Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A very Territory Christmas.

Baked beans have become a rare commodity in Darwin. With the threat of Cyclone Grant bearing down on Christmas morning Territorians flock to the supermarkets to stock up their emergency supply kits


Bread, Long life Milk, Tuna, BBQ Gas, Baked Beans. The shelves are emptied & lines at the supermarket are out the door.
Its the first warning of the season!
\
One of Darwin's most historic events Cyclone Tracy in 1974 hit the then small town on Christmas day and descimated the area leaving thousands homeless and killing many. So the thought of being struck again on Christmas day left a chill in many locals hearts.

As Grant got lost and refused to ask for directions (typical male) christmas was saved and the threat delayed for two more days. So it was to be a typical tropical Christmas with sun, beer & family.


Only in the Territory I guess you wake up to a crocodile rummaging around in your bedroom having made its escape from its home in the fishtank, falling 2 metres to the ground than going for a wander ending up down the hallway in the little sisters room.

My family & I have a tradition where we get together for breakfast, open presents, drink mimosa's and just hang out. This year my sister brought Little Dude with her who is a Central Bearded Dragon a placid lizard native to the Northern Territory. Mum & I had given him to her the year before as a Christmas present. This year he strolled around the living room crawling over the presents and batting his eyelids at anyone who wanted to give him attention.




For lunch I went to a Couchsurfing Orphans Christmas with two of my surfers and had a great time just relaxing and chatting to people from around the world (where 80% were german) The day ended on my balcony eating leftovers and drinking beers. Probably to much beer it seems as I was passed out before midnight. Grant passed us by hitting further out, he did do a good job of closing the stuart highway which in turn cut us off by road from the rest of Australia.. guess those baked beans come in handy now hey?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I’m coming home

There is really nothing I like better than the return of one of my more awesome couch surfers and finally after a year Dominik returned. We had some interesting times the previous year which included a bunch of reckless events from me although I guess I wouldn't be me without almost killing a bunch of surfers in a late night 4WD adventure, I can see the newspaper headline now. "7 foreigners killed in single hilux rollover" Why there were 7 people in the Hilux remains for another day and story.

But there was also the insane camping trip (literally insane but some things aren't for public viewing). We ran out of water on the second day, jumped off cliffs, went trekking through the bush at night. All in the name of we were so fuct everything was awesome

Dominik explains it well

Anyway so he returned and I took him out for my work christmas party where we were so drunk, he doesn't remember a lot but a phone call to Ilona in germany resulted. There were a lot of shots, I kept picking up random guys at the bar one of which was a snake catcher, I almost started a bar fight in monsoons & abused several bouncers for making me pay money. Everyone came back to my house and we drank & smoked until the early hours.

Dominik commented how Darwin felt like coming home and that was worth a hug. My newly adopted european brother is home for christmas. Can you imagine a world where I missed out on meeting these amazing people?

My life is only better for knowing them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Its a high life

Smoking a J sitting on my balcony talking about past surfers to my present surfers. very. very. High :D

This story had us in fits on laughter for some reason. Cue Mr Tall. Mr Tall rocks up at my house with no money as he had lost his card in an ATM in asia. Between me and my family we lent him about $200 to get him through. All the money was repaid in full (that is kind of unrelated!).

After staying at our house for 10 days doing not much at all he decides to repay the hospitality by cooking us dinner. He makes us a tomato based pasta dish. It was pretty gross I think he just used tomoto paste & pasta. There wasn't any garlic. I asked him why he didn't use any garlic, his response was "too expensive" Garlic in Darwin is about $20 a kilo that means about $1 for one bulb... You stay at someones house for free for 10 days and $1 to buy garlic is too expensive?

Sometimes I just dont understand people like that!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Credit where credit is due.


Paul Arnold is an amazing local bush photographer who has captured some beautiful shots of what makes the NT so special. The shot above is a recent lightning storm in Darwin city.

Head over to his website for even more amazing photographs of the place I love to call home and you'll realise how intensely raw and magical the Northern Territory is.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just another typical weekend in the life of a Territorian Couchsurfing host.

Well, I just got home from Maningrida a remote indigenous community about 1.5 hour plane ride from Darwin. It was hot & dusty and I stood in the bathroom about to take a shower and wash the day off. Suddenly there was the loudest cracking sound I have ever heard and all the hairs on my arm stood on end as this strange feeling swept through my body. Instantly the power exploded and it was dark.

I went outside my chest feeling a little hollow from events wondering what the hell happened when I realised we had just been hit by lightning. Go figure, we were the only house on the block to be hit and it destroyed our phone line, cable TV & knocked out the main fuse. I had two young german surfers who told me how they had seen what looked like an explosion of electricity running through the pillars. Another surfer (also German go figure) described a feeling similar to mine.

The power was not restored until the following morning so we spent a relatively sleepless night in 30+ degree heat with 90% humidity. It was basically lying in your own sweat. Ugh.

Saturday morning after getting power restored I pulled out on of my Black-Headed Pythons (wrath) who hadn’t eaten in about 2 months. He was feeling quite thin but still semi-active. Off I went over to my dads house to attempt to feed him something. Dad tried a live mouse first which seconds later ended up dead as Wrath seemed completely uninterested in the meal. I took a beer from the fridge and sat and watched as my dad threw the mouse on the ground killing it instantly. Much to the disgust of his fiancĂ©e considering we were in the living room at the time.

Attempting to shove the freshly killed morsel into its mouth Wrath was still not amused so we ended up resorting to force feeding. Killing a couple of little fuzzy baby mice dad prised open Wraths mouth and I shoved the mice far enough down that the snake was forced to swallow or have an annoying fuzzy thing forever in its throat. That’s what HE said

So as far as Saturday morning father-daughter bonding sessions go force-feeding a python has to be a bit of an anomaly.

Sunday I was gifted from my friend & neighbour a bunch of baby rats that had been discovered in someones house. Find a rat – Call Amanda. Which makes sense. They were still alive and I wasn’t about to feed them to my snake because they could have all kinds of parasites also I couldn’t let them starve to death or freeze them as that’s really painful. So the end result was I would have to give them a quick painless death of smashing them into a hard surface. I called my dad for some advice on insta-kill and he just said I should be fine which did nothing to really calm my murderous nerves.

I picked one up by the tail and stood on the concrete lifting my arm to smash it down. But it squeaked at that moment and its little legs tickled mine so I’m not going to lie I chickened out big time. My german surfer Anja said she would kill one for me which brought my hopes up a little then she walked over and saw they were cute little babies and suddenly retracted her offer.
Three beers later I was ready for it and stood on the balcony throwing the rat to the ground with all my force. On going down the stairs and finding the baby rat I was dismayed to see its back legs twitching. Not killing them instantly is basically my worst fear so I quickly picked it up and smashed down again.

1 Down 3 to go.

I tried a different technique of being closer to the ground this time and threw down with such force the rat bounced far away and when Anja and I finally found it, it was dead.

Number three I did the same technique but once again back legs twitching trying not to cry I quickly smashed it again killing it

Number four same techniques but died instantly.

After a small mourning period I gathered all the dead rats and placed them in the freezer where they would become sustenance for one of my many pythons. Those rats are the biggest thing I have ever killed and I had a really tough time doing it but as a snake handler killing their food is part of the job and I need to take that step.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

And the award for most awesome host ever goes to...

Its 6:30am Sunday morning. I wake up in my car in the middle of the city. My right arm is swollen and there is a huge purple bruise on my knee. There are vague recollections of the night before, im sure there were two english boys at one point?

I am currently hosting two english guys with one of the more interesting travel stories I have come across. They are riding their bikes from London to... not sure where for charity and have just reached Australia after 18 months on the road through europe, russia, iraq, asia etc. You can check out some of their stories on their website theblazingsaddles.com

Anyway I took them out for a night on the town which was meant to be relatively quiet but turned into a drunken mess. I could blame them but reality is I was the one who started the Jaeger bombs..

