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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Couch Surfing

I guess I should explain to you how we have managed to travel our entire time up the east coast of Oz from Brisbane and not spend a penny on accommodation so far. It has been a combination of sleeping in Heiner's van (our previous ride share up to Airlie Beach) and couch surfing. Now I have actually been on Couch Surfing for three years but only recently have I been active, let me explain the concept to you for those of you who don't know.

Couch surfing is a global thing and is amazing! Say I am landing in Sydney from LA and I need a place to stay. Now I could go the typical route and pay for a hotel/hostel whatever. But lets just say I am on a strict budget. So I have a profile on  Couch Surfingand I log on and “request a couch” so I say I am going to be in Sydney on (insert date here) for (insert number of days here) and I need a place to stay.

Then I look through the available people for that date and time frame who have a couch/bed/whatever that I can sleep on. So these people are offering up their houses/apartments for free for you to stay at just out of the kindness of their hearts. Now I know some of you may be thinking but your staying with strangers?! But you really aren't!

See CS (couch surfing) has a rating/review system very similar to Ebay. The “Hosts” get “reviewed” by every traveler who stays with them so the next traveler knows exactly how this “host” is. So if someone has a lot of negative bad reviews I know not to stay with them and you can read their profile to find out more about them. Not to mention the host and the traveler can choose to be “verified” (as I am) meaning that CS has sent a piece of paper to my postal address in America and I have responded to it. Thereby “verifying” I am who I say I am. It can even go a step further, you can be “vouched for” by someone who knows you personally and that means they trust you totally and completely. This can only be done if that person has been “vouched” for 4 separate times by 4 separate people.

CS works on honesty and trust but it is a very safe system as you can talk by phone/email before you even meet the person. If anything ever was to go wrong the site administrators monitor the email contact so they have an idea of what is going on and you can contact them directly if you ever needed anything they would be able to help ASAP. You don't even have to “host” people or “surf” as we are doing. You can just meet for drinks. In fact when I get to Auckland I am meeting with a group of Americans on Thanksgiving and we are having a real American Thanksgiving! It is gonna be awesome!

So far we have been “hosted” in Bundaberg by Ross for 2 days and it was amazing! Right there by the ocean and had a great time as I told yall. By James in Hervey Bay for a day, also had a great time! Now by Celine for 2 or 3 days in Townsville and yet again had a great time! We have a “host” lined up for Cairns and I know it is going to be awesome as well. So we have had no bad experiences so far, met some amazing people and had great times with new friends AND saved all that money we would have spent on accommodation!

So that's it folks. It is couch surfing and I already have a host lined up for me in Auckland for a while after I leave my friend's place that I met last time I was in New Zealand. I love the concept and I love that it is global. Every country in the world has people looking to host and people look to “surf”. So no matter where I travel I will find someone almost certainly. We have met some amazing people who have opened their houses to us and been really kind to us and showed us around,fed us etc.

Check it out! take care,Tyler


I think I last left you before we got to Townsville. I have time to squeeze in a few more blogs before I leave for New Zealand so here ya go. Once we arrived in Townsville we got picked up by a really cool French lady named Celine. She worked nights as a nurse in Townsville but, she took the time to show us around Townsville and really make us feel at home. She had 2 great dogs that we got to walk and take care of while she was at work and she really took the phrase “Mi Casa, Su Casa” to heart. We saw a movie while we were in Townsville called The Town which I reviewed for yall in my previous blog. We went to a party of a friend while we were in Townsville and had a great time!

It was good just to relax and unwind for a while. Celine also took us to a really amazing watering hole where we went swimming. It was about a half hour drive and a 20 minute walk to get there but, once we got there it was totally worth it! There wasn't a single person there and the view was amazing! The water was so clear and refreshing. I really loved just relaxing out there and doing nothing. So we didn't “do” a lot in Townsville but that was totally fine and I loved just unwinding.

Celine was a great hostess and she was even a vegetarian! Not that there is anything wrong with that but, for those of you who know me know that I am about as far from a vegetarian as you can get haha. So it was interesting having meals with no meat whatsoever but, you know what? I survived! Lol. She also didn't have a TV that she used so it was kinda nice just to “get away” from that and NOT watch TV. It is odd how attached you really become to TV and technology. You don't even notice it until you don't have the option to use/watch it. But it was great and she was super. Ben and I definitely won't forget all her hospitality and owe her a big thanks!

Well that's all I got for now. Yall take care,Tyler

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One week to go!

I know I have been blogging like a mad man lately but, I figure I better do this now while I have the time to do it! I only have one week left in Australia! I seriously can't believe how fast it has gone! It has just flown by for me for sure. For those of you back home it may have gone slower but for me it has just flew by. Almost a year ago I had just landed in Australia with nothing really but a work visa, a little cash and an open mind. Now here I am a year later and I can speak "Stralian' I can navigate the public transport system,cook myself a fairly decent meal and generally get anything I need really. So I have really learned a lot about myself this year alone (even though I have never REALLY been alone) and it has been great.

