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August 29, 2006

Climbing The Mast - Video

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - This is a short clip I taken from the top of the mast of the sailing yacht "Takin' Off" (The first boat we sailed on). The rocking motion is amplified the higher up one goes. Making it very uncomfortable and a little dangerous to be up there in rough water. I was at the top hanging on for dear life as the boat did it's best to buck me off - Hence the unsteady camera work.

August 24, 2006

Surfing... The Internet.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - With all this new free time I've got on my hands, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't spending most of it parked in front of the Internet. For me the Internet is the new TV: Spend enough time on it and you start caring about stupid things. I just spent the last 30 minutes distressed about the fact that Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Apparently a group of Astronomers got together in Prague and agreed it is not, as my painted Styrofoam model from elementary school clearly indicates, a planet in our solar system. All of this, of course, will make absolutely no difference in my life, yet the longer I sit here, the more 'fascinating' I find all this news. It's the TV Syndrome. I start caring about celebrities and sandwich makers.

I have, however, found some very interesting links in the last couple days under the guise of 'travel research':

one is my favorite. I can't stop watching it. If you click one link in this post, make it this one. If only I could dance. If only I'd thought of it 12 or so countries ago.

This Slovenian girl rode a motorcycle pretty much everywhere. She's now in the Guinness Book.

There are others, but my brain is too mushy to remember them. I think I'll going to the beach.

Outback Road Trip

Road Trip - RouteGOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - After a little online research, it appears that renting a car is not only more fun, but also - unbelievably - cheaper than the bus when crossing the 3500km (2200 mi) nothing-ness between here and Darwin (cheaper - only if one travels with two people or more). Actually, I'm certain the cost of outback gasoline might tip the balance, but still, the price comparison is close enough for my book-keeping. And besides, a road trip is better than a bus trip any day. Trust me.

That settles it then; We're renting a car to drive across Australia. The sum of 'we' is Gia and I. I've managed to convince her that driving through an endless desert with nothing on the horizon but red dirt and Kangaroos will be fun. Silly girl, I know better, I did this very same trip back in 2003. There's not much out there. It's the sort of trip where a gas/petrol station appearing on the side of the road is an occasion for a photo. Seriously it is, get prepared for pictures of gas stations. Gas stations and kangaroos.

The only real fault with this new plan is that Gia is back in Canada and won't be returning to Australia until Sept 9th; 15-days from now. Can I survive 15-days in an empty apartment, with nothing to do but surf the Internet and sit on beach?

I really shouldn't complain; this is, after all paradise. Literally it is: The town is called Surfers Paradise. I'm going to the beach.

August 21, 2006

My Karma Debt

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - The main tenet of Karma is this: 'if you do good things, good things will happen to you - if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you'. While I don't really consider myself religious, I do have a tinge of superstition regarding Karma.

So far, on this trip, I've been the recipient of innumerable acts of kindness; both big and small: Cycling into and out of big Central American cities with the help of impromptu police escorts; offers of places to stay and couches to crash on, often from complete strangers; the countless people who've appeared out of nowhere, like angels, to point us in the direction we needed to go. Genuine kindness has been extended to us countless times.

Take my present situation as an example: I'm writing this post from a free Internet connection in a free apartment I now have all to myself. Gia and Lindsay, friends from Toronto, have charged me with 'house-sitting' their condo here on the Gold Coast while they visit Canada for the next couple weeks. They get no real benefit by me staying here; There are no plants or animals feed. Essentially they've just given me free reign of their home. All the while, there are people at home who are storing my junk, forwarding my mail, helping me with this website.

On my birthday, in Sydney, Cameron - my crewmate and friend from Blithe Spirit - rounded up a bunch of his own friends to take me out on the town. I'd never met most of them until that night, yet there they were, celebrating along side me and doing their best to make me feel welcome.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. If not, this is it: While governments around the world are amassing billions and trillions of dollars in debt, I'm wandering around the world amassing a different sort of debt: Karma debt. My Karma deficit is huge and getting bigger by the minute. I'm indebted to hundreds (maybe thousands) of people.

To repay this debt, when given the opportunity, I'll open up my own doors, I'll be a good host; I'll help old ladies across the road; I'll pick up litter; I'll do what I can. For now though, as a traveller, all I can really do is say 'thanks' and smile a lot.

August 17, 2006

Across Asia by Motorcycle

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - Sailing across the Pacific, then sitting idle in a Gold Coast apartment for weeks, waiting for mail to arrive from overseas, has given me plenty time to think and daydream and scheme.

At some point somewhere along the way the question was raised, I don't remember where exactly; likely late one night in the middle of the Ocean: Why not cross the Asian continent by motorcycle? I have yet to find a reason not too. Think about it. The fact is that Vietnam is physically connected to Paris by an intricate and vast network of roads. It's been done before and there's no physical reason Brian and I can't do it.

