Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Port of Amsterdam

Click here to see what I've been up to since March 2005

It's an old Jacques Brel song and it's also where I am headed. I'm going for a job and if I get it, I'll be there for a year or more. I had a phone interview about a week ago and then got on a plane to Fiji, first stop on the way home.

Before leaving Auckland I managed to do a bit of sailing. I found a French bloke called Fred who wanted an extra crew member for his yacht, a slim built 45 footer called Cervantes. We went for a cruise up the coast and back again the same day. Not the ocean crossing I was hoping for but still fun.

I didn't get up to much else in Auckland except a few bits of work, I just needed a holiday from travelling if that makes any sense. One day I volunteered to be a model for one of my housemates who is studying to be a make-up artist. Here's the result, Nikki sixx from Motley Crue:

Fiji is amazing, not that I really saw much of it, about 500 square yards of sand to be exact. I spent 3 days on South Sea island which is so tiny you can walk round it in a few minutes. Kayaking round is more of a challenge and if you get bored with that you can always go snorkeling, sailing or do a few lengths in the pool. Here's a picture of the island:

You can find the rest of my Fiji pictures here

There were about 10 of us staying overnight and the staff organised amusing and embarrassing games every night. I met an interesting guy called Mark, from Canada and on his first major trip away. I liked the way he talked about subjects people normally avoid like politics and religion. Mark and Phil (a German diving fanatic) were they only other blokes and there were plenty of women to keep the conversation going when one of us dug ourselves into a hole. All in all, it was paradise. If I ever go back to Fiji, I'll be sure to spend a couple of days on South Sea.

I'm in San Francisco now, in the lobby of a hostel using a wireless internet connection on my laptop. There are about 5 different wireless networks in range, it's all pervasive - another kind of paradise, somewhere I'd like to live. It's beautiful and sunny today, this morning I took a boat to Alcatraz island to see the old prison:

Notice the seagull making a bid for freedom. Officially nobody has escaped from Alcatraz and survived but there are 3 who went missing without a trace so you never know.

Now onto the real point of this post: Dom's travelling days are numbered. How to end the blog? How does the journey end? Does it ever really end? I have no idea. All I know is that I've had a great year and I reckon the next one is going to be even better. I'm not counting my chickens but it looks like I've got a job in the capital of all things forbidden, and my girlfriend Linda (who's irish) is moving out there to join me. Funny how I refused to move to Ireland and she refused to move to London and now fate has provided us with a workaround.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading about my travels over the last 11 months, I wish you well wherever you are!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


South Island Road Trip

South Island road trip
Here are some pictures from my mini road trip round the South Island:

wildlife, walking and kayaking
ice climbing
Christchurch and Auckland

Since the trip, I've been catching up with friends and meeting some new ones. Krissy had her baby while I was on the road – a little girl called Ruby. I was lucky enough to spend a day with Dan, Krissy and Ruby in Christchurch, she's gorgeous and growing really fast, more than an ounce a day apparently. Dan and Krissy are as relaxed as can be in the circumstances, even managing to move house when Ruby was only a few days old. One day soon you'll get a good night's sleep guys!

Now I'm back in the North Island for the next few weeks, keeping an eye out for a sailing boat that needs crew and doing a bit of work in the meantime. I've rented a room in Mount Eden a few miles south of Auckland. Mount Eden itself is one of the many extinct volcanoes around Auckland, I reckon it's a nice place for a run, although so far I've only walked to the top. You can see my house from there.

A couple of days ago I met up with Phil (a kiwi I know from London) and he took me on a tour round Auckland's neighbourhoods. We live about half an hour's walk from each other, which is pretty close considering Auckland covers a bigger area than London.

So, back to the road trip. I caught up with my travel buddies Bec, David and Lu in Dunedin and we set off down the coast in their campervan (named Jamie). I got on with everone really well, the girls called me Dom Juan which I didn't mind :) We agreed to share expenses and keep things as frugal as possible to save money for fun activities like kayaking. Sounded good to me and we managed very well thanks mainly to David. For example, when the power steering sprung a leak, his response was not to bung the van in a garage and pay $200 or more, oh no, we fixed it ourselves with some borrowed tools at a cost of about $50. So while the girls went (window) shopping, we boys had fun poking around in the engine and getting our hands dirty. I was enjoying myself already and the trip had only just begun. David is a photographer and he was able to teach me a few things I hadn't already learned from my dad. This was taken near one of the campsites we stayed at.

