G'day mate, I'm born and bred Aussie but I just love travelling the old globe. I'm currently backpacking around the world on my 4th big crazy adventure and am updating this blog as I go. Come join me on my travels and have a laugh at the same time. After this trip I will be writing a travel book of all my adventures so keep your eyes out for it!!!! Cheers mate!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Update!

Hey guys I know it's been years but let me just let you know the exciting news that the book is finally being started

My website for the book is www.paulwoodbook.com


You can also join my Facebook group for the book at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/433087786735029/

Thanks again for your support,

Paul Wood

Friday, September 12, 2008

HELP ME!!!!!! HELP ME!!!!!! HELP ME!!!!!!

As you may know I'm thinking of writing a book about all my travel adventures over the past 8 years and 61 countries. I have many crazy stories and most of them happened a long time before I even started this travel blog. The book will be written much better, funnier, clearer, and in more detail than what I managed to do whilst travelling with this blog. Some of the stories I will write about will include;

How I lived in a forest for a month under a log and hunted rabbits, flew out to Germany to test a new heart medicine, became a stand up comedian in Germany, towed a speed boat across Europe for some complete strangers and lived in their millionaire Greek Islands villa for 2 months, sunk a speed boat, got lost in a secret cave for hours, almost died in a blizzard on the peak of
highest mountain, was almost arrested for running across an NBA court, fell down a cliff in Greece, volunteered for a police line up and was told I was the armed robber by the witness, walked 250km across Scotland in the middle of winter in the snow to save some cash and slept in our tent in knee deep snow, almost killed myself bleaching my hair with pool chlorine, was almost stoned to death in a rock throwing riot in Nepal, was nearly caught in a mini tornado in the desert in India, had the windows of my bus blow out in my face on a bus in Egypt, was forced to help smugglers hide thousands of packets of cigarettes into Bulgaria from Serbia, was caught in a 2 day violent riot in Peru being trapped in a random country town, my tour of a real prison where I tipped the guards to enter in Bolivia and was shown around by the prisoners....and much much more!!!

My problem is now I have to get a publisher interested in helping me out to make this book a reality. If any of you have read my blog and have enjoyed it PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write me a comment or email me one on paulwood900@gmail.com and mention why you think it would make a great book and how you have enjoyed my stories. Also please add your name and the city and country you live in to make it a bit more credible and I would appreciate it ever so much. These stories are too good to waste and must be written down before they are lost forever. PLEASE help me get this book up and running and write a cheeky comment.

THANK YOU for reading my blog,

Paul Wood


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

USA to Australia…the last stage!