I've already done the bus thing (from NYC to Guatemala) and we've done the bicycle bit (From Guatemala to Panama). With a motorcycle, I'll have the same freedom we did to stop anywhere and take side trips that we had with the bicycles, only we'll be able to to it quicker and with less pedaling.

Never mind that I don't actually know how to ride a motorcycle, or that I have no clue about the regulations and costs involved with purchasing a local bike in a 3rd world country as a foreigner; then riding it through nearly 20-different countries to end up somewhere in Europe. I'm not even certain it's bureaucratically possible. The paper-work involved in owning a vehicle in just one, English speaking, country can be difficult enough.

That said, if it's possible to buy a cheap motorcycle in Southeast Asia and get it, legally, across borders then I'll do it. All I'll need to do is convince Brian that it's not too crazy an idea as he'll be rejoining the trip in October. Convincing Brian to do anything that sounds even remotely adventurous is rediculously easy.

Now I have something to occupy myself with over the next two weeks: Get a motorcycle licence and find out just how feasible a trip like this is.

August 11, 2006

Looking Forward

SYDNEY AUSTRALIA - I spent pretty much all of the year 2003 travelling and working here. This is where I finally set in motion a two-year plan that set me off on this circumnavigation. I'd realized one month before heading back to Canada that I'd spent a whole year abroad and had only seen one country. It shocked me. I needed to fix it somehow. The plan was to go home, work two years, save a bunch of money, then leave; this time for real. A trip around the world. So far, everything is going according to plan, I'm nearly half-way there.

I have to admit, it's a little strange to be back. Rather than spending my time seeing the sights, this time around I've been visiting old friends, planning the next leg and getting my affairs in order. I've been on the road now for more than 10 months and there are way too many errands that need doing; all of them too boring to mention here.

My foreseeable plan is this: I'll stay in this country only as long as it takes to get all my bits of paper in order. I'll skip sailing Indian Ocean to Africa for a little overland travel through Asia. I've had enough of endless horizons of water for a while and am drooling about the prospect of India, China and Southeast Asia. If you look at any map of the world, it's a short hop from Darwin (at the Northwest tip of Australia) to Indonesia or East Timor. Despite how short it looks on the map, it's still to far too swim; I'll need to get on a boat of some sort.

As it turns out, there are sailing yachts leaving Darwin now. It's the right time of year to get a boat from Darwin towards Asia. If I wait too long, I'll have missed my window. You see, there is a Cyclone season that predictably blows through that region in late October or early November every year. If I don't get on a yacht before it rolls in, I'll be stranded in Australia at least until April. This won't happen; I won't let it. I'm not getting any younger and this world is still too huge. I need to keep moving.

For now though, I wait for mail from home. I wait for extensions to my passport, I wait for new drivers licences and whole bevy of other bits of government plastic.

August 06, 2006

My 28th Birthday

Sydney Harbour SunsetSYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Unless something unforeseen happens in the next 24 hours, it looks like I'll have survived the cursed 27th year. It seems that 27 is difficult year to live through if you're a rock star: Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones (of the Rolling Stones) all met their maker in their 27th year. The fact that this phenomen is unique to rock stars may mean that I had nothing to worry about all along. Still, one can't be too cautious.

Either way, tomorrow I'll be 28 and I'm planning to make it one of the biggest years of my life. 27 was good. 28 will be better. Apparently major league baseball players reach their offensive peak when they turn 28. I'm also told that Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, was 28 when he performed what Forbes called 'the greatest athletic achievement of all time'.

While I don't plan to play baseball, or take up running, I do plan to work my way up into Asia then on to Europe and beyond; all of it without the convienience of air travel. I don't anticipate it'll be an easy feat so it's nice to know that I should at least physically be up to the challenge. My year is when I start my inevitable slide into old age can be put of for atleast another year; perhaps I'll back home and into a nice safe cubicle by then.

August 03, 2006

Down the East Coast of Australia

Looking up the MastSYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - All sailors hate whales; they live in fear of them. Everywhere I sail I hear stories, some true but most exaggerated, of yachts crashing into; or worse, being attacked.

It seems that we weren't the only ones travelling South along the East coast of Australia. This time of year, humpback whales move in droves down the coast on their way to the great Southern Ocean where they spend their summers. In my experience, they swim rather lazily make very little progress if any at all. From what I can tell they mostly just hang out just below the surface waiting for wayward sailing yachts to crash into them.

The troubling bit is that I don't have any fear of them whatsoever despite just crossing the worlds biggest Ocean. I love 'em. Can't get enough actually. If there's a whale nearby my first instinct is to steer toward it for a better look. This apparently, is very unsailor-like of me.

In any case we've reached Sydney safely; just ahead of a whole lotta rain accompanied by gale force winds. I've been doing a lot of day-dreaming and am frantically scheming about what lies ahead for me. Of course, It'll have to top the sailing....

Stay tuned.