For the first week we used Te Anau as our base. We took a boat trip on the famous Milford Sound, spent 4 days walking through spectacular terrain and getting rained on, followed by 2 days on crystal clear lake Te Anau in our own Kayaks. The walk was the greatest challenge for all of us. I found it hard on my shoulders, the waist straps on my backpack having long ago been ripped off by a baggage conveyor. I love walking though so it was more than worth it, especially on the last couple of days when the sun came out. I had fun leaping across the parts of the track that were waterlogged and taking pictures when the others arrived at the same spot.

Kayaking was great fun too and very idilic, clear water, clear sky, no wind, and we only saw a couple of other boats as we paddled up into one of the lake's massive fjords. Here is a picture of our overnight camping spot.

After all that hard work, we had a couple of days off and camped for free by the river in Arrowtown. There's a great cinema there, the kind where you get an armchair and can drink beer. We watched Motorcycle Diaries, great film.

We carried on heading north to do a two day walk, some of us more or less reluctant to throw our packs on our backs again after the last one. This time we splashed out and stayed in a hut so we didn't have to carry tents. The walk was easy and we were rewarded with a dip in some hot springs. I could have spent hours in there if it wasn't for the sand flies (like midges but bigger and they give you a bite that itches for days).

That was about the end of the road for the four of us, Lu had to get to Auckland in a hurry to catch a flight and I was ready to settle down for a bit, having been on the road since October. Last stop – Franz Joseph Glacier. Bec and I went ice climbing with a Danish fellow whose name I don't remember and our guide who was called Mike. We strapped on crampons and grabbed hold of two really leathal looking ice axes each. We got to do 4 climbs and the last one was so tough that none of us made it to the top – I wanted to go back the next day and have another go.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


The Land of NZ

Here I am in Christchurch at last - a little haven of civilisation that could almost be British except that it's far too civilised. My mum and my little bro have flown back home where they are getting on with normal things like work and study, while I am let loose once again into the world of backpackerdom. We've just had a lovely couple of weeks touring round in rented cars, eating good healthy food and staying in little wooden cabins. We've argued about everything from the merits of Lonely Planet v.s. Rough Guide to the recipe for cheese sauce. Somehow we've managed to find time to see a bit of New Zealand in between. My brother Alex insists on calling it 'The Land of NZ' (pronounced NUZ) and even though it's not even slightly amusing, the habit is catching - hence the title of this blog entry.

Here is a link to our New Zealand Pics (it's same one I sent out on email recently)

Having caught the airport shuttle into Auckland City centre, I checked into the YHA, still mourning the loss of my macademia nuts. I managed to find out which room mum and Alex were staying in and seeing them again cheered me up no end. Next day we picked up our campervan and started driving up the east coast (after spending a good half hour trying to get on the motorway in the right direction). The Weather was reasonably warm and fine and we found a decent motor park (campsite) in Waiwera (literally 'warm water') a few ks north of Auckland. As the name suggests there are Hot springs nearby and we spent a relaxing morning messing about at the thermal resort.

Our first big adventure together was a diving trip in Tutukaka. People don't normally associate New Zealand with diving but this place was awesome. It wa definitely worth putting up with initial sensation of chilled water seeping into our extra thick wet suits. We swam through forests of kelp, home to giant stingrays, giant stargazers and some very inquisitive multicoloured fish whose name I don't know. Here's me and Alex getting ready to dive:

Next stop Bay of Islands where we spent Christmas and Boxing day. Our Christmas tree, looked like this:

I got loads of presents, mostly books, oh and a new digital camera, so if you notice the quality of pictures improve from here onwards it doesn't necessarily mean I've become a better photographer. I got a chance to test it out the next day when we went on a sailing trip and saw some dolphins:

We stopped off on our journey to visit Waitangi, where in 1840 the brits somehow managed to persuade a load of Maori chiefs to sign over the entire Land of NZ. It was fascinating it has to be said and we had a chance to see a Maori tribe doing some Haka (dances). They were really great. Most of the dances were kind of happy sunshine dances, unlike the haka made famous by the NZ rugby team. It made me wonder why the Maori settled in a place with such a rubbish climate (the weather has been shocking since we arrived).

The weather thwarted my attempts to take us out fishing for a day, sea kyaking and 'blo-karting' were cancelled for the same reason. So we carried on up the coast, finally catching some good weather at north tip of the north island where we took pictures of the lighthouse before heading back down the coast again. We spent New Year in Thames in the cutest wee caravan you can imagine. I was knackered after a long drive and went to bed soon after midnight, only reading half a page of Dave Gorman's book "Are you Dave Gorman" before falling asleep.

