----- 01.28.2004 -------
Well, I'm home again and mostly recovered from my trip. I came home on Sunday and was able to catch an earlier flight out of Newark which got me home around noon or so. My buddy Dave picked me up at the airport. THANKS!!! There was only me and my carry-on to pick up.... Air Canada was nice enough to lose my bags for me. Aren't they great? Can I really blame them? It was the States that wouldn't allow my bags to go straight through to Canada like every other country in the world allows. Noooo... they need me to re-check them. At a stop in Dubai, I picked up "Dude, Where's my country" by Michael Moore. For those of you not familiar with it (or him), it's a very anti-Dubya book. That's right... he loves point out George's lies. After feeling almost anti-gov't by the time I finished it, we landed in the states. American citizens had their own line with 8 attendants and we, the immigrants, had a line with 1 attendant. Fair enough.... except there were about 25 americans and over 200 immigrants. They were done before the 3rd person from our line made it to the customs agent! So this is how we're greeted?
Here's the best part... to speed it up, one little cocky customs guy asked the first 6 in line to follow him to another agent. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...... and when the 6th came out: "I said 6 people only! Stand behind the line!" They guy starts barking at the 6th guy.... everyone in line just tilted their head down and gave it a shake. What a warm welcome by a guy who can't even count! Anyway... I just wanted to get through customs and back on a plane to Toronto. I'd been travelling for a couple days and had some LONG flights and I was tired. When I got the customs guy, he was cool with me. Being Canadian, I didn't need to go through some of the process of the others. I was surprised to see them taking pics with quick cam and scanning everyone's fingerprints! Homeland security.... LOL
Anywho... I'm home, been to work, and just getting over some jetlag. A 15 hour time difference was a little harder to get over then I thought and I ended up taking a day off yesterday. I needed it and it helped for today! I felt alive for a change :) Anyway, I finally got my bags back Monday night... all except for my 'Roo Jerky! Customs took it! Like a bully stealing someone's lunch money. I'm still fighting with them to get it back. It's jerky.... which means it's cured AND it's sealed in vacuum-packed bags. Grrr.... hopefully I'll get it back! While I was away I bought a didgeridoo! I got an instructional CD and I've been working at it. I can make some cool sounds with it now but the circular-breathing's going to be pretty hard to master! Anyway... that's about it for now. It's my cousin Scott's wedding this weekend so I don't see myself having anytime to post pics, but I'll get them up soon. Patience... :)
----- 01.23.2004 -------
My trip, like all things good, eventually has to come to an end. I'm on the last leg of my journey now. I'm in Malaysia outside Kuala Lumpur staying for the day (not overnight) in a hotel the airline set me up with. The hotel is called Allson Klana. It's not a great place, but the room is clean and I can lay down and rest. My flight from Australia to here over last night was an uncomfortable one. It was 7.5 hours and the seat was TIGHT! Also, the plane was pretty hot so I barely got any sleep. When I got here to the hotel I ate from a decent-sized buffet, then took a nap. I just finished lunch and found this computer in one of the back rooms of the hotel.
I haven't left the hotel at all but I did take a brief walk around the resort premises. There's a beautiful pool, but unfortunately my bathing suit is packed in my big bag and I decided to check it all the way through to Toronto. Oh well. Yesterday, while still in Surfer's Paradise @ my sister's place, I went for another surf lesson. This time I wasn't quite as successful as my first go. The tide was low and the waves were really tricky. The instructor said the same himself so the skills were really focused on were "Ocean Reading" and "Picking the right wave" since most waves didn't make it all the way to shore. Never-the-less, I was still able to get up and ride a few. It was a good change from my first attempt since I walked away from it thinking surfing was possibly over-rated and quite easy. Sure, I had a foam longboard, but if I could ride that easy my first time.... how hard could it be? :) I was humbled this time and found out it really can be hard!