It all began with my credit card being chewed up and should have been an indication of my night out as I had entered the pin code wrong 3 times. And here I was only two beers in. We had a hard time getting into one club so turned around and went on to throb

So Throb is a blur but I did manage to fall over the seats not once but twice (not sure how I didnt get kicked out) and bruised my knee, my pride and my right arm quite badly. About 3am I was so drunk I said to Henry that I was going to sleep in my car and to wake me up when he wanted to go (though in my state I would not have been driving) but I woke up at 6:30am in pain and no surfers in sight. I drove sketchily home and kept calling Henrys phone, he finally answered and after asking him where he was he mentioned he was in a bush on Smith street. He had attempted to start walking back to my house and made it one street down and passed out in the bush.

Hah so my mum went back in and picked him up but the other surfer Jamie was nowhere to be found. All day he was missing than about 5pm Sunday he rocks up. Second day in Darwin and he picks up a girl in a gay bar.

overall probably not the best of hosting by me, losing not one but two surfers in the city on their second night in Aus. Luckily for me however they are both very cool guys and had a good night all round. So no negative hosting reference for me, I hope.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's on your 2012 Travel Itinery?

So Lonely planet named Darwin as one of its top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2012

It was once easy to dismiss Darwin as a frontier town full of brawling fishermen, dreamy hippies and redneck truckers. But with a pumping nocturnal scene, magical markets and restaurants, and world-class wilderness areas just down the road, today Darwin is the triumph of Australia’s Top End. Beat the crowds to the redeveloping Waterfront Precinct with its wave pool, bars and wharf eateries; or score some brilliant Indigenous art before East Coast galleries snap it up and charge double. Nose your way through the food stalls at Mindil Beach Sunset Market, then watch the sun melt into the Timor Sea. When southern Australia is chilling through winter, here it’s blue skies, party nights and sleeping late.

What are you waiting for ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A whirlwind Vietnam experience.

Being eternally single couchsurfing has helped me embrace travel to the fullest. In fact I actually relish the solo adventures over travelling with others nowadays. If I was in a relationship instead of booking that return sale ticket to vietnam I would have had to call him/her check that they were able to get the time off wait around than finally book it and see what my partner wanted to do. Ugh...headache. Also if they couldn't come how ok would they be with me jetsetting across the globe staying on some strangers couch and having drunken adventures with interesting people around the world.

Anyway so I booked return tickets to vietnam for $150. I gave up beer for two weeks and that was my trip paid for. Mum brought me scuba diving lessons for my 30th birthday and was good to go. I had my Cs hosts organised and I couldn't wait, yea I was slightly apprehensive it was my first time in Vietnam but I couldn't wait for the experience, the food, the cheap beer.

Ho Chi Minh was as alot of people put it slightly disappointing for me. But I don't like cities, I don't like the pushy people, the noise.If anything though its one of the cleanest 3rd world countries I have ever been to but its depressing. This is a country decimated by war and poverty. There is a desperation on people's faces that makes me uncomfortable and yes they got a bit of money out of my pocket. voluntarily but still.

My host in vietnam was an ex-pat from Europe working as a maths teacher. I didn't see much of him, I was only there one day and I spent most of it wandering the city. He worked a lot and Saturday I headed off to Nha Trang. Friday night I drank some beer with him and his flatmate and irish guy also working as a teacher. I went out with the Irish guy and a vietnamese girl the bars were quiet, where does everyone go on a Friday night? But drank a lot of beer and talked a lot.

Nha Trang on the other hand was more my style. A cosy little beach town it had its fair share of pushy street vendors but otherwise it was hip, clean & entertaining. If you could ignore the obvious tourist spots there were some great little hole in the wall eating spots. Did I mention how amazing vietnamese food is! To get a beer & feed for under $2.00 is my kind of town.

My host was also my diving instructor and he was a really friendly guy from Texas/Hawaii. He took me around we chatted and saw a bit of the town. Diving was on the other hand the most amazing thing I ever did. Cross that SHIT off my bucket list! I was so nervous about the unnatural feeling of being trapped underwater but after a few tries it soon became comfortable and I was at such a peace surrounded by this beauty well...

One of the dive assistants on the boat with me was an energetic German guy with a geeky dark secret and we got talking about video games so later that night (after a nap of course!) we went off to a Internet Gaming Cafe which cost 6000 Dong an hour (about 25cents) and all the tea you could drink. After that we went out to a little pub and I drank some beer and he drank some OJ which ended up costing more than my beer... HAH, I LOVE vietnam :D

Its funny but as an obvious westerner in Asia you have to be prepared for the stares. The locals stare at you because your different and the westerners stare at you for the same reasons. So spend that extra 10 minutes looking good as people will stare at you all day!

Sadly as my time was coming to an end I flew off into the sunset and back home to Darwin. It was a redeye but I luckily got three seats to myself and curled up and slept comfortably. Customs stole some of my coffee but i could handle that, I'd rather my country was safe from pests than me have that extra cup of vietnamese coffee!

I loved Vietnam but i wish I'd spent more time in Nha Trang than Ho Chi Minh. Anyway I am now SSI Open water certified, watch out Ariel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I love Hosting but I am so sick of cleaning up after people.

There needs to be a change in my hosting techniques, im to easy going and I just let things flow. This is causing tension for me and my family. I looked at the bathroom and its disgusting, there has been four extra people all week in the house staying for free and using the facilities. That's about 10 showers a day.

I don't mind longer surfers but I really wish people would step up. Each day this week there are glasses left on the table which I sadly washed them all up. One guy who was renting cheaply off us for the last few months was supposed to clean the kitchen once a week and he scrubbed the stove once and that was it. Another guy had the task of toilet(seeing as most his time was spent on it) and he decided to wash the floor with toilet paper. What a waste of money and paper.

It really makes me miss those amazing surfers, The morgans from france, Morgane who cleaned the bathroom almost every day. Philipp who fixed everything and helped & payed all the time. Ilona from Germany who mopped & swept the house. Many more but those are the stand-outs.

Instead I have an guy who thinks the rules doesn't apply to him and when he knew I was waiting for the washing machine took the load out and put his in mere minutes before I went down. When I got mad he said "I have to work tomorrow" so do I, it was as simple as asking me. He used the shower when the rules clearly state that the household needs the shower weekday mornings. Yet this morning when I went to use it he was in there.

I have three people here for the last week which are lovely people, really nice. But the mess is driving me crazy. They leave their glasses around, they don't turn off fans & lights, they ate all my Jello shots and left the pan sitting on top of the fridge instead of washing it. Simple little things that after a while just drive me nuts. I wish I didn't have to ask.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

exploring the world without leaving Darwin.

I thought hosting was supposed to get a little quieter this time of the year but it seems I have more surfers then ever!

A canadian/american couple here right now till the 26th.
A young female vegan from Canada Tuesday morning.
German girl on the 26th
A zombie enthusiast guy from Spain on the 26th
A belgium girl who can't cook but is still awesome on the 27th
An IT nerd guy from Indonesia on the 29th
American couple who have been teaching in Korea end of November.
Two english boys bicycling around the world to raise money for cancer & MS end of November

Everytime I read a new profile and have the opportunity to meet these amazing, interesting people from the comfort of my own balcony it really inspires me. I am excited to learn an awesome vegan dish from the Canadian girl and talk about meditating with the Dalai Lama with Spainiard. Something that is up there on my bucket list.

Perhaps indonesia and I can talk general geekery whilst I probe him about the 17 day trek to Nepal. Discuss working in Korea with the americans and be inspired by the two english boys who rode their bikes through Russia & Iran - for charity.

Once again, cheers couchsurfing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beating my fears

I have been lucky I guess with the most placid of stimson pythons who never even looked at me funny and a couple of BHPs(black headed pythons) who barely move. I just picked up a second hand NT Carpet from someone leaving town who didn't really want the snake in the first place. They were to scared to have him and I assume a lot of attempts at handling him had gotten him frightened & defensive over the time. After leaving him for a week to settle into my house and two days after feeding him, I decided this baby was the best way to get over my natural flinch reaction to being bitten. I put my hand into his cage and instantly retreated after he rared up and struck out missing me of course because my hand was already in the fridge grabbing a beer to soothe my nerves.

