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Carl's Circuit

a travel blog by GoBlue

Well, after a whirlwind wrap-up in Ann Arbor, we are on the road...I think it is going to take 3 months to recover from all that I am leaving behind in AA, so let's get started!
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Wisconsin Family

Fall Creek, United States

After a nostalgic, almost teary-eyed, departure from AA, we are on the road! We first traveled through Chicago for a night at Jocelyn's uncle's place and then headed up to WI to see my family. Although the transition out of AA is hard, as soon as I crossed the WI border and saw a sign for Beefaroo and then one for Naughty but Nice adult bookstore, I realized that everything would be OK...ahhhh, it's good to be home.

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 10, 2007 from Fall Creek, United States
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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Jews vs. Irish

Orleans, United States

After a great weekend in the Cape at the Levy-Sullivan bachelor/ette party, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Brian and Maggie would actually make a great couple. There is pretty much only one thing I would bet Brian is incapable of, but Maggie presses ham well enough for both of them, so I think they really do make a perfect couple. In all seriousness, thank you guys for the invite to the Jew versus Irish Battle royale—it was a fantastic time. I wish you two the best!

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 13, 2007 from Orleans, United States
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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Men at Work were right...

Sydney, Australia

This place is awesome! Although it is so expensive in Sydney that my three month trip is now only two weeks, it is totally worth it. After a few days here, we’ve been to the Blue Mountains with Jocelyn's family (going again this weekend), hung out downtown by the opera house and botanical gardens and spent time in Coogee and Maroubra Beach. Last night we went to Chinatown for dinner and then went to an Irish pub for drinks. Apparently, “a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder“ are not just a bunch of clever lyrics. They are all true—I can attest to it (although this implies I am a man, but we can debate that later).

Off to some Thai food in Coogee . . . more to come . . .

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 17, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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The Brit's Mistake

Sydney, Australia

This post has nothing to do with PM Blair . . . I can't believe the Brit's sent their convicts to Australia hundreds of years ago and stayed on their miserably rainy, cold and small island. I'm pretty sure they made the biggest mistake of their empire's existance by not keeping their convicts in England to mess with the French and transferring their entire civilization to Australia. But what do I know?

Suffice to say, this place continues to be awesome. The Chapmans arrived on Friday to a spot of bad weather in the morning. It was upper 50s and rainy for a few hours, but has otherwise been in the low- to mid-70s and sunny. Regardless, we used that day to walk around The Rocks, Circular Quay, Sydney's Opera House and the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is a very vibrant part of the city filled with both modern beauty and history. One of the highlights is the Botanical Gardens, filled with Cockatoos, Fruit Bats, Spiders and amazing plants (for more pictures, etc: http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/royal_botanic_gardens). Friday night we then went to a great Italian restaurant in Durlinghurst. I know I am getting old now that I am spending my days sightseeing in lieu of going out at night . . .

Anyway, Saturday was yet another great day. We traveled from Circular Quay by ferry to Taronga Zoo for a few hour tour. It is one of the nicer zoos I have visited, especially interesting because of their emphasis on Australian wildlife. We then went to Bondi Beach, which reminded me a lot of life in Southern California. One of the highlights of the day was the 1.5hr walk along the cliffs and beaches from Bondi to Coogee. It was amazingly beautiful. We finished Saturday night by making dinner with Chris in his flat in Coogee.

Yesterday we spent the day on a Wine/Reptile Park tour north of Sydney. The day was off to an interesting start when three of the four belts on the bus's engine burned up. Our driver, Robert, thought everything was OK so long as he drove without any headlights or other "extraneous" power drains (he was telling this proud fact as we were driving into Sydney well after sunset, using other vehicle's lights to guide us. Its great to travel in other countries . . .).

Anyway, the wine tour was great, but probably the best part of the day was stopping at the Reptile Park, believe it or not. We got to pet a Kuala Bear and Kangaroos. The Kangaroos were awesome. We even were lucky enough to see one of the Kangaroos buck back onto its strong tail, grab a goose's head with its front paws and kick its back legs into the goose's body during a squabble over some food. They look pretty powerful and not to be messed with, which is exactly what Chris' friend Matt thought while attempting to play patty-cake with one of them later (http://youtube.com/watch?v=CQdC4vWIxDw).