I got my taxes done and dusted and now in 6 to 8 weeks I will be a rich man haha. By then I will be in Auckland for sure. Luckily they can mail it to me :) I have really enjoyed my travels in Oz and loved almost every single minute it has been great. These past few weeks have been amazing traveling up the coast with Ben and seeing Frazer Island and Bundy and Airlie Beach (LOVED IT!) and Whit Sundays and Townsville and Cairns.

I do have a few people I really need to thank big time though.  I have met a ton of really awesome people far too many to name and really had a great time but, these people get extra special mention from me. First and foremost I have to mention my good friend Sandradee from Sydney. I actually met her on the flight from LA to Sydney. Just total fate/luck that we were sat next to each other and we had 15 hours to get to know each other haha. She helped me out right away and really gave me a leg up. Not only that but, I helped her move house and after that she let me stay on her couch. She really was awesome to me and I will always consider her a great friend and she knows she has a place to stay anytime she comes to Texas!

Secondly I have to mention my good mate Bernie from Queensland. Ben and I showed up at his house and had planned to stay a week or two but due to work and whatnot, two weeks actually turned into 6 months haha. He was totally awesome about the whole thing and we had some good times and it worked out good for all. So I won't forget his kindness either. Brisbane was of my top favourite cities in all Australia and I will really miss it there. It is a great city to live in!

I can't forget to mention "The Wolf Pack" from Thailand. They all know who they are and the experiences we shared. I won't ever forget them and I doubt they will forget either! haha. Good times had by all and now I have 4 life long friends in the UK :)

Last but definitely not least I gotta mention Bernd (Ben) my German traveling mate. I met him on the bus in Sydney in December and he was looking lost and a little uncertain. His English was not as good as it is now but we clicked right away! So here we are almost a year later, best mates living and traveling together. We like to joke that this is a marriage haha. Well he is the closest thing I have to a wife anyway lol. Sometimes we fight like a married couple :P but never anything serious! He will be a mate for life and I can't wait to travel New Zealand and South America with him! It will be awesome to travel America with him too and show him my homeland. I am going to tour all over Germany with him as my personal tour guide in the near future too :). Good on ya mate!

Of course I can't forget to mention Josiah my American mate who is now in New Zealand. He is from Boston but I won't hold it against him for being a Yankee haha. He was the coolest American I met in Australia and it was great to talk "home" stuff with him! I am looking forward to seeing the East Coast of America with him as my tour guide! I won't forget our karaoke night in Sydney. I got to feel like a rock star for my 15 minutes of fame haha it was awesome!

One other person who deserves a special mention is my ex facebook wife haha. Tori is an amazing girl and we have had some great times together. Sadly I haven't got to see her as much as I would have liked. But, she is one of the few people in Australia who really "gets" me and I won't forget her for sure!

Well that is really all I have for now. I will keep you updated as I go but, unless anything super amazing happens in the near future this may or may not be my last blog before I hit New Zealand in a week! Take Care,Tyler

Late Edit: I thought I would just tack this on instead of writing a whole separate blog on it. Ben and I saw the new movie (new here anyway) called The Town. Appropriate since we are in Townsville haha. It had Ben Affleck,Chris Cooper and some more big stars in it. It was about Bank robbers in Boston and it wasn't exactly your typical bank job movie. It has a non typical ending and I quite enjoyed it. Kept me entertained until the end. I would give it 4/5 stars.

I also thought I would add a little about my weight. I have never been what you would consider "fat" I seem to be incapable of gaining any significant amount of weight as I have weighed pretty much the same since high school!  But, I used to be in pretty good shape and now that I have been traveling I am still not "fat" but where I used to have muscle it has now been replaced by fat lol. So, I look at myself in the mirror and I am slightly disappointed/embarrassed/sad that it has gotten this way. I mean I can't exactly join a gym and just go work out everyday while I am traveling but there is more I can do. So, I have decided that by the end of 2012 I want to be in top shape again. I will do it!

late edit: just a little disclaimer, I know I mentioned people up there who I really connected with and had a great time with but don't feel that just because I didn't mention you up there I didn't have a great time with you. I met tons and tons of awesome people and had some great experiences I just couldn't mention everyone! -Tyler

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

3 days in paradise with hint a disappointment thrown in

I want to show yall the bad things are the island we stayed at and the good things. so here goes... As you can see that is the good and the bad! Now for the actual blog!

Long Island Resort in the Whit Sundays

So Ben, Heiner and I decided to book a 3 day 2 night tour to an Island about 45 minutes by boat from Airlie Beach. We wanted to get away from it all for a bit and had heard good things about this from the tourist information place so we went for it. I have many pictures of the island coming to facebook soon so stay tuned for that!

As we stepped off the boat this place quickly looked like a postcard island paradise. It was absolutely beautiful! We were taken from the dock and the boat to the actual resort by the staff in a golf cart looking thing so we were all feeling pretty fancy already haha. Keep in mind that we only paid 100 dollars for this whole trip (return ferry trip included!)

