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Camping- I was a Girl Guide!

Litchfield & Kakadu National Parks.

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

My guidebook says "Kaka don't, Litchfield do!". This is in relation to visiting one over the other if you've not or much time and having now seen both, I'd tend to disagree. Litchfield is small for a National Park and you can drive from the rangers lodge to the main waterfall (Wangi falls) in 20 mins! It's best done as a day trip out of Darwin which we quickly realised after our first attempt at camping there. Horrendously humid, no breeze n me n laura puffing n panting in our discomfort.
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Kakadu is everything I imagined and more. Stunning landscapes, geography, aboriginal art works and big large sameness of scenery when
driving. Lots of wildlife too. And hot hot hot weather despite it being the wet season. Feels like the notorious 'build up' to me, where everyone is just WAITING for it to rain; Katherine, Day 5 (or rather, night) camping...it's clammy. Tonight I've got my tent cover off in the hope of a breeze (insect net still on though). It's 9.53. I'm in bed. This is what my life has become: early mornings and early nights, mosquito repellant (spray and cream), ant bites (they hurt!) and lotsa sun lotion! As well as a contsant stream of sweat... Everywhere!
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Daily camping life goes something like this:
Wake up. Ugh. Bad, hot sweaty nights sleep. Trudge to car aware of insects, get stuff, trudge to bathroom aware of insects. Do bathroom check (if needing toilet: check under the lid and rim for frogs/spiders/mosquitoes. If none then check paper dispenser for spiders and previously mentioned insects. Also check behind the door. If none, then proceed. If not repeat process in new cubicle. If needing shower: check cubicle and behind door for Mosquitos, spiders. If none then proceed with shower. If there are, repeat process in new cubicle.) Brush teeth. Apply sun lotion THEN insect repellant. Trudge back to car (aware of insects but feel hopeful the repellant might work?) to put stuff away, then... Breakast!
Eat breakfast, clean up breakfast stuff. Put contacts in (world looks brighter already). Ready for the day of explorations in hot, sticky, sweaty weather. With flies. Many many flies. They go in your ear, mouth (they try at least), eyes, nose... Face flies are horrid! But still cannot bring self to buy fly net for face. I'd look like a vee keeper. Ridiculous! Seen tour grps with them. Laughted at them then realised significance. Then stared with envy. But still refuse to purchase one. The fan I bought in Cambodia (yep, this is also why my backpack is heavy, despite it being made of palm tree) keeps them away when I can be bothered to use it (glad I brought it now tho).
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So, what can I tell you about kakadu? It's huge. The drive from Darwin was 4 hrs. We looked at the campsite in Ubirr (go on, look it up) but no hot plates on BBQ, only do it yourself fire for which we don't have stuff for :( so we went back to Jabiru and camped there at a lovely place which happened to have a pool! It cost $11 p/p per night for an unpowered site, but it did have good facilities.
After a dip in the pool to cool down we headed back to Ubirr to catch sunset and the rockart that is found there, mainly the different fish and animals aboriginals hunted. The view from the top of the tabletop escarpment was stunning, with a range of habitats, wetlands to bush to forests to stone outcrops. As far as the eye could see. Lush greenness from the first rains. Stunning. Not enough adjectives to describe how it made me feel - this is what I'd come to Australia for and at last I was content to be here, with the outback, nature at my fingertips. A real sense of peace. I wanted more of this.
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After a good nights sleep (sort of, it wasn't as bad as litchfield that's for sure) we headed back to Ubirr to finish off looking at the rock art we didn't have time to see before sunset. Then headed down to noulangie rock where there are several lookouts to see the artwork there, this time more focused on people and tales from the dreamworld. My understanding is that 'creation time' is their 'dreamtime' and spirits came out of dreamtime to make the world, leavin people behind and then went back into dreamtime. The tales told through the art seem like they should have a moral behind them, but dissapointingly they never do, simply an instruction - beware of crocodiles! I can't explain more than that because it's something I need to read up in more...

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Anyway. Have I mentioned flies yet?! There are flies. In abundance in the northern territory. They land on you. On every bit of you. Including you face! Oh yes, I see ihave mentioned them earlier. Well the flies at noulangie rock are persistent, so much so laura had had enough and went back to the car! On my way back to the car who should I see walking towards me but Helen and her boyfriend! Had an exclamatory 'OMG!' moment and cuddle then let them get on their way (their route is the same as mine but over a shorter timescale). Back
to base camp for pool relaxation and an early dinner (fajhitas!) then beddybyes.

