My first month spans my departure from America to Australia. I landed in Sydney and made my way up to Cairns and back by greyhound bus before flying to New Zealand, where I picked up a campervan in Christchurch. Every day I write down at least three highlights from my day, and at the end of each month I go back through the daily highlights and compile my favorites. The highlights are in chronological order and if you’re curious, the how and why of my documenting methods can be found here.
Saying goodbye to what’s comfortable
It was definitely hard to say goodbye to friends and family. I had been living in California for 8 years and I was enjoying bartending a few nights a week to support my lifestyle, while still having plenty of time to enjoy the Central Coast and the people in it. The last week before I left was filled with anxiety; I had sold, donated or discarded everything I own (except for 2 small boxes of sentimental items and my dog); decided to start a long-distance relationship for the year (still stoked on this decision); choked back tears during goodbyes; and taken every opportunity to question if should really do this. Ultimately, it was the support from the people closest to me that sent me into the journey smiling.
Thinking I’m being cultured, actually just being an idiot
After the long trip from LA to Sydney my first order of business was the bathroom business. I brushed my teeth and turned around to face the stalls and was met with one of the smallest toilets I have ever seen. “You’re in a different country now, David. You can’t expect everything to be like America anymore. Get immersed in the culture, this is what you wanted, remember?” After calmly assuming the role of the Cultured World Traveler, proud of myself for my bathroom maturity, I made my way into the city. I was already mentally prepared for the tiny toilets the next time nature called, but was met with a normal size commode. What? I quickly checked all the stalls and found only one tiny toilet. My stupidity dawned on me slowly, slowly but surely. In my attempt to get “immersed in the culture” I had really just used the children’s toilet.
“Today my home is here, tomorrow, it’s wherever”
I’ve never had to worry about where I was going to sleep for the night, but now it’s a question I have to answer on almost a daily basis. 4 days into my trip I got off the greyhound bus in Brisbane; it was midnight and my next bus didn’t leave until 7am. Ain’t no thang, I calmly assumed the role of the Nomadic World Traveler and decided to sleep in the bus station. Nope, the bus station closes from 2am to 4am and I was kicked out. I found the most sheltered corner I could, said what’s up to the homeless guy in the adjacent corner and awkwardly tried to sleep for 2 hours. It was miserable, and by the time 4am rolled around I had assumed my role as the Cranky World Traveler. I walked into the bus station and saw the quote above written on a kiosk advertisement. It reminded me of how lucky I am to be on this trip and made my day.
ALL THE ADRENALINE!
The morning of this day I started off with a 14,000 foot skydive over Cairns followed by a 50 meter bungee jump complete with water dip in the afternoon. Skydiving wasn’t as scary as the bungee jumping and I think it’s because my brain couldn’t even comprehend how high we were when we jumped out of the plane; you jump out and you can’t even tell the earth is getting closer, it’s fun and then quite peaceful as you float back down to earth. 50 meters above a lake was easily comprehended by my brain and jumping off a platform head first, watching the ground come straight at your face gets the heart pumping. I slept well that night; my body completely devoid of all adrenaline.
Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef
This was a superb experience and has an entire post dedicated to it.
Redeeming my terrible trivia abilities
Trivia isn’t my thing, no matter how much I want it to be. But when the announcement was made that the most creative/funny team won VIP tickets for cheaper beer for the night, my eyes lit up like the night sky of San Diego’s 2012 Fourth of July celebration. I used a beer pong team name from my past: “We Don’t Jack Off; We Just Wash Our Dicks Fast” and easily claimed the prize. Too bad beers still cost $10…
The Australian coast from Cairns to Sydney
As I made my way back down the coast I stopped in Airlie Beach to take a full day catamaran trip through the Whitsunday Islands, stopping at Whitehaven Beach and for a quick snorkel in the fringing reefs. Whitehaven beach is only accessible by boat and is quite the paradise. The sand is 98% silica, which is why it’s so bright and white.
Other highlights from the coastal trip include a hike up to the lighthouse in Byron Bay and my stop in Newcastle where I stayed with a friend from California and snapped the second picture from Nobby’s Breakwall.
Planning New Zealand
I had 0 plans about what I was going to do when I got to New Zealand and with a few hours of research I was able to pull together and plan this itinerary.
Most visitors to this blog in one day
I posted my gear list post and linked it on a few popular websites and woke up to see a record number 1,253 visitors in one day to this blog. As of this writing, the gear post continues to be my most successful post (most viewed, commented on and most linked).
Getting the campervan for my New Zealand road trip
After arriving in Christchurch I had time to kill so I decided to walk to Escape rentals from the airport instead of paying for a cab. 7 miles and almost 3 hours later I arrived, sweaty and regretful of my decision, but stoked to see that this beast would be my home for the next two weeks. This would be my first time driving on the left side of the road and I’m happy to report the number of times I found myself wondering why there was “some idiot” going the wrong way in my lane (it was always the right-hand turns messing me up) can be counted on one hand.
For the next instalation of highlights – October (month 2)
London was quick, cold (first time I had to wear a long sleeve shirt), full of history and proper markets with delicious food. I leave for Jordan this afternoon for 3 weeks before heading back for 3 months in Europe. Cheers!