Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Home Sweet Home

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Well, our trip is over. And being with our families and catching up on six months’ worth of events, stories, and mail (not to mention planning a wedding) has left us without much time to think about blogging during the last two weeks. For this reason, my account of our last three destinations will be (severely) summarized. I hope no one minds.

Sydney was an awesome city, everything we hoped it would be. Downtown is filled with modern skyscrapers, trendy restaurants, and cozy pubs. In its heart, there are some much older stone buildings that contrast spectacularly with the metal and glass surrounding them. It’s much like London in that way. There’s a huge park, and walking through it to the harbor provides perfect views of the city’s skyline and the famous Opera House.

After walking around and discovering all of this ourselves, we noticed a large crowd on the opposite side of the harbor. Heading over, we found the Sydney Aroma Festival, an annual event showcasing coffee, chocolate, tea, and spices. We got some good food and coffee and wandered through the booths. There was a showcase of espresso machines inside one of the ferry terminals, and it was the best part of the festival. Experienced baristas demonstrated how to make the perfect cup of espresso in $3,000-$5,000 machines (and gave out lots of samples). We learned a lot and got very jittery.Our second day in the city was dreary, and we went to the Australian Museum and the National Gallery. On our third day, we took a trip out to the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world (after Yellowstone). That night we went to a one-man comedy show at the opera house, Possessed by Frank Woodley. It was a really unique, hilarious performance.

We left early the next morning for New Zealand. Our flight home included a stopover in Auckland, which we extended to three days. We purchased a budget flight from Auckland to Christchurch so that we could see the South Island, which we were told was even more lovely than the north. Even from the plane, we could tell that New Zealand was beautiful: rolling hills covered with green grass like you’ve never seen. We got to Christchurch in the middle of the night, and the reservation we had made with Thrifty car rental had been lost. There was no car waiting for us. Luckily, Europcar still had a cheap vehicle available (every other company was booked solid). We had originally planned to do some driving that night, but by the time it was all settled we just got in the car and slept in the airport parking lot.

The next day we set out, driving north from Christchurch along the coast and then cutting inland to cross the mountains which span the South Island. We continued all the way to Nelson, on the northern coast. It was absolutely spectacular. It was like nothing else we had seen on the trip so far. Every time the road turned we would stare out the car windows and utter “wow.” The scenery was gorgeous. First, fields of grapes. Then rolling green hills coated with the softest, thickest-looking grass you’ve ever seen, all dotted with fat, fuzzy Murano sheep. Snowcapped peaks became visible, and soon we were climbing into the mountains. We rode through a beautiful river valley, past quaint and charming towns, past hotsprings that filled the riverbed with steam, and up into the snow. We pulled over to play in it a little before carrying on. As we descended, tendrils of fog crept into the plains, casting everything in an eerie light as the sun filtered through it.

We were getting tired by the time we got close to Nelson, but a sign caught our eye: “Rutherford Birthplace.” We stopped, very excited. Ernst Rutherford was a New Zealander, and is well known for his work in atomic physics, especially in working out the structure of the atom. There was a (somewhat funny looking) statue of him as a boy and a nice monument that took you through the events of his life.We arrived in Nelson after dark. It’s one of the larger cities in New Zealand, but its center still looks like a charming small town. Our hostel, the Green Monkey, was one of the most welcoming places we’ve been yet. Looking through a booklet we picked up at the airport, our hostel choice was contingent upon the presence of two things: a fireplace and hot chocolate. This place had both (and marshmallows and lemon cake besides). The other guests were nice, the kitchen was so beautiful and well-equipped that we found ourselves hoping our future kitchen would be as good, and the owners were a married couple who had settled down into running the hostel after a youth spent traveling the world. We went to the grocery store to pick up fixings for pizza, and then took a chilly nighttime walk around town before returning for dinner.

The next day, we planned to get a very early start, but when we awoke to the sounds of a howling storm, we decided to roll over and go back to sleep. It was almost midday by the time the weather cleared and we started out. It was windy and rainy, and we went very slowly along the mountain roads. Tommy was nervous driving on the dizzying roads and took extra care while driving; we were surprised when we saw a police car’s flashing lights behind us, signaling for us to pull over. The very friendly policeman cheerfully explained to us that we had been in fact driving too slowly. We looked so stunned when he told us this that he then asked us if we understood English. It ended well, no ticket, just a New Zealand Highway Patrol postcard and a smile. “A souvenir from your holiday! Ta ta!”

