Saturday, February 28, 2004

Last day in Fremantle. Heading to Cottesloe Beach for the finale of the Perth International Arts Festival.

I'm going with a German girl from my room that I've been chatting with for hours and hours. There's another woman in our room and we three can't stop talking about all sorts of things. Last night, we talked for over 6 hours!

I might also meet up with Natalie, a girl from my hostel in Perth, who will also be on my tour north to Exmouth that starts tomorrow morning. I'm excited about my tour, but hope that I'll stop being friggin sick someday really soon!

Somedays I love being me. Today, it's because I treated myself to a half day at the spa! I was plucked, cleansed, steamed, buffed and polished, moisturized and massaged. It was the greatest.

I was so relaxed, I nearly fell asleep! And it was all quite cheap, too!

The YHA in Freo is a little, shall we say, worn and it seems that everyone there smokes and all the cigarette smokes blows into the main part of the hostel and it stinks. However, I have met some really interesting people and I'm relatively happy, despite initial disappointment.

I met the girl who runs the same AIDS art exhibit that I saw in Perth. And a woman in my room held court last night about how women allow men to treat them badly, and how they need to let men understand their boundaries early on, so that it sets the standard for their relationship. Otherwise, when they are allowed to treat a woman horribly, they lose respect for them.

I am guilty of allowing past boyfriends to walk all over me, for sure, but I'm trying to be better. I'm trying to tell people when they hurt my feelings. It's a difficult thing to do sometimes, but clearly necessary as they often do not know when they've done it. It's one of those things that has begun to change in me and I hope that I can carry it home with me.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Update on Jaap and his car:

He sold the Audi! And since he doesn't post anymore, here's what he had to say about the whole transaction:
"I sold it to a crazy Scotsman. What an idiot. But thanks for the idiot. He
gave me 2400 dollars for the car. That was the price that I asked for it. He didn't wanna talk about the price. Idiot."
Jaap makes me laugh. He lives to complain. But YAY for him! And now he's back in Australia, with more months left to go than I have. Lucky guy! And he also carries the coveted sweater that I left in Auckland. Just like Frodo...
Have just checked out of The Witch's Hat, my hostel in Perth, and will soon be on my way to Fremantle. Of course, now I have doubts and wonder if perhaps I should have stayed in Cottesloe Beach instead (if it's nighttime in Cottesloe, you can check this out instead).

I'm still feeling pretty sick, although it could be the medication I'm taking. My glands are still swollen, and maybe I just need to hang out on the beach for a couple of days. Which is actually the plan.

I'm taking off north on Monday, heading to Shark Bay (another World Heritage Area) and then Exmouth (near the Ningaloo Reef). North=hot. I mean, hottER. Yikes. I'd originally planned to go to Broome, which is further north and supposed to have beautiful beaches, but I looked at the forecast and they are covered in thunderstorms at the moment (for the next week at least), so I decided that it wasn't worth it.

A little trivia:
Did you know that WA has a population of 1,851,252 and that most of those people live in Perth (1,176,542 people as of 2001)? That's mostly because much of the state is desert. But probably they are also just here to see me. They knew I was coming...
So I've been kind of busy. I know, I know, the doctor told me to take it easy. So I did. I was only going to go to this matinee showing of Live Acts on Stage (I know, it sounds dirty).

So I got a ticket and it was an excellent show; a modern telling of the mythology of Orpheus. With a lot of nudity and coarse language - hoorah! The funny thing is, there were plenty of well-muscled near-naked men on stage and I couldn't stop looking at Orpheus (the only bald, clothed one, really) because of his beautiful eyes.

Then I went to the shore and did a walk along the water as the sun set. It was lovey. I did it mostly because it was so hot out and it's much cooler and there's a wind down by the water.

Then I walked to the PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Art) and saw an interesting/odd exhibit that I don't think I can explain. Suffice it to say that one piece was a Starship Enterprise bong. Ya.

