I arrived in Probbolingo, Java around 3am,after my first long distance public bus ride in Asia, which took about 5 hours. The bus was Ok and they even showed a film. Not that I could understand much, since it was Japanese, with what I figure were English, Indonesian and Chinese subtitles all on top of each other! Getting off the bus I became yet another victim of what is the best organised scam I came across. This I have documented elsewhere.
I arrived on Bali and for about the only time on my trip I was lost. Not geographically, but in a 'what on earth am I going to do now' sort of way. Luckily, as always seemed to happen in these situations, I bumped into another backpacker at the tourist info stand. She seemed to have more of an idea than I did and we ended up sharing a room together in Kuta. She had also thought ahead and had not forgotten the most vital of items...toilet paper. Kuta itself is OK, but full of extremely persistent street hawkers (I got ripped off on a watch which started going backwards after a day). So we headed off to the cultural center of Bali, Ubud.
Probably the main reason for heading to Darwin is for the national parks. These include Litchfield, Nitmiluk and Kakadu. I decided on a three day tour of Kakadu National Park, by far the largest of the lot. First stop was a river tour to see wild alligators. Next we drove on to Nourlangie Rock to look at some aboriginal paintings. The one on this page is of an aboriginal "Bogey Man". It was meant to scare children away from areas they were not supposed to visit. We then headed on and walked up a hill to a lookout called Nawurlandja. This gave outstanding views of the park. And much like the Blue Mountains a few weeks earlier, the vastness of the place was quite remarkable.
Sydney has a lot to offer. Whilst the city is not necessarily beautiful, it does have some fantastic views. Of course the Opera House is beautiful, as is Harbour Bridge and the whole of the Bay Area (best seen from Sydney Tower). There are plenty of beaches everywhere. Famous Bondi beach is nice and Manly Beach across the bay makes for a nice day out. If you want to cruise through the bay, save some money by not going on a tour and get the ferry to Manly. Then catch the last ferry back, just in time for a beautiful sunset view of the Sydney skyline.
I had to hang around till 5.30 am at Nadi Airport for my flight out. Fiji might be the most gorgeous place on earth, but its airport sucks. I would strongly advise against trying to stay the night here, the chairs are awful and designed in such a way that it is impossible lie down across a row of them. The flight was Ok and I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand a few hours later. I checked into the Auckland Central Backpackers (ACB). This must be the biggest hostel in the world. The thing had about 10 floors, including a roof top cafe. I didn't get up to much in Auckland. It seemed like a nice place, but I was still in Fiji mode and couldn't get used to the 'busy' way of life. So I decided for the easy option for touring New Zealand and bought myself a Kiwi Experience ticket. Whilst it seemed a tad expensive, I had a great laugh for the month I used the ticket and would recommend this to anyone else wanting to see New Zealand in a relatively short space of time.
Flying to Fiji was a peculiar experience. I boarded the plane just 1am on Tuesday morning and arrived in Nadi, Fiji on Wednesday about 9am. A flight of more than 24 hours. What had happened? I crossed the international dateline and thereby lost a day of my life. In much the same way as Phileas Fogg and his sturdy companion Passepartout gained a day in Jules Vernes' "Around the World in 80 days", enabling them to win the bet. Except, of course, that I had more than 80 days in which to complete my trip and was much aided by the invention of the jet engine.
Flying in to Hawaii can be really beautiful, seeing those little green islands all alone in the pacific. You're not disappointed when you land either. Honolulu is Ok. It's got quite a good nightlife and plenty of beaches within walking distance. This makes it an ideal holiday destination and hence the place can be packed with tourists. On O'ahu itself there isn't quiet as much natural beauty as on the other islands. Diamond Head is an interesting crater of an exploded volcano, the North Shore is pretty and is the hang out area for the hundreds of surfers who swarm over Oahu in the main season. Judging by the waves I saw, I can understand why.
Los Angeles, California was the first port of call on my trip. It is an enjoyable place to stay, especially if you're interested in the entertainment business or just want to relax on the beach. I stayed in Santa Monica and Venice Beach for about a week. Santa Monica is a bit more upmarket and has the famous pier with a Ferris wheel. Venice on the other hand is plain crazy. Especially on Sundays when there beach walk is full of entertainers. You can spend all day just watching performers and entertainers go about their business.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R.Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring
There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
An old Tibetian saying
I was travelling to Gunung Bromo in Java, from Bali. This is an impressive crater and landscape at the top of a mountain in Java. The bus was an overnight trip and was due to arrive at the bottom of the mountain at about 3am. From here I wanted to get a "Bemo" (=minibus) to the top and was also due to travel on to Melang after my stay up there.
A journey of a thousand miles, must begin with a single step.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
He is able who thinks he is able.
In October 1997 I embarked on a 7 months "Round-The-World" trip. A lot of my initial preparation (and motivation) was done using the Internet, so I have decided to give back to the online community a little bit of what I experienced whilst away. And hopefully entice others to do the same.
In my very first job after University, at Vega GmbH in Darmstadt, Germany, I worked on an astronaut training database for the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne. This was a browser based application that was used to train astronauts how to use various instruments that they would be using on the International Space Station. It was great fun, included lots media, videos and interactivity and was quite an advanced web application for the late 90s.
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