The next morning we left the park and headed to Edith falls, on the way to Katherine (which is where Dave, lauras boyfirled is based working). Edith falls is a massive waterhole with a mini waterfall (that still looks really strong) filling it up. Steps go into it but you can't see the bottom and all I could think about were the freshwater cocs that could be lurking in there...agh. BUT i still went in! and survived...
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Then we headed down to Katherine to camp with Dave (he's a good egg, he made us dinner and we had wine so we slept well that night. The next afternoon we headed out to Katherine Gorge. It was baking hot about 4pm and the walk was sweaty going. The Gorge was beautiful but no crocs to be seen...

Ps. Being a girl guide didn't prepare me for any of the above in anyway at all.

Posted by RosiePony 17:47 Archived in Australia Tagged northern backpacking kakadu litchfield territory Comments (0)

From Indonesia to Australia, Darwin it is!

10/11/10 - 19/11/10

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Oh my goodness, how Oz is SO different to Indonesia. Things that clearly stick out are:
- Wide roads. Clean air, streets, pavements, clean things!
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- Lack of noise (no hustle n bustle from the street)
- No stalls (food or souvenier) on the streets or elsewhere for that matter.
- The queens face on currency!
- The cost; I feel like a pourper, despite having saved my hard earned pennies for this trip!
- Food (and I can't belive I've only just put this down, I have changed so much since leaving!). I went into Woolworths (not our 'had to shut down due to economic crisis' woolworths, it's a supermarket out here, my favourite shop!!) and had several 'moments' whilst shopping for food - at the fresh fruit section (I'd not seen fresh fruit other than the banana or pineapple in my free breakfast pancake for the past 3 weeks) I started to salivate and I was literally struck by the selection, size, colour and smell, I still recall the moment now. Then I saw the cheese. Well! I'd not had dairy since leavig russia and had had a bit of milk here n there in Thailand, then in the UK, but since leaving again, I hadn't tasted cheese in AGES (I love cheese) but Asian countries don't get it and it's so expensive I never buy it! Anyway, I had a meltdown (excuse the pun) n literally had to make myself walk away from the isle. So on I went in the supermarket...to other products.
- Crocs; apparantly everywhere. But I only ever saw them in Captivity. Where they were either bred or used to make croc meat or croc produce (purses/bags) etc...
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I cant quite believe i am here in OZ! It so like home, you cant believe - but HOT! The hostel i am staying at has a pool (although its so tiny lengths are difficult) and I have met some nice people here. My dorm room holds 4 beds and so far it is me and betty, a german girl who is working here. She is so lovely, I already feel at home here. I basically spent a week in Darwin, recouperating from my Indonesian ordeal of being frequently on the toilet ill, despite having a great time there.
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Alice, a girl i met on the way to Elkes Hostel - lovely


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I wet to the docs and got the strongest antibiotics I could get to kick my immune system into gear. Dissapointing i cant enjoy an aussie wine but theyre real expensive anyway...after the 7 day course I finally feel back to normal, ready to meet my mate from the UK; Laura, who i used to work with. She and her boyfriend are spending a year working here in the hope of extending their visa for a further year by doig agricultural work. So I am spending 3 weeks travelling from darwin with laura, picking up dave on the way to Alice Springs.

Darwin is smaller than Chesterfield! Has a main street that takes prob 20 mins to walk down, has a marina that u can swim in since the ocean has crocs n box jelly fish. I went to the crocasaurous centre yesterday and got to hold a baby croc as well as an olive python, a children python and two lizard things. Great fun! Also, I saw a black headed python eat a white rat which was really interesting to observe.
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Posted by RosiePony 17:46 Archived in Australia Tagged darwin northern backpacking territory Comments (0)

The Island and a return to Bali...

