09/03/2008 Chapter 5 – wondrous things and frustration.

Where was I ? Ah, yes , Battery running out in the Cave.

Well , as I found out that little bit , the guide pointed out the “temple” and the “angel” looking down on the “Altar” , so i noted to him a certain formation that in some lightings looks like a “Demon” standing beside the “Angel” and also peering on the “Alter”. As you can imagine , there are no photos of the whole thing :-( .

When we ended the tour I waited for my father to come back from his tour (we went to separate tours ,due to different difficulty degrees of the path),and as I sat there one of the guys that was with me on the tour started a conversation , we somehow got to politics and this guy turned out to be a right wing extremist , if he'd have his way -he would have carpet bombed Gaza a long time ago .Hmmm, should I be sorry or happy he is not a policy maker in Israel politics ... I am not sure.

When my father came back we started our ascend to leave the valley of the caves (if anyone wants more information about the caves , they are named “Jenolan caves” , now you can look it up and see where I was), we entered a dense fog – heavy clouds moved in on the whole region and covered the mountains and surrounding hills.

The drive went slowly and we kept on looking for a place to sleep , the nearest town was Oberon , which ended out to be a small place with over priced motels and hostels . So we decided to keep on the way , now since my father wasn't feeling well earlier in the day I called the trip short and canceled the ride north and we started heading south , the new destination town was Goulburn.

As the fog kept on drifting in ,we started seeing lightning flashes in the clouds ,the frequency of the lightning got shorter and it developed to a full blown storm with heavy downpour and strong winds , the rain was so heavy that we slowed to 20km/h and we were driving with the hazard lights flashing and the wipers working at full speed, this way we drove for almost an hour , going slowly and seeing very little , visibility was about 10 meters at the best of times.

When we got out of the rain and hail we paused on the side of the road and stood there looking at the lightning flashes across the night sky,No there are no pictures as my camera battery was dead ! I made myself a list of things to buy in Hong Kong on the way back and at the top of the list is a spare battery.

We stood there for 20 minutes and I estimate we saw more then 200 flashes , some so big and bright that they lit most of the horizon and blinded us. After this pause to admire nature's beauty and fury we got back in the car and resumed our drive, now this road is not a widely used road so wildlife animals cross it at night and some time get hit by cars , we saw carcasses of dead Wallabies , Wombats and some Hares.

At one time we saw and tried to steer clear of a Wombat but it ran to our back wheel and we felt the bump as it went under the rear left wheel . The ride to Goulburn took us till 22:00 , when we got there we decided that we'll find a place to sleep ,since another night in the car was not good for my father. We checked in to a motel and promptly fell asleep.

The morning found us in a better shape the the previous day , after a good night rest and a shower we went on to get some breakfast , it took us 3 hours to find a place that was open and had some food , as we sat there enjoying the food ,sitting on a porch over looking a river , we heard a tire screech and looked to see a car collision occur (no one was injured) ,and then people came out from the shop and asked what happened , we explained and I jokingly asked “How much for the movie?” , the owner of the shop said that they invested hard in the facilities : High definition , good quality action , Full feature surround system sound and house service , but since we are first time visitors , this movie is for free :-).

After the “show” was over we resumed our drive heading back to Burrill lake . The roads began to be more crowded and the towns became closer to each other, then we decided to stop in a rest area to stretch our legs , and as we got in there we saw a person on a bicycle coming to rest there too , He had a trailer attached to his bike and many bags grafted to the front wheels and back wheels , we decided to go say hello and find out where he was riding to and from.

Turns out the guy was 75 years old and he was doing a full trip around Australia , and he has been riding for the last 9 and half month , yes 9.5 month on the bike , from Brisbane and to Brisbane ! Where we meet him he still had 1500 KM to go, and he wasn't even from Australia , the guy is from USA and he does it just cause he can .

We where in Awe from this person and drove away talking about the effort and dedication for such an endeavor ,and of course it gave me ideas for trips to do.

