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After a very successfull adventure in South America in 2001-2002, it is time for another big trip.

Once the travel bug enters the brain, it stays there forever.

Already a year ago I started dreaming about doing a trip to South East Asia.

And as I said last time "You know how these dreams come and are always there, but you never actually start working on realizing them.

Now is the time to do it."

Keep on tripping!

Wim, August 2004



















Australia May 2005

Australia 03-04/05/2005 to Australia

After 3 hours of sleep I wake up my American friends in their van. They promised to drive me to the airport and so I have to be hard and shake the van as hard as I can, with moderate success.
The flight is very well timed, as we are flying west, it looks like the sun can rise any second from the horizon behind us, but doesn't, with a colourful morning spectacle as a result.

The customs in Australia or easy and an hour after landing I am in the centre of Melbourne, visiting my friend Anne at her office. Me and Sofie met Anne 3 years ago in a National Park in Chile, and travelled with her and an English bloke for 4 weeks ! She invited me to her flat in Melbourne, so I can escape from the hectic backpacker life for a few days.
She still looks the same as 3 years ago, and the ice breaks pretty quickly. I
crash on the bed the afternoon, then meet with her funny roommate Carl, and have some beers in a homely atmosphere. This feels like home a bit !

MelbourneI slept so well that night, and especially morning, that I only got out when it was already lunchtime. After a slow brunch I explore the centre of town with the beautiful Federation Square, the National Gallery of Victoria, the cobble stone streets and big shopping malls. I join Anne for some after work beers and a very delicious Chinese, although a bit spicy for little Wim's stomach.

05-08/05/2005 Thistle Island

Early we leave to the airport and fly to Adelaide, where we meet Anne's boyfriend Stephen. Anne and me do the shopping, and wandering around the fresh produce market it feels like I could be in the 'Mercado de Barceloneta' in Barcelona. The place feels very Mediterranean, consequence of lots of Italian and Greek immigrants. Adelaide is a lot smaller than Melbourne too, so I am confused when we drive to a second airport to fly out to Thistle Island. We load up a Cessna 6 seater with all the food we bought, and than the girls (Anne and dog ZoŽ) move in the back, and Stephen and me go for the pilot's seats. Stephen got his flying license recently and I am the lucky man serving as his co-pilot. The view and feeling sitting in front of that plane, being explained most of the buttons, the radio communication, and even flying the plane myself for a minute,... Awesome! Thistle island is only 50 minutes away, and is quite impressive from the air, Whalers Bay beach on one side, huge cliffs and rock formations on the other.

We land on gravel, fill up the ute (that's what they call a pick-up here) and drive to the end of the gravel road, where the beach house is. It is a very pretty house, big open living/dining area, with a kitchen, surrounded by glass panelling and wooden terraces. Cosy guestrooms downstairs, all with perfect sea view. And the fridge is full of beers and wine; it can't get much better than that.

The next few days I get little relax though, as we go out hiking to the seals, see rock wallabies, spot dolphins, take the zodiac out for some squid fishing and set out crab nets! Total catch: 12 crabs and 3 squid. I must confess I really like the squid fishing, although one of the victims covered me in its black smurry ink...

We have some great seafood meals, drink beers with a perfect sunset over the cliffs, talk and chat till the wine almost closes our eyelids.
I had a great time, the best birthday present I ever had!

08-10/05/2005 Melbourne

St Kilda rollercoasterBack in Melbourne I explore some more of the city, find out that repairing my malfunctioning camera will cost too much (so I use its limited functionality only), have some nice beers and dinner in St. Kilda, and book the next part of the trip.

Although I fly back from Sydney in 2 weeks, I don't want to spend a week between Melbourne and Sydney. Ok, the sun does shine, but it is pretty cold. Luckily I find a flight to Byron Bay, the sunny side of Australia, actually the most easterly point of Australia !

11-18/05/2005 Byron Bay

I arrivMost eaternly point of Australiae early and check in at Aquarius, a typical beach town backpacker, full of English, Canadian and all other you can imagine, 18 to 20 year olds.
At first I think this is not my place, but after a few days I find some people closer to my generation and have loads of fun. The weather is not too good though, so I stay out of the water. I loved surfing in Bali a lot, and it was hot there, but very cold here.
So I relax, eat beers, drink pool and play pasta. Then over the weekend the weather improves, and I finally get a rental surf board out.
I bumped into Joe and Gem here as well, the English coupl
e we met in Borneo in December, and surfed with in Bali in February. They got themselves a classic VW Kombi van, which they will use to drive all around Australia...
I hang out most evenings with Steve, a German photographer
Byron Bay surf (http://www.greydesign.de) writing his thesis diploma about Australia's surf culture. We have a lot of fun, hanging out in local Cocomangas, Cheeky Monkeys, Buddha Bar, and off course the happy hour in Aquarius backpacker.

A week here is enough though, I got some sun and even a bit of a tan, so lets go back south, on to Sydney !

19-24/05/2005 Sydney

Sydney is a huge city, spread out over numerous suburbs, of which Kings Cross is the most popular backpacker hangout. But I got recommended not to stay there, but go to one of the beaches. In the bus sits Pascale from Quebec and Graham from Vancouver. Pascale bOpera Houserings us to the Surfside, straight in front of Coogee beach, a superb spot and well provided backpacker, just a bus ride from central Sydney. In summer it is mainly Bondi beach that gets the biggest crowds, but as it is getting colder, more backpackers opt for this cosy place in a cosy town.

With Graham I have lots of good talks, and we explore the city centre, the old 'the Rocks', where the first settlements were, the opera house and harbour bridge, Powerhouse museum, Imax theatre, Darling Harbour and the new Star Wars ! The other days I relax on the beach get some more Cliff walk between Coogee and Bondi beach tan and enjoy the silence of this small suburb. I also walk over the cliffs and beaches from Coogee to Bondi, with stunning views along the way, small cafes, a great coffee and cake, some postcards to write. In the evenings it is good just to hang out in the backpacker's, with some wine and beer from the liqueur store and some good talks with Donna, an sweet English nurse.

 

Australia is pretty nice, but the crowd of people you meet is a bit too young for my age. Mostly English, Canadian, Swedish. 18 to 20 year olds, who have rules like you have to get someone in the weekend, and bring that person home, even if it is a dorm you are in. To say it simple, most of these kids are very inconsiderate, make noise whenever they want (even at 4 in the morning), smoke wherever they want, and ask the same questions over and over again: Where are you from, how long, where next, . I was quite happy leaving the country, and hope to find some good snowboard companions soon in New Zealand ! But I will come back here, with a friend and a van, to travel and sleep !

Next, back to NZ and go to the snow, the season starts 4th of June, and I will be there, on Mount Hutt !

Keep on tripping,

tripping.be