Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wrapping it all up

After the wonderful time at Hamilton Island, the trip was coming to an end, but not before ringing in the new year. It is off to the Sunshine Coast this time to be one of the first in the world to celebrate 2010. I made some new friends, went on a boat ride, saw and island that belongs to Mr. Branson (he owns an airline and lots of other things), and spent some more time relaxing. I also had Indian food for the first time. I know that is completely random, but the Punjabi Palace was quite nice.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to the Australia Zoo (Crikey it's Steve Erwin's zoo) but I did get to see 3 museums in Brisbane. At the modern art museum, there was a huge stuffed raindeer (when I say stuffed I mean that it was once alive, and now is a stuffed version of himself) covered in glass spheres. It was amazing.

Some questions and connections...

When it is 30 degrees celcius, what is the temperature in farenheit?
What is the population of Brisbane? Sydney?
If it is 9:00 a.m. in Kissimmee, what time will it be in Sydney?
What time in Brisbane?
If you could do just one of the things that Ms. Dowd did on her trip what would it be and why?
If a Red Kangaroo is 6 feet tall, how many centimeters tall is it?
How many kilometers are in a mile?
What are some of the problems that the Great Barrier Reef is having?

What are some questions that you have?

When I left to come back to the states, I left at 7:00 a.m. from Brisbane. I got to Sydney at 9:30 but it was only a 1 and a half hour flight. How do you explain that?
When I left Sydney it was 10:30 a.m., but I got to Los Angeles at 6 a.m. on the same day! I went back in time! How was I able to do that?
When I left Los Angeles it was 10:30 a.m. again and I got into Orlando at 6:00 p.m. but the flight was only just over 4 hours. This is all very confusing; can you figure it out?

I'm back in Orlando now, and it is very cold. I wish I was still in the summer sun of Australia, but I am very happy to see my class again.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

After Boxing Day festivities we were ready to see a very different part of Australia wrought with many deadly creatures both in the land and in the sea. Fortunately we did not encounter any of these creatures at all, so I will return to you all in one piece.

What we did see were some awesome sights up at the beginning end of the Great Barrier Reef. Some friends and I booked a pretty fabulous apartment not too far from the marina for 3 nights for some R&R. Getting there was a bit tricky though. In an effort to save some money, we flew into Macay (pronounced Mah- Coy) and were picked up by our farmer friend Sam. His family owns one of the largest cattle farming/ranches in all of Australia. He is the guy who brought us the Waygu beef a few nights ago.

Anyway, he acted as our shuttle to Airley Beach where we were meant to take a ferry over to Hamilton Island. Before we got to the ferry, we found an abandoned resort that people were still playing golf on. Everything was overgrown, and I was waiting for some kind of creature to jump out and attack. None did, but there was a big black bird that kept squawking at me.

On to Airley Beach for a lovely pizza and a ferry to the island. The ferry ride was really great because the water was so blue and we got to pass lots of other islands on the way. When we reached our destination, we were welcomed by a man holding a sign with Steve's name on it and we jumped into an oversized golf cart and away we went. Now that's service. Other people had to wait around for a bus. Not us, we travel in style!

The apartment was amazing. We had 2 balconies, and the whole place was in different levels starting with the kitchen, then down a couple steps to the living room, then around the corner and down some steps to bedroom 1, and finally down a couple more steps to master bathroom with extra large tub with jets. It felt like lifestyles of the rich and famous. We even got our own golf cart to drive around while we were there.

Throughout the next couple days we spent time relaxing on the beach, visiting some pools, and going on an excursion to a beach with some of the finest sand in the world. I believe it is made from silicate. The beach is called Whitehaven Beach. Before we went though we had to take a very bumpy and rain-drenched boat ride out to the island. The nice people taking us gave us ponchos and a mint to help us cope. Once we got there though, the weather cleared up. Upon arrival to this location, we saw some sort of yellow spotted monitor lizard wandering around in the woods. Apparently they are harmless, but I wasn't taking any chances. The beach is a national park, so there was all sorts of wildlife hanging around including some really large ants and other prehistoric looking bugs. We decided to pass on the swimming because we weren't really excited about donning the stinger suits with the hood and mittens, but we enjoyed the sand.

Sadly, after that trip, it was time to leave the island. Fortunately we were flying out of Hamilton, so we had some awesome views from the airplane of the reef.  Even though we didn't do any snorkeling trips it was great to just be near such an amazing part of nature.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A bit behind

Ok so I know that Boxing Day was about a week ago, but I honestly haven't really had much access to email for any length of time or the computer had died. I am planning on writing it all out though it might just be when I have already come back to the states.

I will say I have loved reading the comments from family and friends and it makes being away for Christmas a bit easier. Things were definitely very different here; much more low key and no one I knew went to church. You don't really see many churches.

We spent Christmas eve at the Gold Coast with Damien's family. We had a nice big meal and a beautlful view of a canal. The next morning, Damien's sister, Steve, and Kylie cooked a lovely Christmas brekkie at Kylie's parents apartment. Then it was back to Damien's Nan's apartment for some Christmas Lunch, and then back to Brissy for a Christmas dinner at Kylie's parents apartment in Kangaroo Point. Did I mention we did a lot of eating? Mango seemed to make an appearance at many meals, it's quite yummy.

Boxing Day was a new experience for me. Originally it was started by one of the Queens of England on the day after Christmas she had her servants assemble lots of boxes with small gifts and money to be distributed to the poor, hence the name Boxing Day. Now it is a day of eating and watching cricket and the Sydney to Hobart sailing race. We spent our Boxing Day with some old friends of mine; the MacArthurs. Amy was our family's exchange student about 11 years ago, and I set out to find her. Kylie drove us over to Redcliffe where her family lives, and we had another large lunch and some interesting conversation. Amy and I got to catch up a bit, and overall we had a very nice time although it was short. Don't worry mom I have pictures, but I haven't put them on the computer yet.

Next post....Hamilton Island