Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Visit to the Great Barrier Reef!

So I know I have taken forever to update this. Sorry! Crazy busy few weeks.  

The highlights of March:

Going to Manly beach (I love Manly!) for sunset-- some of us got in the water in our clothes--yeah....regretted that afterward traveling home :p, but it was so warm and so fun! … plus we stayed out late and heard some music in a park and people dancing and the nightlife at Manly was super chill and different but so cute! After a long night, we went home via trains and buses and barely caught the last ones (those of us who live in Concord have to deal with the annoying public transportation closing early on weekends—so weird)

Then Saturday we went to Featherdale Wildlife Park! A petting zoo! It was amazing, fed kangaroos, played with wallabies, saw a joey in a pouch, petted a koala and got the tourist pic with it, saw a quokka which I didn’t know existed, but is my new fav! Crocodile was huge and didn't move at all and was terrifying! Saw a sleeping dingo, Tasmanian devil, some vibrantly- colored birds, and lots of big, poisonous snakes and reptiles…eek. Also learned that Emus are mean.  Saw an echidna and a wombat. Koalas are super slow-moving and lazy and just really do look drunk and grumpy.  Kangaroos are super aggressive for food (one grabbed my hand with both paws, so cute but kinda hurt, lol). They also bite a little bit…

The only frustrating part was when my camera died after three pictures.  I was so upset, and I know its just a camera blah blah, but still, I was so looking forward to this moment to capture all these animals for memory and for people to see, so I was just really frustrated. My friends took pics for me though, which I am so thankful for!

Saturday night was awesome! I went and chilled with some friends and made a picnic and then went to Strathfield park to play around on the playgrounds until the movie :D. We laid on a blanket and ate popcorn and watched Sherlock Holmes under the amazing stars—all free! So relaxing and muchly needed!

Sunday was also a great day but with frustration! We as a whole group wanted to go to Bondi Beach for the first time, but we all went at different times from different places and it took me and my roommate almost 3 hours to get there. Then I could only stay 2.5 hours and had to leave to go to night church that I wanted to visit.  It ended up taking just as long to get back and we ended up not going to church because we were so late!

The following weekend was the best...because....I went to Cairns, Queensland and snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef! One of my life dreams achieved!

Cairns Weekend:
- Got kissed on the cheek by an Australian who showed us how to get to the train station for the airport
- $4 burger and soda at hostel in Cairns (yay poor college travelers)
- 6 am, walk to marina, excited to discover that our tourboat for the reef was not sketchy! Yay, however, my debit card didn’t work. UGH. Thankfully my friend covered me. 
- Got wet suits! (covered head to toe because of the jellyfish).
- Got lunch and snacks and coffee and watermelon and coconut cake while on the boat!

- Tanned/ burned on sun deck of boat
- Had a great moment reflecting and admiring God's creation as I just watched the gorgeous views of mountains, cliffs, islands, and blue-green water go past.

- The first snorkel trip was kinda scary—we had to swim through deep cloudy water until all the sudden: bam! the reef was right under me...amazing
- First time snorkeling: choked on water and bad at mask and breathing, had my mask too tight and literally my forehead was bruised and hurt for days after. haha! woops
- Surprisingly got a little sea sick on the first time around...weird.
- Spent a lot of time taking spastic videos and pics (underwater camera case worked!)
- Amazed by vibrant colors on fish and coral, fluorescent greens and purples and yellows
- Amazing textures, big fish, tiny fish, metallic fish, anemones moving in the currents
- Saw a big squid! and some mini ones in groups (my friend got one to ink! haha)--  the big one scared me because I saw some bubbles and took a pic like "oh whats this from?" and then AH! it came shooting out of the trench! (Those were the bubbles--so cool right?) Little did I know ;)
- Saw no sea turtle while snorkeling (SAD) but saw one while up on the boat deck
- Some parts we snorkeled were soo deep and scary and hard to see, others so shallow I was afraid to touch and break the coral
- It really was just like Finding Nemo: With the “drop-off” and the trenches
- Didn't see (or feel) any jellies :p! Yay (BUT did see some huge White Box Jellyfish floating while up on the boat deck on the way back! EW)
- Second time around snorkeling was much better, didn’t hurt my forehead or choke or get water in goggles as much
- Much more relaxed and focused on taking things in
- Dove down a lot more, more comfortable holding breath with snorkel and being closer up was way cooler!
- Saw nemo!
- Saw gill!
- Favorite fish: huge purple and green fish that was so weird looking and swam around eating things and spitting them out
- Saw the ripply, weird thing that is in the beginning of finding nemo?  It was cool cause it looks like a big shell just chillin there but it breathed through a hole on to. (I think it's a giant clam?)
- Loved the drop off and the contrast between deep dark water and the shallow reef-- the depth made it feel like an endless world and so creepy but awesome!
- Swimming back to boat each time was scary because you could see nothing around you but cloudy water, hard to even see other snorkelers at times
- Loved being on the boat both ways, just laid out and talked and relaxed
- The crew was super funny and nice and not sketchy :p
- At times I felt fear and excitement and AWE, just being able to see God’s immense works like the mountains on the way to the reef versus the intricate works like the detailed coral..
- I just kept thinking: this is why I believe in a CREATOR

Later that day, after our reef tour was over, we walked around Cairns and discovered a community pool type thing which was FREE and had fountains and food and music and sand that led into it (Cairns beaches are muddy and gross so I think they made this pool as an alternative :p)

The next day:
- Got up at 5:45 AM for sunrise on marina, sail boats and contrast of sun and mtn shadow on water was gorgeous
-       got food for picnic, went back for free pancakes at hostel (fail, so small..haha)
-       slept some more! Sooo tired! Snorkeling is exhausting!
-       Got up and checked out of hostel, then walked 1 hr to Botanic Gardens!
-       Explored, ate picnic, rainforest boardwalk, lakes, CROCODILE WARNINGS
-       Played cards, talked, relaxed
-       Went to flower gardens
-       Saw Aboriginal context of rain forest uses

-       Saw more Aborigines in Cairns than ever before in Sydney or anywhere

-       Loved the relaxed, sleepy, beachy, touristy feel of Cairns

-       Loved the surprising scenery of mountains, marina, boats

-       Mountain horizon reminded me of the DR

·      God moment on boat on way to the reef, just in AWE!

·      Loved seeing the reef like in Finding Nemo! (lighter colored in water and could see it in the horizon!)

So that's all for now...Saturday March 30th I'm off to New Zealand for break, I return Wednesday, and then I leave Thursday for the OUTBACK with our ASC group! I'll be there for another week! So goodbye reality and technology for a while! :) Thanks for the prayers and support!

1 comment:

  1. WOW Gabi! I was dying to read something on your blog. I am beyond excited that you had such great ocean experiences. I know that was your dream. These pictures looks completely fake--they're absolutely gorgeous!! I love the bullet-way you write, it makes it easy to read and it's so funny because I can hear you just sitting in the family room telling us this. :) I will be thinking about you and praying for another awesome experience in New Zealand!! I hope that school has slowed down a bit so you can relax and enjoy. I love you so much!!