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10

Jun

BIG THANK YOU

I’ve loved writing the blog…..most of the time.  It could be a bit of a chore to keep it up to date. I kept worrying that people would stop checking it if there hadn’t been a post in a few days. Slow internet connection in many places made uploading a hassle. Some days, I couldn’t string a sentence together. The worst was when I tried to be funny. Cameron would gently remind me that it’s not one of my strengths. I agonised over whether the posts were too boring. Does anyone care that we went to another temple? Oftentimes what we experienced was too difficult to accurately portray in words. Interestingly, the bad times were much easier to write about than the good. When I was on a rant, the words flowed.  I’m gathering that people don’t care as much about us sipping cocktails on a beach, as they do about us fighting in Russia, as evidenced by the response to my ‘Russia is a Rollercoaster’ post. Amazingly, I managed to get 41 strangers to follow me too. 

When anyone at home would mention that they were reading the blog, I was chuffed to bits, not because I took it as a compliment for my writing prowess, but because I realised that those that loved us, would follow the blog no matter what rubbish I uploaded. Thank you for logging on. It means a lot to us both.

Julie & Cam Xoxox

Where next ????

Where next ????

(Source: devined)

Cam’s Last Words

It’s been a crazy trip with a lot of transport and border crossings. We visited 20 countries, 2 of which we revisited. After 12,000km in the Volvo, we took 50 buses, 18 trains, 15 boats, 4 flights (still a bit devo-ed about this particular stat), 2 motorbikes, 1 truck, 1 toy train and we even hiked between 2 places. That doesn’t include metros, city buses, taxis, pick-ups ,tuk-tuks, horses, rickshaws, walking rickshaws, trishaws, and camels.

In the words of our old friend Hari Myers ……WOW, WHAT A TRIP!

Julie’s Overall Summary

Tourist Trail

Although our trip might seem like a big adventure, we met tons of people on the way doing similar trips. What we did wasn’t that special; although no-one else can lay claim to driving across Russia. Backpacking offers a real opportunity to experience a country as the locals would, less so when staying in fancy hotels and taking taxis. I imagine we will continue to travel in this manner in the future even if we have money.

Enjoyable as it was at times to eat Western food and use Western toilets, we oppose the general Westernisation that we witnessed throughout the world. The loss of a nation’s unique culture is a tragic loss and yet we saw time and time again, that as more tourists visit a place, it gets further away from what made it so attractive in the first place.

Rather than ticking 20 countries off the list, visiting them has ignited a desire to return to them and get more off the beaten track next time. My favourite countries were the Baltics, Mongolia, Nepal. No prizes for guessing my least favourite.

Guide Book

Lonely Planet although incredibly useful for it’s maps, history and bus information is not the BIBLE I once considered it to be. I was all too often disappointed by a restaurant or guest house recommendation. It took me months to realise that we were better off discovering our own wonderful places, but once I did, I was liberated. I will never give a guide book such undue reverence again.

Poverty & Corruption

The levels of corruption and poverty we witnessed first-hand in every country was appalling. The more I see of the world, the more I see how grossly unfair it is how so many people live in such horrid conditions. And worse still, those that are supposed to be helping them develop don’t care at all about their welfare. I am sickened by the lack of morals in the world, equally in the West. It seems that those in power the world over cannot resist corruption. While Irish people may complain about the recession, the drop in their standard of living is nothing compared to the way most people in developing countries live. I am grateful for the life I was born into and the opportunities my parents have provided me, for I am one of the lucky few.

Child Travellers (not the Irish kind)

It was inspiring to meet parents travelling with children to exotic places on a budget. It gave us hope that our travels don’t necessarily have to end once we become parents.

CHANGE is afoot

We are arriving back to Australia full of inspiration for changes we would like to make in our lives. We don’t think we can change the world, but we do believe in the power of one. We intend to (i) be more environmentally aware (ii) donate more to worthwhile charities (iii) be less consumerist (iv) be grateful for our wonderful lives.

It will be tough enough adjusting to life in Australia after 10 months on the road, but we are looking forward with anticipation and behind us with fond memories that will last us the rest of our lives. 

It will be tough enough adjusting to life in Australia after 10 months on the road, but we are looking forward with anticipation and behind us with fond memories that will last us the rest of our lives. 

Cam’s Indonesia Summary

Our last country before Australia was an enjoyable one. 

Chilling out at Lake Toba was good before going on the big hike. It is one of those unique places where we swam in a waterfall, which was on a mountain, which was on an island, which was in a lake, which was in a volcano, which was on an island, which was in a sea. (It was like the rattlin bog all over again- maybe Noddy can work this into his version).  

The orang-utan hike was one of the more enjoyable things we have done this trip. To see them in their natural habitat, not in a zoo was something else. When we stopped to have a break, the orang-utans just hung around watching us eat. We were there checking them out, thinking how much they are like us, and it seemed like they were there thinking the same about us. With my awesome ginger locks, I was worried one of the females would jump me. 

In a way it was good that there weren’t many tourists in Sumatra. It’s hard to believe it has so much to offer and doesn’t get many visitors. Anyone who has been to Bali a few times, should consider heading north next time. 

Staying with Mark for the last week has taken the edge off going home. We have been hanging out with him, watching movies and doing a lot of familiar things to home. Over the next few weeks we will be catching up with friends and family doing much the same thing. Leaving Jakata is officially the end of our trip but in reality the wind down started as soon as we got to Jakata. 

