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Around the world in 180 days...

a travel blog by Sean, Karl & Dan

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Safari Adventures

Torquay, Australia

After another gruelling all night Greyhound bus journey we arrived in Hervey Bay (aka Torquay) ready for our self drive safari around Fraser Island.

The Safari was due to start at 7am the next day so, as we are such sensible people, we decided to go out and get wasted to celebrate the 2 month point of our trip. Waking up the next day was not the easiest thing to do but we made it to the briefing point on time and were promptly divided into the two groups of 10 people who would live together for the next 3 days: drive the same 4x4; sleep in the same tents; eat the same food; etc. However, the groupings seemed to be oddly chosen - our group of 8 guys and 2 girls, and the other group of 1 guy and 9 girls.

The next two hours were pretty busy: Sean landed the role of supermarket sweep buying food for all 10 of us; and the rest of us got the briefing on how to drive the car, where to go, and what to do when you get stuck in the sand. Finally, we all met up again and loaded up the 4x4 car ready to go.

The first day on the island was pretty smooth, although we did manage to get bogged down within about 30 minutes after following one of Karl's shortcuts. The road we were expecting to take turned out to be one way (the map was definitely wrong - often seems to be the case when Karl is guiding us!) so we had to dig the car out and turn around. Dan managed to have the first clutch episode at this point, albeit a minor one - the smell and the smoke probably gives you an idea. During the day we visited a few sights: freshwater Lake Wabbi where Sean sand-boarded into the lake while the rest bathed; the wreck on the beach; and plenty of creeks. Finally, upon arriving at the campsite, we set up the tents and prepared the evening's barbecue and goon.

The second day was a fairly early start. 'Korea Dangerous' started the driving and proceeded to slam the car over many deep creeks causing the Japan girls in the back to smash their heads on the roof every two minutes. After visiting the Indian Head lookout point, the Swedish 'soon to be dangerous' driver took over to get us around a difficult corner. About a million revs, a cloud of smoke, a dune load of sand and a barbecued clutch later we proceeded to the Champagne Pools frothy bathing area. Next it was Karl's turn to drive the longest leg of the trip back south. After four stalled starts, we eventually got moving and headed back to the difficult corner. Karl decided that it was not worth the risk of getting stuck again so planted the accelerator and flew around the sandy tracks. Despite a few screams from the on-board passengers about trees and rocks, we got round without a problem. However, on the long run south, Karl noticed that the clutch was not behaving between gear changes, signaling problems to come. We eventually arrived at Eli Creek to float down its freezing current.

Sean then had the job of driving back to the campsite. Within about 2 metres it was clear that this car was going nowhere - the torture of earlier had taken its toll. Karl hitched a ride back to base camp woth another 4x4 full of girls (via a ranger briefing on dingos) to ring for help and pick up the other van to collect everyone. Upon Karl's return, everyone except Dan and Karl were loaded into the van - then out of the blue Sean decided to stay too. As we were being picked up within the hour we chilled in the moment. However, time passed and it got darker and emptier. By 7.30pm, three hours after breaking down, it was pitch black with no-one in sight and the tide creeping up. Around 8pm we saw lights only to be disappointed. Finally, at 9.30pm, a whole five hours later (the guy I had rung earlier had quit that night and couldn't be bothered to pass on the message that three Grimsby boys were stuck on the beach 8km from camp!), we were rescued and returned to basecamp to face a huge welcoming party with beers and food. We were mini celebrities for a while and even had a song written for us to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas.

The last day in the new car went smoothly with a final trip to Lake McKenzie before heading back to the mainland. However, the vehicle hire company hit us with an $800 bill that we had to split between everyone. But I think $80 for the experience was decent value.

That night both cars had a huge night to celebrate with drinking games in the giant dorm and plenty of Goon. The on-site bar was so empty that they came to our room at 1am and, in true mafia style, begged us all to go to the bar, gave us some free jugs of snakebite and even allowed us to bring our own drinks. (KC)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on December 18, 2007 from Torquay, Australia
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Surfing and Kayaking

Noosa Heads, Australia

After Hervey Bay we headed to Noosa Heads for a short 2 night stay. Karl and Dan began by having 14 hours sleep the first night, partly due to the lack of decent sleep for almost two weeks.

The next day we were up early for our surfing lessons on the beach. The two hours proved to be very useful and, despite the love one instructor was showing Dan, we all managed to stand by the end. The afternoon was filled with kayaking around Noosa Heads' many waterways. We somehow managed to waste an hour playing a game in which you have to run around the three canoes without falling into the water. This was pretty funny but not as funny as seeing Sean trying to get into the single canoe - after half an hour Sean had to give up and be shown by the Karl how to do it. However, for the record, he could not do it either as we had somehow managed to flood the thing.

