Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Aussie Countdown

(Sticking on a few more pics from the sailing weekend. Above - attempted backflip gone wrong)

With just one week left to go in Australia, it suddenly feels like a strange, almost sombre piont in the big trip! Down here, the seasons are changing and we're heading from Autumn into Winter. Ditto for my year out. I've got just 3 months left (which still sounds a lot i guess!) and am coming towards the final straight. As with Belize, the fantastic time I've had here in Australia will soon be a memory. Great memories though, thanks to Keith (Coyote) Wylie, Ed(ipedia), Ness, Kate, Jezza, Dave, Jude, Richard, Sarah, loads of others, and of course Chris and Caroline.

Last Thursday I finished my voluntary work at Opportunity International. As with Belize and BCVI, I hope the work I did has some positive impact. I certainly got a lot of it.

So 3 months of holiday with no work at all - way hey! Now that it's just days until i leave, I'm at last getting pretty darned excited about the next part of the trip. Perhaps that's partly because last week it looked briefly as if it might not happen...

Because I've stayed on longer in Australia, I've made a bit of a change to the plan. After some thought I've decided to do:
  • 3 days in Cambodia (to see Angkor Wat)
  • 1 week in Nepal
  • 2 weeks in India, and then...
  • 2 month tour round southern Africa
Just as i started looking into flights on Wednesday - my round the world ticket gets me to Bangkok but I have to organise my own flights between Thailand and Kenya - I got an email from a friend talking about their recent trip to India, which was almost ruined because they didn't get their visa sorted in good time. Not having realised that I need a visa for India, this was quite a timely email!

When I checked online i found out that, sure enough, I do need a visa. And, disturbingly, the Indian Embassy website stated that it could take up to "14 working days". And there were just 6 working days left before I was due to fly out. After locating the embassy on the map, i headed straight over to the visa office. Upshot was that they could guarantee I would get my visa in time but only if I could show proof that i had alreay booked flights into and out of India... which I hadn't.

I crossed the road from the embassy 'in a state of high anxiety' and went straight into a Flight Centre travel agent, which just happened to be on the other side of the road. (On reflection, it’s probably there to take advantage of people in my predicament.)

At the counter I accosted a member of staff with: “I need to book a flight from Kathmandu to Delhi, and then another flight from Delhi to Nairobi… NOW!” startling a couple of Sydneysiders who were booking a Club18-30 holiday in Fiji (beats Benidorm I suppose).
I also had to apply for my Cambodia VISA online today. Because I needed to apply straight away and didn’t have my camera with me, I had to take the picture from this website and then ‘doctor’ it amateurishly in Microsoft Paint. Amazingly they accepted it and sent me confirmation of my visa within a couple of hours. John Howard take note…

So almost sorted. I should get my visa back on Thursday and I just need to book my flights to Cambodia now. Otherwise, hopefully it will be quite a relaxing last week here.
(This is just a pic I found from when Alan and I were out on the town in Sydney. Not sure where my Tintin quiff came from)

Lastly, i was recently amazed and amused to find that the Eurovision Song Contest was on tv here, and you even get Terry Wogan's commentary. The voting is always 'interesting'. It used to be just 10 or 12 countries and Sweden did well because Norway, Finland and Denmark always voted for them. This made other countries a bit peeved. (Though I think they also had to concede that the Swedes also benefitted from being a stunningly good-looking race of people. And then there was Abba who could come up with a decent song or two into the bargain...) Now it's a bit silly as there are so many balkan countries these days (about 17 and increasing by one every month i reckon) and if they all vote for each other then places like the UK - who have no friends (I blame Tony Bliar) - are stuffed. I note that Ireland has started to give us a sympathy vote, probably hoping we will reciprocate. Talking of reciprocation, there must be fantastic opportunities for game theory analysis. An infinitely repeated multi-period game with varying participants in each time-period... (thats a joke for economists - we dont get much to laugh about).

1 comment:

Graeme said...

Carrying on the Eurovision comment, I read yesterday that if all the eastern/balkan/baltic countries had not been allowed to vote, but had been allowed to take part, the top 5 would have been almost exactly the same as the actual winners. Not sure how that affects your game theory though as I definitely missed that lecture...
I hope that Cambodian immigration officials don't read travel blogs in their spare time...