G’day all,
Well the trip of a lifetime has finally come to an end 61 countries and every continent bar Antarctica later. My last week or 2 went fairly smoothly travelling with my brother Simon and we didn’t even have any near death experiences so that was a bit boring. On our Greyhound bus ride from San Fran down to LA we amazingly had the same bus and same driver and sat in the same seats as when we caught the bus to San Fran a few days before. Robo-cop the bus driver was back to his best form dictating the bus ride and at one stage he yelled at me to get off my phone when I was actually showing a girl some pictures on my camera. We arrived in LA early in the morning and caught a few public buses to our hostel in the beautiful suburb of Inglewood. If you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic about Inglewood as it’s the Ghetto of LA and where many of the gangs like to have street wars and get shooty with each other. The hostel however was nice and cheap so that’s why we stayed there and it had a nice big pool and free meals. I guess real estate must be cheap in the area. Once Simon and I settled in to the hostel we caught a bus straight down to Santa Monica and we went for a nice stroll along the beach to Venice Beach. This is the area where they filmed ‘Baywatch’ and it is exactly how it looked in the show. The walk up to the beach was pretty interesting as there are all different areas where the beach changed from the family zone, to the gay area, then to the muscles and fake tits area. There was a fair bit of eye candy about but you can see how fake everyone is a mile away. On our second day in LA Simon and I had a bit of a chilled out day and went out to have a look at UCLA, the famous university. UCLA was bloody huge and was like a little city within itself. We found our way to the UCLA store where they had a massive shop selling all the merchandise including everything from pens to shoes with UCLA printed all over them. On Friday we did a tour of Beverley Hills and Hollywood and saw where all the famous people lived. I’d seen it all years ago but Simon was pretty impressed and took about a thousand photos in every direction. We drove past the homes of Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Janet Jackson, J-LO, Kevin Costner, and just about every other celebrity you can imagine. Hollywood was pretty cool but a bit overrated being mainly just stars on the footpath and souvenir shops. Seeing the Hollywood sign is always cool though but again as hard as I looked I never saw anyone famous. For the weekend Simon and I went to San Diego and we actually went first class this time and caught the train down. The train ride was amazing because it actually went along the coast just meters from the sand and you could see people surfing and sunbathing so close to you. Getting accommodation in San Diego was almost impossible and we booked it days in advanced and the only place we could stay at on the cheap was a small hostel way out in the suburbs. The hostel was basically a tiny house with a few beds in it and just ran by this lady who was way too overprotective of us and mothered us even more than our own mum. San Diego is an awesome city and probably the best in the States but travelling for almost 2 hours to get back to the hostel each day really got annoying. San Diego seemed like a pretty nice chilled out city and was quiet clean and safe but the best part were the beaches. After a huge night out on the Saturday night we headed for Pacific beach where we met up with our friend Nessy who we met in San Fran on the ghost tour. The beach was packed but had a great atmosphere and seemed much more real than the fakeness of LA. Nessy was awesome and showed us all the best places to hang out then took us for a nice drive down to Mission bay then along the coast. Mission Bay was also really nice and had a big theme park on the waters edge and some really funky bars. One of the bars actually had an artificial wave in it where all the drunken patrons try to surf it in their board shorts. We had a nice sunset drive then we fare welled Nessy and sat on public transport for the next 3 hours to get home in time for bed. On Monday we bused it back to LA big malls and bought some last minute clothes as we were flying out of the States the following day. On our last day in USA we rounded up a bunch of Irish lads and headed out to Hollywood to watch a few episodes of Dr Phil being filmed with this ticket we were given on Venice Beach. Somehow we got there in time for the 8am start after winging it on public transport from the moment the sun rose. As tired as we all were it was really interesting to watch it being filmed and we actually had the camera being on us a fair bit. The first show was about older women dating younger men so us being the youngest guys in the crowd, we had the camera on us constantly. We were pretty un-photogenic and eve and had a bit of a shopping spree day at one of thery time the camera pointed at us we laughed and elbowed each other so there’s a