That night we returned once again to the goon so we could check out the local nightlife, with the intention to visit Steve Irwin's Zoo early the next day. (KC)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on December 21, 2007 from Noosa Heads, Australia
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Koalas and Togas!

Brisbane, Australia

Once we'd finished hiking around Steve Irwin's zoo (cuddling stupid grey spotty bears, watching crocodile feeding and Dan throwing berries in crocs mouths while they were trying to sleep), after another early hungover start and long bus journey we made it to Brisbane!

Away from the beaches there was really only one thing to do, so we went out on a mad sesh for a change... We got a taxi to the first bar only to be told we needed ID. Dan and Sean got theirs out. Then it was the turn of the man who once said 'Come on lads, I used to get served at the local off-licence when I was 14 - why would I carry ID!', but oh dear, he didn't have any on him. So back to the hostel in a taxi and then back again ensured that it was an expensive first round for Mr 'I don't need any ID'! A few hours (and drinks) later, after Dan had been refused entry to a bar for being too drunk, with Sean and Dan only slightly more drunk than Karl (for a change), we decided to have a bit of a sing along down the street, arms round each other in full vocal harmony. Karl, not too pleased with this said 'Lads, if you don't stop acting drunk we're not getting in anywhere. Stop singing and hugging. If we don't decide where were are going then I'm going home'. So, the teacher had told us off and it was time for Sean and Dan to act sober (pot, kettle, black are three words that Spring to mind) ...Thanks to Karl's advice we did manage to get into a club that night and returned home around 5am.

The next day Karl left us to meet up with Pam in Sydney. Dan and Sean went to a toga party that night at the hostel. Totally destroying the bed sheets and drinking free cocktails all night, we managed to get our photos on the pub TV before moving on to Surfers Paradise for Christmas. (DD)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on December 23, 2007 from Brisbane, Australia
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Christmas in Australia - BBQ on the beach!

Surfers Paradise, Australia

With Karl in Sydney with Pam, Dan and Sean traveled to Surfers Paradise for Christmas...

When we turned up at our new hostel, Sean was greeted with two massive boxes of Christmas pressies sent by his mum, dad and sister. In total there were 36 presents including lots of chocolate, alcohol and mince pies! These together with his secret Santa presents meant he was the envy of the hostel. Our room contained two bunk beds one of these equipped with a Japanese couple who never seemed to leave the room, instead preferring to watch cartoons all day and night. They appeared to speak very little English until Dan was caught by them trying to steal their room key (which turned up two weeks later in Sean's pocket)!

We tried our best to make it feel Christmassy by decorating our room with tinsel (which had been attached to our backpacks for the last week), making a Christmas tree and put all the presents around it. On Christmas Day, Sean was awoken at 9am by an excited Dan Davo holding two bottles of beer saying 'let's open the presents!'. So, Dan opened his 6 presents and Sean opened his 36. After a few early morning beers we rocked up at the beach around mid-day for a BBQ. With our toys (bubble makers, cap guns, etc.) and beer we had a great day. Sean even managed to get a tan... (DD)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on December 25, 2007 from Surfers Paradise, Australia
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Karl Goes It Alone

Sydney, Australia

Meanwhile, as Dan and Sean checked out the sights in Brisbane, Surfer's Paradise, and Byron Bay, Karl flew to Sydney on his own to meet up with Pam.

The early arrival in Sydney gave Karl a break from the backpacker life for a short while: hostels were replaced by smart hotels; beans on toast were replaced by restaurant visits; and cheap Goon was replaced by cocktails.

Christmas away from home was a strange experience. Instead of Christmas eve in the Honest Lawyer in Grimsby, we went to a house party in Paddington - a trendy Sydney suburb. Waking up on Christmas morning to Bright summer sun was very weird. However, it gave us a chance to head to Bondi Beach for Christmas dinner picnic and drinks on the beachfront - and, of course, the ring around to the family. Boxing Day was even sunnier so some decent sunbathing was done on Bondi.

The rest of the week was spent checking out the sights of Sydney: Orbit cocktail bar high up over the city; the Powerhouse Museum (boy's toys heaven); Darling Harbour; Opera House; Harbour Bridge; and Botanical Gardens, to name a few.

Eventually, Dan and Sean arrived in Sydney to join in the fun. Although, different plans for New Year's Eve meant that Dan and Sean went to Sydney Harbour, while Karl and Pam went to Shore Thing on Bondi Beach. Shore Thing was an awesome night out with Sneaky Sound System (newly discovered and loved by us) supporting Groove Armada and kept us entertained well into 2008.