Because it was low tide, we didn't have much room to ride the waves. There was a very clearly defined rip that we surfed for depth. This would normally not be recommended without close supervision. For those of you unfamiliar with a rip current, it is the point on the shore where most of the water from the waves returns to the ocean. All of this water cuts a deep channel and has a very strong current the pulls straight out to sea. On either side of the rip (which was about 10 feet wide), was sand only as deep as my ankle. In the center of the rip was over my head. So, we'd walk up one side along the sand and go out until it got about waist deep. Then we'd lay, make our way into the rip, and wait for the perfect wave, then paddle like hell! A few of the waves were pretty monsterous and completely swallowed me! Anyway, it was a lot of fun and unfortunately I don't see myself surfing again for a long time. Lake Ontario isn't quite Surfer's Paradise :)
On my last night, Laura organized a night out to "Sugar Shack" with few of her friends that are still in town. Peter & Craig, a couple guys we met along the way found their way to Surfer's and showed up as well. We had a blast!!! It was dollar drinks from 8 - 10! Ouch! Poor Laura had to work the next morning, but I got to sleep in :) Anyway, I guess I'll wrap this up and see you all when I get back. I'll do my best to get my pics sorted out and uploaded, as well as some video. This will be no easy feat and may take a week or two, depending on how bad my jet lag is when I get back. I hope you enjoyed the few stories I did post along the way. There's plenty more, so be sure to ask me when I'm home. Now... the 23 hr flight I'm dreading that leaves tonight is the only thing standing in my way of my own bed. And my kitty.
----- 01.21.2004 -------
Yesterday Laura & I got back to her place in Surfer's Paradise. Today was moving day. Her and her room mate Nat were moving to the building next door into a bigger appartment. The new place is 2 levels and is a pretty sweet 3 bedroom. She had a few friends over to help and they didn't really have all that much stuff so the moving was easy. Tomorrow we're planning on going to the Zoo. I'd also like to take another surf lesson. I feel a little rushed to do things since I'll be leaving soon.
Unfortunately tonight is my 2nd last night which means tomorrow is my last full day :( I'll get up early and hit the beach to make the most of it. I better get in as much sun as I can before returning home friday night. I get the feeling I won't be having any warm weather for quite some time! Is it still -25... :( Anyway, it was awesome having a 2nd summer this year!!! But like summer, it ends. I feel the same feeling I get at the end of every summer. It doesn't matter how much I pack in, I feel like there's more I could have done. Maybe there is, but I may have felt too rushed. I think I did a perfect amount of stuff and had an amazing trip!
As I've been promising, I'll get some more pics up soon. I've only got dial up right now and I wouldn't be able to upload the pics because of that. No worries though... I'll have time soon enough. Well... I'll probably get one more update in before I get back to Canada. I'll have a lot of time to kill in the airport in Kuala Lumpur. So, until then...seeya!
----- 01.19.2004 -------
Well, I'm back to civilization! Our camping trip on Fraser Island was awesome!!! We got back yesterday then spent the night in Hervey Bay again and took a bus at 6:10 AM this morning to Noosa, which is where I am right now. Which first? Fraser or Noosa? ....I guess I'll go with Noosa since it's freshest:
-- Noosa --
Like I mentioned, we arrived in Noosa this morning and have been cruising around all day. Actually, we were overdue for a nap and had a power nap for about an hour and started out at 1 PM. We walked to Noosa National Park... and it was beautiful! We did a beautiful 7 KM hike over Ocean-side cliffs to "Hell's Gate". All along the coast the surfers were doing their thing. Wow, some are pretty damn good!!! After we got to Hell's gate, we took another trail that lead us deep into a Eucalypt Forest. We were in search of Koala's, which are relatively common in there. No luck.... in the park! Just outside the park in a big tree beside the street, a baby koala was munching on some leaves. Because he was so high and the way the sun was with the angle I could get of him, the pics didn't turn out great. I have the pics, but I don't know that I'll have the time to post anymore before I get home. Maybe during my full-day layover in KL on the way back. But at that point, I may as well just wait since I won't be able to do it right. Back to Noosa... in the park, we saw lizards and such, but nothing poisonous (I don't think).