Had a bad night last night. Couldn't sleep. Felt like crap. Ugh.

Today, I went to the Museum and saw the exhibit "Spin" which showcases a history of WA music. I collected an excellent list of good bands including the Waifs and You Am I. Also saw a really horrible video by a heavy metal band, Allegiance. The song? "Your Death is my Reward." Nice.

Then walked to King's Park to get a lovely view of the city and watch the sunset. And walked back. So nice.

Tomorrow: Fremantle.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Yesterday I saw the movie House of Sand and Fog.

Outstanding movie. I cried my eyes out!

To me, it was all about good, well-meaning people who are tragically misguided. It made me realize how important it is to understand another's side of the story -- and there is always another side to the story that is just as valid as your own. It also reminded me how little material possessions really mean. It is our relationships that make life worth living. Everything else is gravy.
HOT. 34 degrees.

The weather promises to be "sultry" for the weekend, which is actually OK, since I plan to be staying in Fremantle, near the beach. So that's where I plan to hang out all day. Swim, read, swim, read, swim, sleep, swim.

Monday, when I have booked a tour heading north, the heat is supposed to break a little, with the promise of a shower in the evening. Hrmph. I'm HOPING that it won't rain wherever I am.

I'm excited about my trip! It's a smaller company and the tour is an extra day longer than most others, for the same price!

I'm sure that I'll be feeling better by Monday! Especially with all the R+R that I've been enjoying. It's actually feeling like a real holiday. Until I get bored, of course.

Monday, February 23, 2004

33 degrees.

Yep, I'm sweating. The trick is to wear as little as possible without having people stare at you.

The bright sun here makes everything seem so much brighter. The flowers shriek the colours against the white stone fences. And the sky seems so much bigger here. Perhaps it is the unending impossible blue.

I have been to the doctor who told me I should not do anything for a week. Just sleep, eat good, wholesome food, and relax. So I've been looking up things to do during my relaxation week here in Perth so that I won't get bored. The problem is that I don't have anyone to do these fun things with. Which makes it all a little bit more boring.

Yesterday I went to the Art Gallery for an hour. It was all my exhausted legs could handle. Some really great exhibits on at the moment. And air conditioned.

This afternoon? The Cinema and maybe the museum.
I've had lots of sleep, so maybe I can make it through the afternoon if I don't go too far...
It's official. I'm sick.

So sick, my skin hurts.

I probably have the flu or something. Again. I'm just hoping it's not Ross River virus.

All this and my inability to make a decision regarding travel plans means that I'm in Perth for a little while longer. Still not sure how long. I'll probably leave this week and head north.

At least I've met some nice people at my hostel.

My hostel is nice, but unfortunately, the washing machine made my laundry even more dirty than before. It's just not fair!!

At least I don't have an appetite, so I might lose some of the 5kg that I've gained...
Well, one can dream anyway.

Also should mention that poor Jaap is having troubles selling his car. He ran into a wall because he was talking to a pretty girl instead of paying attention to driving (hey, if that's the reason, this should have happened WEEKS ago!). So now his car is even worse off. And someone told him that the car market is full so he can't sell his car there as he'd planned.

The poor guy is absolutely LOST without me!
If anyone has any ideas to help him out, please email him at

Sunday, February 22, 2004

I am in love. With Perth. And Fremantle.

Spent the day in Fremantle. Went to the markets, bought some nice fruit and good bread. Will have strawberry sandwiches for dinner tonight. Sadly, the strawberries aren't as good as the ones Jaap and I picked near Nelson (South Island, NZ). But they'll do.

Also went to the Arts Centre in Fremantle and saw a Tibetan Monk exhibit... in fact watched the Tibetan monk do his sand "paintings". Very cool. Then there was an outdoor concert in the courtyard, so I stayed for that as well. The weather was as near to perfect as there is.

