A Weekend Filled With Skydiving, Robbery & An African Courthouse

17th of March 2016:

Today is one of those days that turned into cascading horrible events. If only it had ended as well as it began. The morning began very unnecessarily early. For some reason everyone seemed to be up and active at 6am. Bridgette set her alarm for 6am and she didn’t seem to wake up until the music was half way through the song. By this time I was awake I just didn’t want to accept the fact I was awake.  

Solitare Campsite: Namibia
 

Nick and I then went for a walk as the sun was rising where Springbok were grazing in the grass next to us. We couldn’t make the whole distance of the walk as we had to help pack up the truck to leave by 7:15am however as everyone were early risers we seem to have left by 7am. We only had a 4 hour drive ahead of us to Swakopmund. 

 

Tropic of Capricorn: Namibia
 
After an hour we stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn where we had photos taken by the sign. Swakopmund is a small city in the middle of the desert. As we were about to get off the truck to go to the booking office our tour leader asks who’s doing skydiving. At this stage I wasn’t too keen on it, as I had wanted to do it in New Zealand. Bella (Tour Leader) said that we should go this afternoon if were wanting to do it. Now my nerves kicked in. It’s already 11am and we would get picked up at 2pm. That wasn’t much time for my mind to know what’s going on, all my brain seemed to be doing was spinning confused in what direction it wanted to go in (adrenalin junkie or right-minded). After a lot persuasion and peer pressure thanks to Bridgette and her young mind I booked it. I just fell silent and angry. I hadn’t felt this way since Queens cup rowing race in 2011. I needed to go into my concentration mindset where I knew I had to do this but was nervous about the actual process. With an hour to go we arrived at our hostel, I felt as if I was a scattered mouse trying to find the exit with knowing in the back of its brain it had no hope. The time had come, and our van had arrived. As we were driving the man questioned why we were so nervous and quiet… I feel as if it might be the fact that we’re about to jump out of a plane. As we arrived in the middle of the dry desert a little tin shed with a front lawn appears. As I walked out of the van I look up to see a tiny plane with cheetah spots on it. Now my stomach turned in knots. I felt like I wanted to be sick and closed myself in even more. I wanted to run but there was no where to go. As the guy is showing us the actions quickly of what we are going to do in the sky all I could think of was the plane. It had no door. Everything else just became a blur. I couldn’t imagine myself actually doing it. 

 

Skydiving, Swakopmund: Namibia
 
We went to go sit down and only a few minutes later Nicks name was called out first. Now my nerves were really kicking in. A few minutes later he was out of the office with his jumpsuit and harness. Now after walking around for 5 minutes with his face full of excitement and joy with only a little bit of panic his skydiver was walking him to the tiny plane. I couldn’t believe now the next time I’ll see him is when he’s in a parachute landing safely to the ground. It took 20 minutes for the plane to reach to where the skydivers would jump. We saw the plane 10,000 feet up. Then we see this tiny white dot falling in the sky. This tiny dot was Nick. He was free-falling, plummeting to the ground. I then see his parachute lift up to the sky. I could see him turning and twisting in the air sporadically with no control. This moment did not make me feel any better. My name had been called and I was all dressed in my jumpsuit and harness waiting to use Nick’s plane. I wanted him to land, obviously but if he landed that would mean that I would be next, and I don’t think I was ever ready for this. Nicks face as his feet touched the ground was pure joy and adrenalin. He was so pumped smiling from ear to ear. Now it was my turn, the skydiver grabbed my wrist and walked/ dragged me to the plane. I waved goodbye knowing that the next time I see everyone I would have jumped out of a plane. My foot was wedged against the wall and the fresh open air whipping past my feet as we reached higher and higher above the ground. Then the engine cut out, I knew this was it, I had no choice in the matter he was going to push me out no matter what. Crystal was out first, as I said “good luck” she was gone. The suction from her jumping made the plane shake, this was not what I wanted. As we start shuffling towards the door, I consciously don’t look down. I stare straight to the horizon with the wings in my foresight. There was no counting or any warning, at least I didn’t hear anything. I was out of the plane. My first thought was “omg I actually did it” then only a second later I realised what I had actually done as I was plummeting to the ground not being able to grab anything to protect myself. The only natural reaction I could seem to summon was an absolute loud, panicking scream. After the initial horrible first 3 seconds it was amazing. Until once again he opened the parachute and your body changes motion from straight to the ground to lifting up in the air drifting in the sky. He then let me use the handles to turn the parachute. Apparently I wasn’t very good as I didn’t yank them hard because one I’ve never operated a parachute and two we were still so high above the ground that I could kill us. The moment I lifted my legs and we landed safely onto the ground I had this beaming glow and smile.  
Skydiving,Swakopmund: Namibia
 

I was in absolute shock that I made it and I was so proud of myself for sticking through with it. It took another hour to get through everyone, with each persons face representing exactly how I felt. As we got back to our hostel we were all buzzing and wanting to watch our videos. One thing is for sure, skydiving is one of the most un-attractive activities you could do. We all got dressed up quickly and headed off to Napolitana, where we had wine and game meat. The “club” was next door so after figuring out payment we went through and spent an hour dancing to random music in every genre possible. It was an amazing night I wish it had simply ended there. As I went outside to the beer garden, Nick was approached by an African man and was chatting to him and George (our driver) for five minutes. Then as they approached us we heard the shell-shocking news that I will never get out of my head, “our dorm had been broken into.” The 5 minute walk back to the hostel was full of panic and desperation, praying that everything was fine and nothing had been stolen. I was more concerned about my passport, camera and ipad than anything else. My camera and IPod were sitting on the bed under a jumper. It hadn’t been put in the safe and I didn’t want to lose all my photos from my entire trip, you can never replace that. As we walked in I saw my locker on the far side of the room wide open. My heart dropped. As I came closer I noticed my passport purse had been unzipped. As I open it my passport was missing. Sheer panic swept across my face. I wanted to cry but shock left me feeling nothing. As I opened the currency section all my money was gone. All my U.S. , Australian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laos and Thai money were gone. My heart sank. $450 U.S. Missing and $100 Aus were gone this equated to losing $700 Australian dollars. I then found my passport scattered across the room. So as much as having money stolen is horrible I was so happy that non of my possessions were taken. My passport purse was sitting directly on top of my iPad. Nicks locker was also open and he was fortunate his camera hadn’t been stolen because that would have broken his heart. Peoples cards had been flung in his locker. A total of $2,200 U.S. money had been stolen from three of us, as well as a camera with lenses and a phone. I knew I was the fortunate one in the sense that I had the least amount of money taken. As it was 1am by the time I walked out of the room I face timed my dad to tell him the news. It was 9:30am back home and the sun was shining. As I told dad the news he seemed to be more concerned about the fact that I had jumped out of plane. This was the distraction I needed though. However the four of us had to go to the police station to file a report. In Africa I knew there was about a 1% chance that anything would happen. On a positive note it was my first time riding in a police car so at least we could find something happy to compensate what had just occurred. As we arrived at the police station and I was writing out my statement the police officer starts telling me the process of what will happen now. My 1% pot of luck had now turned to 0% thanks to the police officer. He tells me the detectives will come tomorrow morning and from there a specific tourist police squad will deal from there… “If they do their job”. So now I just wrote out the statement in a lot of detail of what I had seen when I walked in the door even though really there was no point because it’s not like they were going to do anything anyway. As it’s now 1:45am and panic and adrenalin have worn off from skydiving and having my dorm broken into I was exhausted. Kate and I left first. Kat awoke immediately clearly not sleeping waiting for her husband to come back but when I see Nick he’s fast asleep not even knowing that I’ve returned. 


