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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Thursday, 2 May 2002
Great Keppel Island --> Rockhampton (THE LAPTOP INCIDENT)

When I woke up in my tent this morning, I noticed cheerfully that the weather had cleared up. It was around 8am in the morning and I had to get ready to catch the catamaran back to the mainland at 10.

But it did not take long until I noticed that the bottom floor of my luxury tent as wet. “Floors normally don’t shine like this,” I thought. On the floor stood my backpack and laptop bag. I pulled up the backpack and saw the water drip of the soaked bottom. Oops!

I threw the backpack out of the tent on the dry wooden veranda and got a bit concerned about the other bag.

I opened it up and was confronted with bad weather again. The bag seems to have soaked up a lot of water and most of the content was wet. My maps, notes, books, etcetera. I pulled up the cover for my laptop and pulled it out. Water was leaking out of the floppy drive of my laptop. I opened it up and saw how my "Windows" was washed. The screen was clean but fish could swim in the flat monitor. Oops again.

I took everything out of the bag and laid it in the warm sun. The worst that could happen with the laptop is that I lost everything on it. As rain is fresh water, it shouldn’t be able to harm that much if it would become dry again. Unless there had been some active electrical power inside.

I walked to the reception booth where Geoff was sweeping the floor. “Geoff, do you have some towels?” Why? He asked. “The tent floor got wet…”

What had caused the ocean in my tent, was probably one side flap that wasn’t really closed. Oops part three. With my things just wet, I knew there wasn’t much I could do about this situation.

Together with Geoff I got most of the water out of the tent. There wasn’t much more damage. Fortunately I had my camera and phone on a charger up on the night cabinet. Nothing had happened there.

I quickly had a bite to eat from the rest of my groceries I had taken to the island and left the left-overs on the public shelve for other backpackers. Then I loaded my luggage on the truck.

Gerry from the Island Pizza restaurant had heard about my problem and came over for some mental support, but I was okay.

He then took me along on his buggy and took me to the island shop where he let me pick out a souvenir from Great Keppel Island before I’d leave. I got myself a t-shirt and thanked Gerry for the gift.

At the beach the catamaran was ready for departure and I thanked Geoff for his hospitality and Gerry for the good food and the support he had given me.

I had a last look back onto Great Keppel Island and concluded it was a pretty good place to be. Lovely. Bummer about my laptop, but life goes on…

Back ashore in Yeppoon, where the boat arrived, I was awaited by Trish Smith who was already alarmed about my electronical loss. She picked me up and drove me all the way back to the home of her and her husband Merv, where I stayed earlier this week.

There was absolutely no problem if I wanted to stay a few more days at their place, so I could sort things about my laptop.

Merv called in his friend Jeff who opened up my laptop later this evening. The thing was still dampy from the inside and there wouldn’t be any more life possible in the computer.



The following days…

The next day Jeff came along with his own laptop, also a Toshiba, and switched his hard drive with mine from the laptop. However his laptop had a slow processer, that night I found out that I had lost nothing on my hard drive. Everything was stil in perfect order and functioned as it should be.

I only needed a new laptop… I wrote about the loss of my laptop on the front page of this website and I immediately got people emailing me to ask how they could help me out. Total strangers wanted to send me some money and on my third day in Rockhampton I had opened a Paypal-account where people could send in their donations by credit card.

That was amazing!

I received over 1200 Australian dollars on the first day! Some corporate sponsors wanted to stay anonymous, VISA Netherlands helped me out with 750 Euros and all kinds of people from all over the world were sending in their 10, 20 and 50 American dollars online!

The actual owner of the Great Keppel Island Holiday Village, Geoff Mercer (who wasn’t there when I was on the island), even supported me with 200 AU$! He felt sorry about the fact that my stay on the island was a bit disturbed with the loss of the most important element during my travels. Thanks Geoff!!!