So we get to reception and after a while we get checked in (we couldn't check in our room until 2pm) we realise quickly that there was a “rich” part of the resort and a “backpacker” part of the resort. I definitely felt a serious “class” system there and we were the 2nd class citizens for sure! Our accommodation was way in the back of the resort and not once were we ever checked on to see if we needed anything.

Our accommodation was really basic and the bed pretty crap but, I am a backpacker I am used to much worse and for the price we paid that isn't what my complaint is about. My complaint is with their kitchen and their management staff. I have pictures to back up my complaints which I will upload shortly. There was I would say at least 40 rooms for backpackers with 4 people allowed in each room. When we got there we were told there was actually only six other people checked into the backpacker lodge at the time.

Before we left Airlie Beach we were told by the tourist information that we were free to bring our own food and cook on their “fully furnished” kitchen. So that is exactly what we did because the prices their were crazy expensive! 25 dollars just for lunch and 17 dollars for a cocktail! So we got to the kitchen and expected just to find the typical backpacker stuff. Nothing fancy, we don't need 5 star. But we expected at least a decent fridge, stove,plates,cutlery,pots etc. Just your basic stuff because they didn't tell us we had to bring our own kitchen stuff.

You know what we actually found? A kitchen with a disgusting sink,4 plates,2 forks,4 spoons and 4 glasses along with ONE pot. They also had a tiny refrigerator and NO dish washing soap but there was a really disgusting sponge.. I mean like college dormitory style fridge the little ones that go in your room. Keep in mind this shit kitchen was expected to be able to handle up to 40+ backpackers at a time! There was not even a stove! So we resorted to trying to cook our entire meal in a single pot that looked like it came over with James Cook in 1788 ( I have pictures of the whole kitchen and kitchenware) the grill was disgusting! There was dried up fat and grease all over it and flies buzzing all over it. (Yep I got pictures of that too) and there was nothing to even try and clean it with. So we were forced to wait to eat.

We went to reception right away and told them about the situation and asked to speak to the management. I told them I had a complaint and I wanted to speak to the manager. I was told they were trying to radio her. ( I got her name) and they asked me to fill out a “comment card” which I am 90% sure they don't even read but I did so anyway. I told them I would check back later for the manager as she never appeared.

THREE times I went up there to ask for the manager. I was told all three times she wasn't there. All the while we were sitting there with that disgusting kitchen and nothing to eat on or with or anything to cook with. I was getting more and more angry and more and more hungry. Finally we resorted to just asking regular staff workers to help us. To their credit most of the staff sympathized with us and tried their best to help. They also told us that their management sucks. FINALLY after I begged reception for a 4th time we managed to get half a bottle of dish washing soap. That is it, nothing else just a bottle of dish washing soap and some rags.

So the 3 of us started to clean their filthy freaking kitchen. We used the rag and dish washing soap and washed what little dishes there was along with cleaning that sink. They should have been paying us for it. Do remember that we were told that they would have a fully furnished kitchen and that is what we walked into. We came back a little later to see that the bbq grill had FINALLY been cleaned and we saw some people using it. But, they weren't backpackers they were “rich” guests. So, the only reason it even got cleaned is because the “real” guests were using it.

Throughout our whole stay we never got to talk to the manager and never got anymore pots/dishes. But, we did FINALLY manage to get that dish washing soap and get that grill cleaned (even if it wasn't for us) so we ended up getting by. I guess they just didn't give a crap about us because we weren’t spending anymore money at their resort.

Now on to the good stuff. The views were amazing. The water was a perfect blue/green and the sunsets were awesome! Unfortunately the snorkeling was not that good because the water went milky because of the tide. But I have done some awesome snorkeling in Thailand and Fiji and elsewhere so it is ok. We saw wallabies and tons of birds and had some really good nature walks. The staff other than the management was actually pretty good. From what I could gather most of the employees were backpackers and new there too.

They didn't seem to enjoy it all that much which was weird to me considering that was paradise! But, considering how management ran that place I can't say I am surprised. They seemed to get paid decently though and all their food was provided for but, their accommodation looked like it sucked pretty badly. I also found out they had to bring their own cookware if they wanted to cook their own food I am pretty sure their kitchen sucked as bad as ours.

I did meet a really cool French girl there though. I called her the “Appy Girl” because for the French “H” (the letter) is just not easy for them to translate. So rather than Happy it becomes Appy. Years becomes Ears haha it is a little hard to catch onto but, once you get the hang of it you can understand them pretty well. So I enjoyed hanging out with her and helping her practice her English. You know what really amazed me when I first started traveling and even now, is how pervasive American culture is all around the world. I talked with Julie (the French girl) for quite a long time about American movies,music etc. Stuff I thought she would have no idea about but she knew exactly what I was talking about and she LOVED The Simpson's haha.

I also got to to take some amazing naps right on the beach in a hammock. I have been lucky enough in my life to go to amazing islands in Fiji,Laos,Australia and Thailand and take great naps on all of them haha. I just sleep so amazingly soundly in a hammock right by the ocean.

