Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Runyon Canyon & New Years Eve!

Up about 9:45, showered, went to the library to use internet for an hour, then to bank machine, then to Greyhound and bought a bus ticket to San Diego for Friday, Jan. 2, 2004, returning Friday, Jan. 9. $25 return. Then to the drug store to buy some shampoo (somebody stole my shampoo and soap!), then to the hostel, hung out for a while, read newspaper, then at 2:30, went on a walking tour up Runyon Canyon for a sunset view of Los Angeles. Cold as the sun went down, only 10 degrees on the hill. Apparently sometimes famous people (like Cameron Diaz and Robbie Williams) walk their dogs in the park, but we didn't see anyone famous. On the way back down, I stopped at a cafe for supper, the other three headed back to the hostel.

I got back to the hostl about 6:30, showered, wrote in journal.

Went upstairs to teh bar in the hostel for the evening, and rung in the new year up there. One of the comedians that did the hostel comedy show the other night is from Moose Jaw! She came to the hostel New Years Eve party, as she used to work at the hostel, before moving to Los Angeles. Her name is Pam Ludwar, she said everyone knows her brother, Randy Ludwar. Anyone from Moose Jaw know the Ludwars???? Amazing. She went to Peacock. I went to bed after 2:00 sometime.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

More Comedy

Slept awesome, woke up about 10:25, by one of the workers bursting into our room telling us to put our bags on the beds, so they could vacuum. Got up, put my bags on my bed, had a shower, the kitchen was being cleaned (closed), so headed for the library shortly after 11:00 to use the internet. Had to wait until noon to get a computer, so read PCMagazine for 45 minutes, then used internet for an hour, then headed to a big multiplex theatre to see when Master and Commander was playing, they had a show starting in one minute, so got a ticket. Long movie, over two hours, and very good.

Back to the hostel, had lunch, read paper, then went to see if I could find a cheaper internet than the hostel, found one that was same price as the hostel, so used it for 50 minutes. My e-mail wasn't working earlier today, plus I wanted to look up information on tours ferom LA. None of the tour operators really do many tours in the winter time, except one to Mexica, but it's too long and I can't fit it in.

Walked around Hollywood Blvd for a bit, back to hostel, wrote in journal, hung out with John and Pim outside, then someone in John's came along and asked us if we wanted to go to a comedy night at The Laugh Factory, he had 4 free passes. We said ya, John and I went to the hostel bar for a couple of drinks, then about 9:30, four of us got a cab to the comedy club. It was very good, quite a bit funnier than the comedy at the hostel the other night. It ended about 12:30, and we walked home to bed.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Universal Studios!

Up at 9:00. I'm over my jet lag, slept awesome.

Me and four other guys headed for Universal Studios shortly after 10:00, took the subway, only one stop away. $49 to get in, but they had a special offer, buy a one day pass and get a year free, so I have a pass that's good for a year, in case I ever go back next year sometime, I'll get in for free.

We went on these rides/shows (in this order!):
Shrek 4D - a 3D show (you wear the special glasses), but they added a fourth dimension. The chairs moved and shook at appropriate spots, you got sprayed with water when one of the characters sneezed, for example, cold shots of air at your neck when appropriate, and things "grabbing your feet" at appropriate moments in the show. It was excellent!

Terminator 2:3D - WOW!!! The show seats 700 people. Excellent. Once again, a 3D show (with the glasses), they also had live actors interacting with the stage (and the screen, going into and out of the screen!), the seats moved, pyrotechnics galore, appropriate smells (i.e. gunpowder during gun shooting scenes), and the explosion at the end, when Arnie and the kid blew up Skynet was spectacular. The explosion was on screen, but a huge cloud of "smoke" overcame the audience as well. WOW!!!!! There was a little kid next to me, he was terrified, he had to grab on to his mom half way through the show.

The Mummy Returns - A "haunted house" walkthrough with live actors scaring the bejeezes out of you.

Jurassic Park - Very cool water ride, with lots of animated dinosaurs and a cool drop at the end. Got a little bit wet.

Backdraft - Experience a chemical warehouse fire, Hollywood-style. Based on the movie. This was excellent.

Waterworld - Perhaps the most spectacular, it had a HUGE set with live actors flying around on jetskis, incredible stunts, incredible animatronics, lots of water flying into the audience (we were stuck in the "wet zone" least we weren't in the "soak zone" seats), one of the best shows at Universal Studios. The best part was when this biplane came crashing through the building and slammed into the water, soaking half the audience. INCREDIBLE!

Back to the Future - First person "thrill ride", the "car" you're sitting in jolts and jumps around as you chase Biff through time. Most excellent!

They left to go back to the hostel at this point, I stayed and did:
Animal Planet Live - Trained animals come on stage and perform various feats. The had dogs, cats, rats, monkeys, birds, and an orangutan. Very fun!

Spiderman Rocks - 20-minute rock opera based on the movie. Spiderman flying around on srage on his sticky string. Good stuff.

The park was very busy, most rides had a 30-45 minute wait in the queue.

I got back to the hostel about 8:45.

Made a couple of sandwiches, read for a while, listened to music, paid for three more nights, then went to bed.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Le Brea Tar Pits

Up at 7:45, showered, had breakfast and waited in the lobby for the Magic Mountain hostel bus. Out of the seven that signed up, only three showed up to go, and they needed at least five, so we didn't go.

I decided to go to La Brea Tar Pits, tar pits where various animals got trapped, died, and preserved, thousands of years ago. The bones range in age from about 9000-40,000 years old (no dinosaurs here). They have thousands and thousands of bones from extinct animals, like mastadons, mammoths, dire wolves, lions, lots of various birds, etc. It was very interesting. Stayed there for a few hours.

I walked there, and on the way, stopped at a nice outdoor pedestrian mall/market. On the walk back to the hostel (1.5 hour walk), stopped there again, and looked around some more.

Got back to the hostel about 5:30, I think, watched "Cat in the Hat" (crap illegal copy), then "The Mummy" in the hostel bar.

Then did nothing much until about 8:40, and went back up the bar, because they had a comedy night with a bunch of professional comedians. Most of the comedians were pretty good, one of the was great, another chick comedian totally bombed, and left the stage early, quite upset/angry. We can't help it if she's NOT FUNNY!!!! They had 8 or 9 comedians altogether.

The comedy ended about 12:15, then I went to bed.

Saturday, December 27, 2003


Up at 9:00, went to have breakfast, and somebody stole my milk! I hate it when that happens! I had a cup of tea.

Went to change rooms, but the person checking out of the room I'm moving in to hasn't yet, so I had to wait. The line for the checkouts grew to be really long, so about 10:00, I got in line and finally made it to the desk about 10:50, got my new room key, paid for room, moved my bags into the new room, then ran outside to get the 11:00 shuttle to the beaches (Venice and Santa Monica Beaches).

Got dropped off at Venice Beach, quite nice, sand was not as nice as Thailand/Aussie sand, kind of coarse, the water was freezing this time of year. No one was swimming. Lots of shops and hawkers and street performers. We (myself, Michelle (Melbourne), Megan (Melbourne) and Nicola (Chile)) walked along, then the two girls stayed behind to shop, Nic and I walked up to Santa Monica Beach, quite a distance, then started walking back to Venice Beach, ran into Megan, then we went with her to the 3rd Street Promenade, in Santa Monica, a pedestrian-only 4 block stretch of shops, restaurants, street performers and bums. Very nice. Ran into Michelle, made arrangements to meet up with her at 5:30 for supper.

