Friday, August 24, 2007

Going Down

Yes, we are still alive and kicking.

Astrid too, don't worry.

Behind us are 6 days of insane, wonderful, colourful and beautiful traveling. 2 days in Darwin was all the rest given to As to recover from her long flight, before we headed out of the city to Kakadu National Park. We went on an Unleashed tour and it lived up to its name. It was an amazing experience, we've seen so much beautiful places, slept under the stars in a swag (a big canvas bag which you just dump on the ground. Put your sleeping bag in it and you are ready for the night - awesome!) made some cool hikes, swam in gorgeous lakes and gorges. Mix that with a fun group of people and a cool tour guide and you have the recipe for a great success.

After the tour we went back to one final night in Darwin before heading down to Alice Springs. Most of the group rocked up and we went completely crazy, so the next morning As and me where still in the party mood when we had to get up at 5:30am after 3 hours sleep.
Unfortunately those moods don't last long, so the first day of our road trip down to Alice was not really a success.. Both groggy and tired, a big new group of people and to really loud English girls behind us. But over the remaining two days we and the group started warming up to each other. The tour guide Dee was completely crazy and addressed everybody with either: 'gorgeous', 'precious', 'beautiful' and 'groovers', very funny.
Along the way down to Alice we saw some pretty cool stuff, but like my trip from Cairns to Darwin, it was mostly driving from place to place.

Today and tomorrow are two free days to recover from all the early mornings and constant driving. We've deserved! Sunday we start on the second half of the big trip down to Adelaide. 3 days Uluru and the other spectacular rock formations here and after that 3 days to get down to Adelaide. But tonight first another night of good sleep, jeez I'm tired haha!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Darwin

The Top End, The Outback, and The Nature Territory,

All names for the same part of Australia: The Northern Territory. And man, it's HOT! But first things first: the road trip.

As I had said to some of you, I made a road trip of 4 days through the Outback from Cairns to Darwin. In those 4 days we traveled a staggering 2800 kilometers. In a big 4WD bus we traveled mile after mile over mostly dirt roads in a barren and empty land. Now I really understand the vastness of Australia. All the land in the Outback is divided in cattle stations, differing in size between 6000 up to 33000 square km. Cows were therefore the species we saw the most. Occasionally we saw kangaroos, emus or other animals, but mostly just cows. The cows are different though, not the fat cows we have, but bony and bumpy cows, the sort you associate with India, with humps on there backs like camels or buffaloes.

Although we sat most of the day in the bus, during lunchtime and late-afternoon we made stops at often really beautiful places. Oftentimes with rivers or natural pools nearby, where the dry land suddenly changed into lush tropical growth. The presence of water is a weird thing here in the Top End. 4 months of the year it is dry, we are in the middle of that season now. The whole countryside is yellow, brown and red, the native trees are green all year round, but all the grass and other plants are dried out. After this dry season, the build-up season starts. For 4 months the humidity is a 100% and the temperature slowly rises. This season is the most unbearable time in the year, then finally the wet season sets in. During the wet it basically rains continuously and the whole country floods. To give an example, the Katherine river sometimes rises up to 18,5 meters! We drove over pretty wide bridges in certain places, but there was not a drop of water in sight. It was impossible to imagine that during the wet, all of this would be turned into a massive torrential river.

The group in the bus was really cool. Lots of interesting people and everybody was enjoying themselves. Now that we are in Darwin, I am staying with quite a few of them in the same hostel and it is good to have some friends to explore the town with and go out. Darwin is a nice place. Not as touristy as Cairns, the weather is hot, but we have a great pool in our hostel and drinks are in close range, so we manage ;) These weeks the Darwin Festival is on as well, so free concerts and other gigs are all over the place, very convenient.

And next Thursday Astrid will be here, FINALLY! Can't wait to see her again and explore the rest of Australia with her!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

After the jump

Sorry guys!

I should have known that you were all worried stiff about me and my skydive, but I can assure you all: everything is perfectly fine! I just had no inet time left to post a message here! I used my time to upload the pictures from my skydive, so that's why.

But you are all dying to know how it was of course! Well in one word: AWESOME!!!! It was such an amazing experience! Totally crazy, totally cool, totally exhilirating and adrenaline-rushing! I have a dvd of the thing, so when I am back, Ill show it to you all and you can all laugh at the distorted faces I am making and my yelling and screaming :)

I was the first to jump and because of that I got to sit right next to the opening through which we were to jump out. When the plane took off I had a fantastic view over all of Cairns, the rainforest and the reef, so that was a good appetizer before the jump itself (be it somewhat scary: being pressed against a thin layer of rambling perspex and nothing else to safeguard you from falling out) When the perspex door was rolled up, I had to sit on the edge of the opening and 2 seconds later I was falling. And falling, and falling, and screaming and yelling. It was so cool. After what felt like an instant and an eternity at the same time, the instructor pulled the parachute open and with a big jerk we came to a hold. Able to appreciate the surroundings and I could even have a go with the steering of the parachute. And then suddenly the ground came up to us real fast and we were landing! A smooth bump and that was it! Back on solid ground.

And one hell of an experience richer! People, if you ever get the chance, do it!