18th of March 2016:

Last night I had a horrible sleep and only had a total of 4 hours. I felt like I was operating in robot mode. Going through the actions but my mind was still startled by last nights events. I went on my iPad and wasted some hours before sand boarding at 9:30am. At 9am whilst sitting outside our tour leader stands up and runs over to the counter. Not phased I keep wasting time. Then as she comes back she has this glistened smile across her face, one I have not seen since before last nights incident. Here she recounts the action that had just occurred. Last night the police had a suspicion the thief was the person staying next door who had done a runner last night and not paid for his room. This morning the maintenance man was walking the street and recognised the man and literally took him out pushing him to the ground. He made a civilians arrest and dragged him to the hostel to the skydiving office above the reception. Then 20 Nigerian police officers walk through the door with smiles on their faces and disappear up the stairs. Our tour leader exclaimed that the 20 police officers were standing behind the counter whilst this man sat on a seat on the other side. A detective comes in and starts asking questions. As our tour leader says check his pockets he was found with $1706 U.S. dollars, all my foreign currencies ,  the phone and the locks. He was caught red handed and yet was still protesting that it’s all his. Thankfully he did take my foreign money because it’s impossible to get here so there was no other way of explaining it. As the detective asks “did you steal these” and he responds with no he got slapped across the face and told “do not lie to me.” As she was telling me this I was in utter shock this man was an idiot and I was fortunate that he was. I was so happy he had been found but I still didn’t believe we would get our money back, that 1% hope had come back but African crime system isn’t quite the same. We went sand boarding with at least now a smile on our faces that something was being done, and that there was hope. 

 

Sandboarding, Namibia
 
Sand boarding was exhausting, if you want a good workout this would be the best activity for it. Sand boarding is the same as snow boarding but when you usually take the ski lifts up to the top in the snow you have to walk. The first time I went down it felt horrible I felt so un-natural however by the third time I was turning more naturally again. It definitely made me want to go back to the snow. Then it was time for the lying down sand boarding. We laid down on a piece of cardboard and went down the slope, the first run I reached 61km an hour. I honestly felt as if I had no control. The second time I reached 66km an hour and yet it felt slower. The top speed of the day was 68km an hour.
As we arrived back to our hostel buzzing from sand boarding covered in sand head to toe, we heard news that if you were religious or not you could only describe it in one simple word, “miracle.” We needed to go to the police station immediately as they had the man in a cell in the police station and had recovered money and a phone. Our initial thought was we would be recovering our stolen items and that was it. However simplicity turned to drama and the afternoon spent in the station. The detective and a random African lady (who has no relevant role to anything) calls us over to discuss (or yell at us women) that we have to go to court now. We were confused and puzzled as to what is occurring but we follow the lady across the road to the courthouse. As we arrive we hear yoddle noises from inside, a wedding party comes out with what looked like a very young girl in a white dress marrying a man in what looked like his 20’s. As we walk in we look down a corridor and the man who stole our possessions was standing there staring at us with a police officer. We walk to the end where our prosecutor starts speaking to us. He is a young man, maybe 25 in a very well groomed suit. The suit was a very good initial distraction of the words coming out of his mouth because at least he looked professional and knew what he was doing. He sits us over at the bench and starts saying the court house is closed because it’s their Independence Day. Even though we had been dragged from the police station three minutes ago saying were going to court now. As he’s asking us if we could stay till Tuesday (it’s currently Friday) another wedding comes out of the court house with a marriage celebrant yelling “who wants to get married, I’m in the mood to marry people.” Then all of a sudden a big African woman comes out of literally no where and starts dragging our prosecutor to the court room saying “I want to marry this one.” Then the marriage celebrant starts asking us if we want to get married. In the confused state we were in the only reaction that we could summon was laughter. As the marriage celebrant skips off down the corridor the “random lady who has no role in the matter” starts yelling, “I need to go, I need to go, I need to take my electrical injection.” Well… Kate and I just looked at each other and just cried in laughter we couldn’t take much more. Our tour leader and Andrew walks off laughing while she’s still yelling, “my throat is swelling.” Then she stops, stands up and walks 10 metres to talk to her friends. As our prosecutor is still standing talking to us agirl jumps out and says “I can speak German.” Well unfortunately for her one job of the day we were three Aussies (one being the tour leader), Irish man and a Canadian woman. The detective comes back with all the evidence under his arm and starts whispering to Andrew. Naturally our tour leader says can you speak up. Well he immediately stands up stares at her and yells that the thief is in the room next door and he doesn’t want him to hear, if only he thought to close the door. He then turns around back to Andrew and asks “Where is the box?” We were confused as to what he was saying or at least trying to say. After him repeating the same sentence five times, Andrew thought he meant the locker so he starts explaining that but no. Then finally after 5 minutes of the same question he asks, “where did you buy the phone.” “America,” Andrew exclaimed. Well if I’ve seen disappointment before it was nothing compared to the detectives face, thinking that the case was unsolvable and it was impossible to win now. Andrew then explains what the background was and said that he could unlock it. Still the detective was burrowing his sorrows. Andrew takes the phone from his hand and starts talking him through, explaining his unlocking the phone, showing him that the photo is him and his wife on his wedding day. At this point you would expect some sort of realisation but no he was still upset and disappointed. Eventually after three photos Andrew says, “this is me, and this is the scarf I’m wearing right now.” Well it’s like the light bulb finally switched back on and he jumped with excitement, realising that there is hope. I’m so glad that he’s the detective of the town. As our detective runs off to the prosecutor they spend 10 minutes speaking to one another walking up and down the 100m corridor. They would have a “secretive, professional” meeting in one end and then walk past us with stressed expressions then have another meeting in the other end. They both came back to us and explain that “the case is not impossible it will just be difficult.” I’m sorry you caught him red handed yes you didn’t bother doing any finger prints because you thought nothing would occur by it but you have some sort of evidence. He then explains that he wishes that we could stay till Tuesday because then at least we could explain in court, “what the items mean to us”… I’m sorry how on earth can you make a sob story about money, I mean I’m so sad because now I can’t go bungee jumping… We would have to be some pretty good actors and gullible judges to win with that. Also the prosecutor looks at Andrews phone and asks “do you need this?” ….really. He then freaks out yelling, “OMG why am I touching this it has my fingerprints.” I personally have seen 8 people touch that phone in the past 3 hours that I’ve seen it, I think it’s a bit too late for that. 
As were allowed to leave the courthouse and go back to the police station we turn around and notice the thief is also walking across the road with us only a few metres behind. If you’ve caught a criminal and are taking them back to the cell you would think you would at least hand cuff them or have more than one police officer walking closer than 2 metres behind. However this man was obedient and walked himself to the police station, staring at us as he walked behind the officers desks and into his cell. The detective then says “just a few minutes.” Well we all know that means 30 minutes. Eventually he yells out “who’s the one who has the foreign money.” I say it’s me and he yells at me to “come now.” I help explain to him which ones are Cambodian and Laos as he seems to be having trouble reading. He had never heard of Laos and explain that it’s next to Vietnam. Luckily I was wearing my singlet I got from Laos and showed him and the lady how to spell it pointing to each letter, as well as helping him pronounce it. This didn’t make me feel reassured about our case and him solving the problem but at least he became educated on something that day. He then explains that he is going to sign out all the money and phone to Andrew and we can deal with it from here. I have never felt so hopeless from being a women until this detective. As Kate comes over so does the thief who sits down on the other side of the desk and stares straight at us. I didn’t know what to do, should we be there or should we leave. We took the running option. As Andrew was called over we realise we are having a mini court case right here right now. As we walk over he explains that he’s going to count the money. Well $1706 U.S. is a lot of money when you can only count to ten and you make it dramatic with 2 second pauses in between slamming down the money on the desk. I gave up watching him count the money and turned to the thief for a psychology student being this close to a criminal was absolutely amazing. My psychology mind switched on and I watched his mind turn from denial and finding the situation amusing to slight realisation that all the fun and invincibility he has had over the past few months were gone once they signed everything off. Once the detective got to my foreign money he wasn’t so sure anymore and as he couldn’t read once he got to $10,000 dong he held it up and said “who can count this anyway” and slammed it on the desk. He turned to thief and said “all this is there’s not yours” whilst continuing to say “see I’m doing this professionally I’m counting all the money in front of you.” Well I was just happy to get some sort of money back, more than I had ever imagined. We split the money only losing $250 U.S. each. By the time we went back to our hostel it was 5:30pm and if I wasn’t exhausted before I was now.
We watched our sand boarding movie at 6pm at the booking office where we could purchase photos for only $20 Rahn per photo. After walking 30 minutes in the streets we went to a gorgeous restaurant on the beach. At this stage (8:30pm) I hadn’t had a shower so I was still covered head to toe in sand from the morning. As we arrived back at 10pm I face timed my parents (6am) equivalent to tell them my adventurous day and to say I got my money back. Finally at 10:30pm I was in bed ready to put the day behind.

