Entry 9:

Traveling insights and the nightmare of every traveler!

Bold words point at a picture on this page

Did I build a little suspense? Do you want to know what happened and why I'm waiting in Hervey Bay? No, I was not arrested, or lost the keys of my rental car, or fell in love.... Nothing like that all! No, instead...

...I'm going through every traveler's nightmare: I lost my f$%#ing wallet or it was stolen, I don't really know. The last time I saw it was last night around 10pm when I bought some chips for our group. About three hours later when I wanted to go to a nightclub and pay the entrance fee, it was gone. Even my immediate search and the retracing of my steps in those three hours did not help. It's gone. What was in it? It contained $70, two credit cards (one Austrian (VISA), one American Express), my American driver's license, my Michigan student ID, and several other things of minor importance. At night I called my parents with my last 40 cents. All I said was: "lost wallet - cancel VISA - will call tomorrow". At first, my Dad probably thought of an obscene call but luckily he understood my message and canceled my card. After searching for an hour or so I went to bed.

Today, I canceled my other card. I will receive my AMEX card in 48 hours in Brisbane - almost like in the commercials. I decided to stay in Hervey Bay for one more day, just in case my wallet is found. This gives me time to do my laundry and catch up on my reading and writing. Thus this entry is not only about my nightmare but also about traveling in Australia overall.

First of all Australia drives on the wrong side of the street. Well, they tell you it is the right side but, sorry, it just does not seem right - for me anyway. My always probing mind (yeah, right, you wish!!) has yet to find out (surprised? I'm not!) which side really is better. As long as you have a car that is driven on the proper side (right when wrong, left when right - got it?) I think it does not matter.

Secondly, highways in Australia are not really highways. They are like two way roads in Austria or the States, sometimes even worse. Bruce Highway - the major highway on the east coast - is one of those roads. Only when you approach a city it sometimes is divided. The speed limit is 100 km/h. But there are some trial zones (even marked as such) where you can drive 110 km/h (whoa!). But overall I have to admit Australians are good drivers and very disciplined. They almost hold the speed limit and they don't drive very aggressively.

I decided not to drive at night. I did it once and because I'm not used to the wrong side, every time a car passes by I am scared to death that I'm on the wrong side and that I will crash into it. Call me stupid but that's how I feel. Maybe it'll change when I am used to driving here.

Streetsigns are also different. We have all seen them but it is a funny feeling to go past them for real. "Kangaroos - Next 10km", "Koalas" (by the way it is hard to believe that these cute, lazy animals cross any street at any time at all - they just seem to lazy to do it), dingoes, and several other "strange" animals. It's really unusual - for a European at least.

Another interesting Aussie expierence is that drivers get free coffee at any gas station or special coffee stations. This is done so that drivers don't fall asleep on those long and straight roads through Australia. By the way, did you know there are 18 to 20 million people in Australia? That's less than there are in London during a normal workday. Amazing, huh?

Lastly, driving alone is not always fun. Especially when you have to go through a 100km zone with nothing but trees and random cars passing and NO RADIO STATION. The main radio stations can only be found around towns and cities. On my way down from Cairns I had to drive through several kilometers without any sign of human life (except for the passing cars) and no radio signal. That's when you start talking to yourself - and that's not a healthy development. But hey, by now I am capable of having a full blown conversation about anything with myself or was it with that guy who suddenly sat next to me in my car, or .....

Today it's Saturday, July 6. And the lost wallet finally turned out to be helpful - I met some German friends again (I met them during my trip to Uluru) and one of them will accompany me when I drive to Brisbane and I might even be able to stay with his brother - "there is nothing bad that does not have a good side to it" as my parents would say!

Bowling - a very popular sport for older Australians
Streetsigns always also contain main cities around the world - but where to Vienna?

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