A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday 13th April - Day 70

Train in the sky

Is it just me who didn't know that Australia has a rain forest or should I have kept this quiet to hide my ignorance ? Apparently, at one time, it took over a large portion of this very big island. And now it's just 0.1% of the land mass and is largely, and necessarily, protected by law.

A twenty minute bus journey takes you from Cairns to the 'Sky Train.' This is a cable car station like they have at ski resorts. A cable car takes you over the rain forest to the top of the mountain and a little town of Kuranda. As an alternative, most people take the slow train back down the mountain. The view over the rain forest is awesome. At one of the cable car stops you can get off and take a fifteen minute guided tour. This is far more interesting than any 'school lesson.' At another station you can see a waterfall.

Finally, at the top is the little town of Kuranda. This appears a little odd as there is dense rain forest all around. It seems we are lucky that the weather is good, it has rained by three meters in the last three months. The town has cafe's and shops all willing to see you part with your money. Lunch comprising of burger, chips and a coke was a tad expensive (that's another way of saying a rip-off). There is a 'snake venom' zoo to visit that has snakes, insects and bugs to see. Also, there is a koala zoo, which has other animals like wallabies to see there. There are plenty of things to occupy a few hours.

On my tour party I meet Tamsin, who is an exchange teacher from England, and she has to have her picture taken while holding a koala, like a teddy bear. There are plenty of other, mainly girls and women who are equally dotty over these creatures. It's interesting to listen to the views of Brit who's been here for a few months. I still don't hear anything negative about Australia. By chance we walk past someone who looks like an Aborigine teenager who is just conversing with an American. 'Yoh, give me some skin bro,' the Aborigine boy says (something like that anyway). This is a little freaky. Do these kids want to be Harlem 'Boys from the hood' too ? Tell me I'm dreaming.

After a few hours it's back down the mountain by slow train. The train is very old and may actually be a converted steam train, I don't know for sure.

Posted by rajchopra 07:25 Comments (0)

Friday 11th April - Saturday 12th April - Day 68 - Day 69

Cairns

Cairns is where it all happens, apparently. The number of tourists, backpackers and visitors is huge. I don't think I'll be meeting many native Australians here. Arguably, it's not really because of the the city of Cairns itself, but there are a number of attractions, 'The Great Barrier Reef' being the most famous of these, are all within easy reach. Having said that, Cairns is a really nice place. Walking up to the sea, similar to the south bank in Brisbane, there is an huge outdoor swimming pool. The grassy park area right next to it has people playing games like throwing frisbees. And I think they have barbecues for general use by the public as they appear to be permanent features. I haven't seen anything like this before on my travels. It's really far from what I'm use to in 'normality.'

Over these two days I try not too spend too much money, without success. The cost of living here is high. There is a local market very near my hostel (called Bohemia Central). For the first time in a long while, I actually cook for myself: chicken curry and rice. It turns out quite nice. It's far better then heating up noodles, which is what most people seem to eat in hostels. The chillies are a little hot though.

Incidentally, this is what I found out about the meaning of 'Bohemain':

"The following question has been asked to determine whether one is a Bohemian: You have enough money to buy either art supplies or a meal, but not enough money to buy both. Which would you buy? If you chose art supplies, you qualify as a Bohemian."

I'm not sure this hostel has any Bohemian credentials, but I wouldn't count out staying here again.

I've mapped out the rest of my trip at a travel agents and have to shell out a fair bit money, gulp. I may be living on bread and water for a while.

Posted by rajchopra 05:33 Comments (1)

Thursday 10th April - Day 67

Australia zoo

Today I'm visiting Australia zoo. Then I'm going to catch a flight from Brisbane airport to Cairns. I had thought of taking a bus or train from from Brisbane to Cairns, but forty-eight hours by train or 2 hours by plane ? The plane idea won.

