Two California Guys in Borneo

 

Our journey through the third largest island in the world, Borneo. We flew from Tasmania, Australia to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Within 3 weeks we explored the Malaysian states of Sabah & Sarawak and the country of Brunei. We encountered many different species of insects, mammals, and plants along our journey. With nothing booked more than a day in advance, this is our adventure. Featuring Ben and Junior, two California guys.

 

Summer Time Summer Vibes 2017

Now it’s the start of 2017 and still feels the same, actually maybe feel the aftermath of such a magical day. The crew woke up at all different times. For the last part of volunteering we had to collect to bags of cans to enjoy the staff party. An amazing concept and you get to find cool random shit or food. Yummy. Knowing we had to work the next day, Ben and I said we’ll leave somewhat early. We all went to the party and got food. The drinks were unlimited but was only after water. The rain came as usual, what a summer. It was getting late and Lily offered to stay over at hers, so we did. This meant we had to wake up and hit the road by 5:45 am to work at 8. Ben had the day off and we made it there on time. It seemed to be busy and Ben later got called in.

We got off early, much needed my eyes were burning out of tiredness. The car was filthy so drove to town for some internet and gave the truck a clean out. At the library we learned that NewKind Festival was interested in us and our taco project. The festival was told to us by Victoria our flat mate from Darwin. The festival was about sustainability, no waste, a new society and a bunch of other shit that seemed our style. Over the next days, called them up and got a spot to do a workshop, the tricky thing is the festival was a week after our visa expires. So now it was a game to see how we can extend our stay.

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Work was now full on, and we took advantage of getting knock off drinks. The rules were soon changed to just weekends for drinks. Rules tend to change at many places once we come around for some odd reason. After work we spent our time in Evandale living at the market grounds. We found a flat but never finished early enough to check it out. During this time it was also Beth’s our workmates last day and we went out for drinks. It was great to mingle with the workmates outside of work. Friday we finished early enough to check out this flat at a farm near Evandale, where we were living. The guy’s name was Dave an old, grey, bastard as he said to describe himself. We had to find him in the pub. It was this pub that we went looking for accommodation as there wasn’t anything for us in town.

The lady gave us a card and said to call the owner, the owner then gave us Dave’s number saying he was a regular and had a self-contained unit. And this was a start to an amazing friendship/connection. So Friday after work we checked it out, Dave then told us how to get to Hobart as we were headed there to meet up with the Falls Festival family. We had the weekend off. The drive was in the country and so exquisite. The first night was in Hobart and the next day drove down to Cygnet where the others were staying at Lily’s parents place. It was the Folk Festival weekend, the biggest thing in the town all year. We wanted to cook tacos by the festival but ended up doing a private catering to the homies. It was a night of smiles and laughs. The next day though was an early start, a three hour trip to Launceston for an 8am start again.

Work was going well, both of us getting the hang of it. Soon it was Ben’s birthday and we cooked up a bomb curry with some Josef Chromy Merlot to pair with it. Just a normal day in our life down at the Evandale market, it would be our last night there. The next day after some staff drinks a few of us continued down at the river and later to Michelle’s house. After a wild and wild as in the place we went had weird vibes and we ran as fast as we could to the town not knowing where we were. Still to this day neither of us know where the house was because we ran so fast. Michelle was so nice, we stayed at her house for nearly a week before moving into the farm. In return we painted some doors, she’s renovating her house. During our stay here and knowing there was a Beer Festival going on, we did some taco prep at Michelle’s. This time we made blue tortillas and set out to feed the happy people.

Now that we were settled into a place after living out of the truck the past three months, it felt peaceful to just get home and relax. It also sparked new ideas, we came up with doing a Raw week. Not cooking or buying anything that was cook. We found a bulk store, our favorite and bought a bunch of ingredients to create our meals for the week. Funny thing on the walk back to the car, there’s a person running through the street turns out to be Theresa. Our friend from Darwin and whom we met up with in Brisbane, small world. Chatted for a bit and knew we’d meet up again. Towards the end of the week we were ready to be done with it just because we knew we can have something even better if only we cooked one item. It was a challenge though that we accomplished, it led to us soaking and sprouting our own beans and seeds.

During this time was also Triple J’s Hottest 100, which they spoke about for the whole month leading to the countdown. We listened to the start of it at work and later in our truck at the farm like weirdos that we are. Tom, Dave’s son saw us and said to join the barbecue, so we did. It was great to hang out with the others on the farm, especially Georgie who gave us some tea. Georgie’s the daughter of Dave and Sally the owners. That night she also gave us some of her home brew. This was summer, the days were nice and hot but the nights and mornings were chilly. We were using electric blankets to heat the bed up before sleeping like weenies.

