Cost/day: $75-250 (depending on lodging and meals)
Hello and g-day from down under! How are you going? That last bit, “how are you going” always trips me up – I never know whether to answer to “how are you doing” or “where are you going”. I’ve been living in Sydney since September, and here are a few of the things that I have learned… (more…)
Recently I’ve been reading, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. When the author was in her mid-twenties she solo hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Her book unfolds as she treks north, nursing her blistered feet and cumbersome heavy pack along a majority of the 2,663mi (4,286km) trail. It initially begins at the Mexican border, passes through California, Oregon, and Washington in the USA and over the border into Canada. Several years ago I’d been gearing up to ride my horses along the same trail, but heavy snows in high mountain ranges and challenges with support team coordination threw a wrench in the trip–so it never happen. But I did ride sections of that trail, along with parts of the Continental Divide Trail, Chilkoot Trail, and the historic Oregon Trail. On foot I’ve graced sections of several other long paths, and driven a dog cart on one pulled by twelve huskies.
Reading Strayed’s book got me thinking about other long-distance footpaths around the world. A popular one in Europe that comes to mind is El Camino de Santiago which starts many different places but ultimately ends at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I first heard of the trail in a novel by Paulo Coelho called, “The Pilgrimage.” Other countries in Europe such as Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have quite a lot of paths. In Asia I’d looked into hiking the Annapurna Circuit in central Nepal. But it appears that Israel and Japan have many for the choosing as well; Japan’s most popular being the 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
Here are the worlds’ best hikes according to National Geographic.
Mark Moxon has an extensive website of information and stories from his long walking adventures.
The UK has a Long Walkers Association.
One Canadian man even walked around the world in eleven years.
Have you ever hiked or ridden on a long-distance path? Or do you have plans to do so?
Please share your stories or plans in the comments!
Cost/day: FREE (airfare not included – ha!)
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
As I write this, it is now 3:40am and I’m bunking in the San Francisco Airport after 16 hours of flight changes, delays and one emergency turn-around. Some of the things I’ve seen tonight include:
Cost:$37 a day
This isn’t a true reflection of expenses in Perth as I have been staying and eating with relatives. A large chunk of my costs are beer related and I am not a heavy drinker so expect to pay two to three times this much if you aren’t couch surfing and eating in.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
On a beautiful, sunny day at Cottesloe beach a friend of mine pointed out the aircraft carrier ship USS Carl Vinson docked off the coast. This warship was the one that Osama Bin Laden’s body was brought to in the Arabian gulf, prior to being disposed of at sea. This man-made behemoth was a reminder that not all is well in other parts of the world and was in stark contrast to the calm and peaceful surroundings.
It’s that time of year again when STA travel picks this summers World Traveler Interns and the two lucky candidates have been announced. The 2011 interns are Brigette Muller and Dutch Simpson. You can read more about who they are and what inspired them to apply for the position here, on the STA website.
This years itinerary takes us across 17 countries. The journey starts with a long winding path across Europe, through a bit of Asia, and finally touches down in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of South America. STA’s World Travel Interns are always fresh and fun to watch. Be sure to check out their progress this summer on what is sure to be an exhilarating journey.
For those of you who have been following the news, you might get the feeling that something is not quite right here in the Oceanic part of the world, and I tell you: those of us who live here think so too. Mother Nature is smiting us down with a vengeance; in the past month and a half, there’ve been dramatic flooding in Queensland, Cyclone Yasi threatening to demolish Cairns, a tornado in northern West Australia, bushfires in Perth (that left one of my friends with a t-shirt, bathing shorts, flip-flops, credit card, and cellphone to his name), earthquake in Christchurch, and now the most recent earthquake in Japan with accompanying tsunami. We even had a plague of locusts.
Obviously there are many, many websites telling you how to help the disaster victims (donate to Shelterbox, an Australian first-response provider), but I thought I’d just spend a bit of time going over some basic reactions to keep in mind if you’re in imminent danger here in the apparent new disaster capital of the world.
For all natural disasters, be aware that on the news, it looks like emergency responders are there right away…sometimes they aren’t. You may be left alone for quite some time, so the best response is to BE PREPARED. Be aware of political, natural disaster, and other situations in whatever region you’re in, and if danger seems imminent, keep your important belongings in an emergency kit including water and food. Donate to life-saving charities. Take care of others according to your ability. We can get out of this much easier if we all do it together.
If you’ve always dreamed of working in Antarctica (the only continent you can’t be a native of, and yet which doesn’t officially belong any other country: a treaty made in 1961 suspends all claims of ownership, in favor of promoting valuable scientific research rather than arguing over whose flag flies where…and the penguins don’t care), now’s your chance. The British Antarctic Survey is seeking field assistants for terms of between 6 and 18 months — depending on whether you go for a summer or winter term. Applications are open until the 8th of May. The pay doesn’t seem to be great, but it would be a fantastic experience.
