Two weeks and counting…Preparations have begun…Another unusual item in photos…Pandan aka Fragrant Screw Pine…

Pandan leaves from the Pandan Plant are used to make these beautiful fragrant bouquets. As quoted from the owner’s written material: “The leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking as well in making the “flowers” which act a repellent to roaches. In addition, Pandan leaves are said to possess medicinal benefits containing tannin, glycosides, and alkaloids. The scents emitting from the flowers last a week and may be used as a freshener in cars, homes, or washrooms.”

Next week, we’ll return to the travel agency, Flight Centre, at the Smithfield Mall where we’ve booked several upcoming flights with rep Helen in and out of Australia and Fiji. At that point, we’ll prepay for our baggage for these flights with both Qantas Airlines and Fiji Airways.

In order to prepay our baggage fees with tougher restrictions with Fiji Airways than Qantas, it’s important we don’t overestimate the weight of our bags. With our handy travel scale that also doubles for weighing ourselves, Tom first weighs himself while I note the readout and then he weighs himself again, holding the bag.

These handmade Pandan Plant bouquets were being made as we watched the gifted crafts woman, proud of her handiwork. The smell was exquisite.

Generally, each of our checked bags weighs under 23 kilograms, 50.7 pounds, we weren’t charged an additional fee. However, we’ll have to pay for our third bag carrying our shoes, my boots, and a wide variety of supplies which often weighs another 23 kilos.  For that extra bag, we’re often charged an outrageous fee, varies by the airline.

An instruction sheet at the Pandan table.  Interesting.

In reviewing the items in that third bag, we don’t see how we can reduce its weight. If we’d be able to replace the items elsewhere, we would. But, many can’t be found on tropical islands or at remote locations. 

What a gorgeous orchid, one amongst many offered for sale at Rusty’s Markets.

This third bag contains various power cords, power adapters suitable for many countries, power strips, a portable scanner, emergency medical and dental supplies, a few month’s supply of toiletries, a few bottles of vitamins, probiotics, business cards, and shoes, all of our shoes, with five pairs for each of us. 

We stopped to sniff the wide array of organic soaps scented with essential oils.  The smells were intoxicating and I was tempted to buy a few.  Tom reminded me that we’ll easily spot items such as this in the open markets in Fiji.  I agreed.

Recently, I rummaged through that bag, removing every last unnecessary items, any we may be able to find at a local store. While here in abundant Australia we’ve been able to restock a few items we won’t be able to find until we return to Australia next year.

A diner made from an older caravan/travel trailer selling Thai foods. Tom scoured the menus wondering what-the-heck he’s going to eat when we get to Thailand in about a year.

Feeling concerned about the weight of my one large bag, especially when I’d purchased a few items both here and which arrived in a shipped box from the US a few weeks, it was time to pack and weigh my bag.

Hot food must be popular when these bunches of chilies (note spelling above) are offered for sale.

Last week, I took all my clothes out of the cupboard, neatly folding them, tossing no less than 3.6 kilos, 8 pounds of old and worn items none of which are in good enough condition to donate. This pile easily compensates for the new items. 

Yesterday, I did a “trial run” on the weight of my bag, packing every single item except what I was wearing, later removing what I’d need over the next few weeks. Tom weighed my bag and it came in at almost 20 kilos, 44 pounds. When the time comes, I won’t have any trouble rounding it out up to the allowance.

A refrigerator case of vegetarian-only baked goods and meal.

Tom has yet to do his bag, but he will before we head back to the travel agency at the end of next week to prepay the baggage fees.  Sure, we could do this ourselves online, but Helen, the rep, has a better wifi connection and can do it more quickly. We expect the fees to run at least AUD $800, USD $584, an amount we’re prepared to pay for the five upcoming flights.

Many readers still prefer to read a “real book.”

We always recall the excess weight baggage fees we paid when we had zillions of bags at the airports in Dubai, Venice and Istanbul. Having since greatly reduced the load, we’ve been able to get by with only paying for the third checked bag, usually running at about AUD $343, USD $250.

Screen printed tee shirts or night shirts in longer lengths.

As we often say, “It’s the nature of the beast,” a reality we faced long ago. From time to time, we hear stories of world travelers managing with carry-on bags only. We admire their ability to do so. But, most of those travelers are eventually return to a home base where they can repack in order to continue on.

After we’d toured the main area of the under-cover market, we wandered the perimeters finding more products for sale.

Our needs aren’t quite as sparse as those of most travelers. When checking out my relatively small amount of clothing, all that I own, I’m pleased for having reduced it to this level. Tom has an equal amount of clothing in his bag.

The shops continued on the street side of Rusty’s Markets.

We have less clothing and bags than the average traveler on a two week holiday/vacation from what we’ve seen of other travelers on cruises, at hotels and at airports. We willingly pay the extra fees understanding that it’s our choice to remain well equipped, spending little time shopping in each locale for items we’d have difficulty finding.

Gerbera Daisies, a favorite from the old life.  We don’t purchase flowers these days.

In the next few days we’ll head to the mall to grocery shop for the second to last time and to search for a cardboard box to use for the food items we’re accumulating to ship a few days before departing for Fiji. In many cases, as we travel the world we don’t need to ship food items with health food grocers readily available in most countries. 

Although we don’t eat fruit, we’d never seen this champagne honeydew melon in our travels.

In contacting Mario, the manager of the property we’re renting, he explained that there are no health food stores in Savusavu, Vanua Levu which we further confirmed researching online. We sent him a list of the items we use and he explained what is available and what is not. 

Mario explained that organic unrefined coconut oil is available at every shop, but ground flax meal is not. We’ll be lucky to be able to replace a bottle of vitamin C while on this remote island.

We could smell the sweet scent of these tangelos as we walked by this display.

My health club membership expired yesterday making no sense to sign up for another month. I’ll do some resistance exercises at home in the interim also planning a few walks in local parks and reserves. Walking down and back up the long and steep driveway to the trash bins is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise in itself which we do every few days.

There are tons of bananas and other fruit available at Rusty’s Markets in Cairns.

Today, we’re sharing another batch of some of the remaining photos from Rusty’s Markets. We’re still reeling over the fulfilling experience while I continue to savor appetizer plates of the products we purchased from Fetish for Food. Tom? Not so much with his picky taste buds.

We plan to do a little more exploring this week as we wind down our time in Trinity Beach, sharing more photos over the next few weeks. As always, on the day of our departure on September 7th, we’ll be posting the total expenses for our three-month stay in the Cairns area.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2014:

Our last shot of Oxford, England as we prepared to leave the area. For more Oxford photos, please click here.