let's try again..
i dubbed this the day of complaining. basically b/c all i did was complain (not the only one). it was hard not to. being tired,hungry and cold set the mood.woke up bright and early to the feeling of cold. so frickin cold! the cold was the hot topic of the day. apparently it was the coldest in the history of perth. ever. 1 frickin degree. now i understand that should be gravy for canucks but not when 2 days previous they were sweating in + 30 temps. thats hell of a big difference in only 48 hours. anyways straggled all my crap together took off for the meet point of my next tour. when i got there i was flabbergasted at the number of people waiting. calming myself with the knowledge that there was more than 1 tour leaving i waited. by the time our rickety old bus (more on that later)showed up most of the people had dispersed to their respective tours leaving a group of about 14. i must admit, a sigh of relief escaped me at that moment. i hate large groups. too hard to do anything/get to know anybody. after watching my bag get safely loaded on the trailer (had to wait for two older british ladies to finish getting their bags squared away-it was a long process), i got on. to my dismay i found 8 people already waiting for us. it was a group of older(60's-70's) couples traveling together (picked up earlier hence why the bus was late). needless to say the bus was full.
2 irish, 1 swede,4 french,1 swiss, 8 aussie, 2 canadians(myself included), 3 brits, 1 of a descent i'm not sure of, an american and yet again another kiwi tour guide. pretty much split into 2 age groups. those of us in our twenties and those over sixty. of course the american had to different as he fit in neither category being just turned forty(we thought he was lying until he produced his drivers license).
more like the junker. if you sat in the front you were too hot/the music was too loud. in the back too cold/can't hear anything. if it needed gas the engine had to be running otherwise it wouldn't start. and it leaked. many a swear was issued by our guide during the 5 days thanks to this beauty.
on the bus. pretty much all day. first stop bussleton jetty. basically it was a long pier that you had to pay to walk all the way to the end to. didn't matter much as we only had 1/2 hour to walk around before we were supposed to be back for lunch. i spent my time wisely in the gift shop hunting down postcards. lunch was an awkward affair as nobody knew anybody. the french males were surprisingly friendly but more so to the beautiful swede that they had latched onto. i'll have to admit during the course of the next few days those french have some smooth moves (observed). after lunch we spent a few minutes in the parking lot as the guide tried to figure out how to get the bus turned around. this would be the template of the epic struggle during the rest of our days as this bus ate precious moments and almost always won. amusingly, about 5 minutes in a local took pity and told him if he just drove forward there was another exit. hahahahaha. off we went to Ngilgi Cave. once there we had to wait in a meeting area on top of a hill for a guide to take us in. he gave us the spiel (http://www.mybunbury.com/ngilgicave.html) while we walked toward the entrance. actually i should say hole in the ground.. accessed by a steep staircase and an extremely heavy door.
**ok, remember the older british ladies who took time to get their luggage sorted out? their tales come up plenty so i've dubbed them the luggage ladies- keep that reference in mind****
immediately the shorter of the luggage ladies says "ohh i don't think i'll be doing that" whereas her companion replied "come on let's at least make a go of it, we can always come back." and that what they did, they made a go down to the main area where the tunnels split off and then went back. the guide advised us of the rules (no touching/don't do anything stupid) and took off back to the surface..my kind of guide! apparently there is always someone at the bottom chamber (4 hour shift, no food/water/bathroom blah!) in case of an emergency/ to monitor the touching of the sample rocks. now they say to give 2.5-3 hours for this tour but i'm not sure why as it only took me 40 minutes (and i was stopping every few minutes or so to take pictures or press the "light" button on the displays). some of the staircases were pretty steep/tricky but nothing like karijini climbs so it was pretty easy stuff. it was quite amusing to hear the older people behind me navigate with phrases like "barry, i don't think i can do that", "oh, don't be such a t*** you know you can" and my personal fav "what if i fall, break a hip and can't get back up?!!". as we exited the cave we were supposed to wait in the area outside..where our trek guide was having a nap awaiting our return. as hardly anybody else was done i asked if i could go take a peek at the giftshop which he ok'd. the swiss and i were barely steps down the path when he asked us how many had left the cave already (he was trying to keep a count). we told him we didn't know and continued our way. as an afterthought he yelled after us that we were taking a deer path that led to nowhere. you think he would have told us that before asking us who had left? as we were getting on the bus to leave the ghost bus showed up.
