Thursday, July 4, 2013

Back in the outback

It's been several years since I posted in this blog, and I don't have any real intention of starting it up again, but having spent nine days driving throught the Australian outback after a semesters worth of studies in Brisbane, I felt compelled to put thoughts to paper and save it for posterity. Here is what I posted to facebook earlier today:

There is a great misunderstanding about the Australian outback. People (and until a few days ago, 'people' included myself) seem to believe that the Australian outback is made from red sand, hardy vegetation, kangaroos, and roughly a thousand deadly critters for every square meter. I have found that this is not true. Outback Australia is made from distance. pure and simple. Unrelenting, mind numbing, brute distance. And here's the kicker; this is a Very Cool Thing indeed.

If you ever find yourself in Alice Springs with the stated intent of driving to Darwin, here's what you do. First you find yourself a car. Then, you simply point said car in a northerly direction, grip the steering wheel loosely (rolling down the window and resting your elbow, if you are so inclined), depress the pedal just enough to get to and maintain 100 km/h, and then sit back, relax, and stay in that exact position for the next ten or twelve hours. There is no need to navigate. There are no turns. Just straight, endless road, and red, tough bush. For as far as the eye can see, and for the couple of days it takes you to drive from Alice Springs up to the civilized pockets of the Northern Territory, there is only that. Road. And bush. And I know this might be hard to believe, but trust me, it doesn't get boring.

After my travel companions and I did just what I described above, preceded by a short jaunt to Uluru (well, 1500 km is relatively short, by Australian standards), Kata-tjuta and Kings Canyon. We drove, drove, then drove some more. And then some. And just for good measure, a bit more after that. Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that the landscape didn't change for days (apart from the curious appearance and subsequent growth of termite mounds to ridiculous proportions) it is quite frankly amazing. There is something immensely poetic about this landscape. And the wind. As we drank up the miles of tarmac, it seemed as if my brain was washed clean by this desert wind and the dust it brought with it. All of the worries of the past six months, all the longings, all of the (admittedly very few) regrets were blown right out the back of my skull, slowly but efficiently. I am not sure what my mind was doing all that time. Well, part of it was watching the road for wildlife or the occasional oncoming car. The greater part was, I am convinced, thinking deep throughts, but to be honest I have only a fuzzy notion about what they were about. Relationships? The future? That big cliché life itself? I haven't the faintest. All I know is that I could feel my subconsciousness vaguely now and again, working away, rearranging, cleaning up, and sorting everything into its rightful place, just so.

Make no mistake, however. My infatuation with distance did not get in the way of a great many adventures. Here is a short rundown of things to do if you have nine days to spend rummaging through the outback between Alice Springs and Darwin, all of it based on my own meandering experience:

 * Get hold of a van with a stage on the roof. Perfect for sunrise breakfasts, sunsets in crowded carparks around Uluru, making new friends around the clock, and generally being very noticeable. On the downside, you are very noticeable, so don't get into too much trouble - you're easy to find! In summary: Roof-stage. It's awesome. Do it.
 * Have a very friendly, very drunk Aussie policeman (prefferably off duty) take a tumble from said roof-stage. Not a common activity among policemen of this proud country, but very memorable, if slightly surprising to witness.
- If you make sure the back door of the van is open, he won't hurt himself too much and will politely close it on his fast approach to the ground.
- Make sure to convince him afterwards that such a tumble is perfectly normal, and eveyone in the car has done it at least once just for sport. You'll be lying through your teeth, of course, but when a macho man looks that sheepish, a small sympathy lie is forgivable. Bless.
 * Uluru is cool and all, but you simply MUST visit nearby Kings Canyon (do the long walk) and even-more-nearby Kata-Tjuta (again, do the long walk). These latter two represent some of the most stunning scenery I have ever traversed, and between you and me, that's saying something.
 * If you have to go to Kakadu National Park, make sure to see the sunset at Ubirr. It's packed with american toursists, but for once, they have their priorities in order. It is magnificent.
- If you don't have a 4WD, don't bother with Kakadu. Go to Litchfield instead. I hear it's just as good, and far more accessible. I will get back to you once I've been there.
      EDIT: It's even better, and FAR more accessible.
- From what I hear, if you DO have a 4WD, there's STILL no reason to prioritise Kakadu over Litchfield.
- If you insist on going to Kakadu, make sure to visit the Border Store. Friendlier bunch is hard to come by, and in this country, that is a grand compliment indeed.
 * Treat yourself to a crocodile boat-trip. As with anything else, the cheaper and smaller, the better. And crocs are just plain awesome on so many levels. But for christ sake, keep your distance! Australians are afraid of crocs, and nothing else on this planet. If they scare Australians, you should DEFINITELY be scared too!
 * DO NOT lock your keys in the car in the outback. Roadside service is VERY far away. Wait until you get to Darwin.
 * DO NOT marry an aussie. It's bloody far from EVERYTHING, including other parts of Australia.
 * DO NOT put a foot outside you car. Everything in Australia is out to get you. Everything. Seriously, even the sun is poisonous here. Just stay safe behind the windows and let your companions take their chances with the local fauna. I didn't strictly follow this advice myself, but that just goes to show that I am, in fact, none too bright.

