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1. Haven't left yet | 2. Fiji, New Zealand | 3. Australia | 4. Australia, Indonesia | 5. Indonesia, Malaysia | 6. Thailand | 7. Cambodia, Vietnam | 8. China, Hong Kong | 9. Macau, China | 10. Tibet, Pakistan | 11. India, Nepal | 12. Nepal | 13. India | 14. Sri Lanka, India | 15. Pakistan, Iran, Turkey | 16. Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt | 17. Grand Finale

It's now August 22nd and the location is Singapore!

What I did since last entry, hmmm. Well from Adelaide I travelled up the centre of Oz(!) with a Scottish wanker (yo Sean!) as well as a few girls (Ylva from Shhhvveden, Monique - she's Hollish, Mandy from England and Manka from Slovenia). Stopped off in Coober Pedy, a very interesting opal mining town which is as close to an old west town as you'd ever hope to find (e.g. in the last 6 years the police station was blown up twice, the courthouse twice, the newspaper office three times and part of the hostel next door to ours burnt down while we were there - arson was suspected). Found an opal worth around $70 while doing some "noodling", searching through piles of dirt with a sieve.

After that it was on to Ayer's Rock (Uluru as the locals call it) and the nearby Kata Tjuta rocks and King's Canyon, all quite nice, don'tya know. After Alice Springs we made it to Darwin and did a 3-day tour of the nearby Kakadu National Park which was quite interesting, lots of Aboriginal rock art, beautiful views with a highlight being a trip up on a river loaded with crocs, we were in 4 person boats with outboard motors which we got to steer and had great fun whizzing around the river. Met the guy who was the inspiration for Crocodile Dundee, interesting chap.

From Darwin I flew to Kupang, on the island of Timor in Indonesia on June 29th. First bit of fun was being picked on by the immigration officer there, he wouldn't let me through without giving him a 'tip', US$10 (sorry Paul, had to give him that $10 you sent me for beer money). Not in Asia a half an hour and I'm bribing officials already, everything is just like I expected! :-)

From there it was a 16-hour ferry trip the next day to the island of Flores, as it turns out the worst ferry ride we had to endure mainly 'cos it was so packed with people. Over around 10 days worked my way through Flores (a very mountainous island, has 14 active volcanoes on it) seeing the sites and getting used to the Indonesian culture (people are very friendly, kids shout "Hello Mister" at every opportunity). Highlights there I suppose were Keli Mutu, a volcano with 3 crater lates all of different colours, some great hot springs near Bajawa and the ferry office burning down right beside our hotel in Labuan Bajo (buildings seem to have a habit of spontaneously combusting next door to me).

Did a 2-day boat trip from the west of Flores, taking in the islands of Rinca and Komodo, famous for containing the largest lizards in the world, the Komodo dragons. Rinca was pretty good as we saw 5 dragons at various stages on a trek through there, a couple of whom we saw up close chewing on the remains of a water buffalo carcass (they were only baby dragons, nothing much to worry about). A bat migration at sunset was another interesting bit we saw.

Made it to Sumbawa island where I split up with Dave the English guy I was travelling with (I wasn't up to taking an overnight bus to Lombok island after the ferry to Sumbawa). Hooked up with Ed (yo bro), another English bloke who I first met a couple of hours before I left Darwin waiting for a taxi from the hostel. Onwards it was to Lombok where highlights were climbing the local volcano, Gunung Rinjani (from whose rim you can see a massive crater lake surrounding a mini-volcano within Rinjani itself, quite spectacular) and my first experience riding a motorcycle which I hired for a day (US$4) and only had one disagreement with it (remind me not to go offroad on a motorbike again 'cos I seem to have a habit of ending up in cactus plants when I do). Travelling costs for the first couple of weeks is running at around US$11 (IRP7) a day, quite a big drop from Australia where I was averaging close to US$70 a day (yikes).

Onwards to Bali which was very nice, if you're into rice paddy fields at all you must go here. Spent a few days on the back of Ed's motorcycle (need a bike licence to rent them on Bali so I couldn't rent one myself - phew) and for 5 days we hired a small 4WD jeep and toured around the island with a couple of girls we'd found through an ad we posted looking for people to share the rental costs. Sunrise from Mount Batur was really good, it was unfortunate that my camera fell out of my pocket and was left behinf on the floor of the jeep unbeknownst to me until most of the way up the mountain so I've no photos of the view from here.

On Java we hit the main tourist sites: Mt. Bromo (spectacular volcano crater, itself nested in a massive crater along with 2 other volcanoes), Solo, Yogyakarta (from here we saw two very impressive temples, Borobodur - world's largest Buddhist temple - and Prambanan - a Hindu one) and Jakarta (where we picked up a job for a couple of days as extras in a historical film, a story in itself, we were Dutch soldiers, we shot guns, I had my own stunt double, I got to die horribly in a fire, Ed got to fly through the air attached to a wire - bizarre - oh yah, hello to fellow soldiers in arms Martin, Klaus and Detlef!). Ed flew to Singapore from Jakarta to extend his Indonesian visa so I'm now on my own ...

From Java I spent 2 days on a bus to get to the middle of Sumatra, Bukittinggi to be exact. Continuing on my performing career I landed myself the distinction of being the only westerner taking part in a local Independence Day parade, had to wear traditional dress and give a rendition of 'Silat' martial arts in front of the local chief of police, the head of the military and a member of the house of representatives! Don't ask, it's a long story, I'll tell it when I get back, sufficeth it to say it was an embarrassing but unforgettable experience.

In Bukittinggi there was a very interesting trek to an island closeby populated by a virtual stone age tribe, the Mentawaians but it takes 10 days and I didn't have enough time left on my 60 day visa to do it so that's why I headed to Singapore here and the intention is to go back to Indonesia for another while to do the trek and see more of Sumatra.

Indonesia was really good, very cheap, friendly people (particularly all the guys at the bus stations trying to overcharge us), the language wasn't too hard to pick up (they use the usual alphabet here which is good), a lot of spectacular scenery and stuff ... thumbs up.

Well, that's about it, thanks to all those who wrote to me in Darwin and Paul & Linda whose package I just picked up in Singapore, if anybody wants to write you can send mail to: MEANEY Michael, Poste Restante, GPO, Singapore, Singapore (underline MEANEY). I should be back here within a month and maybe again a month later, don't quite know! So long ....

1. Haven't left yet | 2. Fiji, New Zealand | 3. Australia | 4. Australia, Indonesia | 5. Indonesia, Malaysia | 6. Thailand | 7. Cambodia, Vietnam | 8. China, Hong Kong | 9. Macau, China | 10. Tibet, Pakistan | 11. India, Nepal | 12. Nepal | 13. India | 14. Sri Lanka, India | 15. Pakistan, Iran, Turkey | 16. Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt | 17. Grand Finale

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