Had some lovely food, enjoyed a busker performance and wandered around the waterfront, looked at the boats, watched the sun going down, walked to The Round House (ya, well, it's old and, um, round) and all over the place and now I'm back in Perth City.

And all it cost me was $3 for the half-hour train trip each way!

But it was weird, not having anyone with me to share it. Still, it meant I could take as long as I wanted in the bathing suit shop (I finally bought myself a new pair of bather-bottoms after losing one-half of my suit in Darwin). And I did enjoy watching people.

I love having time to just reflect.
Sometimes I want to cry for all the beauty in the world.

And apparently, there is some insect here that is in love with me. It can't keeps it's jaws off me and is leaving huge angry, itchy welts all over my body. Goodness, I wish I weren't so sweet!

Saturday, February 21, 2004

OK, have changed hostels and am now at The Witch's Hat, which is nicer, but still not great. It's also a little further away from the city. Oh well, I needed to walk more anyway.

Speaking of which, I'd already done about half of the city walking tour by 9am today. That's what happens when you wake up at 6am. And that's what happens when you go to bed at 10pm and sleep like the dead.

I had a nice, free breakfast, walked around, checking out hostels, checking out of my hostel and into a new one and then came back to the OLD hostel for a second breakfast.

Ha, yes, I'm cheap. But it was also much easier that way.

But I also managed to miss the street performance that I wanted to catch (part of the International Arts Festival going on right now here).

Oh well. I should figure out what I want to do while I'm here in Western Australia. I'm sure the month will pass just as quickly as my month in New Zealand.

Tomorrow, I plan to go to the Freemantle Markets.
Today, maybe I should go out and enjoy the lovely weather (25 degrees and sunny - perfect).

Friday, February 20, 2004

So I've left Auckland, City of Sails, and am now in Perth. Staying at a crap hostel. But so tired that I'm almost falling asleep on my feet when I stand still too long.

Who thought that less than 4 hours of sleep would be a good idea?

Well, I thought that I'd catch up on sleep on the plane. Didn't happen. Got a 1/2 hour, tops.

It's quite warm here, but I'm disappointed that the guy who I was going to stay with has not responded yet to my email. Ah, men. You just can't trust 'em.

OK, you can trust some of them some of the time. Jaap was nice enough to drive me to the airport this afternoon. It was kind of sad saying goodbye. But I know we'll meet again, whether in Australia or elsewhere. Still, I miss my travel partner already. Don't tell him I said that.

Actually, Jaap just emailed me to tell me that he needs me; he's lost without me. Literally. He got lost on the way home from the airport. Guess I was a good navigator afterall! Well, a girl's gotta be good at something, right?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Today is girlie day!

I painted my nails last night and blow-dried my hair today and am wearing a pretty skirt! YAY!
Interesting about New Zealand:

* their $1-coins look like AUS$2-coins and NZ$2-coins look like AUS$1-coins
* got over $100 stolen from my hostel in Whitianga. Sad. But it's usually quite safe
* lots of sheep. It's not just a joke afterall
* they say "bro" a lot and "eh" just like Canadians (but with a Kiwi accent)
* it rains a lot. Even though they SAY this is not normal for this time of year...
* very friendly, more small towns
* they have a lot of wildflowers everywhere!
* they love love love to make fun of Aussies (much like Canada vs. USA)
I've sold my NZ SIM card (the card for my mobile phone for NZ) so don't try to call me on it anymore! I was lucky as there were some English girls who were just starting out on their trip. So they now have my phone number.

Jaap and I went to the mechanic to see about his ever-so-slightly-damaged window (it won't roll up/down automatically) and it will probably be expensive to fix it. He's really sad about it, so send him a nice email to cheer him up if you have time. I'm also leaving NZ tomorrow, so on top of his car woes, he'll be sorely missing the sunshine in his life. ;)

But maybe we'll meet up in Western Australia next month. It all depends on if he has money or not.

