Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bali, Indonesia

yes, i am going to Bali, Indonesia. random you say?...well, yes. but not really when you consider that Bali is Australian's number 1 tourist destination due to cheap flights, cheap food, cheap hotels, pretty much cheap everything. and seeing as i'm supposed to be getting a full experience of australian culture, i figured that it didn't seem right to miss out on a big part of their lives- vacation.
me and a friend have planned a week of adventure that includes surfing every morning (finally without a wetsuit!!), mountain treks, cycling through rice paddies, kite boarding lessons, trips to the local markets, and not getting robbed by sketchy balinese men. which is a common occurrence there. we are also hoping to avoid the death penalty, which seems to be handed out like candy there. good thing i am writing this close enough to departure that my mom won't be able to reach me to forbid me from going....
i'm also looking forward to partaking of one of my passions in life- food. balinese food is meant to be delicious so i'm excited to see what the locals have to offer. i'm told that the aim is to avoid "bali belly" by staying away from the water and anything that looks like its been put on your plate straight from the end of a fishing rod. we'll see how i go....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A brush with death

My biggest fears since coming to the land of bountiful flora and fauna has been an attack by one of the 3 S's: snakes, spiders or sharks. Always lingering in the back of my mind as I step into the ocean is the thought that a great white could be lurking in the waters, waiting for me to come out deep enough that it can eat me up in one quick bite. Yet, I always rationalize in my mind that it is more risky to drive in a car than to go swimming in the ocean- statistics say that there is more chance of getting in a car crash than getting eaten by a shark. I think God was trying to drive home this point to me on Sunday and reassure me that the waters are safe and I need to be more careful on the streets.

I got up early and headed out for a morning surf lesson. A friend of mine, actually a Canadian friend of mine (she and her hubbie moved here "for the lifestyle, of course!" ) has graciously lent me her extra mountain bike for my time here, so I've been loving speeding around the gorgeous river bike paths and avoiding the buses/trains as much as possible! My journey to this beach is quite a long one- bike for about 25 minutes, hop on a train for another 15 minutes, and then another bike ride for about half an hour...and then finally the beach! It was packed yesterday as it was an amazing 33 degrees celsius with bright blue skies. For the first time, it was too hot to wear a wetsuit in the water! The surf lesson went fabulously, followed by a few hours hanging out on the beach with some friends and then I started the bike ride home.
I had just gotten off the train and was about to start my last leg of the journey home. I gave a quick head check to see that there were no cars coming and started to pull out to cross the street. This is a main road that's always busy cause it links two highways. Just as I was pulling out into the street, I looked to my LEFT and saw a bright purple sports car hooning (note: this is one of my new australian words which means speeding) straight at me! The car swerved to miss me just as I slammed on my breaks and pulled narrowly missed me by about a foot! I almost had a panic attack as I stood there with my bike on the sidewalk, staring at a line of cars waiting for their light who I'm sure were all saying to their passengers, "Another stupid biker, no wonder they always get hit"...quite humiliating to say the least. On the way home I couldn't get it out of my head how close I had come to being plowed over and left as roadkill on Canning Highway in Perth, Australia. It made me think about how irrational my fears of sharks have been and how much more aware I need to be when I'm biking and walking in this country of left-sidedness. So no, I can't tell you any fantastical story about a close call with a great white or a giant jelly fish sting, but I will say that the roads are just as dangerous a place as the great deep ocean.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fun Pics

Perth scenery.
In honor of you, Knuckles!!
Cuba's a staffy.

Cel & I at the caves.

Jon and Ash.

In Augusta, the lighthouse where the 2 oceans meet.

Taking the kids out for a surf.

Jon & Cel's adorable little holiday home!

Beach time with 2 of the many Germans in Perth!

Asher and his two cousins, Bella & Sophia (so prec!).

Celeste & I in Augusta.

My fave lil Aussie boy- footy ball in hand.

Spring is in the air...

This morning I'm sitting at the computer with my second cup of instant coffee beside me (its the only kind of coffee they drink here), looking forward to a gorgeous spring day. How do I know it's spring here? Well, besides the whole city seeming to come alive with a new energy that was missing in the winter months, there are a few other signs.

