The Last Post

I write this having been back in the cold, wet and windy UK for a couple of weeks. This has given me time to adjust to what is, quite frankly, a far more mundane existence. It has also given me time to reflect on my trip.

My trip has been an amazing experience and I have many memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Pretty much everything I have done on the trip has been fantastic but there have been two real highlights that stand out.

The first is the 6 days I spent on the South Island of New Zealand. I loved the wonderful scenery and doing some amazing things including whale watching, a heli-hike onto Franz Josef Glacier and jet boating.

Whale watching at Kaikoura

Whale watching at Kaikoura

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Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier

Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

The second highlight was the week in India touring the “Golden Triangle” with G Adventures. I loved travelling through such a vibrant country seeing some amazing sights, experiencing the culture and eating some absolutely fabulous food.

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Jaipur

Jaipur

Palace of the Winds

Palace of the Winds

Trying to make a puri

Trying to make a puri

Amber Fort

Amber Fort

I have seen some amazing sights Including:-

Uluru

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The Taj Mahal

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Sydney Harbour

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The cricket obviously didn’t go according to plan. I watched every one of England’s losses to Australia and became increasingly resigned to the entirely predictable nature of these defeats. Disappointing as the cricket was it gave me a base to explore the great cities of Australia. I was part of the world record attendance for a test match at the MCG on Boxing Day.

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Some stats!! My trip took me away from home for 79 nights. I travelled in 5 countries – Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India and the United Arab Emirates. I went on 17 flights and travelled with 8 different airlines. I stayed in 20 different hotels. So making all these flights certainly means I have had an impact on the environment. All the air miles equate to 4.85 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The driving I did in New Zealand, 1095 kilometres, added a further 0.26 tonnes of CO2 emissions. I am investigating what I can do to offset this.

Best airline – QANTAS. I flew with them more than any other airline. Great service delivered by “real people” not the archetypal young “trolley dolly” you find elsewhere.

Best airport – Dubai. Space age. Roomy. Waterfalls!

Worst airport – Goa International Airport. Dirty toilets and rowing cleaners. Make sure you scan your luggage first! I also had issues at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport with baggage coming off the wrong carousel and lengthy queues for biosecurity checks.

Favourite hotel – The Point, Brisbane. Great service and a room with a fantastic view. Well located for the Gabba and the free boat service into central Brisbane. I also had fantastic service and food at the Resort Terra Paraiso in Goa. Excellent towel and pillow art by housekeeping!

View from my room at The Point, Brisbane

View from my room at The Point, Brisbane

Free city hopper boat service in Brisbane

Free city hopper boat service in Brisbane

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Housekeeping art at Resort Terra Paraiso, Goa

Worst hotel – Great Southern Hotel, Sydney. Room very dated and felt claustrophobic

Favourite cricket stadium – Sydney Cricket Ground. Blends futuristic new stands with well preserved old pavilions.

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Worst cricket stadium – The WACA, Perth. Little shade and needs urgent redevelopment.

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So would I do it again??? The trip has been very much a once in a lifetime opportunity. It has cost a pretty penny and I now need to start earning again. 11 weeks away is a long time and there were times particularly around Christmas and New Year when I was really starting to miss family. Keeping in touch through instant messaging, email, FaceTime and Facebook has been invaluable. When you can talk to somebody and see them on screen the world does not seem such a big place.  I have loved experiencing the different countries and cultures and a much better climate. So yes I would definitely do a big trip again but not for as long.

Has the trip changed me??? Well I don’t feel any different. It may have given me a different perspective on a few things. The trip has definitely given me the desire to travel more and explore further some of the places I have been to.

A successful trip can only take place with help from others. I have had great support from friends and family. They seemed to think my trip was a much bigger deal than I thought myself and showed this with a great send off before I went away. I was worried about my house being left empty for an extended period of time. Thanks to Mum and Dad and my next door neighbours Kathryn and Steve for keeping an eye on it for me whilst I was away. My house remained totally intact whilst I was away but ironically suffered storm damage within a week of my return!

A big thank you to my travel agents, Round the World Experts, and in particular Nigel Wright for turning my dreams into reality.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. I have enjoyed writing it and it is something I can always look back on. The blog seems to have generated quite a lot of interest – It has had over 4300 views and over 100 comments.

Finishing the blog helps me put the trip “to bed” and allows me to focus on the next phase of my life which starts with the search to generate an income.

My first ever camel ride in the Dubai Desert

My first ever camel ride in the Dubai Desert

Third Ashes Test at Perth – Day 1

After checking out of the Novotel I headed off to the WACA. Just before you get to the ground there is a wonderful park to walk through. At 10am you could already feel the heat. A maximum temperature of 38 degrees C was forecast.

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I have to say that compared to the Gabba and Adelaide Oval, the WACA is a disappointmenf. It feels very out of date, there is little shade and facilities aren’t great. Long queues for drinks for example. The stands are a hotch potch and some are temporary. Surely it needs redeveloping?

The view from my seat

The view from my seat

I had a good view of the action but no shade until around 3.30 when the sun disappeared behind a floodlight. The sun and heat were relentless. I drank loads of water to keep hydrated. At times I felt seriously uncomfortable. At lunchtime I returned to the park to lay in shade under a tree. I saw people being treated by paramedics. Am not sure how the players kept going..

My seat is on an aisle and for most of the day the seat next to me was empty. Before lunch a guy called George appeared and sat next to me. He is an English guy who had flown in overnight from Singapore where he works recruiting commodities traders. He was alone as his mate was delayed on to a later flight as he had forgotten to sort out his Aussie visa. This illustrates how close Perth is to South East Asia. The flight from Singapore is around 5 hours. Later in the day I met another England cricket fan who had flown in from Singapore for the match.

On the pitch, Alastair Cook lost the toss again and Australia batted. There was one change for England with Bresnan coming in for Panesar. England got off to a decent start and soon after lunch the Aussies had lost 5 wickets and scored only 143 runs. The possibility of bowling Australia out for less than 200 seemed a distinct possibility. It should be pointed out that the wickets were due to bad batting much more than good bowling.

A stand between Haddin and Smith then developed. Haddin got another 50. His 4th consecutive half century in this series. He eventually was out for 55. Smith carried on and got his century. At stumps the score is 326-6. After that good start only one more wicket falls. England let the Aussies off the hook. We seem to have lost our ruthless streak. The bowling was not good today with too many short balls.

So the Aussies are on top after day 1. It wont be long until the ashes are back with them.