(While the UK has no particular restrictions on Antarctic missions, for ladies, US Antarctic employment now comes with mandatory pregnancy testing: if you test positive, you are positively staying behind. While according to the article, other bases allow pregnant women and births (including Australia, which records 7 babies born on-base in Antarctica), the possibility of complications during pregnancy and birthing being compounded by isolation, untrained medical personnel, and cold makes one think twice about rushing to the Antarctic without giving birth control a good hard think.)
(Speaking of Australia, the Australian Antarctic Territory comprises a large part of the landmass of Australia, and was given to Australia by the UK in 1933. Only 4 states other than Australia recognize Australia’s ownership of Antarctica: the UK, New Zealand, Norway, and France. So if you’re from one of those places, Australia owns Antarctica.)
You know, much has been made of the vast toxicity of Australian wildlife. There is a story of a shark leaping onto the beach to lock jaws around the leg of a 12 year old boy…it had to be hit in the head with blunt instruments to get it to let go. There are tales of the incredibly venomous taipan, which, to sort of quote Bill Bryson, is a snake of such extraordinary danger that your last words are likely to be, “I say, is that a sn-?” There is the blue-ringed octopus, a miniature octopus of delightful loveliness, and enough poison to kill three grown men; you may not even know it’s stung you until your lips start to tingle. You’ll definitely know when you can’t move your arms or legs or, eventually, breathe. There’s no antidote. Much has also been made of dingos eating babies, of crocodile eyes glowing in billabongs at night, of funnelweb spiders.
But the most dangerous thing in Australia is actually not the flora and fauna: it’s the heat. In the summer, it regularly gets to be about 40-45 degrees in the south of WA, where I live, and sometimes can get up to 50 in northern WA (Broome, Port Hedland) and the interior (where that big red rock is…yes, it’s called Uluru). 50 degrees Celsius. That is about 13 degrees hotter than your core body temperature if you’re unfevered. You may think that air conditioning is not a necessity, that you can live without shorts in the summer, but you would be wrong. You wonder why someone would strip down and enter a water hole known to be full of crocodiles in the middle of a summer afternoon…then you realize that they were probably thirsty and hot, and it makes a lot more sense.
You’re in more danger of dying from heatstroke in most of Australia than you are from snakebite, and two in every three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they’re in their 70s. This is a brutal country, but it has nothing to do with the outback or bush or the animals therein; it has to do with whether you remembered sunblock and a litre of water when you went for a walk.
Australia’s gigantic festival season is coming up, with Big Day Out preparing to suck in thousands of youngsters willing to pay $165 for a ticket and stand pressed elbow-to-sternum in 45 degree (Celsius) heat, while paying $8 for a bottle of water. Sounds like fun, right?
If you still think so, and you don’t want to make your own, you can go to most music festivals pretty much everywhere for free by offering to volunteer at them. Yep, you can go hear all those great bands for free if you work the festival. Plus you get a cool fluoro shirt and the opportunity, like my friend Nancy, to duck cans thrown by inebriated people.
Seriously, if you like festivals and you happen to be near a place where one is happening, but your vagabonding budget just won’t let you buy a ticket…volunteer and hear Bob Dylan for free.
Rolf’s latest travel project is the No Baggage Challenge — a journey that will take him around the world without using a single piece of luggage. Every few days, we’ll be updating Vagabonding with a recap of the latest to keep you up to date on the adventure.
Rolf ended up staying three nights in Bangkok before heading south to Malaysia on an overnight train. After a quick visit to Singapore (and the Sydney airport), Rolf arrived in New Zealand for a few days of adventure before heading back to The States.
Days on road: 40
Miles traveled: 31,941
“At that time, I wrote that “Khao San Road is not designed to be a static, aesthetic part of Thailand, but a pragmatic duty-free zone — a neutral territory that has learned to continually reinvent itself in the image of what young budget travelers want” — and it’s an observation that still holds true: In continually tweaking and adapting to the needs of travelers, Khao San Road is in many ways staying the same. As I walked up and down the street checking out the vendors and sampling plates of pad thai and banana pancakes, the place felt almost identical to the way it felt a decade ago — even if it now sports fast food restaurants (McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway — which were not there when I last visited) and different technologies (music downloads instead of cassette tapes, wi-fi instead of dial-up).” –Rolf on The Same River Twice: Bangkok in Three Acts
Our next update will find Rolf in New Zealand. To follow the journey in real-time, check out the No Baggage Challenge blog or follow along on Twitter or Facebook. And enter this week’s reader challenge, by sharing what you will do over the next year to make yourself richer in time. The best entry will win Scottevest gear, a BootsnAll Moleskine journal, and Rolf’s book Marco Polo Didn’t Go There!