The sun was shining, and standing in the sun felt nice, but the wind was cool, and in the shade of buildings or trees, it was cool.

At 5:30, met Michelle, we went to a Mexican fast food place, which was voted the best taco by Rick Dees, the top 40 radio personality, then we caught a bus back to the hostel, got back about 8:00.

Signed up to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain, a roller coaster and thrill ride amusement park tomorrow. Had a shower, then hung out at the hostel in the bar.

To bed about 10:00.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Just \

Up about 10:30. Sun was shining today! YAY! Got dressed, missed the free pancake breakfast again. Walked to the grocery store and bought a few groceries, then back to the room. The kitchen was closed for cleaning, so left my groceries in my room, and John and I went to the public library, a few blocks away, as we could get 1 hour of free internet with identification. So stayed there until 1:00, then back to the hostel, had a couple of sandwiches, then I walked around Hollywood Blvd, took pictures of "famous" things, then walked down Sundet Blvd for a long way, and back to the hostel about 4:00, watched Robin William Live on DVD. Very funny. He even did a good impersonation of Jean Chretien.

On my 10 minute walk to the grocery store this morning, I had 3 homeless ask me for money. The first was a younger woman asking me if I had any change or spare bus tokens so she could get on a bus. The second guy, parked outside the grocery store, was just asking if I had any spare change he could have, the third guy, asking me if I could give him some money so he could catch a Greyhoud bus somewhere. They are all very polite when they beg, though. Excuse me, sir...Thanks anyway...Merry Christmas.

I headed to BK for supper...I'm back in North America, land of the crappy french fries (except McDonalds). Fast food is cheap here, even at the ultra touristy Hollywood Blvd. fast food joints.

Back to the hostel, paid for another three nights, but I have to change rooms tomorrow morning.

This is apparently one of the highest rated hostels in California. It's crap. Well, it's not that bad, but compared to hostels in NZ and Australia, there's no comparison. And others have told me it's nothing compared to other hostels in California and Nevada.

Read for most of the night, to bed shortly after 10:00.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas!!!

Holy Jetlag, Batman. I was wide awake all night because my body thinks it's middle of the afternoon. Finally fell asleep about 5:00AM, and then couldn't wake up. Finally managed to drag myself out of bed after 10:00. Showered, no hot water (crap!), then walked to the bank to take out lots of money, went to McDonalds for lunch, hardly anything open. Rained all day. Back to hostel, used internet, watched TV, wrote in journal, phoned home (first time in a year I've actually called home!), did laundry, listened to music, John (Ireland), Vinny (Kiwi working in Ireland) and me went to the drug store to buy booze for the Christmas party, then waited for supper.

About 5:30, supper was served, buffet style. They had turkey, ham, chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, apple sauce, fried rice, macaroni, apple pie, and a bunch of other stuff I can't recall. It was only $7. And it was delicious. Most everyone went up the TV lounge, where they had a keg of beer and a bunch of wine, and ate. I broke out my camera, and took pictures of my Christmas in a hostel. Then others grabbed their camera's and did the same. I headed to bed about midnight.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Off to Hollywood! (I'm gonna be a movie star!)

Up about 7:45, showered, read the Borneo Post; it had been slipped under my room door. In the Borneo Post, there was a story from Thailand, about students getting kicked out of nursing school because their too fat. I guess the nursing school has a policy, if you're over 97kg (I think it was), you're too fat to be a nurse. And they are going to do away with that policy in the new year.

Checked out, and got a taxi to the airport about 8:45. Had breakfast at the airport, got my baggage checked all the way to LA, and boarded the plane at 10:00. Of course, on the flight, they ran out of omelette's *EXACTLY* when they got to me. I had to have rice and what looked like shrimp, slimy vegetables, a little bit of fruit, and a small container containing nuts and what looked like the legs of crickets. All I ate was the rice and the fruit.

Got to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) about 12:45, and headed for the KL to LA gate. Had lunch at BK.

Boarded plane, and it took off about 4:00, 45 minutes late, had a stopover of 1.5 hours in Taipei. On the flight from Taipei to LA, I had all three seats in my row to myself, so I could lay down and sleep. YAY! Got to LA about 4:15, no problems getting through customs or immigration. Got shuttle to USA Hostels in Hollywood.

Driving to the hostel, everything is DEAD. It's pouring rain, but nothing is happening here. Hardly any cars on the streets.

Got to the hostel, checked in, had a shower, walked along part of Hollywood Blvd, stepped on famous peoples' stars. Hollywood Blvd not that busy, most of the shops were closed, some tourist traps open, some tourists (families w/kids) milling about, amongst the homeless with their cardboard boxes and shopping carts filled with everything they "own". Santa Claus was available for some last minute kid listening at Ron L. Hubbard Christmas "lot".

Back to hostel, read and to bed about 10:00.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Last Day in SE Asia...BOOHOO!

Up about 8:00, showered, went downstairs for breakfast (included with room; toast and tea or coffee). Chatted with the local staying in my room for a while about what to do, he recommended taking a boat to Manukan Island, part of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, for snorkelling. He said don't do any diving here, it's crap. Go to Sandakan for the diving, on the east cast of Sabah. Unfortunately, I don't have any time left to do that. He was also telling me about how great Christmas is in Sabah...most of the population is not Muslim, but Christian, and they love to party and drink for Christmas and New Years.

I decided to treat myself to a nice hotel room for my last night here. I had over 300 ringget left, and I needed to spend it. Tried the Hyatt, but they wanted too much, 230 ringget/night, I can only afford 150/night, I figure. Tried a bunch of other places, either too expensive, or crap. Finally found Hotel Capital for 90RM/night.

Checked out of Trekkers Lodge, moved to Capital, went to BK for lunch, decided to walk to Tanjung Aru Beach, stopped at Sutera, a huge 2-hotel, 27-hole golf course, and marina resort development along the way to check it out. I think I had one of the security guards from the hotel watching me as I was walking around...making sure I wasn't going to try to use the facilities! Then on to Tanjung Aru. Took me two hours, got there at 3:00, walked along the not particularly great beach, then through the Shangri-La resort. At the resort, I was watching and listening to the waves crash against the rocks, and realized that'll be the last time I hear/see that for quite some time. Boohoo!!!

Then got a public bus back to KK, went back to my room, wrote in journal, then to the internet. Went to "Little Italy" for supper, a restaurant located right next to my hotel, for a pasta supper, then walked to the food market esplanade along the waterfront. On the way, saw two small kids (8 years old, perhaps) and an infant (

Monday, December 22, 2003

KK...once again, amazed in Borneo

Oh my, 3 days until Christmas!

Up about 7:45, said goodbye to the German couple, then walked in search of a proboscis monkey postcard, turned up empty handed, so back to my room, grabbed my bags and walked to the bus terminal for the 8:45 bus. A guy in a bright green shirt with parrots all over it asked me where I was headed, told him the ferry terminal, he told me the next bus was at 9:15. So I waited and waited and about 9:15, green shirt buddy keeps glancing at his watch and looking at the bus entry driveway. It's obvious he's wondering where the bus I need is. About 15 minutes later, still no bus, he came over and said the bus was late, but not to worry, I still have lots of time to catch the 1:00 ferry to Labuan. He worked at the terminal, he was the bus inspector.