 

 

The days off for both of us were never together anymore and we paid visits to the library for internet. Eventually we got library cards and started a book collection at home. The days were also spent creating a menu for the festival as somehow we were told to be the head chefs for the entire festival. One day after work and chilling in the back seat, we called Erfan to check in and he said the hospitality coordinator step down and now we’re in charge without asking if we wanted. It didn’t bother us as we thought everything would be ordered and organized and all we had to do was show up and make food for 400 people. Soon we learned absolutely the opposite.

It was crazy, we had to make the menu and change it many times as they didn’t want items in packaging. We had to source everything, and try to get it for free. It was shit but we believed in the cause of the festival. This was all done while living on a farm, no internet and not so good phone signal to go along with working full time. The days were just flying, it was now February and it seemed like all we were doing was working.

 

Theresa had scored a job at Josef Chromy and moved in with us. During this time we organized to cook dinner for the farm family. Dave was blown away that it was plant based, he ate three bowls of the pasta we made. Theresa though didn’t enjoy the work, said it wasn’t her style. She came at a time when Ben and I were empty in the brain and just needed to get away. It also happened to be the Super Bowl on a Monday since we’re in the Southern Hemisphere. Before the game, we went our own way and Theresa went to a friends. After the game, we bought the biggest size of wedges and drove far away, ended up at a beach. This is just what we needed.

 

The weekend before, we made it to the Evandale market, the place we used to sleep. It was a great market though only made it 60 metres in before getting drawn into a stand with these incredible marbles. Theses marbles were captivating, so much that we were late to work. It was an art master piece in the marble, some were dubbed the Universe and lived up to their name. They were filled with planets, nebula, galaxies and just awesomeness. We were sold and bought a few.

Meanwhile at work all was well, but then I thought I was crazy and thinking work had strange vibes. I convinced myself I was making it up, during this time Ben and I didn’t work many of the same days. Finally it reached a point where I didn’t want to work there anymore, which was bad because the place was incredible. With this feeling, I spoke to the bro and he said he felt the same. Not sure why but the vibes were out of tune and we didn’t know how to tune them back. But since we’re just two happy California guys, we brushed it off and made it fun anyway.

Needing to see some familiar faces, the Falls Festival family came over for a visit. Since Ben and I had the day off, we chose to make a camping trip to Liffy Falls. It turned out great, we spent the night there celebrating life and the following day went out for dinner with work. The dinner, strange as we eat plants only and the concept was a shared dinner with several courses. After this we said we will no longer join people for dinner because it seems to be that eating a plant based diet can be a weird concept for people. Often times they just make the atmosphere uncomfortable.

It was now a month until the festival, and it seemed every few days or so a new bomb would be dropped on us of what they wanted. It was getting to a point where we didn’t want to be a part of it. We had to figure out the visa situation as well since we were set to expire in a few weeks. Finally though, the menu was finalized and said no more changes. Andy came back to Launceston and asked for a job at Josef Chromy and got one, simple as that. His company is comforting and told him to stay with us since we had an extra bed. He’s on the same vibe channel as us.

Wanting to learn about farming and just wanting to do something different, we gave Sally a hand on the farm. We were also hanging out with Georgie a lot and just soaking up the farm life. It was getting towards the end of summer and the sunsets were incredible. There was now two weeks left of work and three to go for Borneo. Nearly forgot to mention, the wonderful package Ben’s mom sent. A munchie box as we referred to it. During our time at the farm it made us recall junk food we ate back in the states. We started writing a list and told family back home if they can collect some goodies for us. Ben’s mom came through with the munchies. There were Hot Cheetos, Captain Crunch, Funyuns, and much more. The Hot Cheetos hit the spot and devoured the first bag on the first day.

 

Keep Marching On!