Overland Truck Journey Begins

12th of March 2016

Acacia Overland Truck
 

Today is day one of 41 days of travelling on an overland truck across Africa, camping under the stars. I had no idea what to come of the tour, but all I knew was I was going to have to keep an open mind. After last nights talk it left me with a sour taste in my mouth and I was now concerned. I awoke nice and early as we had been told that the chances of getting wifi on the trip were small and the connection would be slow and cut out if it did exist. So I woke up at 6:30am to try and FaceTime my parents for the last time in over a month. However unfortunately the wifi at the hostel was cutting in and out and it connected once for a mere 5 seconds and all I saw was my parents waving with excited expressions. At least the messenger part worked and we could talk for 10 minutes before I had to get ready. Bella our tour leader wanted everyone to start putting our bags in the truck by 7am. As I didn’t want to be that person who everyone’s waiting on I did what she asked. However this now lead to waiting outside till 8:30am when we were actually going to leave. Instead of beginning our journey on the truck where we will be spending a lot of time travelling across Africa we jumped on a luxurious coach which took us to a township. However, our guide stopped us in the coach in a random street. We spoke for 15 minutes about the history of the street. It sounded very interesting but I wish I wasn’t trying to fight the battle of falling asleep. I felt so rude, but when your eyes close uncontrollably your battle begins. Africa as many people are aware was divided between black and white people. What I didn’t know was the white and black people had districts they had to live in. Obviously each district held either black Africans or white people. The black Africans living conditions were horrible. They had to wear their I.D. Information as it was the white people stating they were dumb. If they did not have their I.D. When they were asked they would go to jail. The men were sent off to a different district to their wives and children and were only allowed to see them a few days a year, or if a permit was confirmed for the wife and children to see their father for a few days.

We then drove to a current township where 100’s of children, wives and husbands live in shacks with other families. The government is currently building homes for these people however as there are millions of families living in shacks across Africa this will take time, at least this is one of the governments excuses as it is currently a corrupt system who have become greedy over the civilians of Africa. They are overcrowded, have poor income and live in tin shacks with temperatures reaching in the 40’s. And yet, the children run around with smiles on their faces, playing the trumpet with the end of a broomstick and the families have come together to support one another financially and morally. 

Our coach then took us to the waterfront where we were allowed to buy snacks and alcohol for the roads ahead.

Now our adventures begin! Our first leg of the journey was to a stunning winery only 4 hours away from Cape Town. We set our tent up on the gorgeous lush grass with vineyards and the sun setting as our background. For only $120 Rhan we had a wine tasting. This is the tour I signed up for, tasting 5 different types of wine. Due to our wine tasting, us arriving late and it being the first night we were spoilt and the winery cooked us steaks with potato and a gorgeous broccoli salad. I felt like we were in a 5 star resort it was just bliss. This was a much better way to get to know everyone. However only four people chose not to do the wine tasting and I felt sorry for them because they weren’t allowed to sit with us whilst we were drinking the wine. I continued on till midnight chatting away getting to know everyone. 

13th of March 2016:

Day two, and once again we awoke nice and early. 6:30am we were up and ready to pack down the tent and get going. At 8am we were on the road again. To reach our next destination we were going to have to cross into Namibia. I hate border crossing it always seems a hassle. Today however was an absolute breeze, if only there was a a breeze in the wind. The sun was beaming down on us, as you can feel your skin instantly start to sizzle as you run from one building to another. Today’s temperature was only 35 degrees however, the u.v. rating was 9. We were officially in Namibia after an hour getting everyone’s passports stamped. We stopped 2 minutes down the road to fill up and get ice-cream. They surprisingly had wifi however, Kiki seemed to not want to give us the password because she wanted to speak to her boyfriend. Eventually we found out and only had 5 minutes to send a message to my parents saying, “I’m in Namibia.” 

Orange river was gorgeous. Our campsite had lush grass overlooking the river. As it was so hot and such a long day on the road we were all pretty quick to get into our bathers and have a swim in the pool with some beer (or in my case cider). We had been given groups much like you would expect on school camp and I was in the Zebra team. Unfortunately that meant cooking tonight and to say the least my cooking skills aren’t Jamie Oliver style. I would more relate to a monkey trying to cook, just throwing anything and chopping anything but with no skill and no understanding of what I am doing. Tonight we were cooking lasagna, garlic bread and salad. I was in charge of the salad so you would expect this to be simple, but it’s harder when Bella doesn’t tell you what to put in the salad, as you don’t want to use vegetables for the following nights. We started cooking at 5:40pm and can you believe we finished at 8:00pm. We are probably the slowest cooking team to cook lasagna for 26 people in the world. By this time we were all longing to feel that satisfaction of food. Tonight I was very tired. By 9:30pm I excused myself and went to sleep. Tonight though was magical, Nick and I put our mattresses outside on the grass and slept under the stars. The stars glowed and twinkled around the Milky Way that was directly above us. We watched the stars for an hour before we finally drifted off into a longing peaceful sleep.

14th of March 2016:

The days seemed to be flashing before my eyes, by the time I blink we will be in Kenya… Maybe. This morning as I awoke my eyes were filled with satisfaction and wonder. It’s a beautiful moment when you wake up outside in a sleeping bag looking at the sky. We had organised a 3 hour canoe trip down the orange river starting at 8am. We jumped on a tram like bus for 10 minutes down the road. The mountains blocking the glass like river from the wind was something you see out of a gallery. The river reflected all its surroundings leaving a beautiful reflection on the still water. The canoes however were not as graceful. They were huge tubs with two buckets to keep your valuables dry and to keep the canoe afloat. As soon as the guide pushes you in he splashes water on you, this was not the last time I got wet. For 45 minutes we were having a water fight in the middle of hills down a gorgeous river in Africa. Eventually we were allowed to jump in and go for a swim. I still have no idea what was in the water but I think it was best I didn’t know. For some reason everyone struggled to get back into the kayak. Using techniques that would only make their lives harder and work their muscles a lot more. One person had to swim next to the canoe to the bank where they then could get back in. From coaching rowing and teaching people to get back into the single by them self I’ve discovered that people somehow do similar techniques such as straddling it from underneath and yet to this day I haven’t ever seen it work. The river was very placid with hardly any current apart from the couple of “Rapids” or small little bumps in the river. This meant we were going to actually paddle and not just sail down the river. With 30 minutes to go I was done. I was hungry and over the whole experience. Nick and I picked up our pace and reached a couple of metres before the campsite. We could see it, it was in arms reach but Bridgette and Thomas were lagging behind so we had to wait 10 minutes staring at the campsite before we were allowed to go in. It was fun and I don’t regret it, but it did not need to be 3 hours. As soon as we got back I took all my wet gear and put it on the clothes line and ran to the bathroom to get changed. The only time I’m quick at getting ready is when food is awaiting me. By the time I was heading for my lunch, Nick was still putting his clothes on the line. We didn’t have long till we left again to head to another campsite. Our campsite was near the fish canyon, the second largest canyon in the world. We arrived at 3pm and dear god it was hot. The bus ride had turned into a sweating fest and we all ran out to get fresh air, but unfortunately it was worse now the sun was back frying my skin. We decided to not set up the tent as it was unlikely it was going to rain and it was so magical last night… If only we could have predicted the future. We all walked the 500m in the blistering sun to swim in the pool, all but Nick who decided to climb the hill to get a good photo. The pool was freezing so putting my feet in was enough. After an hour we all had to climb back onto the truck to drive 30 minutes to the canyons for sunset.

