Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Parade

she said:

It was a busy Easter and Anzac Day here in Port Douglas.  After cyclones and floods tourism is at a low for the season, but compared to what it's been like since we first arrived, the five-day long weekend was one packed with people. With the motel booked solid, and him working some extended shifts at one of the local coffee shops, Friday through Tuesday were loooooong.

he said:

That's what she said!

she said:

Despite the long hours we managed to scrape together an Easter feast, had a few Easter Bunny sightings, and finagled our way onto a sunset cruise aboard the Lady Douglas.

The Lady Douglas, Port Douglas Marina.

The not so elusive Port Douglas Easter Bunny.

No crocodiles were out, but we did see one of the local birds, and a couple of Port Douglas shipwrecks.

Calm water cruising along the Dickson Inlet.

The second sunken ship was originally in Cairns Harbour, but the story goes that the local fishermen got sick of it dragging anchor, so one night they broke the chain and set it adrift. After bumping into a few other boats on its way up the coast, the wreck was finally brought to the inlet by the Port Douglas Coast Guard where it couldn't cause anymore harm.

he said:

There ain't no justice like mob justice!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Fool's Advice

they said:

Staying in one place for a little while makes us introspective. That and it gives us time to put together some of our more general experiences in regards to travel. If any of this changes once we hit different countries we'll let you know, but so far here's what we can recommend to anyone thinking of traveling into the unknown.

1) DON'T be shy. 
Use any language you can (including made-up sign language), and use it frequently.

There have been a few times where being the out of place foreigner was enough to get us the sympathy of a local, but when lost it is so much easier to simply tug someone's shirt sleeve (as long as cultural norms permit) and say where is [destination].

After Please, Thank You, and Hello, it's a good idea to learn "excuse me" and "where is" in the local language.
"Hello, excuse me, where is [place/food/landmark]."
*Answer*
"Thank You."

This one set of words will get you a long way.

But more importantly, there's no reason to by shy. We were minutes away from missing a train in Japan and simply showing our tickets to people with a puzzled look was enough to get us to the platform. Point, parrot, and posture whatever it takes to get the message across.

she said:

Also, don't assume that just because you're speaking the same language you mean the same thing. For instance, when speaking to guys from Leeds, England "getting hit by a bird" doesn't mean a feathery winged creature flying into you, but rather getting slapped in the face by a pretty girl.

he said:

Being the slightest bit sociable will also grant you opportunities to travel with new people, which often means sharing expenses. Remember, there's almost always someone who knows what it's like to be in your shoes, uncomfortably close to broke, days worth of travel from home, and (usually) on their own.

3) Lose weight.
This is nearly inevitable if you budget strictly and have any expensive activities planned (ex: diving). And saving money means cutting out a lot of the day to day luxuries. You'll walk as much as possible, go light on meals, and become a master of drink specials and happy hours. We've managed to spend as little as 100 USD for a week in a first world country for two people with just the help of a barbecue (and some good sale shopping).

2) Work for accommodation/food/a ride/fun.
People think you need a lot of money to travel when fact of the matter is you only need enough to get started and get back. You need money for certain activities and to get from one place to another, but if you aren't in a rush, then cheap buses or some pre-organised hitchhiking will get you far, and working for accommodation can save some serious loot.

If you're any combination of resourceful, humble, tenacious, diligent, or modest, it's not hard to stretch your initial cash and extend your stay for quite a while. In countries where working holiday visas are available putting in some hours can earn you the money needed for activities and food, but even without a paying job a few hours a day is often enough for a bed, a meal or two, or a hefty discount.

If you're even remotely interested in visiting Australia before you're 30, look into a Working Holiday Visa, it pays for itself if you work even a few weeks, and lets you work and travel for up to a year (with extensions available for certain nationalities).

he said:

And in all honesty, I wouldn't worry about the getting back money. As long as you have enough to buy a phone card or some internet time there's always loved ones you can beg to pool together and get you the return flight.

she said:

When asked by border officials, DO NOT tell them that's how you plan to get home.

4) Get lost.
If you're not getting lost, you're not going anywhere.

*5) JUST GO!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Home and Away

she said:

Homesickness is a strange thing. It sneaks up on you and is triggered by unexpected details.  Even after living in several different places and not really being sure which one to call home, every now and then it's this nagging feeling that things are happening and you're missing them. Then, just as suddenly, it passes.

This past week was my first bout of homesickness since we left. Thanks to things like Skype and Facebook home has seemed incredibly close. Until it didn't.