The next day required a difficult early start to check out and Karl had to return to the hostel to meet Dan and Sean before we all headed to Fiji. During the next week or so, Karl would need to migrate back into backpacker mode and avoid the temptation to be a flashpacker. (KC)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on December 28, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
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A New Year!

Sydney, Australia

We arrived in Sydney to discover Karl had pulled out all the stops and booked us into the best hostel in the city, complete with roof top pool! On the first day we hit Bondi beach and remarkably managed to find Karl and also randomly bumped into the Irish guys that we met in Cambodia! That night we blagged our way into a posh club in Kings cross and, not content with that, left to go to a more 'studenty' bar and got hammered on Diesel (snakebite and black for you southerners).

The next couple of days were spent wandering around the city in the lead up to the big night...

For New Year's eve Dan and Sean decided to head to the harbour to watch the fireworks. Luckily some friends of ours got there early and bagged us pretty much the best seats in the house - right at the front between the opera house and the bridge. Needless to say the night was amazing. Our only regret was that we didn't sneak in another water bottle filled with vodka - running out of alcohol at 11pm on New Year´s Eve is not ideal!

On New Year's Day, Dan and Sean decided to go for a wander (while Karl was recovering from his night at Bondi Beach) and stumbled across an all day rave with 20,000 people at it! After comtemplating scaling the fence, we opted for the route of trying to buy wristbands from people leaving (either because they´d pulled or they were off their faces). Bearing in mind ´Field Day´is one of the most popular events in Australia with tickets costing $140 and selling out within an hour of going on sale we somehow managed to get one wristband for free and another for just $50! The event itself was awesome...

Our last day in Sydney was relatively quiet. The highlight being going for drink in the tower with a rotating bar. While the bar itself was quite cool it was the lifts that impressed us most. There are TV screens in each lift showing what´s going on in the other lift - lucikly for us when we got the lift up the lift going down was full of girls who put a smile on our faces with an impromptu flash... (SM)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on January 3, 2008 from Sydney, Australia
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Tribes, horse boarding and desert islands... Bula!

Suva, Fiji

Nadi was our first stop in Fiji. It wasn`t what we expected and travelling around on a local bus felt a little uncomfortable at first. We were the only westerners around, which we later found out was due to the embassy advising tourists not to travel to Fiji due to `civil unrest´aka s##t-loads of fighting. After getting off at the wrong stop (bus drivers fault), all we could do was laugh - well, until it started raining and we realised we were in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we found a house and managed to get a lift in the back of an old banger estate car from a random bloke for a couple of quid!

We eventually arrived at our second destination, Pacific Harbour, where we went on a four hour jet ski safari around the islands stopping off to snorkel in the clear blue sea. This was followed by an hour being towed on the back of a boat on various inflatables. We then attempted the craziest sport we have ever heard of - Horseboarding. This was basically a surfboard with a rope tied between it and a horse. While the horse ran along the beach you had to try to stand up on, and not fall off, the surf board. Whilst this was near impossible, Sean and Dan managed to complete the task. Karl, on the other hand, felt the effort involved was not worth the reward.

Whilst in Pacific Harbour we decided to spend some time with a local tribe (as you do). Dan volunteered to be the chief of our group. He had to sit in front of the group facing the tribe and complete a kava drinking ritual to get permission to enter their village. Thankfully, they agreed, but only after Dan forgot some of the words he was supposed to say as part of the ceremony.

We then spent some time chatting with the villagers and visiting the kids in the local school before heading down the river, climbing a waterfall and finally ending the day coming back down the river on a bamboo raft.

After all the excitement it was time to hit the desert islands and top up the tans. Our first stop was Beachcomber island, supposedly the party island. However, having only one bar and a dreadful band playing the greatest sixties songs to slash your wrists to it was far from it. Anyway, we made the most of it by playing another game of ring of fire with some Canadians before heading to the bar to take part in the Butlins-like Bula dance. After a couple of days on Beachcomber Island we got a boat to Bounty Island where they film Celebrity Love Island. This was paradise and a great place to do nothing.