After the beer my confidence was a little higher and once again I reached in, this time when he struck I closed my eyes like I would on a rollercoaster where you know your going to be ok but reality is you're still terrified and I felt his little teeth scrape innocently against my skin. Opening them again I slowly moved my hand trying not to frighten him he slid over it and then as I moved to pick him up he strikes again. Two drops of red appeared on my index finger.

I take him from the cage he is a little nuts right now and strikes several more times in the movement my left hand is now spotted with red so with slow deliberate movements place him in my lap and calmly place my right palm over him and sit quietly.

It actually doesn't take long for him to calm down but when I raise my right hand he goes flying trying to escape and he is quick for a 20cm pencil thin thing so I try to pull him back and he rears up again and latches onto my stomach. This time I guess he isn't letting go. Well for 30 seconds anyway.

After a few minutes I returned him to his cage and left him alone.

Yesterday I handled him again and after some defensive cage striking and a few more bites he actually is a lot calmer being handled. He ran quite successfully along my arms and hands and didn't mind being recaught when I needed to put him away. I have high hopes for him. Its my first carpet and Im surprised at how fast he moves compared to my other snakes.




Its funny how I have now been bitten by him about 20 times with only half of that barely drawing blood yet that initial fear reaching into his cage is still present. This activity is as much for him as it is for me. I love especially how a 20cm baby carpet terrifies me more then both my metre long BHPs haha.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Regressing in my old age.

It was my 30th a few weeks ago and I ended up with three German couchsurfers from my friend. They were super nice boys and I did ply them with loads of alcohol. As I lay passed out in my bed one of them, a 19 year old German guy decided he wanted to cuddle with me. "Can I share the bed with you" he whispered. And I mumbled a very drunked sure whatever. Closing my eyes to fall back in the beautiful slumber I was in. Here I was turning the big 3-0 and I had a 19 year old European wanting to share my bed. I *guess* I should have been happy about that! But as I get older consequences are more prevalent maybe the young Amanda in her 20s would have jumped at the chance but the newly responsible Amanda would rather just ignore her bed partner and sleep through the drunkiness. Although if I told you how long I had been celibate... just be aware I am not joining a nunnery *just* yet.

I also have a super strict don't get involved with couch surfers policy. Though as I have mentioned before it can get quite hard. Luckily for me this one was quite easy to avoid as a/ I was really to drunk and had no interest in him anyway. & b/ he decided throwing up all over my bed was awesome.

No it sucked, I ended up on the floor outside and he got a comfortable (though slightly wet & smelly) sleep on my bed.

Would you in this case give him a negative referance? I think its perfectly justified, if not only for the drunken advances I've seen people give negatives for less. Thing is, I've been that 19 year old kid throwing up everywhere having to be dragged home. Shit in 2010 I smoked to much weed after drinking all day and night, passed out in a bar toilet and had a couchsurfer drag me to my house. I honestly don't consider him a bad person and I hope the experience he learns from and perhaps slows down on the drinking. But hey he is 19 and I think if you host the younger generation often you need to be prepared to deal with the more stupid decisions. All we can do is guide them, if he had shown no remorse in the morning then I would have been inclined to mention it on his profile but he was over apologetic and even sent me emails later on apologising again. So yea, I think he learnt his lesson anyway.

So hopefully next time I get a good looking european in my bed I'm a little less drunk & he has a few more years under his belt!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You know your awesome when:

One of my latest couch requests came from a German couple who look like models.

The request sucked and I declined but when looking at their profile noticed they copied my Philosphy word for word.


ok so I changed the snowboarding part about a month ago but its still my profile. Weird.

Monday, September 12, 2011

RUOK

So this Thursday is RUOK Day spreading awareness of suicide. Its not about walking up to a sad stranger and getting involved but the people in your vicinity maybe a quiet workmate you've never talked to before.

Darwin's buildup is nicknamed suicide season if you have ever lived through a serious build-up you would know why. If you are already frustrated with your life how will you go when extreme heat & discomfort is added on. More people kill themselves in Darwin in the months of October November then any other time.

I lost my boyfriend to Suicide in November and as the month grows near the pain is still real. No one should have to go through that and if just one person's life is saved by this then its worth it.

They say you always remember your first love, RIP Jack.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fell asleep with a smile on my face.

Cliff-jumping, river crossing, two waterfalls, four parties, dancing in the sand until the sunrise, a cute DJ, wrong number, naked French guys, three red bulls, one coffee, 12 beers.

TOO MANY LASERS!

How was your weekend?

Its way to easy to persuade me to party. And this weeks culprit was Amy a highly talkative English girl with a love of all things random. She had the sense of adventure I love in people and would try anything I threw at her. We had a long but amazing day out at Litchfield with three other people which resulted in me not realising the time and being two hours late for my little sister’s 14th birthday.

I was running on six hours of sleep from Thursday & Friday so after the excessively long day in Litchfield I was exhausted to say the least, it was 9pm and I could barely keep my eyes open. But sleep was not my friend yet, Jason was having his birthday and since I missed dinner for my family I said I would come out for a drink. 12:30am rolls around Heather is cradling a huge fishbowl at the tap and I need my bed, its such a comfortable bed. I sit there wondering if I will choose sleep or party. And the choice was already made for me because Amy was so keen earlier to hit this bush party who was I to refuse?

I picked her up at 1am and we head home so I could change quickly & grab a few things for the party. Two mattresses, a jacket, more beer and strawberry doughnuts. We were ready, for anything. Well not completely we still needed redbull. We stopped at a servo and gathered the much needed energy drinks. NOW, we were ready.

Two hours later we are on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, no signs of a party to be seen. Tired and frustrated I took the hilux out on the beach and see waaay, waay in the distance some lights that told me the party was there. I was scared to drive on the beach in the dark in case I got stuck or the tide was coming in so we drove back and forth three times on the road trying to find a turn-off. Finding other people ready to party but losing them as they got sick of our back and forth. In the end we took any road and drove part-way up the beach excitement building as the Dj booth came into view.



It was cold but I figured beer & dancing would warm me up. I cracked a cold beer when I noticed someone I recognised. “Hey” I tap him on the shoulder “were you at a party the other night, the comic party” he grinned “yea… hey where is your wig” I had been wearing a purple wig at a costume party Friday night. I remembered talking to him briefly on the Friday and he was so drunk it wasn’t the best of conversations but 4am that morning on the beach he was making a lot more sense. We started talking again, I felt like all I needed at that point was a joint and he produced one instantly. His name was James and something quirky about him interested me. I found out he was a Dj which sadly I always have a soft spot for geeky Djs. I guess I felt my second wind as I found myself drawn to this guy.

As the sun rose and I chilled by the fire a bunch of guy weres mocking the lasers which had Amy & I in giggling fits.




One of them walks up asking for ventilin I couldn’t understand him at first then I discover their friend had woken up to an asthma attack. They didn’t seem to care and tried to find a cigarette to calm him down when Amy & I tried to tell them that they needed to take him to a hospital instead of letting him die on the beach 2 hours away. So they left one guy presenting his wig to Amy on exit.
I decided it had been 24 hours of no sleep and I was fading, out of red bull I had limited options. I walked up to the cute DJ complimenting him on his set and he took my number in his phone “to catch up” however I think in my tiredness I gave him the wrong number, ah well, wouldn’t want to wreck the magic of the morning with reality.

I went looking for another friend, Stefan who was sitting in his car smoking a pipe. I got in beside him and joined him only to push myself further down the point of no return. I needed to sleep - badly
I opened the tray of the hilux set out the mattresses and curled up hugging a pillow. I was only metres from the music and could hear the thumping as I tried to slumber. So for half an hour maybe I managed to doze before the harsh reality of Darwin sun snapped me back. I crawled out and stumbled over to the sand where naked French guys were collecting shells and the Dj & Amy were hanging out, just talking. A balloon sat tied to a stick and people threw darts at it trying to burst it over and over again. I wondered what would happen when the balloon finally burst and the joy of the repetitive activity would force many people back into reality. But the balloon never burst.

A French guy came up stroking Amy’s hair and informing us that his girlfriend was in the bush “making poo” which somehow ended up in a conversation about Karma sutra and the “orgasmo” as the two activities are so inexplicitly combined. We came to the conclusion he was looking for a threesome but giggled at his weird conversation.

