Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tropic Thunder

he said:

zee ohh emm gee (ZOMG)

The first night we were in Cairns I thought about a trip I made to Florida with my mom and some family friends. Like clockwork it would storm heavily every afternoon. Most times in less than an hour the storm would pass and the rest of the evening would continue on quite nicely.

That was Florida - this is CAIRNS!!!!

Apparently we are experiencing day three of monsoon caliber rains. Hold on to your hats, it gets better. The city is established on very low lying marshy land, and wait, there's more, when the tide comes in there is nowhere for all the rain water to go. So the roads to town get washed out and the bus system gets suspended until further notice. I would say best of all, when the rain hits, the wifi just goes dead.
Please can I have some internets?

The saving grace is our accommodation. It's comfortable, elevated, and dry. This place is marvellous and I can't extend enough gratitude to her parents.  
Thank You!

We came up here early to see what options we had for working holiday. With all this weather we may be forced to forfeit our head start. In the meantime we head outside occasionally to see what we can.

Holloways Beach

 The local birds.

Cairns Lagoon and beer samplers at the Blue Sky Brewery.

Delicious seafood + crocodile and kangaroo with sweet potatoes. The Raw Prawn, Cairns.

Beachside Cairns in the evening.

she said (a couple days later):

Luckily, even though the storm/sunshine pattern continues, the buses are up and running. We got into town and got a lead on some work for accommodation a bit farther north. We'll give that a try next week, but in the meantime we decided to be tourists and took a guided tour. Hello Cape Trib Connections.

The highlights were Milla Milla Falls and Lake Eachman where we got to swim.  
(Pictures coming when we finish out the point-and-click water camera we purchased).
Milla Milla was a quick stop, but exciting because we got to swim right in behind the waterfall. Lake Eacham, though much less turbulent, was interesting for different reasons. The lake was originally volcanic craters that filled with rainwater over time. Since the water is void of any minerals, staying afloat is only for those who can swim. As for the rest of the tour stops:

Babinda Boulders

Josephine Falls

Animal life at Crawford's Lookout and Gallo's Chocolate & Cheese Factory.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Red Dawn

she said: 

Sydney went by in a blur.

After a red eye flight from Osaka to Gold Coast, baggage delays, customs, another leg from Gold Coast to Sydney, and various trains from Sydney airport to Potts Point in the Kings Cross area, we were knackered. We arrived at the hostel thinking "yes please" to showers, snacks, and beds.

But after showers, dinner, and a bit of settling in, we found a second wind that didn't stop until we'd reached Cairns, wondering how a week could go by so fast. Following the general isolation we felt in Japan, it was a welcome change to be surrounded by people with whom we could socialize, and having other people to do things with changed the pace of our travels from casual observance to jet-speed.

Here are a few of the highlights from the week:

1) The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

By day, by night, from land, from sea.

2) Bondi and Manly Beaches. Warm water, lots of waves, good company, a lesson in cricket, and in the case of Manly; a beautiful ferry ride to get there.

3) The botanical Gardens.

4) Backyard chatting with other travellers, some of whom we hope to meet up with again while in Australia.

5) A morning out in chinatown with couple from the U.K. doing a similar trip but who are five months ahead of us. Thank you James and Emily for the great tips on eating and navigating in Thailand.

6) Annie Lebovitz at the Sydney Contemporary Museum of Art.

7) Tranny Bingo! A hostel organized event that was bingo and comedy combined. Thursday nights in the lobby of the hotel beside World Bar, this is something I would recommend to anyone visiting Sydney who wants the chance to win some cash and a couple hours of laughter for the price of a couple of drinks and a bingo card.

We picked our hostel based on location and reviews, but in the end it's the great pains they took to get everyone together and out for the Sydney nightlife that I really appreciate. A big Thank You to Chris, James, and Donna at the Blue Parrot for being such fantastic "entertainment managers."

he said:
I think we rallied ourselves pretty well while in Sydney.  By day, we saw the sights, but we also made it a point not to be left behind in the evenings.  As it turns out, a few hours of sleep is really all you need, and when you come across the kind of people we encountered at the Parrot, then sleep is all you're giving it up.
The nights were "class" (to steal a phrase). We were generally provided with free entry and a drink somewhere, which is a great benefit in an expensive city, but the real catalyst to all the fun was the time spent in the backyard garden. This is where we met and chatted daily with nearly everyone in our hostel.

Each night was similar in design but unique in practice.  Best of all was our last night, which had a certain air about it.  After the usual drinks and jokes in the garden we had a last night out. After two bars/clubs with far too many people and too much dancing we broke off with a small group of new friends and made the obligatory stop at the local bad food eatery, this time McDonalds. The food is terrible but you can't beat the prices.
This is where things jumped off.  While enjoying our late night cuisine I broke out my favourite* ten dollar investment:  a portable speaker for the iPhone. We sat and sang until we'd outstayed our welcome then relocated to a park. Singing, dancing, snapping photos, climbing, jumping, and wrestling, the music had fuelled a full transformation into creatures of the night.  Joyful, simple, and pure like a tribal ceremony, but smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest night spots in the city.
*While proofreading I realized that I spelled favorite with a U, please don't confiscate my passport!!

We rode the high until 2.30 or 3 then said our goodbyes, grabbed our bags, caught a 4 am cab, hopped on a 6am flight, and now we sit in Cairns.A new week, a new city. Hello Cairns.