good chance we were cut from the show. After the show we had a bit of a walk around Hollywood again then Simon and I had to get our gear together and head for the airport for our flight to New Zealand. The flight was 13 hours long but we left on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Auckland on Thursday morning because of the International Date Line. It was very weird arriving in New Zealand because it’s so similar to Australia so it felt like I was home again but it wasn’t quite right. Auckland seemed like such a small city after travelling the world but it had a really nice friendly feeling to it. I think New Zealanders must be the friendliest people in the world as every one you talked to seemed to want to chat forever to you. Heading through immigration was so relaxed after the ego head American Immigration officers who basically strip search you to get from A to B at the airport. When the Immigration officer found out I was only going to be there for 4 days she was begging me to stay longer and see the place properly. She said “Cem on ya gotta stey longer den thet bro” with her funny little Kiwi “eccecnt.” We only stayed in Auckand for a day and a night then moved onto Rotorua. Rotorua is a tiny volcanic active town famous for its boiling mud pools and geysers and of course the smell of sulphur in the air. The mud pools and geysers were really awesome and we relaxed the night away in the natural spas in the town. Again we just spent the day and the night there then moved on the following day to a little village called National Park Village at the base of some snow covered volcanic mountains near Taupo. Neither Simon nor I knew the slightest thing about snowboarding, skiing, or the area but we decided to whip up there and give it a whirl. The lady at tourist information in Rotorua told us there would be no need to worry about booking accommodation ahead so we just caught the bus to National Park Village. Once we arrived we went to a hotel and the guy laughed at me and said its peak season and they’ve been fully booked since about 5 days ago. The second hotel we checked out said the same thing and as he was saying it he got a phone call and somebody cancelled their twin room for the night so we got it. Dead lucky we were because it was bloody freezing and we were stuck in a tiny town without even a shop in the middle of nowhere. Even though this place was as busy as it possibly gets the town seemed like a ghost town and not a car or a person was to be seen but then we figured everybody was up on the mountain skiing. It was midday by this stage and our only day in the snow so we asked around about getting up to the snow fields which were 20km away. Everyone we asked said there were no more shuttles or busses up there until tomorrow and the only way to get there was to hitchhike….so that’s what we did. Some random tradesman gave us a ride to the highway then we had to hitch again from there. Both Simon and I looked like a couple of homeless men as we had walked the highway with this big foldout bag that mum gave us and had our thumb out for a ride. After being told it was easy to get a ride about 20 cars drove straight past us without any hint of stopping so we decided to get some new tactics. We then hid our homeless can and bottle collecting bag in a bush and smiled and eyeballed the driver with our sad eyes and it worked first shot. A really nice lady pulled over and drove us all the way to the mountain and even gave us a bit of a tour on the way. By the time we got to the mountain we had only about 2 hours of snowboard time left for the day and luckily rented out some gear and headed straight for the beginners’ hill. We were too cheap to buy a ski lift pass so we ended up walking back up the hill every time we caught a ride. Apparently it’s the best snow fall they had in about 50 years and the conditions were perfect with blue skies and plenty of powder so the place was packed to the rim with thousands of skiers and snowboarders. We had a heap of fun and after 2 hours I was snowboarding like a champion and could even stop so I was pretty proud of myself. Simon and I had to share 1 pair of gloves the whole day so every time our hands got too cold we swapped for 10 minutes. After returning our gear it was time to figure out how to get back to the village and the bus was no option again so we were back to hitchhiking once again. After our 4th hitched ride for the day we finally got back to the hotel and crashed out with exhaustion. The following day we caught a train back to Auckland which broke down on the way. We spent our last night of the 18 month trip just relaxing and chatting to fellow backpackers in our hostel dorm. On our last few hours before flying back to Australia we ran around and spend our last dollars on souvenirs before heading to the airport. Arriving back in Adelaide was so weird after being away for so long and I didn’t know if I was feeling happy or sad about it. Let’s see how long I can stay here for now without the travel bug taking over again.

