For years I had wanted to go to Australia. Twice I planned to fly into Sydney for New Years Eve, and twice those plans fell through. When I started this trip, I knew there was always a possibility that I’d end up in Australia, but I knew there were so many reasons why I shouldn’t go. Who goes to Australia in the winter? Do they even have a winter? Where do you go after flying all the way down there? Eventually I found the answer to all of those questions and more.
Twenty-five days ago I left Taiwan in search of adventure in Malaysian Borneo. There would be endless possibilities for excitement – Kota Kinabalu (the highest mountain in South East Asia), Sipadan (considered the best diving in the world), Survivor Island/Pulau Tiga (where the first season of Survivor was filmed), Orangutang Sanctuaries, Jungle Treks, Caves, and a stop into Brunei to add another country to this trip.
The End. It’s expected yet unexpected. Ultimately everything ends. Mourning.
The Beginning. It’s explained yet unexplained. Initially everything begins. Morning.
For the last week I’ve been slowly traveling north along the eastern coast of Queensland. For those who failed Geography, Queensland is one of Australia’s states …and is three times the size of Texas. The coast is known specifically for its numerous beaches that create a surfer’s paradise. In fact, they even named a town Surfer’s Paradise.
Babe I’m gonna leave you. I wanted to give you all my love, but now I’m just dazed and confused. There was some sort of communication breakdown – a city filled with an endless supply of coffee shops and restaurants – now I realize you are somethin’ else. You’ve given me the traveling riverside blues and it’s nobody’s fault but mine. Melbourne, your time is gonna come – I’m dreaming of a white summer. Right now though, I’m a fool in the rain and it’s too cold to go down to the ocean. It’s time to ramble on.
Upon re-re-re-re-redeciding to leave Koh Tao, I reached for my wallet and briskly walked down to the nearest travel center on Koh Tao to purchase my transportation to Malaysia before I re-undecided or un-redecided my plans again. The ticket would only get me to the border of Thailand and Malaysia, but that would be as good a start as any journey really needed.
Driving along the southern coastline of Vietnam, I had to tell myself to stop wanting to stop and breathe in each new beach I passed.
Brief update this morning. I’m alive. I ended up driving for about 7 hours instead of the 2 that were originally planned. I got to the city I planned to stop at and decided it was a ‘blink or you’ll miss it’ type of place…and that the only sensible thing was to go 4 hours further to the place I was going to be driving to today. …and that place is awesome. My hotel however, sucks. I’m at a random cafe right now trying to find a new hotel to move to for at least another day. I got in around 6:30 last night, so I may stay for just today, or maybe stay for two days. Other than the beach, I’m not sure if there is anything to do or see here, and I’m okay with that.
Lastly, there are no words to describe how your ass feels after 7 hours on the back of a scooter/motorbike.
The following two things were terrorizing the streets of Vietnam yesterday. Also – it turns out that those surgical masks are great for keeping the silly amount of smog and diesel fumes out of your system.
The following is a chronological account of my trip from Da Nang to Hoi An, as it was recorded it in my notes.
7:08 AM: Found bus stop. How long will I have to wait? There is another bus stop for the same bus on the other side of the road. Shit. Which is the right one?
7:34 AM: On Bus. Assuming it goes to Hoi An. Said Hoi An. People said Hoi An. Haven’t been asked to pay yet. If I’m not there in an hour I’ll get off and find a taxi I suppose. Currently going west – Hoi An is south and east. Still in city though.
7:44 AM: Guy on bus grabs me. Points for me to get off. Points at other bus that’s yellow across the street. Going in opposite direction. Now east. Going up same street I just came down. Confused. None of the busses stop; just slow down enough for you to grab the bar and swing in or out.
7:53 AM: Back at the exact same intersection I got on the first bus. Going east now. Appears the road goes east and connects with a southbound one.
8:05 AM: Finally crossing bridge. Smells like garlic. Still criss crossing east and south.
8:10 AM: Watched someone pay. Clearly you pay when you leave. Not exactly a great place if the guy tries to rip you off and over charge. Know that anything over 50k is supposedly a ripoff job. These guys did wait for me to cross the street though as I ran across traffic from bus 1 to bus 2.
8:20 AM: Still going south. Girl next to me on bus gave me a piece of candy. Mellon Milk. Tastes like…Mellon I guess. Warning on package is in English and says “warning allergies. Contains Milk.” Soft and chewy. First thing I’ve ate in probably 17 hours.
8:27 AM: No wifi signals around to get GPS location. Assuming we sta on this road we go right into Hoi An. Current road is newly paved but bumpy; enough room for a bus going one way and a car. Not the motorbikes that also litter the road. As a result I’m hearing he bus horn a lot.
8:40 AM: A lot. No room for two busses to pass with the various bikes and mottos on the right side of roads.
9 AM: On back of motorbike. Bus stops 80% of the way there and you are on your own for the rest. 50k for bus. Pointed to spot on map where my hotel was and motorbike driver said ‘5 us dollar’.
9:05 AM: Bike driver says that my bag is an extra $2. We’re already on the bike for 5 minutes so I’m not sure if I can say no. He has two kids; one is one years old…says the other is 14 but he also said he was 25. Something is lost in translation.
9:08 AM: At hotel. Paid 180k for bike. Checked in early. Room 209.
Hi Ho Ha Long Bay!