-- Noosa - Downtown --
The main drag along the beach in Noosa's not really my place. It was pretty plastic with expensive shops. It seemed to be filled with an older crowd and little kids. After we left it and headed back to "Koala's" (our hostel). We walked the other way and found another part of Noosa that is much cooler. Folks around my age (20's) wandering around. That's where I found this Internet cafe. Don't get me wrong, it's easy to find an Internet cafe, but not necessarily one with air conditioning and cool tunes playing. Speaking of air conditioning, it's HOT here! I hear it's pretty cold in Toronto. A record -35?!?!? WOW!!! Simply put, I can't say I'm missing out on much ;) Anyway, after I finish up with this I'll grab a bite to each and see what Noosa's night life is like. Last night was a blast at our other Hostel in Hervey Bay. All the folks from the trip were having beers after in the hostel bar. What a blast! I can't believe how many cool people I've met! Everyone seems so relaxed. Most people don't even know how long they're travelling for. It's hard to believe that I'll be back at my desk at work a week from today (give or take the 15 hr time difference).
-- Fraser Island --
Wow! Laura was going on about her great trip on Fraser Island so I just had to see it. Unfortunately it rained quite a bit, but that was fine. Our group was really cool. There were a couple that let the rain get to them and locked themselves in the 4x4, but not us. Our crew consisted of 4 brits (2 couples, and 2 of the happen to be brother & sister). They were Lee & Nicki and Helen & Scott. There were also 3 canadians... a couple (Jeremy & Ashleigh) and a girl, Jamie. That made 9 of us in total. We'd all been camping before and worked well as a team. The rain couldn't slow us down! It wasn't raining the whole time though and we got some really awesome sun!!!
For those of you who aren't familiar with Fraser Island (as I wasn't...), it's the largest sand island in the world. It's also listed as a "World Heritage Site", meaning that it's eco system is protected and carefully monitored to preserve it's purity. It was awesome! We swam in a couple lakes: Lake Mackenzie and Wabby Lake. Mackenzie is crystal clear blue like the sea and has sand like powder. Visibility under water has to be 30 meteres! And it's fresh water!!! Lee and I swam across it... it was a great swim, despite the rain. Wabby Lake was really cool because it has a big sand dune on a 45 degree angle down to the water. It's so much fun to run down! Tiring to get up, but worth it!!! It was a 2.5 KM hike in off the beach. Speaking of beach, there's no swimming due to tiger sharks and jelly fish. Oh well... the lake were amazing!
Speaking of beach, have you ever driven on one? We took turns driving our 4x4 Land Cruiser. I had it on the beach... what fun! We had to be careful about not hitting the salt water since they'll take away our bond ($60 x 9 people) if they find any salt crystals. While driving, I had to watch for washouts where rain water from the island creates deep treches as it drains out to the sea. From what I hear it's pretty ugly if you hit one quick because they're hard to spot and can be a meter deep! Driving was pretty cool since it's standard, which I normally don't drive, and backwards! Since the 4x4 was right-hand drive, the stick's on the left. It seemed natural enough for me. Fortunately the cluth, brake & gas were in the right spots!
We were warned over and over to watch out for dingo's (wild dogs), but I didn't see a single one :( I could see their tracks around our tents in the morning though.... good job I didn't smell like food! Anyway, there is tons more to talk about re: Fraser Island, but time is limited. So, I'll end it here.... just make sure to ask me about it when I get back. I'll have tons of stories & pics to share, so feel free to ask! I hope everyone's doing well (and keeping warm). See you all soon enough. Cheers!
----- 01.15.2004 - UPDATE 2 -------
Skydiving Rocks! It was only a couple hours ago I was sitting her updating my site and in the background a skydiving video was playing. The scenary is great so I thought "What the hell...." :) So I went for it :) I went up to 12,000 feet. That gave me about 45 seconds of free fall since it was a tandem jump :) What a rush!!! I've got some pics from it adding to my pics page. Enjoy.... I sure did!!! I'll show anyone who's interested the video when I get back. Yeeee Haaaaaw!!!!!
