It was only three days ago when I was kayaking next to a pod of 10-20 dolphins and turtles in Byron Bay, easily up there with my best moments of travelling thus far. After a brief lesson on the basics of kayaking and a chance to interact with the rest of the group, it was time to hit the water. I shared the kayak with a guy called Nathan, who, like me, had never kayaked before. It just so happened that we were the first couple to capsize, which was made all the more embarrassing considering there was a family with two young children in our group. We hit our stride eventually though, and before long we were snorkelling with turtles in the reef and padding next to dolphins; and boy did they put on a show. They surfed the waves, flipped in the air, and if we got too close the dominant dolphin slapped his tail on the water, warning the others to flee. There was a baby calf as well, whose rather feeble attempts to flip like the others would have made even the likes of Vinny Jones go all weak and soppy.
That night, with it being my last night in Byron Bay, we decided to venture to Cheeky Monkeys. You can tell by its name that it's not the sort of establishment that requires a scramble for a name on its elusive guest list. Out of nowhere a storm decided to break out, and by this time we were on our way to the club so there was no turning back.
Looking like I'd just had a bath, I arrived at Cheeky Monkeys, eagerly seeking the chance to dry off inside, only there was something wrong. None of the lights were on. A power cut I thought perhaps? That was until I discovered the doors were locked too, with a notice stating the clubs 'Good Friday' closure. After all that and it was bloody closed! I said to the group it's the first time in my life I've seen a nightclub close because of Jesus. I can't see that catching on back home. I can just picture the bicep flexing bouncers at my local club denying people entry,
"Go 'ome mate, iKandi's closed. Av some respect for the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ".
We ended up in a burger joint nearby, and dejectedly headed back to the hostel. I was in good company though, so my last night was still an enjoyable one.
The next day it was time to head up the coast to Surfers Paradise. Within a couple of hours I had arrived, somewhat underwhelmed with the change in scenery. The hammocks, the hippie vibes, and the lush coastline of Byron Bay was replaced with sky rise hotels, casinos, and shopping malls. It was impossible for this antithesis not to affect my judgement of the place.
I got to the hostel, and with it being about 20 minutes out of town, it felt a bit less hectic. My roommates were nice, and I was informed the wifi was free so that was a bonus. It only works in the reception area though, so as I'm writing this I'm joined by about 12 others, huddled together on our phones and computers, like some sort of antisocial reception nerd crew.
I went out in the night on the club crawl organised by the hostel, where I met some really nice people. Alex from London and Vicky from Wales stand out. Vicky told everyone I could do the worm dance move. Dancing for me is already an embarrassing experience, so with the added expectation of dancing like Justin Timberlake it was a good job I was drunk. It was a really funny night, although it was the first time I felt like I was in the UK on a Saturday night. The streets were packed full of drunken revellers. I saw one guy being sick right next to me, and I saw a few fights being broken up. At about 3am we headed back and I slept like a log, mainly due to the beer consumption.
The next day I headed into the main centre of Surfers Paradise to see if I could find any redeeming features to the place. I struggled. Boy I struggled. Maybe it's just me, but it just really isn't my cup of tea. There's nothing but hotels and a rather tired looking beach. It feels like Blackpool without its rather shoddy Northern charm, or a wannabe Las Vegas without the pizazz. The weather was terrible too, just to add to the misery of the place.
The bad weather carried on into the night (a recurring theme at the moment!), so we stayed in the hostel bar and played pool. There wasn't much going on so I got an early-ish night with everyone else.
Today I decided to head to the beach with a group of people from the hostel. It was good as the sun finally made an appearance. Tonight I am going on another bar crawl organised by the hostel. There's quite a big group of us so it should be a good night.
To be honest though, I'm ready to leave this place. For those who like the idea of an Australian Benidorm then it's ideal, but for me, compared to the places I've visited so far, Surfers has struggled to leave much of an impression. I've booked my hostel in Brisbane and I am due to arrive on Wednesday. The hostel looks great, with a central location and a popular bar on site, so I'm really excited for that.
All my roommates have checked out, so it's just me and Reynold left. Reynold is one of the most interesting people I've met so far on this trip. He's 60 years old and is from Sweden, and after feeling depressed and stuck in a rut in his 20s, he was given the advice by his friend to start travelling the world, and he hasn't looked back since. His bag is covered in flags from the different countries he has visited. I find his story inspiring, as he has found his path in life and has discovered what makes himself happy. Go Reynold!
That's it for now. This blog might have sounded a bit miserable compared to the others. I have had a good enough time here, irrespective of my personal dislike of the place. Wednesday is Brisbane time, and after that things will get more geographically interesting. Fraser Island, Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef await as I travel even further up North, and I can't flipping wait.