 

Fish Canyon: Namibia
 
 It was absolutely magical walking along the edge of cliff face as the sun glistened the rock face as it faded behind the mountains. On the other side the sky was angry, with dark clouds, thunder and lighting across the sky. So much for it not going to rain. As we arrived at the main lookout our tour leader had wine (goon) and cheese and biscuits. It was one of those moments where you look around and realise how amazing your life is right now. 

Fish Canyon: Namibia
 
The night didn’t end there though it only took some people one or a couple of glasses to get the night going. Our truck turned into a party, music was blaring through the speakers, people were dancing in the isle whilst the other people were drinking the last bit of goon from the bag. The funny part of it was everyone went crazy when Scottish bagpipe rock band song came on. When we arrived at the campsite we made a dance floor with the music still blaring from the truck in the middle of the desert. As it neared 11pm we all headed to the pool, some more reasonable than others. After an hour there was only four of us, the Scottish couple and myself and Nick. Tonight was absolutely amazing and I wish it could of ended at this point and I could have gone to bed and had a peaceful sleep. Remember when I said we didn’t set up the tent… This was one of the worst decision we have ever made! It was an absolutely boiling night with no wind. Therefore this means mosquitos heaven. It would rain every now and again so we slept under the shelter where the kitchen was. There were so many bugs, a beetle as big as my hand crawled past as we were going to sleep. Sorry to that beetle but I killed it so I knew I wasn’t going to sleep with it. As I sat up to close my sleeping bag a cricket hit me in the face and I thought it went in my sleeping bag, after feeling around a bit in the dark I couldn’t feel it so went to sleep. An hour later I felt this thing jumping and hitting the top of the sleeping bag between my feet. So thankfully I quickly undid the bottom part and let out the cricket. Now I was awake, this was horrible. I could hear mosquitos everywhere, my insect repellant was in the truck that was locked and it was so hot that if you were in your sleeping bag covering your body you would actually drip in sweat. By 3am and hardly any sleep I decided to give up. I tried to look for a tent that I could set up by myself in the dark. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Nick and I however moved out from the shelter and an hour later a light breeze came across my head. It was until 4am that I feel asleep.

15th of March 2016:

I only had 2.5 hours of sleep last night. I felt sluggish as if my body was completing all the necessary steps in the morning but my mind was still asleep. I was not the only person who felt this way. I only heard one person have a good sleep as apparently sleeping in the tent was just as unbearable. Lucky we had an 8 hour drive today. By 7:45am we were all back on the truck ready for a long day ahead on the road. I fell into a deep(ish) sleep, as deep as you can get sitting up. As Nick put a mattress at the back in front of the lockers and slept properly. At our first stop, the tour leader opens up the door and non of us moved, some slept through whilst others just blankly stared at her trying to comprehend if they want to just keep sleeping or get food. It wasn’t until lunch time that we all started becoming more alive. Today didn’t feel as hot, thank god! I love the heat, but not on an non air conditioned truck. We stopped in the middle of absolutely no where, where there were a few bushes with 10cm thorns coming off. This was our toilet stop. Myself and four other girls ran off but unfortunately there was literally no where to hide. The thorn bushes came up to my knees. As I was running a thorn went straight through my thongs (flip flops) luckily my quick reactions and yelling skills stopped it from piercing my toe. As we were walking back big rain drops started. I started running for the truck as I took one step onto the truck it poured. I couldn’t have been closer to getting soaked if I tried. One day we were burning to death and now today we were getting wet as our truck leaked through the windows. Well today I think we should put the tent up. My team and myself swiftly unpacked the truck as soon as we arrived. It had stopped raining by now and our team doesn’t enjoy losing hours doing “chores”. By the time I had finished Nick had just finished setting up the tent. 

Namibia

Now we had 2 hours till dinner and dear god I was already hungry. This is never a good sign. I literally did a lap of the truck because I was bored and trying to waste time. This was where our tour leader tells us for only $100 Rhan ($8 Aus) we could see the cheetahs and a leopard. I’ve never been more excited, one it’s cheap and two it will waste 45 minutes so dinner will be sooner. I was there with my $100 Rhan and camera waiting. The leopard was gorgeous and came straight up to the fence and started posing. Sadly, the leopard use to be a house cat so they can’t put it out in the wild as it wouldn’t have any skills to survive. As I followed everyone through a gate I noticed the guide lock it. We were now in the enclosure of two cheetahs. This was frightening. They were fairly big, lounging in the sun. Some people got photos with it but when I walked to it, it got a bit aggravated so I was happier to not risk my life for a photo. As we walked back to the campsite we were all buzzing having been only metres from cheetahs. Unfortunately it was still an hour till dinner. So I went to have a shower to waste more time. By the time I got back Cara and myself were sitting waiting getting very hangry. I feel if we had to wait another 30 minutes we would of eaten the chairs. Dinner was pork and as its not my favourite I had vegetarian. It was the best vegetarian meal I’ve ever had. The tofu tasted like KFC chicken nuggets, but sorry to the vegetarians meat is still better. 3 people from our group was also bored so they made us desert. It was vanilla custard with random fruit and biscuits. It was interesting to say the least but tasted a lot better than you may ever imagine. As we have to leave our campsite by 5:15am everyone had a fairly early night.

16th of March 2016:

I woke up bright and early at 4:45am ready for a packed day of sand dunes. We woke up, stuffed my sleeping bag back in its bag and packed down the tent in 15 minutes. I honestly thought this was amazing. By 5:10am we were in the truck driving again. It took us an hour to arrive at the national park. The sun had just began rising as we were waiting in line for the gates to open. All of a sudden we heard a gate open, so our tour leader yelled out to all get back in the truck. Then two cars drive out whilst a African man is yelling out; “stop the people… Stop the people.” I had no idea what was going on but the man jumps out in front of the car yelling at the people. Saying that he’s going to call the police and where’s their permit. Apparently he is the “gate keeper” and he did not give authority for them to open the gate. The only weird part of this scenario was they were leaving the national park, they had already stayed a night in a campsite there with a permit and were trying to leave. He clearly just wanted to be domineering with no reasoning behind what he was saying. After another 10 minutes we were ready to go through. The sand dune was beautiful and Nick and I quickly walked up it to spend more time and before it became too hot. 

 

Dune 45: Namibia
 
We were fortunate in the way that it was a cooler day than normal. The sand glowed under the sun whilst the other side stayed in the shade until the beaming sun would turn it into a glistening red. As crazy people we are, we ran down the side of the sand dune. It was so dense that it was impossible to go fast as your feet would instantly sink into the sand. I also didn’t realise how high 75 metres is when your running down, at about half way I felt like having a rest for a picnic. As we reached the bottom we walked the 100m to our truck where bacon, scrambled eggs and toast were waiting for us. This was where I felt like I was back at rowing camp, waking up at 4:45am off doing an activity and then coming back with hot breakfast all ready for you. It was crazy how my body seemed to love waking up early, it was if i went instantly went into rowing mode. I felt more active and awake on the sand dune than I had during the other days. We jumped back on the truck to only drive 10 minutes down the road where we waited for 4×4 trucks to take us to …. . It honestly felt as if we were in the middle of the desert, stranded, walking for hours. The only truth was we were literally in the middle of the desert surrounded by sand to the eye could see. By 11am it was starting to get hot, but another walk for 20 minutes up and down smaller dunes to reach what looks like a dried lake with dead trees, protected by huge sand dunes.