This might be a good time to mention how friendly New Zealanders were. You hear talk about friendly people in different places in the world, but none of the people we encountered anywhere else we have been on this trip could possibly compare to New Zealanders. Of course, the lack of a language barrier is a big help–we may have missed out on some really friendly countries due to our limited fluency. But in New Zealand, everyone we met went out of their way to help us or guide us, even when it wasn’t asked for. When you dealt with people, whether it was behind the rental car desk at the airport or behind the grocery store counter, you felt like they were really listening, really caring, and really thinking about you as an individual person, not just another customer. I strongly suspect that being constantly surrounded by the beautiful scenery of New Zealand would make anyone friendly, given enough time. What a wonderful country.

We drove around the sounds along the northern coast, but couldn’t see much. The weather cleared as we drove down the east coast back to Christchurch. It was an interesting contrast: blue-green water as beautiful as that on any Thai beach, rolling green hills like the Italian countryside, and snow-capped mountains to rival the Alps, all in a single glance along the coastal highway. We pulled over to see some seal colonies on the rocks at the shore’s edge, and someone else, either a local or an Australian visitor, told us we should hike ten minutes up a nearby trail, and we would find a group of baby seals playing in a waterfall pool. We followed his advice, and there they were, adorable baby seals hidden in a little forest pool. Seals are surely a wonder of the animal kingdom: all the adults seem to do is sit, and all these babies seemed to do was play. Someone had thrown some balls in the pool that they were happily pushing around, and when Tommy threw a stick into the water, they turned it into a toy as well. They came very close as we tried to snap pictures in the dim light.It was later than we expected when we finally arrived in Christchurch. Our hostel pamphlet helped us find another good place to spend the night. We cooked a pasta dinner and went to sleep–our last night on foreign soil!

The next day, we had the morning to do a little more sightseeing. We drove towards Akaroa, out on a small peninsula south of Christchurch. After only twenty minutes’ drive out of the city, we came to some of the nicest scenery we’d seen yet. There are some bays that cut into the hilly terrain and just create the most lovely view as you look down from the road. We were sorry to turn around at noon.

We flew from Christchurch to Auckland, where we had a six hour layover before our flight to Los Angeles. Auckland Airport wins the Gold Medal of Security Excellence from ever since we were in Bangkok nearly two months prior and had found that one of our souvenirs had broken while packed in our checked luggage, we had started carrying our bag of souvenirs with us onto airplanes. They were mostly breakable, and so were wrapped up carefully. This time, in Auckland, security saw something suspicious, and began rooting through my bag. They would take a few items out and run it through again. They repeated this multiple times, and the table became strewn with odds and ends from everywhere between Morocco and Australia. Finally, the security guard found what she was looking for: the khanjar we bought in Oman. A knife, with a three-inch blade! And we had taken it on no less than twelve flights without it being caught by security (making us even more resentful of one self-important security guard in Darwin who had haughtily informed us that our duct tape was a dangerous item). Obviously we knew we should not have the knife on the plane, but we begged them to let us check it because of its sentimental value. Because we had already cleared customs, we could not return to the check in (a precaution taken so people do not test security). It took a lot of complaining, a lot of rule clarification, and a little begging, but we managed to get the khanjar checked in Tommy’s backpack. And we’ve never felt so safe boarding a plane before!

A thirteen hour flight sounds like an awful, boring ordeal, but not these days. We immediately turned on our personal TV screens and selected which movies we would watch on the flight home. We enjoyed them while eating dinner and drinking multiple glasses of New Zealand wine. Not a painful journey!

We arrived in LA, feeling strange to be back home in the states. The immigration officers were impressed with the number of stamps in our passports. My brother Joey picked us up at the airport and brought us back to his place just outside of downtown LA. We went out to dinner and then saw some of LA’s best attractions–the shopping malls!

The next day we went to mass at the Cathedral of the Angels. Then we went to Universal Studios for some good old-fashioned American fun. We finished the day with an improv comedy performance by the Upright Citizens Brigade. We met some of Joey’s friends and hung out for a while after the show.

