Overland Track

Trip Start May 20, 2005
Trip End Jun 10, 2006

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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, March 10, 2006

Listening to: Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger
Reading: Fast Food Nation, Eric Scholosser

Where in the world is Kareem?

I must confess, I did not read Fast Food Nation in Australia. Rather, I spent my time with family and friends, went on a news binge and ate my bodyweight in steak. Welcome to the developed world...

In fact, this blog was written in Thailand a month ago. I'm now back in the States at the end of my trip. How did I get around the world and back in just one blog?

I spent a month in Australia then another in New Zealand. I hit Fiji and Hawaii like a cyclone before making landfall in the People's Republic of Berkley (California). I spent six weeks in the continental US mainly in the Bay Area, Houston, New York and New England. Then it was back to England on the last segment of my round-the-world ticket.

Once there, I dropped my plans to spend most the summer in the UK and Europe, mainly for cost reasons (the currency exchange was killing me). I took advantage of London's great deals on air tickets and headed to Thailand for significantly less money than it would have cost me to train around Europe. More climbing on Ton Sai; I won't bore you. On the return leg, I stopped off in the UK, Holland, Germany and Athens to spend more time with friends and family.

Additionally, I found it difficult to write about the developed world. Most of you live in it and would probably be bored. As I said, I spent most of my time with friends and family rather than having adventures in odd corners of the Earth. Transport is better as well, which cuts about half of my creative stock for stories. :)

Besides this blog, please look out for the final one on New Zealand which will be out shortly.

So, now I am back in the States and my trip is over. At this point, I'm very eager to settle down and stop living out of a suitcase. My target cities are New York, San Francisco and Austin. I head up to New York City next week to begin my job search. My main focus at this point is a job in the banking-cards-software world. And ideas you may have are welcome.

Tasmanian Road Kill

It was late and we were late. After a frustrating attempt to take a kitch photo in front of Baghdad, Tasmania's only pub, my cousin Taher, his fabulous partner Lucy and I headed towards the wilderness. They had flown down from Adelaide to join me on the Overland Track through the heart of the island's pristine wilderness.

We set off again into the night. After a day of driving, I was amazed at the amount of road kill littering the shoulder. At night it was worse. Tasmania's wildlife was not adapting well to the introduction of man's machines. But the road kill was a great introduction to the island's fauna: Qualls, Wallabies, Wombats, Possums and other flattened fuzzies.

Tasmania is without a doubt the most foreign natural environment I've ever been. I felt like I was on the movie set for a dinosaur epic. Huge prehistoric trees, weird grasses, bogs and moors. You almost expect to be carried off by a giant dragonfly.

In this other world, I was constantly on the back-foot when it came to the island's plants and animals, especially the dangerous ones. Australia is renowned for having the highest concentration of poisonous creatures on the planet. As I stepped into the bush, "What will kill me?" passed through my head as if on a loop.

My first real encounter with (living) wildlife occurred on the first day of the Track. It was a Wombat. To me, it looked like a brown bear and something best not to tangle with. I hid behind Lucy until she said they were totally harmless and slow to boot.

My real fear was snakes. I've always been afraid of snakes. In Tasmania, as I was informed, there were two deadly varieties. Both use grooves in their teeth rather than fangs to deliver their venom. Sounds weird to me. I was further freaked out to hear repeated stories about the snakes' ability to strike unsuspecting prey from overhanging bushes and trees. I was told on the last day that no one had died since the early 1970s and that was more from shame and ignorance. Apparently, the aborigine cure was to lay under a tree and sleep.

On the last night of the trip, I walked out on a pier on Lake St. Clair to relax after dinner. Because of its far southern latitude, Tasmanian weather is erratic and wet. The scattered clouds were blowing fast, giving quick glimpses at the moon and stars. At some point, I got cold and decided to head back to the hut.

But wait! My eyes met those of a Possum, shining an evil red. He was on a tree, about even with my head, and blocked the path. After overcoming the initial fear of it lunging at me like a Jaguar, I thought about everything I knew: they've got a dirty reputation as pests but aren't dangerous. However, if they spook, Possums may think you are a tree and try to run up you, a single claw on each foot digging into your flesh.

At that, I retreated back to the end of the pier and listened to the end of a fine Willie Nelson album. Sure, the Possum was harmless, but in a way, I liked the idea of being in a slightly alien world for one last night.
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