01-11-2010 to 10-11-2010

all seasons in one day 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

b]The Gilli Isles[/b] are made up of three islands off the north-west coast of Lombok, the small island next to Bali (which is just south-east off Java). You can walk around each island in a fee hours so that is how small they are. Our island was cled Gilli Trebangan. It had Beautiful White sandy beaches with palm trees, resorts down the south end, beach huts up the north end of the east coast.
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Nothing much around the other coastlines I'm told, I never did the island walk, not from lazyness, but believe it or not... I was ill (again!). I caught a cold of all the ridiculous things to catch on a desert island!!! So I sunbathed and snorkled for the majority of my time there. I saw three turtles, an octopuss(!), lotsa fishes of different varieties, it was beautiful. Our accommodation was a beach hut big enough for three, with an outdoor bathroom, novel at the time of securing the deal, impractical when you need to pee and it's raining! There is a bit of coer but no way enough so you don't get wet. Plus instant meal for Mosquitos...

Hel and I sunbathed as much as possible but the weather would always turn in the afternoon to clouds, overcast rainstorms coming over from Lombok (they get loadsa rain) and we'd get bombarded so be forced to chill out in a bar, cafe or our Balcony. This is why we stayed 5 nights, after much more we wouldve been ready to try to swim ashore!
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The island was more expensive than the mainland, since they have to ship supplies over, but the food we had was great, freshly caught seafood cooked to order with salad buffet and potatoes... Perfect! The island people are friendly and relaxed, in fact for the majority of island people life is slow. They sit around and wait. For people to arrange a trip, buy water or shopping, to get a lift in a horse drawn carriage (we never did this), or place a food order. They sit in communal groups and sometimes at night walkin home from a bar, you'd see a grp of men all laid out asleep in a raised platform which acted as a bed. They may have been getting really early the next day, I just don't know.
The main tourist section is the main road around the island but if you literally walk down a sidestreet (and no tourist needs to do this
since everyhing they need is on the main strip) you get a whole new view of the island. You get to see cockerals walking around freely, buildings being made, women going about their chores, cafes for locals and farmyards. The locals take an interests look at you probably wondering why you are straying from the beaten path. It was nice to see the raw side of life of a 'desert' island.

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Kuta, Bali 06-11-10 to 10-11-10
Hel and I left for Bali whilst Dutch headed to the Gilis for a bit. Our Bali stop was a port called Padang Bai, which usually in the peak season is overrun with travellers. Since it was off peak I tried to bargain down the rooms but no one was having any of it so we stayed in the centre of town in a chilled out place with tiled floors, balanese woodworked doors and a view over the town to the sea. After an exploratory walk round the town (not too much to see) we had dinner which was yummy chicken satay skewers, hel then because we are so exciting we went to bed. Got up the next day and booked our bus journey to Kuta, the main tourist strip of Bali. This took 2 hrs to drive to ane we got dropped off at Bemo Corner (Bemo is the name for the mini van used to transport people around Bali) and began our accommodation search. No where had any availability, or it was extortionatley priced, so beig near lunch time we dumped our bags in a restaurant and sat down to eat. Afterward we scanned our guidebook maps and foundthere should be a bunch of places just down the road so whilst one waited wih the bags, the other went off to secure a room. The hotel we booked had a pool, lush greenery creating a cool jungle vibe, and pagodas you could sit under in comfort when it rained. The rooms had balconys and were spacious with ensuite bathrooms. Perfect for relaxing in.
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Now, I won't be able to do Kuta beach justice but it is MASSIVE! It neverends, goes on as far as the eye can see and in now way feels 'full' of people despite heir being hordes of sunbathers, suffers and beach touts. It's lovely n golden and sandy soft. When the tide out it becomes huge width wise too. I was stunned, and whilst I have been on long beaches before I think the fact I'd come from a tiny island made the effect twofold or more. I just thought to myself, 'wait till you see the Aussie beaches rose!'.
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So after a beer onthe beach hel and I set out to explore. Lots of souvenier shops selling the same tat. I exchanged the rest of my Malaysian money, and we chilled out at the hostel waiting for Dutch. After he arrived we went out for dinner then drinks, to a bar in town. Now kuta nightlife is meant to be mad. The bar we were in did get busy but nothing too mad. It was good to dance and have some fun! With no hangover the next day! The late night visit to mcdonalds must have helped...
Sunbathing the next day then a motorbike ride into the hills to see the rice terraces of central Bali followed by a visit to a temple on the sea. The landscape of Bali is beautiful, farmers working the fields, the sun beating down and you steaming past on a bike. I loved it. I actually went to talk to the farm workers as they cut the rice crops, and they let le have a go with the scyth! It's very sharp and after a time I imagine backbreaking work...
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A return to kuta and then dinner before hel and I parted ways (she headed to shanghai for a week before then meeting up with her boyfriend for two weeks travelling oz together before meeting back u with me in cairns...geddit?!). However life is never simple and as I set off to cath my flight, Jetstar had other ideas. Now you may know, Mt Mirapi in Indonesia errupted, whilst I was there and in Bali, emitting an ash cloud.
Jetstar said our flightoath was over the ash cloud so cancelled my flight to Darwin. Ten minutes before we were scheduled to board the plane, at 10.30pm! It was gone 1pm by the time they had arranged accommodation, driven us there in coaches, checked me in (I was 5th in line so got a swanky room!) and theni went to bed! The hotel was plush, my room was massive, with double bed (I rolled around purposefully to make sure I used all the bed space), minibar (wish I'd used it now since they didn't charge me), free choccy (def ate that), and the bathroom had pebbles in it- check out the photo...i was in heaven for a few hours cos I had to get up at 6am to make sure I could have the buffet breakfast before catching a 10 o'clock flight the following day, which i did, to Darwin, Australia.
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Posted by RosiePony 19:08 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali backpacking Comments (0)