On our last day, Joey had work–at Warner Brothers Studios. Being the awesome brother that he is, he got us visitor passes and showed us around a bit. Among other things, we saw George Clooney’s parking space, the set from ER, and Matthew Perry (thus fulfilling our Los Angeles goal of seeing someone famous).  Joey dropped us off at the subway, and we did some sightseeing. We went to Hollywood Boulevard, of course. We also went to the Walt Disney Opera House and did the free self-guided tour, which was particularly well-done and informative. The Opera House was designed by Frank Gehry (like the Dancing House in Prague). We went to the Grand Central Market for fish tacos, and then took a bus to Rodeo Drive. Our last stop was the lovely Santa Monica pier. Getting back from there took longer than we expected, but we made it back in time for some Mexican food with Joey.

The next morning, he brought us to the airport and we boarded our last two planes. We stared out the window in awe as we descended into New Orleans. The man in the row ahead of us had a GPS and helped us figure out where we were as we flew over Lafayette and continued east. We marveled at the sight of the swampy land surrounding New Orleans. It truly is a landscape like nothing else we have seen on this trip.

Our parents were at the airport, eagerly awaiting our return. It was so good to see them again. We went back to our house in Mandeville and had a big dinner. We had a great time recounting the trip and hearing more about everything that had happened during the three months since we had seen them last. We had called, emailed, and even videoconferenced, but nothing is the same as talking face to face.And so we’re home. And it’s really nice to wear different clothes, to sleep in our own beds, to be with our families, and to not have to unpack and re-pack every few days. But every now and then our minds wander back to one of the wonderful places we have been to and we hope that we will have the opportunity to travel there again. But for now, we are just thankful that we have been privileged enough to take this trip. We have been gifted with understanding and encouraging families, and we have also been lucky enough to have found the perfect lifelong traveling companions in each other. When people ask, “How was it?” there is no easy answer. It was, quite frankly, the best six months of our lives.

Photos from SydneyPhotos from New Zealand

Photos from Los Angeles

Photos from New Orleans 

Time away: 6 months and 3 days

Continents visited: 5

Countries visited: 28

Cities visited: 68

Different languages spoken: 20

Different currencies: 24

Flights taken: 42

Airports visited: 48

Trains taken: 27

Busses taken: 27

Hostels stayed at: 74

Rental cars: 7

Hospital stays: 1

Bags lost: 0

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”  -Henry Miller

A Land Down Under

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

When we arrived in Cairns, we were a bit disappointed that our arranged hostel pickup was not waiting for us. It was yet another small, though meaningful contrast to one of the many differences between traveling in the first and third world– staying at a hostel in a third world country might mean the difference between the owner’s employees getting paid that day or not, whereas in the first world, you’re hardly more than just another line on a spreadsheet titled “credit”. In the third world, we felt as though pickups (when arranged for) were never late, largely I think because the income we would bring to the hostel was far too important for them to risk us possibly going with one of the many hawkers waiting for foreign tourists. Well, when we called the Cairns hostel to see if they would come get us (as was promised) we were asked if we had landed in the international or domestic terminal. I froze. I frankly didn’t know how to respond! We had come from Darwin, one state over, but yet we had to pass through immigration and customs! Traveling in Australia has been a bit unusual, I must say. Nevertheless, the pickup did arrive and we made it to the hostel in one piece and $15 richer at that. The hostel stay ended up being more or less satisfactory. In another irony, it was much dirtier than really most of the hostels we have stayed in on this trip (sans, of course, India). We had expected perhaps the opposite, considering how wealthy Australia is; in the rest of the world, hostels usually just mean shared facilities, not dirty rooms or anything.

Since we had woken up that day at 03:30 so that we could catch our cheap budget flight, we just ate a small breakfast and then napped till the afternoon to try and make up for some of our lost energy. Katie and I both had some big activities planned for our stay here in Cairns. The next day, she was scheduled to take a professional birding tour and I was hoping to go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Finding a dive boat was also an interesting contrast to how things operated in Asia. When I asked the hostel for suggestions, I was first given fancy brochures for huge, luxurious yachts that charged as much as $100-150 per dive (keep in mind that my dives on this trip have cost between $30-45 each so far). In fact, it seemed as though most of the diving operations worked this way. In the end, I found a company that charged a somewhat reasonable $60/dive. Katie got a break too when she received an email later that day informing her that another person had signed up to go on a birding tour the same day so she was going to get 30% off.