At 10:00, still no bus, and I suddenly remembered I had to reconfirm my Kota Kinabalu to KL flight, which is on Wednesday, so I grabbed my backpack, and headed to the Malaysia Airlines office, had to wait 5 minutes, got my flight confirmed, then back to the bus station, and the bus still hadn't come.

Bus finally came about 10:40, got to the ferry terminal at 11:25, went to the counter, there was a special 11:30 ferry to Labuan, I had just enough time to get the ticket and get on the ferry. Exited Brunei, and got on ferry. Ferry showed Mr. Bean during the trip. The locals were enjoying it. I was the only westerner on the boat.

Got to Labuan about 12:45, passed through Malaysian customs, and went to get another ferry ticket (Labuan is an island, you see) to Kota Kinabalu (KK), she told me to come back at 1:45, so I waited, snacked on a Snickers and a Pepsi Twist (Pepsi is the cola of choice in Brunei, BTW), then waited, and about 1:55, got my ticket, and waited in the departure lounge.

Boarded the vessel at 2:30, took off at 3:00. Very bumpy ride, people getting sea sick all around me. The boat FLIES. If it only had wings....

They showed an old Jackie Chan flick, in Chinese (or Mandarin, or whatever language he speaks), perhaps featuring a young Lucy Lui too (whoever it was, she kicked more ass than Jackie Chan's character did). Then they showed SWAT, but the volume was turned down too much, and couldn't hear it quite. The boat is COLD too, the AC is in fine working order.

Got to KK about 6:00. Started walking to Lucy's Homestay, but ran into Trekkers Lodge first, so stayed there. All their AC dorms were full, so had to settle for a fan dorm room for 18 ringget. I had an old Swedish (or Norwegian or Danish or something) woman in my dorm room, along with a local, heading back to his village for the school break.

Once again, Borneo has blown me away. KK has totally amazed me! Neon lights, modern cityscape, Burger King (besides Bangkok, the only place in SE Asia I've seen them, I think), Hyatt Regency downtown, HUGE malls (biggest I've seen!), busy night markets, plus, Beach Street, a pedestrian area that's essentially an open-air pub, restaurant, and dance bar area, covered with permanent tarps, two huge TV screens showing music videos, and live music, etc. WOW!

Lots of westerners here too. Lots of older westerners, they outnumber the young backpackers.

Walked around for a bit, found the Burger King, had supper there, used internet, explored the streets, had a sundae at the open-air place (from SugarBarn restaurant located there).

Back to room about 9:30, I wasn't feeling well, probably because I ate almost nothing all day.

Read, and to sleep maybe 10:30.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Proboscis Monkeys

What a sleep...there must be something about Brunei that lets me sleep amazing. Up about 10:00, showered, then said adios to the Florida couple, then the German couple and me went to the tourist place to book the proboscis monkey tour for 4:00 this afternoon. Then we hit Pizza Hut for their $5 lunch, then DQ, then I went back to my room to grab my journal, then to internet for over an hour, then back to the tourist place to find out how to get to Kota Kinabalu tomorrow, then met the German couple at the tourist place at 3:45 for the proboscis monkey tour.

An older Japanese couple was along with us, along with a younger Japanese girl, being the translator for them. It was a boat tour along the river; the monkeys live in the mangroves on either side of the river. The proboscis monkey is only found on Borneo, and Brunei has the largest population, over 10,000. Apparently the monkey is declining in population in Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo because of hunting and loss of habitat, but Brunei protects its enviornment much better than the other countries (especially Indonesia).

We saw a crocodile, lots of proboscis monkeys (they're the ones with the big, floppy nose and big beer belly), also saw a blurry macague (sp?) as it swang away from us, and lots of egrets (birds) and some eagles.

Finished tour about 6:40, we went back to the hostel for a minute, then to Pizza Hut for their all you can eat buffet.

Back to the room, packed my stuff, wrote in journal, read and to bed.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Jerudong Park

5 days to Christmas.

Slept great, except for our stupid air conditioner kept freezing up or something, and making tons of noise. But it was sure COLD in our room, but I slept great. Got up about 10:00, showered, went out front to reception, Vanessa was there, she told me Webke had left for breakfast and to visit the mosque, and had left her e-mail address for me, in case I didn't see her today. I decided to leave and try and find her.

Walked to the mosque, he wouldn't let me in to walk freely because my knees weren't covered (although my shorts went down to my knees). I was able to see most of the mosque from my vantage point, though. Very nice. It's a very expensive mosque, lots of gold. I signed the guest book, and noticed that Webke hadn't been there yet.

Walked around downtown, Pizza Hut lured me in with their $5 lunch menu (including drink!), walked through the big, nice mall and department store (they had a HUGE electronics floor...looked just like a Future Shop!), used internet for an hour, walked around looking for the movie theatre I swear I saw yesterday. Went to the tourist information centre, and they had a shuttle going to the amusement park at 7:00 tonight, and just then, the Florida couple came in and the three of us decided to get a ticket to the amusement park.

Back to the room, said goodbye to Webke, Josh and I had a game of chess (I won), then about 6:45, headed for the tourist centre to get the shuttle to the Jerudong Park. The park was built in 1994 by the Sultan, as a gift to his people. For $15, you can get unlimited rides. The park wasn't actually as good as we were expecting. The roller coaster was fun, as was teh gravity drop, but many of the rides were closed. There's no line-ups for any of the rides, though, unlike DisneyLand and places in the States, where you have to wait hours to get on a ride.

Stayed at the park until 11:30, when teh shuttle picked us up and took us back to BSB and the hostel and to bed.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Up at 6:15, got dressed and went to the bus stop to get a bus to Brunei, met a German girl, Webke, she was going to Brunei as well. We got our tickets, one for the bus to the border, and another for two buses to Kuala Belait. Then we had to change to another bus for Seria, then change again for a bus to Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), the capital of Brunei. Got to BSB about 11:30.

We walked to Pusat Belia, cheap hostel (B$10 for dorm). There was no one around, so Webke defied the "No Women Allowed" sign, and entered the male wing, we found an open dorm room, dropped our bags, then showered. We were sitting in the room afterwards, and another guy, who had just arrived and was staying (he had stayed there before) saw Webke sitting on the bed, and said, "Oh no! Ladies are not allowed in here!" He told us the hostel dude would be back about 2:00, after prayers.

Webke and I went for lunch, then hired a water taxi boat to give us an hour tour for $15. He took us through the water villages, both the old, rickety ones on wooden stilts, and also through the new, residential development, featuring new, white, cookie-cutter homes. Then he took us to see the Istana Nurul Iman, the sultan's residence, and the largest palace in the world. We didn't get very close to it, unfortunately, just saw it from a distance on the river.

After the tour, stopped at DQ (DQ in Brunei, who would've figured!) for a Blizzard, then back to the hostel and the warden was there. He asked if she was my wife, I said I don't know, and turned to her and asked her, "Are you my wife?" She said she was, and made a remark to the warden that I'm sometimes forgetful, but the warden wasn't buying it, and Webke had to move into the women's wing. Haha. Too funny. He also told us he has a driver going to the amusement park at 6:30, and wanted to know if we wanted to go. I said yes, Webke said maybe, as she's not an amusement park kind of girl.

