Archive | August, 2008

The Snake and the Camel Toe!

29 Aug

Well after 7 months of working in the Australian outback and not seeing a snake I was beginning to think they were just another myth like the Lochness monster.  I had come across many snakes while at work, but they were of the rubber kind that had been strategically placed under my boots or tied to shovels that I was going to pick up, purely to scare the shit out of me (and yes it worked). 

 

So it was on a lovely blue skied early Pilbara (the region where I work) morning as the sun had just risen. I was out walking geophysics grid lines which involves walking kilometre upon kilometre marking out every 100m.  Thinking it wasn’t going to get much better than this I walk around a hill and there spread out in-front of me on the ground is the biggest camel toe I had ever seen! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I keep walking and then come across the 2 camels whose camel toes I had just been admiring. I felt a bond with them, here we all were just wandering around in the middle of nowhere, they had there hump on there backs and I had my camelback on. We were brothers from quite different mothers.

Feeling quite humble and lucky to be out and about and experiencing all this I’m walking along singing to myself looking down at the GPS.  Out of the corner of my eye 2 steps in front of me lying still on the brown rocky ground with one beady eye intently looking at me is a snake! (The Ozzies probably call this one a worm, it was just over a metre long)

Anyone that knows about my nerves and dislike of creepy crawly reptile species can predict what happened next. I let out a noise reminiscent of my early childhood days, and jumped, one of those jumps where you try and get as much of your body away from the feared object, so all my arms and legs had taken off and left my abdomen behind. I took off to a safer distant, quite happy to see that the snake slowly slithered stealthily off under the cover of some spinifex bushes.

My nerves were shot as I stood on the rock, trying to capture a photo of my reptilian friend.  The photo below is the photo I took.  I showed my workmates the photo, and they laugh and say “Hap, it looks like your standing miles away”, “bloody aye I was standing miles away, I had all 3X of the optical zoom extended, I wasn’t getting anywhere near that”.  Its one thing getting bitten by a snake, but its bloody stupid getting bitten while trying to get a photo of one, just look at Steve Irwin, now thats a good message to the young kids at home to leave dangerous animals alone. 

My nerves were so on edge that when my camera automatically shut off and beeped I threw my hands in the air and let it fly, the only thing stopping it from hitting a space station was the strap I had luckily put around my wrist.  But not that it mattered as that night I left the camera in my pocket and put my pants through the washing machine and just to make sure it was totally ruined I put it in the dryer! – good one.

With 3 km more of grid lines to walk, I carried on like a 60’s hippy tripping on mushrooms, as every stick I came accross turned into a snake. 

Then I start thinking, if I did get bitten and venom injected, the outcome wouldn’t be good. By the time I radioed in with co-ords and located by medics, transported back to the mine camp, would be close to a couple of hours, and then have to wait for the flying doctors.

Then you start thinking, the only reason I saw the snake was because it was on brown rock, but 99% of the time I’m walking through knee high spinifex. There would of been 100’s of times I had stepped close to snakes but not known.  So 7 months of snake tolerance that had built up, was gone. Let me tell ya, that 3 km of grid lines seemed never ending. Everything seemed out to get me, kangaroos jumping out, spinifex pigeons waiting till I was right on top of them before they screeched and flew out, and even my dam daggy dreadlocks hitting my face was enough to send me into cardiac arrest. I was ready for a drink by the end.

Snakes and Camel Toes, Hap

Some photos from the Ripon Hills Remote Camp.

19 Aug

The past 4 months I was located out at the Ripon Hills Regional Remote Camp.  There was myself and a Geo, the 4 man drill crew and the dozer driver.  It was a beautiful setting in the middle of nowhere. 

Ripon was located 2 hours drive from Woodie Woodie Mining Camp, close to Warrawagine station. It had some pretty special sights around as well, Carawine Gorge, the Sink hole, old mill area and some deserted old stations, but have a look for yourself;

Ripon Hills Remote Camp Work Photos

Summer teasing us.

19 Aug

The weekend just been brought out hopes that summer is here. Although it doesn’t get “freezing” here in Perth, when you work up north and its beautiful this time of year, then you get off the plane for your R&R in Perth, you realise that you are becoming a warm weather snob, and a wimp. 

