Wednesday 25 December – Onboard the flight to Australia we were handed landing cards to declare all goods, we had a stash of coffee with us from Indonesia so to avoid a fine we stated that we did. They also announced you have declare if you’re sick so Paul throwing up in both sick bags wasn’t the best. I’m not sure what happens if you declare it – thrown into quarantine with the dogs or something and fumigated to rid you of all disease? We didn’t declare and the air steward just looked a bit disgusted when Paul handed over the bags not like she was about to snitch on us to the quarantine inspectors.
We touched down in Darwin to a grey and wet Christmas Day. Just like home, except it was about 30 degrees and 100% humid.
Immigration was a breeze, some of the other passengers got a grilling though. The customs inspector definitely decided he was going to have a laugh with us and Paul got a bit nervous. I’d clocked he was joking when he first pulled us over. It was the slight smirk on his face that gave him away. He grilled us on where we’d come from and how long we’d been travelling. When we gave different answers he said ‘are you lying to me?’ Paul got a bit tongue tied and he told him to relax and had a giggle. He wasn’t even bothered about the coffee.
We enjoyed the airport a bit too much. Toilets we can throw the loo roll down, wifi that stays connected, water we can drink from the tap, open spaces, silence, cleanliness – bliss. We sat in the arrivals hall for sometime just enjoying the peacefulness. I really love Asia but being back in a place that is similar to the UK is very nice. Understanding what people are saying is something to treasure.
We were couch surfing again in Darwin as the accommodation alone would blow a days budget for us – it starts at £50 a night!! Darwin is the most expensive city in Australia we’ve been told so that gives us some hope. Our host was a Dutch world cyclist called Wout. Not only was he putting us up, he’d also offered us a lift from the airport. It still baffles me how people are so kind. Paul did a little reflection on this and how he thinks the trip has made us kinder people until I reminded him of when we went back to London in September and I saw a lost looking guy trying to buy a tube ticket and I said should we help him and Paul’s response was ‘fuck that, we’re in London now’ thank god all the people that have helped us do not have the same mantra.
Wout’s place was next to an indigenous community that we learnt is a bit notorious for crime – but only within the community. Wout was also hosting another guy who was French and a bit older than us. His name was Coco. I think that was his ‘alternative’ name. He was one of those ‘I play the guitar, live in a tree and wear flowers in my hair types’ a bohemian. Wouldn’t of looked out of place in Moulin Rouge. He was a bit boring and a little strange. Probably a bit judgemental as maybe it was our lack of things in common that drew us to that conclusion but he was very difficult to talk to. Wout on the other hand even though he was reserved had some great stories of his travels. He’d done a similar route to Nepal only on a bicycle. Wout cooked us an amazing three course meal that evening for Christmas Day and they told stories of the natives who have gone rogue in the town drinking heavily and causing havoc.
On route to town, locals call it a city, but I’m not sure it qualifies. It’s more of a town in my books. I saw a sign warning people of box jelly fish in the waters, not only that but last night we were given the full run down of everything to be scared of in Australia basically everything. Darwin has a beautiful coastline with tempting turquoise blue waters but you can’t swim as not only are there jellyfish there are crocodiles too.
The buildings make it look very much like New Zealand, tin roofs and low rise. There are a fair few modern high rises closer to the town. There’s a small selection of shops but we headed for the supermarket. It’s weird to be excited about the prospect of buying actual food rather than just biscuits and crisps. Whilst it was expensive compared to Asia the prices are on par with England, not as shocking as we thought. Although chocolate is now classified as a luxury item and we bought each other a bar as a late Christmas present.
Around the town was our first encounter with the indigenous people. It’s true the majority are very drunk. They shout at each in their native tongue then swear in English. It’s an actual dialect that they mix the two – like Spanglish. Like alcohol, I doubt swear words existed in their home communities. Just one of many delights the white europeans introduced them to. The conversations we were privy to basically went ‘you owe me money’ ‘I ain’t got no money’ argh you fucker, give me the money’ ‘I told you, I ain’t got no money’ end of argument or a fight breaks out. They look worse for wear, their skin very charred from the sun, out of control wire like mottled hair, dirty torn clothes, open sores on their legs and arms and plastic bags full of their belongings. It’s very odd to see them living in third world like conditions in a town which probably classifies it’s self as vaguely cosmopolitan, it’s a rich town too.
There is little difference in the weather between Dili and Darwin, both hot except Darwin is more humid. It’s rainy season so it was to be expected. What is very different is the sudden appearance of rules – that are actually abided by. There are rules on where you can walk your dog and a speed limit for cycling. On the bus we were made to get off at the station as it was the end of the route then get back on the same bus as it was also the start of the new route after the driver sat on the same spot for 10 mins. Those are the rules, stupid or not, the driver abided.
Christmas and New Year passed us by without much celebrating, it’s not the same without family and friends. Plus I picked up glandular fever and felt like I had a body of 90 year old so I’ve not been up for doing much. We did venture out on NYE to try and catch some fireworks but that came to an abrupt end when we were joined by some aboriginals. All was well at first, three of them sat chatting, all at the same time mind so it was very hard to keep up. One guy had a particular interest in Cliff Richard. Their drink of choice tonight was port in coca cola bottles. Then a lady walked past, teary eyed and she came over and said ‘I’m in big trouble, very big. I may be small but I can punch’ then proceeded to show me her tongue someone had sliced open last year. She was followed by her husband carrying some bags. He immediately picked a fight with the guy we were sat with. He dropped his bags, and it was apparent he’d already had a bust up. He was covered in blood, a huge pool had stained his shorts. It escalated very quickly so we made our excuses and left promptly.
Anyhow two weeks since we arrived in Australia and we’re still in Darwin. We actually quite like it here, the simple things we have missed. Being able to wash our clothes when they are dirty and cooking being the biggest two. We moved on from Wout’s couch surfing house, you can’t take the piss. We sacked off the idea of a camper van on discovering it would cost us over £60 a day once we included petrol. Instead we have set up a little home life for ourselves. We’re renting a room in a shared house and Paul has picked up some web work from back home. The area we are living is very cushy, 2 minutes from the beachfront, 5 mins from the pool, 5 mins from the weekend markets and 10 mins from a big shopping centre for when we need groceries. The girls we are living with (Carmel and Nelly) are lovely too and our age. Turns out the Irish girl in one of the rooms is from Castlebar which is the closest town to where my parents live in Ireland, small world. One of their friends even brought us over some bicycles so we can get around. So we spend our time swimming, cycling, Paul works, I cook and enjoy being a lady of leisure.
We found out yesterday we will be here for the foreseeable future thanks to the 3rd boat we thought our bike would be on, also omitting Dili! It’s all for commercial reasons, which is understandable but a bloody huge pain in the arse for us. We won’t see it until the 30th January. Over a month will have passed! Our visas are ticking away in one town but can’t complain really, we have it pretty good and it’s an easy place to be.
No posts for a while now as nothing to write about until we get on the move again, I did write this post a good while a go but we realised we hadn’t taken any photos, so just a few pretty crap ones this time. We have also heard the boat has been delayed another week, and it’s starting to get a bit depressing.