We spent the next morning on Hot Water Beach which is a bit of a misnomer if you ask me - the water was freezing cold. Having said that, there were plenty of surfers out that day. We had a bit of a paddle and congratulated ourselves on having made it to 2005 while our friends in Europe still languished in 2004.

video of a surfer on hot water beach

Next stop Rotorua, land of geysers, boiling mud pools and steaming rivers. We saw loads of hellish sights whilst sniffing the sulfurous air. I took a few videos with me new camera. You'll need Quicktime installed to see them (available from Apple's website)

bubbling mud
Pohutu geyser
alex letting off steam
boiling lake
boiling pool at hells gate

Rotorua is also famous for rafting and we were supposed to be going but some idiot screwed up our booking grrrrrrrrrrr. Well, if you can't go rafting, I recommend a game of boiling pooh sticks:

From here we went back to Auckland. Alex flew home to London and mum and I flew to Christchurch in the South Island. Mum only had a couple of days before she needed to be back in the UK so we took a short trip down the coast to Omaru where the main attraction is penguins. There are 2 colonies of Little Blue Penguins one of which live next to a public viewing platform. We weren't allowed to take pictures here but there are Yellow Eyed Penguins just around the coast and we could take pictures of them, from a distance. This is the best shot we managed to get:

After waiting 2 hours to see this little fellow penguining his way up the beach we went to watch 74 Little Blue Penguins coming home after a hard day's fishing.

Next day we carried on down the coast the beach at Moeraki to see some huge boulders that look like they have been laid by diplodocuses:

According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked here 1000 years ago. The scientific version is a bit boring and probably wrong anyway so I won't bother repeating it.

So, mum's gone home and I've just met up with Krissy, Dan and Carlin who used to be my housemates in London a few years ago. It's great to see them again, so much has changed. Dan looks stockier, Carlin looks taller and Krissy has a huge belly - well she's pregnant so that figures. We've been catching up and discussing our plans for the future.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Anything to declare?

Most of the people from our trip have been passing through customs and saying goodbye to Australia for now. I had my Macadamia nuts confiscated as I went New Zealand through customs yesterday. Australia has been the road trip of a lifetime, here are a few pictures from the last leg:

First stop Airlie beach for a sailing and scuba trip around the Whitsunday Islands

From here we split in 4 and went our separate ways. Paul, Linda and I travelled in Bertha, Steve and Amanda sped off in Big Bird, Rachel took the bus and Debbie and Chris cruised down the coast in Yogi (Scooby). We were all to meet up again in Sydney a couple of weeks later with the exception of Rachel who is still having fun in Brisbane

Linda, Paul and I visited a couple of islands as we went down the east coast. Fraser Island was definitely the highlight - we took Bertha over and did loads of rally driving on the sandy tracks through the rain forest. I was dead proud of her - we even towed an aussie who was stuck in his jeep!

Back on the road - time was running out for most of us and I was keen to get to Sydney and give myself a couple of weeks to sell Bertha.

Here we all are together again (briefly) in Sydney.

And again, minus the ladies from Ireland - they flew home the day before

And finally, the car market in Kings Cross. This is the best way to sell out of state cars in Sydney but it means sitting under ground for as long as it takes. Eventually I met a couple of Dutch backpackers willing to part with 1800 Euro for Bertha.

I managed to break up the monotony by taking a morning off to go sky diving. Here are a few clips that you can download.

Jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane (8MB)

Cup of tea in mid air (7MB)

Slow motion clip (33MB)

Click here to see the rest of the pictures from this part of the trip.

Paul is a better photographer than me and he's let me put some of his pictures online, click here to have a look

I'll leave you with some contributions from the people I met along the way:

The Darwin Crew

From left to right: Amanda, Steve, Rachel, Thorsten, Paul, Dom, Austrian chick, Debbie, Rachel, Vaughan, Linda

Linda from Dublin (Ireland)

Definitley the deadliest trip I have ever been on or ever will go on. Met the most amazing bunch of people that I will miss terribly. Especially Bertha. I wouldn't change a thing probably just hope that we could of all met up earlier along the line. What an experience. Alrite our Kid. Can't wait to see yis all again. Love Linda xxxxxx

Debbie from Dublin (Ireland)