Webke and I then headed for the Royal Mausoleum, but couldn't find it, so went back to the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which the sign says is open to visitors from 4:30 to 5:00 on Friday. We got politely kicked out, he told us to come back tomorrow, it's not open on Friday, because it's the Muslim holy day.

So, back to the hostel, found out the hostel dude couldn't arrange a driver, so the amusement park is out. There's another couple, Josh and Vanessa, from Florida, at the hostel as well. We each went to our separate wing, and arranged to meet at 8:00 for the night market. I wrote in my journal, talked with Josh for a while. At 8:00, the girls picked us up, and we went to the night market for food, then walked around downtown a bit, then to DQ, then back to the rooms shortly after 10:00, read and to bed.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Hiking in Lambir

Up at 8:00, showered, then to the information centre to find out where to go to dive. The girl told me I have to go to the Rihga Royal Hotel (which is the same place the tourist agency told me to go yesterday), so I decided to walk, about a 15 or 20 minute walk, I was told. Along the way, I kept seeing banners for a breakfast buffet at the Park Everett Hotel or some such name, another one of the HUGE resorts along the road. I got to the Park Everett one first, it was about a 30 minute walk, went in for breakfast. The chef was busy cooking up omelettes, so an older Aussie (I think) lady, who was waiting for her omelette took it upon herself to fry up some bacon for herself and me. Then I continued on to the Rihga Royal Hotel, it was about another 10 minutes further on. I asked at reception where I could get diving information, he told me I had to go to the hotel next to them, the Park Everette Hotel for diving, the one I just had breakfast at. Great, ok, so I walked back to the Park hotel, and asked at reception there, and the lady didn't know anything about any diving at all at their hotel. What a waste of a morning!!!

I decided to continue on further to check out Taman Selera, a beach and park area along the ocean. Kind of nice, but nothing special. Then walked back to town, got back about 11:30, went back into the tourist info centre and asked them how to get to Lambir Hills National Park. So, back to my room, got changed, then back to the bus stop to get the 12:00 bus to Lambir Hills National Park. Got there about 12:35, paid the park fee, and hiked all afternoon until about 3:45. Saw waterfalls, got lots of leeches all over my shoes (flicked them off before they found skin), and saw an old oil well. Very hard hiking, I was completely drenched in sweat.

Bought a bunch of water back at the cafeteria at the park head quarters, then about 4:15, waited at the highway for the 4:30 bus back to town. A mini-van bus came along, so I got a ride with him back into town for a tad more money.

Back at town, I went back to the information centre (third time today) and asked if there was a movie theatre in town. She told me yes there is, and they'll be showing Lord of the Rings: Return of the King tonight, she showed me where it was on the map, the same mall as McDonalds and Pizza Hut, so I went back to my room, showered, then to the cinema to buy a ticket. I had to get a ticket for the 10:00 showing, so I went down to Pizza Hut for supper, back to the room, then internet, packed, wrote in journal, then about 9:30, back to the cinema for the movie. Virtually sold out. Late start too, started about 10:20.

Long movie, it finished abotu 1:35AM. Walked back to the hotel and to bed.

Lord of the Rings

Hahaha, all you wankers, while you're sleeping or slaving away at work, I'll be watching the NEW Lord of the Rings: Return of the King way before any of you losers!!

Hahaha!!! And the cost of a movie ticket in Miri: 10 ringget, less than $4CDN.

I got the 10:00PM showing, and it's 3 hours 30 minutes long, or some such stupidly long time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Niah National Park...Cradle of Civilization!

9 days to Christmas. Unbelievable!!!

Up at 5:55, got dressed and headed to the local bus terminal at about 6:10 to get the 6:30 bus to Niah National Park. Ran into a British couple, Kevin and Tracy (from London!), at the bus stop (also brielfy saw them at the internet last night), they were heading to Niah as well. A guy with a mini-van offered to take us to Batu Niah (the town near the park) for 10 ringget, same price as the bus, so we went with him, and another local, who had a bunch of boxes of toys in the back of the mini-van.

On the way to Niah, there was a checkstop set up, and the officers confiscated this guys' toys, and made him stay at the checkpoint while our driver took us the rest of the way to Niah. The driver picked up other locals along the way as well.

We got to Niah National Park about 9:00 or so, 12 ringget each (paid the extra two ringget because he took us directly to the park office). We went to the office and paid the park fee (10 ringget), then went to the cafeteria for breakfast, then took a boat across the high and wild river, and started our journey into the unknown caves of Niah National Park. Kevin rented a flashlight at the park store for 5 ringget. I brought my own flashlight, as did Tracy.

Niah caves are about 3km boardwalk walk from the park head quarters, over swamp and river. The first cave is Traders Cave, where the birds nest and guano traders do their business. Then on the Great Cave, named because it's over 60m high and 250m wide.

An archeological excavation is fenced off at the mouth of the WEst Entrance to the cave; a modern human skull estimated to be 40,000 years old was found here in 1958, which is way older than any other human bones found in SE Asia. That makes Niah the birthplace of civilization in SE Asia!!! As a result, Niah is one of the most important archeological sites in the world. It's weird to think that I was standing on the spot where modern homo sapien started from in SE Asia!

The Great Cave is also home to bats and swiftlets (little birds) that nest in the cave. Birds nest collectors climb up bamboo poles and ladders, dozens of metres high, to reach the roof of the cave, where they collect the swiftlet nests, which are made entirely from the birds' saliva. The nests are then sold to the Chinese for their famous birds nest soup, a highly regarded Chinese cuisine. (Darren, have you tried birds nest soup?)

Guano collectors also dig up the bat and swiftlet excrement, which is then sold as fertilizer.

A long walk through the bowels of the Great Cave (where the flashlight is needed...this is where Kevin also realized he left his rented flashlight at the snack shops along the boardwalk) leades to the Painted Cave, which has cave paintings and "death-ships", boat shaped coffins containing the remains of the deceased and a selection of grave-goods considered useful in the afterlife. The death ships have been dated as ranging between 1AD and 780AD.

Anyway, it was all quite fascinated.

We walked back to the park HQ (Kevin got his flashlight back on the way back...he sure didn't get his money's worth out of that one), then we got a ride to Batu Niah and caught the 3:30 bus back to the Miri. Got to Miri about 5:30, then we headed to Pizza Hut, then they went back to their hostel (they leave bcak to KL tomorrow), and I hit internet, then back to my room, wrote in journal, hooked my camera up to my TV and looked at all my pictures on my memory cards, read, then to bed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Miri, Miri On The Wall

The bus made a couple of toilet and food stops during the night. A vast section of the road was under construction, and was bumpy and potholed, and I couldn't sleep during that bit. We arrived at Bintulu about 9:00, the bus had a flat tire, so they had to change it at the bus terminal. From Bintulu to Miri, they showed two movies, "Hollow Man" (dumb movie, seen it before) and Hanuted Mansion, with Eddie Murphy, it was pretty good.

Got to Miri about 2:00. So much for a 14 hour bus ride, it was more like 17 hours! I got a taxi from the long-distance bus terminal to the visitor information centre/local bus terminal, and from there walked to the Fairland Inn, 30 ringget/night for A/C, hot water, and a TV (with one fuzzy station).