** ohh the tale of the ghost bus. basically a product of POOR planning on the tour company part. we were on the 5 day tour of perth-esperance-perth. some money grubbing lout decided to also have the 3 tour of perth-albany leave on the same day. thus the first days of our tour were the buses trying to beat each other to the spots/hostels. we usually lost. didn't matter much as we were all doing the same stuff. so instead of battling 25 people it was war against 50. i loathed the ghost bus!***
they had suffered the mishap of a breakdown. boohoo for them. next we hit up the "factories". chocolate and cheese to be more specific. the word factory is in quotations for a reason. they were basically stores with a small window to see a cheap interpretation of what they claimed to be. the chocolate was ok..many products of delicious concoction were waiting. i managed to ruin it for myself though.unable to decide on what flavor to buy i managed to pick out the one thing i despise..white chocolate (the bags were not see through nor did they have a description of what waited inside). i tried giving most of it away but everyone was kind of sick of candy by then. the american took a different route by deciding to buy his way to love. he purchased several trays of chocolate shaped candies which he offered to the girls quite frequently. dude turned on my creepdar pretty early on (it's rarely wrong). the cheese place didn't even try to pretend to live up to it's name..it just had samples of the cheese.as it was getting pretty late we took off towards the hostel. the guide warned us that if the ghost bus beat us we would have to wait to use the kitchen as the facilities were quite limited. they beat us. by mere minutes. we all ended up having to wait outside the hostel for the guides to figure out the rooms. by then, the sun was setting and i could see my breathe. cold,hungry and getting more miserable by the minute, i could feel the crankiness set in. it didn't improve when our guide (after taking 30 minutes to secure our keys) spent another 10 minutes trying to figure out who was going to sleep in which room. the oldies didn't help the situation much by insisting to all be together. thoroughly confused, he kept switching up his room plans. i was shivering pretty bad. things then got a bit lively when some of the drunk locals happened by and tried to proposition all the girls to return to the bar with them. the american made a comment and was cussed out pretty bad. if i wasn't trying to conserve energy i would have laughed. eventually the guide gave out the keys. i followed a couple of people into a room and claimed a bunk. as long as it wasn't the american i didn't care who was in it. later i found that i had picked the only room with no heat. the hostel itself was weird. think of a horseshoe. the outside arms were the rooms while the inside was the tv/dining room with kitchen...but only 3/4's of it thus some of the rooms had three walls exposed to the elements(mine). to accommodate 50+ people were TWO toilets and THREE showers. each in a separate room. want to just brush your teeth? have to wait for a shower room. want to pee? have to wait for a toilet room and then a shower room to wash your hands. as i mentioned earlier, as the ghost bus had beat us there they had dibs on the kitchen. by then it was 7pm. both guides decided to cook together. dinner was steak/sausages. or at least thats what i was told. not being able to stand the cold anymore i gave up and went to bed. or tried to. fully dressed, using the blankets,sheets and whatever else i could find to keep warm just didn't cut it enough to stop my teeth from chattering. and thus ended complaint day. blah.
day 2 (sept 23)
woke up to a cold and frosty morning in Augusta. waited out the breakfast/packing of the gear and everybody finally getting on the bus routine and off we went. guide thought it would be fun to try and visit the lighthouse down the road. nice little jaunt through the karri forest found us there but unable to walk out to it as it was behind a chain link fence. still nice though. next stop was the bicentennial tree. basically someone picked out one of the 60+ foot trees, drove some metal spokes in to it/built a couple of look out platforms halfway/at the top and made it into a tourist trap (not it's original purpose). it was pretty neat. of course, being the wuss i am, i wanted no part of the climb. looked a bit shaky to me. unfortunately the ghost bus showed up shortly after thus a line up began to form. only 12 people are allowed on the tree at a time... 6 on the bottom half and 6 at the top. the french boys made quite the bravo show of climbing up the tree but seemed to quiet once they were halfway up. i think they were realizing how scary it was to climb on metal spikes with nothing but a flimsy looking net under you so the manliness sort of melted away. getting bored, i took off down one of the paths for a walk. it was nice to get away and stretch the legs.next stop was lunch in some nameless town. while everybody ate i took off on a trail i found that ended up with a long boardwalk traversing a swamp. damn cool. then it was off to the thing i had been looking forward to the most..ever since i first booked this vacation... the tree top walk.
