Annnnnd…..we’re back. Yo. How youz” Good, good, I’m fine as well. Ok, enough small talk, onto the updates. Here’s hoping some of you still check this on a regular basis. Its kind of been a regular thing for me, not updating my blog enough, and people lose interest and never check it again. And then I give up, and not bother writing anymore either. Its a vicious cycle.
How to fit half a month into a short, concise blog. That’s the mission…. After my 3rd successful dive in Cairns, without any bleeding lungs or the bends, I headed back down the south to continue my adventures, next stop, the hippy surftown known as Byron Bay. I’d heard a lot about a certain hostel in Byron, which had the true experience. When in a hippytown, live like the hippys. But I continued to shave and shower. I stayed at a hostel called the Arts Factory. It was the craziest place I’ve ever stayed in, for good reasons and bad ones. First off, I didn’t stay in the usual dorm-type room. I slept in a teepee.
That’s right, a 10 person teepee. Basically, it was like camping, but a lot more expensive. The inside of my humble aboad.
Though it was cool to start, the novelty wore off. It was kind of like glorified camping, but paying $28 bucks a night, which is on the steep end considering you’re in a large tent which was cold, had sand inside, and had a large number of insects (which I will get to later….lil bastards…), it wasn’t worth the price. But I wanted the experience, and an experience it was…. Hostel life at the Arts Factory was definately different. At the top, you can see a young Japanese couple attempting to learn how to fire juggle. Hint: start without fire. Now, my place of residence wasn’t the only odd one in The Factory. Like these huts which lined the swamp marshes which surrounded us. Often, I would walk around them, and see hippys sitting on their docks with straw in their mouth playing a guitar. Like a scene out of Deliverance. “SQUEEL PIGGIE!!” You could sign up for Didgeridoo lessons with “Dirk” seen here. People would carve their own and Dirk would oversee everything. I heard someone ask him, ” Is this pretty good”” Dirk said, (imagine a southern accent with an Aussie twist) “Yup. That’ll play reeeeaaaaaallllll niiiiice.” This is the staff sleeping quarters. A freakin’ double decker bus. Each level had 6 beds in it, and smelled like patchouli oil. Byron Bay is a hippytown, with surfing and insense aplenty. But a major destination of Byron, is the tiny town known as Nimbin. This is Nimbin, in all its glory. Literally. The main town stretches an entire block. And every nook and cranny is all covered in marijuana and related products. Its the main reason people visit Nimbin, and because of it, the police realize that the entire town, with its massive population of 321, would cease to exist if they were to arrest everyone for selling weed. I ended up meeting someone I knew from back home, a friend of a friend. We had ran into each other twice in Noosa, and for the 3rd time in Byron. We decided to no longer tempt fate, and stick together for a while. So along with an English bird, we rented a car and travelled to Nimbin. The drive up was purdy. Rolling hills, with fields and cows all about. I wanted to run out in the middle of them, singing “The Sound of Music”. The Hills were alive! Finally, we arrived in Nimbin, and within minutes, even seconds, we were surrounded by people asking us if we wanted any of the local’s finest. And as they say, “When in Rome….” (sorry Mom and Dad!) We wandered into the Nimbin Museum, where the sign read, “Come in and see the history of our little town” The “history” including tons of random, tripped out paintings, sculptures and messed up images. Whoa. There was nothing about history or culture. Nothing. Just messed. At the end of the musuem, the dealers were found. Aww….I get it. We ventured into one of the local establishments, and met some of the locals. Santa obviously takes his vaca’s in Nimbin before the big day. Oh Canada!! The guy was very happy to hear where we were from. Even with the no-teeth look of an old school hockey goon. Nimbin was crazy, and quite the “cultural” experience. Now that we were properly equipped, the next day was my birthday. Now every year, no matter what I plan, it always involves running to whatever bar, club, restaurant, bowling alley, McDonald’s or Chuck-E-Cheese in the pouring rain. One of the details of having a November birthday in Vancouver. But finally, for the first time in my life, my b-day was spent away from Van, away from BC and away from Canada. And this is what I had instead. The view from either side of my beach blanket. I know, I know, I’m surrounded by women, but the friends I was with chose the spot, not me. A nice day on the beach in Byron Bay. Now 2 weeks before, there was a shark attack at this very beach. A surfer had his arm munched on. So there were many warnings that this season was unusual with the sightings. And my birthday was no different. Now in the film, Jaws, Roy Scheider’s character runs out on the beach and yells, “Everybody out of the water!!” Fear and panic explode onto the beach, and frightened people run everywhere. But not here, and not on this day. As we were laying on the beach, soaking up the rays, a quick “WOOP” of the siren went off. We looked up, and saw a lifeguard slowly meandering down the beach on his ATV. Every so often, he’d ring his siren once, and motion people in from the water. He’d then continue down further, with one hand on the wheel, the other on his cheek. I thought it could be a warning for a riptide. Maybe a log floating in the water. Or a dangerous clump of seaweed that was dragging people into the deep parts. Concerned people would walk up to him, and I could hear him lightly comment about a shark. He must be kidding. But more and more people came up to him, and he stuck with his story. Finally, when the ATV was right in front of us, we could hear him. A 2 meter Mako Shark was just 4 meters off shore. WHAT”! And then he calmly continued down the shoreline. Most people came out of the water, slowly. Maybe stopped to get their boogie board or body surf that one more wave onto the beach. Others stayed out, and continued about their business. Thankfully, no one would be eaten on my birthday. But for the stupid lifeguards and people that didn’t really care, I kinda wished someone did. I stayed in Byron for another 2 days. Which kind of seemed a little foggy after our visit to Nimbin. Hmmm…. I was undecided when to go to Sydney, as I was planning on going closer towards the end of the month. But the annoying little critters in my teepee helped me decide. On the last day before I was supposed to check out or extend my stay, I woke up and was agitated on my calves. I looked down and saw bites. Hundreds of them. On my back, shoulders, arms, legs and chest. Bed bugs!!! The damned teepee was crawling with creepy crawlies, and I was eaten alive by them. So with their annoying help, I took it as a sign to leave and try to find a job in Sydney. Thanks lil guys! And since I’ve rambled on too much yet again, I’m going to save my travels to Sydney for the next blog. But it will soon. In fact, I will be totally updated as a Xmas gift to all of you. Its my way of not having to pay for postage for everyone. Isn’t that nice of me”! Happy Christmas (which is what the Aussies say….I know, it sounds stupid) Ry
posted Sunday December 2007