Lovina to Amed, Bali

29-10-10 to 01-11-10

sunny 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Friday - After breakfast we decided to explore Lovina, it's a small village stretched out along a main road with two other roads parallel off it. Not very big and not very busy. We wanted to find the Post Office for stamps which took a good 20 mins of sweaty walking to find, in which time Aljan had a haircut! How exciting our lives are! After a brief walkroud we played in the pool til dinner.
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Saturday - Whiteley and I had a pool day, sunbathing and swimming and sampling the local Bintang beer.
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We ate lunch at the hotel then met up with the others for dinner (we traveled to Bali with three French people -George, Olivie and Jan- who we met doing the Mt Bromo tour)- they had rented bikes and gone off to find green rice felds. When they came back though it turns out they didm't actually find any good green rice fields. so we had Arak (rice whiskey) to make up for it and the night went on from there!!

Sunday - We left the hostel at 11am in a Bemo to Amed which was a 2 hr drive. The French (as we called them) were meeting Yans brother in Amed so we thought that was a good stop for us to. It was so beautiful watching the scenery of Bali pass you buy. Everyone was out in their Sunday best and soon we hit traffic which slowed us down considerably. Yan and Aljan got out to explore (they are the same person I think- both extremely inquisative and like to know what's going on!) and they found it was a Hindu festival with crowds of people bringing offerings and food, hence the traffic.
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We arrived in Amed in the afternoon. After checking in we went for a walk along the beach and found a place to eat lunch. It is a very rural small local village. No cashpoint, shops etc. Very peaceful.
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We explored the nearby fields to find a pig in a bag. We had heard it squealing from the roadside so we went to explore. There was an old lady and a boy aged 6 who were carringing a piglet in a bag on a bamboo stick to their house. Aljan took over from the old lady n off we went ("Hi Ho, Hi go...") back to the house. I tried communicating withthe locals but only got as far as the Lonely Planet would allow- ages and "are you ok?" then we saw two massive boars being manhandled into big wicker baskets to be weighed in preparation for slaughter. We left after this since slaughter would be at 7am the following day and wasn't local, otherwise we would be observers for sure!
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Back to the hotel for a swim in the pool (slimy) and bedtime. It was a beautiful starry night.

Posted by RosiePony 18:28 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali backpacking lovina Comments (0)