Later, we went to a nearby mall to purchase some groceries so that we could eat for the upcoming days; for dinner our first night, we had a bag of ready-to-serve Indian curry which we cooked several squids in and we accompanied the wonderful meal with the second cheapest bottle of Shiraz available from the (drive-through) “bottle shop.” The hostel has a bit of a tradition of doing a nightly movie and that night’s one was The Simpsons Movie. It ended up being a nice, restful way to conclude the day. Still a bit off from the odd sleep patterns, we went to bed early that night in anticipation of the early starts we would each have the next day.

Scuba diving for me ended up being a tremendous success. The Great Barrier Reef was as stunning as its reputation suggested. I had been a bit nervous as I had read from various sources that the GBR isn’t as “great as it used to be.” But as I quickly realized, that is an incredibly unqualifiable statement- the GBR extends for over 2000 km along the northeastern Australian seaboard; I’m willing to bet that there are hundreds of square miles never even explored before. To say the least, the day ended up being a great success. Though the water was not quite as clear and blue as it was in Sipidan, the coral was just as stunning. I wonder if the tide was low towards the end of our day because big chunks of the reef would stick out of the water like islands. One other thing that made the dive contrast with the other dives I’ve taken in the past 6 months was what I thought of as the “Western” sense of safety and regulation. In addition to sitting through a safety briefing while we were still pulling out of harbor, every diver was required to “sign in/out” before they entered or exited the boat, as a system of keeping track of everyone. Though I do not think in any way that the boats I took elsewhere were any less safe than here (a Tanzanian, Thai, Malay, etc. crew certainly doesn’t want to drown or risk sinking their boat as much as anyone else) but it is almost as if there is a greater assumption in the West that people have less common sense, or are not as well-equipped to take care of themselves as crafty, resourceful foreigners often seem to be. (I think it will be a while before one will see a warning in an Asian coffee shop, for example, that the coffee you’re about to drink is hot.)

Katie also had a fantastic day birding in the surrounding mountains. The mountains around Cairns have the interesting topographic feature of containing flat grasslands on the tops of them. The so called “Table Lands” have spectacular natural crater lakes, rain forest, and other beautiful vistas. We would end up returning there on our own two days later. When I reached port back in Cairns, the dive shop invited me to stop by a local bar that night for free pizza and beer, which Katie and I were of course were psyched about because we were having to pay so much for food everywhere in Australia. Over the course of the late evening as we discussed what else we wanted to see and do while in Cairns, we decided to rent a car for a day so that I could see the Table Lands for myself and we’d spend the other day just walking around the pleasant, gentrified downtown area or maybe go visit one of the beaches.

The following day, we had some difficulty finding a rental company because they were nearly all out of compacts (we’re visiting in the middle of the winter holiday season for Australian students). We finally got lucky when we found a very small company run by a middle-aged couple. The car we got certainly wasn’t pretty or new and changing gears took a certain amount of strength but it would get us exactly where we wanted to go. We agreed to pick it up early the next morning. For the rest of that day, we decided to go checkout some of Cairns’ famous beaches. Though we should have known better, we ended up being quite disappointed. As a result of spending so much time on so many amazing, beautiful beaches all over the world, our expectations have become quite high and anything short of crystal, blue water just looks dirty!

Aside from some more wanderings later in the town’s downtown area, we did little more that day. We woke up early our final day so that we could get an early start on our rental car. The highlight of the day was stopping at a lakeside restaurant and ordering tea and scones as a midday snack. Katie and I still talk about the Afternoon Tea we had at the Kensington Palace Orangery. (We are already planning to have our very own “Boston Tea Parties” during some lovely New England fall afternoons). Since this restaurant only served sweet scones with their midday tea, we made some fresh cucumber sandwiches that morning so we could have something to munch on as the day went on.

We arrived back to Cairns in the early evening. I was certainly happy to see that we didn’t have to pay nearly as much for gas as we had to in Darwin (gas is a slightly more reasonable $6.00 here, rather than nearly $6.80). We cooked a dinner of spaghetti with a garlic red sauce with a bottle of Shiraz and went to bed early in anticipation of our 3:40 wake up for our flight to Sydney!