We left around then Amy & I heading back to civilisation conversation scattered in between my zones and her falling asleep. All I drank was five beers and smoked a few pipes but I had an incredible night feeling some kind of magic that is hard to find in Darwin. Thank god for Amy talking me into it.

I got home about 12pm and fell asleep.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

who, me?

ROCK JUMPING

Just a reminder to all visitors and operatorsthat climbing and jumping off rocks is unsafe, and prohibited in Kakadu. We have recent reports of individuals as well as operators allowing guests to jump off rocks.

This activity can carry a fine of up to $3,300 under the EPBC Regulations

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Breaking the Language Barrier...

Its no secret my grasp of other languages is laughable, my accent sounds more like fingernails being scraped down a blackboard, do they still have blackboards in classrooms these days?

A friend of mine has made a bet I can't go to Paris and find cool people, not only that I am not allowed to use couchsurfers, or apparently hippies.


So I've taken the challenge as I have faith in myself and my ability to meet random people and end up in random situations. I will always have the parking lot in Toronto where I met Chad & Cam or better yet just recantly in may where I met some strange guys in Monsoons and ended up passed out on a park bench and lets not mention Mexico ok the list could go on.

back to the point Not knowing french in paris could be my downfall of finding awesome Parisans however I have decided all I need to do is learn one phrase in every language perfectly and use it as my opening line. So "What's the time" has worked well for me before & "can you take photos with me so I can pretend I made some friends" then in Mexico where I placed a handful of weed in some guys hand and signalled a joint rolling movement. I am adaptable. But languages are my achilles heel.

and the winning phrase of the hour, destined to break down cultural barriers? Classy enough to entertain the Parisians and get a response from the Turkish. Baffling the Canadians whilst getting a chuckle from the English. Oh yes what is that masterful phrase that translates to every language........

.
....
.....
......








Why did the plane crash?
because the pilot was a tomato






Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates, Don't miss out on the good bits before all that's left is the orange cream that no one likes.

Its been a while since I updated on the crazy world of CS. Its not that its been tame and there is nothing for me to talk about I think its that life has been a little too crazy and I have had a hard time slowing down. I like to remember the good times though and writing helps me with that, plus I hope to inspire others to join me on the CS path and create adventures of your own, or even just to visit me in Darwin and see what an amazing place I live in.

Possibly the last trip of the winter season was Koolpin Gorge last weekend. Apparently I have been here once when I was 10 but I have no recollection. I count it as a new experience and like all new experiences that first glimpse of something incredible makes it all worthwhile. It reminds me of the first time I saw the rocky mountains having been picked up from Calgary and driving through the flat plains, seeing the mountains appear over the horizon to me was one of the most intensely beautiful things I have seen. Growing up in Darwin everything is flat, dry and dusty. Now I was creeping up to this incredible horizon, with snow on the peaks and my breath was taken away. No photos could do this justice. Then after living there for 12 months whilst still being beautiful the magic was not as strong and I was inspired by the people that visited me and that sparkle in their eyes as they saw the beauty of the Rocky Mountains for the first time.

So for me Koolpin was magical, and when I saw the reactions of the surfers beside me as we crawled over the rocks dodging possible death by crocodile and the gorge came into view the whole world seemed to stop and I felt like I was seeing one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Koolpin, is not to be missed, ever.


Koolpin Gorge.

I have a hard time describing its beauty but it is up there and makes me understand why Kakadu is so prized. We also stopped that day at Ubirr my favourite rock art lookout with stunning views of the wetlands & Jim Jim falls now more like a trickle but incredibly gorgeous all the same.
Us jumping for joy at Ubirr Lookout.


Jim JIm. Not flowing but beautiful all the same.


It was a weekend of beautiful things, I realise how much I love Darwin and surroundings. How lucky I am to have such untouched wilderness within a few hours drive.
Ok this post is getting a little sappy.

Koolpin was also the last weekend we would get to spend with Philipp, a charismatic German surfer who secretly wormed his way into our hearts. Whoever his parents are they did an amazing job and I really have nothing to fault on this guy – except he is incredibly slow. Since I am impatient this doesn’t work to well and caused a few arguments by me. Anyway Philipp is a great guy and you would be lucky to meet him. Still I think he is bent on killing himself as I saw him jump from a height of about 30 metres. He mentioned the pressure on his knees was felt but other than that he was ok.


Spot the German Statistic...

We spent most of Saturday swimming and drinking beer.
The we explored a little further up the river and came to some nice waterholes behind the actual swimming gorge, in the lower pools near the campground there had been several big crocodile sightings and it was warned not to swim there.


The whole gang enjoying the beautiful water


View from the top of the falls.

Saturday night was were all the entertainment started, around midnight we headed down to the gorge for a swim. Its about a 20 minute walk and there are no sign posts, you follow the river and have to cross at some point but it goes back and forth and can get confusing. However we had no problems finding the gorge and decided to begin the night by jumping from the waterfall, about 15m high and a half hour walk through the bush and down a cliff to get to it. We started a fire by the water, had a shot of Johnny walker black and then four of us Philipp, Simon, Mick & I began the trek. Being pitch black and no moon, the stars were amazing but the walking was hard. Since we were jumping no one wanted to bring torches. Luckily I had a waterproof headlamp. So as the leader, drunk and falling over constantly it was a pretty eventful trip. We made it, despite one hairy part where we had to slide down a cliff ledge and for us shorter people (mick and I) it was a bit of a stretch but luckily everyone made it and then the four of us stood at the edge of the waterfall looking down at the blackness below us.

“Everyone has a number” Philipp said and assigned me number 2. (hehe) “When you jump and come back up shout your number out so we know everyone is ok” ok we shrugged all four of us jumping at the same time, this could be interesting.

Somehow in the dark no one hit anyone and the rush of falling 15m and not seeing where you were landing was exhilarating, if not for the half hour walk I would do it over and over again. As we all surfaced you could hear the shouts of happiness and ONE! ONE! FOUR! TWO! TWO! THREE!!! OW OW. Then we found out later Mick has leant forward to look and smacked his face on the water. Huge grins on our faces we swam back to the fire and warmed ourselves up, another shot of whisky all round. Philipp pulled out the guitar and we chilled out there in the gorge.


At some point we decide to call it a night and I walk back with Mick, Heidi (from Austria) and Daniel (an Army guy friend of my other friend). Daniel is leading which is good because I have NFI where I am, directions are not my friend. We are crossing some rocks and he drops the glass bottle of Johnny as he stumbles breaking it and slicing a huge chunk in his hand to the bone. He rips off his shirt and wraps it around the wound but the bleeding doesn’t stop and it starts to get frantic as he gets panicky. We are lost. “I know where we go we cut through the bush here and then over the ridge is the car park” He takes a turn from the water and next thing you know we are fighting the bushes, rocks & thorns as we walk blindly through the bush. I am trailing slowly at the back much to his disgust and whispering to mick “this is ridiculous we are walking through the bush of Kakadu at night. People die like this” Sadly I don’t want to be in the bush by myself so continue to follow.

20 minutes pass and the spot he told us we were heading to fails to appear, I finally just shout. “Stop this is retarded” he cuts down to the water, swearing only to discover the water is flowing in the opposite direction of what he though it should be. He is freaking out, the blood is still coming and I start to laugh. “Shut the fuck up Stop fucking laughing” he swears at me frustrated (I had been giggling most of the night). When I swear back “No you shut the fuck up relax, you got us lost, it sucks but being fucking angry about it isn’t going to solve the situation. To me this is hilarious, and tomorrow it will be a story. Everyone is relatively ok and that’s all that matters right now”
He and Mick sit down “We need to camp here tonight”

I look at him, his hand is still bleeding. “No this won’t work his hand needs bandaging properly. Lets back track Im sure I can find where we need to go Come on, follow me” I turn towards the way we came not really wanting to be on my own hoping they follow. They do. After about 2 minutes Daniel cuts down to the water to have a look, “Fuck” I hear.
“What’s up?” I cut down beside him “Oh shit, I know where we are”
“Me to” he mumbles “this is where we were supposed to cross”
And literally minutes from where we were about to camp is the path back to the campsite.