----- 01.15.2004 -------
It's about 8:30 right now in Hervey Bay. Later on today we have a meeting for our 4x4 Safari we're doing on Fraser Island tomorrow morning. It'll be another 3 day, 2 night camping adventure. We arrived her from Airlie Beach at about 6 this morning. We've checked into our Hostel and got some laundry done. It's just a matter of relaxing until the 3PM meeting. I'm a little tired since we were on a bus all night. We left at 5:30 PM yesterday and got in around 6. I did get some sleep, but it may not be enough to keep me feuled for the next few days. It'll be another early morning tomorrow. Speaking of early mornings, there hasn't be a single day where I've slept in any later then about 6:45. The sun comes up around 5:30 and things get really hot really quick. No complaints though... how's the snow? :)
-- The sailing --
Our sailing adventure aboard the "Pride Of Airlie" was awesome!!! We did a tour of Whitsunday, which is a group of about 80 islands off the east coast of Australia, in the Great Barrier reef. We did some snorkelling but it wasn't very good. The water was a little murky and it just didn't compare to what we saw from the live aboard outside of Cairns! Airlie Beach, the town, was a lot of fun!!! It reminds me a little of Grand Bend, but without all the meatheads. We slept on South Molle Island at night.
-- The Island --
On the island, there was a full resort and 2 bars. One bar was in the main complex for the resort, and the other was with our accomodations (6 per room). Our own bar was a blast the first night. We had about 25 people on our cruise, and another ship, the Anaconda II, had about the same and were at the bar for the night. What a blast! We did a little boat racing (drinking game) to get things started. What a blast! The 2nd night we were staying there, we landed around 6:30 PM and 5 of us (Myself, Binh, Keye, Ben, and Yen) rushed off onto a bushwalk. Our goal was to hit the rocky peek of the mountain in time for sunset. We really hauled ass and made the 2.5 KM hike in time. I got some amazing pictures of the Island and surrounding islands. Unfortunately it was a little overcast so we didn't get to enjoy the scenic sunset the view would have provided. Armed with flashlights, we started making our way back. That was an adventure! We were a little worried about the wildlife (snakes & spides particularily) so we were cautious coming down. THere were also some cliffs we didn't want to fall over. All of a sudden, there was restling in the twigs and leaves beside us on the trail. We froze and kept a keen eye with our flash lights. It was a frog. A real big one like the large bullfrogs you'll find up north. It's body was 4 - 6 inches in length. Sure enough, we ran into another that startled us on on the trail. We decided to keep count. By the time we got back, we counted a whopping 36 FROGS!!! Each time they freaked us out since they could potentially be something else. It was pitch black and took us over an our to get back. The view was SO worth it!
-- Wrap up --
Well, I better finish up and get back to check on our laundry. It should be done soon. I've taken TONS of great pics and will do what I can to post them before I get home. This Internet cafe is not equipped for it, but I might be able to find another that is. Either way... I'll get them up there. I hope you've seen the pics I've already posted. When I get back, I'll do it all up good & proper. Well, that's all for now. I hope everyone's doing well back home. I enjoy getting email, so if you're reading this, fire me off an email. Take care all and Cheers!
----- 01.12.2004 -------
I have good news and bad news. The good news is I have some pics from my camera on CD. The bad news is that they are taking too long to upload. So, I'll let them upload, but I won't have time to link to them since I have to "Meet & and Greet" with the crew for the "Pride of Airlie" we are about to aboard for 3 days. If the "meet & greet" goes quickly, then I'll have time to upload some pics before we set sail. If not, then when I get back in 3 days I can do it then... unless one of the islands have internet access. Hopefuly I'll be too drunk to know how to work it anyway. So... stay tuned and I'll do what I can to get some pics of Kuala Lumpur & Australia posted. Cheers!
-- 30 minutes later --
OK, I'm really rushed now and have to run. But, I was able to post my pics :) You can get to them from the pics page or HERE.
----- 01.11.2004 -------
Where to start? It's been a couple days since my last update since I was out on the Great Barrier Reef diving. Life's rough :) Let me just say this: "AWESOME!!!!" The past 3 days were absolutely amazing! I met some great people and had a wicked time! I'll tell you a little more about it shortly. After our dive, we came back to Cairns last night, checked into Global Palace (our hostel) and went out to meet a couple friends we made on the boat....