A few things to note about Australians. They're good people, and that's an understatement if there ever was one, but there are certain differences to be aware of.
Firstly, they seem to apologise for everything, even when no fault can be laid on anyone in sight. 
Second, while their english is pretty good, they do have some quirky linguistic habits. And not just the accent. they tend to shorten every word you ever learned of english; Brisbane is Brissy, Indooroopilly is indrupli (the u is silent), and so on. The resulting conversations can be confusing to the point of absurdity, until one overriding strategy becomes part of your social arsenal: Smile and wave boys, just smile and wave.
Thirdly, they highly respect entirely absurd rules and regulations, and are strangely disrespectful of other, much more sensible ones. Go figure. I have no further help to give on this third one, and if you want to explore an Australian metropolis, you'll just have to experiment on your own.
Fourthly; they. take. their... tiiimeeee.... Standing in line in grocery stores is a popular full day activity here. Bring plenty of water, a tent and some firewood in case they close the store before you get to the register. The reason for this tardiness is the register-attendants overwhelming enthusiasm for every aspect of your life, and that, frankly, is quite awesome and balances the whole experience out nicely.
But I will say this: For better or for worse, living, working, and playing with Australians on their home turf makes for great stories when you have grandchildren (and yes, that's a premature assumption).

And lastly, to the Australians reading this: Stay true, stay blue, you're fuckin' awesome!

No drama!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The adventure is not over. Far from it.

Originally posted on April 12th

I finally bought a motorbike! It's a Suzuki SV 650 in a brazen orange colour. I haven't decided on a name yet :) It's a lot easier getting up in the morning when I have a bike-ride to look forward to!

Here's some grainy pictures of the beauty:

I spent easter in Spain climbing the area known as Siurana. It was awesome and I'm falling in love with sportsclimbing. Looks like I'll have to spend some more money on gear!

All photos by my good friend and climbing partner Andreas Skielboe:

The valley. This was our playground every day for a week!

Andreas coming down


I wish I could take credit for this climb, but this was Gustavo. Awesome!

on another note, I'm trying out ads on the site. I want them to be unobtrusive and related to the content of the blog so I'll give 'em a few weeks trial.  if they misbehave or learn bad manners they're out.

On another, much more important note: Check out my brother's awesome blog!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Written on March 4th, 2010

I have many dreams I want to live. Passions I want to nurture and grow into projects. For a long time I've felt that I haven't done enough to nurture them. Yesterday, I decided to start realizing one such passion project. The world was mine for the taking and I knew it.

This morning however, I was greeted by a huge monster standing next to my bed. It woke me up early. Way earlier than comfort dictated. It was ugly. It was huge. It made me sick.

All day it followed me around. I couldn't see it. I couldn't get a hold of it. But I knew it was there. From the way it made my stomach hurt. From how it made my head spin. I could hear it. A whisper, but a penetrating one. The contrast from the day before, when everything seemed possible, was shattering. I'm here again and I hate it.

That's when I realized. I had indeed been here before. I'd seen this abomination before. I knew its name. It was Phobos. Fear. And this time I wouldn't let it win.

It took me hours and I wanted to run several times, but I kept working on my project. Trying to reclaim that feeling I'd felt the day before. I could not let it win. Not again. Not this time.