All that is talked about is summer.  People live for summer here, as the beaches and weather are amazing. And our new house is definitely a summer a house, pool, BBQ area, and not too mention that’s it is cold. So we are all pretty excited for summer to hurry up.  And this weekend gave us a little glimpse that summer is here, even though it is bloody miles away. 

Here’s a couple of photos of our place, a bit of an impromptu Sunday Funday, with the massive kiwi crew that is here.  If anyones dropping by Perth, drop in.

Hurry up summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villians and Super Heros

4 Aug

On my last R&R back in Perth there was a bit of a Shin Dig, a fancy dress party with the theme being Villians and super hero’s, there were some weird and wacky costumes, here’s a few photos, no doubt some of you will recognise some familiar faces, quite a few ex Otago Uni crew here.

Enjoy

PS I did not spend $25 on buying a suede male G-string for the party, I did not lie when buying the g-string and saying it was for someone else, and the mustache is fake 😉

 

Bali a distant memory

4 Aug

OK,

Its about time I give you all a bit of a run down on how Bali was.  There’s a couple of posts following this, one that has a link to photos, and another about my virginal day spa experience which portrays  my more warped side with a light hearted look at my first time venturing into the world of Day Spas.

But for now, Bali?  Well the reasoning for going to Bali was to meet up with Mandy, my girlfriend who I had not seen for 10 months, due to a couple of hiccups that most of you know of, ie Being kindly put up in Atlanta City Prision by my good friends at US immigration and getting put up by my much more accommodating friends of the rescue helicopter team at Nelson Hospital.

So why Bali? My only reasoning for choosing Bali was because I heard you could get real cheap flights to there from OZ.  Well usually you do, but if your working in the middle of the outback cut off from the real world (or just don’t give a care whats going on in the world as its usually involves, soaring prices, crime, war etc), you fail to realise that its peak season with the school holidays and that surfers flock to Bali this time of year as the surf is starting to crank. So it ends up not being that cheap, but you have already told your girlfriend to buy her ticket to Bali, therefore there is no turning back. 

So my thoughts on Bali before going were, drunken Ozzie schoolies chanting “Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie, Oi Oi Oi”, overweight grey haired package holiday makers with their camera’s hanging around their necks saying “wow, Diana, I can’t believe no body speaks english here”. So I was expecting just another generic over-run holiday package tourist destination, the only difference being that its little Balinese people hassling you to plat your hair, give you a massage or buy their cheap “genuine” Balinese souvenirs (made in China) all for a “special” price.

So from the above, you can see my expectations weren’t that rosy, in-fact quite negative.  Well, Bali showed me! Bali taught me a lesson for being so dam pessimistic.  My holiday was full of amazing isolated beaches, sunshine, beaming smiles, friendly locals, culture, cheap beer, developing world traffic chaos, crazy animals, awkward communication moments, more smiles, more sunshine, dirt cheap everything, day spas, language barriers, tasty food, beautiful dive spots, sunsets, and above all, welcoming local people who always had a smile for you!

So yeah, Bali fully stuck it to me. So what did I get up to?  I arrived in Bali, met Mandy (girlfriend) at the airport, got a taxi straight to our pre-booked accommodation in Ubud, and spent the next 4 days in Ubud catching up on the last 10 months. Ubudwas perfect for this, we lived like kings in our $25/day guest house, our own balcony looking over bushy jungle and immaculate gardens, smiling Balinese ladies bringing us breakfast each morning.  For once in my travels I didn’t feel like the smelly cheap backpacker I am, it felt as though “I had made it”, haha.

After many a day spa and exfoliating scrubs in Ubud, it was off to neighbouring island Lombok, which is the size of Bali, but doesn’t have the tourist infrastructure or reputation that Bali has, although that will change with an international airport planned for next year. Our first stop was at Gilli Trawangan, an island off the North Eastern coast of Lombok. Here both Mandy and I completed our open water dive certificates. I fully fell in love with diving, even though my “extreme” gag reflectors mixed with the respirator in my mouth usually results in me throwing up beforehand (anyone that has heard me brush my teeth, or take a shot, will know about my gag reflectors). Here was probably my favourite place of the trip, a cool traveller scene, a relaxed island with no cars, just horse and carts, a lively little after dark scene with even the little convenience stores (in the most basic sense of the word) offering magic milkshakes guaranteed to send you to the moon, and above all a good bunch of travellers to hang with at night. 