A month filled with celebration and devastation.
March began with a pine cone blast to our windshield that left the passenger side looking like a pond full of ripples. With our time coming to an end soon at Josef Chromy, we went out for the night with our work mate Declan, Andy joined as well. It was a mini pub crawl that led to meeting a few other work mates by the end of the night. Ben decided to stay out longer, Andy and I went home. The next day Ben and I had to work but wasn’t sure if he was going to make, we also planned to drive down to Hobart in the evening. Knowing him, he was bound to be waiting for me at work. Sure enough as I pull in to the car park there he was lying on the ground. Once I parked he got up like a scene from a zombie movie, after a quick change it was time for work. As we finished so did Andy, he was working for Josef Chromy as well but on the vineyard. We convoyed home, Erfan from Newkind Festival called to meet up. Finally he made it to our house, it was great to finally put a face to the person organizing the festival and giving us these tasks that drove us crazy.
After a chat and some heavy rains, we decided to drive to the festival site then Hobart the following day. It was yet another beautiful drive down south. All was well until the truck started making funky noises up the hill. As I pulled over the truck turned off on its own, stranded in the middle of nowhere we called RACT for help. After a couple of hours we got towed to a town towards Hobart in what turned out to be a mistake. The driver was nice enough to drop us off at a campsite but the morning came the realization that the truck was fucked. We were dumbfounded and in the ultimate boondoggle, we waited a few hours for another tow truck to take us back to Launceston.

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We took it to the same mechanic that fixed it back in December and Andy waited for us there to take us home. Feeling distraught and devastated, we got home to explore our minds. The next day the farm family knew something was wrong by our faces and offered help. To go with our truck breaking down, our visa was also set to expire soon and needed to apply for a new one. Dave let us use his car and we set out for the library to use the WiFi and apply for a visa. The visa application took hours and was a process that took several hours. At one point I refused to finish it as I knew we would get rejected. In theory this is what we wanted to happen. With a ticket booked for March 22 to Borneo, we just needed an extra week for Newkind Festival. Now that the application was complete we felt a bit relieved and drove back to farm, as for the truck it was a waiting game to see what the mechanic’s diagnostics was.

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Wonderful Dave drove us to work the next morning and had to find our own way home after. Work was simple, a few functions were going on and washed dishes for most of the day. It was fun, I was on one set of dishes and Ben on the other. It was a mindless job, just what we needed. Got our knock off drink and enjoyed them with the beautiful scenery. Now it was time to figure out how to get home, we figured it was best to hitchhike. After 40 minutes or so, a couple who were there enjoying their friend’s wedding gave us a ride. They were lovely as they lived in the opposite direction yet they drove us all the way home. Funny thing is they knew Dave and Sally, the owners of the farm. Small world.

Tuesday was the day off for both us; Dave lent us his car and decided to drive down to Hobart to meet James the farmer donating produce for the festival. His farm was so unbelievable, clean cut and so organized, also certified organic. The way he farmed was to maximize the space he had available and rotated the crops to put nutrients back into the soil. We hope to learn more from him when we get back from Borneo. It was a day of meetings, next was Michelle who we got some dry goods from. It was a mission to meet her, we drove past the street several times. After meeting her, we finally got a response from the mechanic who said the bottom end bearing had disintegrated and that it wasn’t worth fixing. That left us feeling delusional and sick. To cap off our trip in Hobart, we met up with our friend Lily and went out for some pizza and wine. It was time to drive back to our farm 2 hours away.

 

 

The next days were spent figuring out what were our options. On my day off, I spent the afternoon helping Sally and Mary on the farm planting trees. It felt relaxing being outside and getting the mind off of life’s challenges. Dave again was so optimistic for us, he drove us to work every day. The talks on the way were inspiring and uplifting. We decided to get the truck towed to the farm, Andy lent us his van and it was a game of hide and seek to find him on the vineyard. It took nearly an hour to find him, finally made it to town and organized a tow truck to take the truck away. Waited nearly 3 hours for a tow truck that never showed up, drove back to the winery to collect Ben. On the way home we each got a call from immigration stating we should withdraw our visa applications as the result would be a denial and look bad on our record.

The tow truck driver came through the next day and delivered our truck to the farm. He happened to know Dave. With work slowing down, it was perfect time for our departure. Saturday was again both our day off and the last chance to pack all our shit and store it away as we wanted to travel light to the festival and Borneo. Dave did us a great favor and purchased our truck off us and let us leave our belongings on the farm. It was also the day where we all helped to wrangle up the sheep. Erfan the festival director told us to hire a ute and he’d pay for it to get us to the festival site. Again it was a trip to library which was closed, to use internet and book our hostel in Borneo and find a ute to hire. To celebrate our last days on the farm we purchased what the doctor prescribed, a bottle of whiskey. That night we played cards and enjoyed the evening with Georgie and Frank.

It was Sunday and the last day of work, we were excited to see our work mates one last time. Of course though it wasn’t that simple, the work said they only need one of us that day. This is what I don’t understand about places, if you schedule someone they should work that day not get told a few hours before that they are not needed. In the end we both got to work and dropped off by Papa Dave. Following a few hours, work at Josef Chromy Winery was done. We got our final knock off drink said our salutations to the workmates and savored the moment of getting to work at such prestigious place. And to cap off working there we bought a dozen bottles of wine to send back home as we got a 40% discount. Also in need of a ride home and Georgie wanting wine, we got her 15 bottles at a discounted price and she came to pick us up. Life was moving to the next chapter.