so fricking cool! i took so many pictures. literally just a series of linked suspension bridges (built so people wouldn't walk on the roots of the trees) that swayed quite impressively. it was kind of freaky walking around up there. i'm reminded of three germans. one of which was extremely afraid of heights. dude must have been at least 6 feet tall/ 200 pounds but he was shaking like a leaf. his knuckles were snow white as he gripped the railings of the pathways as his buddies dragged him around. i'll admit i fell behind the group on this one. would have stayed up there longer if that damn ghost bus hadn't showed up again. afterwards we headed off to the elephant rocks. basically just a bunch of huge rocks in a bay. was a bit shocked to see some of my fellow travelers strip down to the skivvies and go for a swim. takes some balls to change on a public beach in front of strangers. the beach itself was quite interesting. you'd walk up to what looked like piles of little black pebbles, only to be suddenly surrounded by thousands of sand flies. ugg. after the dippers finished dipping we started up a rock face to greens pool. i didn't quite make it to the pool as i wanted to enjoy the spectacular view of the sea. so i sat and waited. and waited. wondering where everybody was i started to backtrack. wasn't too worried when i saw that the people from the ghost bus came back down the way we had all come. even then, one of the french boys come back to retrieve his clothes. on the way back to the bus i was met by a flustered guide looking for us. apparently there was a shortcut back to the parking lot and everybody was waiting on us. damn ghost bus struck again! next up was the natural bridge. extremely spectacular (and dangerous), you had to be careful as one slip and you could plummet to your death. after that we had a long drive to albany. to stave off boredom, one of the brits came up with an idea of guessing the exact time we were going to get in. then it was suggested to play you had to put a $1 in (may have been me). things got a bit competitive then. i was sitting next to one of the french boys at the time and we were scheming on what our best bet would be ( a lot of the time slots had already been taken by the time we got a chance to guess) when i came up with the price is right plan. i picked the earliest time while he picked one of the later ones. we would split our winnings. unfortunately my fool proof plan was foolish and we were half an hour off on both ends. didn't help that frenchie/irish insisted on stopping the bus so they could take pictures of the sunset.
i'd like to take a moment to discuss the bus. we spent a lot of time on that thing and i used most of it to stare out the windows (unless they were fogged up). i chatted occasionally but mostly kept to myself. at one point i was involved in a conversation with the american, a few brits and the swede. somewhat in the middle ( and out of nowhere) the american asked me flat out if i had a boyfriend (the creepdar is never wrong!) too which i replied quite smoothly.."yes, yes i do". after that, he left me alone for the rest of the trip and focused his attention on one of the french girls (later story).
we rolled into albany around 7ish(?). the hostel was another weird one (think tim burton setup) but i liked it. it was set on 3 different levels. first, you came in from the street and walked into the reception/internet area. this part closed at 8:30pm and was locked up for the night (no access). up 3 stairs from this was a level that consisted of a kitchen/laundry area. 3 steps down to the left was another kitchen/the dining room with a tv. this was mostly set aside for tour groups like us so we didn't take over the hostel and inconvience the other guests. up 2 steps to the right (of the first kitchen) was the hallway to the dorms. if you you went right at that hallway you'd hit the after hours exit and more stairs going up to ladies washroom/more rooms and another lounge area. i'd really like to see how they got those building permits accepted. anyways the dorm was mixed (10 people) and this time i enjoyed the company of the two luggage ladies. since the ghost bus had beaten us to the hostel (again) and had commendered the kitchen, i decided to attempt a shower as supper was a long way off. i was quite shocked when i entered the washroom, turned the corner and was greeted by a cheeky bum. of a 70 year old lady. bent over while toweling her legs. stop laughing. it got worse as she started to chat with me while dressing. i almost died. she finally left and i prepared (in a more modest way) to bathe. i had to pause to run and find her as she had forgotten her glasses but eventually became clean. i then headed back to the dorm to drop of dirty clothes before seeing if dinner had gotten started yet. it had..but just barely. the french boys and one of the irish had taken over the meal preparations with great gusto. even the bossy older people couldn't worm their way in to take over. i spent the time discussing meaningless things with the other irish and some of the older couples. around 9pm dinner was finally served and i'll have to admit the little bit i had was quite tasty. tired of not doing anything, i made my way to the kitchen to get the dishes started. what an interesting affair that turned out to be. many a time i had to beat away the oldies who wanted to take over (apparently those of us in the younger generation don't know how to wash dishes properly). as there was no hot water (i blame the ghost bus) i defended my position of washer by assigning people the job of boiling water. nothing funnier than watching an oldie with an accent trying to figure out how to light a gas burner with no matches. that job being done, i turned down the offer of hitting the local bars (hey, i was tired and even if i wasn't we all know i'd rather eat an old shoe than go out to a bar) in favor of hitting the hay. imagine my horror as i walked into the dorm and was greeted by the site of one of the luggage ladies sitting on her bunk, bare naked from the waist up! stop laughing. for petes sake, her bunk was right in front of the door too! anybody passing could have gotten an unfortunate eyeful! i averted my eyes as fast as possible and was surprised to see the irish were in the room. the male half had his face to the wall as he and the female quickly prepared to leave. they asked if i knew where the bar was/why i wasn't going (we were all trying not to look) as we hightailed it out of there. i gave my excuses/imparted my limited directional knowledge and went to go brush my teeth/get ready for bed. i'll admit i took longer than usual to complete those tasks as i hoped time would null the danger back in the room. thankfully when i reentered, luggage lady was done with her naked spree. after adjusting to the snoring (yes, both luggage ladies snore like elephants) i drifted off to sleep...with burning visions of naked old ladies behind my eyelids.