Thanks for reading my blog!


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Party Time, Cancun to Vegas to California

G'day all,
Again, it’s been a “Heaps Good” couple of weeks since my last cheeky update. Sorry this one took so long but I had a computer virus which destroyed my computer but it's back in business now. Anyway back to the trip. After suffering another torturous Central American 70’s chicken bus ride and a almost daily border crossing I finally arrived in Belize to a very interesting town called Belize City. I was expecting skyscrapers and pollution but it looked more like a little country town in Kansas from the 50’s thrown on the edge Caribbean with dirt roads and a real laid back atmosphere. All the buildings seemed to be wooden and on stilts and painted all different colours. The locals didn’t look a thing like the rest of Central America as it was full of cool African looking dudes with dreadlocks and happy clothes and Caribbean accents everywhere to be heard. As soon as I arrived I pretty much jumped straight on a water taxi which whipped me over to the number one tourist attraction in Belize, Caye Caulker. Now if I was impressed by the chillness of Belize City then Caye Caulker was so chilled out it makes you want to just fall asleep under a coconut tree. The moment I arrived in Caye Caulker I was in love with the place and could have moved there in a flash. Unfortunately I only had 2 nights there due to my tight schedule so decided to make the most of it. I first found a hostel called Belles which was run by the biggest Menopausal Dutch bitch I’ve ever seen. This one lady and the price of food on the island were my only complaints I could think of about this Paradise Island. I get to the hostel and this ‘people hating’ old chook with more bush under her arms than in South Australia glares at me as I walk towards her. I’m like “G’day luv have you got any spare beds for the night?” and she’s like “take your shoes off and go find a bed for yourself.” I felt some really bad energy and BO wafting my way and pondered the idea of staying under this beast of a woman’s roof. As I was just about to give her an answer she yells at me “Well do ya bloody want it or not, I don’t have all day.” I then nose laughed and said in my pissy little weak voice “Yes Please” and found the nicest bed I could find. After that awkward little discussion I organized a snorkeling trip for the following day and went for a stroll along the long skinny island it is. I really was shattered to be only staying here 2 nights as I walked along the palm lined main dirt road filled with people walking, riding bikes, and cruising around on golf buggies. As I walked I watched people play soccer on the beach and drink beers in a bar hanging out over the clear light blue Caribbean water with a diving board hanging from the second floor. The next morning I did my snorkeling trip out on some protected reefs with more marine life than you could ever imagine. We all went on a sail boat and sailed out to the 3 reefs for about an hour. I had to help the guy with the sails and he was like “Don’t pull that rope mun, nah just joking mun” and it was a joke a minute for the whole day. I had a brilliant day andI have. never snorkeled or dived in a place like it. I saw everything from sharks and sting rays to the highlight of the day, a Manatee. I didn’t even know what a Manatee was until I saw one. I never expected to get so close to it. We were told not to get too close to it because if they get scared they swim away. I swam up to it within a few meters and stopped moving and videoed it with my camera (as in video) As I was videoing the Manatee it swam right up to me and stared me in the eyes suddenly bringing back some instant strong memories of the lady running the hostel. It was an amazing moment and I couldn’t believe how close we got to it. Our second swim was almost as good as the rusta men running the tour poured a heap of food into the water next to the boat causing a rush of huge fish, sharks, and rays to engulf beside the boat. I couldn’t believe how close these huge creatures were to me and they were so busy eating that they didn’t even notice us snorkeling around them. Anyway that’s enough about fish back to the trip. My last night on Caye Caulker was spent indoors gripping my bunk bed as a hurricane like storm just about blew over the hostel. I’ve never heard winds or rain like I did that night and I was actually pretty scared feeling the building being blown around all night. At one stage the windows in my room blew off the building and one fell inside my room and a man came in the room saying something about a hurricane but I think it was just an extreme storm. After Caye Caulker I headed up to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico and after waiting for my 4 hour late bus ride amongst a pack of angry backpackers. As soon as we crossed the Mexican boarder it was a very nice feeling and felt like I was back in a western country again. The cars were all new and shiny and washed and the roads had no pot holes and had a nice surface. I was also excited to see Mcdonalds, Burger King, and KFC lining the highway as we zoomed towards Playa. I was so used to twisty flooded dirt roads, full of land slides, rocks and holes, and random animals from being in Central America that a normal road felt so pleasurable and smooth. I spent 3 nights and 2 days in Playa Del Carmen and most of my time was spent just relaxing, swimming, and eating junk food again. I never realized how westernized Mexico was (even though it’s a beach resort town) and I really enjoyed the structure and standards of it but wasn’t enjoying the high prices again. Playa was a really nice place, very clean, and easy to get around, and the beaches were near perfect. Playa Del Carmen is supposed to be a mini Cancun and most people prefer it to its big brother town. I only went out one night while I was there and I stupidly sprained my ankle trying to do salsa dancing. I’ve now been limping around for the past week with a swollen and bruised ankle due to my pathetic attempt to do the Salsa. My last stop in Mexico was Cancun, party central. I was there for only 3 nights and they were 3 very big nights at that. I was hoping to meet another party animal like myself at my hostel in Cancun and luckily I met my perfect match, another Aussie guy called Damian. Damian was originally planning to move on from Cancun the following day but after our first huge night out he decided to stay for another 2 nights and party with me. We stayed downtown which is a fair way away from all the action in the hotel district but managed to catch the good old R1 bus into the party zone each night. On our first night out we went to a club called ‘The City’ which is the biggest club in Central America and holds about 15,000 people. As soon as I stepped into the front door of The City I saw what all the fuss was all about. This joint was bloody massive and not only was it a club, it was basically a circus. In the centre of this huge super room was a stage where different circus acts are performed all through the night. All the bars and clubs in Cancun have a entry charge of about 20-60 bucks where you get free drinks all night once you pay the cover. On Saturday we pretty much slept all day and at night we went to another super club called ‘The Bulldog.’ The Bulldog was also big but was crammed full of try hard tools everywhere which really annoyed me. Everyone in that joint loved themselves to bits and the only cool thing about the night was this hot tub they had on stage with 2 hot girls in bikinis making out. On my last night in Cancun I went to the famous ‘Coco Bongo’ club which was the most expensive but best of the lot. It was more of a show than a club but the entertainment factor was 100% During the night they had dozens of different impersonators from Michael Jackson to Elvis and thousands of balloons and streamers fell from the roof. The highlight of the night was a spiderman show they had where a guy was attatched to cables hanging from the roof and he flew and did flips over the crowd with many special effects. After Cancun I few off to Las Vegas to meet up with my brother Simon who is travelling with me for the last 3 weeks of the trip. Everything seemed to go wrong when trying to meet up with Simon as his flight was delayed causing him to miss 2 flights. To make things worse my flight to Vegas was cancelled during my stop over in Florida because Spirit "bloody" Airways was striking and I ended up arriving 24 hours later after flying half way around America (via Pittsburgh). Never fly Spirit Airways...Ever. They were so bad and rude that the news came and videoed everyone at the airport and my boofy little head got on CNN news....again. So 24 hours later I rock up in Vegas and finally meet my brother who had already been to Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam while I was sitting in the airport. We had 2 nights and 3 days in Vegas and had a ball. I had already been to Vegas 8 years ago on my first trip but it didn't stop me being just as amazed, if not more this time around.Vegas really is the Disney World for adults and we really could have spent a month there and still only seen half the casinos. Our hostel was called 'Sin City Hostel' and was right across the road from the wedding chapel where Britney Spears accidently got married once. Simon and I walked constantly for 3 days straight and still saw half the things we planned. Where ever you looked there were huge flashing lights and shows of all sorts. I only spent $20 on gambling and stuck to the slot machines because it's the only thing I know how to do when it comes to gambling. Each casino had different themes from the Circus to New York and some even had mini zoos inside and huge swimming pools. New York New York was probably our favourite casino as the place just looks just like Manhatten and it's only a casino. There was even a roller coaster weaving in and around the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Las Vegas was boiling hot each day and making our way up and down the strip ended up being quite a process. They have a bus which runs up and down called the main strip called the "Duece" which was always full and kept driving past us and left us out in the heat but the great thing about it is you can pay $5 and use your ticket for 24 hrs! Last Thursday I introduced my brother to the infamous dodgy "Greyhound" bus and ended up having Robo-Cop as a driver. The bus system is so bad over here that to go from Las Vegas to San Francisco we had to go to LA first then up the coast 14 arriving hours later. After such a crazy week or two Simon and I chilled out and caught up on some sleep on our first few days in San Fran. I've also been to San Fran before but I never realised how many homeless people there are, or maybe it was just the classy location of our hotel. It seemed almost like 1 in 10 people on the street was a begger and the funny thing was they also seemed to be quite intelligent. Simon and I went to the library to check our emails one day and there were homeless people galore reading books and surfing the net and I think that explained some of the unusually intellectual conversations I had with them. All the homeless people seemed to own their own stolen supermarket trolley and had it packed with all their goodies. On Sunday night we did a ghost tour which was unlike any I've been on before. Our first stop on the tour was in this haunted hotel which was very spiritually active. We were warned about the hotel having many cold spots and while I was listening to the guide talking I felt this cold sensation constantly running up and down my hand. We then took a heap of photos of the inside of the hotel and orbs were appearing in almost every picture in eveyones cameras. It was crazy and the next thing we did was hunt cold spots where we actually tracked a cold spot and there was three of us feeling it's shape and size. The other freaky thing that happened on the tour was we stood outside a haunted house and the guide put a key in his hand and we all witnessed it rotate around 180* over about 30 seconds bit by bit with no explanation. The wind and gravity were both facing the opposite direction and his hand didn't move at all because everyone held it firm. It is peak tourist season at the moment and unfortantley there was a week wait to go out to Alcatraz because of everyone booking their tickets online these days so we missed out on that one. Instead we decided to invest the money in something much more fun and rented a sporty red Mustang convertible and zoomed down the Californian coastline on HWY 1. I normally wouldn't go near a Ford but this was one sexy sexy car and it was damn fun to drive. We had the roof off all day and had the radio cranking tune after tune as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, then down Lombard Street (crookedest street in the world) and even tried to get it airborn off the steep Cisco streets. It was an awesome drive down the coastline to Monteray and we even stumbled across some humpback whales swimming off the shore. The funny thing was that we forgot to ask how the roof is put back on and ended up driving in dark with the roof down and us shivvering the whole way back to San Fran with the heating up full. When we got back we found a button that popped the roof back on and we felt real stupid. We've been having a great time so far and are currently in LA with under 2 weeks before my trip is finished and I'm back home to face reality. Only 1 blog update left to go.
Having a wicked time,