I walked back to the visitor information centre to get info on getting to Niah National Park, then walked around town, had lunch at KFC, then started to walk up to Canada Hill, where oil was first discovered in Sarawak in 1910, but a big, ugly black cloud was moving in, so decided against it.

Walked around a bit more, back to the room, wrote in journal, figured out a plan for my remaining 8 days in Borneo, read for a while, then to bed about 9:30. Tired after the night bus last night.

Note about fast-food joints. In most countries I have been too, the fast-food joints (McDonalds, KFC, etc.) are similarly priced to Canada, after doing the conversion. The exception is Malaysia. You can get a Big Mac Meal for just over $2CDN. Same with KFC. EVen Pizza Hut is cheap. It's weird that in other SE Asia countries, the prices are quite a bit higher, on par with Canadian prices.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Bye to Roz. Off to Miri

Up about 8:15, showered, then caught a taxi to the bus terminal to buy a ticket to Miri. 80 ringget. I'm on a night bus tonight at 9:00, it's a 14-hour bus trip. Back to the hotel, packed, then went up to see Roz, she was busy packing too.

After we finished packing, we checked out, put our bags in storage, and walked around, went to see the BIG cat statue, then to the aquarium, then we went shopping for shoes and souvenirs. She bought two pairs of All Stars (she kind of collects Converse All Stars), and I bought a pair of slip on shoes. Also bought some postcards.

We went for supper at Denis's, then back to the hotel, and she got a taxi to the airport, she was flying back to England tonight, and she was very sad to go.

I used the internet, then back to the hotel and got a taxi to the bus terminal at about 8:00. The bus left shortly after 9:00. Holy comfortable seats, Batman. They don't recline, they are already in the recline position, made of leather and super soft and comfy, perfect for falling asleep. They also have that "head hole" thing that a dentists' chair would have for the back of your head (at least my dentist has one), so your head doesn't flop around when your asleep! It was wonderful. And tons of leg room, never seen a bus like this before.

Managed to fall asleep.

Forgot a story from yesterday. Yesterday, when we were at the Cultural Village, during the live performance at the end of the day, one of the performers was using a blowpipe, blowing darts at balloons. He hit two of them, then missed the next one (on purpose, it was part of the show, methinks.) Everyone in the audience kind of laughed, he looked at the audience, with a look of "Oh ya, and you think you can do better?". And he proceeded to pick someone out of the audience. He picked Roz. Roz and I were the only whities in the whole audience, I knew it'd be either me or her. She went up on stage and he had Roz shoot a dart at one of the balloons. And she hit it! She couldn't believe it, after she sucked earlier in the day. After the show, outside the auditorium, everyone was coming up to Roz, telling her what a great shot she was, and congratulating her. She said to me she would have died on stage if she'd had missed it!!

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Sarawak Cultural Village

Up about 8:15, showered, had breakfast at McDonalds, then back to the room. Roz knocked at 10:00, and we decided to go to the Sarawak Cultural Village. We went to the Crowne Plaza Hotel to catch the shuttle, but just missed the 10:20 shuttle, so we had to wait for the 12:20 shuttle instead. We vegged out at the hotel, then went to Sugarbarn (restaurant) for a snack at 11:30, then to the Crowne Plaza. As we were walking to the hotel, Roz said to me, "Oh my god, you'll never guess what I found last night." She lifted up her arm to show me her armpit. A leech wound! She had a leech sucking blood from her armpit, and didn't know it. She found the hole last night. Hahahaha!!!

It was a 45 minute bus ride to the village, we had lunch at the cafeteria, then went through the village. The village is a place where each of the seven traditional cultures of Sarawak can showcase their architecture, lifestyles and cultures to the public. We got to blow darts out of a blowpipe at one of them. I hit the pop can target on my third dart. Roz sucked.

At 3:30, we walked to one of the two Holiday Inn resorts that sits on either side of the village, and went to the beach, then snuck into their swimming pool. It was a cloudy, off and on rainy day. This resort is spectacular, situated on a small beach, surrounded by green, lush rainforest, with a mountain bounded on one side, absolutely beautiful. I imagine the price is "absolutely beautiful" too.

At 4:30, went back to the village for the tribal dance and singing show, then caught the 5:15 shuttle back to Kuching, went for a drink at a restaurant along the riverfront, then back to the room to get warmer clothes, then went to Denis's Cafe and Restaurant, and had a great supper. The restaurant was all decked out for Christmas, with lights and a Christmas tree, and Christmas music playing. We had dessert as well.

Then we walked to try and find the long-distance bus terminal, so I could check out schedules to other cities, but we couldn't find it, so we went back to the hotel, I wrote in my journal, and then decided where I should head to next. Went to bed about 10:30.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Orangutans and Leaches

Up at 6:45, got ready for our day trip to Matang and Kubah. Our taxi driver was waiting for us when we went down at 7:20. He took us to Matang Wildlife Centre, about 45 minute drive. AT the centre, saw crocodiles, deer, rhinoceros hornbills (official bird of Sarawak), monkeys and an orangutan. They had another "orangutan" in the same enclosure, but it looked a lot more like a gorilla than an orangutan, having short, fat, stubby hands and fingers, and a different face.

Then we walked a 5km rainforest walk through magnificent rain forest to Kubah National Park. Very beautiful rainforest, very green and lush and thick. Ground was very wet too. We stopped at a nice waterfall and went for a swim. When we got out, Roz had two leeches on her, one already sucking her blood, the other just walking around her leg. I searched myself, and found none. We pulled the one attached to her leg off, and it bled quite a bit for a while afterwards. As we continued along the hike, we kept getting attacked my leeches, finally realizing that they hide in the moist undergrowth of the forest, not necessarily the streams, and they attach themselves to our shoes and climb up to our skin. We had to stop every five minutes or so and do a "leech check". At one leech check, she took of her shoes to check for leeches, and found one sucking away near her ankle. We pulled it off, and that wound bled quite profusely for a while, soaking her sock in blood.

When we finally reached the end of the trail, we did one last leech check, she took off her shoes and socks, and there was another leech inside her sock that hadn't attached itself to her yet. I never found any on myself, I always caught them when they were crawling around on my shoes. At the end of the trail, I did a final leech check as well, taking off my shoes, not finding anything. We walked to the park headquarters, on the way I noticed my hand had blood over it, I couldn't figure out where it came from. I assumed it was from one of Roz's wounds. Later I found out I did have two leech wounds on my leg, and blood was all over my leg. Never saw any sign of the little buggers, though. They must have had their fill and dropped off. They sure leave big, nasty holes, though, that bleed pretty good!

At the Kubah park office, we talked to the park ranger for a bit, he told us how we could get back to Kuching, and that there was a cafeteria just down the main highway, maybe 10 or 15 minute walk away. We both hadn't eaten anything, other than chips and granola bars all day, and we were hungry, and it was about 2:30.

We walked to the main highway, and there was a family park at the intersection, we paid the 3 ringget to get in, and had some nasi goreng (fried rice) for lunch, walked around the park a bit (they have a nice swimming hole), then walked to teh bus stop to wait for the bus. It was pouring rain at this time, fortunately the bus stop was covered. There was an older man selling fruit (can't remember name), and he gave each of us a bunch for free while we waited.