How to get a new laptop

Together with Merv I was looking for a possibility of finding an Australian sponsor who might want to round off the amount of donations that had run in, but that was hard. All the numerous companies we both contacted did normal business only…

My former Dutch host Ron Roos in Raby, Sydney, even jumped in to help me out and send me all kinds of links to online computer shops in Australia. He even took time to call IBM and other big companies for a request of sponsoring my project with a new laptop. But even Ron got a bit disappointed by all the negative answers.

It was okay with me, not everything in life is for free and it is even better to struggle a bit before getting somewhere – just to keep the sensors up in the right direction.

It was on May 7 when I found myself the same Toshiba laptop I had before, for a price I could pay with all the donations: some 2700 Australian dollars.


A Big Thanks!!!

For me personally it is still unbelievable that sponsors, people I have never met before and friends of mine, also jumped in and sent in their donations by the internet. It still is unbelievable that I gained some 2700 Australian dollars within one week!!!

I want to express my total gratefulness to all those people who helped me out. I can't say Thank you enough and I hope that the people that actually sent in their financial support will understand how happy you have made me.

It is also such an appreciation for what I am doing. It clearly taught me that I am not alone and proved to the rest of the world that there still are friendly and helpful people among us all that won’t let somebody down. That is just fascinating and gives an indescribable feeling to the folks in my backup team and me.


On May 8 the order for a new laptop was sent out and the transaction was made. A new Toshiba laptop will be on his way and will be delivered to an address in Townsville (where I’ll stay next week) and hopefully I can be totally back on track on this website again..

(THIS PAGE WAS PUBLISHED ON MAY 12)




In the meantime

In the mean time, I stayed with Merv and Trish that entire week. It was absolutely no bother to them for me to stay for a few days. They washed my laundry en left me alone to do my things on one of their PC’s when necessary. I watched videos with them, enjoyed their cooking, washed the dishes, cut off my hair and all that.

For one week I was suddenly taken into their family life. When I first visited them before I got to the island, Merv was desperate looking for a new job and while I was there I saw him walking around with a big smile as he at least got a part time job as a laundry attendant for a while.

I met up with some more friends of them and on Friday evening they treated me on dinner at the well-known all-you-can-eat-restaurant Sizzlers! That was very amusing, however one plate of salad, one plate of pasta, a plate of ribs and a bowl of ice cream was really just enough for me, haha.

On Saturday the couple took me out for a drink at a local Irish pub in Rocky and later the night we visited the nightclub The Stadium. Tthe manager of the place recognized me from TV and immediately handed me a handful (!) of Stadium-dollar notes to buy plenty of drinks with.

I was introduced to the deejay Hamish, who has been actively following this project of mine and he actually wanted to invite me in Rockhampton, but he would be moving to Melbourne in two weeks and decided to invite me there for later.

My former part-time job, being a disc-jockey in pubs and clubs in The Netherlands, my taste of music and the current situation of the dance industry were our main topics and before I knew Hamish introduced me to a full dance floor of people, saying I was his assistant-deejay for the night!

There I was, suggesting and selecting tracks that would definitely sweep up the public. Hamish and I played dance, techno, rock and loads of party music that got everybody sweating there!

It was great to be behind some (this time digital) wheels of steel again and to feel that pressure of the audience on me that of course has to keep on dancing with the upcoming song too. It was great to professionally watch the audience and play the music they wanted to hear and get them totally excited.

Halfway the night Merv and Trish went back to their home again and they gave me 20 bucks to catch a taxi to their address whenever I felt ready to go home. Of course I stayed until closing time!

I met some remarkable people there and had wonderful conversations with some of them (“Are you that guy from TV? Yes? Here, have beer, mate!” )

When the bright lights went on early in the morning, I thanked Hamish for this cool night and gave a big handshake to the manager of The Stadium.

I know lots of Australians find Rockhampton the biggest ****hole of Australia, but whoever calls it that way should now that the night life in The Stadium really rocked this night!

Good nights Rockhampton!

Ramon