Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. People say the journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks. On your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
And yes, I hope I left something good behind.
Tasmanian wilderness hurt my eyes. Because it’s too pretty. Wineglass Bay’s water was too clear and the sand was too white. Launceston was a too-unforgettable city, the memory card in my brain was going to explode. And people that I met on this travel, oh God, they’ve taken a very big chunk of my heart. It’s even aching now. And I’d like to dedicate this article to them, those fun and beautiful souls I’ll always remember.
There’s “Art” in Hobart
I arrived in this city on a Tuesday afternoon. After studying the city map for less than three minutes, I could tell this city’s very easy to navigate. I could directly spot where my CouchSurfing host lived. I was hosted by a local guy named Rhys J Anderson who lived in South Hobart. I was a lil anxious when I was about to board the plane, as he gave me a wrong phone number and hadn’t sent me his home address. But at the last minute thankfully he was contactable.
And I’m glad that I stayed at his awesome house. It’s located down the hill with the view of Mount Wellington from his backyard. What made it more awesome, he’s a board game expert, wine lover, and vinyl collector. That night he invited his friends Ellouise and Lucy to play a board game while listening to his vinyls and drinking his wine. He has a great taste of music. I didn’t know most songs he played, but I really enjoyed them. It was a fun night. We played The Settlers of Catan, the adult and complicated version of Monopoly. I liked this game, I even think to buy one for me to play with friends.
Talking to Ellousie and Lucy was also fun. They’re really nice, we talked a lot about so many stuffs from travel, movies, foods, to religion. And it wasn’t the only moment I shared with them. Two nights later after driving me to the top of Mount Wellington, Rhys brought me to his friend’s BBQ party where Ellouise and Lucy were there too. I had another fun that night. Ellousie is originally from Brisbane, and we plan to hangout together when I’m in Brisbane by the end of this month. It’s amazing how travel connects me with so many interesting people.
No WiFi in the Forest, But I Found a Better Connection
That morning in Coles Bay (Tasmania’s east coast), I went hiking to Freycinet National Park, this state’s most famous natural spot. I’m a lazy traveler; I didn’t do a proper research about what kind of track I was going to take there. I only brought 600 ml water in my backpack, and that was a huge mistake.
The walking trail was very steep. Very very steep. Twelve kilometers. Sharp rocks and bushes everywhere. And it was hot at noon. I finished all water supply I had after 4 kilometers.
I almost gave up at kilometer 6. I took a rest and sat on a giant rock. My throat was so dry. A minute later, a couple came and sat on a rock next to mine. We had a small talk, then the girl said, “It’s a mistake to skip my breakfast this morning. Now I’m famished and we have no food. My head is so dizzy.”
“I have a bacon & cheese bread,” I told her. “You want it?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, but only if you want to share 200 ml of your water supply. I’m so thirsty.”
“We have plenty of water. You can have one of our Snapples.”
“Really? Alright, I think that’s a fair price.”
Then the exchange was conducted. One bottle of Snapple for a piece of bread. Everyone was happy, we all continued our walk. And I believe this is how world economy should work.
Hitchhiking Mission: FAILED!
I was bored that day. I had explored most parts of Coles Bay and wanted to see Launceston as soon as possible. Coles Bay-Launceston isn’t really a popular route, so I tried to break it down: Coles Bay-Bicheno, then Bicheno-Launceston. It was quite easy to find someone driving to Bicheno. An old dude named Chris who works as Freycinet National Park’s cleaning service gave me a lift until that small beach town. In Bicheno, I waited for someone to picked me up near the highway.
It was harder than I thought. For almost two hours, there was only one guy who stopped his car for me but he wasn’t driving to Launceston. At 1 pm when the sun was too bright, I decided to give up and find a ride back to Coles Bay.
In less than a minute, a couple pulled their car over for me. I jumped in, and they asked, “Which part of Coles Bay are you heading to?”
“Coles Bay Village Area,” I answered. That’s the “city center” of Coles Bay where you can find holiday park, hostel, supermarket, cafe, bakery, and bottle shop.
“No way, we also live there!” answered Dylan, the car driver. He was with Ronnie, his girlfriend. They’re both 19 years old.
“You stay at the backpacker hostel?” I asked him.
“No, actually my parents own that area. The whole business belongs to them. We have a house next to the hostel. My room is basically above the bakery, if you notice.”
“Ah, I do! So we’re actually neighbors.”
“Yeah, we are! Anyway how long have you been traveling in Aussie?”
“I arrived last October. I lived and worked in Melbourne until last month, and now just traveling in Tassie.”
“What did you do in Melbourne?”
“I was a waiter. At a Mediterranean restaurant.”
“Ah cool! Do you make coffee?”
“I do. Why?”
“Are you familiar with Australian beers and wines?”
“Perfect! There will be an open mic night at our cafe tonight. It will be very packed, but the guy who’s supposed to run the bar is calling sick. Can you replace him, from 3 pm until around 8?”
“Sure thing, I have no plans.”
“$20 per hour.”
“Sounds like a deal!”