-- The Dive, Jan 8 - 10 --
We met up at CDC (Cairns Dive Centre) at 8 AM. We had a briefing and filled out some forms. After that a bus picked the small group that we were up. It took us down to the Wharf where we took off our sandals and boarded the MV Sunkist. No sandals allow until we would return to shore on the 10th. I think that's the longest I've ever been without footwear of sorts. How sad is that?!?! It was amazing! After a couple hours on the Sunkist, we made it out to the reef and board the MV Kangaroo Explorer, the larger live aboard Catamaran. What a cool ship! We were shown our rooms then went up to the sundeck for another briefing. I was pulled away from the group by a guy named Chris who would be my instructor for my 4 PADI open water dives.
There were only 2 of us with an open water referral. So, me & another guy Dave would have our first dives with Chris performing tasks like CESA (controlled emergency safety ascent), mask clearing, buddy breathing, etc... We quickly went "shopping" as Chris put it and picked up our gear. We assembled it and were the first ones in the water. The first dive was a fun one with no tasks to perform. After that, we did 3 more then were given our PADI open water temp certs. I'm certified now :) While on board the Kangaroo, I think I put in more dives then anyone. I dove 10 dives and had 5 snorkels! I would have opted for more dives but only 10 are allowed in the time limit to keep the nitrogen levels in our body at a safe level to avoid the bends. From what I hear, decompression sickness really isn't fun :(
What did we see while diving? TONS of stuff! Everything from massive coral formations, to fish, to giant clams. I should assemble a list of all I saw. It would makre for an impressive list! The whole time I was really hoping to see a shark. Fortunately, on our last dive, I did! It was at the end of our dive when a white-tipped reef shark swam below us :) It was probably 1.5 - 2 meteres in length. A good size :) I also saw: clown fish (Nemo), parrot fish, bat fish (mature & immature), a barracuda, trigger fish, unicorn fish, giant clams (one was about 2 meters long!... I can't wait for the pics to be developed!), puffer fish, crayfish, sea cucumbers (*grin*), sea slugs, a brilliant purple and yellow flat wormm (aka Spanish dancer), a sea turle, aenemies (sp), trumpet fish, and the list goes on and on! I don't even know the names of most of what I saw. As a service to me provided by CDC since I was doing my open water with them, a videographer came down for a couple dives with us. He made a sweet DVD that I purchased and should get in a few weeks. The quality is amazing! You're all invited over for a viewing :) It's about 20 minutes...
-- The people --
The people on the boat were great, Staff and guests both! Hopefully some of the friends I've made will stay friends thanks to the gloabal village we like to call the Internet. Last night after we made it back to shore, met up at 7:30 PM at P.J. O'Brien's and took it from there. The group consisted of myself & Laura, Katherine & Jennifer (2 americans we met), Greg & his sister Rachel (from the UK), and Florian (a german-speaking swiss). Later on after a few pints we left PJ's and took a cab over to a really cool little bar called "The Green Ant". We went there to meet Chris, who was my instructor. We tied on a really good buzz and then went back to close to our Hostel. Some called it quits, but Katherine, Jen, Greg and myself continued on at the "Woolshed", a total meat market! Kat & Jen had to catch a bus to Airliee Beach at 1:00 AM so then it was just Greg & I for another hour or so. It was an awesome night!
-- The bus --
6:30 AM rolled around pretty early this morning!!! We had a bus to catch at 7:25AM to get to Airlie Beach (where I am now). We arrived at 17:35... a 10 hour trek! I'm groing to wrap this up soon since I need to check email still. I'm hoping we'll be able to meet up wtih Kat & Jen for another night, but we'll see. We've checked inot our Hostel, Koala's Backpacker's. It's pretty cool so far, but I haven't seen much of it. Tomorrow after noon we will board the "Pride of Airlie" for 3 days of sailing & Island hopping through the Whitsundays! That should be awesome! I really hope to get some more snorkelling in, as well as possibly a dive or two. I hope my ears can take it! Right now my equilibrium is shot! It still feels like the boat is rocking! And I got off it over 24 hours ago! That's not normal! Actually, I don't really have that rocking sensation anymore as of waking up this morning, but my balance is still shot. I'm sure it's just from the diving and will subside soon. Well, I could probably sit here updating all day, but then I would run out of stuff to write. So, I'm going to hit the streets and get something worth another update :) After all, my life is simply a process of gathering stuff to write about on my site :) (??? OK Rob, drain the water from your brain... :) That's all for now. Cheers everyone!