A minibus came and picked us up, we tried to give the old man back his fruit, but he insisted we take it, and put it in a bag for us. The bus driver asked us where we're going, we told him, and on his way back to Kuching, he stopped at another fruit stand and bought some of the same fruit from her, and gave everyone in the mini-bus a bunch. We declined, as we already had a whole bunch of them!

Back at the hotel, we showered (each in our own rooms), she wasn't feeling well, headache, so she slept, meanwhile I went to the town square, where they were having a big party, the sultan of Brunei was supposed to be there, and the prime minister of Malaysia, and they had live performances and free food. There were supposed to be 100,000 people there. I got there early, but already the lineups for the free food were insane, but none of the dignitaries were there yet, I only stayed for about 15 minutes, then went to McDonalds for supper, then used internet until about 10:00, then I was going to go back to the party, but it was pouring rain out (monsoon season right now), so went back to the room and to bed. At 11:00, I got woke up by a bunch of loud bangs, my first thought was gunfire or bombs, then I realized it was fireworks. I couldn't see them from my window, so got dressed and went out front of the hotel, which gave a great view of them. Then back to bed.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Sarawak, Malaysia!

Slept decent on the plane. Woke up and watched Freaky Friday. Landed at KL about 4:something. Nothing open, so I had to wait a while to check on flights to Kuching, Sarawak. A few hours later, went up the departure area, and Malaysian Airlines had a ticket counter open, so I bought a return ticket from KL to Kuching, leaving today, and returning to KL on Dec. 24, from Kota Kinabalu, which is in the province of Sabah. I'll get back on that flight in time to catch my flight to Los Angeles. I was booked on an 11:15 flight to Kuching, but was told I could fly stand-by on earlier flight, the first at 8:15.

Checked into the stand-by counter, and about 7:45, they called my name, I got on the 8:15 flight, landed in Kuching about 10:00. Sarawak, despite being part of Malaysia, has it's own immigration control, so had to go through immigration again. Met up with a chick, Roz, from England, outside the airport, and we shared a taxi to town, and checked into the Orchid Inn. I got a single for 35RM, Roz got a double (no more singles) for 45RM. (RM is Malaysian Ringgit, their currency. Divide by three to convert to Canadian $.)

We showered (not together), then we went to the Sarawak Museum, then to the Cat Statue, walked along the esplanade, along the river front, then hired a taxi to the Cat Museum. Kuching means cat in the Malay language, and Kuching is all about cats. The cat musuem was so cool, had everything you could ever want to know about domestic cats. Even had a mummified cat from Egypt, circa 3500BC. Caught a taxi back to our area, then we went to Pizza Hut for supper, then back to the taxi rank, and arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 7:30 tomorrow morning to take us to Matang Wildlife Centre.

We walked down the riverfront to catch a river cruise, but had to wait until 8:30 for the next cruise, so went to a convenience store for water and snacks for tomorrow, then back our rooms, then at 8:00, headed back to the river for the cruise.

It was boring, we couldn't see much at night.

To bed shortly after 10:00.

Kuching is an amazing city. Sarawak is not what I expected. I expected a back water island, with hardly any development, kind of like the untouristed islands of Indonesia. Boy, was I off!!! Sarawak is the wealthiest province of Malaysia, being very oil rich. Kuching is a very modern city, with a beautiful park/walkway development along the river, all the big hotels (Holiday Inn, Hilton, etc.) having huge skyscrapers downtown. Big malls, brand name stores, lots of parks, childrens playgrounds, very developed, just like you'd expect in any western city. Incredible.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Bye Bye Australia!

Up at 8:00, showered, breakfast, packed all my stuff, checked out, walked to the supermarket to buy some anti-persperant, then used internet for a while, then my airport shuttle came at 10:50, and got to the airport, checked in, went to Hungry Jacks for lunch and waited for my 12:45 flight to Sydney.

When I was having breakfast this morning (cereal), an old guy sat down across from me, pulled my box of cereal towards him, leaned it towards him, looked inside, then pushed it back to me. I'm thinking to myself, "Who does this guy think he is? Freak! Don't look inside my box of cereal!" I felt like grabbing it away from him! He then introduced himself, he was from Dallas, Texas, and he told me he works for a water purification company, and they had an office in Canada. Then he asked me if I'd be interested in one!!!! Excuse me??? I'm at a hostel in Australia, trying to eat breakfast, and this guy is making a sales pitch to me????? I must have really looked like I could use a water purification system right then!!! Geeze!

Flew to Sydney, then waited around for five hours for my flight to KL, at 10:15PM.

On the flight to KL, I did another 180 on my plans. Original plan was to go to Sumatra, northern island of Indonesia. A more recent plan: fly to Phuket and do a 4 day/3 night liveaboard dive trip to the Similan Islands. New plan: go to Borneo, Malaysia.

On the plane, watched "Johnny English" (funny!), then fell asleep.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

On Travelling...

It's amazing how travelling for a year has changed me. Not me as a person, or my personality or anything, but how I see my life. I have no desire at all to go back to a "normal", boring life. I just want to keep travelling. I've seen so much, but I've only scratched the surface, there's soooooo much more. The thought of going back to my normal life, back in Moose Jaw, to my old house, to my old job, is quite depressing, actually. I feel like my new job is travelling. And that's what I want my job to be. I am so used to living out my backpack, I feel like I could live out of it forever. Everything I ever need is in my backpack. Clothes and deodrant! In fact, truth be told, I *WANT* to live out of it forever. (No comments on actually doing that in Moose Jaw, ok?)

I didn't expect this to happen when i started this trip. I feel like travelling is what I am now. I'm not a computer nerd. I'm a traveller. I enjoy sleeping in a different bed every night, I enjoy not seeing a TV every day (in fact, sometimes not seeing a TV for weeks on end). I enjoy not having internet access at my fingertips. It's sort of a weird sort of comfort feeling to know I can do without those things. I enjoy the transient nature of everything, including me. Everything is transient, drifting. Sitting on buses. Meeting people and having them leave a day later. Dragging bags of groceries around with me. Seeing and doing all the different "things" there are to see and do.

It's hard to explain my feeling. One thing is for sure. I DO NOT want to go "home". I know I have to, as I have no money, and a huge debtload. :-) I need to be rich!!

I'm quite envious of Courtney, as she will be travelling for many, many months yet. What a lucky girl!

Goodbye Courtney. :-(

Up about 8:00, showered, had breakfast, walked with Courtney to the bus stop for her bus back to Airlie Beach at 9:25. She was very sad. We may never see each other again, for the rest of our lives!

I went back to the room, and it was weird to not see Courtney's stuff there, and realizing that she's gone "for good", that I'm going back to Canada soon, and she's staying in Australia, perhaps never to return to Canada (if she can help it!) I went to write in my journal, and found a rather emotional note from Courtney, telling me how much she has enjoyed travelling with me, and stuff.

Got my minibus to my bus stop and got my 11:00 bus to Cairns. Got to Cairns at 1:00, had to call the hostel to come pick me (and others) up. Hostel is about a 20-minute walk from downtown Cairns.

Checked in, booked a shuttle to the airport for tomorrow, had lunch, then walked downtown, burned my pictures to a CD, used internet, went to McDonalds for supper, then at 6:15, went to Reef Teach, an educational, live talk and picture show on the Great Barrier Reef. Very good! Finished at 8:40, walked back to the hostel, wrote in journal, to bed about 10:30 or 11:00.