Hey everybody, I had the most amazing time ever. I miss you all so much
especially, getting abuse of drunken Paul. Getting kicked out of pubs thanks
to Amanda trying to kill the bouncers. German phsycho trying to kill us en
route to Cairns. Dom trying his best to organize nine people in the one
direction, (unsuccessfully). Rachel's Houdini act. Not to worry I can still
wake up beside Linda feeling a bit sticky. What can I say about Chris ;-).
And this was all thanks to Steve feeling sorry for two crazy Irish bitches.
Couldn't of picked a better group to travel with and I'm not forgetting Big
Bird, Yogi and Bertha. Miss you all I can't wait to see you all for a big
session. Love yis Debbie. xxxxxxxx

Paul from Sunderland (UK)

Steve - a southerner living in Newcastle (UK)

Amanda from Perth (Australia)

Chris from Seeland (Holland)

I'm sure the story doesn't end here, there has been some talk of a reunion in northern england some time in April

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Darwin to Cairns

Don't know where to start... Remember I said I was going to go on a road trip with 6 other people? Well, it turned out to be 7. It's been amazing, really really amazing and about as stressful as travelling gets. Today I got angry and lost it big time for the first time in as long as I can remember. Felt great, especially as everyone is so understanding, we have been taking it in turns to throw wobblers all through the trip.

We've covered something like 3000km since my last post and seen some truly amazing scenery. The experience of travelling in a group of 8 with 2 vehicles is one I would not swap for anything. Despite the odd wobbler here and there, I've fallen in love with all my travel buddies in a big way and I know it's going to be tough saying goodbye. Tomorrow we lose Torsten as we head off down the coast and he stays here in Cairns.

I've not really introduced everyone properly so here goes. Torsten is from Germany and is a Darwin recruit, he the baby of the group but that doesn't stop him from dishing out orders and sorting out our finances. Steve and Rachel we know from Perth and to this mix we can add Paul who was also there at the same time as us. Debbie and Linda are two Irish travellers who we met in Darwin and have been an absolute pleasure to have along. They are truly nutty and refuse to take anyone's bickering seriously, particularly Linda who I have a real soft spot for. We met Amanda in Darwin too, she has European parents but is a true aussie chick from head to toe and that's really quite a long way. She and Steve are practically joined at the hip (I'm sure they won't mind me saying that)

It's nearly midnight and I'm running out of time here in the internet cafe so forgive me for cutting this one short. We've done loads of stuff like driving off road with some of us clinging to the roof and other less crazy antics like showering in the waterfall from the Timotei ad. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves,

click here to have a look.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


How this site was built

Lots of people have asked me how to go about building a site like this. There are loads of ways of doing it, some more expensive than others. This one is done on the cheap but requires a bit of basic IT know-how to keep it up to date. I'm not going to explain all the technical details but I'll provide links to sites that do.

Photo Space
The first thing you need is lots of web space to store all your pictures. I am using a host called Brinkster. For US$7.95 a month, you get 3000MB of space. Any host would do however, if you find a better deal please let me know!

If you don't, please use this link to sign up becasue I get a discount every time someone does :)

Apart from space, the only other requirement is that the host should have ASP.NET or mono capability. There is no need to get a domain name with your photo space. My photo site is located at which is a subdomain provided by brinkster at no extra cost (molipix is my username).

Album Software
Next you will need some software to manage your photos. The one I am using is called nGallery. This is free and pretty easy to install and use. Just follow the instructions provided.

Getting photos up on the site
I generally use a web browser to copy pictures to the photo site via FTP (your web host will provide you with an FTP address for your site which you can put into the address bar of your browser). When nGallery is installed on your site, there will be a folder called "Upload". Folders containing your photos can be copied into here and then you can use the "Bulk Add Pictures" feature in nGallery to get the photos to appear on the site. The nGallery documentation should help you here. Once you have done this, you can delete the contents of the Upload folder to save space.

Creating a blog
Blog is short for Weblog - a web based journal. I guess there are a variety of ways to create them but I haven't really looked into it. This is my blog, it was free to set up, you can create your own by following the instructions provided at When I write a blog entry, I provide links that take you to different areas of the photo site depending on what I am writing about. Eg. this link takes you to the Australia photos..

