Category: sightseeing

Phase two

Well I’m a week into my Australian adventure and I have done a lot of awesome things. Reading that sentence back to myself it seems utterly inadequate at capturing just how incredible my journey has been. Western Australia is a beautiful, beautiful place and I have managed to see just a fraction of that beauty.

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So where have I been, what have I done? After a long drive up from Perth to Jurien Bay, I met up with my friend and made a few new friends. A quick swim in the bay’s crystal clear water, a chilled out barbecue, and then I grabbed some well deserved sleep. But the next day… Oh the next day…

The next day was packed full of unforgettable experiences. First thing I did was get harnessed up, sat in a plane as it ascended to 14,000 feet… and then jumped out.

The experience of skydiving is completely surreal. You can see the ground below you but it just looks like scenery (and what incredible scenery it was), like a painted backdrop. It’s very gradually getting closer, but it’s almost unnoticeable. The air is cold and the wind is loud, which almost creates a sense of sensory deprivation, driving all your instincts to focus on visuals – even your sense of balance is completely different to normal. I’m sure experienced skydivers have honed these senses in order to pull of their synchronised displays.

And on the subject of synchronised displays, we pulled one off ourselves. My friends in Jurien are all experienced skydivers, and they wanted to try something special on this jump. So the four of us linked up in order to perform a head down exit – literally our heads pointing down at the ground as we hit freefall. I’m told this was a very difficult thing to maintain, but maintain it we did, which meant the jump was special not just for me, but for my friends too.

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Having (sort of) mastered the air, I decided it was time to walk on water. Not literally of course. We took some paddle boards (like big unwieldy surfboards which you stand up on and propel yourself forward with a paddle) and headed down the coast. It was around this point that my sun block failed me and I got burnt pretty bad on my shoulders. But hey ho.

After lunch we went out on a friend’s boat. My friends were scuba diving, but me having no training or gear decided to stay on the boat and just appreciate the view. After half an hour the guys decided that the swell was too big and the diving was abandoned, but we took the boat out to a small island with a sea lion colony.

To my amazement, the sea lions were inquisitive, friendly and playful, and two of them swam it to meet us. It was an amazing experience, the sea lions racing and dancing around us, almost as if they were egging us on. They copied what we did but with infinitely more grace. I did a flip, they did a flip. I did a barrel roll, they did a barrel roll. Once I swam to the bottom and my snorkel released a few bubbles… So of course, the sea lions swam to the bottom and started blowing their own bubbles. They were some of the most adorable animals I’ve ever seen, and being welcomed into their environment by them was an honour I can’t describe.

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So here I was, king of the sky, king of the sea… All that was left to conquer was the land. The next day we took a 4×4 out across some pretty rough tracks in order to find a cave system. We loaded up with head torches and descended into the bowels of the earth.

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This was a cave system entirely dissimilar to the ones I’ve seen back home in the UK. The climate is much more arid here, so the huge stalagmites and stalactites you might expect to see formed by water deposits over thousands of years were absent. We did see an owl though! And a very hungry looking frog.

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Some way into the cave, we reached a large cavern, but noticed a very tight crawlspace leading deeper in. Throwing caution to the wind, we headed along it, scraping our shins in the process, but we arrived in a larger chamber which led even deeper into the earth. Eventually we reached a point beyond which we couldn’t continue, so turned out torches off and sat in the utter darkness for a while.

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After spending Christmas in Jurien Bay, I bid my friends goodbye and headed to the airport. I’m currently sat in a hostel in Alice Springs, waiting for the 4×4 which will take me into the desert for my 3 day hike to explore Uluru.

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Begin phase two…

Singapore: where everything is beautiful

I sit writing this update from gate c23 of Changi airport, waiting for the flight that will take me on the final leg of my journey to Perth. Today has been a long one.

After flying from Birmingham to Dubai at midday on Sunday, I flew into Singapore on the redeye from Dubai. There was a 12 hour layover at Changi, so I decided it was best to get out and explore the city.

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A few weeks prior I’d posted a massage on couchsurfing.com asking for a local to show me around from an insider’s perspective. I had a couple of responses to this, and I met up with both of them at the bayside station.

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One of my guides had to leave abruptly due to an emergency, but I got a great tour of some awesome sights of the city nonetheless. Also present was another fellow couch surfer from Sweden who had arrived in Singapore the same day.

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The city is stunning. It’s outrageously clean and has a super efficient public transport system. I wish I had more time to see more!

