Here we are again, another coffee shop, another blog post, but this time my “medium” cappuccino is the size of my head and has a snowflake of chocolate sprinkled on the top. I guess winter is coming. I’ve decided to fully embrace all of the Christmas cheer this year, A) because I can for the first time in quite a few years (no PhD stress bearing down on me), and B) because this might be the last “cold” Christmas I have for a few years, and a warm Christmas seems like an odd and not very festive concept. If you missed my intro travel post you can find it here.
Anyway, this week I’ll be chatting a little bit about where I’m planning to travel. Minor note here: I’m taking the approach of having a few objectives, but leaving the details between those objectives pretty vague, so that I’m free to scamper off after whatever catches my interest in a particular area. This is a very strange concept to me, as usually I’ll have everything planned to the second, and therefore I’m actually having to put effort into not planning.
I’ve also finally figured out how to map things on google maps, leading to the snazzy map you can see below (you can also find this at the “map of Dave’s travels” tab above). For the time being this just has areas I’m hoping to travel to on it, but once the journey begins I’ll be mapping out where I’ve been (hopefully with photos/blog posts linked to the places for easy access). Let me know any other stuff you might like putting on the map.
As I said last week, my first stop is going to be Singapore. Why Singapore? Erm… Largely because I have a friend (Dan) who lives there who I haven’t seen for ages, and why not? Singapore is a bit of an odd country, in that the whole country is pretty much one city. I’m therefore planning to spend a few days (while Dan is working… Sucker), getting out and about to see the city sights. Though cities aren’t usually my focus of interest, I’ve heard that Singapore is a very unique blend of European and Asian cultures, and is a very modern city, so should be a fascinating place to see. I might even get out into the Mangroves a bit, working as a lackey for Dan’s fieldwork, though that might be wishful thinking.
From Singapore Dan and I are then heading over to Borneo for a week or two of biological splendour. For those of you who aren’t up to date with your Borneo knowledge, Borneo is a big island (third largest island in the world… Or so the internet tells me) essentially split into two halves: Malaysian Borneo (roughly the north west of the island), and Indonesian Borneo (roughly the south east of the island), with the kingdom of Brunei being an additional little section. Our plan (though this reminds me that we still need to book flights) is to fly into the north of the island, and either work from Brunei to the far north, or from the far north to Brunei. We’ll have a few days of seeing cities, and quite a few days of galavanting in rainforests to see the many biological wonders which Borneo has to offer. We’re also planning to pop up Mt Kinabalu, which is one of the highest mountains in south east Asia (roughly 4km high… Or 3 Ben Nevis’s). Do you ever get the feeling you may have bitten off more than you can chew? Fortunately, due to getting vaccinations for various bits of fieldwork in the past, I only need one set of injections (Japanese Encephalitis), and some Malaria tablets.
After Borneo it’s back to Singapore (with a possible weekend trip up to mainland Malaysia or Indonesia) for a bit of sight seeing/general relaxation, and then I’m flying out to Cairns in Northern Queensland (the north east of Australia) to begin my solo wandering. Cairns is generally referred to as the “gateway to the great barrier reef”, and is neatly placed to head out to the reef or head up into the daintree rainforest (or both). Unfortunately, due to the fickle nature of asthma, I won’t be able to go scuba diving on the reef (trust me, I’ve tried scuba diving twice in the past, both times were not pretty), but I’m sure snorkeling should be fairly spectacular.
One of my friends who has been out to Australia has urged me “when you arrive in Cairns, head north, not south”, which seems like a pretty good idea to me. North of Cairns is Port Douglas and a few other small settlements, but there is also a rather large expanse of tropical rainforest which I’m more than a little eager to visit. So far I’ve had a hunt around for various volunteering groups and walking groups in the area in order to get out and about as much as I can, which should get me a little more involved with the local people, and off the “standard” backpacker itinerary. I’d also like to get out to the Atherton Tablelands, which are a raised plateau, with a very different ecology to the rainforest, apparently very good for walking.
In terms of working, I suspect I’ll hop from random job to random job, but I’ll be sending off speculative applications to as many ecological/conservation type groups as I can on the off chance that I can get some more specialist work for a while (if you know any ecology groups in Australia, please give me a shout so I can get in contact).
From Cairns I’ll be following the well trodden route of the backpacker down south. Nominally I’ll be going to all of the standard places (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and hopefully Adelaide), though Australia is a large country, and there’re plenty of places between the big cities where I can get lost. As I said earlier, the plan is not to plan, so where I go between the big cities is anyone’s guess at the moment (any and all suggestions are welcome! Comment below). Once I’ve reached the extent of my mainland travels, I’m going to be heading over to Tasmania, which sounds amazing for its walking and wild places.
The question then comes, where next?…
Well obviously that’s a long way into the future, but two options are to extend my visa to a second year and travel more of Oz, or else to head over to New Zealand, where I can get another working holiday visa, which lasts almost 2 years, and allows you to work for 12 months… Or I could do both…
Only time will tell.
Until next time.