So just to wrap this all up, that island was beautiful and I would have had a totally amazing time if I wasn't so disappointed in being treated like shit by the management of that place. I think they were trying to milk money out of backpackers and cater to rich people at the same time. You just can't do both really. They need to make it either a backpacker resort or a rich people resort not both. You know a simple 20 dollar refundable deposit on cookware (like any decent hostel does) would work for them. It would give us what we need and give them satisfied customers. I am a backpacker I don't need 5 star but, just because I am backpacker doesn't mean I shouldn't be treated decently like any other paying guest. Sure I only paid 100 dollars to go there and I didn't spend a cent on anything else there (because I couldn't afford it) but that doesn't mean I should be treated like shit. I deserve to be able to speak to the manager just like any other guest when I choose too.

So I give the location A+, the staff B+ and the management and kitchen an F! So overall I would rate my experience there about a B+ just a few simple things on their part could have made it much better. I really hope that all my blog readers will read this. If you have a good amount of money to spend by all means go to Long Island Resort on Long Island In the Whit Sundays. If you are a backpacker and you don't have any money then I seriously suggest you skip it. For the first time in my life I am seriously considering calling and/or writing a letter to the upper management of that company and letting them know how we were treated there. I am going to upload my photos of that filthy freaking kitchen so yall can see how bad it was. I will also send those to anyone I am able to contact in upper management if I get the chance. It's such a shame that I could have had such an amazing time and it wasn't as great as it could have been because of those few easily correctable things.

Talk at yall later and I will try and update from Townsville/Cairns. -Tyler

Airlie Beach and various

I believe I left yall in Bundaberg with my last blog entry. I had a great time there with the Rum Distillery and the beautiful views and great company but, since then I have been a busy bee! After Bundy we left for Hervey Bay “The Gateway to Frazer Island” as the locals call it. We decided to take a semi expensive day tour out to Frazer Island. It was pretty neat to see the largest sand island in the world and we got a 4 wheel drive tour of the island along with a lot of great photo opportunities. We saw a wild dingo and had a great tour guide.

I have been super lucky to see some amazing islands here in Australia. But, that being said, I did think the tour could have been priced less. It was good and I enjoyed myself I just didn't really feel it was worth the price they were charging. But what can ya do? It is better than sitting at home doing nothing. I am just living life and loving it. I count my blessings every day and I know I am super lucky to see stuff most people never get to see their whole lives.

After Frazer Island Ben and I left with Heiner (the guy who was our ride share up to Airlie Beach) and we started the drive to Airlie Beach. I say “we” but really it was Ben and Heiner as I don't know how to drive a manual camper van haha. So I was lucky to be able to sleep and relax while they did all the hard work :) We did play a fun game on the way from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach though. Basically one of us thought of something, anything, and the others had to guess what it was through a series of questions but the person who originally thought of the item could only answer your questions with “yes” or “no”. It kept us entertained and awake for a while anyway.

Once we made it to Airlie Beach I quickly realised this was going to be an amazing place and I would love it. We slept in the camper van instead of paying for a hostel. Two of us in the back in the bed and one of us in the front seat. Not great but we made it work true backpacker style haha. It helps to save money wherever you can! After touring around the next day we actually managed to pick up some (tax free) straight cash work building up a stage for a festival that was here in Airlie Beach while we were here. If I was to move anywhere in Australia it would definitely be Airlie Beach or Brissy. Both are amazing places!

We were offered the job and told that we would have maybe 4 hours of work. We figured how hard could it be? So we said yes. What actually ended up happening is we worked 13 hours straight with a half hour lunch break and a half hour dinner break. Then we got up at 6am the next day and worked some more. But I am not complaining at all because we did work really hard but we had a great crew of guys to work with and an awesome boss. (Much better than my boss at my previous job haha) It also made me feel really good to look at that stage and know that I helped build it. I am not the most mechanically minded person in the world as those of you who know me personally know but I have some experience from my previous job back in the states and I managed to do good here and not break anything or kill anyone haha. So it was nice to earn some extra cash and stay busy.

We did spend one night at a camper van park and that was an interesting experience for me. We were eating dinner and Ben, Heiner and I ended up meeting about 4 other people so we were all talking and having a good time just enjoying ourselves. Then this guy stumbles up and he was clearly drunk and quite possibly mentally ill. I still have no idea what country he was from. But, he asked me where I was from and I told him Texas. He just couldn't believe it! Now to be fair, I don't have a strong Texas accent. I have no idea why I didn't get one, I just didn't. But this really made him mad! I was in the middle of telling a story and he interrupted me and said “Your not from Texas, your a damn yankee” which was amusing to me so I laughed because I am about as far from a Yankee as you can get.