Yogjakarta, Java

24-10-10 to 26-10-10

sunny 30 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

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Sunday - Arriving late last night wasn't as bad as I expected. Yogjakarta is a cool relaxed city where it's safe to go out late at night alone (not that I ever was alone) so we got cash out, walked to Bladock, our hostel and hoped they had room for us all! They did n we went straight to bed since it was about 3am...I got up early ish and went to do a rekky of the area: find a place to hand in laundry and find out prices for Batik courses (more on this later). Walking along the main road there are lots of cycle rikshaws that can hold 2 ppl, and horse drawn carridges taking people down the road (have to do it!). I've learnt the phrase 'jalan jalan' which means just walkin around so no one bothers me too much. It's hustle and bustle down the main road, with stalls of crafts (bags, clothes, jewelry etc) which tempted me into buying some bracelets and a batik bag! Bargained of course ;)
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I returned to meet Helen and Aljan, who then ventured out with me again down the main road in search of food. We ate off a street vendor
(has spring rolls and mie goreng - fried noodles and chicken) which was delicious. Then we visited a batik showroom, where 35 artists
created different pictures on canvas using the batik technique - you use hot wax to create an outline of the design, then add colour and
more wax to build up a picture of your design. Finally the wax is melted off leavin the design clearly seen. Helen and I picked out what
we liked, haggled and I was 'lucky' enough that my artist happened to be in the studio, so I got a piccie with him. After a while I got a
price I was happy with, got the pack and left. It was only when we were walking down the main road and someone came up to us asking if we wanted to see a 'real' batik warehouse that we realised we may have been duped?!
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We went along anyway to compare prices, Aljan teasing us all the while, only to find, they had the same 'unique' batik pictures for sale- luckily at the price I paid, so I didn't feel bad, liked my purchase and could see the funny sideWe took a horse and carriage ride back home (Which has a pool did I forget to say?!) to freshen up then we had dinner. We arranged a batik course for the next day as well as a massage (in need of one from all the bag carry travel in bogor) for the eve and then had a beer n went to bed.
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Monday - Today is our Batik painting course. Very exciting. We designed our patterns of pictures in pencil on a piece of square linen material before being shown the batik process:
- use hot melted wax to protect the material from the colours you add to the design.
- use paraffin wax to protect the colours you use from running with the final colour background.
- melt all wax and you have batik design
This sounds simple but you have to use an old style nib to apply the wax to the cloth and it can spill or blob, the trick is to keep the application slow. Anyway this whole process took the entire day but it was pleasing to see the end results.
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Tuesday - 8am pick up in minivan to the temples, an hrs drive away from yogjakarta. Lunch restaurant is pointed out and we get tickets to the temples, enter the complex, get a free map then head off on our exploration. The first temple is Borobudur. This is a single temple,
with steps leading uptown the main stupor with 4 levels on the way up. Each level depicts different scenes on the walls as you walk round.
The steps are guarded by lions on the base of the main staircases. The steps are not uniform and are steep. I went straight to the top
(Learnt to do this in china since getting up is the hard part, coming down is easy!) to explore and saw the main stupa was surrounded by
lots of smaller stupa in a circle on the level below. Inside each stupa is a Buddha that if u can reach through a hole in the stupa, u
can make a wish on. I could so did, can't tell u wot I wished for tho otherwise it won't come true! I was asked for photos by lots of indonesians so I was reminded of china a bit, then got chatting to some students who wanted to practice their English with me. 20 mins later I had found out their ages (16, 17 and 20), had discussed football, my travels, going to university in indo and how much it costs (lots for them) as well as the uk and if there were any temples there (I mentioned stone henge since it's the only thing I though they could relate too). Back to the minivan to be taken to a mid stop on route, another temple with an admin fee so I bypassed it and visited a Buddha monastery instead which was much more peaceful than walking past the hawkers outside the temples- trying to sell me another batik bag (they wouldn't buy mine back off me when I offered). Then onto pranayama (Hindu temples) which reminded me more of Angkor Watt temples that were four or five temples situated around one main complex. Again steps up each one! So a good workout today ;)
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The thing about these temples is that they have been rebuilt due to 'conservation' since the earthquake in 2002(?). So whilst they look
pristine as they once might have, they have been pull apart bit by bit (or excavated in the case of the earthquake) and then labelled and
reput back together. That's one big jigsaw puzzle! Back in the minivan to yogjakarta where we met dutch for dinner at the hotel. We had arranged a massage the previous evening for 9pm tonight - my massage was with hot jasmine oil for 1.5hrs (blissful sigh)...as I was lying there I heard Dutch finish his massage (it was an hr), rustle around and say the fateful words we've been teasing him about ever since "excuse me, may I show you something?". I knew instantly Whiteley and I had the same thought reactions ('it's not THAT kind of massage parlour'), but in dutches defence, he IS a qualified physiotherapist and genuinely wanted to share knowledge. So whiteley and I found ourselves mid way through a physio seminar held by Dutch at 11pm the eve before we have to get up at 7 to go climb a volcano! Classic. Pity the Indonesian boys who did the massages didn't look remoteley Interested. But in thanks the owner gave Dutch a buddha head statue which he is still reluctantly lugging round in his bag, ha ha ha.

Posted by RosiePony 04:53 Archived in Indonesia Tagged java backpacking yogjakarta Comments (1)

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