After a few days on the islands we went back to the mainland and decided to visit the mudpools. This was all good until it started to absolutely chuck it down (breaking Sean`s camera). On the way back we noticed the road ahead was flooded! We all got out to check the depth of the water and Dan, not realising we were actually stood on a bridge, stepped back and fell off into the raging river which pinned him against the bridge with water, logs and everything else gushing down the mountain and crashing into him. Sean and Karl found this hilarious until they realised he was almost drowning! Dan somehow managed to pull HIMSELF out (thanks lads). With only a few cuts and bruises on his back he felt lucky to be alive. Finally, despite the taxi driver trying to convince Karl to drive the car through the flooded road, the taxi driver plucked up the courage to go for it and we managed to get us home. (DD)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on January 10, 2008 from Suva, Fiji
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World tour half-way point celebration

Christchurch, New Zealand

We flew into Christchurch, booked ourselves onto the Kiwi Experience bus for two days later and spent the rest of the day exploring the city (which is essentially a nice English town). As it was the halfway point of our six months of travelling the world, and the hostel bar was serving double vodka redbulls for a quid, we decided to hit the town and had a mental night out - we met lots of people, got very drunk and none of us managed to make it out of bed until 4pm the next day! Once we`d had a day to recover we started the Dog-leg Kiwi experience - a 15 day hop-on/hop-off bus tour of both the north and south islands.

It began with the TranzAlpine Express train ride from Christchurch to Greymouth. This is famous as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, with dramatic changes in both scenery and climate. It was Sean's suggestion to pay the extra $150 each to get the train rather than the bus, which made it all the more surprising that he slept for most of the journey! Once we`d made it to Greymouth (and woken Sean up) we joined up with the Kiwi Experience bus and its mental driver/guide... (SM)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on January 12, 2008 from Christchurch, New Zealand
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Poo pub, possom pie and glacier climbing

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Our first stop on the Kiwi Experience bus was Lake Maninapua where we stayed at the curiously named Poo pub - a traditional west coast country pub with a crazy old man owner. We were told two hours before that in the evening there would be a fancy dress night so, given the short notice we resurrected the Rambo costumes that we last wore in Cambodia! It was a great way to get to know everyone and we ended the night by drunkedly wandering down to the lake in the dark to see the glow worms.

After a night at the Poo pub we travelled down the west coast stopping off at various places including a Possom museum where we learnt the fascinating history of possoms, ate some possom pie and Tony (another guy on the Kiwi bus) was attacked by a wild pig!

Our next stop was Franz Josef, a nice little town which is home to one of the world's fastest moving Glaciers. We spent the first day chilling in the 20 person hot tub with Karl's ipod and speakers providing entertainment for all. The next day we hit the Glacier - Karl and Dan did some ice climbing and Sean hiked up the Glacier (there were only two spaces left for the ice climbing). The Glacier hike was amazing and at the top Sean cooled off with a dip in the icy water!

Dan and Karl also had a great (and very tiring) experience, the highlight of which was when Karl was attempting to climb over a ledge. Just as he was almost over the ledge he fell and was left hanging on his ice picks, unable to pull himself back over the ledge, much to the amusement of Dan (who was filming it) and the rest of the group!That night we all went out and (don't ask me why) Dan ended up walking around the pub naked except for a strategically placed beer towel. For his efforts he was rewarded with a a temporary tatoo - just a typical night out. (SM)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on January 14, 2008 from Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
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Lake Wanaka and the Acid man rave

Wanaka, New Zealand, New Zealand

Our next stop on the west coast was the gorgeous Lake Wanaka where we went paintballing. This was quality, despite Karl being on the winning team...

After leaving Wanaka we headed to Queenstown for a few days. The days were spent taking part in various adventure activities and the nights drinking in the numreous bars around the town.

Some highlights:

All three of us went white-water rafting. The rafting was ok but by far the scariest part was the minibus journey along narrow winding mountain roads (featured in Lord of the Rings) with no crash barrier between the bus and the valley 300 feet below! Sean did a bungy canyon swing which involved jumping backwards off a cliff, freefalling 60 metres before swinging in a 200m arc over the river below - he survived.

Karl spent half a day riding a motor bike on the mountains, and yes, he did injure himself. Luckily it wasn't too bad - he hit a bend a bit too quickly and shot off the road and into a tree, with only a few minor cuts and bruises to show for it...

The best night out was the 'Acid Dan' night in celebration of Big Jen's (one of our friends from the Kiwi bus) birthday. We all got dressed up as early 90's ravers and went to the hostel bar. In the spirit of the theme we decided to go dressed as drugs: 'Acid' Dan, 'Bishi' Karl and 'Special K' Sean and it took us a good hour to create our costumes. The night was awesome - Jen (who's less than 5 feet tall and isn`t exactly the trouble-causing type) was thrown out of the bar and we all ended up in World bar where they serve cocktails in teapots!

Two days later Dan and Karl left on the Kiwi bus to head to the next destination, while Sean stayed in Queenstown for an extra day to do the canyon swing... (SM)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on January 18, 2008 from Wanaka, New Zealand, New Zealand
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