4AM I’m guessing we stumble back into the campsite and bandage Daniels hand up properly.


Still bleeding after an hour. the LIFE THREATNING wound ;)


We all crawl into bed tired, in pain but happy to be back.

I learnt, never expect a bleeding AJ to find your way home, never look down when jumping from high places, and stumbling over rocks at night carrying a glass bottle is a really stupid idea.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When did we become so elite?

There was a recant discussion on our local Darwin couchsurfing group in regards to lazy couch requests, by that I mean people not reading profiles, no pictures or minimal data in, obvious copy/paste requests. It makes me wonder when we became such elitists. If people looked at me now they would assume that I was an expert in couch surfing. My profile is pretty awesome, great pictures, at least a hundred positive references from surfers & hosts. But once upon a time I wasn’t the person I am now.
My first ever CS request was back in January 2009. I had no idea what I was getting into and my intentions were all but pure. My boyfriend and I were driving from Banff, CA to Anchorage, AK to see the Iditarod race. It was March which meant nights were around -10 and way too cold to camp as we didn’t have the right gear. Plus being northern Canada & USA there was a lot of mining this time of the year and the towns that did have any accommodation left had the high rates of over $100CA a night! So my initial reason was because it would save me money. When I sent my request my profile was simple and didn’t even have a picture, of course that changed within a week but my first ever hosts Cynthia & Randy accepted me quite readily without that picture.

Nowadays I will not accept anyone without a picture of their face on the profile, I feel that with growing popularity couch surfing is attracting more and more of the wrong kind of people when I joined it was less than a million now its over 2 million people. At least if there is a photo of them on the internet there is less chance of them ripping me off right?

Going back to my first experience I may have started with the wrong intentions of the website but I left with all the best and have since given back 100x more than I took. So how can I judge a person for such incompleteness when I myself was guilty of it before I really understood the concept of couchsurfing. All it took was a taste and I was hooked. So that couple taking a chance on me made me the surfer/host I am today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

They say you always remember your first

Sometimes its good, sometimes its bad. Sometimes its just a little bit weird but reality is your first time can often make or break you.

I'm talking about couchsurfing, sheesh people!

I've talked about my first time quite often. In fact it featured in my Alaska Road trip part of the blog.

So yea this post is being dedicated to Cynthia & Randy two amazing people up in Northern BC who showed me true hospilaty, genourosity and the real meaning of couchsurfing.



Firstly I can't deny the luxery of a Queen bed and our own room as a plus. I know a lot about couch surfing isn't where you rest your head at night but the people you meet and experiences you get but sometimes when your on the road its just nice to have that comfort. Some of my other places I slept were just as rewarding and all became part of my story. I have definitely slept in uncomfortable spots but I never found it negative as the positives were just to high.

They took me on my first ever cutter rally & sleigh ride. It was freezing cold but amazing to experience a local farmers tradition that not many tourists get to see and something I will treasure forever.



They also lent us their quads and it was fun to explore the streets via ATV. And to warm up we all jumped into the outdoor hottub beer in hand.



We finished the night with baked Salmon & Beer.

Imagine if I had been in a hotel, we would have had dinner, a couple of beers and gone to sleep instead I had one of those once in a lifetime weekends that I will remember forever.

So lucky for me my first time was above my expectations and inspired me to become the couchsurfer I am today, I have fallen in love with the project and the people I meet. Some of my best friends were originally surfers. I try to give first timers the original amazing experience I had, if not better ;)

Happy surfing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet

Sometimes I wonder what the liberation days are in other countries. I mean Australia Day January 26th is quite a worldwide event considering there are only 20 million australians about 50% of them are more than likely in your country. This means one crazy night of drunken fools in Aussie boxers, and flags tatooed on their faces running amuck in your bars! Ok perhaps I am a little guilty of that myself

What can I say the two Australia days I spent in Canada were more impressive then events in my own town!

If you look back at Australia day as a historical thing you would know its more aptly called "Invasion Day" as it represents the first fleet landing in Sydney Cove. A bad day for the local indigenous population whoose lives were torn apart by western culture. Yet still I have immense pride in my country despite its dark history (I mean really a lot of amazing countries have a dark past!) and am truly proud to be australian.

So today is Bastille Day Frances own National day and it makes me think of a bunch of frenchies who entered my life through couch surfing.

Morgan & Morgane, Jordan, Kevin, Julien, Alice, Eric Pierre & Greg, Eric & Letitia and a few more whoose names elude me. I wish them all the best for their french day and will end this with a video I created of the good times we had.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

THE Interhitch CAN COUCHinental Kite CRUISER

I'm gonna go ahead and guess you have never heard of the Beer Can Regatta? its quite unique to Darwin and run by a local charity organisation to raise money for various causes. I have to say one thing Darwin is well known for is their excessive consumption of beer! I had wanted to build a boat this year but ran out of time and energy and went to put it off another year. However a couple of eager surfers Taylor Tobias Martina & More banded together and ended up building a boat in just three weeks under the Couchsurfing name.





It involved a little over 3500 cans all donated from various bars around town and some probably consumed by the surfers themselves and around $400 of duct tape donated by Express Signs who also made the banner. There were two floating pontoons and a makeshift couch which resulted in the finished product THE Interhitch CAN COUCHinental Kite CRUISER!!



Now would it float?

Not only did the boat float





But it came in second, although the boat that came in first cheated!

Getting interviewed by the news for their second place win



and not only that the boat got the prime spot in the Northern Territory Newspaper with the ever enigmatic Kim Su front row..



About 30 couch surfers from around the globe and even a few hosts from Darwin came together to support the team and possible future boat building endevours. Watch this space perhaps next year we will come first!



Special thanks to everyone who made this possible and has definitely inspired me!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

doesn't matter what time it is, something interesting can always happen.

The other night I was woken up at 1:30am in the morning to excessive shouting outside my window. Its a bit of a notorious hot spot with a lot of people walking home from Karama Pub drunk so I often keep an eye out for troublemakers.

Anyway this particular morning the cops had pulled over a white ute and were arguing with the driver who had got out of the car and they were saying "Chris get back in the car" over and over again while he was shouting "I'm not resisting" over and over again and "aren't you supposed to serve and protect" the passanger got out of the car and the cops yelled over "what are you doing" and he had his phone mentioning that he was making a phone call. Next thing Chris gets back in the car but flies across the drivers & passengers seat and out the passengers door and makes a run for it. The cops give chase one of them going back to the cop car to follow him and the passenger gets in the drivers seat and just drives off. 5 minutes later I see the cop car again just trolling the streets so it makes me wonder if the guys got away. I guess I don't really mind being woken up at 1:30am when its THAT entertaining.

So I'm telling the people at work and the accountant who is quite new says to me "Amanda I think your one of those people who attracts adventure" and now that I look at it my life is realatively crazy and crazy shit does happen to me and sometimes I wonder how I surive... its not that I attract adventure I think its that I'm open to everything and rather than sit home I'd rather be out there doing things. And maybe that means adventure who knows but really even the bad stuff I generally find exciting.

Now the Israeli boys were back last night and we went out dancing which was awesome because I love to dance! They are a great couple of guys and we have a lot of fun with them. They love hanging out with us and mentioned several times how we made their Darwin trip which I have to admit Tal was pretty drunk but hey I'm not one to ignore such praise even if its drunken praise!

As for tonight its going to be a little busy in our house. There is two american couples, a scottish guy, an english girl, Ilona my german sidekick, Heather and I and possibly the two israeli boys again and Nathaneal should be back tonight. Really its always a party at my house!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dear couchsurfing.com

Because of you I am now an alcoholic

Signed, the surfer, the host, the spirit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

new wheels.

Ok so I love couchsurfing virgins but weird people are my favourite. Just that little bit out of the norm which makes them slightly kooky but still functional where you don’t really know what is going to come out of their mouths next.
Philipp my German couchsurfer is one of those, sometimes I wonder what goes on in his head.

We were at the hospital recently and he had brought his guitar which needed tuning he informed me that he was going to see if a doctor could look at it and make it well.