So now I'm back in my father's house , and in 2 days I'll be heading to Sydney for 2 days and then to London.

The next chapter will be posted from London and will include the trip pictures.

07/03/2008 Chapter 4 : let the tourist do his thing

Well, after being a bit bored in the house with doing nothing , we planned on going for a trip to see some of australia's sights.
In the end it ended with me going alone since I figured it will cost less and I'll have some peace of mind. so we got to the travle agency and started checking options.
The first option where :Tasmania , New Zealand , Ayeres rock and other stuff. I started to look in to the cost and time of each thing and it turned out that to take a flight to the Ayeres rock and stay there will be the cheapest solution (And when I say cheap I mean more then a 1000 $ AU), so I did some thinking and went and booked myself a flight and hotel.
The flight was due for monday so I had time to prepare all my things for the flight, the my self and my dad thought that once I'm back from the trip , we'll take the car and go north to see some other sights. thinking that we'll travel for some time I packed all my stuff in to the car and was ready to go.
Monday came and I was on the train for the airport (domestic flights are funny , I got on the plain carring the tripod and my leatherman with out no one telling me anything about sharp objects of metal tubes). The flight it self is short and I get to see the movie "Enchanted" again - this time not dubbed to hebrew ( I went to see it with my young niece and nephew as a goodbye thing - don't ask).
So , getting to the Ayeres Rock is the easy part , no once you are there if you want something : water ,Air conditioning food , you pay ! A tour to the rock either sunset or sunrise is 45$ and that does not include the actuall entrance to the site itself. They tell you that you can be dropped at the site and picked up and time you want , which brings the concept of going in sunrise and stay till sunset , right ? Wrong , if you came with the sunrise tour you HAVE to be out of the site till 13:00 , so seeing the sunset is a seperate tour which you pay for again. being me I did both , of course ( pictures later ).
So I did the sunset on the first evening , then in the morning did the sunrise and the walk around the rock itself, they tell you that for the walk you need to plan a 4 hour walk , small thing they forget to say is that if you stand in one spot for more the 10 seconds the flies will eat you alive - if you walk they just annoy you mercilessly all the time ( fly nets are available to buy for just 9.99$AU ). So unless you like being eaten by flies you finish much faster (took me 2 hours) ,climbing to the top of the rock is forbiden so that takes some of the fun out of the place.
Once back food was a problem - the only place that serve food in bearable prices closes at 15:00 , after that the cheapest place (besides the supermarket) will charge 25$ for the starters. so it was "Mana Hama" for me ! ,as the evening came down I went to one of the "viewing points" to take some photos and see the sunset.
Sunset here is a funny thing : it starts at 18:50 at 19:15 the sun is hidden below the horizon ,at 20:25 the light finally runs out .so I was standing there and seeing the night sky and taking pictures ( later , I know it's annoying not to see what I'm talking about but as I said the internet connection here is crap).

The next day went on with no special events and the I flew back, I met my dad in the airport and we decided to travel north and see the blue mountain ridge in the way to the opal mines in Lightning ridge,so we set out way there and drove through the evening till we got to the town near the place - a town called Katoomba.
We stayed the night in a parking place and slept in the car , not a very good sleep , was cold and hard trunk floor as bed is not the best thing after a day of flight and drive. As we woke up in the morning we decided to get an early start on the walk and actually spent two hours driving around the area looking for the way in , we saw some wonderful places and in the end found out it was 3 minutes from where we started.
The sign on the tour said easy walk and 30 minutes round trip , so I took the camera and some water and we started to walk ,indeed the walk to it was easy and there there were the stairs to the bottom ... half way (25 minutes climb ) down i decided " hell if I climb this back " so I headed back up - which was bad for itself.no pictures from this place . from there we drove to the Jenolan caves - a huge complex of Staclegmite caves.
I took the tour to a cave called "The Temple of Baal" , we walked in the cave and in one part where they want to show the passage of time and the dripping of water - they put a background music ... the Oh , so cheesy "Who wants to Live forever?" from there we went deeper into the cave and got to the center point of the cave the Temple itself , and there my camera battery died.
Stay tuned for more updates...