----- 01.08.2004 -------
Wow! I'm actually here, and I'm actually going to go diving in the Great Barrier Reef within hours! I've only got about 30 minutes before we hit the dive shop so I'll keep this brief. Last night the pub crawl was a bit of a bust. We missed it leaving from the first pub so we caught it at the 3rd, which was close by. I guess there was a bus for the 2nd bar. Anyway, that's not to say we didn't have any fun. We didn't even bother with the 4th or 5th stop since it was getting late (11:30) and we have 3 days of diving ahead of us. Diving hungover is probably one of the worst things you can do. So... that was last night. I'm feeling pretty good today... which was what I wanted. I went for a medical yesterday since the dive shop needs a medical cert issued by Queensland, Australia.I passed it. Yeah! Now I've got it and my PADI referral in hand... time to going diving. I'll let you know how it went when I get back... 3 days from now :) Cheers!
----- 01.07.2004 -------
Well, Laura & I made it to Cairns today. We're staying in the Global Palace Hostel and will be leaving for our 3 day liveaboard dive tour tomorrow morning at 8 am. I can't wait! Hmmm... what's happened since my last update?
-- Yesterday - Surfer's Paradise --
When in Rome...... Yesterday I took a 2 hour surf lesson. It rocked! I was able to stand up and caught some pretty good waves. I hope to go again before my time her in Australia is done. Laura had to work for 10 hours, so I spend the day alone tooling around in Surfer's. It was so much fun! I did some shopping then Laura and I had a "barbie" for dinner. I had steak and she stuck with a portebllo since she's a veggie.
-- Today --
I'm sure so much more happened yesterday but I'm starting to get into vacation mode so you will probably see less details as I try and stay a little further from the computer. I really hate this keyboard, so there's probably a ton of typos. Oh well... Hey, I know what the big accomplishment was yesterday! It was plannning more! I have our trip all planned up until teh 19th now. After our dive tour, we'll leave on the 11th to go to Airlie Beach. From there, we have a 3 day sailing adventure in Whitsundays aboard the "Pride of Airlie". After taht, we'll go down to Hervey bay and then leave for 3 days on Fraser Island for some camping. That's gonna rock!
-- Bye bye ---
Well, I don't want to spend all my time in front of a computer! Laura and I are going to have dinner, then go on a pub crawl with our hostel. It sounds like it'll be a blast! This is the first time out for a drink outside of the odd beer in the day @ Laura's place. I've taken a ton of pics so far, so I'll bring my camera and add to the collection. Hope everyone's doing well! Cheers!
----- 01.05.2004 --------
Laura & I made it to Australia this morning. My last update was from the airport last night. Last night? Wasn't that today? This travelling stuff really screws with the internal clock! Shouldn't I have gone to bed? Well I guess I did sleep a bit on the plane. Thank you blue pill :) We landed just after 5 AM this morning in Brisbane. To my surprise, the sun was up! We got our baggage and made our way through customs.
-- The car! --
So we rented a car to get to Surfer's Paradise where Laura place is. Lucky me... I got to drive. I was fortunate the car was a nice one that had auto transmission or we'd have NEVER made it here! This is the first time I've driven backwards (on the left). I guess the funniest part of all of it is the turn signals are on the right hand side of the wheel. The wipers on the left. So, everytime I tried to signal, the wipers would go. I guess it was a good reminder to STAY ON THE LEFT! I did quite well. These round-abouts are something else. They're pretty cool once you're used to them. I never stayed in one too long... maybe I should have for fun? Naw. Anyway... we made it here safe & sound and the weather is AMAZING! It is HOT out!!!
-- Shopping __
While we had the car, we decided to hit some places by car. We hit some clearence stores for Billabong and other gear just outside the city limits. Getting to it and from it was a real adventure! I bought a skin, which is a light shirt made of rayon to protect you from the sun and/or jelly fish. I hope to go for a dip in the ocean today. With this sun, I'll fry to a crisp without it!
