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

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.