Right now my legs are aching and I’m tired as Hell. I’m looking forward to a long sleep on the flight.

Around the world in 36 hours

Ok so it’s been a long time since I posted anything. “What have you been up to? ” I hear none of you cry. Well, that’s not really important. What IS important is that I am sat in an airport, about to fly to Australia.

My journey has three legs to it: first to Dubai, then on to Singapore. I’m in Singapore for 12 hours or so, so I’m going to try and see the sights while I’m there. Then it’s on the plane again to Perth.

I’m not staying in Perth the whole time; on boxing day I’m flying to Alice Springs and then hiking to Uluru. After that I’m flying to Melbourne for new year, and then home I come.

I’m looking forward to meeting lots of interesting people. I’ve already met one guy at the airport who is flying to Amsterdam to see New Model Army in concert. We got chatting; for some reason he thinks I’m Australian. That’s fine, maybe I’ll be Australian for this journey.

I’m looking forward to turning what is traditionally the worst time of year for me into an unforgettable experience. If any if you reading want to be part of it, let me know, I’m sure we could meet up if I’m in the area.

1 hour until boarding. Let’s do this.

As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti

Last week I had the best experience of my life climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I have LOTS of photographs, and I have LOTS to say about the trip, but I have little time right now sop you’ll have to wait for a full report. Until then though, here’s a video of me reading Toto’s “Africa” from the summit:

The foothills of Kilimanjaro

Well here I am at last. Yesterday I flew out to Nairobi, and this morning I transferred to Kilimanjaro international airport. I’m finally going to climb the mountain.

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I’m using the Wi-Fi in the lodge in which I’m currently staying in order to post this message. Needless to say there will not be an internet connection on the mountain itself.

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The mountain itself is enormous, and I was tested to some spectacular views of it as I flew in, the top rising majestically through the cloud layer to dominate the view through the aircraft window. I cannot wait to climb it.

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There will be no further updates until I have retrieved from the mountain, but the donation website is still available if you wish to donate to the charity fundraiser. http://www.justgiving.com/2Karl

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Look carefully and you'll see the top of the mountain peeking through the clouds

The greatest challenge
I ever faced. Or at least
The second greatest.

Oh it’s you guys again. Great.

I’ve done nothing all day. To many people, doing nothing all day is some sort of achievement. To me, however, doing nothing all day does nothing but fuel my demons and raise their normal grumblings to a deafening scream. Doing nothing all day drags me back down to that awful place I’ve been trying to escape my whole life.

Yesterday I climbed Mount Snowdon with a friend. It’s the second tallest peak in the UK, and it’s a pretty good hike. We drove up on Sunday night and arrived in the foothills around 11:00PM, hastily pitching a tent in a reasonably secluded place on the path leading to the mountain. Wild camping is illegal in England and Wales, as all land is owned, and in order to camp you need permission from the land owner. We figured that what the land owner didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them, and as long as we left no trace, where’s the harm?

That night brought little sleep. The winds were horrendous, and the small wall we’d pitched behind did practically nothing to break the wind. The skies bled all night, lashing water down so hard that the tent rang out with the sound of television tuned to a dead channel. It was certainly warm enough, but by about 5:30 the water had found its way in and the floor was starting to get soaked.

We quickly deconstructed the tent (which wouldn’t fit back into its bag, but to be honest is only really fit for the bin now anyway), and headed back to the carpark to decant what we didn’t need into the boot, and then set off.

View from snowdon

This is the view we had just before we hit the cloud layer

The hike up the mountain was great – the views were less spectacular than they could have been, as the clouds had blown in, and the upper portion of the climb became a trek through mist and fog, while battling the winds which threatened unconvincingly to blow us off the ridges to our deaths. We headed off the track near the summit in order to bag a geocache, and eventually reached the top… where once again the rains began.

The hike back down was a killer. Raging wind, rain which felt like needles in our faces, and seemingly no escape from the relentless cloud cover which was omnipresent. When we finally made it back to the car we were quite ready for a nice hot shower, but there was still a 3 and a half hour journey ahead of us. Still, when I got home, I felt fantastic. It was genuinely the best 24 hours I’ve had in a long time.

So you see, some people might say “don’t beat yourself up over doing nothing today – just look what you did yesterday!”, but when has that ever worked? I look at what I did yesterday at it just makes the gulf between yesterday’s mountain climb and today’s NOTHING AT ALL seem unimaginably vast. I am worthless and my demons won’t stop reminding me.

The only way to fix this is to do something, but my lack of motivation prevents this.

Save me, please.