09

Jun

Staying with Mark and Risma has been a real eye opener about parenthood. Dylan is gorgeous and doesn’t give much trouble but it has made me relaise just how much work a baby is, even a good natured baby like him. It scares the bayjasus out of me. Needless to say, we’re still in no rush. 

Staying with Mark and Risma has been a real eye opener about parenthood. Dylan is gorgeous and doesn’t give much trouble but it has made me relaise just how much work a baby is, even a good natured baby like him. It scares the bayjasus out of me. Needless to say, we’re still in no rush. 

Jakata port- I don’t think you need to be educated to recognise that this is disgusting. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone else around here though. 

Jakata port- I don’t think you need to be educated to recognise that this is disgusting. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone else around here though. 

Thousand Islands- Pramuka Island

We visited this island for two reasons. We wanted to have a break from the oppressive Jakata traffic and we figured Mark & Risma have plenty to be getting on with and would enjoy the space. I did barely any research on which island to choose. I made my decision after a 30 second google search. Pramuka got a few good comments on trip advisor so I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately we missed the public boat we were aiming for (out-dated information) so had to get an expensive speedboat. Never again. I had motion sickness for the two hours, not to mention the awful feeling that the boat was unsafe and was going to overturn or crash. The island was a big disappointment. All we were looking for was cheap accommodation and a beach to relax on. It had neither. The homestays were outrageously overpriced- triple what we normally pay in hotels. There was no beach. We were told it was possible to swim but we found the water quite dirty and unappetising. We wandered around wondering what to do and whether we could get a boat to another island nearby. They were all resort islands, totally out of our budget. We met a lovely local girl with good English who helped us look for cheap accommodation but there wasn’t any. We wouldn’t have minded paying extra if the place was nice but it really wasn’t. Maybe we’ve just been too spoiled with beautiful islands on this trip, but I thought this place was a dump: run-down and full of rubbish. We headed back to Jakata on the next boat and killed a few hours meeting Vince before we rang Mark admitting that we were back in town.

05

Jun

Thanks Jimmy for emailing me the comforting advice. 

Thanks Jimmy for emailing me the comforting advice. 

Bandung

We took a day trip to Tangkuban Prahu volcano which last erupted in 1969. The weather conspired against us, covering the crater in a thick layer of fog which obscured the view but the smell of sulphur was strong, hinting at volcanic activity below.

We stopped off at the Maribaya waterfall where a group of local children aged 3 to 13 besieged us and accompanied us on our walk through the forest to the impressive waterfall. They couldn’t speak English but we are now adept at communication without words so we still managed to have fun with them.

The other reason we drove over 3 hours from Jakarta was to shop. It’s not often Cameron gets the urge to splurge, but amazingly Cam spent more than me at the outlet shop where he bought his entire winter wardrobe for Oz. At the moment, I don’t even own a pair of closed toe shoes or a coat so I am seriously underprepared for the weather ahead. I’ve a few days to rectify that at the shopping malls in Jakarta. 

Lady Gaga was forced to cancel a 52,000 sell-out concert in Jakata on June 3rd amid security concerns. Hard line groups in Indonesia such as the Islam Defenders Front are thought to have put pressure on the police to deny her the necessary permit as well as publicly announce they would mobilise their supporters to disrupt her concert with violence. 

Lady Gaga was forced to cancel a 52,000 sell-out concert in Jakata on June 3rd amid security concerns. Hard line groups in Indonesia such as the Islam Defenders Front are thought to have put pressure on the police to deny her the necessary permit as well as publicly announce they would mobilise their supporters to disrupt her concert with violence. 

Transport Issues Jakata

I thought Medan was bad. Jakata is the most congested city I’ve ever been to. Even in Moscow, they don’t have traffic jams like these. It takes a minimum of an hour to get anywhere, sometimes 2 or 3 hours to get across the city. In general, a city of the size and vehicle population of Jakarta (9.6 million private vehicles)  should have at least 15 percent of its land area allocated to road systems; in Jakarta the figure is not much more than half of this.

Petrol is cheap in Indonesia, adding to the problem. It is heavily subsidised by the government to keep it affordable. 15% of the country’s entire budget is used to maintain the low prices (more than health and education combined). Politicians are wary of public anger on this issue of raising it. A big fuel price rise in 1998 was one of the triggers that saw the dictator Suharto overthrown.

The public transport is brutal. Buses are always packed, so even from the start of the line at central station, you might have to wait in line, in the stinking heat, for the 8th bus like we did, until you can get on. I couldn’t live here. It is inefficient in the extreme. The appalling public transport also goes someway to explaining why tourists don’t come here. The only way to get around to the sights is by taxi, and even half of those rip tourists off. 

The best seafood meal of our lives at Banda Djkarta. You choose your meal direct from the tanks. I’ve seen smaller stocks at a fish market. We feasted on fish, prawns, squid, bugs and shark at this 500 seater restaurant. The waiter moved us to a bigger table because we’d ordered so much. (L- Sean, R- Vincent)

The best seafood meal of our lives at Banda Djkarta. You choose your meal direct from the tanks. I’ve seen smaller stocks at a fish market. We feasted on fish, prawns, squid, bugs and shark at this 500 seater restaurant. The waiter moved us to a bigger table because we’d ordered so much. (L- Sean, R- Vincent)