After sleeping straight through our alarm, we nearly didn’t leave Trawangan, but thanks to a miracle of me dreaming we had missed the boat, I woke up, and we made the boat, and through the work of another miracle I managed to keep the contents of my stomach in my stomach.

We made it to the mainland of Lombok, and flagged all plans of hiring scooters and trying to navigate our way through the sea of recently graduated highschool kids in spray painted uniforms celebrating the end of school, and the pot holes, and the monkeys. Instead we made the most of me being on salary (therefore being paid to be on holiday – you got to love a stable job sometimes) and got a chauffeur (Balinese guy with a van), this allowing us to catch up on lost sleep from the night before. The 2 hour ride south was awesome, I felt like royalty in the front seat as we crawled along in traffic, with the local kids shouting out “heelllloooo mr”, or for me, “Rastaman”, “Bob Marley”, “Uncle Bob” with sooo much energy that you start to think they hang out beside the road all day just waiting for a “whitie” to pass by to they can scream “heelllloooo” at the top of there lungs and feel fulfilled like a devoted church goer having Jesus come from the sky. 

We finally arrived at our destination, were shown a two-storied villa, thinking it would be bloody expensive (but were so needing a flat horizontal surface we wouldn’t of cared), only to find out it was $10, hahaha, gotta love it.  So Kuta, Lombok was the place we found ourselves, a chilled out version of its party going brother in Bali.  Kuta Lombok is known for its surf and untouched beautiful beaches.  So Mandy and I hired a scooter for the 3 days we were there and explored our surroundings. Beautiful rugged golden sand beaches and once again great locals. 

One day we took the scooter on a day trip up to a mountain village to check out a waterfall. At a busy town intersections full of truck fumes and beeping horns there was a local man pointing frantically at our scooter, but I had read about the tricks of locals pulling over tourists to fix a “problem” on there scooter, only to make a new problem and then charge outragous prices to get it fixed. This situation is one of the things I hate about being a backpacker in a foreign country, as theres that constant issue “is this a genuinely nice person, or are they trying to rip me off (as you always hear those stories)”? But 100 metres down the road when the scooter started fishtailing, I realised that the good of human nature had prevailed, and the fella at the intersection was just being a stand up caring citizen. But him and his mates got their enjoyment as they laughed and cheered as Bob Marley and his girlfriend pushed their deflated scooter back into town. Just as we were dreading the ordeal of bargaining and getting the tyre replaced, a leather jacket wearing Sanchez mustached Balinese Jesus comes up and says”follow me”. He took us to a hole in the wall establishment vaguely resembling a mechanics and got our tyre all fixed up and repaired for the disgustingly, tourist inflated price of $3, yep $3, kind hearted human nature wins again. The world needs more leather jacket wearing Sanchez mustached Balinese Jesus men and less towel wearing bearded Bin Ladens (please don’t get all PC on me, just stating a point, Bin Laden was the first villian that came to mind so I described him, if it makes you feel better replace the description of Bin Laden with business suit wearing clean shaven, Mercedes driving, middle aged, tax evading businessman!) – aaahhhh the beauty of having your own blog, you can write what you want.

So after seeing the light, it was back to the island of Bali to meet Mandy’s good friend Ingrid. Once we had met all 3 of us headed to another Island off off Bali Nusa Lombongan. More diving was on the cards, more Bintang beers, sunsets, and a shit load of seaweed, as seaweed farming was the main industry of the island.

Then, my 3 weeks was up, it was time for me to head back to the land of the “real world” where things like having hot water seem to matter.  So I spent the afternoon and evening at Kuta, the touristy, party destination of Bali.  We always describe touristy as bad, and I have done as well, but these places always serve a purpose.  If you don’t travel much, or enjoy the luxuries of the developed world at dirt cheap prices, or are a bunch of people that want to party, or wanted buy some cheap goods, Kuta is great. I know that if I was with a heap of mates and wanted to party for a couple of days in Indonesia, Kuta would be on the list.

So as I left the bar at 1am, flagged down a scooter, jumped on the back of it and headed to the airport to catch my early morning flight, I thought to myself, “Bali my good friend, you’ve done bloody well, keep up the good work”.