Including images within the text of your blog
This is quite easy to do. When you are creating a blog entry, switch HTML view by clicking the link at the top right of the text window. You can then add an image tag like this:

<img src="">

This on it's own is not enough to make an image appear. You will need to paste the address of the image in between the quotation marks. To get the address of the image, go to the photo site and find the image you would like to include within the text. Right click the image and select properties. Then select the entire address (URL) on the properties sheet. This can sometimes be tricky as it might be so long that not all of it appears at once:

Press Ctrl-C to copy the address and paste it in between the quotation marks. When you click preview the image should now appear on the site.

Thats's about it for now. Please email me if you try this out an get stuck. You can also add comments below.

Friday, November 05, 2004


Broome to Darwin via the Kimberly

So as I was saying, Rachel, Steve, Marco and I decided to stay a few days in Broome before getting back on the road. In the end we stayed 3 longer days than planned, it's just that kind of place. I ended up having to find another travel partner because Marco had started to overrun on his budget took the cheaper option of jumping on a plane to Darwin. If you're reading this Marco, we miss you buddy, especially your exceptional navigation skills!

I put up some posters advertising a 4x4 trip on the Gibb River Road and onward to Darwin. Broom is not the busiest place and I was very lucky to find Rachel (not the same Rachel who is travelling with Steve) who is a total sweetheart. Before we met, Steve joked that she was probably 18 stone with bad breath which turned out not to be the case. The first time we met her, we were so struck by her charm and good looks that we staggered out of the pub and started walking in completely the wrong direction! I hit the road with Rachel a couple of days later. To see pictures of our trip and more, click here.

We got to know campsite Dave pretty well in Broome, he generally looked after us during our stay and we shared in some of his antics involving lots of beer and occasionally a machete. One day he got a job to bring a fishing boat in for the cyclone season and he invited us to come and lend a hand. Here's a picture of Dave on the boat, explaining something important:

That was a fun day in Broome, the kind of thing that makes it a hard place to leave. Another factor was that we could climb out of out tents, step onto the beach and into the sea. Not that I ever did but it was nice to know that I could if I wanted to. One day an aussie guy staying at the campsite (forget his name) caught a huge fish off the jetty and we helped him cook it up with some rice, onions, broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn, not exactly gourmet cuisine but it was definitely the best camp food I've had so far.

I did manage to get on the road eventually and Steve and Rachel left later the same day. After getting Bertha checked over, I went to pick up Rachel from her hostel and headed to Derby and the Gibb River Road, a dirt track the runs through the Kimberly, one of the most beautiful outback regions in Oz. The first night we camped in a gorge inhabited by flying foxes. At dusk they all decided to go out hunting and there were literally thousands of them flying over our heads. I guess some people might be freaked out by that but we got an even bigger fright when a massive bull came charging down the gorge at us. What it was doing there I have no idea, thankfully we managed to dodge out of the way.

The Gibb River Road is dusty and very hard at this time of year (just before the first rains). Bertha rattled and squeaked and we got very hot and exhausted sitting in her. After 4 days on the road all the ice in our coolbox had melted and we saw a sign promising cold drinks and ice creams. There are only a few road houses along the entire 700km stretch so this was quite a welcome relief but here's what was waiting for us when we got there:

The small sign on the right says "CLOSED until 2005". Oh well, there were other ways to cool off - like swimming in the rock pools and waterfalls. Rachel took this picture at Bell Gorge which I reckon is one of the best spots we found:

We reached tarmac by about 9am on the fith day after getting up at the crack of dawn as usual (the tent feels like an oven by 6). I found driving on the dirt road loads of fun and I was quite disappointed to get to the end of it. I doubt Bertha felt the same way although the only damage she incurred was a wrecked tyre and a hole in the exhaust pipe. That's all fixed up now and with an oil change, she feels as good as new. We spent the night in Wyndham which is a cool little town, although like most places in Oz, there's really nothing much there. The next morning we set off for the Turkey Creek roadhouse and continued our journey by chopper over the Bungle Bungles - a huge area of sandstone rock formations in Purnululu National Park. It was the first time in a helicopter for both of us, very exciting especially as they had taken the back doors off to give us a better view. I sat in the front with the pilot though and spent far to much time admiring all the dials and levers, resisting the temptation to start pulling them. I still managed to get a couple of reasonably good pictures:

After our regrettably short flight we got back on the road and headed for Darwin which is where I am now. I've met back up with Steve, Rachel and Paul who was also in Perth at the same as me. They have picked up a few more travel buddies so we now have a total of 7 people travelling in Big Bird and Bertha. Tomorrow we set off for Kakadu National Park.

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