E-mail Update 2005-03-26

Subject: Travel Change Plans and Update

Hi Everyone,

Hopefully wherever you are this note finds you in good health! Also, sorry to everybody for the slow responses to e-mail's in the past several weeks. Time commitments and travel locations have not been kind :) I am also well behind on my pictures to the site. I have been getting a lot of the same questions from many people so I am going to answer them all with this e-mail. The questions include:

(1) What have you been doing and how is the trip going?

The trip has continued to be a great experience for me in the 3 months since I last wrote you all. The time I have been in Australia (since Dec 23), can really be divided up into 4 parts.

The first part was from Dec 23 to Jan 12. This is the time that I spent over Christmas, New Year's and My Birthday in Cronulla (suburb of Sydney) with friends from the US and Canada. I also spent the last week getting trip planning done and exploring Sydney from the city center. This time was a nice break from the hectic site seeing I had been doing in New Zealand. I know you are all crying a river for me, but what I mean is that I was able to settle in Cronulla for 2 weeks, in one spot, which was at least 10 more days than I had ever been able to. It is really nice to be able to unpack your bag. Cronulla is also out of the tourist route, so it was more of a relaxed pace and had a great beach near by. The people I stayed with also totally rocked (Caitlin and Jordan thanks again for the apt)! I also got to do 2 incredible day walks thru Botany Bay and Royal National Parks. Dave, a friend of mine from New Zealand and I did both of these and they were like nothing I had ever seen before. The last week in Sydney was spent talking to my parents about details of the trip they were planning to Oz & getting myself setup for the next 2+ months. I also did the Oz Experience Day tour of Sydney which was really nice because of all the site seeing I got to do. Spending Christmas, New Years and my birthday away from family and friends at home is the toughest thing I have had to do on this trip. It is the only time on this trip I had envisioned myself at home, instead of where I was. However, I think it was an invaluable experience. You sometimes don't value what you have until you no longer have it.

On Jan 13, I started on the Oz Experience bus to explore the east coast of Australia. It was an incredible experience because of who I met and what I saw. I ended up being disappointed in the Oz Experience bus part. However, I was not upset at the things I got to do, which I will never forget. They are too long to list in entirety, but here is a quick summary of the best of the best:
- Seeing my first wild kangaroo, monitor lizard, skink, wallaby, red-back spider, dingo (which did not eat my baby) and crocodile
- Exploring Fraser island, the largest sand island in the world
- Learning to surf and surfing (still needs a lot of work)
- Sailing the Whitsundays
- Having a snake wrapped around my entire body (fyi - I am really afraid of snakes)
- Scuba diving Byron bay, the Whitsundays, S.S. Yongala and becoming an Advanced Open Water Certified diver on the Great Barrier Reef
- Most of all meeting and partying with some extraordinary people, who are too long to list

Part 3 started on Feb 12, when my parents (Bill and Sheri) and aunt/uncle (Charlene and Rodney) met me in Sydney, Australia. It was so unbelievable to see them here. All my mom could keep saying is, "Can you believe we are in Australia?". It was there first trip over seas and the flight was quite a tough one to get here. They came here for a little less than 3 weeks leaving home on Feb 10 and getting back home March 1. We spent the first 3 days in Sydney trying to recuperate from the flight & getting our rental cars. After that we headed to the Blue Mountains which were very beautiful. Then we went to the Snowy Mountains where we spent the remaining time we had. It was so great to be with my family and see some beautiful scenery. I also got to show my parents all the pictures from the trip with narration and notes about experiences (which they called "movies"). The movies helped them to understand more about my trip and what I have been doing. We also rented a car which was fun because I had not driven since being gone. It was also the first time I did roundabouts, had to read the different road signs, drove on the opposite side of the road and car. After a few days we found a place for everything in the car and had a little system, which was really nice. We ended up driving about 5500 kilometers to see everything. Of course saying goodbye when they left the airport was very tough, but it had to be done. They got home safely and are pretty much caught up from the trip so that all is great :)

(2) What are you doing next?

The last of the four parts is the time from when my parents left until now. After they left, I flew the next day to Melbourne. I was there for about 2 weeks before heading to Tasmania, which is where I am at now. I am going to leave the details of this part of the trip for another letter. However, I did several other trip things while I was in Melbourne. First off I extended my Australia Visa allowing me to stay in the country until June 23. I also had to turn in the rest of my plane tickets for the value they were worth, because they would have been cancelled after March 31, 2005. This means that I have no tickets right now out of Australia. I am still in planning mode for what I am doing after Australia, but I do know that I am staying here until the June 23 date. I will be doing the following things in Oz:
Tasmania 2 weeks (currently there)
Phillip Island, Kangaroo and French Island - 5 days
Melbourne - 5 more days
To Adelaide - 1 week
Adelaide - 4 days
Red Center (Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock) to Darwin - 2 weeks
Darwin and Kakadu - 2 weeks
Western Australia - 3 weeks
Canberra - 1 week
Brisbane, Surfer's Paradise and Byron Bay - 2 weeks

After that I am not sure where I will be traveling, but I am almost 100% sure that I will not be getting to Europe on this trip. My current very TENTATIVE plans include any combination of the following:

New Zealand (North Island to see things I missed the first time and possibly get sky diving certification) Pacific Islands such as Cook Islands, Niue, or Vanuata Bali Philippines Japan Singapore Thailand Vietnam Laos Cambodia India China

Before I left several people told me about contacts they had in Asia. If everybody could give me those contacts for the countries listed above that would be great. Thanks in advance for any help with that.

I have also made the decision that once I get out of Australia or New Zealand I will be sending the laptop home. It is much to dangerous to take that to Asia, plus I will not want to be carrying it all over the place. Things like that could make me a target there, where here it is no issue. That will not be until at least June, so until then I will be doing my best to keep up with all personal e-mails. At that point it will be much tougher for me to reply to individual e-mails. I will also no longer be posting photos until I am home. Basically, if you have something to communicate do it in the next 3 months :) I now have a cell phone while in Australia. The number is 0416807770. It does not charge me for phone calls coming in, but I can't call you back if I miss the call, so you will have to call again later. Sorry but a 5 minute call would cost around $30. It also has limited area's where it gets signal (for instance in Tasmania only have about 5% of the country).

(3) When are you going to be back and what will you do when back?

Missing the holidays this past year made me come to the decision that I would not miss them in 2005. I had started planning on being gone until March 2006, so I could do all the things I wanted. Even though I will be back this year, that does not mean I am back for good. I will likely be going away again in the future :)

To answer about what I will be doing when I get back I really don't know. I have not spent a ton of time thinking about it. I can say that I have been looking for a new opportunity. Each possibility is quite different, for example, photography, going back to college for business, or becoming a sky diver or scuba divemaster. If someone has an idea for a job where I can travel the world, have fun and get paid to do it I am all ears :)

Sorry to put everyone's e-mails visible, but if I don't do that the spam filters will probably try to delete the message. If you want to respond please just do a reply (NOT a reply to all).

Thanks for your time and hopefully you found all this at least relatively interesting :)

Take Care and Safe Travels :)