-- The real adventure --
I almost forgot... before the shopping we were going to drop our stuff off at Laura's. THat's all fine and good except one thing... her roommate dropped her key in the mailbox. She's the only one with a mailbox key! So, Laura had a key to the room, but not to storage, where all her stuff was. I got to break in :) It was mission impossible. Actually it was kinda easy. There was a gap of about 14" above the conrete wall. I pulled myself up and used my feet on the ceiling to stop me from falling while I hung upside down to unlock the door. I got it! A fell scrapes on the bell from the top of the concrete wall where I wedged between it and the ceiling, but that's all good! We brought some of her stuff up and then left to go shopping
-- Wrap up --
Well, I'll wrap stuff up. We just returned the car and now we're walking back to her place. I just ate a chicken kabob (Mmmmmmm) and now we're doing the whole "I can't live without the Internet" thing. Ain't the digital life great? Atleast I'm sort of outside at this Internet cafe and the weather is AWESOME! We're going to take off now. I hope everyone's doing well. Cheers!
----- 01.04.2004 --------
Hello from the other side of the World! I'm at the airport in Kuala Lumpur waiting for my flight to Brisban. Right now it's about 5 PM and I've got to board at 6:45. So... I've got some time to kill. Although we didn't get to our Hotel until late last night, Laura and I managed to pack a lot in today! Where to start? I guess from the beginning. For those of you that know my "style" of writing, you know I don't use breaks. I think in this case I will so you can read along easier.
--Jan 2, 4 AM --
Wake up and get ready for my flight. I pretty much stayed up all night and had about an hour's sleep. My parents and sister were over so I got a ride :) We got to the airport for about 5 AM since our flight was at 7 AM. Once we finally got on the plane, we flew to Newark and then waited for an 11:30 AM flight to Kuala Lumpur.
--Jan 3, sometime in the morning--
Land in Dubai to re-fuel. We got off the plane and walked around the airport for 1/2 hour, then had to wait to board again. The flight was really long to get there, and then another 6 1/2 hours or so until we made it to Kuala Lumpur. It was really weird with all the time changes! When we landed in Kuala Lumpur it was 11:30 PM, Saturday, Jan 3rd (local time... not sure what time it was in Toronto).
--Jan 4, 6 AM --
Wake up in our Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. We stayed at the Grand Blue Wave Hotel, compliments of Malaysia Airlines. We got up at 6 and it was dark out. We showered up and made our way downstairs for breakfast. We had a huge buffet. We were the only ones there at that time. It was still dark out. We finished around 7:30 AM and made our way out of the hotel. The sun was just coming up and it was already pretty warm out. I was wearing shorts fortunately! There was a guy standing just outside the entrance to the Hotel. He introduced himself as Richard and showed us his picture on a board of about 12 people. I guess this meant he was a recognized driver? Anyway, we negotiated a rate and hopped in his car for 10/hr. We had to be back at the hotel by 3 at the latest in order to catch our shuttle to the airport.
The adventure has begun. Laura and I were now in backseat of a car, destined for Kuala Lumpur city center. Richard, our driver, was a really great guy and treated us well. We decided to keep him all day and he played tour guide for us. After all, with the short amount of time we had, we wanted to pack a lot in. Since it was early morning, he thought we should start at the Petronas Towers. Why? Every day they give out free tickets to the Skybridge (the bridge connecting the 2 towers). They only give out 800/day. So, we got waited in this line that was quickly filling up. The ticket booth didn't open until 8:30 so we patiently waited the half hour out. The line was so funny because it was so disorganized. It turned into a cirle! You know that game where you're a snake and you move around a square eating dots as your snake gets longer? That's what it was like. The problem was when the end of the line was inside the line. Hard to explain... I guess you just had to be there. For a change, waiting in line was actually entertaining!