 

Deadvlei: Namibia
 
 It was mind blowing how it was clay a size of a football field with a few black dead trees and then the sand starts again. After only 15 minutes and feeling like I had been left in the desert for days I was ready to turn around and go back to the truck. There were absolutely no shade that could cover your entire body. As we arrived back to where the truck dropped us off 50 people were waiting under the one tree hiding from the blistering sun. 55 minutes goes by and Nick takes my water and starts walking back with Rhett. Only 5 minutes later finally a truck comes to pick us up. We bolted for the truck to beat the old people from Germany, there was no way we were being considerate about them now. We had also been waiting a lot longer than they had. Nick and Rhett had only walked a few hundred metres down the road so thankfully we picked them up on the way. I was so excited to get back to the truck. We drove 40 minutes to exit the National park and where we were told ice-cream would be. The shop had 6 ice-creams left that had clearly melted and then semi froze again, with yellow puss looking ice-cream escaping the top and sides. At this point I figured as much as I am dying for something to cool me down I don’t need it quite this bad. By this point it was 2pm and we still had an hour to drive to our new campsite before we could make our lunch. Luckily we went to the next petrol station to get ice where everyone ran out like little children wanting all the ice-cream. As it was so late our tour leader bought us all sandwiches and my mood had been lifted and I didn’t feel so exhausted and hot. As we arrived at the campsite we went straight to the “dam”. I don’t know if one would call it a dam but if that’s what makes them feel better we will stick to it. The so called dam was a tank with no lid and algae. I sun baked (in the shade) on the side for two hours while we listened to music and chatted just wasting time before dinner. We were on truck clean duty, and was possibly one of the worst days to clean the truck. I don’t think people know you have to walk on your toes in the sand or at least walk lightly because we had an entire sand dune in the truck. Sand is absolutely the worst to sweep out, it seems to just keep coming. I was fairly tired and wasn’t in the mood to drink so I had a nice long shower, brushed my hair and rearranged my locker. Sometimes it’s nice to have some of your own time every now and again. We had a big chain of us sleeping under the stars, as they twinkled and glistened in the black sky.

Welcome To South Africa

5th of March 2016:
As we awoke I couldn’t believe we were in Africa. The realisation finally hit me. Nick had gotten up earlier to watch the sunrise but I was still satisfied having an extra hours sleep. Our first day in Cape Town and our plan was to hike Table Mountain. However this did not go to plan when I had a bad reaction to my malaria tablets. The day before I had felt like there was something in my throat. The feeling you get when you eat a chip and it goes down the wrong hole. However this all changed for the worse once I ate. I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter and all of a sudden through the first piece of toast I had a pain in my chest. I didn’t think much of it until it became unbearable. The pain would stretch across my chest and it felt as though my throat would seize up, making it difficult to breath. I wish I could have said this happened once but after a week I still have pains (mild now) but still there when I eat dense foods. This pain sometimes brought tears to my eyes. For this reason we didn’t climb table mountain and would give me a day to get over it. We did however walk to the waterfront where there was a massive shopping mall and beautiful restaurants along the water overlooking the million dollar catamarans and speed boats. As 3pm came Nick wanted to do something but I just couldn’t do anything more even lying down was painful. So Nick went to climb Lions Head by himself whilst I rested for 2 hours rather than pushing myself and feeling ill for the rest of the week. I was so envious of Nick’s climb, the view looked amazing and I hated feeling debilitated and not able to do it. I knew I really couldn’t eat but if you know me you know that no matter how I’m feeling I always want to eat. We walked 20 metres down the street to a little Mexican place. I ordered nachos and Nick ordered a beef taco. What came out literally made me laugh. I have no idea what kind of taco that was but it was non I’ve ever seen. It was a tiny circle bread (more like a burrito) with the toppings in the middle. He was struggling to say the least, everything was falling out and going everywhere. What he paid for that ($30 Rahn) was definitely a waste of money. I would probably feed an infant this and even they would cry at me for wanting more. So he ordered 2 more. I however was once again envious that he could eat and I couldn’t so I ordered a chicken taco. The pain was most definitely present but I got through it anyway. 

6th of March 2016:
Today was the day of the biggest amateur bike race in the world. 35,000 people cycle 100km around Cape Town. We walked down to the waterfront where we thought we would get a good view but unfortunately it was near the end and we had no idea where to stand. After wasting 2 hours and it becoming 11:30am we jumped in a taxi to drive us to the base of table mountain. Taxis in Cape Town are way too overpriced. He said the standard was $150 to go to table mountain. We were literally only 4km away. He was astonished we were walking it. I don’t know what we looked like but apparently not fit. Clearly 2 months in Asia hasn’t served us well then! There were no clouds in the sky and the reflection off the bitumen was brutally hot. It took us 20 minutes to walk to the beginning of the trail. At this point I was absolutely exhausted and hot. I was still having issue with my chest and breathing but I was determined non the less. As we were just about to take our first step two people came down praising the lord that they had made it. They then exclaimed that they were so happy they weren’t doing it now as it was so hot. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t make someone determined to hike a mountain when all they hear is 5 bad things and no good things about it. Non the less we headed off. After 30 minutes I wanted to be done. I was bright red from exhaustion and my breathing had become increasingly worse. I felt so unfit, having to stop every 5 minutes just to try and open up my chest. At this point Nick said that I could turn around and go up the cable car. I was astonished, there was no way I was turning around and going back down now. As much as I had really wanted to I knew how amazing I would feel once I made it to the top. After 50 minutes we had finally reached the shady area where the mountain blocked the sun. It was as if you had finally walked to heaven. We still had 20 minutes to go but the fact that you weren’t walking on rocks that were reflecting a blistering heat that you couldn’t escape is amazing. Once we had reached the top the feeling of success and determination was a overwhelming feeling. 

 

Table Mountain: Cape Town
   
The view was absolutely breathtaking, and the fact that you knew you just climbed it became even more rewarding. I honestly hands down don’t think I would have appreciated the view half as much if it wasn’t for that horrifying walk. The walk is 10km up (apparently) and normally takes any where between just less of an hour to two and half. We arrived at the top in 1 hour and 20 minutes. However we both hands down still believe it was 3 hours. Just as we reached the top the clouds started to come through. It looked like fog was chasing you every step you took it would engulf your space even more. If you’ve seen game of thrones you would be able to picture white walkers walking through the fog. As stereotypical tourists we took so many photos on different rocks. After a good 30 to 45 minutes the clouds were becoming thicker and the visibility was becoming worse so we lined up and bought a ticket to ride down the cable car. The cable car was massive and fit 50 people. Not only this but the cable cars bottom rotates so everyone gets to see 360 views of the mountain, beaches and the city. It was amazing but unfortunately it only took 30 seconds to get down. At this point my feet were aching, and I was ready to get into a taxi. The taxi driver tried to charge us $80 Rahn for a 2km drive on one street. He didn’t have to make any turns and only had 2 traffic lights. This would have taken us 5 minutes max to get back to our hostel. He wasn’t allowing us to use the meter as he knew he would be losing money. So we jumped out and walked. I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in one day! 3km to waterfront (plus walking around), 10km walking up table mountain and then 2km walking back to our hostel. We however had to change hostels that morning so we hadn’t even checked in. All I wanted to do was crash on the bed. However we had to pick up our bags from luggage storage and then organise payment. Once this was all done I was happy to take my shoes off and collapse on the bed. Nick fell asleep for 40 minutes whilst I was just relaxing on my iPad. I became very hungry though as we had walked through lunch time and even though there was a restaurant at the top once we had finally reached it I wasn’t hungry. However, the thought of having to sit up sounded exhausting enough let alone walking to a shop. However we finally pushed our selves out of bed and walked down to the first restaurant we saw (only 100m away). It was a burger bar and what we ordered looked like we hadn’t eaten in a week. We ordered two burgers, onion rings and chicken wings. Dear god what we had lost in calories on that walk we regained it in 20 minutes. The food was absolutely delicious though. Even just writing this I want to teleport back to eating the burger and chips and everything else. As soon as we were done we headed back to bed. 

7th of March 2016:

Yesterday was so exhausting that we needed a rest day. Surprisingly my muscles weren’t aching, but I was happy to have a lazy morning. We went down to Woolworths to buy some supplies for breakfast. I was so excited with yoghurt and fruit as we haven’t eaten the best foods on this trip. However, Nick bought coco pops and I haven’t had them since I was a kid so 5 bowls later I stopped myself. We decided to rent a car for two days. However at this point it was 12pm. We found one within walking distance (20 minutes) as we finally worked out all the paper work etc. it was already 2pm. I was so hungry, so we quickly went back to our hostel to make a ham and cheese toastie. We set off down the road to the botanical gardens. It was only a 30 minute drive. The gardens were absolutely beautiful, the blooming flowers and table mountain in the background was picturesque. The garden is huge, and a perfect place to have a picnic next to the lake as it reflects table mountain. We spent a good hour or two here, and you could quite easily spend the entire day. As we went back the sun was starting to set, so Nick drove us to Lions head, where we went to a look out that overlooked the beach and houses. For dinner we went to the same beach to a seafood restaurant. This seafood restaurant had obviously seafood and not so obvious sushi. I have never heard of the combination before, especially not in a restaurant but it made the decision making that much harder. I couldn’t decide on the seafood basket or the sushi basket and after 15 minutes of back in forth we finally picked the seafood for 2. As the platter came out it was huge filled with prawns, fish, chips, calamari and so much more. It was so satisfying and worth the money. 