Dave took Ben to get our new ride, a hired ute. But again nothing is that simple for us as we were told we can hire the truck and drop it off at a town closer to where we would be staying. Once he got there, he was told it has to come back to the same location which was a waste of time. With all are stuff packed for the festival and our trip to Borneo we departed the farm. Dave, Sally and Georgie were so much help and it was saddening to leave them but knew we would see them again since half our stuff was left behind. It was time for Newkind Festival. We did the drive to the south for the third time in a week in as many different vehicles.

The drive was strange as we knew there was much more to figure out after the festival and Borneo trip. Just before the festival site, we met up with other festival workers at a café. There was also one big problem we need pots to cook in for the festival. And not just any pots, we needed titanic size pots, we were after 150L plus size pots. Eventually we made it to the site and it looked unready for a festival. There was so much work to be done. Arriving there was overwhelming; everyone was talking to us, asking questions, giving suggestions. James the farmer was there and seemed to feel the same, he was telling us that the produce might not be enough to fulfill the needs of the whole weekends cooking. Wanting to just escape and eat, Ben and I snuck away and talked to Andy. He had been there for the weekend. Even as we snuck away to have a bowl of cereal people kept fogging our brains, we knew it was going to be a long week.

We spent the next days finalizing our menu with the quantity of foods we ordered. Did a trip to Hobart, which was stunning and were able to sneak away and chat. We expected to relax a few days before the start of the festival but no, they wanted us to cook for the volunteers and workers on the days leading up to the festival. To make it even better, we were sleeping in a small tent that Andy lent us. There was barely enough space for Ben and I, let alone our stuff. We only had sleeping bags to sleep on and felt it the next morning after sleeping over stones and twigs. On one afternoon, we went down to the beach to wash potatoes in the ocean. The kitchen was coming along well and quick, thanks in part to Daimen. He was coordinating the building aspects of the festival and felt the same as we did. Thursday was going smooth, until all the produce came, then the dry goods to go with Ben leaving to take back this ute. Returning the truck was a 5 hour process as the drive was long. The amazing Andy was in Launceston waiting to bring Ben back.

Finally, it was Friday and the first day of the festival. The morning threw off our organization as we had to make breakfast with only being told the day before. These weeks were filled with bombs just like in a mine field and everyday something in life made us walk over one sometimes multiple in a day. The day was field with meeting so many amazing people and our kitchen crew began showing up and smashing out lunch and dinner prep. It was also a day for learning to properly use a rocket stove made of bricks and earth. Ben and I were trying to organize the kitchen in the way we wanted it.

All was smooth leading to lunch and it being served. Dinner was brewing up and the next round of helpers came through. We took this time to go through the initiation part of the festival and that came with getting a new name. Ben was Pepper, Junior was Salt. This was our only time away from the kitchen that day. The process was great though, it was a time to meet more people and shared our marbles and kaleidoscope. The parents of Erfan made some dahl and basmati rice to go with dinner. Soon dinner was getting served and the first day of cooking was coming to an end.

Everyone ate and it was time to go the main stage for the opening ceremony that was filled with a lot of theatrics. Ben and I couldn’t get a grip on the theatrical story part of the festival. The first night was the coldest of the week. To cap off the ceremony was an Australian based Electronic group that played some good shit. Many gathered around the different fire pits and chatted away. Breakfast went smoothly and with the kitchen crew, we smashed the prep out for lunch and dinner. Again, we were in the kitchen until midday. Lunch got served and explained to the crew what was going on for dinner as we wanted to take time to visit some workshops.

We were able to sneak away for a bit and checked out our new home the Paul built, it also had a bed. It was a much more comforting place to sleep in than the tent. I went for a dip in the ocean and Ben stayed at camp. Getting back to the kitchen I knew something wasn’t right from the get go, dinner should have been getting served since it was ready. Ben wasn’t there which was uncanny and found him walking to the house. Turns out the parents started cooking an overload of food that affected our menu plan. They wanted to feed the people to the point where they felt stuffed, where as we wanted to fill the hunger and have no waste as that was the concept of the festival. After a one-to-one between us, we knew we would need more supplies to just drop from the sky. It was the halfway point and couldn’t let this beat us down so we made our way back to the kitchen to take control.

