We also saw some things like a neckerchief, but they were really only fabric tubes. These had what seemed like a couple of grains of some gel stuff in. The couple behind the stall said that you soak it in water for about 30 mins, the gel swells up, and then you wear it around your neck to keep you cool. We bought one. I was finding it a bit warm after the sudden change from Perth’s winter. David put some water into the cup that had had my mango drink in, and we soaked it for 15 mins or so. Sure enough it swelled up and I wore it around my neck and it kept me cooler. It was the best $10 that I spent on that holiday. One good soak kept it cool for 3 days and I wore it constantly.
We walked around the Botanical Gardens for a couple of hours. There were lots of walk-trails, and we walked around most of them. There was a natural brook which had some man-made assistance at the beginning to make a bigger waterfall out of the first lake. There were so many different kinds of palm that it was amazing. Some of them were really fascinating in their shape, and varied from quite tiny plants to very tall. There we were again with our heads bent backwards looking skywards! There was a rain forest walk, and a palm walk and a shadehouse with orchids and bromeliads in. We saw some boab trees too. There were drinking fountains everywhere, but our best find was a refrigerated one near a little ‘museum of the park’. We drank. It sure beat the water we were carrying which was starting to get a bit warm. Then we looked around inside the little building at some posters and displays, and went for another cold drink. We had pretty well seen the Gardens by then, so took the back exit which wasn’t on our map and just guessed our directions for a while until we were back on the map again. This way we saw some more of the local scenery instead of back-tracking and going home the same way.
By now we were getting a bit tired and my sandals were starting to cause a blister. I took them because they were my most comfortable shoes but I’d had some repairs done to them and there was now some stitching under the ball of my foot near my big toe which was rubbing. I took them off for a while and walked bare foot but had to put them back on whenever the pavement was in the sun because the floor was hot. We got back to the hotel before too much damage was done, but we both felt half crippled from the distance that we’d done.
We sat in the lounge next to the foyer and guzzled down several glasses of iced water and a cup of coffee each. The coffee was freely available down there, and went down well… and frequently. Then, nicely stiff because of sitting still, we hobbled off to the lift and our room to get rid of unnecessary luggage before venturing out again. We decided to go and have a swim in the hotel pool. This would be our first swim for two years; we really are not swimmers by nature. Neither of us are much keen on too much wet stuff, but we really enjoyed a few cooling laps. I got my share of stares. I have my own way of swimming. It’s a very careful breast-stroke which causes no splashes what-so-ever and I keep my glasses on. I hate water being splashed on my face and never swim with anyone that I don’t trust not to splash me. All the other people were lounging in long chairs, sipping long drinks and looking posh.
We then got changed and walked back into town and looked at all the eating places to decide where to have dinner – not only that night but possibly others too. We also found a small, late-night market and bought a T.shirt each for the boys. Men are harder to buy for than girls aren’t they? After a reasonable exploring session of the CBD, we found ourselves back in the road behind our hotel. We had not realised that it had a back entrance. Across the road from here was a restaurant called Delicious Blue. The menu outside offered a promising variety of foods from all over the world at not too bad prices, so we asked if they could accommodate us in about an hour’s time. Then back to the hotel via the back door to try to make ourselves look suitable for a restaurant.
We were struck by one feature of all the restaurants that we’ve never seen in Perth. They had ceiling fans under the verandahs! There were a lot of restaurants with outdoor seating as well as indoor – we’re used to that, but in Perth being outdoors at night is usually enough. The weather in Darwin was really excellent the whole time. 32°C most days and 20° minimums at night. Truly easy to handle! We’re told that it never rains in the dry season, and in the wet it rains hard at 2pm every day for an hour or two. They can practically set their clocks by the start of it, and then when it finishes, it evaporates so fast that it’s almost raining upwards.
Back to the restaurant. We had a lovely meal, served by a beautiful teenage girl – we thought perhaps part Asian, part Western. David had asked if we could pay by credit card and she said “Only if it’s legal”, so she had a lovely, bright nature too. We went the whole hog because it was Sunday dinner and had 3 courses, alcoholic drinks and coffee. We both had prawn cocktails, then David had a Bombay chicken curry and I had Thai chilli seafood. All were delicious! Then David had deep-fried coconut icecream and I had a white chocolate mud cake, which they called a ‘snowflake’. Mmmm yummmm. During coffee 6 guys ‘wearing’ guitars and long black cloaks turned up and serenaded everyone. They all had varying numbers of badges sewn to their cloaks – the type of embroidered badge ones that tourists buy on their travels. One of them was waving an upturned cap around for donations. They sang South American type songs like ‘Guantalamaya’ [or whatever the word is], and had gorgeous voices that blended so well together. Then they flagged down the ‘$2 taxi’* and went off again. We lingered a little longer, and then it was home to bed for 2 tired bodies.
* $2 taxi. A 15 seater mini bus that cruised the CBD [central business district, in case the term is not used elsewhere] and for $2 will take you anywhere in the CBD that you wish to go. With Darwin being fairly small it was a super idea and probably made a nice enough living for the owner. There were probably a few of them doing the rounds as they were never too far between.
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