March 11, 2004, 21:15: Middle of the Outback, Australia - The Ghan Train
Here I sit on the Ghan, a long journey from Alice Springs to Adelaide by rail. Apparently it's an 1800 mile journey. I can honestly say it hasn't felt anything like the amount of time I've actually been on the train. Between watching movies, and reading a book (Stupid White Men), I've kept myself occupied. Unfortunately, my power converter seems particularly sensitive, and has blown its second fuse, and has left me conveniently with no spare, despite searching around in Alice Springs a few days ago. Technology is always out to thwart me. I've been getting quite into reading Stupid White Men, a book about criticizing American culture and their politics and way of behaving towards other countries, and I now wish the little Canadian flag pin on my hat was actually a larger sew on patch, to distinguish myself from those living more than an hour directly south of my house. Today, while in Alice, purchasing an obligatory souvenir - a didgeridoo - the lady assisting me thought I was American until I provided her with my mailing address. This little pin doesn't seem to be all that visible.
I'm currently listening to David Gray, who I discovered a liking to while on the Adventure Tours trip bus, and the current song "Please forgive me" is bound to bring back fond memories of the outback for years to come. I can't say it would immediately bring to mind the image of the outback for that many people, but it has a nice moving feel to it, perfectly suited to the train. I can really say that I enjoy train travel in just about every way as opposed to flights. The check in process takes all of a couple of minutes, with no security charades to go through. You get on the train, and you're free to walk around the car, which is far more spacious than the cramped economy airline space. The seats actually recline more than 4 inches, and the rhythmic rocking back and forth seems better suited to sleep to than the periodic turbulence in an airplane. This train ride covering 1800 miles cost me just over $100. While flying or taking a train around in Australia is generally very cheap, I can't say the same for Canadian transport. It really doesn't make sense, because this train seems pretty full of people, all traveling for decent prices. More people going around means more money put into the local economies from travelers, means more people have the money to travel, and get to see and do exciting things. Oh well.