The hot sun is pulling out 30 degree celsius days and some heat that I've never experienced before in my life! There is no O-zone over the whole continent of Australia which means a penetrating sun that can be quite damaging to your skin if you don't wear sunscreen! Australia has the highest number of cases of skin cancer in the world and its easy to see why! Its hard to believe that this is only the beginning of the warm season...summer gets up into the 40s!

Another sign of spring is the magpies. If I haven't mentioned the birds before, I should have. They're vicious and aggressive here. That was one of the first things I noticed about Australia. The crows are massive and sound like dying cats, the seagulls are even more belligerent than in Canada, and there are so many weird bird sounds and calls ringing through the trees. But anyways, back to the magpies- I was warned by John and Celeste that the beginning of spring is magpie swooping season...basically the mother magpies will swoop down and try to peck your eyes out if you walk under their trees. I thought this was just an embellishment and a rare occurrence until this morning when Celeste warned me again to be careful of the magpies. Apparently a little girl lost her eye last weekend and there are usually about 5 cases of magpies pecking peoples eyes out over the course of spring!! Please pray for me!

Spring also means cricket in Australia. Another new sport for me to observe and try to figure out. There is a beautiful park next to the river that I jog/walk/bike on, and the past few weeks have been busy with cricket matches.

Other updates: my surfing lessons have taken on a whole new dimension since last Saturday and the final triumph of my first "green" wave. As a beginner, the only waves that you generally surf on are the white waves (after a wave has broken). Basically the water just pushes you toward the beach with enough force that you can practice standing on your board and riding the wave out. As you can probably guess, there's not much excitement to this after awhile. Well, this past Saturday I had a great surf instructor (he's been surfing all his life and he's about 45 years old!) and he was a lot more ambitious with us than other instructors I've had. He goes to me, "Jods, come out here and we're gonna catch ya a green one." Clearly I wasn't going to argue even thought I was a bit nervous because the swell was pretty big that day. So I paddled out and he watched the waves for me (picking the right wave is a big part of it) and told me to start paddling at the right moment and I hopped up on my board and finally experienced what it really feels like to ride down a wave! Pure adrenaline. It was exhilerating! I caught 2 more after this, and then got pounded and obliterated by the majority of the rest of the waves. One time I think I was turned in 3 complete somersaults under the water and came up with my rash guard T-shirt completely pulled over my head and covering my face! haha. But I finished the day feeling pretty happy and satisfied.

Anyways, there are only 3 more weeks of classes left and then a study week which will include me leaving Australia to go on a little trip to Bali, Indonesia. After that, there are two more weeks of exams and then the semester is finally finished! Hard to believe. Although I still have 8 more weeks here, I know the time will fly and there is still much to do before my Aussie adventure comes to an end.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I just got home from a weekend away as far south as you can go in Australia, in a little town called Augusta. I think it might be the most beautiful place on earth. Augusta is at the point where the Indian Ocean from the west and the Arctic Ocean from the south converge. This in itself creates some pretty amazing displays of nature. Augusta also has a river that runs through the town and into the ocean where lots of sea life tends to drift in and out and amaze us viewers on land. It was amazing to see dolphins swim by as I jogged by the river and to catch a glimpse of a whale out at sea during an early morning surf. This was probably my favorite part of the trip- the surfing. Celeste's brother-in-law is a major enthusiast of any outdoor adventure/sport, so he's taken me under his wing to show me the more adventurous side of Australia. We made it out every morning around 7am for an hour or two of the best surfing I've experienced thus far. The swell was a perfect size for a beginner like me, the sand bed was a heck of a lot nicer to crash down on than a hard, pointy reef, and the aqua-marine waters were absolutely fantastic. Another sweet part of the trip was getting some time to go for walks or jogs by the ocean and river and admire the stunning beauty of the nature around me. I caught myself quite often wondering how in the world God came up with all this stuff around us. The power of the waves to the awesome display of a rainbow from horizon to horizon continues to woo me.

The pics are of a cave tour that Celeste and I did. The underground cave was filled with stalactites and stalagmites and took an hour to walk through. It was pretty awesome! More Augusta pics to come once I get my camera working!