8th of March 2016:
Today we definitely had a fully packed out day. We started nice and early at 6am where I climbed out of bed still in a daze. After another bowl of coco pops we jumped in the car to head to Lions head. It would have been beautiful to see the sunrise from the top but we weren’t that dedicated to climb in the dark. The walk is very beautiful and a lot easier to say the least than table mountain. The walk begins with a gravel/ dirt road around the mountain, as you reach the other side natural steps form. The path becomes narrower and narrower as you get closer to the top. At one point you reach a t-intersection where you can go left and keep walking all the way around the mountain till you reach the top or straight where you literally climb up on chains and metal bars in the cliff side. Obviously we chose the second option. It got your heart pumping when you knew if you slip you will fall down the entire mountain. If you are scared of heights I wouldn’t recommend it! As we reached the top the 360 views of the entire city it was amazing. Everywhere you looked was breathtaking. There is no better feeling than knowing that you’ve just climbed to the top. Once again we became stereotypical tourists taking. numerous photos on rocks over looking the city. By the time we came down it was only 9am. We quickly checked out and found a nearby hostel on loop street. Our next journey was to the aquarium at the waterfront. I don’t know why but we always seem to go to aquariums when we visit somewhere. They had an entire tank of Nemos! Then after seeing all the fish we went to the penguin area where they were feeding them. The girl in our dorm has been doing a internship there for 2 months already. Next was the big sharks. They have this eerie feeling when they swim. They were just moving so slow but seemed to know what everyone was doing. They gave me the shivers. This was the moment that we knew we had to do shark cage diving. After an hour we were done and ready to head to south point. It was 12pm by the time we left, the gps predicted 45 minutes. Unfortunately it didn’t tell us about the heavy construction going on so we were delayed an hour, moving as slow as a turtle. At one point I contemplated walking to the shop, ordering then jumping back in the car. By 2pm we were starving so stopped at St. James at a tiny little cafe. We ordered two burgers and honestly had no idea what to expect, but our expectations weren’t promising. To our surprise they were actually delicious, they tasted like dads bbq burgers back at home. We still had another 15 minute drive ahead of us and by the time we reached the national park it was 3pm. We drove to the lighthouse, and as we were driving it looked identical to Marion bays national park. The lighthouse is where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. Even though you can’t see anything you can imagine. Then with only 30 minutes to spare before the national park closed we stopped at the most south point of Africa. As we headed home we went a completely different way to avoid the construction and I’m so glad we did because it was beautiful. It was a narrow windy road on the cliffs edge over looking the ocean. This took us only 30 minutes and we were back at the beach we had dinner at the night before. 

 

Cape Town
 
The sun set was one of the best sunsets I have ever laid my eyes on. The sky turned into a gorgeous pink and yellow colour as the clouds scattered the sky in a bright pink. The wind however was a different story. The sand on the beach was not always sand but a combination of shells, as the wind was blowing a gale the shells would pick up and spike you in the back of the legs. This pain felt like a 1000 needles stabbing you. Everyone on the beach was running for shelter and screaming as they were being attacked. I think this was one of the fastest I’ve ever ran on sand as I looked like I was in the war running away from someone shooting me, rather than sand. Sadly we had to return our little polo. 

9th of March 2016:
Yesterday was a packed out day to say the least. It’s amazing how being a tourist visiting sites is exhausting. We had no plans for today and had a very lazy morning. As it neared 11am and we had no achieved anything apart from walking downstairs for free breakfast, we decided to go for a walk. No plans of where to go just headed down one direction. We found a market with clothes, bags and beaded animals. I bought a cheap throw over bag as the one I bought in Laos broke in a week. After aimlessly walking around for an hour we came across a indoor alley way that sold cheap Indian foods. It was as if it was a food market but in one big lane. I bought butter chicken and naan bread for $59 Rahn, which equates to $5 dollars Aus. We then had to try and find apparently the biggest camera store in Cape Town. This walk took us 30 minutes walking through random streets of Cape Town. When we arrived and walked through the doors it was equivalent to Nicks heaven. Endless Tri pods, cameras, you name it, it was there. However, miraculously we only walked out with a memory card. We walked back to our hostel where we spent another few hours writing and putting photos onto the computer. Today I can quite easily say was a bludge day, but I feel like everyone needs that every now and again. There was no waste to the day though. 

10th of March 2016:
Today we were in for a thrill of our lives. We had booked to go out in a little steel cage in the middle of the ocean to swim with great white sharks. This thought process hadn’t actually completely crossed my mind until we were on the boat and I saw the eerie murky water. We were in the third group of the day so we departed at 11am. It took 2 hour drive in a very squashed mini bus. Even my legs hit the seats in front of us. As we arrived at the office we had a lovely sand which whilst watching a slideshow of horrifying photos of other cage divers. I started telling myself that, that wouldn’t happen the shark would not come up to my face with its mouth open. As we all jumped on the boat the sky’s on the left had turned dark as if a storm was brewing. Looking down at the green murky seas I thought to myself, “what the f*ck am I doing?” I wish I was more upbeat and excited for this adventure but the nervous had gotten the better of me. As I looked over at Nick I know he was thinking the same thing but we both wanted show a poker face. It’s the only way to settle nerves. Until the boat stopped and the man yelled out, “there’s a shark, quick first 5 people get in.” My wetsuit was on but my legs weren’t moving forward towards the shark. I’m pretty sure I just span around in circles trying to look like I wasn’t ready, but mentally I wasn’t. In truth when are you ever ready to jump in the cage with sharks swimming around you? Nick of course was in the first group ready for the action. He was pushed up on the right hand side, right next to where the man throws the tuna head. If you want action definitely go on that side. At one point I thought his hair was going to get chopped off as the shark went straight for him. 

 

Shark Cage Diving: Cape Town
 
Now after seeing Nick nearly get eaten it was my turn. I was exhilarated but the nerves were still bubbling across my body. As I put my feet in the man yells, “shark, down… Down” as I screamed out “I don’t want to go in the cage when there’s a shark there!” Might I just explain my valid point, if I shark is next to it and you jump in the cage your not prepared you can’t see it, you don’t know where to put your hands yet and once again you can’t see it! Non the less he pushed me down. The water was a mere 15 degree celcius and I could not feel a thing. Yes I was wearing a wet suit but my feet and hands made it seem I was swimming in a bath. As the man yells, “down” you hold your breath and look through your googles to stare at the Sharks eyes as he swims past you looking back at you. The water visibility was only a metre which made it scarier because you never knew where they were until they were a metre away. After 5 minutes of screaming, laughing and winning the world record for holding my breath we were out. Now I got to watch them for upstairs on the boat. This was actually more terrifying cause you realised how big they were, and to add to it the rails were falling out as the boat leaned to the side of the Sharks. Luckily we got another chance to go in the cage. I was actually more nervous the second time somehow. Nick went in the first group that went twice and this was where the action happened. Nick was once again in the action seat. I ran off and said, “oh I need my phone I wanna watch my boyfriend get eaten.” 

