Darwin daze

A lot of things seem like a good idea at the time:

that 12th glass of wine
telling that slightly off joke on the day you meet your prospective parents-in-law
entering a bike race in a far off land

Last night I stayed in a dormitory room in a hotel a couple of hundred metres from Darwin airport.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Close to the airport so I wouldn’t have to get up outrageously early to make the 4.30 am check in for my flight to Dili;  and a dormitory room – you get to share with a few like minded travellers, maybe meet some interesting people, and save a few bucks all at the same time.  What could be wrong with that?

After a brief look around Causarina I returned to the hotel  for a light dinner of fried rice outside by the pool.  With dinner done, I headed upstairs to bed.  My roomies turned out to be 4 blokes visiting Darwin for the weekend for the Tiwi Islands, en route to a couple of weeks in Alice where they were doing part of their carpentry apprenticeship.  Lively, polite, happy young fellas.  One of them used to play rugby for Australia until his hip exploded.  Or so he said.

There you go, you see.  You meet interesting people in a shared dormitory.  These guys were especially interested in football, and were happy to find a TV in the room on which they could watch, simultaneously, the Cats beating the Hawks in the AFL, some Rugby League game, and the opening of the Rugby world cup in New Zuhland.  They kept apologising for being there, for being between me and the bathroom, for walking in front of my bed on the way to get another stubby from the fridge, for being too loud, etc.  They were interesting, and apologetic.

An army recruitment poster flashed into my mind:

Join the Army
Travel the world
Meet interesting people
Kill them

Maybe that’s why they sleep army personnel in shared accommodation.  Not for budgetary reasons, but to prime them for fighting.

Don’ worry, they said.  After the footy we’re going out, and we won’ bother you after that.

And so they did.  Out to the casino.  “What time do you think you blokes will be back?”  ‘Bout 4 maybe.  4.30, praps.  Excellent – you guys can wake me up for my early morning check in.

Right on time at 4.10 am they rolled back in, accompanied by a nice sounding lady trying to persuade them that it really was time for bed, and no she wasn’t coming in, and look there’s someone else in the room maybe you should be a bit quiet.  No worries, I said.  I was already awake from the 3.30 am arrival of another traveller.

I reminded myself that Matty Goss had reportedly had only 4 or 5 hours sleep and a long day of travel before winning this year’s Milan San Remo, so maybe this less-than-perfect night was actually the ideal preparation for what lays ahead.  Except of course that I’m not Matty Goss.

So here I sit in the departure lounge at Darwin airport, filling in time until the plane boards, dreaming of breakfast and thinking how much nicer it’d be to have a private jet to take one from A to B – but how much less interesting.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Bulls
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 13:41:38

    Hi John, here we sit in our cosy house, eating some vegie soup and bracing for that horrid trip to Chaddy to buy school shoes with a reluctant teenager, while you are on an amazing adventure. Can’t wait for the next installment! love The Bulls xx


  2. Sandra Smith
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 15:33:53

    Hi John,
    See you’ve been getting all the … lol … ‘perks’ … of budget travelling. Don’t think about it too much you will have a lot more fun along the way I’m sure and whilst you are … lol … ‘ living-it-up ‘ over there, have a bit (just a small bit – Graeme would like that!) of sympathy for your family&friends who are still probably … in the cCcoold … .back here at home … take care & blitz’em too … regards SkSSmith


  3. scottsabode
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 17:43:46

    Oh dear. I clearly needed to have a talk with you before you set off.


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