Hey everybody from Mackay in Queensland. I'm sat here in the public library making my first blog post from my beautiful new netbook! It's so shiny and I love it! If only Australia had more wifi....
Anyways, this blog has been horribly neglected as of late, soI'm here to make a concerted effort to catch you all up to date. I hope you've all enjoyed the pictures I've been poisting; now that I've got my netbook I should be able to post more often.
So today I'm hoping to at least get you all here with me in Australia as I'm pretty sure that my last proper post was made in Singapore. Let's start from there then....
Saturday 7th March:
As you'll know from previous entries, I spent most of this day hiding out in the internet room in my hostel, however, I also spent some time exploring Singapore's Little India area. My goodness, you could not find an area more different from the CBD if you tried! Gone were the neat streets with everyone making carefully coordinated movements, the pristine shop fronts and continental style cafes, replaced instead with a colourful bustle of people, potholed streets, shops spilling out on the pavement... it was brilliant. And also very very hot and humid (I got back into my hostel and said to a guy in the tv room "it's going to start chucking it down in about 5 minutes," and not only was I right but there was a thunderstorm of somewhat epic proportions). I'm so glad I got to see that part of Singapore (and sample its rather excellent cuisine).
I had been planning to get the MRT to the airport from Little India that day, but the rain meant that I was reluctant to walk for 10 minutes with all of my bags for the sake of saving a few $s. So I got in a minivan with some other girls who had similarly timed flights to mine. Check in was no problem, and the airport was fairly boring... what you hope for when getting a flight really. Had a couple of good conversations with some Aussies flying to Brisbane at the gate though.
Let me tell you, flying Qantas is awesome! The choice of movies on board is amazing, and they give you lots of nice food and drinks. Hopefully will get to fly more with them (long haul) in the future. Watched "Vicky Christina Barcelona", about the first half hour of "Rachel Getting Married" (fell asleep during it :(), and most of HSM 3 (not much point in watching a film you haven't seen before when you've only got an hour until landing), before landing in Brisbane.
Sunday 8th March:
The first nice thing about landing in Australia was that I realised I once again had a working mobile phone! Hurrah! The first interesting thing about landing in Australia was clearing quarantine/customs. You have to declare every last scrap of food, every last speck of muck and really just anything you have on you that isn't made of plastic. It's quite an experience. They scan your bags and then search them if they're unsure about anything.
Exhausted from my 2 hours of sleep on the flight, I checked my bag in again and caught the train over to the domestic terminal to catch my flight to Cairns. Slept through most of it, which is always nice, but was awake for the descent.... and what a descent it was! I saw the reef and the rainforest and the mountains.... it was incredible!
At Cairns airport I was met with my friend Amy (for those of you who don't know, I've been proofreading a lot of her stories for her for about the last 8 months or so, and we've become good friends over msn and the webcam) and her mum. They gave me the guided tour of Cairns and then drove me to the Northern Greenhouse, my home for the week. The hostel was lovely, all painted blue and tropical holiday home looking. We then made my first excursion to Cairns Central, where I was to spend quite a bit of time during the week appreciating the wonders of air conditioning, for some lunch, before driving out of the city.
Our first stop was Kuranda, where I got a taste of the rainforest as we visited the beautiful waterfall at Barron Gorge and waved at tourists who were riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway (I've posted some photos of our trip to Kuranda if anyone's interested). I also got an introduction to the native fauna in the form of green ants (apparently you can eat their bums?!), cassowaries (not seen one yet) and drop bears. Oh and the wait a while plant that tries its best to ensnare you as you walk past.
One supermarket stop later and we were on the way to Amy's house out in Kewarra Beach for a barbeque. Or at least we were until we got distracted by a field full of wallabies. Wallabies doing naughty things that is.
We had a great evening at Amy's house. There was my first Aussie barbie, of course, and also a whole lot of hilarity involving me, Amy and High School Musical Sing It on the PS2.I was persuaded to extend my Cairns stay by three nights for a weekend road trip the following Saturday (not that I took much persuading), and so ended the evening by making the first of my Australia trip plans.
Monday 9th-Tuesday 10th March:
These two days were much the same. I hung out at Cairns Central some, wandered the Esplanade some, shopped some, swam in the lagoon some, vegged on the net some and just generally got acquainted with Cairns.
Wednesday 11th March:
This was a day of great excitement for me, as I went sailing out on the Great Barrier Reef to Green Island! In an actual sailing boat. With sails and everything.
The crew of the Ocean Free were brilliant; informative, bonkers, friendly.... everything a good crew should be. They kept us entertained throughout the trip. They were also perky at the 7:30am departure, which takes talent.
It took about 2 hours to sail to the Ocean Free's private mooring off Green Island. Which was fine apart from that from about 45 minutes in my body remembered that I really don't like boats. It was completely and totally worth it though as, once there, I got to don a stinger suit (and look like a Tellytubby) and go on my first ever scuba dive! Most people do their first dive in a swimming pool, but I did mine on the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, I am just that cool. :P It was pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. Hayley, my instructor, was brilliant, and it was just an incredible experience seeing all the fishies and running my fingers through the spaghetti like corals.
After my dive we had lunch and then boarded a speedboat to Green Island, which was gorgeous, but we didn't really have enough time there for my liking. I spent most of my hour there making friends with two more British backpackers (sorry girls, *flashpackers*): Sarah and Tammy.
In the afternoon, I got to snorkel for abour an hour before we embarked on our return journey to the mainland. Yay, snorkelling! There were reef sharks (non people eating), which Andy, our captain, threw chicken bones from lunch at.
The good news (because the bad news is that boats are sucky) is that I was invited back to Sarah and Tammy's hostel for a barbeque, and so I had a night of drunken fun with them. I also tried some Aussie tucker - emu, crocodile and kangaroo... tastes like chicken!
That's all for now gang, as I've been typing for well over an hour and I'm hungry. Some of us have Greyhound buses to catch this evening as well, you know. :D Off on a Fraser Island excursion, so if you don't hear from me for a few days you know why.