OK, ok, I'm alive


Ah, sorry for the big break. I had a bit of a prang just north of Alice, and have been out of action for a while. I hate writing when I'm grumpy, to spare you the blues...

What happened was pretty much a bike rollover: end of a long, hot day, a bit snoozy, and I veered off the tarmac on to soft gravel. With a bit of a pronounced lip on the side of the road I managed to flip when I came back on to the road too soon. The superman impersonation didn't work out and instead my chin hit the road at 30 kilometres an hour, cutting off my 'Oh, SHIT!'. The tally: one broken jaw, one broken tooth, a gaping hole in the chin and some impressively scraped and bloody palms.

Wrapping up the chin with a bandage, I looked not unlike Little Bo-Peep, and waved down a passing campervan. They were so, so nice....we bundled the bike in the back and off we went to Ti-Tree, for five pirate-style stitches in the chin and the start of a liquid diet.

Two days later I wasn't far beyond Barrow Creek, of all places, when the knee pain got totally unbearable, and with a frustrated anger I gave in and realised I was just going to have to find a lift. It wasn't the best place to start hitching, if you know your recent Australian criminal history, so with one leg I cycled on to the next rest stop, to find Gianculo and Stephanie, two young backpackers and their self-painted van. Well, it was a shame to be in a car but we had a ball....camping at the Devils Marbles and blabbering away. They absolutely refused to take petrol money.

Nick the aviator! A broken jaw can still grin...
Ros, a friend in Tennant Creek put her blender at my disposal, and kindly didn't mind her house becoming a rehabilitation ward for injured cyclists. She even arranged a gyrocopter ride with the local electrician, who makes them as a (serious) hobby...that's me in the picture, shortly before takeoff. We trundled down the street and used a backroad as a runway. I mightn't have been able to cycle, but I could still whoop with excitement as he showed me what happened when the engine cut out...and made a perfect autogyration landing on the airport runway. Perhaps the next expedition will be aerial? They were great little machines.

After a week the knee was still being stubborn, stiff as anything and jolly sore, so the train was the order of the day, all the way to Darwin. Happily, here in Darwin this week it's suddenly decided to fix itself up (after many, many stern looks). A little bizzare: one moment I was ringing Tara, who I'm staying with, for a lift because it had locked up again, and now I'm cycling 15km into town quite happily with minimal twinging. What a relief, though! I had a very close shave with getting a "normal" job - resigning myself to three months recovery I'd applied for a pathology laboratory assistant job. The interview the next day went extremely well, and I left knowing I had the job, which felt absolutely terrible. I gave it a night's sleep then rang the next morning to turn it down and felt hugely happy.

This Monday, I fly to Phuket with Sputnik all ready to cycle my way, in a very relaxed fashion, across Thailand. As I've got about three months at least to kill while winter does its thing in Tibet, I've got vague plans to wander across to Cambodia, up through Vietnam and into Laos then China in an enormous loop. It was with a happy heart that I headed in to town organising travellers' cheques and the various bits and bobs useful for overseas travel, knowing that I wasn't going to be stuck in a lab. Lovely! Can't wait to be off.

Now, about those bits between Adelaide and Darwin...I'm working on it. I did a ripper interview in Alice with a woman who set up a traditional healing centre, so I'll put that one up, and my bit will come along too - so don't be too suprised if suddenly between an entry about Thailand you find yourself back in the shimmering heat of the Australian desert.

Later gators.


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