This morning he walked through our front gate about 7am pushing a children’s doll pram.
“Look at my new wheels” he says
“I got a ride to work today so I will park it here”
Then leaves the pram in our driveway and walks off.
I think it belongs to our next door neighbours.. I hope they don’t miss their pram and see it in our driveway!

Monday, June 27, 2011

ritual sacrifice anyone?

I have two nice Israeli boys couchsurfing with me right now

They arrived when I was playing video games online so I was sort of half listening as my sister chatted to them in the living room.

All of a sudden I hear from my sister

"AMANDA LOVES VIRGINS"

o.O she was talking about couchsurfing virgins I promise.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

my jeep


This time last year I was in Colorado staying in a beautiful house in Denver with the ever amazing Zachariah completing the final touches of my return home.
Trying to fit my entire life into two suitcases wincing as I had to leave behind some treasured items that had just gotten me through over two years abroad. An entire collection of my life.

And don't let me forget my Jeep and everything we went through together. Sleeping in the boot because I was camping in bear country alone and decided to get stoned by the fire and assumed everything was a bear that wanted to eat me. Driving 14 hours straight from Salt Lake City to Seattle. Outrunning a hurricane coming into Florida as I made my way to New Orleans. Picking up strange hitchikers in Nova Scotia. Breaking down in the middle of winter just outside of some small town in Alberta only to make it home with a small can of WD40. My Jeep who I drove back and forth across the USA with, my one solid thing in my life for a year and a half when my boyfriend left me and I had no fixed home. Who took me up to the ski hills every day and STILL started on the days of minus 40. Crossing the mexican border and driving up onto a beach where we camped for three days. Being searched countless times at the USA border, even once with drug dogs. Hitting a car in Chicago because my paralell parking wasn't good enough for big cities. Driving up the wrong way in a one way street in Quebec City. Taking on New York City in rush hour traffic! Getting a misdemonour in Utah, and a warning from a cute cop in Texas. Countless parking tickets across the country. Being pulled over for my brake lights in California whilst an ounce of weed sat in the glove box making the entire car smell like weed only to have the policeman wave me on my way. Flying off the road in Dawson Creek British Columbia when the snow had melted and sucked us in.



Outrunning caribou, moose, bison on the way to Alaska. Sliding through stop signs as the wheels locked up on the ice. Somehow fitting much more than the car could carry. Overheating in a huge traffic jam on the way to Niagra falls on a 40C day. Providing music at a cabin in Ontario then running out of battary and being jump started. Driving over 30,000km in three different countries, 30 US states, 7 Canadian provinces. Getting lost in Mexico. Crawling along at 20km/h in huge blizzards. Breaking in when we locked TWO sets of keys in the car, continuously getting in the drivers seat whilst drunk because I thought it was really the passangers seat. Being trapped on my first USA freeway in Nebraska for an hour. Becoming a highly agressive city driver who conquered some of the biggest cities in the world.

Yes my Jeep I miss you and the adventures we had. I hope whereever you are now is a happy place for you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the best kind of people.

You ever get that feeling when you open the closet and just don’t know what to wear?

Yea me either. Although for me dressed up is a nice pair of jeans, maybe some runners with a little pink in them. If I ever spend longer then five minutes choosing an outfit its probably because I’m drunk.

Choosing the best surfer however is a much lengthier process.

But still I find myself unsure exactly why I choose this person over that person and often I’ll sit there meticulously pouring over profiles trying to find just the “right” person to fit into my household. And yea obviously the odd bad one slips through the cracks just like that dress that makes you look fat even though you spent an hour choosing it.

Ok in my case jeans.

I have come to the conclusion that I am an overly insecure person. I worry all the time when I make huge mistakes that could ruin somebodies else’s adventure. Which is interesting because personally I can have an amazing time doing anything and often some of my worst nights are remembered as some of the best.

Getting the 4WD stuck was one of those moments, all I could think of was the dread that I had in a sense ruined the adventures of the night by a stupid mistake. Yet the people most affected a Spanish guy & a French girl embraced it themselves and even wrote a reference on my wall stating it as a “beautiful experience”

And you know what I also had a German guy Dominik who I love dearly in my non-creepy platonic way and eagerly await his return to Darwin for more madcap adventures. We went 4Wding to find some snakes which I unfortunately couldn’t find and ended up in a situation where I nearly rolled the 4WD. Instead of freaking out at me for nearly killing everyone (or at least mildly injuring us) he instead turned it into something positive and something he will remember forever.

These are the special people the ones that enjoy the scenery even when they have to take the detour. These are my favourite kind of people and are always welcome at my house.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

KakaBLOODY DO!

I think I’ve mentioned it before but Darwin has the most amazing weather right now and this weekend was no exception, it also turned out the Queen’s Birthday was on which meant an extra day off and what better to do with a day off but head out bush for a weekend of drunken antics. Bringing the old lady another year with style! And this weekend had no shortage of antics some good some bad but in the end all rolled into one EPIC weekend.

We hit up Kakadu National Park which is one of the most famous parks in Australia and is bigger in size than Germany. Most of the park is still closed because of the rivers being too high but Gunlom falls (or to the locals the original name of UDP) had just opened the week before.



Gunlom features in Crocodile Dundee he spears a barramundi in it and they swim. There are no estuarine crocodiles and it has a nice sandy beach. Of course it being the only place open in Kakadu meant the camp grounds were going to be packed so Heather, My German Surfer Philipp, My USA surfer Kristion & I bundled into the car for a 5am departure. Gunlom is a long 3.5 hour drive from Darwin and we still had to refuel and get ice. I was running on pure adrenalin having been so excited the night before (and slightly stressed out that I would forget something important) and not slept a wink. Luckily Heather was driving.





Reaching Gunlom we were dismayed to find it already full! Damn tourists.. We drove around looking for the perfect spot considering there was 15+ of us we needed to find one to fit us all in, good shade, open firepit, table & preferably some distance from families to avoid being yelled at later. We did find the perfect spot only to find it was reserved for tour groups only. Philipp was adamant that we set up anyway but I was sceptical figuring what if we got kicked out at 4pm and then we would definitely not have anywhere to camp! However as I walked around I found a guy leaving and sprinted to heather to bring the car over and we just pulled in and started pulling shit out to have two people walk up and ask us “are you using this spot” and I nodded and they were on their way.


Victory was ours! And with some heated discussion which involved my snoring (which is bullshit I tell you) best shade, and whether or not a road went through the campsite we set up our tents. After taking over the entire area with three tents we looked a little selfish but I was tired and rolled out a mattress to attempt to pass out.



Not really happening we just ended up having snowboarding lessons on the red dirt and cracking open the beers.

Eventually the rest of the posse rolled in at scattered times and beverages all round. Tents were erected and it started to look like a proper campsite – sans wood.



Missing Simon my crazy wood hunting buddy I dragged Mick out, John was driving and Brian, Tuck, Kristion hung onto the back for dear life.



We collected a large amount of wood that would take normal people an entire weekend to get through and would probably last us all of two hours especially if Simon showed up. I managed to somehow carry a huge log (well huge by my standards) but stumbled under its weight and probably being drunk didn’t help and ended up running straight into a tree smashing my finger and slicing a good chunk of skin off. Oh it was already proving to be an epic trip. I attempted to wash the dirt out but it was so painful I just chucked a little disinfectant on it and Carmen gave me a super band-aid which stayed on for the entire weekend.

After the wood hunting and more alcohol we decided it was time to climb to the top of the waterfall to watch the sunset. Beers were packed in and we began the hike. I was walking with Carmen & Sharon who decided to stop at the look-out but I kept going and headed up to the other side where the rest of our posse was staked out on a rock. John handed me the alcohol which in turn overbalanced me again because I was so drunk climbing up rocks and had a beer in one hand.. then I fell over in slow motion still managing to hold onto the beer but cutting up both my knees and my elbow in the process. A bit numb I ignored the pain and stumbled over to the rock where about 10 of us sat and watched the sun set over Kakadu.