 

Shark Cage Diving: Cape Town
 
The next minute a shark came straight for them as the man pulled the tuna head up above the water and over the cage the shark jumped for it. Nick said all he could see under the water was his belly but what I saw was much more terrifying. I saw the jaws of a great white on top of the cage above Nick. As the shark came back down it swiftly swam away flicking its tail to the boat sending a huge splash of water over everyone. However, now it was my turn again. As I jumped in the cage I was the second person from the right. We saw nothing exciting for 5 minutes. The water was so cold that I was shaking uncontrollably. Then Nick says from above, “Hey sharkies come get her.” Well… From this day onwards I’m calling him the shark whisperer. A shark appeared out of no where, and literally went straight for my face with it’s mouth open. It swiftly turned before its jaws hit the cage cm from my face. I would have only had to put a finger nail out of the cage for me to touch it. It was a interesting experience though it wasn’t as if I screamed or my heart pounded in that moment. It was like everything went still, in slow motion. I was surprisingly calm and wasn’t afraid at all…under the water. Once I came up out of the water we all screamed! By now the storm had set and it was raining. So we quickly went back to shore. It was one of those days where you can’t even comprehend why you did that but it was one of the most adrenalin rushing experiences and one I will never forget long after this journey.

11th of March 2016:

Tomorrow we begin our tour trip through Africa. However we still needed to buy certain items before it began. So we went back down to the waterfront. After spending an hour in the massive camping store I only came out with a sleeping bag and a warm liner. The only other things on my list were running shorts, because somehow they went missing somewhere along the way and a casual dress. To my surprise Nike and Lorna Jane did not sell any bike shorts. At this point Nick had given up and just sat down with our sleeping bags in the middle of the shopping centre. I ran off to H & M and somehow found shorts. We then went outside and got a taxi back to our hostel. Even we had walked it numerous times our bag they gave us for camping would drag along the ground if you held it properly so we opted for the easier option. By 3pm we grabbed a taxi to go to our final hostel in Cape Town, Ashanti Lodge. This was where we were going to meet all the people on our tour for the next 41 days. I was actually nervous about meeting everyone though. Just because I wanted a good group of people as 41 days is a long time. As we opened our dorm room a Australian girl named Kate was half sleeping. She had just arrived an hour ago from South America. Two Danish people walked in, Michelle and Meds. They seemed shy and was more interested in speaking in Danish than English. Then a third Danish guy walked it, Thomas. It made it difficult to get to know everyone when half of the room was speaking Danish. As our meeting began at 6pm we walked out to the front and it felt like everyone was instantly judging you. All the eyes would turn swiftly as a new person would walk in the room. Instead of the introduction to our tour making you feel excited and ready for the adventure, it did quite the opposite. We started thinking what have we done, this was a mistake. Can I back out now. She somehow made it sound horrible and there were no nerves before but now I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare for 41 days. At the end of the meeting we broke off, some people just went straight back to their rooms whilst others were more friendly and wanted to actually get to know you.

Last Leg of our Journey in South East Asia (Bangkok style)

1st of March 2016:

As 6am neared and the sun was rising we pulled up to a metal tin garage. After our adventures the night before I was a bit sceptical of where we were. It looked like the middle of no where. However thankfully we had made it to Siem Reap (Again). Here we were suppose to switch busses to continue our adventure to Bangkok. A young Asian girl was by herself, getting hassled by the locals. I felt so sorry for her, she looked terrified. I would have offered her a lift but unfortunately we needed to stay right where we were. I did however give her advice of where to stay (around Pub Street) and told her about the app, “maps me”. Where she can track exactly where she is without the use of wifi. I have personally found this comforting when in a tuk tuk. I hope she made it to a hostel safe and sound. As the bus pulled up and we got on, Nick exclaimed that it was the exact same bus they just folded our blankets again to make it look clean. I think I would of rather have just stayed on the bus, then wait on the ground for 20 minutes swarmed by 100’s of mosquitos.
We took the same sleeper beds and had another nap. Normally on sleeper buses I’m to scared of my things getting stolen or the road conditions are so bad that I have a terrible sleep. This time I went into a real deep sleep, a sleep I haven’t experienced in a while since being in Asia, but due to it being so deep I jumped up quickly freaking out that I hadn’t been wary of my surroundings. Thankfully we were still driving to the Cambodia and Thailand border. An hour later we stopped only 600m from the border. This is where the real chaos began. Our sleeper beds were on the top directly behind the driver. A man in a single bed next to us on the bottom started saying his phone had been stolen. I do remember a man standing by the door in front of his bed and I felt eerie about him but unless he picked up my head and unlocked the locker on my bag I knew I should be safe. The passenger started to become loud and assertive to the driver, exclaiming that he must give him his phone back, and that he knew that he had it. The guy he was harassing looked no older than 15 and ran off the bus crying. Another man came on board and the whole ordeal began again. The passenger some how snatched the drivers phone and tried to make a swap. However the driver wasn’t playing along and continued saying he didn’t have it. A translator jumped on board, and this is where the scenario changed for the worse. The translator explained he didn’t have the phone nor did he know where it was. Then Nick saw the driver pull out a knife. Not just a butter knife which would hurt anyway but a Crocodile Dundee knife. Nick leaned over and explained this to the passenger and he gave back the phone to the driver. The translator then left a comment saying; “this is not your country!” What a way to say farewell to Cambodia!
We then walked over to the border crossing to what we were hoping to leave the corruption and violence behind. Crossing the border is never easy, because you have to go through so many que’s and stations. From here I was extra careful of my belongings not putting anything down no matter what for a second, and I’m glad I did. Only metres from crossing to Thailand a guy from our bus put his bag down for what he says was a second and his credit cards got stolen. If this had happened to me I would probably have broken down and cried! However this guy was like, “oh sorry it took me so long to get through customs my cards got stolen.” So I asked how much he had left on him… $10 U.S. That was all, and yet he remained calm.
Another 5 hours on a mini bus and we were in Bangkok! It only took us 20 hours to get here. We had pre-booked our accommodation and unfortunately where they had dropped us off was apparently really far (30 minutes). Clearly they don’t understand what we’re use to back home in Australia, really far is an hour in a taxi.
Our hostel, Old Town Hostel was gorgeous and very new. Everyone in this hostel seemed to never leave. They all just laid around on their phones or computers doing absolutely nothing. However I felt as though people were just ending their trip or beginning and therefore those people were jet lagged or lazy. I felt like one of these people, it was as if all the adventure and exhaustion from Cambodia took a toll on me and I was ready to fall asleep at 4pm. However not when Nicks in a exploring mood. We were both starving, having not eaten proper food since dinner the night before, so we headed off down the street for 30 minutes and found nothing. All I was dreaming about was sitting down and eating rice. I wasn’t asking much. So we turned around and headed back to the hostel to ask where the food was. The lady said the other direction so once again we went to look for food. We arrived at river city mall and got distracted by the shops. I was still so hungry, I had gotten to the state of “hangry” where I was angry because I was hungry. Never an ideal place to be in. So we continued walking. I ended up just stopping and eating at a little restaurant on the corner. I became so tired I was holding my head up with my hands whilst trying to eat. You would think once you’ve reached this point you should just go to bed, but no.

Once we got to the hostel we quickly booked tickets to see the Ladyboys. We had 30 minutes to get changed and head out the door. I think this moment goes down in history as the first and more likely last time I will ever beat Nick getting ready. I waited for 10 minutes downstairs. We had a 15 minute walk to the ferry. Little did we know that the line up for this particular ferry was ridiculously long. The line would have consisted of a 100 people. As the line started moving and I watched people endlessly board the boat I started to think when did they reach their capacity? People were squished together like a mosh pit, one person moves we all move. We were so lucky to jump on, as we were the last ones. If we missed this ferry we would have missed half the show!  We had no idea where we were running though but we were already 2 minutes late! As we continued running we finally saw a sign and a ticket office. 

Lady Boy Show: Bangkok

 We were pretty lucky to only miss 5 minutes of the show. The show was interesting to say the least. I probably wouldn’t pay that much money again for the level of acting/ performance skill there was but it was memorable.

Lady Boy Show: Bangkok

I feel like though if your going to do the song, “and all that jazz” all your back up dancers/ singers should probably know all the words. It’s such a huge song that it’s very easy to notice when someone doesn’t know what their doing! It was a long and exhausting day to say the least and I’m happy to go to sleep in a stationary bed tonight!