Tonight I'll meet up with a friend that I used to work with at GE. He's living in Auckland now and it'll be nice to see him one last time and have some bon voyage drinks before I leave tomorrow afternoon for Perth.

I can't believe the time has gone so quickly.
Only one more month before I'm home!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

OK, I've been away in Whitianga, in The Coromandel, where Internet access is extravagantly expensive.

We stayed at The Cat's Pyjamas and thankfully stayed in the hostel instead of in the tent, as it poured. And the hostel had all sorts of jigsaw puzzles, so Jaap and I made three puzzles during our stay. (I love puzzles!)

We managed to get to Hot Water Beach early enough on Monday to get our own perfect spot to dig in the sand. The trick is, you find a spot and dig down to the water and the water is geothermically heated in certain places. So we had our own little "spa" (that's what they call a hottub here).

It started to get annoying when all the other tourists who arrived later (you have to catch it at the right tide times) wanted to jump in our little pool.

"Is it really hot?" they asked, dipping their feet in and destroying our walls of sand.
Sigh. Shocking.

So we left after a couple of hours and went Bone Carving where I carved my own fish hook pendant. Actually, I did two carvings, but the other is a surprise.

We were going to leave the next day, but the weather was so great (for once) that we decided to go to Cathedral Cove with our new friend, Kim. It's only a short drive and walk down to the beach and it was just breathtaking. So was the water, it was that cold!

We ended up going out last night with people from the Magic Bus and of course I drank too much and now I have a horrible hangover and it's all Jaap's fault. I was so sick this morning, that I missed the entire scenic drive from Whitianga to Auckland, curled up on the back seat. To get back at him, I broke his car window. HA, take that!

Thankfully, Burger King heals all wounds.
Now we're staying in a LOVELY hostel, Bamber House. It's like staying in someone's home. Someone's very CLEAN home, mind you.

So I'm happy again. Burger King, nice place and cheap internet. Yay!

Friday, February 13, 2004

Yesterday, I climbed a mountain.

In fact, I climbed Mount Doom.

The Tongariro Crossing is considered by many to be the finest day-walk in New Zealand. It was supposed to take 7-8 hours. Jaap and I did it in 6hrs.

It was quite challenging. Perhaps not as bad as Dead Woman's Pass on the Inca Trail in Peru, but it was close.

I found myself singing "put one foot in front of the other..." just to keep going.

It was beautiful! And I'm really happy that I did it. We got home super tired and we flaked out early in the tent only to be awoken by a rainstorm. Luckily, our tent was one of the only ones that stayed dry! Yay for cheap tents!

Now we're in Rotorua.

We went up in the skyline gondola and rode down in the luge twice! Total fun, except that Jaap tried to kill me so I had to pretend to run into him and almost cut him off. Of course, because I'm such a good driver, we avoided all catastrophe.

Tonight I'm going to a traditional Maori concert and meal (hangi) while Jaap hangs out at the YHA.

Tomorrow, we go rafting on the Kaituna River, on grade 5 rapids, down a 7-metre waterfall!

Then we're off for the Coromandel to go soak in the sun. Not that we need it; Jaap and I both got burnt on our big tramp yesterday. Yes, me. I got burnt. I know, shocking.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Still in Taupo.

Yesterday I was in hate with the human race, so I left the hostel to go to a cafe and complain to my journal. After that, the day was excellent. Coffee, writing, shoe shopping, reading my book, walking around the town... it was nice. Sometimes even I need alone time.

Then Jaap and I met a bunch of people from the Magic Bus, including a couple of Canadians. We ended up kicking around a soccer ball with one girl from Hinton, who was surprised that I knew where Hinton is (it's in Alta, and Raye used to live there).

After a sumptuous dinner of Tandoori Chicken, we went out for drinks with the Magic Bus people and I met a bunch of people who'd just gone skydiving. Taupo is the place for skydiving, as it's a little cheaper than elsewhere. I asked lots of questions about it, and they've allayed my fears about the whole thing. I may not do it now (mostly due to lack of money), but I think that I will skydive someday.