As we got back in the kitchen, only the festival crew were getting served and seemed to know something was wrong. We stayed calm, cool and collective. Our kitchen crew understood the style we set in place for the kitchen and meals. With the parents having different views and portion sizes we asked them to leave the kitchen. So many people were offering help in the kitchen. The festival had a great atmosphere and we didn’t want to ruin it. It was a situation that Ben or myself have gone through nor want to go through it again. Finally dinner was served, learned what more we needed of food to be bought. Now it was time to dance our brains out to the Formidable Vegetable Sound System. Funny thing is we got see them perform at a small pub while living in Wanaka, New Zealand.

 

Sunday was the day of our workshop, which was organized to do down in the mud pits. It started with an experimental breakfast of flour porridge that turned out delicious, just flour water and some spice. Our workshop was at 4pm so we organized the meals for the day in a way to be finished after lunch and enjoy the rest of the day. The kitchen had a good vibes atmosphere from the start, music was going, smiles on everyone’s faces. Before long lunch was served, it was time to escape a bit and take a dip in the ocean. With our friend Laura, we took a few sacks of potatoes and went down to the beach to wash them. Feeling refreshed, Ben and I planned our setup and began cooking the beans for our tacos. We chilled at our house and Daimen was next door so we joined him. It was time to start making the tortillas and redo our sign. Jamie another amazing Novalander had a taco costume and was set to be our mascot. With about an hour to go we got help taking our modular kitchen and supplies over to the mud pits.

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Interview with Jamie

The mud pits was chosen as the location because Jaime was working down with David teaching people the greatness of mud, clay and earth. Besides it was different from all other workshop spots. On the way, one of the head festival goers said to change our workshop time and said okay but in reality we we’re still going to do as we planned. No one can stop us! With everything set up plus a fresh amazing sign made by Lorin, and blue tortillas heating up, it was time to share our story with everyone. The crowd was building up. Since the tortillas were fresh they took time to cook that gave us the opportunity to tell people what we’re about.

The tacos are gluten free, vegan, free of charge, authentic and most of all delicious. It was like a celebration of life, we had Mark playing mandolin, Jamie with a taco outfit, some people full of mud, people recording and interviewing us. In the end we made about 50 tacos and others joined the process of making tortillas with the tortilla press. It was time to pack down after a successful outing and took a minute to look around and savor this moment. Ben and I have come a long way from working at Beach House Tacos in California to have now traveled/worked in New Zealand and Australia, now being the chefs for this festival.

We found a group kicking the futbol around and joined them, it was so relaxing to kick the ball and forget about cooking. The kitchen was under control for dinner so Ben and I walked to this half built teepee and sat under it for some time and chatted away. This is a moment where our teepee would have fit in so perfectly. The night soon came along with chilly weather. Monday was here, last breakfast that went out smoothly. Half the kitchen crew began leaving and realized we should pack our shit up as well. Cecilia offered us a ride and to stay at her house, it was a relief to know we had somewhere to go. Midday was filled with getting contacts and salutations but knowing we will meet up again.

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Andy, the great Andy took our shit up to Launceston to the farm. With our ride ready, we did a quick run to see our new friends and tell them cheerio. This was a bittersweet moment. In the car was Cecilia, Eva both helped in the kitchen, Nardine, Ben and myself. The scenery was spectacular and the conversations meaningful. Halfway the car overheated and waited for the wonderful RACT, it was the smoothest breakdown and just prolonged the delightful talk we were having. Eva has a voice that was soothing, journalist like and the questions she asked, diverse and got you thinking.

By the time we got to Cecilia’s, it felt like we got back from some crazy marathon or so, the mind and body so tired. The morning she made us a wonderful breakfast of scrambled tofu and vegetables, she left to work and took this time to chill. With others from the festival also in Hobart, we tried to meet up with as many as possible. First we took a walk to the Botanical Gardens to meet Nico, stunning garden, there was even an Antarctica section. She mentioned a talk by James Aspey who spoke at the festival and that was the goal for the evening to visit. A walk to town led to bumping into Bethan and Shantel who joined us on our adventure. Saw a few other Novalanders from a distance and started making our way to the venue. There we met up with Devi another kitchen crew member. At the talk were quite a few other Novalanders. The talk was great, it was about how he became Vegan after never imagining in doing so and how it was positive life changing experience. He mentioned of few things that Ben and I do already and believe in, also some new things that interested us. The talk took away from eating dinner, starving and nothing around we just walked him and slept our hunger away.

