Thursday, June 28, 2012
When I arrived in LA my name was called over the loud speaker - I knew this was not a good thing and I was informed one of my bags was still on vacation in Sydney. So I waited for my other bag, well apparently it decided to go business class so it took some searching to find it as it was not on the luggage belt with the other economy bags!
I checked in at Southwest Airlines and found out Michelle had to pay an extra $100 to change my flight and had booked me on the 5:10pm flight but because she paid the extra I was able to change to an earlier flight 3:25(all other flights were booked). I enjoyed my first starbucks in a while and made my way to the gate. At the gate there was an announcement that the 3:25 flight was overbooked and was anyone willing to give up their seat for a $100 travel credit. I thought what the hell and volunteered but not only did I get a $100 credit, I got a credit for the entire cost of the flight as well in all a $289 credit (not bad for an hour and half wait).
Yesterday and today I spent with Hannah - she has a fever and has been vomiting to a trip to the doctors to find out the poor dear has strep throat but she is now on and antibiotic so hopefully will be herself in the next couple of days.
A few updates:
1. If you remember back to my issue with groupon - well I did not give up and after many calls while I was in Australia I finally got to talk to someone who was less than helpful. I have ended up with a groupon credit for half the value of what I paid for the voucher and I can use the credit in Canada. I will not bore you with the details but it is suffice to say this company seriously needs customer service training. They admitted they really don't know anything about the accommodation from other countries that they advertise - they take the word of the people who are advertising? They made no apologies for not contacting me and me chasing them down. Guess this is why there is a class action suit against them in the USA.
2. On my day with crocodile Dundee posting there are 4 videos - only two of them you will be able to play as I have not figured out how to remove the other two videos that say private when you try to view - still figuring out the new blogging program.
3. I hope everyone had enjoyed reading about my travels - in the last six months I have travelled all but 3 weeks, taken 46 different flights on 10 different airlines and I have travelled over 118,000 kilometers. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime and full of memories I will always cherish. Not to mention the number of completed ticks I now have on my bucket list.
In late September I am planning a trip to Britain and recently I put down on deposit on a South African safari next May - so this is not the end of my travels and there will be more blogs to come!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
yes that is raw pork in his hand
Pat (tour guide) is a native of the northern territories - he grew up in a family of 28 because his parents fostered children including a number of aboriginals. He is a bush man that feels more at home with nature than with people (although you would never know this as he is quite the talker and full of interesting stories). He has lived a great part of his life living in the bush and sleeping on the ground - he told us the first time he went to a hotel he couldn't get to sleep in the bed so he tried the floor and then finally got to sleep on the outside balcony. He was a wealth of knowledge including telling us about the soldiers in WWII defending this region and surviving the living conditions in extreme natural elements.
The day started by being picked up at 7am. First stop was the termite mounds - some of these mounds are 6 meters high with another 12 meters of the mound underground. Termites feed on dead plant material mostly wood. Therefore most of the trees in the northern territories are hollow and the aborginies use the hollow trees to make the didgeridoo musical instrument. There are 23 species of termites in this area (we observed the catherdral and magnetic termites). Termites live about 30 years in very organized colonies generally with a population of several hundred thousand divided into groups (workers and soldiers).
The sculptured termite mounds sometimes have elaborate and distinctive forms - tall wedge-shaped mounds with the long axis oriented approximately north–south. This orientation has been experimentally shown to assist thermoregulation. The column of hot air rising in the aboveground mounds helps drive air circulation currents inside the subterranean network. The structure of these mounds can be quite complex.
Next we went to the Litchfield National Park to take a look at a couple of spectacular waterfalls with sink holes where we took a swim. These fresh water bodies can be home to fresh water crocodiles which are apparently quite harmless to humans - luckily we did not see any and did not have to test this theory! While we were enjoying a swim Pat prepared a lovely picnic buffet sandwich spread for our lunch.
Next we were off to the river to find salt water crocodiles. These are the ones that are likely to eat you - Pat has been bitten by a croc. Crocodiles do not have diseases they are extremely healthy and do not get sick. If they loose a leg or arm in a fight their blood automatically clots so they do not bleed to death and they do not get infections. Scientist are looking at crocodiles to help develop a new type of penicillin. These crocodiles are between 4-7 meters long. Crocodiles have strong jaws and do not chew their food but swallow in large chunks which are broken down in the stomach. It is estimated that crocodiles live for 70 - 100 years. Once on the river it was not long before a crocodile was following the boat. Crocodile Pat began to feed the croc - at one point there were six crocs near us and we interacted (well crocodile Pat did) with three. I took the photos below as well as capturing a couple of videos I hope you will enjoy and get a feel for what it was like looking at these creatures so closely.
On the tour I met three sisters from tasmania (Kerry, Jenni and Robin). We seemed to instantly bond and it was great to share the day with them.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Sunday, June 24, 2012
The first night I walked to the Mindil Beach Market where I got to watch another amazing northern Australian sunset. The numerous food stalls sold everything from crocodile to vietnamese Pho soup to food from Sri Lanka - the difficulty was making a choice so I had spicy calamari and a mango shake. Then I watched the entertainment, browsed the stalls, made a few purchases of course and walked back to my accommodation.
The beaches may be lovely here and the water looks inviting but there are boxed jelly fish so no one swims in the ocean around Darwin.
Purple are box jellyfishThere is also a huge alcohol problem in the northern territories - which has led to an increase in rape and domestic violence. Some communities are prohibited from selling alcohol which has created an illegal industry where people bring truck loads of alcohol into these communities and sell beer for $250 to $500 a case - however get caught and it is a $78,000 fine! When you purchase alcohol you have to show your driver's license no matter how old you are. The license is swiped through a special scanner to see if you have a DUI or have been banned from any license premises in the state - this prevents those who have been banned from one establishment just going to another.
The city of Darwin has been rebuilt twice - once due to Japanese air raids and once due to cyclone Tracy in 1974. Darwin now has a lovely wharf area and an esplanade to enjoy. So you may not be able to go in the ocean but there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy looking and walking along it!