We finally arrived in Sydney at about 6pm and headed straight for the park that overlooks both the harbour bridge and the opera house. It was a really good atmosphere on the bus as everyone was so excited about finally arriving.
Everyone was taking photos of each other and exchanging email address's and phone numbers.
When we finally pulled over we piled off the bus and started to take even more photos.
I had been in touch with Keri by email and text and when I got off the bus, she was there waiting for me with Fraser. It was brilliant to see them and I completely forgot about the bus and everyone on it as I hugged Keri and Fraser.
Lana wanted a big group photo, so I was called over to take part and Keri ended up with about 4 cameras around her neck as she was roped in to take the pictures of the group.
We all then jumped back onto the bus and into town towards Base Hostel where most of us are staying.
After queuing for about 45minutes to book in – Me, Donna, Jennifer Parsonage and Bev all had our room sorted, but there was a mess with Lisa s booking and she ended up in a different room for the night.
We all got ready and headed out for the last bus evening out. I met up with Keri and Fraser again and introduced them to most of the group while we chatted about the bus and what has been happening on it. Unfortunately, Keri and Fraser had to work in the morning and they said their goodbyes and went home – but I will definitely be seeing them again soon!
The bussers all got together and headed to another pub, led by Ray – who is an ex busser from Lanas last bus - Oz-bus 14.
We all had a pretty good night out and drifted home in dribs and drabs in the early hours of the morning.
In our room we were woken twice by people getting up and turning lights on and off, whilst getting their stuff ready to leave – Barstards!
Its now just before 11am and we are heading out for a last ride in the bus, courtesy of Rick, who is taking us on a tour of the city – After that we are on our own.
Oz-bus 20 – What were we thinking!?
Well its now journeys end – We have made it to Sydney and the bus is dead, long live the bus!
What must have been going on in our heads, when sometime early this year we all sat down separately either at home, or at work and saw the Oz-bus website? Most of us seemed t have a dream to travel and see the world, but after speaking with everyone on the bus over the course of the last 90odd days, it seems that most of the bussers booked the bus because they didn’t know where to start their adventure.
It has been an amazing time, meeting some people that I will still be talking to other peoples grand-kids about when I am greyer and older (I don’t think I ll ever have grand-kids of my own, so Ill have to bore other peoples!) I will talk about the bus family in a separate post, but for now I want to go over the trip itself and some of the most memorable moments. I wanted to list the top 10 sites or experiences, but after trying to make a list it is impossible. There is one definite stand out awe inspiring moment, which I will put at number 1, but the rest of the trip, well, there are too many to mention them all. I keep thinking about little things that maybe other people wont remember so to start here are a few of the smaller moments that made me smile at the time and make me smile again now.....
With Matt, Awal and Mark eating free cheese in Bruges, Skull licking, Being lazy and missing the train in Vienna with Becky, Frankie and Laura. Spooning and snorkelling on the Turkey boat trip.
Drinking with Bev, Donna and the girls outside the Hotel Alpine in Agra. Throwing stones at a broken toilet in the woods in Nepal with Matt, Awal, Kenneth and Michele. White water rafting, Sitting on the minibus roof in Kathmandu. Swimming with the local kids in Pokhara, Lana’s birthday night, Three days in Bangkok with ill Jennifer Parsonage. The tiger tour. Michele’s birthday fireworks. Buying rum with Lisa at 7am in Koh Samui. Getting my wallet nicked in Indonesia.
Steak lunch in Kuala Lumpur. The 2nd day in Pangadaran – The forest, the beach, body boarding and a steak – all with good friends – a great day. Barry calling a camel a c**t as we passed one in India. Talking to people on the bus about anything – especially, Bev, Donna, Jennifer Parsonage , Janet, Liv and Lisa. God, we have talked some utter shite over these last 12-13 weeks. But all of it was ace!!
That’s just a few, off the top of my head moments, There are far too many to go through them all, but here’s a list of my favourite moments overall from the trip. They aren’t in any order as I couldn’t
Australia – We have been here a week or so and already I can see why so many people want to come here to live. It is a beautiful place – modern, but with history. Clean and warm. It might be expensive, but most people are so welcoming and happy to see you that you immediately feel at home no matter where you are. We have only seen a small part of the country, but I’m definitely going to stay and see a lot more. Uluru was especially spectacular and I am determined to come back and climb it next year!
Everest – Nearly brought a tear to my eye. Such a stunning place to fly over and certainly one of the highlights. The flight was really well organised and the views just amazing. One day maybe, I will try to get closer, but on the ground.
Goreme sunset – with Becky and Laura. Our first really awesome sunset had just blown us away, when we started to make a quick video. Then the prayer to call started and seemed to be calling from all around us. It was perfect timing and the combination of good company, the myriad of colours in the sky and the eerie almost mystical sound made it one of my favourite evenings.
Budapest – Night out with Barry, Frankie and Becky. It was supposed to be me Frankie and Becky. But we ran into Barry as we were leaving the hostel and he came along with us. The sky that night was dark and stormy looking and when we visited Heroes square, the light was fantastic. This was the night I took the panoramic pic of the two girls in the square, before we got the old underground train to the city centre and sat having a great pizza and ice cream. It was just such a mellow evening with a really great bloke and two good girls. You wouldn’t ever put us all together and think we would get on, but Barry's sense of fun and his old stories made it another of my favourite evenings.
