Africa Blog Posts, Australia Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 84: Arriving in Australia

On Monday I met with my new friend Jedrek for a few hours before I had to head to the airport. Luckily I managed to share a taxi with some Japanese guys who were flying out of Cape Town too. In the end I decided to take the cheaper flight, rather than the direct one. The journey took 48 hours, from Cape Town to Perth, and cost just over 500 pounds. I had an eighteen hour stop over in Doha and was expecting to have to sit in the airport the whole time. Luckily the airline paid for my visa and a 4 star hotel in Doha, so I could rest and have a hot shower. I ended up having three breakfasts, a lunch and dinner, all for free. The first breakfast was on the plane, then I got another free breakfast in the airport restaurant by showing my boarding pass, then when I arrived at the hotel I was allowed a breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel food was amazing so I made sure I ate as much free food as possible.

The flight to Perth from Doha took around 10 hours, and left Doha at around 1 am. When I woke up on the plane it was 10 am, but then I changed my time to the new local Australian time and it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Not a great way to start my sleeping pattern. I headed into Perth from the airport using the free shuttle to the domestic airport and then local transport into town, this meant I paid 4 dollars instead of 33.

In Perth I headed to the bus station to make my way to my CouchSurfing hosts place in South Perth, at the bus stop I met two Argentinean guys who were actually heading to the same CouchSurfing place. The place is really awesome, there are 3 Australian guys living in the house with a French guy, but outside in the back garden are about 6 tents. There are maybe 14 people living here from all different places around the world, I really like it, there is such a great atmosphere. Hopefully I can stay here for the rest of my time in Perth.

On my second day I started my efforts to find work, mostly this was just preparation, I already have my working holiday visa, but you also need a local bank account and a Tax File Number. It took me a couple of days to sort these out but now I have started sending applications to quite a few jobs online. Yesterday another guy arrived at the house, he had lived here before but had just been on holiday, he told me about a job I really want to do, Jackarooing. He spent a few months living out in the bush herding cattle on a dirt bike.

After speaking with him I have changed my mind about the kind of work I want to do at the moment. I think instead of looking for IT help desk work it would be better to do some labouring work or get a job in a roadhouse. Labouring work pays well and is casual work, but if you work in a roadhouse you get accommodation and food, plus you are out of the city, so you wont spend the money you make. I have been told that roadhouse work is the best way to save money, so this is what I really want to do, unfortunately I haven’t seen many of these jobs advertised yet. Maybe I will do some labouring work in the meantime, I guess time will tell.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 83: Cape Town

I spent this week in Cape Town, which is one of my favorite cities so far. I arrived on a local minibus taxi with a journey that should have taken 4 hours and actually took 10, luckily my CouchSurfing host didn’t mind too much that I arrived so late.

Cape Town is a beautiful city, you can see Table Mountain from almost anywhere in the city. As I walked around I was reminded of European cities that I have visited in the past. Although Cape Town is nothing at all like Africa, it is still a great place to be.

Finally I had arrived in a modern city so I decided to take my mobile phone and my camera into the shops to get them repaired. The phone was supposed to take 2 hours but they kept it for 4 days before I had to collect it in the same state it was in before. The camera was supposed to take 2 days but took 3 and again they hadn’t fixed it. I guess these things will have to wait until Australia.

On a more positive note, I bought myself a new GoPro 3 camera, I have been wanting one of these for some time now so that I can get some better video footage of the places I go. The only problem was that all the shops had sold out of the memory cards, so it took me another day or two of going to camera shops before I found the memory card to start using the camera.

I also met up with a friend, Camilla, I originally met her in Monkey Bay, Malawi about 9 months ago. We went out for some drinks and caught up before I went to the cinema, for the first time in over a year, to see The Hobbit. On the way back to town from the cinema I had an awesome view of the city, Table mountain towering behind the cityscape and ‘the cloth’ (the clouds blowing over the top of table mountain) constantly rolling off the top and disappearing as it fell.

I left my couch surfing hosts place after 3 nights and moved into a backpackers, luckily I had been contacted by a guy through CouchSurfing who wanted to meet up. He has been traveling for around 7 years and is a really fun guy to spend time with. He actually stayed in Australia at one point so has given me a few contacts there.

