serving high tea! We did get into the Long Bar for cocktails though!

At the Long Bar in Raffles

Singapore Sling! Actually very tasty! The last tiger to be shot in Singapore was shot near here! It wandered in of the street one day and had to be killed. A tiger walked into a bar...

Raffles

Monkey Nuts! A Raffles tradition to throw your shells on the floor.

Near death experience at Raffles!

As we strolled through the Raffles courtyard this coconut fell from a tree narrowly missing Ryan. Pamela was very upset by this incident. "If that had hit you we'd have got a free night in the hotel!" she cried sympathetically.

Dinner at Marine Parade Hawker Centre

Lunch at a hawker's centre. Roughly 1 pound each- worth every penny!

Little India

Little India. Full of little Indians.

Sentosa Island

The man made beach on the man made Sentosa Island! These Singaporeans are resourceful! It looks a bit couldy but it was crazy hot!

Lunch at Coastes

So hot we had lunch in the shade of the decking at Coastes restaurant!

Tasting Mojitos in Sentosa

I'll have some Mojitos!

Cable car from Sentosa

The cable car ride from Sentosa Island.

Sentosa's Magical Fountain Show

The Magical Fountain Show on Sentosa.

Durain Tasting

Eating the incredibly smelly Durian fruit. It looks strangely like chicken and tastes like onion! It's very popular for some reason. We couldn't get rid of the taste for hours. These fruits are banned from trains because they are so smelly!

Ryan turning into Dunky


As we pack up and move onto Australia we would like to leave you with this invaluable piece of travel safety advice. By intertwining the toggles of your backpack, would-be intruders are delayed by about 4 secs. In backpacking circles this is known as 'The Dunky Knot'.

After Darwin we get the train down to Alice Springs and the Uluru camping trip! So we may not get a chance to post much until after we get to Adelaide. Feel free to order some of the books we are reading and help Amazon contribute to our trip fund!!

Saturday, 20 January 2007

More from Singapore!

Had a great few days in Singapore, which is an amazing place. For the most part it is a very clean and busy city. There are fines for everything, from eating on trains to carrying a very smelly fruit called the Durian! We took a bus and a boat tour around the sights and spent the day at a man made beach on the Island of Sentosa.

Our hostel is in Little India, which is like India. Only little. The streets are filled with traders and it smells strongly of spices. It's interesting!

We went along to Calvary Singapore on Sunday morning where the people were very welcoming. After the service we had juice and rice cakes with relish! We plan to head to Raffles hotel later today then take a picnic to The Botanic Gardens.

Photos:
We've posted some of our photos below but you can also check out the rest of our photos by clicking on our gallery on the right hand side of the page.


The Inn Crowd Hostel

The Inn-Crowd, our hostel!


Little India

Little India

Boat tour

The Merlion is Singapore's emblem. It is my favourite animal after the Liger!

boat tour
Downtown Singapore from the Bumboat tour (Yes, a Bumboat!)

Starbucks

Starbucks

Indulging in some local delicacy! Thanks to Beth and Al!

La Pau Sat Hawker Centre

Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre. Built from cast iron shipped to Singapore from Glasgow!
A hawker centre is filled with loads of vendors selling bizarre foods such as pigs brains and fish eyes! We had chicken fried rice!

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Singapore!

Singapore from the plane. A bit cloudy but very warm.




Ryan cooking his fried egg for breakfast!

The hostel is good. It's clean and the people are friendly. We even have a small ensuite! No beasties so far! Breakfast is free although you need to wash up after you! We couldn't find milk for our tea but a kind American offered us her chocolate milk! It was pretty good actually! Off on a bus tour of the city- lots of photos to take!





One more step...


"If I take one more step, it'll be the furthest I've ever been from home."
Sam, Lord of the Rings
"We're really doing it this time, Harry!"
Lloyd, Dumb and Dumber
Welcome to the first ever post on Ryan and Pamela's travel blog! We arrived in Singapore safely after a long but enjoyable flight. The highlight of the flight may have been the tasty chicken dinner or the fact that Irene from Home and Away was sitting a few seats away from us! In the last year she has been involved in a hurricane, a flood, a murder investigation and two hostage situations. The flight however, passed without incident!
We are making our way to the Inn Crowd Hostel where we will be staying for four nights while we take in the sights. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped make this trip possible. Loads of people were extremely generous and we are very grateful. Thank you for helping us take "one more step."
Please check back often as we will soon add some photos. Keep in touch by clicking comment or send us an email! We are missing everyone already!
With love,
Ryan and Pamela
The road goes ever on and on...