Absolutely beautiful.
As soon as it set some of the group fled trying to reach the bottom before darkness overcame us as it turned out I was the only one smart enough to bring a torch. Did I mention that I was also the drunkest of everyone at about 10 beers in? I stayed up a little longer but then decided to make the walk down I ended up with John & Brian one on either side as I stumbled my way in the dark. Since John was leading I gave him the torch but rather than help the situation he basically just pointed the torch down so he could see and Brian and I were left stumbling in the dark. Miraculously I didn’t fall and still had a beer in hand.

We arrived back at camp to find Ryan & Renee had shown up. Food hadn’t been started so I got everyone moving but I was so drunk I basically yelled and abused everyone. The hamburgers were frozen solid still but Heather and Alice held them near the fire to defrost them quickly. The hamburgers were awesome as always and quickly Carmen volunteered her dishwashing services. Everyone really came together to help and it was great to see.

About 8pm we suddenly saw Simon & George who had apparently been looking for us for an hour and a half and were about to give up and go sleep in the pre made tour group tents. Bringing over their trailer the entire crew was together again!

There was Heather who is my little sister, Philipp my German surfer, Kristion surfer from San Diego, Alice surfer from France, My closest friends I’ve had for years Mick, John, Carmen, Simon. Other awesome people: Brian who I’ve known since I was barely 19 and befriended because I was jealous of his counterstrike skills, James, Tucker & his wife Sharon both from my highschool days, Beth micks girlfriend, George who I met through my ex Jack years ago, James same deal but he also dated my sister for five years, Ryan and Renee, Ryan I just started to hang out with last year and Renee his new girlfriend and I had just met.

I ended up smoking a pipe which proved to be my undoing and since I was already exhausted from no sleep slunk away into the darkness and collapsed comfortably on my mattress. For anyone who has seen my camping I am a little bit of a luxurious sleeper with about four pillows, doona(comforter) and cosy mattress. I was then informed by Kristion who was my tent partner the next morning that whilst I did snore a little it was really just heavy breather and could have had a lot to do with being overly stoned, drunk & tired.

I woke up in pain, both my knees were sore, my finger throbbed, my head was killing me I remembered that I hadn’t drunk any water the day before. I stumbled out into the cold harsh light of day and got straight into the fluids. As 9:30 am rolls by breakfast of bacon & egg jaffas were in full swing the majority of people had stumbled into the open and beers were already being cracked. Yep we were camping. At about 11am we made the mission up to the top for some swimming which turned out to be horrendously cold but I was determined and suffered through it in my superman hashy.



We hung out for a few hours enjoying the natural beauty of Gunlom falls and eventually on exit decided to plank.




Stumbling back down to the bottom it was now 1pm so lunch got started up and a production line of Tomato & Ham jaffas began with a simple salad of cucumber and lettuce. Brian & Simon manned the fire whilst a very drunk Amanda and a helpful Carmen produced the product. Debating between wood hunting and cards we ended up in a vicious game of O’Hell which saw me losing for the first time ever. I had unfortunately told my game-winning strategy “its easier to lose then win” and it saw a bunch of first timers pull ahead. But it was one of the closest games I have ever seen with no clear winners until right at the end.




After the game it was time to collect wood since we had burned through our entire supply the night before. Two trailers went out this time one just to carry all the people when we filled up one with wood. It was a hugely successful mission despite several viewings of Micks butt.

Then things became blurry for me and I decided that I needed to go fall asleep for a few hours and asked everyone to wake me up. When I finally roused it was dark, there was no food left and I was pissed. Sharon tried to sweeten the deal saying that she groped my breasts in my sleep and I told her to fuck off I was sleeping (of which I had no recollection saying) and then Sharon told Tucker he should also molest me which he basically also thought was a great idea. So now I know who not to pass out around for fear of exploitation!!

Philipp showed up around now the last we had heard he was going to climb the 50m+ high waterfall and become another German statistic. Kristion had ran into him at the top and they had then gone exploring but had separated at some point.

After half an hour the anger of being left out of the food subsided and I cheered up for a happy time around the fire which included the ever popular “I never” drinking game where I learnt quite a few people had fornicated on TOP of a car. (remind me to try that next time) Philipp pulled out the guitar and we danced around the fire singing Hey, What’s going on at the top of our lungs.



Once again it reached about 12:30 and I crawled back into my bed and fell into a deep sleep only to be woken up before sunrise to a stupid bird. We all packed up and were out on the road by 11am. Another amazing weekend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When I'm down, the memories bring me back.

Negativity happens to the best of us, even me occasionally. Today I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something.. I felt flat. I was trying to determine what was wrong why I felt so sad and I couldn't pinpoint it. I wanted to talk to someone but there was no one to talk to and I didn't even know what I wanted to talk about. I needed to express myself somehow so I guess writing it down always helps.

But the truth is when I do end up in a sad mood all I need to do is read through my Couchsurfing referances and smile at all the beautiful things people say & think about me and it brings me back to the awesome times we had together and I smile, just remembering how lucky I was to meet this person.

So I'm going to leave a few of my favourites and you can see why they make me happy again.

From YoungKey Chung
Troy, United States
Positive

What can I say about Amanda? She is definitely one of the most exhilirating, passionate, and interesting people I have met in my entire life. From the moment I walked through the gates into her warm home, I knew that couchsurfing with her was going to be an adventure. Even though she had several couchsurfers with her, she took the time to get to know each person, and I really admire her for that. BUT, what really impressed me was the fact that she definitely knows how to party and make the most out of every situation. For example getting a 4WD stuck in the mud. Some other incredible Amanda feats include-running for miles in the pitch dark in ditch roads, outrunning poisonous snakes, and getting some loving from huge spiders. PS - Amanda's family is simply incredible. Heather, Sandra, Mara, and her Dad (who came to rescue the 4WD), are so generous and I am forever grateful to them for their warm, Aussie hospitality. Hope to see you in the US or anywhere our paths might cross again

From Joe Ampe
Phoenix, United States
Positive

Spontaneous expression of life is the only way i can think of describing Amanda. we went offroading on a whim which somehow sounded like a amazing adventure so skipped work. Met up a couple days later for Drinks... yeah we'll be back around 10... 130am rolling in and i wouldnt change it for the world. She really brings out the best in the people around her. Makes everyone feel welcome. I think she has mastered all aspects of this couch surfing thing. I can only hope to one day visit her side of the World. If you get the chance meet her, you will not forget it!

From Hannes Hosp
Kufstein, Austria
Positive

People like Amanda make Couchsurfing exist, she is the most experienced host I have ever met and she can tell great stories about her beeing a Couchsurfer in Canada. I couldn't believe how much she had actually done for all her guests until I saw her pictures and videos from all the trips she organized with her guests!
She made my stay absolutley perfect, I mean who would mind waking up to the smell of homemade pancakes in the morning! But also the evenings we spent together with a nice BBQ together with her very friendly family can't be described in words.
Amanda, you are definetely making the world a better place, can't wait to meet up again for the big reunion with all your surfers!


From Dominik Scherer
Alfter, Germany
Positive

I couldn't imagine a better first-time couchsurfing host than Amanda! From the moment I arrived at her place, I felt at home and welcomed into her family. I had great conversations with all family members and there are uncountable incredible memories of my stay: our wicked camping trip to Surprise Creek, the 4WD ride through a bushfire, where we almost rolled over, and taking Amanda's snake to the airport. Without Amanda, Darwin would've been just a side note of my Australia trip.

If you're afraid of adventures, don't stay with Amanda. But if you're not, you'll have an unforgettable experience!


From JONNY B
Sydney, Australia

Positive
i'll keep this short because whatever i type here will not begin to do Amanda justice. she and her family are absolutely amazing! i could not have asked for a better experience or friend. i miss them already, and can't wait to go back!



