Along the years three places became very famous among the backpackers; they were known as the 3 K's: Katmandu (Nepal), Khao San road (Bangkok) and Kuta beach (Bali). So after leaving Australia I decided to check on the third one, Kuta beach.
I arrived at night on Sunday Jan 8th. It was raining a little. Checked in the hostel and left to check the nightlife. The first thing that I noticed me is that the streets are very narrow, some don't even have a sidewalk. You have to watch your back for the hundreds of motorcycles and scooters that dominate the streets. People on the shops keep asking you if you want to buy or rent things. You don't even have to look at them, they just approach you. Annoying!
The clubs and bars are concentrated on a main street. This is the place where a bomb exploded in a club in 2002 killing more than 200 people. Nowadays there is a shrine in its place.
The next day rained most of the time. Lots of rain! On Tuesday the weather got better and I decided to go to the beach. What a deception! The sand and the water were very dirty! The rain and the waves brought all sort of garbage onshore. Lots of plastic! Even if the beach was clean, it is nothing special! Lots of street vendors asking if you want to rent surfboards, want to buy a cold drink, souvenir, the original vegetation is gone! Maybe this place was nice 20 years ago, but now it is not anymore! I don't plan on going back. I got my ticket to Bangkok for Wednesday and i could not wait to leave! I'm sure the island of Bali has beautiful places, but Kuta beach is not one of them.
After 16 years I finally came back to one of my favorite cities in the world! Good weather, great beaches and a beautiful harbor. The city was packed with tourists, especially European backpackers. We walked around the town: the Rocks, where the city was born, the Royal Botanic Garden, full of flying foxes, the largest bat in the world and Darling harbor.
We visited a very interesting exposition in the state library about the exploration of Antarctica called Finding Antarctica. Its discovery was linked to the exploration of Australia and to the mythical southern land called Terra Australis Incognita that was believed to exist since the Greek times. The greeks were right!
We also visited the Sydney Aquarium in Darling harbor, one of the best I have ever been (the other being Monterrey Aquarium in California). They had two species of giant crabs that I have never seen alive before; the Tasmanian giant crab and the Japanese spider crab. Amazing creatures!
On the weekend we took the ferry to Manly and relaxed on the beach. This is must-do trip when in Sydney!
I hope next time I will be back sooner.
A happy and free green turtle
On our last day in Long Island in Whitsundays, me and Elaine did a one hour track to an isolated beach on Sandy bay. As soon as we arrived, Elaine noticed a marine turtle stuck in between the mangroves branches. It wasn't moving and it looked dead. It probably got caught by surprise by the ebbing tide (the tidal range in those islands can be pretty large). I decided to investigate and when I got close I noticed that it was still alive! I picked it up and it started to flap its flippers like crazy! I put it down at the beach and took some pics. Soon after it went back to the sea. Later I read that this time of the year the green turtles swim close to the islands to procreate. Happy to have saved an endangered species!
The Whitsunday islands is an archipelago of 74 islands located 1000 Km north of Brisbane. It is a great location for sailing, snorkeling and diving. Most of the islands are parks and the original vegetation is intact. Dozens of desert beaches, including the famous Whitehaven beach, look pristine, just like when the islands were discovered in 1770 by Capt James Cook. This was my first time and I just followed the tourist crowd. I did one dive at Knuckle reef, snorkeling and visited Whitehaven beach. Next time I would like to charter a yacht with friends and visit at our own pace.
Cape Byron lighthouse
Byron bay is a very popular beach town with great surfing and a famous lighthouse. It is the most powerful in Australia and it is located in the easternmost point on mainland. The main beach is very long and you can walk for hours. Some areas are optional clothing. The nightlife is good and the vibe is a mix of surfing and hippie crowd. It is definitely worth a visit!