25/02/2008 Chapter 3 :Australia - First week and adventures

I waked up in 4 in the morning , to that it was dark out side is to state the obvious , I got up and walked out side . The whole place was dead asleep , even the dogs didn't bother to bark or look at me.
I decided to go for a jog , nothing to long. I ran till the end of the road (2km), funny thing the street name is Ireland street. When I got back I changed and waited for everyone to get up , once up we started the “daily routine” of the house.
My dad took me to the local dive shop and I got sorted on diving for the weekend ,Since I was with no equipment they had to guess as to the amount or weights I'll need to take.
Thursday we drove to a place called Pebley beach , where there kangaroos and wallaby walk freely around the people , I got some photos and will post them once I get to a decent Internet access.
Friday was nothing special , I wake up before sunrise, jog, walk the dogs and do nothing for the rest of the day , relaxing to the point of couch potato (which drives me off the wall).
The dogs – two FAT lazy ass dogs. I tried to walk them more then 600m and they made sounds like they will die on me if they took another step. Then I saw how they are fed and understood , they are not being fed , they are being slowly stuffed with meat and butter.
Saturday came and I went to dive , they gave me a 5mm suit with 24lbs weights, now anyone that ever dove with me know I sink like a rock with a 3mm suit and 8lbs. You can only imagine what happened, not only did I sink lick a brick , I needed a half full BC to actually balance myself and float off the rocks. The current was a killer (compared to what I'm used too ), so in the end of the dive I was exhausted.
I got back to the shop and heard the story from my dive buddy “we are in the water and I know assaf needs to get familiarize with the new equipment , so I told him we'll descend at his speed, we give the sign to descend ,and all of a sudden he is gone , I look around , I don't see him , then I look at the bottom and there he is “. On Sunday we did two more dive ,this time I went in with only 20lbs , was better dives I managed to balance myself quite well and had two nice dives.
My dive buddy blow my mind when I found out he has more then 15,000 logged dives, and those numbers are not that exceptional here !
Monday I was taken for a trip to pigeon house mountain – a 720m peek standing above the forest , the road to the top is a nightmare climb , and the sign say to plan for a 4 hour round trip. I finished the climb up in 90 minutes and sat and enjoyed the view ( pictures later on), but most important I let my legs rest and catch my breath. The thought of the climb down was not a happy idea, if I thought the climb up was hard , I had no idea what was waiting for me. By the time I reached the parking lot at the bottom , my legs were shaking from the exertion and I couldn't stand with out my leg muscles spasming.
The rest of the week went off with not much to do , Thursday we drove to Kiama and saw the ocean blow hole – this is a natural cave were the waves roll into and the crash out of the hole in huge splashes ( I got some pictures ), from there we took the scenic route home and stopped in the Fitzroy falls , a beautiful spot of water fall and gorge ( again pictures later). From there we went home .
Yesterday was Sunday and I went diving again , this time I took a 16lbs belt and we headed out to sea , we had two groups – one just out of the open water dive course and the other of the more experienced ( me being the one with the second most dives), the newbies got in the water and went in ,by the time my group got in the water we found that the other group already surfaced , we had a panicked diver in the group , and they were drifting with the current , needless to say I didn't dive that day ,myself and my buddy – being the more experienced divers started with the rescue help .
All in all everything turned out ok , 16 divers in ,16 divers out of the water safe and alive.
stay tuned for stories from our next episode ....