We finished last night with another great dinner in Darling Harbour, and then we headed to bed earlier in preparation for a big day today. We are traveling to Manly Beach for some hiking, beach time and surfing followed by the airport so we can make our flight to Melbourne. Until the next update . . .

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 20, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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Melbourne Madness

Melbourne, Australia

After a sad farewell to Sydney, we made our way to Melbourne. All I can say about the trip is don't go out of your way to fly JetStar. Yeah, they are a "discount" airline, but the amount you pay upfront covers very little. We found out when we got to the airport with our normally allotted two bags that we are allowed only 20 kilos each person. With all our climbing gear, Joc and I were approximately 27 kilos over the limit (at $7/kilo, totaling $189 AUS). Luckily we were able to shift some weight to our awesome friends (thanks Maddy & Dave), so we didn't end up paying anything. But this philosophy of paying for everything extra permeated the trip. At one point I thought I would have to pay extra to turn on the air-vent or light above my seat . . .Whatever. I'm over it.

Melbourne is an interesting city. I think two activities largely capture the scene: sports and shopping. The city is chocked full of sports arenas and shopping centers. I thought it was a great city, well worth visiting and appealing in its own ways, but not as inviting as Sydney (it was also 10 - 15 degrees colder than Sydney; 55 vs. 70). Overall, glad to have been there.

A few highlights of our short 1.5 days in Melbourne revolve around food. The first night we went to a great old church (or civic buliding--couldn't really tell) that was transformed into an Irish pub--great setting for a few drinks. The second night we were aggressively courted by a number of restaurant managers to dine in their establishments. We finally settled on a restaraunt that gave us 3 bottles of wine and an appetizer for free, and a song and dance about this woman's mother being the cook in the kitchen who makes fantastic lasagna (we found out later this wasn't even remotely true--still, the wine and app were good!).

Overall, great time in Melbourne!

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 22, 2007 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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Grampians Rock

Horsham, Australia

Although we were hoping to rent an RV from Melbourne and drive to the Grampians and Arapiles, we opted for a minivan and cabin option instead. Turned out to be an awesome choice. Driving on the left side of the road was a bit of challenge, sometimes providing group excitement with occasional "left side, LEFT SIDE" type chants coming from the back of the van.

We safely made our way to the Grampians National park and decided to stay at the EMU holiday park, another great choice. The proprietors rescue baby kangaroos, so we were able to hold a few, pet them, etc.

As we left, two roos that we met the previous day jumped up to bid us farwell. I ended up walking them back "home" so we woudn't hit them on the way out. It was amazing to see them bounding behind me and actually following me. It was pretty fantastic.

Also fantastic were the vistas and rock climbing.

As far as climbing. One word. Awesome. Our crew was also a bunch of troopers, making it a lot of fun to be out on some new rock. Viv and Jen, relative beginners, hadn't been outside climbing since last Spring break. Dave had never climbed before and Maddy hadn't climbed since high school. Still, these guys rocked. Yep, rocked. We even did a multipitch climb of ~250 feet at Mt Arapiles (I can see why it is adored by Aussie climbers). It turned out to be harder than we expected, but everyone rallied and we made it through with no incidences. I think I could even go so far as to assert that everyone had a good time.

In short, awesome time outstide the city, and once again it felt like too short of a visit. I definitely hope to make it back.

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 25, 2007 from Horsham, Australia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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The Good Plus Ocean Road

Apollo Bay, Australia

I actually think the Great Ocean Road was pretty fantastic, but jokingly give it a Good plus nonetheless. Amazing, amazing vistas to be experienced with slight nausea if not driving the car. It was a pretty amazing way to end the first Australian experience. Just check it out . . .

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 28, 2007 from Apollo Bay, Australia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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Let's Dancing Till We Drop

Denpasar, Indonesia

Bali is quite an experience so far. Amazingly hot (well, not as hot as humid, but it feels pretty hot . . . especially coming from 15 degree Melbourne--that's Celcius). I have been surprised by the combination of a developing country mixed with Western influence. It is apparent that the tourism industry has impacted surroundings here, and I'm not yet sure it is for the better. In fact, since the bombings took place, there is an obvious market excess that seems to be taking its toll on the locals.