--8:45 AM --
We got our tickets for the skybridge for 10:30 AM. By the sounds of it, we'd never have seen it unless we waited. So, we met back up with Richard and he drove us out to the Batu Caves. We got there and climbed up to the top. I took a ton of pics! By this time, it was getting pretty hot out! The caves felt nice because there were damp and cool. These caves are HUGE! At the height, it's ceiling is 100M high!!! We came back down the stairs and were a little bitter we didn't see any monkeys. That was actually one of our reasons for going and I even bartered for 2 bags off some guy. We were just about to leave because we had to get back to KL for the towers tour. There was a bridge over water to another series of caves that cost one ringget each. There are 3.7 ringgets (RM) to the american dollar. What the hell, we weren't in that big a rush. We crossed the bridge and checked out the fish and turtles below us. We figured that was pretty much what we were paying for, and some crappy art gallery on the other side. We ventured a little further and went in a cave and looked at the art. You'll see them in my pics once posted. From there we were about to enter the next cave when we found the monkeys! They were all alone just chilling out and watching us. We were excited! I reached into my bag and pulled out the 2 bags of peanuts and gave one to Laura, and kept the other for me. Sure enough, the monkeys caught sight of the shiny orange package and came bolting over. Laura cracked her bag and started feeding them. They were so cute! I opened my bag and fed one then was trying to get my camera ready to take pics of them taking them from my hand. Just as I'm doing so, the big guy of the group made his way over to me. I offered him a peanut and he quickly went for the bag in my other hand. He yanked it hard and fast and bolted with them all! I chased him but he climbed a tree up the sides of the cave and vanished. I swear, all the other monkeys were laughing their asses off at me! So was Laura, and the groundskeeper from the distance. I'm sure he's seen it happen all the time. Well, after that happened, 2 other monkeys tried to take the bag from us. I was prepared this time! And they weren't as big... :) It was awesome!!!!
We left the Batu Caves and arrived back at the Petronas Towers. We made our way up to the skybridge and took some pictures. The towers weren't nearly as tall as the CN tower (which I practically live under) but were very impressive in their own right! All of a sudden, this guy falls beside us and then pulls a parachute! SWEET! There were a group of base jumpers jumping from one of the towers. They opened their chutes right outside the skybridge! What great luck on our part to see that! I got some pictures and even managed to get a video right as he came down and opened his chute. My timing was pretty awesome if I do say so myself!
Richard brought us to a mall and we spent an hour there. It was alright, but not the bargains we had hoped for. We left the mall empty-handed and found our driver. We described what were wanted a little better and he dropped us off in China town for an hour. That was awesome! It was the open market we were hoping for. I stuck out in the crowd!!! As we walked by, everyone pulled me to their booth. I was a head above everyone and white, not to mention my backpack had a Canadian flag stiched to it. Tourists! They were loving it. Laura and I barted with them and ended up with some sweet deals. We made our way back to our driver and headed back to the hotel to catch the end of the lunch buffet which would end at 2:30. We got there at 2, which was our plan from the start. We paid and thanked our driver and headed inside for another HUGE buffet! Mmmm... I had all kinds to eat. I couldn't tell you what I ate, but 80% off it was really good! The 20% I'm sure tasted the way it was supposed to, but just didn't suit my tastes!
Checked out of our hotel and caught the shuttle to the airport. That pretty much brings us to now. It's currently 5:45 and I'm that much closer to boarding time :) Whether or not you've made it this far, I'm not sure. If you did and enjoyed the updates, send me an email to my home address which I'll be checking periodically. Come back soon and check on how the adventure progresses :) Once I get to Surfer's Paradise (where Laura's living), I hope to upload some pictures. I've got some great ones already and my trip's barely begun! These are going to be the best 3 weeks ever!!! Bye for now!
----- 01.01.2004 --------
Happy New Year everyone! This is going to be a great year! And I'm going to start it off right! Tomorrow I leave for Australia! Finally... it felt like my trip would never come! So, now it's right around the corner. I'm going to try & post updates from Internet cafes along my journey, and hopefully even upload some pics. So, stay tuned for interesting updates to come this month. I guess that's about all I had to say for now. My head's a little to foggy from last night and I need to pack. And clean my place. And do some laundry. And dishes. Hey... I guess I better get going! I don't want to have to do all this stuff when I get back. Cheers!
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