21/02/2008 Chapter 2 :London and the torture

next couple of days I spent in London ,while linor worked during the day I was doing the tourist thing. On the first morning I walked to find the Queens woods linor told me where close by , I found the entrance and walked in them , it is a beautiful place with many squirrels and also many dog owners bring their dogs to run free in the woods.
Of course I took a camera with me and took some pictures , only to find out that the body I used had no film in it
– Annoying , I know !!!
I also explored the High gate woods and the neighborhood , even went to the gym once ( found out I was in better shape that I thought - meaning I could run a 2km with out passing out).
On out first night we went to a restaurant where the novelty about it is that you are served by blind people and no source of light is allowed in the dining place .
You get a choice of types of menus and when yo come out they ask you to guess what yo think you ate , I manged to guess most of it right – mistook something for liver and the side serving . All in all it was a very nice evening and we had a romantic night.
Ok, I'll skip the mushy stuff , on Sunday we went to see the Chinese New Year Parade , mostly we saw the back-of-the-head of people , but we manged to get some photos (will be posted on the site later) , we went to several galleries and thought about catching a play , but because it was the Chinese New Year , most of the plays were off for that night.
Monday came and o packed my things for the flight spent the day at the apartment and then headed to the airport , I arrived rather early to the departures and thought I had to wait , but luckily for me I was able to deposit my bag when I got there and went to find me some food, also I asked the girl at the counter for a seat with some leg space for the flight so she booked my HK to Sydney flight and I got a seat near the doors – sweet.
Now I had 3 hours to kill and 2 books on me , so I got to the departures gate and went to find a spot to read.
It is an annoying thing when you are on a TIGHT budget . Let me explain : does the name “World Of Whiskeys” ring a bell ?
They had a special sale of Highland Malts – there was a single Malt 25 years old ( can't recall distillery now, but it's one of the good names – note I say good not popular) for .... 55 pounds . I tried to find out if there is a buy and drop thing like there is in Israel – Of course there isn't,so I didn't buy , but they had many more and that one was just an example ! [ to those that understand , if am not wrong I think it was Glen Farclas].
anyway I got on the flight and the torture begun , 10 hours from London to Hong Kong in an airline seat with a crying baby in the next seat and a woman the size Al Bundy used to complain about (you know “A Fat woman walked in to the shoe .....” ) so I couldn't get much sleep .
Hong Kong has a very nice airport took me about 50 minutes to get from one gate to another ,
not counting the little travelers room and the security check.
The flight from HK was much nicer for one I had a nicer neighbor and the flight was quieter.
Of course I was served rice for my dinner so when I got of the plane I was not only tired but hungry as well.
Since my bag was checked in in London it took it 40 minutes to clear out on the conveyor belt and I went and complained on the damage to my bag , all in all it took me 1.5 hours to get out of the airport .
When I got out I looked for my dad ,and lo and behold – no one there !!!
I wandered around for about 10 minutes till I spotted him in the crowd , then we started heading south to the place he lives in – a place called Burrill Lake , a small town out side of Ulladulla – 250 km south of Sydney .
Now you think 250km is about 2-3 hours drive , wrong , the road here – called “The Princess highway” is a one lane road where the speed limit for many parts is 80km/h – it took us nearly 5 hours ,with stop for gas ,food and some sight see – to get to the house .
I got in took a nice long hot shower and went to sleep .

More To Come on our next Episode ...