Met a really interesting guy from Milton, ON, who'd been travelling all around Asia and done some fantastic stuff there. Some really great stories!

Today is more shoe shopping (for Jaap this time, as I finally bought sandals to replace my completely broken ones), Internet catch-up, and possibly a trip to Rotorua, which is only an hour away. We hope the weather will clear up so that we can do the Tongariro Crossing tomorrow.

Monday, February 09, 2004


Well, Jaap is at the doctor's about his leprosy right now, I'm dying of sand-fly bites (ohmygosh I have 5 on my pinky toe alone!), I forgot the food box in Blenheim (South Island) and now we're in Taupo (North Island) and there's a bad weather front coming so we can't do the Tongariro Crossing, which is the main reason we're here, AND Jaap and I had a small fight about how I'm not a good cook.

However, we DID have a very good day yesterday in Blenheim. We rented bikes for $10 for the day from our hostel and rode all over the countryside, winetasting. It was great!

And since I left all the tea in Blenheim, I had a good excuse to hunt out some nice morning coffee in Petone, north of Wellington.

And then, while entertaining myself as Jaap called his parents, I met the lovely owner of a second-hand bookshop on Jackson Street, Petone. He told me about John Rhys Davies (yes, Gimli) coming into his shop quite often and buying up a crate of Science Fiction Digest and signing his Visitor's book. I also signed the book. Peter Jackson hasn't signed the book because he's a local, not a "visitor". But he's been there many times.

Then we drove off to Taupo. Leaving Wellington, city of the most cafes per capita, behind.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Hi everyone

Finally a story from me. This one goes about me so called leprosy. It looks like leprosy, thinks Cathy but it's more a stupid looking skin disease. I first had it on my arm and that was fine with me. But after a couple of days I also got a spot on my face. Horrible.

I kept complaning to cathy about the spot on my face made me so ugly. In the end she said that we have to go to the chemist. The chemist told me that it was a infection/bacteria thing. Bugger

Now after a couple of days with using the creme it's starting to look better. That's what Cath is thinking. It's still looks F@#king horrible.

Also Cath is avoiding me now. I think she can't stand the look of my face anymore.

See ya

Went on a lovely day trip to Abel Tasman National Park with Stu from Kayak Tasman. We took a water shuttle at 10:30am from lovely but touristy Kaiteriteri Beach and did a lovely walk for about an hour to Anchorage Bay.

Then we read our books (I'm LOVING Return of the King!) and sunbathed a little in the almost perfect weather. It was a little cloudy so at least no one burned.

At 3:30pm, Stu picked us up and took us and the kayak to a sheltered bay to teach us the kayaking techniques we'd need. And then we were off! We paddled up-wind/up-current to Mosquito Bay where we stopped for afternoon tea of crackers, cheese and avocado (mmm, loving avocado!) and tea of course.

It was a lovely quiet beach and I felt really calm and relaxed, even with the slight burn of my muscles and the sea salt on my skin and in my hair, making it a matted mess. It was great!

Then it was my turn to be in the back of the kayak and try to steer. It was tough and kudos to Jaap for being much better at it. Don't tell him I said that.

We checked out Pinnacle Island and saw some cute New Zealand fur seals. Cute cute cute!

We got back quite quickly going back, having the wind at our backs! We enjoyed a few sun showers and there was this lovely rainbow as the sun was going down.... It was magic!

We stopped off for a BBQ dinner on board a nice little boat before heading back home.

Lovely day!

Today we're leaving Motueka, but stopped off first at the markets here. There are a few Dutch stalls so Jaap bought some Dutch cheese, so he can stop complaining about the cheese here. And we tried what they CALL "Olliebollen" but it wasn't really olliebollen (a Dutch "oil ball", literally, which is like a doughnut that Tim Horton's calls a "dutchie"). It was more like deep fried apple cake. Still yummy.