Then he started to push me. Now as those of you who know me, know that I am a lover not a fighter. Sure I will defend myself if I have too, I am not gonna get pushed around but I generally don't fight. So I quickly realised my options. I had over 6 friends around me who would help me out for sure and this guy was drunk and/or mentally ill so I could escalate the situation and cause a huge fight and really beat the crap out of this guy or I could just ignore him. So I chose to ignore him. Once he realised he was getting no reaction out of me he stumbled away and that was that. Strange but really I was in no serious danger. When you are traveling you just run into strange people sometimes. Such is life though, all part of the experience and just another story for my memoirs haha.

As our time was winding down in Airle Beach we decided to book a 3 day 2 night tour to an island in the Whit Sundays (an island chain about 45 minutes from Airlie Beach). So we went an booked a tour to Long Island. I had a great time except for a few things. I have a lot to tell you about that so I am actually going to make a separate blog entry for that trip. If you want to read it, it will be coming up shortly. As we speak Ben and I have left Heiner and we are on a bus to Townsville so more to come later....

P.S. I have lots of pictures coming on my facebook profile soon so take a look soon.

Take care,Tyler

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frazer Island and Various

I know it has been a while since I have blogged but, I have been on the road with Ben and our new mate Heiner and we have been traveling up the east coast of Australia and so far have seen Hervey Bay/Frazer Island,Airlie Beach (Where we are now)Bundaberg, and next is Townsville then off to Cairns. In Bundaberg we had an amazing place RIGHT on the ocean it was great! We have gotten a ride share with Heiner and stayed with some of Ben's mate from couch surfing so this has saved us a huge amount of money so far :)

Frazer Island was amazing and I got some great pictures which I will load on facebook as soon as I get a chance. We had a great tour guide and got to swim in a really cool place along with seeing a real live wild dingo. We are planning on doing a 3 day 2 night island tour here in Airlie Beach here that is really cheap actually! So I am taking advantage as much as possible my last two weeks here in Australia :( I will miss it here and I already miss Brisbane. The weather here has been amazing (minus today when it rained) It has been 26-30 degrees so far that is 85-90 degrees for my American readers. So it is just spring here but it is getting hot!

I may have blogged about this before but in the cities here in Australia it is SO hard to find a public toilet and/or free tap water. Because they charge for water they refuse to give you any tap water for free and toilets are not for public use the majority of the time so it sucks and makes me angry! Cell phone reception is another problem here in Oz. Australia has 21 million-ish people and almost all the people are clustered around the edges of the country with almost no one in the middle so cell phone reception is spotty in Australia. You get great reception in the cities but, once your out of the city it goes to zero! It is quite frustrating!

Our total trip will be roughly 1700 K's/ 3000 miles from Brisbane to Cairns and so far we have seen 11 dead kangaroos on the road. It really helps if you get behind the big 18 wheelers and let them clear the way wind wise and road kill wise. You go slower but, our camper van was built in 1979 and it just fits the 3 of us to sleep in so its not like we are speed demons haha. But, we have gotten a cheap ride up the coast (splitting everything 3 ways) and free accommodation most places thru couch surfing which is great! so things have worked out so far.

I have much more to say but I will end it for now and try and keep in touch as much as possible. I will update you hopefully once I get up to Townsville with everything that has happened thus far. Take care,Tyler

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day one in Bundy

Our first day here in Bundaberg has been awesome! I do miss Brisbane but being here with this weather and view is a pretty good consolation haha. Can't ask for much more :) 

Well I want to show you what I woke up too this morning. It has been an awesome first day here in Bundaberg with Ben's mate Ross. He has been totally cool showing us around and we are having a great time! As you can see the weather is beautiful and the Bundaberg Rum Distillery was really cool. We got to go to the highest lookout point in Bundaberg and just generally chilled out. We have had some great food so far and just a good time :) Soon we will be moving on to Hervey Bay/Frazer Island but for now we are here and loving it. The 4 of us are just loving life. If you haven't checked out you totally should! Check my facebook page for more pictures of today. Take care,Tyler

We are RIGHT on the ocean and our view is amazing. I feel so lucky to be here right now. This is what life is all about :) more to come later....-Tyler

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We made it to Bundy!

Well Ben made it back from Fiji in one piece so I got my mate back lol. Now that he is back and I am done with work (work was slow the last week anyway) we have left Brisbane (after 6 great months there!) and hit the road to Bundaberg. I will really miss Brisbane but, we need to make it to Cairns so I can fly to New Zealand so we are making our way up there.

It rained and rained and rained in Brisbane recently, it rained so much that there was some serious flooding. They haven't had this much rain since 1974 and the dam was almost overflowing! The dam here in Brisbane was actually a tourist attraction because of the amount of water spilling over it! I was quite sick of this freaking rain and almost bought myself a boat haha. The rain was so bad and the waters so swollen that they actually canceled all boating service on the Brisbane River.

