City Girl in the Wild

Being born in a city and lived in a city all my life, I do like being in nature.  But then, there are little things that happen that make me realize that I’m a city girl by heart.

I was invited to go night fishing.  The last time I fished was when I was 5 (so I wasn’t really fishing).  The trip ended early because I went to pee in the bushes and learned why women can’t stand up when they pee.  Here I was in the night time being attacked by mosquitos being shown how to fish.  I actually caught two fishes on my first two attempts.  Actually, I can’t say that they were my attempts.  As the rod was handed to me, I felt the pull of the line and reeled them in.  Later on that night, I caught my own where I had thrown out the line myself (I was refusing to bait the hook).  I took a picture of my catch, but refused to touch the actual fish.  Yuck!  I don’t want to touch the bait or the fish!!!

Next, I went panning for gold.  I have to tell you that all the good finds have long time been gone and all that was left, if found, were small tiny flecks.  When my friends found the spot in the river to go panning, without thinking they walked to the river’s edge, threw off their shoes, walked in the river and sat at its edge.  I slowly followed them, watching my step in the bush, cringing at the freezing temperature of the water and I wouldn’t sit at the edge of the river as I didn’t want to get dirty.  They were right in their getting their hands in the silt to put in their pan and I was there slowly putting the pan in the water picking up rocks that wouldn’t have gold in it.  Such a city girl, reluctant to get dirty!

Sometimes, I embraced the adventure of the wild.  I went canyoning and that was so much fun!  We were zip lining over gorges, abseiling down the gorges into rivers, climbing up rocks, and jumping off of rocks into pools of water.   It was adrenaline packed with trying to get over fears of heights and just basic safety.  I loved it when they told us to jump into water falls, but not too far to the right because you might hit a rock, but you only have 3-4m of width to make your jump.  Imagine, that I was able to do all of this and not break a single nail.

Other times that I embraced the wild was when I found myself in the midst of it all and the tranquility of it just made the stresses of city life evaporate.  That was Milford Sound.  I took a boat cruise here and watching the imposing fiords rise out of the water in front of us honestly made one feel like I was one with nature.  That’s when being in the wild makes a city girl glad that she can escape every now and then.  City life can be frantic and very fast paced and sometimes the world just needs to slow down and you can take some time to enjoy beauty and reflect on it.

Although, it can be a challenge to step away from the city, it is definitely worth it! 🙂


Ten Differences Between Travelling in Australia/New Zealand and Developing Nations

This is the first time that I’ve backpacked a western country (although technically Australia and New Zealand aren’t in the west).  I’m used to travelling in Asia, South America and Africa.  So I’ve been noticing some differences while travelling between the two different regions.  They are as follows:

1. Laundry services:  Normally in developing nations, you can drop off your laundry in the morning and return at the end of the day with you clothes washed, dried and ironed for you.  Here, you have to do it yourself.  Hostels provide coin operated machines.  Who has the time!

2. Bargaining:  No bargaining in Australia and New Zealand.  Even if prices are over inflated for tourism, you have no choice to pay it.  But at least the locals have to pay the over inflated prices too.

3.  Taxis:  When you walk out of your hostel in Australia and New Zealand, no one is hassling you to take a taxi.  “Would you like a taxi?”   In fact, when I was desperate to find a taxi, I couldn’t find one just in the road.  When I really think about it, there is no hassling at all.  You can walk past shops and restaurants and no one invites you to look at a menu or at their shop, “Looking is free!”  I kind of miss this interaction in the streets.

4.  Maps: In developing nations, you have maps from the guide books, but when you go on the streets, you can never see street signs and locals can never read maps!  So it has been much easier navigating myself with maps as people can read them and there are street signs!

5. Traffic:  Traffic is orderly in Australia and New Zealand.  People drive all on the same side of the road and there are traffic lights and road signs.  It is just not chaotic survival on the roads!

6.  Safety: There are seat belts on the buses here in Australia and New Zealand!  And you are required by law to wear them!