I gradually realized that this particular one and I go way back. Every time I've tried to really go for something, this guy shows up. What was it about living my dreams that scared me so much? Living my dreams! What could possibly be horrible about that?!?

Suddenly I realized. This is my fear:

If I decide to realize one of my dreams I'll close off access to every other passion I've ever dreamed of living. I put everything in one basket and nothing else will ever come to fruition. If this one thing fails, I will be doomed to a life of shame and regret I will never be able to look another person in the eye.

But I see you, Phobos. I am looking you in the eye. I have you by the throat. I will show you no mercy. You will die. Now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Did It!

Wow. I can't believe I finished it! I've been writing this blog for two years now, and looking back on some of those first posts makes me realize how much of an achievement this adventure has been for me. It's really opened up new doors.

Let me just say this right off the bat - I'm not done blogging. I've finished the first major 'story arc', but it won't be the last. After being frustrated about not being able to blog about now for a while, I started another blog. Now that this one is freed from the past though, I think I'll just merge those posts into this one and continue writing this blog.

Also, over the summer I hope to write a few "appendix" chapters related to my travels. I have a video or two I'd like to put up, and a load of practical and technical experience on travelling (essentials to pack, how to save money, that sort of thing) that I'd like to share.

Apart from my own huge satisfaction at wrapping up this big project, there's been a couple of other happy surprises. First, David's comment on the previous post was really encouraging. Here's a rough translation:

Wonderful ending. Good luck with the documentary. If you tell it as well in pictures as you do in words, it can't hardly go wrong ;)

Second, Hedda wrote me a long mail after seeing my post, and I'll be going to Oslo to visit her some time during the next couple of months. She seems very happy with her new boyfriend, which I'm very pleased to hear.

At the moment I'm wrapped up in exams, so for the next month I probably won't have a lot of interesting to write about except musings on exams, math and physics. If you didn't read my other blog though, those posts will be coming here in a slightly edited (read: improved) version.

I'm back, baby!

PS: I did something heretical and changed the title of the previous post. I'm quoting a Jan Guillou epilogue, but I just couldn't help myself.

PPS: My favourite blog at the moment is written by a girl my age who is absolutely hilarious. Check it out at and if you don't feel like reading the whole thing in one go (and you might be tempted!), you should at least read How a Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The End of The Beginning

Alright, it's time to wrap this up.

It's been too long now to cover the rest of the trip in as many details as I'd planned, so what I'll give you instead is a highlights version of the last two months. Unfortunately my computer and phone was stolen in Cairns, which meant every photo from Byron Bay to Cairns was lost.

I arrived in Sydney early one morning after a 13 hour bus ride. Waiting for me there was Adam.

I'd met Adam about five years prior, working as a stage-hand in Copenhagen. I think we did two shifts together, and as far as I recall we didn't get to know each other that well. Still, for some reason I kept in touch - though mails were sometimes years apart. When my plans for Australia started to take shape I sent him a mail saying I was coming his way, and I'd love to meet him again. He told me he'd moved from Melbourne to Sydney, so before I left Grant and Kristen's place, I called him up and arranged for a meeting.

Adam was heading for work as I arrived at the bus-station, but he came to say hello and give me the keys to his flat. That came as a complete surprise, although you'd think that by now I'd be used to this sort of legendary hospitality.

I spent a glorious week at his place. In the daytime I'd go sightseeing, and the evenings were spent talking to Adam and Mishi, his wonderful fiancée.
I went and saw the compulsory sights - the opera house which was designed by one of my countrymen, the harbour bridge (or coathanger, as they call it), but I liked the botanical gardens the best. For some reason I'd always thought that parrots existed only in the tropics, far from civilization, but here they were in huge numbers, right in the middle of the city, rubbing shoulders with flying dogs! (that's a type of bat, by the way, not canines with wings. They're huge though.)

Those are bats, not fruits.

Adam and I talked about many things during the week. Passion, following your dreams, and especially music.
I remember one conversation in particular. He used to play in a punk band, and from what I could gather they were quite succesful. He played me some folk-songs on his 12-string and sang his lungs out. I remember him explaining to me that a great performance didn't come from skill, but from presence. "Just pour you heart into it and I tell you, people will stop and listen!"
And man did he live it. So much so that the hairs on my arms stood up when he sang.