Now that we have left Brisbane the weather has been much better. We got a ride up to Bundaberg (and as far as Airlie Beach) with a really cool guy from Germany we met. So the 3 of us are gonna split petrol/food costs etc. We made it to Bundaberg in one piece and it has been great! Ben actually has a mate here in Bundaberg and he has been totally cool with us staying here and has opened his house to us and even fed us! He has an amazing place RIGHT on the beach overlooking the ocean and the views are amazing I will have to post some pictures soon for sure. So far our road trip has been great and no complaints :) Life is good! Well thats all I got for now. Yall take care.


Friday, October 15, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Hey I didn't want this to get lost in my last blog post because I think it deserves its own post. I wanted to talk about the kindness of strangers. I have been traveling since last November and I started out alone but I have never really actually been alone for long. I consider it a blessing that I am the kind of person who can really meet people easily and I am open minded and friendly and easy to talk too. Some people are "glass half empty" people and not very trusting and always assume the worst but not me. I like to think that I am smart enough not too be TOO trusting but also good with people. I haven't had a single problem yet, anywhere in this world. There is still good people in this world.

I have met multiple people on trains,planes,bus,whatever... I stayed in Sydney with an amazing girl I met on the flight from LA to Sydney. She was my seat mate and a great girl! We had 15 hours to get to know each other lol She needed someone to help her move house and I needed a place to stay when I got to Australia so I helped her move house and once we got moved she opened her house to me and let me stay with her. I had a great time there and she did so much for me. I wont forget her or her awesome flat mates. They really made my stay in Sydney good :)

I actually met Ben on the bus in Sydney. He was looking lost and at a map. I figured I would help him out so I did and we struck up a conversation. Now here we are almost a year later traveling together and best mates :) I have gotten free rides and/or accommodation and meals from people I have met on the street or public transport whatever. Once I even got a free ride on a public city bus from a nice driver.  There is nice people everywhere willing to help you if you are just open to it and nice in return. Sure not EVERYONE in this world is nice and you can't expect all of the world to be a paradise but in general overall I think people are just good.

Just today in fact on the train I started talking to the guy sitting across from me and we had a great conversation about travel and life for a half hour on the train. He was from South Africa and I am sure I will never see him again but it was nice just to chat. Some people fad from your life right away after one good interaction but others like my mates I met in Thailand are going to be mates for life! You just never know. Stay positive and give it a go! My good mate Bernie has opened his home to Ben and I for quite a while now and really helped us out so we definitely appreciate it! He has showed us around Brisbane when we were new here and gave us lots of good tips. He really took "Mi Casa Su Casa" to heart! We wont forget him for sure.

Well thats all I got for now I just wanted to mention that. Yall take care and do me a favour. Go out and meet someone new! Seriously, wherever you live just talk to a stranger. Strike up a conversation about anything and see where it goes. You might be pleasantly surprised. :) -Tyler

Time to leave Brissy :(

Well now its time for Ben and I finally to leave Brisbane. It has been a great 6 months and I really have loved it here. The weather has been pretty crappy lately but that isn't the norm here and if I was to move anywhere in Australia it would be here, its a great city! I am sad to be leaving. My good mate Bernie has been really cool about letting us stay with him so we definitely owe him a thank you for sure! He has opened his home to us and really helped Ben and I out.  Ben made it back from Fiji in one piece and had a great time ( I knew he would) so tomorrow we are off.
We got a ride share with another German guy we met. He is a really cool guy and he will be taking us up with coast with him so it is definitely gonna save us money which is good! We will be visiting Bundaberg,Frazer Island,Airlie Beach,Townsville and finally Cairns where I fly to New Zealand in November from. So we have a whirlwind tour ahead of us! I really will miss Australia a lot I wish I could stay I will be sad to be leaving. Nothing I can do about it though so upwards and onwards as they say :)

I am done with work now and wont be working anymore here in Oz. It was good while it lasted and paid me pretty good so I can't complain. It has kept me fed and a roof over my head while allowing me to have a little fun and save some money for onward travels. I am real excited about South America after we leave New Zealand in April!

I also wanted to mention something I find a little humorous. Before I left America I got a real Brazilian soccer jersey from one of my parents foreign exchange students. In the interest of full disclosure I will let yall know that I know basically nothing about soccer and really have no interest in it. It just isn't my thing. But, I get SO many comments on that jersey! People stop me on the street haha total strangers! I have been spoken too in Portuguese more than once and I don't speak a lick of Portuguese lol

I also wanted to mention the Chilean Miners. I am quite sure almost everyone on the planet knows the story, 33 miners stuck 600 meters (2000+ feet) underground for 69 days. It is really an amazing story of survival and I am really happy for all those guys. It really sucks that they were placed in that position in the first place because of substandard working conditions etc. Their bosses should be in prison! I heard it cost 20 million dollars to get them all out but I am sure for their families it was totally worth it. Those miners will be millionaires anyway if they choose to speak about what happened to them so they will never have to work again.  There was a few miners who were cheating on their wives and their mistresses showed up at the mines. Those guys should have just stayed down there haha what a mess! They shouldn't have been cheating in the first place but it will be interesting to see how they fare personally.