It was finally time to visit MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), we’ve been wanting to go since December. To describe it, a museum that is state of the art, pushes boundaries and makes new ones. Others from the day before also joined. You start off by going three stories underground and there are four main rooms that have many more rooms in them. The art was funky, mind blowing, puzzling and interactive. If ever in Hobart, Tasmania visit MONA. It then goes up two more levels that keep you wanting more. After seeing everything it was time to head to the airport. Again we ran into more Novalanders and learned our plane was delayed though it didn’t matter as we had to wait at the next airport as well. The day was filled with waiting and sitting. Hobart airport 4.5hours -> 1.5 hour plane ride->Melbourne airport 5hours->8hour plane ride->Kuala Lumpur airport 7hours->1.5hour plane ride to Brunei.

We were greeted by Bel whose house we were staying at, he took us on a quick tour around the centre. The weather was warm felt Darwin like, at the house he offered us drinks and relaxed. Later he took us out for dinner. The following days we explored the city which was a strange place. We took a stroll through the water village and hung out with the local kids who taught us a bit of Malay. Then wanting food we rode the bus to the night market, later we learned buses stop at 6 so we had to catch a taxi home. After a couple days we set out for Kota Kinabalu on journey that required several bus rides and couple of ferries. It was Sunday morning and we learned that in Brunei on this day they close the roads in the centre as it is the day for exercise and sure enough plenty of people were out and about. We originally thought to also hop on a 5 hour bus to the next town but decided to stay in Kota Kinabalu.

Filled with hunger, we went out to the night market for some food. We took the morning to rest a bit and booked a half day river cruise. That day we had the best food, Bana Leaf Vegetable for lunch. Its rice, a few curries and sauces that you dump all onto the leaf then munch away. The drive to the river was the first glimpse of Palm Oil Plantations. The guide was awesome, he grew up in a village in the jungle and had a lot of knowledge. A highlight of the trip was at dusk when the fireflies lit up the mangrove trees like a Christmas tree. At the hostel we booked another tour to Kinabalu National Park and some hot springs with a canopy walk up in the jungle.

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We were headed to Sandakan next and found a three day river cruise and booked it. While leaving the hostel two others Alice and Louis were headed to the bus terminal as well and joined us. The bus was five hours and the scenery mostly Palm Oil Plantations for miles and miles. It was depressing. Finally we arrived to a hostel and Alice & Louis were able to book the same tour for the next days. We went out for some food and drinks. Pubs are hard to come by and we found this café style pub that had table service and after a few sips they filled your glass back up. A bit strange but it must be their culture.

All four of us walked up the road to the van waiting for us. There were two others Mischa and Kim, it felt something like a scene from MTV’s Real World. A couple hours later we were at the lodge right next to the Kinabatangan River. Everything was built about a metre and a half above ground including the walkways. It was an incredible place in the jungle. On the first boat ride, we saw macaque and proboscis monkeys, also a big male orang utan. It was incredible to witness one in the wild. At night we went on a very muddy jungle walk that included many mosquitos.

The following day started with an early morning cruise and a couple others during the day. This day we saw a mother and baby orang utan chilling in the trees. The way they move in the trees looks so majestic and easy. The bodies are round with long arms and legs but they are shorter than you think. Back at camp the macaques try to eat anything they can get a hold of, they are some cheeky animals. There were a few different hornbill birds along the river which are unique to the island and heavily threatened. On the final day we saw a couple of crocodiles and sea eagles. The time here was remarkable and peaceful. It was time to head back to the city.

Peace Out 2016!

December, the start of Summer. It began with us doing our Photosynthesize Taco setup at the Esplanade in Byron Bay. It was a success and learned of schoolies, the time where you go for a trip after high school and celebrate in the real world. After giving out all the tacos, we quickly packed up as we wanted to drive out to Nimbin before the darkness. The drive there was quick but stunning; it was cloudy, sunny, and rainy all at the same time. The timing was great as we got to our camp site the sun was setting. It was a majestic sunset as it set twice, first behind the clouds then reappeared and set behind the mountains. The following day explored the town, it was a superbly hot that day. After did another successful Photosythesize Taco outing and hit the road again.


After Nimbin, we passed through a cloudy yet beautiful area known as Gold Coast but only got there by mistake. Off the highway, there was a water park that was calling us but didn’t act soon enough for the exit. We then took the next exit that took us for an hour ride of being lost and never made it to the water park. Somewhere along the way there was a vegetable/macadamia stand and as usual we pulled over. The owner, Bobby, saw us in the drive way and came running out, asking if that was a teepee on our truck. She was thrilled and we then told her about our free tacos. So she told us to check out her garden and soon started packing us fresh vegetables and tomatillos (green tomatoes). We have been searching for these tomatillos over a year, they make bomb salsas. Bobby and her husband were wonderful people and said take anything from the stand for free, furthermore she busted out what’s called spaghetti squash. We wouldn’t use it for some months. That’s why we enjoy buying from these stands even if we don’t need anything as the people behind them are so great.