Adam had a cousin who was visiting. She was from Denmark originally, and it turns out she knew my dad! She was the second random encounter on this trip who knew my father. Small world indeed!

From Sydney I went on a day trip inland to the beautiful Blue Mountains. I saw the Three Sisters and went for a walk down the longest staircase I've ever seen (I pity the people going the other way), and along the cliffsides in the bush.

The Three Sisters.

Proof that I wasn't the first dane visiting Australia, and that those first danes made a big impression on the locals!
(man, I've been waiting more than a year to tell that joke!)


While the days in Sydney slowly unfolded, the business with the broken motorbike was resolved. Soon I'd have to make a decision about how I'd continue my travels. After a bit of research I settled on buying a ticket with a company called Oz Experience.
Oz Experience is basically a bus-tour catering to backpackers. They have a couple of stops up along the east-coast, and you just hop on and off where ever you see fit. Too easy!
As a matter of fact, it was just that. Too easy. It just didn't live up to my idea of a good adventure. Everything had been sorted for you. Like a chartered trip in a backpacker framework. Felt a bit phony. Besides, it was what everybody did. I wanted my own adventure! What's the fun in doing what everybody else does! I spent a lot of energy trying to 'break free' of the Oz-Ex plan. Finding my own hostels. Doing what I could to meet locals. Trying to create my own adventures. I think I succeeded, but I spent some time moping and never enjoyed the bus-rides. Except this one driver called hoops. She was awesome.

Here's a few pictures of Adam and Mishi. For some reason I didn't think of taking any photos during my time with them in Sydney, so I stole some off his Facebook profile (with permission, of course):

Cooking for Adam and Mishi

The day I left Sydney I had a burger. Big mistake. Second foodpoisoning of the trip. It was with me all the way to Byron Bay.

Byron Bay was a cool place to stay. At the wonderful YHA (the one closest to the coast if you're planning on going) I met Sarah Heary from Ireland and Kirsten, or Kiki, from germany. Great company both! One early morning we went and saw the sunrise from a nearby lighthouse. I don't know if I've ever done that before. In itself, a sunrise is a splendid and majestic thing. When you can see dolphins in the water below, it is unrivalled.

I went kayaking with dolphins in Byron. They came pretty close.
When we left the shelter of the bay the sea showed its teeth. What a blast! At the start of my trip I'd bought a pair of aviators. I never pay more than 15,- AUD for sunnies since, knowing myself, I expect them to get lost or broken within a few weeks, but to my surprise I still had them when leaving New Zealand. Sadly though, I lost them that day.

And diving! Some of the best diving I've ever done was done from Byron Bay
Just off the coast, you can see it easily from shore, is a little group of islands called Julian Rocks. They had everything I'd ever wanted from a dive. I'll never forget the first dive I did there. Cuddlefish, big groupers, sting-rays, eagle rays, swim-throughs, all that jazz. But one experience in particular will always remain with me.
At the end of the dive while heading for the surface, one of the others suddenly got excited and started pointing at something behind me. I turned around and gliding serenely through the water was this big manta-ray. 3-meters fin-tip to fin-tip. Not a care in the world. I had to get closer! I've always been absolutely captivated by the angels of the deep. He didn't mind one bit. I never realized how powerful these things are, and while he looked very much at ease, I was kicking with all my strength to keep up. He was awe-inspiring in all his glorious serenity. Of all the pictures and videos I lost, this one stings the most. I thought about having a manta-tattoo somewhere. We'll see, but man! They're beautiful!

I developed quite a rapport with the owner of Sundive and his girlfriend (who worked as a receptionist in the hostel I was staying). So much so that he offered me the third dive for half the price and gave me a VIP-card for use with ProDive in Cairns. In return I gave him my card and told him to look me up if he ever found himself in scandinavia.
Friendship aside, if you ever find yourself in Byron Bay and have just the slightest interest in diving, go talk to Sundive. I'm very cautious about who I dive with, but these guys were just awesome from beginning to end. And very fair prices too!

One of the last things I did in Byron was learning how to surf. I loved it! Unfortunately those three hours were all the surfing I'd do in Australia as the weather turned sour for the next couple of days and surfing further north is impossible because of the reef.