13/02/2008 First part of the move

The time spent so far :
it all started Tuesday morning ,we got up (myself , tenchi and my mom) , and I gave tenchi a quick walk (30 minutes) , once we got that out of the way , we got in the car packed all my stuff + tenchi's cage and headed to the air port . the air port was a long mess due to the over weight I had (40kg , when I'm allowed only 30kg) , that is beside the fact that tenchi had to be shipped and paid for seperatly. I deposited tenchi very timidly to the airport crew and went to the gate , where I said goodbye to my mom .
once I was on the plane I was a nervous wreck , no to mention that the flight was delayed an hour and 20 minutes due to some idiots that decided to prolong their shopping instead of boarding the flight. take off was 10:30 instead of 9:00 and all that time I was worried about tenchi in the hold. the flight was turbelance I was worried about him panicking in the cage and not being able to help him relax.
once we landed in France I had to wait almost 30 minutes till I got him, I took him out of the cage and let him drink some water - there is no need to say that all he wanted was to get the hell out of there - we went by customs and no one even asked us for the documents we worked so hard to get for him .
we went to pick up the car from the AVIS agency , and then all the troubles started.
Oh we got the car easily enough and he was very willing to get in but that was not the main problem. Anyone that ever been to France knows the wondeful truth about the road signs - they are only in fraking French!!! the printed route guide I made was in English that pointed all the major points in which to turn , but what can you do when it tells you leave a road on the 34 exit but once you are on the road there is exit 35 and after that 33 ?? turns out that the outer most right turn on the 33 exit IS exit 34 - go figure ?!!!
we stopped on the way to let tenchi walk and stretch our legs ( plus food and toilets),and not to mention that we got lost twice with the wonderfull roads (which added about 150 Km drive). In one such occasion (the 34 exit) when I got answers from some locals that I need to turn back and go about 60km back the way I came , the fuel warning light came on - and the nearest gas station sign said 58KM . Turns out the gas station and the exit I needed was the same place.
Once I was back on the right path it took us about 2 hours to get to the right town , which made it 22:30 once I was there , of course every thing was close and no hotel was able to give us rooms, to add to the abuse every B&B I called and tried to get a room in spoke only French !.
We slept in the back seat of the car huddled together , to be more accurate tenchi slept while I tried to find a position to catch some sleep in. at 5AM I started the engine so as to turn the heating on , it was 3C outside.
8 AM we got out of the car and went for a walk to warm up and for him to relieve himself on trees and doors :-).
Then we drove to the kennel's place , I was able to find it with not much of a problem but the place was closed , so we drove around and let Tenchi run in the fields . we went to the beach and did a short trip of about 5 km and then went back to the kennel place for his vet meeting , which went fine, From there we drove to the kennel itself and I met Talia , Parsnip and the rest of the dogs . it took me 35 minutes of heartache to leave him there , and he was playing with talia all that time.
once I finished that I had to find a way to get to London , and here lies the problem :
the car I rented had a milage limit of 500 km, and I already did 640 km . drive back to Paris is another 442km ,the closest airport is 60 km , but the drop fee of the car is 60 euro , and the only flight is with ryanair which allow 15kg laguage , while I had almost 40kg .we did some thinking and decided to try try the local airport. I got there with no problem and talked to the ladies in the booth , when they heard about my laguage capacity they freaked - the cost for the over weight was almost as the ticket itself. They tried to find out other solutions for me and I started playing musical chairs with the laguage .... this in that bag , this I wear and so forth , which reduced the amount of shipped stuff to 18kg over the limit .
when I got to the check in and deposited the bags , the girl in the booth checked them in , gave my my boarding pass and smiled and let me off , no extra charge !! I was shocked but kept my tactless mouth shut. Oh , and the car ... I dropped in that airport and it cost me 30 euro's more then the fee I was supposed to pay when I rented the car , so I got off easy with that one.
I don't remember much of the flight to London - either I was too worried or it passed to fast. I was almost the last to get my bags on the laguage belt and then had no problem getting on the train and home to where Linor was waiting .
This was the a short summary of that leg of the "Flatto journey " of the trip.
stay tuned for stories from our next episode ....

22/01/2008 Packing Life

The house is full with boxes and slowly it stops being a home.
Tenchi is sad all the time as things disappear in to the boxes and the absence of Linor is felt even stronger each day.
Some times during the packing I get this feeling of not wanting to pack and I stop packing , Look around and realize I am packing my life in to cardboard boxes and taking to London only a sample of things.
It feels both sad and happy to be able to close them up and know I am about to start a new life.
Not much time Left .