Photos from Cairns

Going Bush

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Our first impressions of Australia were not what we expected. Tommy already wrote about their strict customs inspections upon arrival. We were also shocked at the number of rules and fines posted all over the airport. Our impression of the Australians we had met around the world was that they were cool, laid-back people; arriving at the Darwin airport, however, we felt like we had never seen a country so uptight.

Or expensive. We rented a Subaru Forrester for our excursion into Kakadu National Park, and with all the fees tacked on at the airport, it ended up being a bit more pricey than we expected. We arrived at our hostel late at night, and when we woke up we thought we would get some breakfast, but choked a bit when we saw the prices. Pancakes for $8? Eggs for $7? Coffee for $4? We were suddenly homesick for Asia. Grocery shopping proved to be no cheaper; in fact, we started to wonder if we had the exchange rate wrong. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Although when we left in January, the rate was 1 Australian dollar to about 85 US cents, now it is pretty much 1 to 1. We found the prices in Darwin more comprable to those in London than anywhere else. It was an unfortunate blow to our wallets.

Still, we were excited to have an SUV full of supplies and hit the road to Kakadu. No amount of expensive groceries could keep away the charm of being in Australia. We drove along to “Down Under” by Men at Work and admired the fun signs we passed (our favorite near Darwin marked the area of Humptydoo). We eventually stopped passing buildings and the landscape became drier and more like the stereotypical outback. I was especially excited to be in Australia because it had long been one of my dream birding destinations. Due to its isolation, Australia has an extremely unique flora and fauna, and so nearly everything on the continent was new to me. When I spotted a big white bird in a tree on the side of the road, I screamed to Tommy to stop and back up, and got my first sighting of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. They would end up being quite common in the park, but I was still ridiculously excited.

Darwin is surrounded by National Parks, and Kakadu is probably the largest and most famous. It’s mostly dry, scrubby forest, but it is bordered by a steep escarpment, on which the Aboriginees have made beautiful rock art. But there are also rivers, wetlands, waterfalls, and even rainforest. It took us about four hours to get out to the park, and it was getting on to late afternoon when we pulled over at our first stop, the Mamukala wetlands. It was an unexpected treat for our first day on the continent. Not only did we spot wallabies, but we kept seeing bird after bird as we walked the circuit trail. I was frantically trying to look them all up. It was a wonderful introduction to the park.

Since the sun was setting when we left, we drove to the nearest campsite and parked our car. We didn’t have any camping equipment with us. While it would have come in handy at several times on this trip, for the most part it would have been an unnecassary hindrance, so we don’t regret leaving it out. We managed to make three days’ worth of meals without needing a stove. That night we enjoyed bread and cheese and our first bottle of Australian wine. However, sleeping in the car wasn’t as comfortable as we expected. At some single, unspecified hour, the air thickened with mosquitos. I mean multiple species of big, scary, blood-sucking bugs. We rushed into the car and resolved not to leave it if possible. It was pretty cool at night in the park, but we couldn’t roll down the windows, lest we be devoured, and it got pretty warm in the car. We decided we would need to figure out something else for the following night.

When we woke up, we went for a morning walk around the Burdulba billabong and broke into the 800 gram box of Milo cereal we had purchased for breakfast. America has yet to catch on to the advantages of heat-treated, long shelf life milk, but it’s pretty popular throughout the rest of the world, and allowed us to eat milk and cereal every morning without refrigeration. After breakfast we headed to Jabiru, the town at the center of the park. We stopped at the visitor’s center to get some maps and information, and ducked into the supermarket to purchase some mosquito netting. Then we drove south to Nourlangie, one of the Aboriginal rock art sights.

The Aboriginees have been inhabiting the lands of Kakadu for tens of thousands of years, and of course when the first white settlers came to Australia, their way of life was severely disrupted. Now Australia is doing some things to try and make amends, including putting the Aboriginees back in charge of land management in Kakadu. They refer to them as “traditional landowners.”

After a short hike, we reached the rock art at Nourlangie. Much of the art at this site is relatively modern, and some of the artists are known. In addition to traditional themes, there are depictions of Europeans and ships. Hands are a recurring theme, and some of the ones shown at Nourlangie are wearing European-style gloves.