Christmas is in full swing here! It doesn't seem like it should be Christmas at all, though, it's soooo hot and no snow! Seems really weird.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Jumping from Airplanes

Up at 6:45, showered, breakfast, then waited for the skydiving minibus to come and get us. It picked us up at 7:45. There was one other person on the bus, Valerie from Ireland. They took the three of us to their office, which was just a house on the beach. We gave them our coupon, and Court bought a video of her jump. The jump master strapped a Sony Handicam to his wrist for the jump, then got Courtney all suited up, and interviewed her for her video, asking her what she's doing (jumping out of an airplane), and how excited or scared she is, etc. My jump master (Glenn) suited me up, and Valerie's jump master didn't suit her up yet, as she had to wait longer than us. They gave us one instruction, how to arch when you leave the plane. We practiced it once or twice, then the six of us (jumpers and jump masters) hopped into the minibus and they took us to the airport. At the airport, they showed Court and I how we'll exit the aircraft, then Court and her jumpmaster climbed in, then me and Glenn, and we took off. The plane was just a small Cessna, only fits five (including pilot). That's why Valerie had to wait until we jumped before she could jump. Both Court and I weren't really scared, which was weird.

The plane climbed to 14,000 feet, it took quite a while, and there was incredible views from that high. As we got near 14,000 feet (4.3 kilometres for the imperial impaired), Glenn strapped me to himself, then he opened the door, and I peered down. Awesome! Then we climbed out of the airplane, and we jumped! The freehall was amazing!!! It was supposed to last one minute, but it sure didn't feel like it! Slobber and spit and snot was oozing out of my mouth and nose all over my face!!! So fast, we hurtled towards the earth, over 100 miles/hour. About 4000 feet (?), Glenn deployed the parachute, and we glided gracefully down the landing spot on the beach, right outside their office/house. As we were gliding down, we could see Courtney and her guy freefalling then deploy their chute. It was cool!

Back at the office, they had a bunch more people there ready (and willing?) to jump. We went to the beach as Valerie was coming down and watched her land. Then we all watched Court's video, it was excellent!!! She's so glad she got it, it cost her $90 extra, but she's happy she got it! Then they took Court and I, and Valerie back to our hostels at about 10:00AM. Court and I just vegged and watched TV the rest of the day, used internet, watched TV.

I had supper at the buffet and ordered an extra steak. The bufet was amazing, especially the dessert buffet table! Incredible, I've never seen anything like it!

Back to the room, and watched TV all night.

Also got my website and up running again, for anyone that's been trying to get to it!

Monday, December 08, 2003

White Water Rafting the Tully

Up at 6:45, showered, breakfast, then waited for RnR to pick us up at 7:45-8:00. They came, we picked up some others, bought a waterproof camera, then headed to Tully, to teh RnR office for check-in and get shoes. There's a bunch of religious people on our rafting trip, wearign name tags that say "Gods Grace Saves" or some such thing. They were all from California. And old people (part of the religious group). One woman looks like a grandma.

We all hopped on the double decker bus and headed up the mountain to the start. There were 10 rafts in our flotilla, each with 6 or 7 rafters and one guide. Court and I were with a couple from England, and three of the religious zealots, including the grandma. Our guide was a kiwi. I'm not sure what people were thinking, especially the cultists, many were in their normal clothes. Most oddball was an older man, perhaps 40-50ish, wearing a button-up dress shirt and long slacks and dress shoes. And he rafted in that!!!! Geek!! The grandma in our group, we found out, was 74 years old! And she's always wanted to do some white-water rafting, so here she is, rafting a grade 4 river in Australia. Good on her!

We rafted down the Tully river, through lots of grade 3 and grade 4 rapids. About 1:00, stopped for a great lunch of sausages and burgers. Then continued on.

We never slipped once, and none of us took an involuntary swim. Court was halfway in the water backwards at one point, and I had a good mind to toss the rest of her over the edge of the raft, but didn't because of rocks.

Grandma took a head butt from one of the others in our boat, and need medical attention. She was a good sport.

Finished rafting about ??? (no watch on), and got back on the bus and back to RnR headquarters to have the opportunity to buy pictrues and video. We didn't buy, but the pictures were good. Court and a permanent grin on her face the whole time, and I look like I'm forever terrified at what I'm looking at. It's funny. Court cheated and took pictures of the pictures with her camera.

Back to the hostel abotu 5:20, I called and booked a bus up to Cairns for Wednesday and booked my free night at the hosetl there, then used internet and browsed for hostels in Los Angeles. Went to the supermarket, made supper, wrote in journal, watched TV (watched Survivor, the Pearl Islands was it?), then to bed.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Too HOT!

Up about 9:00, slept awesome. Had breakfast, showered, then Court and I and two German guys in our room walked the Licuala Walking Track through the Tam O'Shanter State Forest. We had to walk 4km to get to the start of the track, then almost 6km along the track, then the German guys left us and continued to the Lacey Creek walk, Court and I walked to the town of Mission Beach, then walked along the beach back to Wongaling Beach, where our hostel was. We walked more than 15km in about 5 horus in 40 degree weather. It's too flippin' hot and humid here, it's unbelievable!!!! We got back to the hostel about 3:00, then we went to the supermarket, I got some minced hamburger for the BBQ at the resort. Then I phoned Malaysian Airlines and confirmed my flight to KL, then used internet for more than an hour, booked a flight from Cairns to Sydney on Virgin Blue for $199AUS, then back to the room, BBQ'd my burgers (DEEEEEELICIOUS!), then Court and I went to the casino at the resort. It was Court's first time ever gambling! All the machines are only penny machines, so we played for a bit, Court started with $9 and left with $11. Beginners luck. I played with a dollar of hers and lost it. Then we played a game of darts (she beat me...she's good!), then back to the room, Court went to bed about 8:45. I stayed up reading and went to bed whenever.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Mission Beach

Up early, about 7:30, showered, packed, lounged, about 9:15, walked to the bus stop with Linda for her 9:30 bus, then I used the internet, then back to the hostel, Court and I headed to the bus stop and got on our 10:30 bus. We got to Townsville about 3:00, ran into Linda at the station (she was heading to Magnetic Island), had a bus change, then continued up to Mission Beach, got there about 7:30.

Six of us on the bus were booked in to Mission Beach Resort, and they didn't have a minibus waiting, so one of the other girls called, and they sent a bus to pick us up.

Mission Beach Resort is NICE! It's a Comfort Resort (of the Comfort hotel chain), that has a backpacker village. So we get to mingle with all the highbrows, upper class in the casino and the classy, expensive restaurant. The restaurant does a buffet every day for breakfast and supper, and all the rooms on the backpacker village have discount cards, so backpackers can get the buffet for $4 cheaper than the regular hotel room people. Hahaha!!

To bed early, about 9:30. Only had about 2 hours sleep the night before!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Pole Dancing!!!!!