Woodsy + Woodsy

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mayan Ruins and Chilling on the Caribbean…..Mun

G'day all,
Ok so where the hell do I start with this past week or two other than saying I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking. Since my last update I’ve been to Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and today I’ve just arrived in Belize. After Costa Rica I decided to have a couple of days rest in a nice little colonial town in Nicaragua called Granada. Nicaragua was a new word to me as I only realized it was a country 2 weeks before I received my Nicaragua stamp in my passport. Granada is supposed to be one of the nicer and safer cities to visit in Nicaragua so that’s where I decided to go. I only spent 2 nights in Granada and found myself hanging out with a cool Canadian guy, Mike, who helped me out speaking Spanish along the way as the 4 words I know don’t get me very far. Our first day in Granada was spent accidentally walking around the Ghetto of Granada and our first impressions of this town were pretty dodgy. On day 2 we actually realized it’s a really beautiful town and we took the wrong street on the map. The town is full of these nice old colourful Spanish colonial buildings which line almost every street apart from the ghetto. Most of our time in Granada was spent avoided heavy downpours of the wet season rains, and heading out to explore in the dry patches during the day time. Granada was a nice but random little town but I sure as hell liked it better that my next stop, Managua. Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua and has a bad reputation for its violent backpacker muggings, especially outside the main bus station. I had to take what everyone calls in Central America, a ‘chicken bus’ from Granada to Managua which was an experience on its own. Once I arrived in the dreaded Managua I took a taxi to the front door of the ‘Tika Bus’ which is kind of like the Greyhound of Central America. My next stop was to head up to La Ceiba in Honduras but there was no bus until the following day. Once the taxi dropped me outside Tika Bus a gang of thugs were waiting for me. I got so nervous I walked past the entrance of the bus station and half way down the street before realizing I missed the building by about 50 meters. I had 3 guys on my tail bugging me and asking where I was going but luckily I power walked myself to the safety of the station before anything happened. I was relieved to see that they had a hotel inside the station so I stayed there and didn’t leave the building until my bus left the following morning. After a powernap I popped out of my hotel room for some dinner and ate with a nice Argentinean couple who were also too terrified to leave the building. As we were joking and laughing about the situation we heard someone yelling and screaming outside the window and banging on the door so we let security deal with it and decided to call it a night. La Ceiba in Honduras was my next stop where I stayed the night before catching the ferry across to Utila, one the Bay Islands in the Caribbean. My hotel was a shocker and I couldn’t sleep due to my ceiling fan sounding like a V8 and the bathroom stinking like bile. The following day was a thousand times better as arriving on Utila felt so nice and safe and I was surrounded by other backpackers again. Utila is one of the best places for scuba diving on the Caribbean and is also probably the cheapest too. My plan was to just chill out for a few days and do some diving but instead I ended up being talked into doing my Advanced PADI diving course and had an absolute ball. I did the course with a bunch of great blokes from all over the world and we partied every night and dived every day. The day I arrived on the island was the last day of this big carnival they have each year and the whole island was going crazy with parades, dancing, music, fireworks, and thousands of people lining the streets and beaches wearing beads. Although we were starting our advanced course the following day we still partied the night away and had a brilliant night. We did 7 dives on our course including ship wrecks, night diving, and 2 fun dives. Our first dive was our deep wreck dive where we went down to 30m and fed eggs to these crazy fish. The wreck was so awesome, it was a big cargo ship that sunk and we got to swim around and through it. After that first dive I was completely addicted again and each dive just got better and better. On our second day we did the night dive which was probably my favourite. We headed off on the boat at sunset and before we knew it we were 20m underwater with a torch and swimming around another smaller wreck in complete darkness. The feeling was unreal and I was in my element the whole 45 minutes we were under. It was quite funny watching fish sleep and the highlight was seeing a large eagle ray swim under us in pitch darkness. Each night after diving we all met up and had dinner together then hit the town (all 3 bars of it). The best of the bars was called Treetanic and I’ve never seen a bar so impressive in my life. The bar is actually built in the tree tops like tree houses with board walks and ladders joining all the different platforms together. On our last night I had a huge night with the scuba guys and I was suffering the following day on my fun dives. My buddy Jack and I were vomiting at the same time for the whole morning after we surfaced from each dive. Our first dive was a real task to get through but the second dive was much better. The highlight of the dive was when we went through a tight underwater cave almost scraping the walls as the cave zigzagged around. The funniest thing about Utila is the Caribbean accents. It seems like a scene out of cool running where everywhere you walk you hear ‘yeahhhh mun’. Sometimes the accents are so thick you have no idea what they are even talking about. I had a brilliant 4 or 5 days on Utila and Utila Dive Center was amazing. It was sad to leave but it had to be done and Michael, one of my mates from the course came with me. We had perfect weather every day on Utila but the minute we left the island we had non-stop rain again. Our next stop was the Copan Ruins in Western Honduras which were awesome. It took us one full day to get there finally and the following day we ventured around the famous Mayan ruins. I was pretty impressed with Copan being my first Mayan ruin site and they did a pretty good job preserving all the carvings after so many hundreds of years. At the entrance to the ruins they had these massive parrots almost pecking your eyes out at the front gate. Michael and I did a tour of the ruins but were much more impressed by the Tikal Ruins we saw 2 days later. The whole town of Copan was out of electricity and water for days so we decided to shoot across to Guatemala to some random town for the night before heading up to Flores. I’m not even sure what the name of the town was but we were the only foreigners or “Gringos” (as they call us over here) to be seen. As we walked down the street people were looking at us from every direction but they were just curious and we felt safe enough. At 5am the following morning we took another torturous chicken bus for the whole day until we finally reached the town of Flores in the afternoon. Flores is the launching pad for the Tikal ruins which are supposed to be the best Maya ruins of the lot. Flores was a nice little town on an island in the middle of a lake which is about an hour away from Tikal. The following morning we left for Tikal at 3am to watch the sun rise. Tikal is amazing in every sense of the word with its huge pyramid like temples strung out between a dense jungle full of monkeys, toucans, and tarantulas. For sunrise we climbed the largest temple and watched the sun come up over the jungle as growling monkeys growled in the background. Growling monkeys are their actual name and they actual do growl so loud they sound like an angry lion which was quite scary until you see how small they are. The temples in Tikal were much bigger than the ones in Copan and it’s on such a large scale it takes hours just to walk around them all. One of the interesting things I learnt was that the Mayans played this ball game with a big 10 pound rubber ball which was kind of a mixture of soccer and basketball. They took it so seriously that the winner of the game was often sacrificed because he became a god like figure and the game only goes for about 10 minutes until the ball touches the ground. We were at Tikal for about 5 or 6 hours and by the end of it we were so exhausted that we had a nap when arrived back at the hostel. After our nap Michael and I swam out across the lake to this island which didn’t look too far away. By the time we got there we were stuffed and a storm was coming through so we had to try to get back to the mainland again. Yesterday Michael and I parted ways and he went to Guatemala City and I headed to Belize to a much talked about island on the Caribbean called Caye Caulker.