I'm still not use to the time difference and struggle to sleep and get up early. I rush to the train station with my rucksacks - carrying one and wheeling the other. It should be about an one hour journey by train and a fifteen minute bus ride to Australia zoo. I should get off the train at Beerwah station. Instead, I get off two stops early on a station with a similar sounding name. The next train will pass by in an hour's time. There's an old man sitting on the one bench they have at the station with his two pet dogs. I thought he was waiting for a train, but he had just wondered out from his house which is less than a minute walk from the station. We chat briefly and he tells me that there's no taxi around. He then heads back home.

A couple of minutes later another chap appears on the station platform and starts chatting to me. "Come on," he says. "I'll give you a lift." He's the son of the first gentleman I spoke to. For a moment I wonder if it's a good idea to follow a complete stranger, but I do it anyway.

On the car journey, he learns I haven't any knowledge of the area and offers to take me on a slight detour to see the 'Glass House Mountains.' I can't say no, so agree to go along with the idea. It turns out he (Vince is his name) was genuinely doing me a favour. He takes me up to a mountain viewpoint. The panoramic view of the mountains is spectacular. My initial mistake in getting off at the the wrong stop is a blessing in disguise.

Vince then drops me outside the Australia zoo entrance. I thank him for is generosity. His son happens to be visiting England and I give Vince my details in case I can help him when I get back to England.

At Australia zoo it's a shame I can't see Steve Irwin do his Crocodile feeding. It's his best mate and Steve Irwin's widow who do the routine in a stadium filled mainly with young children and families. We also get to see a display of flying birds around the stadium and other shows aimed at kids. The rest of the zoo is quite like other zoos, but including animals only found in this part of the world like Koala bears, Wombats, Dingos and kangaroos that just wonder around one part of the zoo and are allowed to be fed by the public.

I make it back in time to Brisbane by bus and train and then the airport to catch the plane to Cairns.

Posted by rajchopra 06:38 Comments (2)

Wednesday 9th April - Day 66

The South Bank

Today I walked around Brisbane again. This time I crossed over a bridge to the other side of the river. There's an open air swimming pool and people use this free facility. The water is clean and lukewarm. There's a gentle air of well being around here. Unfit looking people stand out because there don't seem to be many of them. There's a fitness class running outdoors on the grass. Ironically, half of the people in the class look unfit, which is in stark contrast t everyone else walking around. There are plenty of joggers and cyclists that go by. There don't seem to be pesky flies or mosquitoes to worry about here either.

Also on the south bank there is a theatre and quite a few cafe's too. For some reason it's a place where there are Punjabi people from India. In most of the Seven-Eleven stores I've been to the guy serving me has been Punjabi.

I'm caught a little bit by surprise that goods in the shops are about the same if not slightly more expensive than back in England. Other than that, I can't fault Brisbane.

Posted by rajchopra 06:20 Comments (0)

Tuesday 8th April - Day 65

Brisbane

Okay, so what do you do in a new city, country ? Go for a wonder. My body clock's a few hours out of sync so I don't emerge from my room until about midday.

It's only a first impression but Brisbane seems a very easy going place to be. The weather is near to perfect, 22deg C / 70 deg. It's sunny, clean and everyone looks happy. I ask a couple of people for directions and they seem happy to help. I remember trying to ask somebody in London similarly and he freaked me out by shouting, "go away ..." And mumbled something about, "you people ..." In fact everyone I've interacted with seem to be affable. They must have millions of tourists pass through the city and don't seem at all weary of that.

Brisbane has a river serviced by very efficient Catamarans. The tourist information center advises me to take a boat trip.I t's an enjoyable trip. The $5 ticket also pays for the bus ticket up to Mount Coot-tha overlooking the city. The panoramic view of the city from top of this small mountain is striking.

In the town center I drop in on a cyber cafe. This place is open 24 hours a day. There are a lot of game playing nerds in here. Some clearly have been here for hours. An American teenager makes sure his friends and everyone else around him know what level he has got to in some adventure game and the special powers he has discovered. Each to their own.

The day has been short and passes by quickly.

Posted by rajchopra 22:26 Comments (0)

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