Up until Byron, Australia hadn't really been that grand adventure New Zealand was. It felt bogged down with obstacles, but mainly, it hadn't been any lack of eventful days, I just hadn't really been 'present' in the same way I was in New Zealand. In NZ all my senses were at full alert all the time, and I had to really think about taking care of myself. That third busted motorbike coupled with the bad decision of joining the oz-experience had a dampening effect on the rest of the trip that never truly lifted. Don't ever settle for the easy way. Go for the adventure, no matter what.

I spent one horrible night in a Base hostel in Brisbane. I'd been warned about them, and this would be my last and only night in one. A group of people decided to have a shouting competition in the kitchen around midnight, right next to my room. I got up and asked them to be quiet or piss off into town as I had to be up and about in five hours. When they learned I didn't work there they ignored me. I fetched the receptionist and had 4 hours and 55 minutes of sleep before catching the bus out of Brisbane.
That same morning, litterally hours after I left, Brisbane was submerged in huge floods. I have to admit I was a little bit sad about missing it. Coming from a tiny, safe country myself, it would have been quite something to see!

I went quickly through Surfers Paradise. Casinos, theme-parks, huge hotels, that sort of place. A bunch of genius entrepreneurs had built so many huge hotels that the beach was in shade half the day.

A couple of days later I found myself in a bus headed for Hervey Bay in the company of three Irish girls I'd met twice before. Once at the Tongariro crossing in New Zealand, and again at the Three Sisters in Blue Mountains here in Australia. Good company those.

Hervey Bay had one and only one function for us. It was the gateway to Fraser Island. Fraser Island is off-limits to any car that's not 4WD, and the rental companies are having a ball. We found one that seemed ok and booked a two night trip. Now that was an adventure! Nine people with no off-roading experience whatsoever crammed in a 4WD on a sandy island with no roads. Dingos in the woods, tigersharks in the sea, crystal clear lakes, a rusting ship-wreck on the shore, offroading, great company, grand adventure!

That first night on Fraser a storm made it impossible to camp so we were staying at a beach-side hotel. I love storms so I got myself slightly drunk and went to the beach alone. It was pitch-black. I could hear the ocean long before I could see it. I passed some people, but they did not notice me go by and I kept walking until I couldn't hear them any more.
I stood alone at the water's edge. The surf broke maybe 50 meters out. The smell of the sea was homely. The wind, terrifying.
Standing still for a long while I started to feel like I was standing on the edge of a great chasm. I looked around. Above me, stars. Eternity in space. In front, ocean. Eternity in water. Behind me was safety. Friends. Home. Family. It was time to leave those for a while. To throw my spirit to the abyss and the void and see who would answer.
The void was not empty. The abyss was not chaos. The ocean had its own life. A violent but fulfilled life. The heavens were animated too, but by a different spirit. Patient and calm, but eternally optimistic. I reached out to the sea with my soul. I felt it immediately. There, in front of me. After a short while full contact was created. The surf came in harder than before, touching my ankles. Rushing forward to meet me. Show me its strength. When I stood my ground it decided to test my resolve. A single wave came crashing in. It was terrifying to hear its charge. Enough to make my knees go weak, it sounded like a mountain caving in. The wind added to the crescendo and I wanted to turn and run back up the coast. But I had decided to communicate, and I knew now that it was not going to be on my terms. I decided to stand, and I spread out my arms to accept whatever terms were offered. A huge wave came in. The water reached my toes with tremendous speed and I felt sure it would soak me through. "Tigersharks" I thought. The water went to my knees and abrubtly stopped. The sand underneath my feet had been blown away and I staggered. I'd realized I was defenseless against such a force of nature, and I was surprised when the water swirled around my knees for an instant before receding. The message had been sent. When dealing with Poseidon I could not speak. Only listen.
There in the water He offered me an agreement. I would respect and honor the ocean, and in return the ocean would always take care of me and keep me safe. In the presence of a Deity, how could I do anything but accept?

When the ocean went back out I looked down and noticed a plethora of little bio-luminescent organisms blinking up at me like green stars in the sand. Parting gifts. I stood there for a while longer. At last I turned back towards my home, my family and my friends.