Up about 6:30, motored to Black Island, where we snorkelled for 45 minutes or so, then breakfast, then started sailing back to Airlie Beach. Got back to Airlie Beach about noon. We walked back to our hostel in the blistering humidity and heat, I had a couple of jam and peanut butter sandwiches, then crashed for hour hours, got up, showered, used internet, was all sweaty again, showered, then about 7:20, we headed over to Magnums becahse the boat had a table reserved for us. I bought a two for one pizza, and gave the free one to Court and Linda, then lazy-assed Courtney went to bed. I entered a pole-dancing competition at Mass nightclub (part of Magnums). $500 first prize for the best pole dancer!!! It was an equal competition between guys and girls. They needed me up in the blue room at 9:30, so headed up there about 9:20 and mingled with the other pole dancers. Before I headed up, I made sure everyone who was on my boat was going to be in the bar making the most noise for me, so I could win!!! About 10:00, they had 10 contestants, 5 guys, 5 girls. They always do it with an equal number of guys and girls. They gathered us together for some instruction, pretty much you can do whatever you want up there, with only two rules. You are the only one allowed to dance on the stage (i.e. no "backup" dancers or anything) and you MUST keep whatever you're wearing on under your pants (or if you're not wearing underwear, keep your pants on). No genitals allowed, but topless is ok for women. We were also told we'd have about 3.5 minutes, about one song, to dance, use the pole to do whatever and get the audience going. We were then lined up in a hallway and taken into a small concrete room, sat down, and told the format, he would ask the audience who they wanted to see, a guy from Canada, or a girl from England or a guy from Germany or whatever. He also said it was his job to get the audience all riled up, and he'd make comments like, "Do you wanna see those pants come off? Make some noise, and they might drop!" I admit, I was very nervous, but also totally excited. I couldn't believe I was going to do this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the little room, one of the girls, who was looking pretty green, put up her hand to ask a question, she wanted to know if she didn't want to do it, could she back out just before she was to go on stage. He said no, if she wanted to back out, he needed to know RIGHT NOW. So she said she's out, right there. That meant a guy had to drop out as well. No one was offering. He looked at his sheet, he had two guys from Denmark, and told them one of them has to go. They argued with him, and finally he backed down, then pointed to me and a guy from Australia and said one of us has to go. I looked at him, waiting for him to back down, he didn't, I didn't, he didn't, finally I said I would step down. STUPID ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What was I thinking???? It would have been so much fun!!!!!!!!!! I know I never would have won the money, but it would've been a blast anyway. Oh well, I didn't have my special "Oh Canada" (Thanks Scott!) underwear on anyway. He told me he'd get me a couple of free drinks from the bar, then asked me and the other girl to leave the room. The other girl pushed right by me, and made a mad dash to the washroom, probably to throw up. After retrieveing my drinks, I went back downstairs, found my group and had to explain what happened. They were disappointed. Anyway, we watched the pole dancing competition, some were good, some were bad. One guy had a g-string on (he borrowed from a female friend), and stripped down to only the g-string. One girl danced for a minute or so, then cut it short, she chickened out. Another Dutch guy was dressed at St. Niklaus (traditional Santa Claus figure in Holland...he even had his helpers, the Black Jacks, with him). St. Niklaus just danced around, didn't take anything off. A Canadian girl from Vancouver did very well, she took second place. The guy that I backed out for, the Aussie guy, he got up there, and took off everything, wearing nothing but a grin. What an idiot!!!!!!!! He was immediately ushered off stage and disqualified. He had my frickin spot, and he got naked and disqualified! UGH! Doofus! The winner of the $500, though, was a chick that really knew how to use the pole, obviously not an amateur, but a professional dancer, who also took her top off, which of course got huge noise from the guys in the bar. She should've been disqualified too, for not being an amateur.

After the competition, a bunch of us danced at Mass until after 2:00, when it started to die, then we headed to another nightclub, The Juice Bar, for more partying. I headed home about 4:15. Linda had went home about 9:00.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Whitsunday's - Day 2

Up about 6:45. I remember the motor being started up about 5:30, though. When I went up to have breakfast, we were well away from Hill Inlet. We motored to Whitehaven Beach, a different part of it than the last boat trip, this part not nearly as nice...well, the girl scenery was nicer, many of them went topless, but the beach itself wasn't as spectacular. The two Israeli guys had a video camera and were going up to the topless girls trying to get video of them, much to the girls' dismay. We spent three hours on the beach, sunbathing and swimming. Nina and I built a BIG sandcastle that kept crashing in because we did it in too wet of sand. Court and I took special Christmas photo's that I'm going to send as Christmas cards (probably e-mail xmas cards) to everyone.

Back to the boat about 11:30, had lunch (pizza), then motored to Blue Pearl Bay, and got there about 3:15 and snorkelled and sunned until about 6:00, then back to the boat and had hot garlic bread for an appetizer, then pasta for supper.

Everyone was totally lazy after that, way too much sun, no one was really interested in partying tonight. Nina and I and Linda and Malcolm talked for a while, Linda and Malcolm crashed on the deck, and Nina and I talked for a bit, then we hit the deck too, about 11:00, think.

We had a small shower, then it stopped, then perhaps 1:00AM, a big shower hit, and everyone on deck ran below decks to sleep.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Whitsunday's - Day 1

Up about 8:30, Court and LInda were already up. I showered, had breakfast, we went for coffee, I used the internet, then had lunch, then we waited around until about 12:30, then we walked to the marina, bought booze for the trip at the bottle shop and waited for our boat crew to take us to the boat. Crap boat compared to the other boat, not much deck space, and the sleeping quarters under are cramped. Nina, a Dutch girl, her bed is only about 4 feet long (and she's about 5'10"!)

We motored and sailed to Hill Inlet where we got supper (steak, pretty good), then we had a party on the boat, drinking, dancing, etc., a merry old time. To bed about 11:30, I slept down, Court and Linda slept up on deck.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Lounging Day in Airlie Beach

Up about 9:30, showered, made breakfast, boiled eggs and cereal.

We went to the lagoon/swimming pool along the waterfront for a bit, then I hit the internet, bought a few groceries, then back to the room, lounged, then went back to the supermarket and bought a hot chicken and some pasta and cooked chicken pasta for Court, Linda and myself.

We all vegged, Court and Lin to bed about 9:15, I went for a walk along the waterfront boardwalk to the marina, and on the way back, a chick (girl, not chicken) was laying on the grass beside the sidewalk, staring up at the stars, she said Hi as I approached, I said Hi, then she propped herself up and asked me where I was from. I told her Canada, she's like Where in Canada, I say Saskatchewan, she's like, No Way, where from, I say Moose Jaw, she's like, "Get out of here, I went to school in Caronport!" She's from Regina, and she's travelling Australia with her brother, who works in Sydney for a company that's based in Regina. We talked for two hours, then I went back to the hostel and to bed about 11:30.

Sheena, a girl from Vancouver we met on the Fraser Island trip thought Dingo's were cats!! Behind her back, everything was laughing at her.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Airlie Beach

Got to Airlie Beach about 6:30. I didn't sleep a wink. Linda (one of the girls on our Fraser Island trip) was also heading up to Airlie Beach on a different bus company, and we waited for her bus when we got there, but it never came. So Court and I checked in to our hostel (the three of us booked a 3-bed room from Rainbow Beach), and walked around, back to hostel, Linda called and left a message for us, her bus had broke down, and she was going to be late. I went to bed, so tired. Linda showed up during the morning, and her and Court did things.

I got up about 1:00, went to free internet place, but it was full, so got my haircut, back to free internet place, still full, so went to another internet place and payed for it, then to supermarket for groceries, back to hostel, had lunch, shower and a shave.

Made supper for Court and Linda, then sat around hostel and to bed.