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February 3rd 2009
Published: February 3rd 2009
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Southern StarSouthern StarSouthern Star

Me at the Southern Star observation wheel, trying to see some of the touristy things in Melbourne before going off and seeing the rest of the world. This is about one month after it opened and one week before it was closed indefinitely after breaking during an extreme heat wave.
OK, I woke up at 04:20, which is too early to go to work and too late to go back to sleep, so I thought I'd try writing my first real blog entry. Unfortunately my USB cable for my camera is packed away deep in some box, so I can't upload any photos of Melbourne in here at the moment.

I guess I didn't realise how much stress and hassle the last week would be. As well as trying to finish off all the odds & ends at work, there's the usual stuff associated with moving house, and other stuff for the trip. I've changed my address and redirected my mail to my parents, who'll open my mail for me while I'm away. Last weekend I moved all my stuff up to their place for storage, so I'm now squatting in my flat with only a mattress which will go out in the hard rubbish collection (which by a brilliant stroke of luck is the exact week after I've gone!), my computers, the stuff I'll take with me, extra clothes, and some stuff we forgot to pack away. I hope it all fits in my car.

The idea of

Docklands, Melbourne
keeping my food on ice in a couple of eskies didn't really work, and I threw out all my food last night, which was a pity because I still had about four days of Lite 'N' Easy food left, which is the diet I've been on which made me lose 24 kg over the last 10 months or so. I wonder if I'll put on weight in Asia due to the cheap food and alcohol, or lose it due to the exercise.

Anyway, I moved my stuff up in a truck on the weekend. We managed to pack it all into two small sheds. It will probably all get eaten by mice or colonised by snakes by the time I get back. I can't believe how much stuff I threw out. I remember when I moved down to university, I used to be able to take my stuff in a suitcase. Then when I moved to Bathurst in the mid 90s I squeezed all my stuff into my little Datsun ... moving to Melbourne it was a station wagon and a trailer ... last move was several trips in a van ... now it's a truck. One just accumulates crap, I think. Most of the stuff which was still in boxes from my last move, I threw out.

The funny thing is, it hasn't yet struck me that in four or five days I'll have left Melbourne, and in a week I'll be in Adelaide, getting on the Ghan. I still find myself trying to make plans to catch up with people and whatever, as if I still live here. At the moment I'm just concentrating on sorting out my stuff, finishing off the medical things I need to get done, finishing off work, getting my flat cleaned and the carpet steamcleaned, uni stuff, etc.

I just found out that I will be going on the archaeology dig in Jordan in June. This means that the next 4.5 months will be moving pretty fast, with usually only a day or so in each town. People keep asking me about the archaeology dig and I have to tell them I don't know that much about it, I mainly picked it because the timing wasn't too bad and it wasn't quite as expensive as some of the others. For those who're interested, the website is here. I found it through the Archaeological Institute of America (it's nice to see they spell it "ae" not just "e" - I don't know why) which has plenty of fieldwork opportunities, although it's not clear how many are open to people who aren't archaeology students. Last week I sent off the cheque for $US2500 and although I "lost" over $1000 compared to what that would have cost six months ago, I saved hundreds of dollars compared to if I'd paid today, with the $AUS dropping even further.

Everyone wants to give advice about where to go or how to travel or what to take, even people who've never backpacked before. I think I have way too much stuff already, so I couldn't take everything that everyone suggested. Someone just back from a trip to Europe suggested that disposable undies were a must-have while travelling, although he didn't really explain what made them more disposable than normal undies. I don't think I have space in my backpack for 400 pairs of disposable undies, so I'll just have to go with the normal ones! Some people tell me I should move slower, find one place and explore it. Others tell me I should try to go right around the world (which was my original plan, but it would mean I'd miss some of the best bits of Asia, spend more money, and actually probably end up doing a shorter route anyway). Some people assume I will spend most of my time in places like Bali or Phuket, others think I'll be lost in the jungle somewhere.

Everyone keeps asking me when I fly out, or when I leave Melbourne, which I'm not sure how to answer. I consider my trip beginning in Bendigo where my family lives, when I take the bus to Adelaide. From there I take The Ghan to Darwin. So I don't actually "fly out" (a 40-minute flight from Darwin to Dili) until five days after my trip begins.

I haven't tried packing everything into my backpack. That will be fun. I always take way too much stuff, which means I have too much of some type of clothes (of course everyone always forgets or omits some stuff they turn out to need, too). I bought a light-weight hiking backpack online from the USA - it seemed ridiculous to me if you're trying to keep under, say, 20 kg, for your backpack to weigh say 4-5 kg. I'll miss my old backpack though, I'm kind of attached to it! It's got character, and been on all my adventures, such as they were, with me. And it was big. I thought it was advertised as 80 l, and my new one is meant to be 75 l, but the old one looks much bigger. I'm worried that my little windbook, my DSLR, my cheap little video camera, the battery charger, and some books I need for uni, will take up all the space in my pack, even without my tent or clothes or the bulky but light travel medicine kit I got from The Travel Doctor which allows me to diagnose myself and do initial treatment if I get malaria or amoebic dysentry or some other exotic parasite.

I'm not particularly looking forward to dosing up on the doxycycline again, but East Timor is one of the worst places in Asia for Malaria. They're also one of the few remaining countries with a leprosy problem. I'd like to meet a lepor, so that I could understand the expression "treat you like a leper". Of course, modern-day leprosy isn't particularly contagious, and the expression is probably a reference to the Biblical disease which was unrelated Hansen's Disease, or a reference to what was often misdiagnosed as "leprosy" in the 18th and early 19th centuries but was often probably syphillis. I think East Timor has more to offer than malaria and leprosy though, but I guess I'll find out soon enough.


11th February 2009

too much stuff
If you're backpacking, I'd say everywhere you go you'll find people who are flying home and need to get rid of junk. So you might be able to buy the stuff you need cheaply.

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