My Doi Inthanon trek was kicked off today, with a fun and unusual introductory activity: bamboo rafting on the river. The 15 of us (brought in 2 pickup trucks) arrived at the rafting camp, where the people in charge were preparing the rafts for our little journey. It was 3-4 people on each raft (plus a Thai captain). For my raft, it was myself and the Dutch couple. Each captain stood at the front of the vessel, and was armed with a bamboo shaft, for steering us down the river — since I was at the back of my raft, I too was given a stick of bamboo, although I didn't really know what to do with it (I had an obligatory paddle now and then). The rafting itself was good fun, but was totally easy-peasy: nothing like proper rafting; and puny little excuses for "rapids" was the worst we encountered along the river. Then again, I wouldn't particularly want anything more extreme than that, while balanced precariously on a few loosely-held-together sticks of bamboo.
Follow every strudel, don't resist the lure. When you visit Salzburg, you're visiting the home of "The Sound of Music", one of the most famous movies of all time. And whether you caper, cringe or cry out at the thought of doing anything so cheesy as the official SoM tour (I still haven't decided which I should do), the fact remains: you know you wanna do it, and you know you gotta do it. Today, Lisa and I fulfilled our solemn duty, and hopped along for the ride. It certainly was cheesy, as well as more than a little lame; but it was also a fun, colourful and song-filled day.
Over the past two weeks here in Sicily, I've met more than my fair share of locals. The main contact has been during my morning visits to the local coffee bars in town — but I've also struck up conversation with them at tourist sights, in supermarkets, and in hotels and B&Bs. Usually, the first thing they ask is: "da dove venite?" (lit: "where do you come from?"); and then when they see my bike, they invariably proceed to give me a wide-eyed stare, and to ask incredulously: "dall'Australia, in bicicletta?" (lit: "from Australia, by bike?"). After about 5 seconds, they realise just how hilarious the notion of cycling from Australia to Italy is — at which point they proceed to burst into laughter, as though it was the funniest joke in the world, and as though they were the first ones ever to think of it. Which of course they weren't, since I hear this exact same joke 10 times every day, and since (therefore) I find it neither original nor amusing at all. After that many repetitions... I'm sorry, but it's just daym lame.