After Frasier I travelled north up the east coast for about another month. I went cruising the Whitsunday Islands on a two-masted sailing ship. I visited a croc farm and Steve Irwin's Australian Zoo. I learned to lasso and crack a whip, and shoot a shotgun well enough to hit 7 out of 10 clay pigeons at medium range. I spent a wonderful week in Mission Beach, fishing in croc-filled waters. I went bushwalking, spotted a Cassowary (an endangered ostrich-like bird), got covered in some twenty leaches, shaved them off with my knife, and carried my female hiking-partner across a river to safety, feeling very manly throughout. I went croc-spotting on a river boat. I went white-water rafting on the Tully river. Twice. I went camping in the bush with four wonderful Aussie doctors at the ethereal Laura aboriginal dance festival. I learned how to catch and eat green ants. I went diving on the great barrier reef along with turtles, fish and reef-sharks. At night.

One morning I was on my way to Cape Tribulation and found myself bathing in a creek not long after sunrise. I swam to the other side and went a short distance into the jungle. I was marveling at all the things I'd done during the last six months. At how much I'd changed. It had all gone so fast, but at the same time it felt as if I'd been gone forever. How could I ever go back to an everyday life in boring old Denmark? I'd tasted adventure, and as all-consuming as it had seemed, I knew that I'd only scratched the surface. There were moment's where I really, truly felt like Indiana Jones. Sitting there in the jungle in my board-shorts I just could not imagine myself functioning in Denmark ever again. I was terrified.

This is where I'll leave you.

A year has gone by since I touched down in Copenhagen. I remember being so used to friendly, smiling people that it came as quite the shock when my smile was met with averted eyes and discomfort.
I was weeping when I saw my family. I hadn't even realized how much I'd missed them.

I started courses not long after and started planning for university starting the next (this) summer. After three months, with winter approaching, I couldn't sit still anymore and went driving around Ireland for 10 wonderful days. Cliffs! Castles! Wind! Irish people! Guinness! Nature!

Nature. The one thing I miss the most is pure, unharnessed nature.

Christmas came and went, and along with it came the first batch of exams. Top scores all-round. Winter was long and cold, and we had more snow than anyone could remember. I got my first tattoo, a mark to remind me of the Spartans and how they didn't let themselves be motivated by fear. I tried ice-diving and came within twenty seconds of drowning. I finally found a place to live. The sun started peeking out and I started looking around for a motorcycle. I spent a glorious week climbing in Spain. I found and bought a motorbike. That was little more than a month ago. A real beauty. I was freaking out that it might break down like the others, but so far it's still with me and running smoothly.

But I miss it. I miss travelling. I miss not knowing what the day, let alone the week, will hold. What kind of people I'll meet. What kind of adventures I'll be having. What dangers I'll be facing next.

Good things have happened, they definitely have, but looking back on the year that's passed I realize that, although I've learned a lot, I don't have many stories to tell. Not compared to the six months that came before. I want a full life. I want to live my dreams. I want to turn my passions into reality. It is possible. I know it is. There are many things on the way I fear, but most of all I fear dying with regrets.

For a few weeks I've felt disheartened. I allowed myself to take other people's expectations of life seriously, and not long ago I realized that I'm letting other people's expectations of me take control. But then, not long ago, a thought occurred to me:
What do I care what other people expect!
If people expect me to start a career down a well trodden path - make this much money, have that much success, and so on -  and I don't deliver, it's not my failure, it's their mistake! I have no responsibility to live up to what other people think I ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be! It's their mistake, not my failing.

For a long time I was planning to start uni this year, but suddenly I'm not so sure. I've been bitten by the travel-bug and there's no denying it. Maybe traveling is that passion I've been looking for for so long. I've thought of ways to make a living off of it. I could write books, do inspirational lectures, or even make travel-documentaries. In fact, I'm working out something tv-oriented with my brother and a friend and we'll be making a pilot this summer. I'm very psyched about this.

I have a long life to live. I'd better get started.

I love this shot.

The guy standing up was our guide, Fish. He'd lost his teeth to an oar, his finger to a crocodile,
and his sanity to the river.


PS: Since I've arrived home and re-established contact with the internet, I've rediscovered Dresden Codak. I know I've linked to him before, but he creates things of beauty in his drawings. They remind me of dreams I have. Uncanny.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Melbourne Nadir

How do I pick up after such a long hiatus?