All this aside, it has been enjoyable so far. Our first night in town we went out to eat at 12:30am after arriving, discovering that Kuta really doesn't sleep. We ate an odd restaurant that was pretty dead but for the heavy bass club music pounding inside (there was no one in there either, despite the "dancing till we drop" invitation on the sign outside).

Last night we grabbed dinner with one of Vivian's friends who lives in Jakarta now. We also met up with a handful of other Ross folks, including Ben, Kevin, Tiphanie, Irena and Nathalie--good times. We are actually looking to repeat tonight by grabbing dinner and drinks to harken in Jocelyn's 30th birthday. More to come on this, but for now, Happy Birthday, Joc!!!

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 30, 2007 from Denpasar, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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Cheap, cheap. Look, look.

Denpasar, Indonesia

The rest of our time in Indonesia was pretty fantastic. At first, I wasn't sure I liked the place too much, but once again I left wishing I had more time.

A little more background on Kuta: almost every street I walked down, I initially have the feeling that I shouldn't be there because it might not be safe. Quickly, I realized that the seven foot wide street/sidewalk combo is actually safe despite dozens of motorbikes flying around in both directions and cars barely squeaking by and almost pinning me to the side of a building . . . as I walked down the street there was a local every three feet asking if I'd like to buy some of their goods. "Excuse me mister, you look, look it is cheap, cheap . . . you like it, it is good, good." I also got a lesson in negotiating from a local 17 year old kid named Coco. He told me I could rent a surfboard from him for 90,000 rupiahs ($10 USD) for two hours and I responded by saying, "woah, thats expensive". He told me "to bargain, its good for you, good for me".

At the end of the day, the Bali people are good people who are trying to make some money to support themselves or their family. Ever since the bombings in Kuta (2002 and 2005) they have had incredible excess supply without much tourist demand. Most of the people there make ~1500 Rupiah each day ($1.50 USD), so they are doing their best to survive. Still, despite what are probably slightly desperate times, they were very welcoming and for the most part trustworthy.

Other than hanging out in Bali, Joc and I were fortunate enough to surf the last morning we left (the waves were amazing). We also took a few days to go into the island of Java to the town of Yogyakarta. We visited one of the 7 man made wonders of the world, the buddist temple Borobudur--absolutely amazing


We also visited the temple of Parabanan, also very cool . Other than these great temples, I found the town of Yogya (Jog-ja) to be not very impressive, slightly dirty and not incredibly safe feeling. Still, really happy for the experience.

To wrap up Indonesia, I give it an 8 out of 10 to visit and a high recommendation.

PS - Did I mention that we visited a monkey forest and a small monkey bit Jocelyn? It was quite amusing since he didn't break the skin or cause any damage. So far on the trip, Joc has hung out with kangaroos, kualas and now monkeys . . . pretty cool.

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 3, 2007 from Denpasar, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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And The World Is Your Oyster . . .

Bangkok, Thailand

So, in the early 80s Murray Head wrote "One night in Bangkok" . . . "and the world is your oyster" . . .

Well, we spent two nights there. I'm not sure exactly what that entitles us to, but it was a good time. It was a short 40-hour visit, but we saw a lot of the city, making it worthwhile. I think one word adequatly describes 80% of my Bangkok experience: hot. The city was ridiculously hot. I'm not sure, but I'll guess ~95 degrees with 90% humidity (I might be exagerrating, but you get the picture). Not only was the weather hot, but the food was hot (tasty, but hot).

While in the city we toured the King's palace grounds and temple--all of it was incredible. On of the most enjoyable places within the grounds was the temple that holds the old and famous Emerald Buddha (he is actually carved of jade, but his is very green, thus known as Emerald). While visiting this area we learned how adored the current Thai King Rama VIII is (it is not uncommon for people to wear Lance Armstrong-like "live strong" bracelets that say "long live the king"). The current king is 80 years old and at ~60 years is the longest reigning monarch in history. Pretty interesting stuff.

We also visited the renowned Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho ("Wat" is Thai for temple). This was also quite incredible. As you may have seen lately in the news, Thai people are deeply intertwined with Buddhism and very much respect the teachings of Buddha, so this was a fascinating visit as well.

Bangkok turned out to be a "must see" and like many other areas, I would have loved just a few more days . . .

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 5, 2007 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
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