From Jordan Thiebault
Troyes, France
Positive

How to describe this experience? When I arrived, I didn't even have time to drop off my backpack that we were already in a 4WD on the way to catch some snakes. I thought that it was a kind of welcoming tradition in Northern Territory. With Amanda, I met a sister and a friend at the same time. We had so many good parties full of good memories (Fiesta de la Luna, Beer Can Regatta, Surprise Creek, VIC, the amazing Throb and so many other good things). I want to tell her 1000 thanks for that. She showed me with passion the real face of Darwin. She also offered me the possibility to continue my travel around Australia. She is this kind of person who will take care of everybody. She is AWESOME. Amanda, I'm really happy to have been a part of your family during the last 3 months. I think that this experience was more than just a Couch-Surfing meeting and I loved it. Lot of kisses for everybody and see you in France for our snowboarding trip or what ever you want.
See you Sister


From Flavia Messina
Monza, Italy
Positive

She made my first experience in Cs perfect:
she spent a lot of time with me and my friends, she s really openminded and so is her family, her mum is adorable and her sister is so stylish!
she shared with us all her passions and her secrect places around, she took us snakes hunting at night time, rave party and dancing nights and we all had a GREAT & unique time, she organized Cs meetings, parties and BBQ for all hosts she had in the house and made everyone feel really comfortable and happy.
She is so so cool and so so good with everyone, she cooked for us and ate with us all the times she could, i think she is the best you can wish to have :) I had a great time and just because she made everything perfect and did always her best to make us all feel as if we were at home!
im so grateful to her and her family, they are awsome!! :)
Grazie!!!!!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't pay it back - Pay it forward.

I Hate Hospitals.

Its full of sick & crazy people who stare at you in desperation. There are needles, blood & whatever that weird goo was everywhere. I try to avoid hospitals at all costs. You would think someone as clumsy as me would be in hospital all the time. Nope. Somehow all my injuries remain superficial. And actually you would also assume that someone as clumsy as me on a snowboard is a recipe for disastor. Its funny then that Heather breaks her wrist and all I walk away with is bruised ribs. Although when I did do that double black (and almost died in fright about how steep it was) I fell really badly over a few snow drifts causing my ankles to jar. That could have been two broken ankles easy.

Enough about snowboarding I'm getting all whimsical about the snow again.

Back to the Hospital.

I went last night to visit my friend who had had a pretty nasty bike accident in Bali. He was supposed to be flying back to Canada.. today. He doesn't really know anyone in Darwin but me and one other guy who is stuck in Singapore right now. So he is kind of alone in a hospital miles away from his family & friends. It sucks because obviously I don't have a lot of time to visit him but I know if I was stuck in a hospital in another country for weeks on end I would relish any company I was given. But how do you find people to visit you when you don't know anyone? I mean who is really going to give up their time to visit someone in hospital? Be aware that while I get along really well with him we have only known each other about a month although in that month I think we connected as friends pretty strong.

So I'm hoping to get back there on Thursday bringing Philipp and his guitar and Alice with her.. french? to keep the morale up. His knee & ankle are broken so he can't move at all he is really confined to the bed.

The idea of a better world really rings true in this scenario it reminds me of Thomas my swiss couch surfer. He gave up an entire day to help a 90yr old woman who had rolled her trailer just outside of Darwin. He helped clean the trailer which was full of rotting food and drove her around all day running errands. I would have loved to help her but as I working I was unable. He didn't ask for anything in return he just helped out of the goodness of who he was. And I know he was frustrated by the end of it but he never let this lady know whoose spirits were already crushed a little from the accident.

People like that are few and far between but the spirit of couchsurfing is making it easier to find them. I like to think that by me keeping my friend's morale up while he is stuck in hospital somewhere in the future he will boost the morale of someone else in need. And this, makes me happy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

One Amazing Thing I've Seen or Done: ask me about Mexico.

In Mexico, I did everything they told me not to do. 2011 Easter weekend.

To get to Mexico I first had to find a ride as our rental car wasn’t insured for cross country travel. Not hard I was lucky to hitch with a girl & a guy (Kimberly & matt) both living in Arizona, both keen couch surfers. It started off great Simon & I were an hour late and I was horribly drunk. The girl was already mad at us. We quickly packed which is never smart when you’re drunk. Then I slept in my drunken stupor the whole way from Phoenix to Puerto Penasco, as we arrived in Mexico at 11pm with nowhere to sleep. We tried to find our friends but it was Easter Weekend and apparently some crazy Mexican holiday! We ended up knee deep in Mexicans in some random part of town. A cerveza later and shooted off to find a hotel. 1am comes past and we get the LAST room in this shady hotel. Thank god I brought my ear plugs because Mexicans party hard!

The next day, Saturday we went down to the beach to swim. About lunchtime Simon & I started to drink at The Reef. A nice bar situated right on the beach, not long after that my other friends who we had been looking for the night before showed up randomly and we drank some more. I saw this guy moving back & forth and covering himself in sand and it got me wondering what he was doing so I went over to ask him but he couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak Spanish. So he introduced me to his friends and they asked me if I liked to smoke weed to which I said sure, next thing I am being handed a whole bunch of marijuana in the middle of the beach. Of which Simon caught the entire thing on camera. I ask them how much and they told me nothing so we fist bumped and away I went. Leaving the beach at around 6pm we got back to the hotel to change then headed over to our friends condo. Kimberly and I decided we were hungry so we went off to find some nice food and it became apparent Simon was incredibly drunk. Saving his wallet & phone from certain doom and babysitting him the rest of the time waiting for our food we dragged him back to the hotel and told him to eat and go to bed.

Then Kimberley, Matt, Larry & I all went out to a club for some dancing and more drinking. Around 2:30am I decided Simon was probably ready to be woken up to come party some more with me however I arrived to a complete bombshell of an apartment and Simon in the shower. He emerged in a fury “Fucking Mexicans” then I noticed the Spanish writing all over him and his beautiful newly painted finger & toenails. Stifling giggles I asked him what was wrong only to discover that after I had sent him to bed he had left the hotel room, leaving the door unlocked with my passport and everything right there and somehow ended two floors up passed out in some random persons room. They had come in to find him passed out drawn all over him and then woken him up to tell him to get out or they were calling security. Now I was in fits of laughter and tried to calm him down and see the funny side I mean technically it was HIS fault. Anyway all part of the Mexican experience right! I managed to get him calm and then decided he was still too drunk to party so headed off back to the club where everyone had gone… Leaving that club I ran into Jon who came with me on a mission to find Larry involving three more clubs including a Mexican strip club. I went into one club for a bathroom break and came out to find Jon now missing.
All alone and ready to party at 3am I decided to try and find this “rave” I had heard rumour of. So I’m walking down the street a beer in my hand and slowly but surely the street is getting darker and emptier as I leave the clubs behind. Deciding walking down the street at 3am drunk in Mexico was probably not the smartest idea I decided I might as well go back to the hotel. It was then I walked passed a ute with about 20 mexicans in and around. Shrugging my shoulders I walked over to them pulled the weed I had been given earlier out of my pocket and asked them in pathetic Spanish to roll me a joint. They invited me to party with them so I climbed up on the back of the ute and for an hour we smoked and drank in the streets. One of the guys gave me a little party upper and says “well we are all going back to our campsite to party more do you want to come with”

Oh… BEST IDEA EVER??

Did I mention I was drunk, stoned…etc.

At least I had some brains I went back to the hotel and woke up Simon and dragged him out he was almost sober and it meant I wasn’t going to die alone in some Mexican room. We went back to their campsite and I drank and smoked even more before realising I was tired. So I did what I always do and found a comfortable spot to pass out which this time was a tent curled up and slept. When I awoke it was hot, I was surrounded by five passed out Mexicans… I opened my eyes and crawled out into the daylight. Shit. Everyone was passed out. I was on a beach about 10km AT LEAST from my hotel. Simon was asleep on a chair snoring. I did what any sane person would do.. I stumbled out onto the road and began to hitchhike my way back to civilisation.
20 minutes later, two non-speaking rides and maybe 3km only down the track I was tired, dehydrated and frustrated. I was desperate…. Then my knights in shining armour appeared. The guys that had taken me to the party in the first place. They picked me up and took me back to the campsite to get Simon. Then they all got out of the car and started smoking a joint.

I insisted I needed to get back to the hotel and well I was at least 3km CLOSER before they had picked me up. Realising my frustration they agreed to give me a ride back. I forced a crazily drunk Simon into the back of the ute and we went on our way. Me sitting in the front conversing in Spanish with two Mexican boys. They dropped me off at the hotel front door and gave me a hug & a joint (which Simon later decided to eat) and they were off riding into the sunset.

And that was the end of Mexico.