It's been a long break. In my last post I explained why I wouldn't write for a while, but said I'd pick it up soon after coming home. So why didn't I write sooner? Well, in many ways coming home to Denmark was a lot scarier than than I'd thought. Scarier even than leaving, which surprised me. Second, I've been reluctant to write about Melbourne, as I don't like thinking about it. But here, at long last, is the next chapter of my story.

Now where was I. Ahh. Melbourne. What was it about Melbourne that was so horrible that it took me three full months to gather enough courage to write about it? What was it that broke this otherwise infallible and god-like man of steel? Did his heart get broken? Well, almost. It was a motorbike. Again. But let me start where I left off.

In tasmania I'd been thinking a lot about the Roskilde festival, and how sad I was to miss it. Eventually I took the decision to cut my trip short so I could get home in time for the event. Renée knew I'd do it long before I knew. She's clever like that.

I figured I could do without the ten days in Singapore easily enogh, and the fourteen days I'd lose in Australia wasn't much when balanced against such a perfect opportunity to ease back into Denmark, averting the worst of the inevitable culture shock. So I changed my ticket.

However, one night in Melbourne - while trying to sleep - I almost panicked. It was an odd, out-of-place sensation. A real, horrifying, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it kind of panic. I panicked about Hedda, and whether she'd be expecting something from me when we met again. About going home. About meeting that girl from that other festival again, and what would happen when I did. By then I didn't think of her as often as I used to, but she was still poking around in my thoughts sometimes. I panicked about whether I'd miss great experiences in Australia, and trade it for something mundane.

I suppose I was just scared shitless that I'd miss out on stuff or regret my decision. I spent some time focusing on how much fun I'd have still in Australia. All the adventures. All the fun I'd had on the festival before. All the fun I'd have with my friends back home. At last, I fell asleep knowing that everything would be alright.

Diary entry:
Tuesday the 28th of April '09. Melbourne, Australia

I'm on my way to Epping to fetch the motorbike I've bought. A Honda XR 600R. It seems to be in good condition, so I think it'll go the distance. After getting burned twice I'm a little apprehensive about buying a new bike. We'll see.

I've stayed with Grant and Kristen since I arrived in Melbourne. They're two very friendly metal-heads. They're both gamers, and I've sated my hunger for Fallout 3 for now. I've gotten a helluva lot of blogging done which feels really good. I went to town with Grant and Kirsten a couple of nights, and they have some hot friends who's unfortunately all spoken for.

Friday night one of the clubs had a viking theme going, and everybody dressed as a viking got in for free. I showed them my passport and said "hey, I AM a viking!". The doorman didn't buy it, but the bartender did.

I met Grant and Kristen through CouchSurfing. Great people both. they were planning a trip to Europe and wanted to go through Denmark up to Norway (I think), which means I'll be able to return the favor next year. Yay! They were awesome hosts, and theirs is the comfiest couch I've ever slept on.

At 600cc, this XR was the most powerful bike I've ridden to date (you can stop laughing now), but on my way back from Epping it stalled. My breath stopped, fearing another 3000,- AUD out the window. I quickly realized what was wrong though. I'd accidentally pulled the decompression lever while engaging the clutch. The two were mounted curiously close together. I made a mental note to mind my finger placement and carried on home.

Originally, my plan was to start the Australian leg of the journey in Adelaide as I had a thing or two I wanted to do there: 1) Drive the Great Ocean Road and 2) dive with Great White Sharks. But since I found myself in Melbourne already and didn't care to drive all the way to adelaide and back just for the sharks (a journey of almost 1000km each way. Besides, cage-diving was outrageously expensive), I decided to drive up the Great Ocean Road as far as Port Campbell, see the twelve apostles, spend the night, and drive back the next morning.

...In case you were wondering.

The XR600. Notice how I didn't melt any plastic on it...

If mars had water, this is what it'd look like.
I used my sunglasses as a filter. People were looking at me funny, but I think it worked out pretty well.

That sunset was one of the best I've ever seen.

Driving to Port Campbell I had the setting sun directly in my eyes and couldn't see a thing. Scary!

There's a place there called the Shipwreck coast which I was very excited about. My imagination was swimming with images of sandy, rotting and rusting shipwrecks, all exposed at low tide, old pirate treasures waiting to be plundered. Dissapointingly, it's just a name. No wrecks.

