The Spa Resort, Chiang Mai

When we reached the resort, we were led to the reception desk, where we met Rucky, our guide for the day. Relaxing music was playing from speakers hidden in the rafters of the open-air veranda. The three of us shared a cup of steaming green tea while Rucky explained the resort's facilities and goals. Every morning there were meditation and yoga classes. There was also a fasting program, with daily detox drinks and healthy broths. And of course, no resort would be complete without a massage therapy program. For those who wanted to be healthy in all aspects of life, there was a “boot camp.” The week-long seminar combined all of the resort's activities: exercise, healthy eating, meditation, yoga and massage.

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The Indian Pacific Train to Perth

The idea of riding a train across Australia might bore some people to tears, but it got me excited. I would have loved to have taken the Indian Pacific train all the way from Sydney to Perth, but with my flight to Cambodia quickly approaching, I didn't have the time. Luckily, I could still do a large portion of that trip. I would catch the train as it passed through Adelaide, and ride it all the way to Perth.

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Couch Surfing Adelaide

It was time for me to leave Melbourne for good. My flight to Cambodia was coming up, and it left from Perth, on the opposite side of the country. Australia is huge, and there was still a lot for me to see and do. Maybe I'll come back one day and spend a year traveling around the country. But for now, I only had time to travel to Adelaide and figure out how to get to Perth.

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A Ter-roo-fic Meal

I met up with Craig in downtown Melbourne and we headed to the airport to pick up his Korean friend Oksoo. She was visiting Australia for the first time, and Craig had some big plans for her. Instead of taking her on a tour of the city, he drove us a few hours inland, to his family's ranch.

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A New Backpack, a Dubious Contest and an Amazing Race

The next day was Australia Day, a holiday that celebrates the arrival of the British in 1788. Louise, Ben and I drove to Torquay to celebrate on the beach, Australia-style. Among the thousands of beach-goers, a huge group was attempting to break a world record: most giant, inflatable thongs (sandals) in the water at once.

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Southbound Across Tasmania

I took the bus to Deloraine the next morning. Greg, his wife Kate and her daughters Kym and Menon, along with Menon's husband Jason and their children were also there. It was quite a large family gathering. Unfortunately, Menon, Jason and the kids had to fly back to the mainland that afternoon, so we didn't get to talk for long. Before he left, Jason showed me some pictures of him and his son, walking on part of the Overland Track. The photos showcased snowy mountains, dark green forests, wide open grasslands and happy people. It was as if he and I had visited different countries entirely.

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The Tricky Route to Devonport

At seventeen kilometers, the last section of the Overland Track was one of the longest. It was also one of the easiest sections because it was flat, hugging the shore of Lake Saint Clair. That was a good thing: my right shin was swollen, and the pain had been mounting over the last few days. I figured I had shin splints, the result of carrying a forty-pound backpack that was missing its frame. (My backpack's frame had broken during the flight to Australia.) It was time for me to finish the trek and give my leg some much-needed rest.

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Mac and Cheese and Monotremes

This was to be my longest day on the Overland Track. My original plan after reaching the end of the trail was to hitch a ride to Devonport, but after learning that a serial killer named Ivan Milat had single-handedly ruined hitchhiking throughout Australia, I figured a bus would be a safer bet. The next bus to Devonport was due to leave tomorrow afternoon; the next one after that wasn't for several more days. If I wanted to catch tomorrow's bus, I would have to hike two sections today.

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The Underwater Track

An attempt at Mount Ossa would be suicide. The temperature was a few degrees above freezing. Horizontal sleet was pelting me in the face. Whenever the wind gusted, I had to lean into it to avoid getting blown off the trail. My socks and pants were drenched. I had given up on wearing my soaked shirt; instead a waterproof windbreaker was all that covered my torso. Mount Ossa was covered in a fresh coat of snow, and the clouds that swirled around its peak indicated that the wind was fierce. I had a winter hat, but I didn't have gloves. There's a fine line between bringing the correct amount of gear, and being in serious trouble. As I ran downhill, my boots disappearing in a puddle of mud with each step, my white fingers clamped around my backpack's straps, my jacket emitting steam as snow slammed into it and evaporated, I realized that I was dangerously close to crossing that line.

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