So yeah, that day I worked for and with them. It was more than a job. It was great. Dylan and her girlfriend are perfect as a boss and a working partner. I served drinks to the happy customers during my five-hour shift. And the cafe is located just in front of the beach. Perfect, right? That day I didn’t reach my travel destination, but I have two new amazing friends and some cash in hand. That was a great day.
I’m Glad My Bus Didn’t Show Up
It was 7 am in the morning when I waited for my bus from Coles Bay to Launceston. The bus was scheduled to pick me up there at 7.20. But shit happened, it didn’t show up. I was waiting until 7.50 until I finally decided to call the bus operator. They gave me the driver’s number, and I called her. She’s a freakin’ liar, she said she was there but didn’t see me. Non sense. It was a very small and quiet place, there’s no way we’d miss each other. I debated her, but obviously she couldn’t turn over for me. And it was the only bus of the day, so I had to figure out something else to go to Launceston.
I started asking people at a gas station next to the bus stop. I asked them one by one if they were driving to Launceston or not. An old dude said he was, but he didn’t want to pick me up. He was rude as hell. Then I spent almost an hour to ask other people who filled up their tanks. Even though they couldn’t give me a ride because we were heading to different directions, most of them were very friendly and wished me good luck.
Around 10.40 am I saw a couple filling up their tank. I almost didn’t approach them because I had a feeling it would be another rejection. But I almost jumped like a monket when they said they could give me a lift until Launceston. At first they were a bit skeptical, but after exchanging looks to each other they said yes. And they turned to be really nice travel partners. The guy’s name was Adrian, and the woman’s was Michelle. They let me sit in the front seat so I could see the view clearly, told me some insights about Tasmania, and talked about my travel and their life. When we arrived at a small town named Campbell Town, we even stopped and had drinks together at a small cafe. And as we arrived in Launceston, they also showed me their house and brought me to see the city for about an hour. It was so good to meet them, I even thanked God my bus didn’t show up.
I Found Love in the Valley
In Launceston, a beautiful city surrounded by hills & valley, I was hosted by Kylie, a single mom of two who lives with her friendly daughter, Alice (11), and super adorable son, Ethan (8). It’s my very first time being hosted by a parent on CouchSurfing. This community is dominated by very young people (mostly younger than me) who live on their own, so it was kinda “different” to be hosted by Kylie. But of course, different in a good way. She’s a very decent woman, polite, and I had a great time talking to her. She’s very curious about life in Indonesia and my travels, and I was so glad to tell her those stories.
On the first night I cooked them an Indonesian dish: ayam panggang bumbu pecel (grilled chicken with peanut sauce). In the kitchen we had some interesting conversation, but there was one moment I will always remember. It’s about her view regarding sexual orientation.
I asked her, “Is it okay for you if one of kids is gay?”
She answered, “Yes, of course. I want my kids to know that we can love anyone we want. That some men have girlfriends/wives, but some other can also have boyfriends/husbands. I also want them to think that homosexuality is a normal thing, so they will accept anyone in their life who’s gay/lesbian. And I believe their father will also be okay if they’re gay.”
That’s a very powerful statement I don’t usually hear from a parent. I have lots of friends in Indonesia, my country, who accept their homosexual friends, but I’m pretty sure they will be so mad if their kids are gay. I believe we all need more people like Kylie in our life.
Not only Kylie actually, but also their kids. Alice is fun girl to talk to and hangout with. She’s talkative, energetic, and humorous. We went to the park, horse racing court, and swimming pool together… that day was really fun.
And Ethan, her little brother, is definitely one of my most favorite people I met on my travels. I even want to cry when writing this. He had been so friendly since I first arrived in their house. He asked me to play this and that with him, and on my last day in Launceston he said, “I don’t want you to leave.”
This little kid made me feel so loved. He wanted to sit next to me when we had dinner. He invited me to come to his school holiday program. He hugged me. I was supposed to go to Queenstown Wednesday morning, but I cancelled my plan because of several reasons, and Ethan was actually one of them. I didn’t tell them this. I decided to stay longer in Launceston so I could see him again that day.
I went downtown and bought a box of paper plane for him and a travel diary for Alice. When we had our very last dinner together, I gave those farewell presents to them. Alice said the diary was so cool, and Ethan hugged me four times because he was happy with the gift. I almost wept. And I almost wept again when he made me a paper plane on his own design, “You must carry this everywhere you go, so you’ll always remember me.”
Of course I’ll always remember him, with or without that paper plane. That night he also downloaded Skype on his iPad so we can talk anytime we want. In the morning he told me once more that he didn’t want me to go. After I left, Kylie said he cried. Oh dear, so did I. On the bus.
A few hours later Kylie sent me this picture above, with #BrotherFromAnotherMother hashtag. I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy because he feels that way, and sad because I had to go. He’s super awesome, and I want him to be my brother. I promise to myself I will always come back to Launceston to visit him, because our goodbye was the most heartbreaking one I have ever had on my travels.
Uh ya, it’s strange how travel can leave a huge marks in my heart like this. It hurts and breaks a little piece of my heart. But hopefully I left something good behind. For Ethan. Also for Alice, Kylie, Adrian, Michelle, Dylan, Ronnie, Laurell, Adam, and Rhys.