This time the trigger was a slew of birthdays we couldn't be there to celebrate, and two pieces of fantastic news.

1) A wonderful friend and former roommate is getting married. It's been a few years since I've seen her, so it's the perfect occasion for a reunion. IF we weren't on the other side of the world with limited funds. The reality of how far and expensive it would be to get to Vancouver for August has us discussing a Canadian detour, and if so whether to make it a detour or an entirely new leg.

2) A couple we love have informed us they're expecting an addition to their family of two. While this is still new and not something we need to be anywhere for, it's a clear reminder of how much can and is changing while we're off having our own adventures.

Bike trip down Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas.

Some new friends at the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat.

he said:

I'm not any more homesick than I normally (always) am.  I absolutely love and tremendously miss my family and friends on both coasts and everywhere in between but we've made a decision to do a lot of things now while we're young.  Unfortunately, that means sacrifices.  If I could bring all of you along with me I would but that would be selfish and expensive.  Just think of it, they charge $25-$50 per checked bag. Now, multiply that by how many people I know and/or how many like me.  We're talking dozens of dollars and I just can't swing it.

Besides which, we'd need our friends to get smaller.

she said:

Congratulations to those who have big news. Congratulations to those who have small news. Please keep doing amazing things, thank you for keeping us in the loop so that home seems so close, and hello to our own adventures, no matter what we miss.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reefer Madness

she said:

A week of motel renovations and I think the to-do list is getting longer instead of shorter. At least it's the slow season and we don't have too many guests running around needing customer service.

Some tasks for today (please let some get finished):

Painting

Tiling and Cleaning

Fixing

Organizing

The job has its perks though, like living somewhere that rates a walk score of 71 (it should be higher, there are parks here, and the beach should count for something). And a discounted dive trip here or there, thank you Poseidon

he said:

A week of tiling, painting, cleaning, and other assorted work came and went but the anticipation didn't recede in the least.  WE FINALLY WENT DIVING! 

Aside from being totally amazing, boat diving is much easier than beach diving.  Breakfast as you board, introductions while you eat.  A forty five minute boat ride gets you to the reef, then it's time to check your gear and suit up!  Just as you've finished your buddy checks and the boat has moored, you step off the side and SPLASH, you take the plunge. 

Once we reached depth we were met by a black tip reef shark, hello.  No big deal though.  He was probably sleeping and when we disturbed him he looked us over and slowly exited.  We continued on our dive, seeing loads of coral.  I'm sure at this point a lot of you are thinking of

but the painful realization is that there is also an abundance of

I'm not trying to be preachy but it's common sense that if you aren't careful and you don't take care of things the consequences can be severe.

Later in the dive a smaller white tip reef shark was stalking us.  It was amazing to look back every few seconds to see a shark that was four plus feet in length coming straight for us.  But as soon as I and another diver turned back for closer look he swam off too.


The dive was everything that I anticipated and more.  I can't wait to get back out there!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Million Dollar Hotel

A little music to set the mood.
Rolling Stones - You can't always get what you want

Sometimes if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

We spent a couple of days doing work for accommodation in Cairns before getting a ride up the coast to Port Douglas to see what was to be had there. The gig sounded pretty straight forward: 15 hours a week of whatever needs doing, in exchange for room, board, and a trip of some-sort every few weeks. If after a week or two he liked us, then he'd have as take over as managers for the upcoming busy season. Yes Please.

The location (small town, beach-side), work (cleaning, gardening, maintenance, reception), and company (a group of good-natured, but rambunctious English lads and a sweet German girl) matched our expectations.

Poolside fun.

Port Douglas, Four Mile Beach.

Make-shift cricket match.

Youth in Revolt.


Low tide, from the Port Douglas Adventure Playground, Anzac Park.



But after being told he was looking for management, we were surprised to find not one, but two separate managers already in residence.


So now what?

he said:

I felt like we were getting jerked around and stuck in the middle of a situation.  I wanted to roar but there's no sense in that so I decided to remove the thorn from my paw.  We called up the the owner and told him how we felt,
"Thank you for the opportunity but things are not working out so we'll be moving on."
Unexpectedly he was quite adamant that we stay and assured us that he would clarify the confusion. The next day he came up for a visit and a transfer of power. 

she said:

So in a strange turn of events we are now managing a motel. It's what I'd call a fixer-upper, but seeing as there have been 2 paying customers in a week we should have plenty of time. Maybe not exactly what we wanted when we signed on, but it'll do.
Hello motel management?