I am not sure how much Internet access I will have while I am traveling but I will try and keep yall updated as much as I can. Take care til next time,Tyler

Monday, October 11, 2010

It is fast coming to an end.....

Well my time in Brisbane (and Australia in general) is fast coming to an end! I gave my notice at work and my last day is Friday. I have been here in Oz for 11 months now and just have a few weeks left! On Sat. Ben and I will travel from here to Bundaberg and stay there for a few days before going to Fraser island for a day tour. After that we will head to Airlie Beach/Whit Sundays for a few days then on to Townsville. Gotta turn in my tax stuff in The Ville' before I leave Oz. Then after that we are off to Cairns where I fly out to New Zealand. Wish I could stay in Oz but my visa is expiring :( Ben will go off to Asia and we will meet up in New Zealand back in January and start planning hardcore for South America since we fly into Chile in April! Wish us luck!

I am going to make this officially my shortest blog ever. Just  one paragraph and I am done for now lol. Thats it.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My lists

 I figured today was just as good a time as any to make my list of things I love about Australia and things I don't really love. Along with the things I really miss about home. So here they are in no particular order:

1. I love the fact that Australia has toll free "131" numbers. example, 131230 is the toll free number for the Brisbane Transportation Line. There is tons of these 131 numbers and they are all free and easy to remember! It is so much easier than trying to remember 1800 xxxxx.

 2. I love the Aussie way of life and the Aussie people. I have been helped out by tons of random acts of kindness in my 11 months here and in general people are just really cool here and life is just relaxed and chilled out.

3. I love the fact that there is 16 free to air TV channels that we can watch without paying a dime and they have great shows (a bit delayed from the states) like House, The Mentalist,Top Gear (The British version, this is one thing the Pommies do MUCH better than the Aussie or American versions) and my local Aussie favourite, the ever funny Good News Week.

4. I love the fact that the news anchors here are so informal with each other joking around and calling each other by nicknames. It is refreshing to see them not so deadly serious all the time.

5. Nothing beats Texas BBQ but Aussie BBQ and meat in general is pretty good.

6. I love the fact that I can get almost anywhere I want, anytime I want on public transportation for pretty cheap. Not having a car for almost 12 months has not been a huge problem for me.

7. I love Aussie money. It is all different colours and sizes so you always know what you have. It is also coated in a plastic so if you accidentally wash it, its no biggie! In addition to that awesomeness, they have no penny which is great! And tax is already included in everything you buy so you don't have to mentally add it on later. I love love that! It will be so hard to adjust when I get back home :(

8. I love the fact that I get paid double what I would get paid back home for the same type of jobs. (but stuff is also more expensive here)

9. I love the fact that I am a backpacker here in Australia and for 12 whole months I have been able to do what I want when I want with who I want and just enjoy my life and experience many new things in a lot of different countries all before the age of 26! Also, the Australian Government has been really good to us traveling/working backpackers because we get a good tax return and almost 100% of our taxes back when we leave :)

10. I love the weather here in Brisbane (Queensland in general) Not too hot, Not too cold. I am not a huge fan of the seasons being backwards though. (December is summer and July is winter) right now it is spring and it will go from being absolutely beautiful one minute to pouring rain the next! That is a little annoying. But, Brisbane is great city and I love it here. If I ever moved to Australia for good I would move to Brissy :)

Things I don't like about Australia in no particular order are:

1. The business hours at the banks and other related businesses suck! Generally speaking it is 9-4pm Monday-Friday. That is almost the exact hours I work! It is so frustrating not to be able to get stuff done because everything shuts early here and generally is not open on weekends! Man that makes me mad! Not to mention, banking isn't "free" in this part of the world they charge you usually 5-10 dollars as "account fees" simply for having a bank account and doing normal stuff that should be free! It sucks!

2. The fast food over here is not of great quality, they have basically zero drive thru's, only a few are open past 10pm and the portion sizes are pathetic! Plus you pay double or triple what we would pay back home! Basically eating Maccas or KFC here is just a rip off in my humble opinion.

3. I hate that the prices of food and almost everything is higher over here just because Australia is "isolated" Petrol,clothes,food, almost everything is more expensive than what we pay back home and just because Australia is more isolated doesn't mean they should be getting ripped off! Everything still comes from China anyway lol. Alcohol prices are outrageous over here! We pay 38 Australian Dollars for a 24 pack of "cheap" beer. Back home I wouldn't pay anywhere near that! and I don't smoke but if you want cigarettes you are looking at paying at least 15 dollars per pack,easy! it sucks how bad they "sin tax" everything over here.  Going out to drink is just as expensive or more :(

4. I am not a fan of Christmas being in summer and winter coming in July. I guess I am just not used too it but it is just weird to me. Although, I did spend last Christmas on the beach so that was fun haha.

5. I hate the Imperial (American version of measurement) system. I hate it because I came here to Australia I was at a huge disadvantage not knowing how to measure distance or weight or temperature. In the past 11 months I have learned it pretty well and actually found it easier. I wish everywhere in the world would just standardize!