2nd of March 2016:

Today we had a bit of a slow morning but got the ground running eventually. We wanted to go shopping and buy some things before we headed off. All my life I had heard Bangkok was a good shopping destination so I was excited and determined to buy cheap clothes. We mastered the ferry and jumped on for a 30 minute drive down the river. The ferry is like a bus, it stops off at certain ports along the way. You don’t have much time to get off as there are 50 other people trying to jump on at the same time with only 10 seconds to spare. It’s like a race against the clock! We jumped off at the last port where the markets were. I was so excited I had a list of things that I wanted to buy and I was determined to get them all. Unfortunately unlike what everyone seemed to have told me my whole life it wasn’t that good! Everything seemed to be really cheap and nasty and way over priced for what it was. I was so sad, I had been waiting for this for so long. The night markets in Luang Prabang in Laos was better than this. It’s like they didn’t care because they knew another tourist would come along 30 seconds later and pay for it. Nick however bought a backpack in the end after walking down and back up the street. I was ready to sit down. So we caught the ferry back to our port. We both were so lethargic that we got pizza delivered to our hostel. I couldn’t believe you could do that! Our choices were pizza, Maccas (Mc Donald’s for the non Australians) or KFC, and all deliveries. Honestly I’ve never felt like I had so many options in the world and yet at the same time a fat slob wanting them all. So the man from reception walked the pizza up the stairs to where we were watching movies for us so we didn’t have to wait downstairs. I was astonished, he was such a lovely man and went far beyond his job. 

3rd of March 2016:

Today’s the day we head off to Cape Town. However our flight is at 1:55am (4th of March) but we have to get to the airport today. All I could think was, I don’t wanna pack! If anyone knows me they know packing is one of my upmost pet hates. I don’t even enjoy packing for one night. My bag was an absolute mess though, everything was just thrown everywhere. So I took everything out and started again. I had so much rubbish in there, papers and brochures that were so unnecessary. On top I also packed half the islands sand with me. I also had to be a big brave girl and get my legs waxed internationally. I’ve heard so many horrifying stories that I was petrified! There’s always going to be some sort of language barrier and this is the moment you pray she’s fluent in English. I had to take the plunge though… And thankfully I’m alive! It was completely fine. I didn’t need to panic there was nothing different. By the time I got out it was 4pm and we still hadn’t organised when we should leave but before starting another movie we decided on 10pm. It sounded early, and it was but we were over just sitting in the hostel waiting. We put on Wolf Creek 2. We had both seen it so I thought it wouldn’t be so bad the second time… But how I was so wrong! This is a big lesson to anyone travelling, do NOT watch wolf creek! You realise. that everything they were doing is what you do in other countries and when the first lot of people got murdered I was completely done! It seemed way to realistic and scary. It was like the world all of a sudden become a bigger and unknown place. As 9:30pm finally came around we were sitting with our bags waiting with anticipation. Our taxi was already sitting out the front so we jumped in anyway. Lucky we did! It took us an hour to get to the airport with the traffic. As we were discussing what time to organise Nick told me that Bangkok’s airport wasn’t big and that it would take no time at all to get through. Lucky we listened to me. The airport is huge. The check in area alone is as big as our entire airport back home! As we walked all the way to the other end of the airport to check in we joined a huge line. This line to simply check in took us an hour. I felt like we were lining up to go on a roller coaster ride. We then went through security where I had to stand in a circular x-Ray confused as to when I’m supposed to know when I can move. Another check through to get our passports stamped and we were in our terminal. 

4th of March 2016:

By this time it was 12pm and we only had an hour until we were boarding. So we grabbed some dinner. Back home Burger King is called Hungry Jacks and it was so expensive! As our plane got called just as we were finishing our burgers we headed down to board. I was excited for Nick as I knew this was going to be one of the biggest planes his been on yet! As we hopped on he looked like it was Christmas morning. Im pretty sure he could catch flies with how his mouth just stayed open. The plane had 10 seats per row, I didn’t think much of it but for him he was astonished as to how it was so big. We were given blankets and a pillow. As the plane set off down the runway and into the sky the air hostess came around with a breakfast menu. We were given breakfast straight away, and Nick was surprised how alcohol was free. I was so excited they had the movie, The Stanford Prison as in uni we learn about it so often that I was excited to see how the movie would go. It met all expectations. The rest of the 6 hour journey consisted of trying 101 ways to sleep, with no success rate.  Our stop over in Dubai was only 3 hours, this was perfect timing but we were both absolutely exhausted! After 2 hours we became hungry so for breakfast we had Mc Donald’s. Not only this but they had no breakfast options (at 8am) so I had a cheeseburger. Not one but one and a half cause they accidentally put two in my bag. I felt so ill just from all the junk food from the night before and now for breakfast. We were going to buy a drone, however as we were contemplating spending the $2,000 dollars we heard our flight being called over the speaker. Somehow it was already final call, thankfully we weren’t the only ones and everyone seemed to be running. Also, either they changed the gate on us or we misread what gate we were. We thought it was gate 32 but apparently it was 30. Lucky they were next to each other and not the other side of the airport! 
The plane was completely booked out and yet somehow we scored the only free seat. On a 9 hour flight this is complete bliss! We got to spread out and have the middle seat for all our drinks, blankets and other “stuff” that we some how picked up along the way. The flight consisted of endless Disney movies that I could dose in and out of without missing out on much and poker on the computer trying to out beat the other computer players. However I was happy to get out of the plane. As our seats were only a couple rows before the back we were the last ones to reach the customs control. This is the last thing you want, especially when you then have to wait for Nick to get out of the bathroom and 20 Chinese people jump in the line! However thankfully it was only our plane going through customs so it took 30 minutes to get through. As we were close to the front of the line the passport customs lady looked at us and picked us specifically out. I have travelled countless times and this has never happened before. I don’t understand if she just couldn’t be bothered to deal with the Chinese or what, but I was happy to go through non the less.

As we approached the currency exchange to get South African Rhan we became puzzled as to how our Australian dollar had become worse in just one day. However luckily we had extra U.S. Money so exchanged a $100 U.S. We had continuously heard bad and dangerous situations that has occurred in Africa often that I became nervous to catch a taxi. Unfortunately it was either walking or going in a taxi. As we jumped in my mind began to race, not on what you may think but at how I had become accustomed to South East Asia and the driver being on the left. I had to ask Nick if this was like home. I didn’t think I had been away from home that long, but after hiring scooters constantly it felt foreign to me to drive on the left. It was such a strange feeling knowing consciously that this should feel natural but unconsciously feeling like I have stepped into a foreign world, as if I had never seen it before. Our taxi driver was also one of the nicest taxi drivers I think I’ve ever encountered. As soon as he heard we were from Australia, omg the conversation never ended! South Africa and Australian cricket teams were currently travelling Africa in the twenty twenty. Then somehow our conversation turned into how 60 year olds are considered elderly and not many people live beyond this. That is terrifying! Apparently their greatest reason behind deaths is due to heart attacks and strokes. This is not a causation of the stressful lives they have endured but rather the fast food chains that have opened up in every corner. This saddened me that they have huge complications in their country with their economy and malnutrition and most African’s are passing away from the powerful Western countries food chains.
As we arrived it was 5:30pm at night and I was at the point of exhaustion that I didn’t feel tired or hungry, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Our dorm room was so adorable with little bunk beds made out of wood and the bed was so comfortable compared to all of Asia. Nick wanted to explore, so we walked down the road where we found numerous bars and restaurants. At this point exhaustion had well and truly washed over me. It flooded all my muscles and bones and I felt like I was dragging an elephant behind me. We went to a bar where everyone was dressed up so nicely as it was a Friday night. However I looked like two trains had hit me whilst walking through a cyclone. Not an ideal attire to go to a up beat cocktail bar. I hadn’t gotten changed since Bangkok and I was wearing my elephant pants and a sports bra and singlet. I ordered a cocktail and we shared a potato, bacon cheese “thing”. I couldn’t even comprehend having a conversation because to me that required too much energy and drinking alcohol just worsened my symptoms of jet-lag/ lack of sleep. As soon as we got back to the hostel I jumped in bed and don’t even remember falling into a deep sleep. One my mind and body had longed for.