Now my time in Africa is over and I will start my 48 hour journey from Cape Town to Perth. I feel sad to be leaving Africa, I have so many great memories from this continent, so many people and places that I will miss so much that it is hard to leave. But still, I know that seeing new places means leaving behind others.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 82: Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route

This week I had to go into a town to get a chest X-ray examination, I was asked to get this done as part of my Australian visa application. During the application process they ask if you have spent more than 3 months in a country that isn’t your home country, within the last five years. There has only been one country that I spent more than 3 months in and that was Tanzania. It seems that the chest X-ray is to try to ensure that I don’t have TB.

I stayed in Port Elizabeth for a few days to make sure that I got the application sorted out as soon as possible. While I was sat waiting around I also did some work on the website. I have added a gallery section which displays all of my pictures, I also fixed all of the images on the Travel Stories pages. Now you can click the images and they will enlarge.

From Port Elizabeth I headed into the Garden Route and have been staying at a backpackers called Wild Spirit. It is a really amazing place, with forest walks and its own private waterfall plus great views across the forest to the mountains in the distance. I will be leaving this place tomorrow and heading to Cape Town, my visa confirmation has come through so I will be flying to Perth after spending some time exploring Cape Town. The only decision I have now is whether to get a direct flight or get a flight with two stops, the first in Jo’burg for an hour, then an 18 hour stop in Qatar. This doesn’t sound all that appealing but it will save me 100 pounds.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 81: Durban and Coffee Bay

I arrived in Durban and made my way to my CouchSurfing hosts place. I stayed for most of the week with an Indian family visited the temple and attended a celebration. Before any of this I started looking up the prices of a new laptop and digital camera, I have been planning to get these for the last two or three months and was hoping to get them here in South Africa. I looked up the prices and checked against my budget. Although I could technically afford to buy them I would have very little money left over for my arrival in Australia. So I decided that it is better to wait a little while longer, until I am working in Australia and will have more cash.

After making that decision I applied for my Australian visa, it is all online and should take less than a week. Then on Friday and Saturday we went to the temple and ate some really nice food. On the Saturday we attended a celebration which was very interesting but I still don’t quite understand the significance of a lot of what happened.

Then on Sunday I headed out of Durban to Coffee Bay to meet up with Nofar for the last time, I only stayed there for one night because I had received a response about my Australian visa. Apparently I need to get a chest x-ray examination, so I decided to head to a city and get it all arranged as soon as possible. I will hopefully be leaving South Africa in a week or so, I’m looking forward to a change of scenery and a chance to stay in one place and settle down for a while. But moving forward means leaving some places and people behind, sometimes that is a lot harder than others.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 80: Diving in Sodwana Bay

This week has been really awesome, I stayed in Sodwana Bay doing my Open Water and Advanced Open Water scuba diving qualifications. The open Water course took 4 days, three of which included diving in Sodwana Bay. On one of the days we saw a group of dolphins and went snorkeling with them on our way out to the dive site. The bay has a huge area of coral reef and is home to loads of different types of fish and two types of turtle.

I finished the course on Thursday after scoring 100% in the final exam, while I was heading back to my tent I saw a group of people stood around a tent and overheard them asking if there was anyone around who wasn’t afraid of snakes. I used to have pet snakes so I went over to see what was happening, they told me that a cobra had been found in the tent but they were all too afraid to move it out, so I offered to do it. The snake was covered with a bed sheet and they gave me a long grabber thing but told me that the snake was too big for the grabber to fit around its neck. After a few minutes I had pushed the snake and the sheet into a box and closed the lid, we carried it out to some bushes and released it. The snake was about one and a half, to two meters long and black. They then told me that it wasn’t just a cobra but a Mozambiquan Spitting Cobra. I hadn’t been afraid because I was staying far enough away not to get bitten, but spitting cobras can spit quite far.

The next day I started my Advanced Open Water course, this basically involves five adventure dives, chosen from sixteen different fields. I chose to do a Deep dive, Underwater Navigation, Peak Performance Bouyancy, Naturalist dive and Multilevel dive. The course was great and I saw lots of great fish and actually finished the course with a dive on ‘7 mile reef’, which is one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. During the course I swam with dolphins again and saw two Manta Rays. A really great experience.

Now I am heading to Durban and trying to plan what to do over the next week or so, I think I will be leaving South Africa very soon and heading to Australia. I just need to decide where I want to visit in South Africa, go there, then fly out to Australia to begin my third section of the trip.