And now on to Picton. We're taking the ferry to Wellington (North Island) tomorrow night. I'm hoping to do a bit of a wine tour tomorrow in the Marlborough region. Let's see if Jaap will take me....

Friday, February 06, 2004

Happy Waitangi Day!

Here we are in Motueka, staying in our tent at the Happy Apple Backpackers. It's pretty nice. And cheap. Unlike the kayaking tour that we'll do tomorrow in Abel Tasman National Park!

But as my sister Jen just said, I might as well spend the money or I'd just regret it when I get home and no longer have the opportunity to do it, whether I have the money or not.

It was another beautiful drive here along the Buller River. Goodness, I wonder if the Kiwis planned their roads with the tourists in mind. Around every corner is another gorgeous vista. It's amazing!

Jaap and I stopped to pick strawberries near Nelson. We picked just over a kilo so we can strawberry sandwiches for breakfast tomorrow! I'm so excited that he loves strawberry sandwiches too! Must be a Dutch thing.

We also went into the city to the Chemist to have her look at Jaap's leprosy that has spread. Turns out he has some sort of skin infection. She gave him some cream to try but if it doesn't go away in a couple of days, she counselled him to go to the doctor.

In the meantime, I'm staying as far away from him as possible - as much as one can when one is sharing a tent with someone with leprosy. Although he keeps trying to give it to me so that we can have something in common to talk about.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

We're stopping in Greymouth for Internet and groceries before heading to Punakaiki. We've picked up a hitchhiker from Seattle on our way out of Franz Josef and she's travelling with us all the way to Punakaiki. There, we'll see some pancake rocks and then take off again for Motueka, which is the entry point for Abel Tasman National Park.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Today we're in Franz Josef Glacier Village. We weren't originally going to come here, but Jaap is meeting up with his Austrian girlfriends.

Cheaper Internet here. Cute little hostel. Nicer than the last place (Ivory Towers SUCKS!). AND I have mobile access here. Yay!

The weather is supposed to clear up tonight. At least it's not raining NOW. But I'm not chancing it to go kayaking here. I'll chill out, watch more movies, have a walk around, call some people. Hope to talk to Heather today, as she left a message with me that SHE GOT ENGAGED!
Did our walk today... well, >half of it, at least. It was raining so hard that they said it was too dangerous to continue up the glacier. We were soaked but it was pretty cool anyway. We got our money back so that we only paid for the half day.

Now we're back at the hostel, warm and dry and someone is doing my laundry FOR me for $6! YAY!

Gonna watch movies all night and eat hotdogs for dinner, although Jaap just devoured an ENTIRE bag of chocolate cookies...

Hopefully, the rain will stop someday soon.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Now in Fox Glacier Village, staying at the Ivory Towers backpackers.

No mobile service here. Only one very small, expensive General Store here. We're going on our 6-hour glacier walk tomorrow. Hope it doesn't rain TOO much. It's been raining every day here for the past week or so.

Can't believe I've been here 2 weeks!! Not enough time!

Last night was interesting... played cards and drank wine with Jaap. Of course he beat the pants off me. Not literally. But I beat him at the game of talking his ear off...
Here we are in Wanaka. We were going to do a half-day walk to the Rob Roy Glacier at nearby Mount Aspiring National Park, but unfortunately a stream blocked our way. Jaap made me get out and check the depth of the stream. So I dutifully took off my shoes and socks and waded into the icy mountain run-off almost up to my knees. A little too deep for the Audi 100.

"Stupid car," Jaap says.

We turned back in the driving rain and checked into our hostel.

We've just finished watching The Last Samurai at the Paradiso Cafe here. It's just an old theatre-cafe with old chairs and couches and even an old yellow VW bug parked inside to sit in. At intermission (who has intermission anymore?!) I bought one of their freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Mmmm.

Pretty good movie, although I'm not big on Tom Cruise.
Next stop: Fox Glacier and our one-day tough-guy hike.