The whole trip, I was a bit paranoid about the sound of the bike. I thought it sounded clangy, but reminded myself that I had to get to know it. Still, I couldn't shake a feeling of doom. Well back in Melbourne I had it checked through by a mechanic for the compulsory road-worthiness checkout, and he told me it wasn't road-legal due to several shortcomings, including a worn out rear tyre and a weird sound from the engine.
I was devastated. I had been an utter fool going 800kms on it before getting it checked. Now there was no way of telling whether the fault was mine or the sellers. The repairs could be anything between 500 and 1500 AUD, and at the time I was sure I'd been sold a shitty bike. So I called up the seller.

I'm none too proud of the things I said, or the way I handled the matter. I tried to hold him responsible as I was terrified of facing such a loss. I knew I had a weak case, and I had no idea how I could get it off my hands in a short time. Being stuck with a busted bike in a city I'd rather have left behind days ago made me act like a dickhead. The magnitude of my selfishness hit me a week later in Sydney when the mechanic called me and asked whether I'd ever pulled the decompression lever while the engine was running. I had. Thrice. It had busted up the exhaust valves.

The fault was mine, and I'd tried blaming it on the seller, eventually getting half the price back and handing the bike back to him by using all my pathos to convince him, even though I could feel he wasn't at all happy with the deal. I felt really shitty about how I'd treated him and how stupid I'd been. I had bought the bike even as my gut feeling was screaming at me to say no and buy a bus ticket instead. I was blinded by the dream of that Big Motorcycle Adventure, and felt I had to get a bike quickly if I was going to make it all the way to Cairns. I had let my dream get in the way of reality.
By then I had no inclination to go looking for another bike. Even if I'd had the money.

I went back to Grant and Kirsten's place, cooked them dinner (a pasta salad which was making me quite famous through the south pacific), and bought a Greyhound ticket for Sydney for that evening. It would be a thirteen hour drive and I had nothing I wanted to see between Melbourne and Sydney. Maybe I felt the east coast had something in store for me. Maybe I felt time pressing (I'd been in Melbourne for more than a week. Maybe I just wanted to distance myself from the guilt. Either way, the next morning I found myself in Sydney, reunited with an old friend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh my god, he's blogging in real-time!

Disclaimer: By reading this post through, you agree to complete the homework assignment put forth at the end of this post. No excuses! It isn't dangerous. You have the time. Your life will be richer for it. You'll have a story for your grandchildren. And no peeking!

Country-men, foreigners. Dignitaries, royals and usurpers. Priests and paupers. Ladies and gentlemen. Friends.

It is to you I now speak. For behold, I am blogging! 'Nay!', I hear you cry, 'it cannot be!' But I say to you; believe it. It is so.

It'll only be a short one though. The last post covered the first ten days in Australia. I've been here for two months. I'm slightly behind schedule. I have two weeks left in this beautiful country, and honestly, I'd rather spend them diving, river rafting, swimming, and a whole swathe of other ways than in front of a computer to keep up the blog.
So: Don't expect new posts for the next two weeks. In fact, make that 3-4 weeks, as the Roskilde festival will consume me mere hours after I touch down in Copenhagen.After that, however, I promise you inspired, witty, poignant, personal, honest and regular updates, covering these last two months of my trip. Followed by thoughts on coming home, and concluded with hilarious appendixes like packing lists, bank statements, and the like.

The bright side: Since my blog won't sate your appetite for adventure for the next couple of weeks, you'll have to go do some adventuring for yourself. Do something unexpected. Surprise people. Surprise yourself!

Which leads me to the homework: Before you read my next post, you will create an adventure for yourself. The rules are as follows:
You will want to make a day where you go to sleep in a place you didn't expect to be when you woke up that same morning. (it can't be the same residence)
You have to CREATE that day, don't just expect it to happen.
You are not allowed to plan where you sleep until two hours after leaving the place you woke up.
You are not allowed to plan ahead! Be spontaneous!

You know when you are cheating. Don't cheat yourself.
If you dare, get out of town!

pack a day-pack.
Bring a sleeping bag.
Safety first. Use your common sense.
The further you go, the better! Stretch beyond what you thought possible.
It's okay to be afraid, in fact, that's great! But do it anyway. That's what being courageous is all about! In that respect, it's not much different to sky-diving!

A wise man once said: It's dangerous stepping out your front door. If you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you'll be swept off to!