After much driving and not knowing where to stop, we ended up in Southwest Rocks. It’s a fine-looking small beach town that offers public showers so we took advantage. It wasn’t the sunniest day but still a great day to make tacos for the people. We did our setup at the entrance of the beach carpark and met some incredible people who really appreciated what we were doing. Had great conversations and the last ones to come happen to be a vegan family and were surprised that they could enjoy them. We were told about some good beaches around the corner so after packing up we went to check them out. One beach had such calm water and was at low tide thus Ben and I played Frisbee in the water. The next day drove out to Nambucca Heads, a place recommended to us, a beautiful beach park. Again did our Photosythesize project and got donated some goodies. Towards the end, we got invited to give our tacos out in front of a Takeaway shop.


Did as usual, drove south along the coast landing just outside of Sydney and decided to visit the Blue Mountains. The drive there was full with traffic and along the highway were some bicyclist commuting back home moving faster than the vehicles. There was also another water park that we were determined to visit. It was a windy, unpaved road to the campsite we decided to stay at, upon arriving walked around and started cooking dinner. The next morning many people asked to check out our rooftop tent as they’ve never seen one before. We also found out that this place is full of flies from morning to night, they were such a nuisance. We were able to catch them with jars and began collecting them with ants. During this time, we gave our truck a deep clean and took everything out, did some back seat chilling. After a few days here we set out for the water park, Wet n’ Wild and along the way we found a free bicycle so we strapped it to the roof on top of the teepee on top of the tent. We enjoy strapping stuff to the roof. The water park was just what we needed and the ques for the rides were short so we got to ride all the slides.


The next day was another Taco giveaway at Manly Beach and soon drove towards Sydney to meet up Audray, our sister. We booked a hostel where she lived and celebrated life later that night. The next day explored a bit of the city and the beaches. Andy joined us at the beach and relaxed there after not finding a good spot to do our Tacos. Later Josh, Audray’s friend came and said we can crash at his place so we cooked his housemate’s tacos and celebrated Josh’s birthday. Back to driving, this time it was a trio road trip to Melbourne, Andy joined us, he was also going to Tasmania but by plane.


The first day we made a quick stop to Royal National Park for a swim and then drove inland towards the capital, Canberra. An interesting location for a countries capital, there was nothing then suddenly a small city. We visited the National Museum; there we learned you need shoes to enter a museum. After had a munch fest and back to driving. It was less than a week we had to be in Melbourne for a ferry ride. Much of the ride was through small ranges and beach towns, the weather also cooler. One night we camped at 90 mile beach that was full a mosquitos at all times, even worse in the day. After another couple of days driving we made it to Melbourne the place we escaped from 8 months ago. It was one of our best Tacos outings on Chapel St, a busy street in St Kilda. Later, booked a hostel for the night and had a visit from another Darwin flat mate, Victoria. She came by the hostel for a visit; it was great to see a familiar face.


The morning left early for the ferry, Andy stayed behind as he was flying to Tasmania. We waited behind a line of cars moving little by little for nearly 2 hours, it was ridiculous. And once we got to the check in they took our teepee away since they don’t allow timber to be taken into Tasmania. They also took our bonsai tree and succulents. It was a strange feeling, we felt like they took our family. It was a sad day. The ferry was a 9 hour ride; they announced bingo so we went to join. Turned out to be Disco Bingo, instead of numbers its songs and the host was the best, she had disco attire. While playing I noticed a guy walking by and wanted to call him over but didn’t. Later he passed again. This time I called him over and he joined, we started chatting, the host explained to everyone about our Taco Truck and he turned out to be a chef and told us to stop by his work as they’re in need of chefs.


Finally we ported, starving we were and bought the biggest serving of wedges we can find. The next morning each of us had a missed called, it was the head chef to Josef Chromy Winery. Funny thing is that we applied just before leaving Darwin, with no response. He said to come in a few days to meet. That gave us time to drive a bit of Tasmania. The first thing was buying new plants for our dashboard but it wasn’t the same. The beaches were incredible, for some reason we didn’t thing of Tasmania having stunning beaches. Made it all the way west and stayed a night, gave the bike a test drive, the next day drove down the West Coast. Tasmania was unsuspectingly cold and soon started searching for the little warm clothes we had left. We got rid of most our clothes in Darwin. The views were unbelievable, there was even a bit of snow on the tip of the mountains during summer.


