< SCRIPT language="JavaScript"> < !-- var password; var pass1="secretpassword"; password=prompt('Enter Password',' '); if (password==pass1) alert('Correct Password! Click OK to Enter!'); else { window.location="http://njapf.blogspot.com/"; } //--> < /SCRIPT> Not Just Another Pretty Face: December 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sojourn Down Under

Have had the draft of this post for ages. Finally did some uploading and completed the post more or less...

I headed down to the Land of Oz about two months ago where I didn’t meet the Wizard, or the Tin Man, stumble upon a yellow brick road or find a pot of gold at the end of any rainbow...

But anyway, lame jokes aside, what I had was a lot of time alone with myself and my thoughts for soul-searching.

The place I was at for work, Port Douglas (Huh? Where?), didn’t have much to do at night (Read: boring small coastal town). The hotel I stayed was a half hours walk from the town proper and only had local Queensland TV channels. No Star World, no AXN, no CNN even, to keep me occupied! Pssstt...A taxi driver told me that the sea off Port Douglas's coast as where the late Steve Irvin got killed by the string ray. They brought Steve straight to Port Douglas hospital before flying him over to Cairns, the nearest big city to Port Douglas. (Ohhhh!!!)

OK, OK. Forgive my sacarsm. I openly admit that I love cities. I love the lights, the tall buildings, the crowd, the hustle and bustle and the shopping malls. Granted, cities are cold, unfeeling places where people are all caught up in their own busy lives, but at least, you won’t lack things to do and observe!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate small towns or the countryside or being alone. I just hate being alone in a small town, not knowing a single soul, thousands of miles away from home.

And having to walk past this, at night, to and fro from the conference hotel.

And having scorching weather like this. Dosen't it look just like Malaysia?

And staying at a not-so-great accomodation with a funny name.

And getting seasick alone on the boat (Threw up twice on the boat and once into the sea while clambering up the boat after a snorkel) while going snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef. Thoroughly miserable!

Thinking about it now (on dry land), I see the humour in the situation- all the sick people were clustered at the open-air deck at the back of the boat where we were told was supposedly less choppy. (Yeah right!) All had paper bags clutched in their hands in varying shades of green. No photographs though, for obvious reasons.

The stewards tried to get us to "sea-surf" ie, stand on board with arms outstretched to balance on the deck while allowing your body to move in sync with the choppy sea waves. Supposed to help with the sea sickness. Dunno, didn't work for me!

What worked in the end was phamacotherapy. (Hallelujah for drugs!) Two tablets of hyoscine. I'm never, ever getting on a boat on sea without that in the future!

Coral reefs beneath the jade-green water at the Great Barrier Reef

Sadly, despite the reputation of the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, I was dissapointed with the snorkelling. Hardly any fish and the water was a freaking cold 24 degrees. (Wrong season or alleged impending cyclone scaring away the fish?) Even with a wet suit over my swimming costume, I nearly froze when I got out of the water and felt the cold wind blowing on my damp skin. A Canadian diver on the same boat also expressed her dissappointment with the Reef saying Bali was 10 times better and cheaper! I told her to come diving in Malaysia!

Needless to say, after my, literally, sickening experience, I was happy to get back on dry land and leave for civilization (Sydney) the next day.

Circular Quay at sunset

Cars! Busses! People! Friends! Lights! Shops! Camera! Action! Wheee...Here I come!

Sydney was lovely. Not as fab as New York, but it was especially nice to catch up with friends.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Blooming purple Chakaranda tree framing two of Sydney's iconic landmarks- the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House

What I loved most about Sydney was it's awesome beaches! Didn't go to famous Bondi, but I went to Manly Beach whose name I really liked. Must be named after this dude!! =D

Manly, sexy surfer dude!

Stayed at a friend's place that was on a cliff overlooking the beach. Simply fantastic view. To fully appreciate the beauty you need to be there to smell the salty sea scent and feel the spray on your face, but if you can't, I suppose pictures have to suffice!

Room with a view

Look out of the window and that's what you see!

The apartments on the right-most edge of the cliff were where I stayed. Look at the sheer drop!

Manly Beach, taken from the balcony of the apartment

The thing about Sydney's beaches is that it's sunny yet cool because of the wind. So it's incredibly comfortable to walk along, feel the fine sand under your feet, people watch, or just simply chill out with a good book.

Lifeguard rescue on surfboards! How cool is that?! Mega! Haha!

Oooh, beach volleyball!

Bob the builder surrounded by his sand creations

Also, had the most fabulous breakfast at downtown Manly nearby. Yup, the town is called Manly as well which I think, is a suburb of Sydney.

Ricotta cheese pancakes with raspberries and maple syrup! OMG, my mouth is watering just by remembering the taste of it!

Corn fritters with streaky bacon served on a bed of lettuce. Heart-attack in each mouthful but something to die-for again and again!

Last but certainly not least, beautiful, radiant tulips, so perfect they look like plastic! No, I didn't eat them, you doink! I just bought them for my friend as a little present for her hospitality. =D