After arriving in Canberra, Australia, I immediately met up with an old friend, Virgina. She’s a great friend that I spent a lot of time with in Mongolia, and it was great to catch up with her and her room-mate, Rebecca, who also hails from Mongolia. We spent the first couple of days just hanging out, chatting, seeing a movie (I can’t believe I let them drag me to Bridget Jones 2 right after getting off of the ice!), and just generally letting me adjust to being back in a normal society again.
Anyway, early (well, not really THAT early) on Sunday morning, Gin and I headed off on a road trip to Byron Bay. It took us a couple of days to get there, stopping at cute little coastal towns for the night, and visiting any “Big” monuments during the day. For some reason, Australians love to make huge replicas of everyday objects. I’d seen the big koala on my last trip to Oz, and this time we’ve seen the big banana, big prawn, and the big guitar.
Once we got to Byron it was nothing but beaches and fun. The first morning was spent doing a dolphin sea kayak tour that I really believe should be renamed the bluebottle jellyfish sea kayak tour. We didn’t see a single dolphin, but I got bit twice by jellyfish. I can understand the first sting on my leg while it was dangling from the side of the kayak, but it’s just really bad luck to get stung on the shoulder while paddling!
The next day we headed to the little hippy enclave of Nimbin. Everyone is so friendly here….we were approached lots of times on the street by the locals who wanted to sell us cakes and cookies. We bought some spice cake from a nice lady who asked if I was a smoker. When I told her that I wasn’t, she told me to only eat a little bit of her cake at first. It’s nice of her to be concerned about my health, but I don’t see how that has anything to do with cake. Anyway, a bunch of us ate some of her cake, and I really can’t say much for it’s quality. It tasted funny, and afterwards we all felt pretty mellow and giggly. I got really hungry afterwards, and was paranoid that she might have spiked the cake with something, but I’m sure that’s just silly.
The day after that I went diving and Gin hit the local stores for a shopping extravaganza. After lunch we headed out to Lennox heads for something that neither of us had done before….hang gliding! It wasn’t nearly as acrobatic or intense as I’d expected, but the views were incredible. The feeling of soaring in the air with only wind and no motor noise was great!
Finally we headed back to Canberra so that I could catch my flight to Perth the following Sunday. We stopped and visited with Virginia’s parents overnight, and I had a blast chatting with them all. They’re really good folks and the hospitality was amazing. Sunday night I had about an hour to catch a quick shower, and then it was off to the airport again.