6. I hate being 15+ hours ahead of my family back home. It is a cool feeling to be "in the future" so to speak but it is frustrating when I want to talk with them or do any business back home.

7. I hate that movies and tv are so delayed here. We are constantly watching re-runs or seeing "new" movies only to find out they came out in America 3 months ago! It is frustrating and unfair. They also play the same damn commercials over and over! So many times in fact that Ben and I have most of them memorized! $506.95, anyone? :) (Hint that is a reference for an insurance company lol) and I hate that they constantly recycle the same actors and actresses and use them in multiple shows.

8. I hate that some Australian roads are inconsistently signed so its hard to tell where you are going. Luckily my map reading skills have improved a lot!

9. I hate that Australia is so huge I didn't get to see all of it I wanted too :( and I also have a love/hate relationship with Aussie lingo. I speak "Aussie" now so I can understand almost all of it but, they shorten everything! The bottle shop becomes "the bottlio" relatives becomes Relos. There is many many more but you get the point. It is ok when you know how to "translate" it but, when I first got here I was totally lost! I haven't lost my Texas accent but I totally speak Stralian' now lol

10. I hate the fact that soon I have to leave because while America and Australia profess to be good friends Americans are unable to get a second year working holiday visa here like most nationalities for some weird reason, but such is life gotta move on to bigger and better things.

So there you have it. My love/hate list. Now time for my what I miss about home list in no particular order:

1. First and foremost of course I miss my family and my friends. I do have some great friends here even a few life long ones but I miss everyone back home.

2. I miss my mom's cooking,especially her homemade chicken noodle soup.

3. I miss fried okra

4. I miss biscuits and gravy

5. I miss good Texas BBQ and Steaks.

6. I miss real Dr Pepper

7. I miss Shiner Bock

8. I miss Blue Bell Ice cream

9. I miss cheap fast food that actually tastes good like Whataburger or Wendy that is open practically 24/7. Oh and Taco Bell too!

10. I miss my new car and driving somewhere, anywhere. and I miss going deer hunting!

You may have noticed most of my "I miss about home" list was related to food. I just really miss food lol. It's the small things I miss. The stuff I can't get here. Well that is all the lists I have for you. Just thought I would let yall know.

Monday, October 04, 2010

One month to go.......

Well today is my 11 month anniversary here which means I have exactly one month left here :( it has gone so crazy fast I can't even believe it! In just a month I will be in New Zealand and have to leave Oz behind. I really have grown to like it here. This weekend was Ben's farewell party. He is leaving tomorrow to go to Fiji and then we will meet up back here in ten days. We went out with work friends and had a really good time. We actually just recently started hanging out with them which is a shame because they are a good bunch of people and while our living situation is pretty good, we have a nice house to live in for now and it is close to work and everything we need, our social life has not been all that active since we moved to Brisbane five months ago ( I can't believe its been that long!) the plus side is that we have been able to save a decent amount of money for our ongoing travels.

I met Ben back in December in Sydney and we started traveling together regularly in April. It has been nice to have someone to travel with since I did come to Australia alone (as did he). This two week "break" will be the longest we have been apart in quite a while. It will be weird once he is gone haha. He really has been a good mate to me. As much as we have traveled together we have never really gotten in a big fight about anything. We have had minor disagreements just like anyone and almost had a punch out over Brussel sprouts in Coles haha but all has been well. I have already been to Fiji so I decided I would stay here and make some more money while he went and explored Fiji. We will be back on track when he gets back in two weeks.

I had the strangest dream I have had in a long long time over the weekend. It was like something out of CSI lol. I had a dream that I was with a female friend of mine and something bad happened to her. In my dream I didn't see what happened but I did see the guy who I thought had hurt her so I proceeded to beat him up and the cops ended up coming and arresting ME. They didn't believe my story that the other guy was the one who had hurt her and I kept protesting that I was just trying to protect my friend but they decided to take me to jail anyway and let him go! I woke up in cold sweats as they were taking me off to prison. I hadn't been watching any movies or anything, nothing that I can think of bring on this weirdness lol. Ever since I saw the movie Inception I have been hyper aware of all my dreams and now I always realise that the movie was totally right about something. If you think about it you never really know how you get in your dream (like the setting) so my friend and I we were in a park but I have no idea how we got to that park. Then my dream ended with me being transported to jail. Strange huh?

On Sunday we also saw the new movie (new here anyway) Dinner for Schmucks. It was the comedy with Steve Carrel. It was about an office worker who wants a promotion (Paul Rudd) the only catch is he has to bring an idiot to dinner so they can unwittingly make fun of them. Only Steve's character was such an idiot he didn't realise that the whole dinner was actually making fun of him and others. His character just thought it was all full of talented people haha. It was really funny! It came out on the 30th of July back in America though so it took forever to get here! I would recommend it for a laugh though. I give it 3 or 4 stars out of 5. 

I guess thats all I have for now. October is gonna fly by I feel. I will blog more soon. Yall take care,Tyler