From Nourlangie we drove north for some time, to the Manngarre rainforest walk. This patch of monsoon rainforest provided a great spot for more birding and an afternoon walk. We even saw a crocodile sunning itself on the side of the river nearby. We ate a dinner of tuna and veggies and watched the sun set over the river valley from the Ubirr lookout. Since the only campsite in the northern part of the park was a pay site with showers and running water, we instead slept in the rainforest walk parking lot. We had bought a small mosquito net actually made to cover a hat, and cut it up into a square so that we could roll down one window and tape the netting over it. It worked fairly well, although we ran out of duct tape so it wasn’t well secured, and we found a few stray mosquitos in the morning.

We went for another brief rainforest walk, during which we spotted Flying Foxes hanging in the trees. We went back to Ubirr to see the view during the daytime and to look at the rock art on some of the cliff faces. Some of this art was much older. One outcropping of rock in particular has protected the paintings made below it in all their detail and vivid color, and it was a spectacular sight.

We drove south next, and took a dirt road to Jim Jim Falls. After several kilometers, the road becomes limited to 4WD vehicles, one of the reasons we opted for the Forrester. Still, it’s a smaller SUV than the many Toyota Land Cruisers we were seeing, and when we came to an area where the road was flooded with fairly deep water, we balked and weren’t sure if we should risk the rental car. We watched several big SUVs with their exhaust pipes extended to their rooves make it across without problem, but it wasn’t until one brave little Kia fearlessly drove right through that we decided to risk it. Although one big bump at the end sent red muddy water splashing onto our windshield, we made it through without a hitch. It was worth it, too. After a hike down a river gorge filled with lovely forest, we came to Jim Jim falls, a tall dual stream of water falling into a lovely grotto of blue-green water. People were swimming and picnicing all around. The water was quite cold, but Tommy took a brief dip.

That night, we drove further south to our chosen campsite. We had stopped in Jabiru for gas and to purchase more duct tape, and rigged up a beautiful setting with two windows netted over. We slept very comfortably and mosquito-free. We did a morning hike and then drove south out of the park to try and get gas, but the only station was out. Luckily we had enough to do our planned excursion to Gunlom falls and make it back to a gas station in the park. Gunlom wasn’t as nice as Jim Jim, but the campsite nearby had showers, so we both cleaned off before moving on. We visited the Aboriginal cultural center, which was very interesting. The most striking thing was that it is part of Aboriginal culture that the name of a person who has died should not be spoken or written for some years after their death. Images also should not be displayed. So many of the names and photos on the displays were covered, with an explanation of this custom on top.

After getting gas and one more stop at the Mamukala wetlands, we headed out of the park. It had been a really nice few days. Renting a car is always one of our favorite ways to travel, because of the independence it gives us. We enjoyed seeing the lovely sights in the park. I saw some really spectacular birds, including four species of cockatoo.

After three days of canned fish and crackers (and lots of Milo cereal), we had been looking forward to a real meal. We found a street in Darwin positively lined with restaurants, but we couldn’t afford a single one. Finally we found one with entrees in the $12-15 range instead of $18-25: the Hog’s Breath Cafe. It was clearly a chain, but it wasn’t until we were already seated and looking carefully at the menu that we realized what it really was: an “American” restaurant the way Outback Steakhouse is an “Australian” restaurant. They had burgers, tex-mex, a few “Cajun” dishes, and even a Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert. The walls were lined with baseball memorabilia, NASA photos, and American license plates. It had been a long time since we had been in a restaurant like this. In Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, the restaurants we would eat at were usually small, family-owned places where you were immediately seated, your order was taken as soon as you were ready, the food came out surprisingly fast, and was usually cheap and absolutely delicious. Here we waited in a line to even be seated, and then were left staring at our picture-filled menus for a good twenty minutes or half hour. When our overly-excited waiter did come to introduce himself, give a prepared speech about the menu, and say he would be “taking care” of us tonight, along with an assistant of some sort who was in training, the generic nature of the whole thing completely turned us off. We forgot what it was like to eat at these places. We never did see our waiter again, although we did wait a good forty-five minutes for our mediocre burgers. It was all show and not much substance, whereas in the rest of the world we had been struck by the lack of ambiance but real quality of food and service we encountered. It’s one thing we’ll miss when we get home.

We drove to the airport and slept in the rental return parking lot until 4 am, when we stumbled inside to catch our flight to Cairns.

Photos from Singapore

Photos from Kakadu