A Travellerspoint blog

January 2011

Thank you for reading

Many people have been asking me what the highlight(s) of my trip were so I thought I should write one final blog entry reflecting on my experience down under. There are many highlights. I can't narrow it down to just one. So here are the top 10 in no particular order:

1) Sky diving in Wanaka, NZ.
2) Bungy jumping in Taupo, NZ.
3) Black water rafting in Waitomo, NZ.
4) Boat cruise in Milford Sound, NZ.
5) Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, AUS.
6) Day tour to the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, AUS.
7) Seeing my good friend Becx and spending New Years Eve with her in Sydney, AUS.
8) Going to the beach on Christmas Day.
9) Seeing the beautiful landscape of New Zealand.
10) Staying with kind strangers and making new friends from all over the world.

Several people have also asked me if I was in the area of Australia that is currently being affected by flooding. The majority of the flooding is taking place in Queensland state. I was in Brisbane and Cairns, which are both in Queensland state. I noticed the river level in Brisbane was very high but other than that there were no signs of flooding. Up in Cairns there was also no signs of flooding. From what I understand the majority of the flooding is taking place in smaller communities between Brisbane and Cairns, which are both on the coast. I met a girl on the bus from Byron Bay to Brisbane that was heading up to the community of Mackay, after being home for Christmas, to work in the mines and she was concerned about whether or not she'd still have work in that area because of the conditions. It was raining or at least drizzling almost my entire time in Brisbane, Byron Bay and Cairns. (Byron Bay is located south of Brisbane along the Gold Coast - I haven't heard of any flooding there). This excess moisture has obviously affected the crops as well as it's harvest time in Australia. Apparently this is one of the wettest years on record in Australia.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel. And I encourage everyone to grab hold of this opportunity if possible, whether it be to the other side of the world or within your own province. And our own country of Canada has so much to offer. In fact I was flipping through a New Zealand magazine during my trip when I came across a travel article on Canada where the writer referred to Canada as "New Zealand on steroids." He was referring to the fact that New Zealand and parts of Canada have similar landscapes.

While on my trip I had to pay to use the Internet in the hostels or in Internet cafes. I found it to be very expensive (app. $1 AUD or NZD for 10 minutes for example) and of course maintaining a blog takes precious Internet time. At times I wondered if it was worth it. However, after arriving home I realize it was. I have received heaps of positive comments on the blog. It was an excellent way to stay connected with my family and friends back home. It was also a way for me to combine two of my passions - writing and traveling. So thank you for reading!

Posted by tfalk 16:30 Comments (2)

Back on Canadian soil

Leaving approximately plus 40 Celcius weather in Sydney, Australia and returning to approximately minus 30 Celcius weather in Manitoba was no doubt a shock to the system. Stepping out of the Winnipeg airport the bitter cold hit me like a slap in the face. My thoughts drifted back to how I was sweating in the hot summer sun several hours earlier. Well, it was more like about 18 hours earlier. I left Sydney at noon on Jan. 1 and arrived in Vancouver at 7:30 a.m. that same day due to the time difference. After a layover in Vancouver I flew to Winnipeg arriving at 6 p.m. (Jan. 1).

Going back briefly to New Years Eve, my friend Becx and I ended up taking the train into the city in the afternoon to see what was happening. There were swarms of people everywhere and the crowds only grew as the day wore on. Some people arrived early in the day to secure a prime spot for viewing the fireworks. We decided we didn't want to sit in the hot sun all day so we took our chances and arrived later. We also didn't make a reservation for dinner and lucked out when we found a nice place in Darling Harbour taking walk ins. So after dinner we walked around looking for a good spot to view the fireworks. We found an ideal spot and were treated to a spectacular fireworks display. It was the best fireworks I have ever seen. The fireworks were perfectly coordinated with the music and continued for quite awhile. It was definitely worth the trip into the city. Getting home also took awhile as everyone made a beeline for the waiting trains and buses. The city closes several downtown streets for New Years Eve and recommends everyone take public transportation into the city.

Seeing my old friend Becx from New Zealand was definitely a highlight of my trip. We met when she was an exchange student at my high school in Crystal City, Manitoba about 12 years ago. During my trip I had the privilege of staying with some kind and generous people - Dana MacDiarmed, Andrew and Vicki Buston, Joan Braun, and Becx Hoy. I really appreciate their warm hospitality. And I hope to be able to return the favour someday. After staying in so many hostels, it's nice to be in the comfort of someone's home. Thank you.

Posted by tfalk 10:26 Comments (0)

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