7.  Roads:  The roads are paved without potholes in them in Australia and New Zealand.  The buses are regularly maintained and have shocks so that you are not constantly bouncing up and down on sleeper buses like in India.

8.  Buses are Comfortable:  The buses are so comfortable in Australia and New Zealand.  Their basic buses are more luxurious than the ones that are labelled luxury in some of the countries that I’ve travelled in before.

9. Expensive!:  By far the most expensive countries that I have ever travelled.  More expensive than London, if that is possible.   More expensive than Canada and America. A dorm bed for one night would be my daily budget in any other country.  Food is so expensive that I’m not eating out.  I’m preparing food at the hostel and I’ve never done that before ever in my travels!  I haven’t even tried the lamb or beef in New Zealand and I’m told by all ofmy friends that it is supposed to be the best.

10. Exhausting!: In developing nations, because within the tourism industry they are competing for your money, you can just show up at a bus station and there will be people trying to get you to come see their hostel.  They will take you to as many hostels as you need for you to make a decision.  Once you are there, they will assist you with everything you possibly need.  Here, I have to book my hostels ahead of time.  I find this tiring.  I like to just show up and go find a place.  When I asked a hostel for information about buses, they told me to look online for information.  You have to manage booking your own transport.  I find it tiring to organize myself.  Everytime, you get to a new location, you can’t just relax, you have to think about how are you leaving and where are you going.

It’s been a definite contrast between the two regions.  As organized and calm as Australia and New Zealand are, I do miss the liveliness and chaos of the developing nations.  I can’t wait to get to Asia, back to my comfort zone!

Wildlife in Australia

Of course, the first thing that I asked about once I arrived in Australia was about the kangaroos and the koala bears.  Is it possible to see them without going to the zoo?  Since I was in Western Australia, I was told no for the koala bears but yes, for the kangaroos.  Surprisingly, kangaroos are like squirrels…everywhere!  Well not exactly like squirrels but they can be found around the edges of suburbia.  Off I went to hunt kangaroos…in a golf course!  Like every good hunter, you must blend with the environment, so we all had golf clubs in our hands.  That was as far as our blending went.   Just as we entered the golf course, one was spotted hopping across the green out of sight before I could get my camera to my eye.  (Yes, I know, the camera didn’t help me blend).  We walked around for  5 minutes and found 3 kangaroos eating in the bushes.  “Here, take my club, so I can take a picture.”   I was told that I had to look like a golfer or else the kangaroos would hop away.  So I slowly inched closer into the bushes to get to the kangaroos, but I was scared that they were going to attack me.  “Get closer,” my friends yelled.  Inch Inch.  “Closer!”  Inch.  “Show them your club…not so high!”   I gave up because I just was too frightened to get any closer.  My pictures looked like Where’s Waldo.  Then we went to look for them on the green and 5 minutes later found some eating grass out of the bushes.  So off I went to take a photo.  This time my courage was a bit higher and I got closer to the kangaroo than before, but my friends kept yelling at me, “Get closer!…Closer…Look like a golfer…swing your golf club…NOT TOWARD THE KANGAROO, away from it!”  By the end of it, I was probably 7-10m away from the kangaroo and as long as she could see my golf club, she wasn’t afraid of me, but I was still afraid of her.

Other wild life that I have managed to see include the dingo.  These creatures resemble dogs in every way, but give them a chance and they really will eat your baby.  In Western Australia, the everly annoying fly!  My goodness, you couldn’t step outside without being swarmed.  It made it so difficult to have outdoor picnics- you couldn’t get food in your mouth because the flies are all in your face.  I’m surprised I didn’t eat one.

Of course, the marine life.  As soon as I stepped off of the plane, I was inundated with stories of the shark infested waters. Not old tales, but recent sightings, bitings and maulings…within that week!  On the coast, you can see the helicopters in the air trying to locate them, sailing competitions had rules altered so that if people fell out of their boats, they could be assisted back in and boys were circled while diving around a reef.   Then after hearing all these stories, I’m asked if I want to go to the beach for a dip.  Ummm????  I did see a fin in the water…but thankfully, it was a dolphin!