Next stop…Mexico


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Monday, June 30, 2008

Down the East Coast

G'day all,

Well I think I'm getting slacker and slacker with this blog or maybe I'm just having too much fun to keep up with it. Ok so it's been 2 weeks since my last update so let me try and remember back on what I've been up to. Dan and I had a nice last couple of days in New York and finished up our site seeing by taking the ferry to Staten Island and passing the Statue of Liberty and going up to the top of Rockefeller Center. The heat and humidity continued and eventually turned into a massive thunderstorm for our last few hours of walking around Manhattan. The funny thing is that we had near perfect weather for the last 8 or 9 days in New York, and each day we said we would go and check out the view from the top of the Rockefeller but never got around to it. By the time we got to do it we were told there was 0 visibility due to the storm so we waited a while then went up when it cleared a bit. The view was amazing and while we were up at the top they were filming either a movie or a TV show up there. The director told us to be quiet and take no flash photography. Half way through one of the shoots I pull out my camera for a cheeky photo and the flash goes off and lights up the actors faces. Highly embarrassed I side step and duck away and the lady standing next to me was told off with her camera still in hand. Dan and I couldn't believe I took the photo with the flash on and after that I was too scared to pull out my camera again. We watched the sunset or what was left of it, then came back down at night. On Tuesday Christine, Dan, and I headed to Philadelphia for a couple of days and stayed at Christine's college apartment. Our main interest wasn't really to see Philadelphia but to head out to Lancaster to the 'Amish Country' and see how they live. On Wednesday we rented a car on the cheap and headed out to Lancaster. It was such an amazing thing to see the Amish riding around on the highways in their horse and buggies wearing their hats and bonnets and suits. We found it strange knowing that it's just an average day for them and they're not putting on a show for tourists, they're just heading from A to B. Unfortunately later on the in afternoon a storm kicked in forcing the local Amish farmers to stay indoors but while the sun was out we saw them everywhere. We felt a bit odd trying to take photos of them especially after we forced a young boy to hide behind the wheel of his buggy as Dan and I snapped away. After that we went to an Amish market and drove around the farms before doing an Amish house tour. The tour was really interesting and we learned all about the people and their beliefs and it really spun me out how different they live. When we got back to Philadelphia we drove downtown to try the famous "Philly Cheese Steak" sandwich. There are two places called 'Pats' and 'Genos' which have been competing for years and it's a tradition to back either one or the other. We had the original 'Pats' and had to order it by saying "Can I have a wit whiz" otherwise they don't serve you as a tradition…weird. Before it got dark Dan and I ran up and down the Rocky stairs before having an early night after our big day. We left Philly on Thursday for Washington D.C. to stay with my mate Matty who travelled with in Thailand in 2006. While we were waiting for our greyhound bus in Philly we decided to have a quick peep at the 'Liberty Bell' and pulled this map out to navigate our way there. It was a bad idea as we were standing in the Ghetto and next thing some guy came up to us and said we were crazy looking like tourists here. He said this is not Philadelphia it's 'Killadelphia" murder capital of the world as he rushed us out of the back streets to the shopping mall towards the bell. After that bit of action we said our farewells to Christine and jumped on another dodgy ghetto greyhound bus. Once we arrived in DC we immediately liked it much better than Killadelphia and when we finally arrived at Matt's house we really fell in love with the place. Matt lives in the bachelor pad of all bachelor pads in DC in a really nice area too. Once we got settled in we were given a beer and the grand tour of his huge mansion. After that I jumped in the shower and couldn't even find it because there were so many rooms I got lost straight away. Dan and I had a cozy room in the basement to ourselves and it was perfect to prepare for the 3 huge nights of partying we had ahead of us. We soon met Matty's mates who were are all top blokes as well and headed of to this rocking bar to party the night away. Dan and I were a bit dazed the next day after such a massive night out and at 5pm finally did our first touristy thing for the day and went to the spy