Three Months In

Today is the three monthiversary of our arrival in Japan and the start of our trip.  In another three months we will be in our final week on Aruba with Lynn’s parents before heading back to real life. It seems like time has flown by, but also like things we did just last week were forever ago.  I guess when you try and pack in as much as you can in six months that’s what happens.  We’re hoping to slow down the second half of our trip and do more hanging out in the various places we visit, but we both get bored easily so we’ll see how that goes.

Today we started out with a ranger led walk using the last bit of time we had in Uluru before our 1 pm flight.  We both had slept soundly (finally) and woken up at 6.30 as the sun came shining in through the windows of our four person dorm room.  We packed up our things into the car quickly and headed to the park where we spent some time cleaning out the car and trying to get organized before the hike started at 8.

The hike itself was not very long but we had a very insightful half-aboriginal ranger lead us through a part of Uluru and explain the culture of the people who lived here and point out interesting sights.  Though this was a part of the trail we had done on Monday, we both got a lot more out of it with an interpretive guide.

The people would live in caves like this along the base of Uluru.
The people would live in caves like this along the base of Uluru.
The caves had these interesting honeycomb ceilings that looked like giant wasp nests.
The caves had these interesting honeycomb ceilings that looked like giant wasp nests.
Cave paintings used to teach the young boys about how to survive in the desert.
Cave paintings used to teach the young boys about how to survive in the desert.
The walk ended at this watering hole that has a spectacular waterfall when it rains. You can see where it normally is from the black algae that grows on the rock.
The walk ended at this watering hole that has a spectacular waterfall when it rains. You can see where it normally is from the black algae that grows on the rock.

After the hike we said “goodbye” to Uluru one last time as we headed out of the park and back to our hotel where we took final showers to wash off the red dust and repacked our bags.  We had checked out before we left on the walk because we would not have made checkout time otherwise, so we took advantage of a lovely curb in the parking lot to aid in our repacking.  We both just barely fit everything and the scale at the airport would later tell us we are now at 13.6 kg and 13 kg, up from 11 at the start of our journey.  It seems we have acquired more than we thought along the road and may have to do some shedding in Sydney.

Packed up, clean, and ready to go, we headed back to the airport where we checked in and chatted with Jiro from Tokyo who we had met briefly at the hotel when he had been accidentally assigned to our dorm.  He was a travel agent in Tokyo in a past life but has spent the last year living in Brisbane on a work holiday.  He is now travelling throughout southeast Asia for the rest of this year to avoid going home to Japan and having to pay taxes for 2015.  We also learned from him that Australia is a very popular work destination for Asians because the minimum wage is so high.  In Brisbane, he said, an hourly worker makes $18 an hour and its even higher in Sydney.

The time came to say goodbye and we boarded the plane (in our exit row seats!) and had a bit of a bumpy three hour ride to Sydney.  We spent the time napping and watching more of The Americans, which we’re soon going to need to get more of.  We landed in Sydney around 5.30 and were out the door by 6.15.  We had learned through an incredibly detailed wikitravel article that taking the train directly from the airport into the city incurs a $13 fee for the privilege of being able to do so.  But, if you walk 20 minutes down the road you can get on at the next stop and avoid the fee.  Keen on saving close to $50 for our trains to and from the airport, we of course elected to walk.  The path was easy, sidewalk laden (unlike Cairns), and navigation was simple  thanks to a fellow traveler a block ahead of us who seemed to know the way.

We found the train station quite easily but learned inside that we couldn’t buy Opal cards (their discount e-Ticket) at the train station and would need to find a 7-11 to do so.  Why the train station doesn’t sell their own tickets is beyond us, but we settled for the more expensive paper tickets to just get to our Airbnb.  The ride was quite pleasant but we had a very confusing transfer at Central Station where they have an inappropriately absent amount of signage.  We ended up walking the length of the station trying to figure out which platform our T4 would depart from before stumbling upon it.  We took the T4 a few stops to King’s Cross (the seedy red light district) and then walked ten minutes to our home for the next eight nights in a thankfully very fashionable and upscale looking neighborhood.

After arrival, it was quickly getting late into the evening and our tummies were letting us know it too.  We headed over to the neighborhood Woolworths for some grocery supplies and made a delicious beef stew.  The weather was a bit brisk, especially compared to the heat we had just been in, so a stew was just what we needed.  Post dinner saw some laundry and creative clothesline creation before calling it a night

Beef stew.
Beef stew.

Daily Walking Miles : 8.2

Fun Facts:

  • Aborigines used “songlines” to travel the country.  They essentially would have a song that told them how to get from one point to another and would include where to find water, food, and shelter along the way.  As long as they know the song, they can easily travel across the barren desert.
  • The reason Uluru is made up of smooth sandstone and Kata Tjuta is a conglomerate rock is that Uluru was further downstream from the mountains that eroded to create the alluvial fans that would become them.  The heavier rocks settled further upstream (Kata Tjuta) while the smaller and lighter particles traveled further to Uluru.
  • With how much they discourage climbing Uluru we wondered why they had not just flat out closed it.  It seems that the National Parks Department made a deal that they will close it for good when the park offers more interactive activities (like guided walks) and when 80% of the visitors voluntarily do not climb.  We did our part (though we didn’t have much choice as it was closed the whole time we were there).
  • Our Airbnb host seems to be an aspiring artist because the apartment is filled with very poorly done art.
He has a series of four of these of various household cleaners.
He has a series of four of these of various household cleaners.
...and a boat...we think.
…and a boat…we think.

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