Dancing in Bali and Darwin. I’m not a dancer. Never have been and never will be, but because of the girls – Bev, Donna, Lisa, Jennifer Parsonage, Jaime and Mills I was dragged into clubs and for no apparent reason I danced my arse off!! Both nights were very different, but both were really good in so many ways! Cheers girls!!!
Chitwan. Blimey, when we spent the day in Chitwan I didn’t think anything would beat it. It started early with a boat trip down the river where we were nearly attacked by a crocodile (Other ozbussers still don’t believe us, but it DID happen.) Then we trekked through the jungle – our group with Awal, Matt, Me, Lisa and a few others came close to being chased by the Rhinos, got eaten by leeches and soaked to the skin in a torrential downpour. Then after a river crossing 15 metres away from two bathing Rhino, we headed back to the lodge. On arrival we had perfect timing and we were invited along to the elephant bathing along with Awal, Lana and Debbie. It was an awesome day and made even better, once again, by the people I spent it with.
Pangandaran. When we arrived in Pangandaran the day before it looked quiet, dull and empty – But the next day Anto took us on a tour of the national park and then to the beach where the sun shone and we all had swim in the sea. Then in the afternoon me, Liv, Jennifer Parsonage, Donna and Michele spent a couple of hours body-boarding. Then back to the hotel pool and for food before at night we went to the steakhouse and watched the last Grand Prix of the season. All in all a really full, but great day.
Kathmandu to India. A bus day like no other. Instead of being stuck in traffic jams and bumpy roads – we were treated to a picnic on top of a disused building, while we stared open mouthed at the Himalayas in the distance. The views today were the best so far on the trip and possible the best of the whole 13 weeks. Plus with the new girls on the bus – Maartje, Natalie, Cristina and Jennifer Parsonage there was a really good sense of excitement about the old bussers. The roads were also brilliant as they winded down through steep mountain passes. One of the great bus days!
Koh Samui – Some of the bus were disappointed with Koh Samui because of the weather, but for me it made it extra special. I love it when people gel in adversity and when I spent the afternoon in the 5 star hotel with the girls – Lisa, Bev, Donna, Jaime and Mills it was fantastic watching the storm around us whilst we got drunk in such beautiful surroundings.
The nights were good too, especially Michele’s birthday night with the brilliant firework display.
I manage to get up early a few times to see the sunrise and also to shop for rum with Lisa at 7am.
On the last day I had a lovely lie in till after lunch and then spent the afternoon with Jennifer Parsonage having lunch and wandered back to the hotel down the beach. If the weather was good, I don’t think most of what happened would have happened as we would just have lazed on the beach. That would have been good, but I LOVED every minute of what happened when we were there.
Turkey boat trip.
When me and Lisa didn’t get our Iranian visas we were forced to stay in Turkey and have 4 days on a gulet. Luckily for us, Awal also managed to get his paperwork lost for Iran and came along with us. From when the bus left us in Goreme till we met them again in Amritsar 9 days later, it was just the 3 of us and whoever we met along the way. We journeyed south, stayed in a tree-house, swam in the sea, met some very loud but very funny and cute Australian girls, we drank in a secret pub on an island and swam in pirates caves.
The whole 4 days on the boat just flew by in between eating great food and visiting all kinds of islands, coves and bays. The weather was superb as were all the other people on the boat. Paul and Heather, Elle and Kim, You-mee and Sue, the Italian dude in his tiny swimming trunks and his stunning girlfriend, whose name I cant remember. Tristan – who like me had a lot of fun with the Australian chicks – and of course Lisa and Awal, who made it a great time. It was a little sad to get back onto the bus when it was over!
My birthday in Istanbul.
This was just a great day. Nothing special happened during the day – just a bit of shopping in the grand bazaar, good company and lots of things to see. We spent a while on the rocks watching the boats pass by on the ocean. In the evening the power went off for a while and we sat in a street café, in the dark, with candles, drinking and chatting and waiting for the power to come back on before we could eat my birthday meal. I was given a card and as it was also my army retirement I was presented with the now infamous 'Gold watch', by Donna and Bev, which I now wear for special occasions. Just a really really good day and one of my best birthdays.
Nothing on the trip can touch the feeling that we had when we climbed the steps of Mount Bromo, peered into the crater of a live volcano and saw the lava bubbling just a few metres below us. It is one of those moments that will stay fresh in the mind forever and gives me goosebumps thinking about it now. We had been told that the volcano was closed as it was at level 2 (Possibility of eruption?) But he gang there – Me. Michele, Liv, Jennifer Parsonage and Kenneth decided to go along anyway ans see how close we could get to it. We thought there would be a locked gate or security of some kind, but we were able to just wander straight up the steps. When we reached the crater we all knew we were witnessing something really special – mother nature at her best blowing away anything that we had seen on the trip so far – in fact anything that I have ever experienced. Just amazing.
That’s my favourite parts of the trip. It was pretty difficult to come up with a list and there’s a lot of things that didn’t make it – The Taj, Golden Temple and Wagah border ceremony to name but a few. But this is my list and what I can take from it is that most of my special moments are due to the people who I was with rather than the places I was visiting. The places were pretty special but wouldn’t have been the same with anyone else. So a big thank you to everyone on Oz-bus 20, young and old - you have all been fucking great!