Next, we made it to Launceston to meet the chef, played a bit at the park and got futbol stuck in tree. Time to meet our new job, it was a 15 minute drive out of town. Upon arriving we knew this place was going to great. Nick was the head chef, straight away he was already telling us what days he wanted us to work. It went great. We chatted turns out he’s from New Zealand and seemed interested in us. He said come in tomorrow for a few hours. With the day still young, we drove up the Tamar River to the tip and then back down. Not too long our car broke down, not knowing what was wrong we got a jump start but only made it a few kilometres before breaking down again. This time we learned of RACT, road side assistance, they towed us back to town. The driver was so nice and told us we can camp in the car park of the mechanic but have to leave early before they open, he even gave us the code to get in. The next day we had to find a ride to work and the head chef Nick got one of the chefs to pick us up. That was unbelievably generous. The work was great and the people even better. After working at Cloudy Bay Vineyards in New Zealand, we made it our goal to work at a winery in Australia and there we were doing it. Make a goal not a plan and strive towards it. The truck just needed a new alternator and was fixed by the time we finished work.

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Feeling hungry we bought wedges once again and drove to a river side camp site, where we met Kristine. Kristine would later join us to Falls Festival. Ben and I had the day off to explore the town a bit. Christmas was around the corner and wanted to meet with Maud a friend from work at the Ski Resort in New Zealand and Andy the homie. So our job scheduled us three days before Christmas which we did about 28 hours and on December 24 drove out to the Bay of Fires on the East Coast to meet up with our friends and celebrate with wine from our new job. It was great meeting up with them, a celebration with delicious food and mimosas to go with the spectacular beach views. After a couple of days Maud went back to work, Andy, Ben and I went to Freycinet National Park then to Hobart the next days.

 


In Hobart we met up with Kristine and a new friend Marius, who signed up to be volunteers at the festival. The next day drove to Port Arthur to check out Maud’s job at the Lavender Farm and in search for a shower. No luck on showers so we drove to the festival site and checked in. Fate told us where to park and met Emily and Riannon our new neighbors who were super cool. Andy set up his van and we with our truck made a patio type set up. Later Kristine and Marius came and set their tent up. This was the crew for New Years. It was just introduction the first day and time to meet the people you’ll work with. Ben and I ended up in Vehicle Inspection which turned out to the best I reckon. It was the first two days with an early star but also finished before any performances.


Vehicle Inspection was simple and easy, you get to see the crowd coming in and many were high school graduates. The first night highlight was Grand Master Flash who lit the crowd up. The night was stupendous. We all danced in the mud like wild animals. Our crew pushed its way to the front stage. Next was Hot Dub Time Machine who might I say made the crowd go to that next level. The following morning included a few hours of Vehicle Inspection and then a nap to cap of the work and now we were free to enjoy the festival. Ben and I made some sushi as we waited for Andy to explore the festival, played some Frisbee by the stage and met up with the supervisors of the festival. Watched it rain as it did a few times during the festival then made our way to camp to enjoy some delicious sushi. Did a little more exploring and dancing as we waited for the others to finish working.


We were able to gather up and Maud came and joined for the night again. The night was popping, filled with dancing, making new friends, losing each other then finding each other. Snaked our way to the front once again. Went to camp to re-up on drinks and had some munchies. After that we lost each other until the morning. With no work, Ben and I got to sleep in, though he for some reason chose to sleep in the back seat of the truck. I went to check out the beach and walked through the slums of the festival. Back at camp the rest were either working or barely waking up. It was New Year’s Eve and started with a whiskey Mark gave me for my birthday. All of us told our stories from the night before of what we remembered and later a few of us walked down to the beach again to toss the Frisbee around. Soon it was time to see some performances, later back to camp and then a hide and seek game for Ben who went looking for an old friend. After a few hours we found him and also made new friends along the way. Maud made it back to the festival and we all gathered up for the night activities and performances.


The evening was magical, it was just what we needed after driving around the past 3 months. There was a couple of hours until midnight and the rest were about to finish their last shift. At camp we waited and one by one the crew gathered along with a new friend Lily. We stayed at camp for a few drinks and chatted, soon it was the countdown. We were having too much fun to make it to the stage for the countdown. From our work Josef Chromy, we brought a bottle of sparkling wine for the introduction to 2017. POP! And just like that another year of amazing people, wild adventures and more stories to share.