museum. The spy museum was really awesome but we felt so guilty about not seeing anything else that we power walked to the White House and around all the monuments before it got dark. Our second night out in DC ended up being almost as big as our first night and we went to some more great bars. On Saturday Matt took us to the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery for the day which was awesome and the changing of the guard was a real highlight. On Saturday afternoon we had huge O.C. style BBQ party at the bachelor pad with a heap of people coming around to play drinking games in the back yard. The house had its own Keg fridge and beer pong table and everything you would want for a party house. The party continued later on Matt’s brothers’ rooftop overlooking the city lights in style before we hit some more beaut bars for night 3. Dan had to leave at 7am the next morning to head up to New York then fly to LA and I left later on at night on a bus to Savannah in Georgia. We had brilliant few days hanging with Matty and his mates and really got to soak up some American college party culture being at the house. It was sad to leave but had to be done as I took my overnight bus to Savannah. I didn’t know one thing about Savannah other than Christine’s Mum (or Mom in America) said it’s really nice so I booked my bus straight down. Without researching it too hard I soon realized they had no backpacker hostel in Savannah so I painfully had to stay in the cheapest hotel I could find for 45 bucks a night. On google maps the hotel looked close enough but once I arrived I realized I was staying way out in a real dangerous ghetto area. I ended up having to take a cab out there for 15 mins drive as the cab driver warned me not to walk around outside the hotel after dark. The hotel was nice enough but I would have preferred a hostel any day of the week. I was only there for 2 nights and both nights I locked myself in my room an hour before dark and just walked around in town during the day time. There was a very unreliable but entertaining public bus that connected me hourly with downtown Savannah. I seemed to always been the only white person on the bus and stood out like a neon light but everyone on the bus was so funny it was like a comedy show. Without a doubt each time I caught the bus I had 2 or 3 African American people listening to their music with their headphones in but dancing and singing out loud on the bus without a hint of shyness. Everyone seems to be very polite down in country Georgia and everyone is always saying ‘thanks mam ya’ll have a nice day now’. All I could think about being in Savannah was how much everyone talked like Forest Gump and that being one of my favourite movies made me just want to talk to everyone. I ended up finding out that Savannah is where all the bench scenes in the movie were filmed. My first day was very hot and tiring in Savannah and it didn’t really grow on me all that much. On my second day in Savannah I met up with an Irish brother and sister, Louise and Kian and walked around with them all day. We had a really nice day walking everywhere at I really started to notice how beautiful the town actually is. Savannah is the most haunted city in USA and up to 75% of the buildings are haunted. Savannah has a very bloody and disease ridden history and many battles have been fought in the town center in the past 300 years. The town centre has many of the original old building still standing and being lived in haunted by ghosts. It’s a very green town with lots of sweeping ghostly trees covering the streets and spooky old haunted cemeteries. One of the other great things about this town was the $1 pints they have in some of the bars which is a deal I haven’t heard of in years. I don’t think many Australians come through Savannah and my Accent seemed to stand out like I couldn’t believe. The barman like my accent so much for $1 I ended up getting 2 beers and half his meal and he refused even a tip from me. I also went to get a banana smoothie and the girl gave me 4 different kinds of smoothies for the price of 1 just because of the accent. On Wednesday night I left Savannah for Miami, Florida on another dodgy overnight greyhound bus ride. I left my bags at the bus station all day as I walked around in Savannah for my last day and saw the last of the sites. When I got back to the greyhound I was told they accidentally put my bags including my laptop and bus tickets on a bus to Miami 5 hours earlier. Knowing how dodgy greyhound is I had a fairly anxious night wondering if I would ever see my bags again. I was lucky once I arrived that I got my bags back and I’ve been in Miami Beach for the past 4 days having a ball. I’ll write more about that next time.


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