Thursday, July 24, 2003

G'day Mates!

Semester at Sea, Port 5: Brisbane, Australia

How awesome is life? Every moment of this trip i just keep wondering what I did to deserve something this amazing. How can life ever get any better? This trip is absolutely incredible.

Australia is amazing. It’s beautiful, the people are beautiful, and I had the time of my life.

The first thing we did when we got off the ship was go to get our noses pierced! Three of us did it together and the woman who pierced us loved Americans, so she gave us a bunch of free stuff and treated us really well. (I have to mention, she was a stark contrast to some of the Australian’s I met. One, for instance, wouldn’t give me a key to the bathroom because I was American and Bush was our president! Seriously!) Anyway, I love love love my nose ring! So that trip was a success! (Unfortunately later in my Australia trip, I was at a night-club and got my nose ring caught on someone’s clothes and ripped out…. It never was the same after that.)

Next we were off to the Loan Pine Koala Sanctuary. I must admit I wasn't too excited about it. But, everyone wanted to go because they let you hold a koala bear there, so I figured... what the hell!

As soon as we got there, we got in line for the holding of the koala and it was a SPIRITUAL experience!!! Ok, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration! But it was awesome. I could not wipe the smile off of my face for the rest of the day. Koalas are now my favorite animal. They are the most adorable creatures ever. Their fur very dense and they actually aren't as soft as you would think, but they cling to you like you're a tree and sometimes they will nuzzle you or put their nose up to you like they're kissing you. I held one twice, I just couldn’t get enough!

After that, we went to this huge penned-in field where they keep kangaroos and wallabies (which are basically small kangaroos). It was like a petting zoo in the states, but WAY cooler because instead of petting and feeding deer and goats, we were petting and feeding kangaroos! They were really soft and docile, and they look absolutely hilarious when they jump, it was awesome.
Next, it was time to hop on our flight to Cairns (pronounced cans) to go to the Great Barrier Reef. I went with Krystal and our friends Dannon and Chris. We all went out to dinner and went to bed relatively early (no partying that night!!) so we could woke up at 7 am to head to the reef.

We actually got an awesome deal, it was $288 to sleep for one night on a really nice boat, get all of our meals for two days AND do 5 scuba dives in the reef! On our way out to the reef, we laid on the top of the boat in the sun and all I could think about was how lucky I am to be alive, it was so awesome. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and the water was an awesome shade of blue. They told us it was the first sun they had in 3 weeks, so we were lucky!
About a 1/2 hour later, I was doing my very first SCUBA dive EVER in the GREAT BARRIER REEF!!! It was amazing. During the first dive my ears hurt so bad that it almost took over the whole experience. Breathing under water is pretty tough to get used to, it was a little scary to trust the oxygen on my back. All-in-all, I'd say SCUBA diving is just a weird experience. But the diving instructor, Damien, was AWESOME and he held my and Dannon's hands for a bit, and showed us sea cucumbers and stuff, so we both relaxed and enjoyed the dive.

After that dive, it just got better and better. Throughout my 5 dives I :

-Touched a sea cucumber and a pinapple sea cucumber
-Touched all this amazing coral... there is one that when you touch it, it retreats into its shell and you leave a hand print on it. It was so soft, it felt awesome to run your hands through.
- Pet a little Great Barrier Reef clown fish, like actually held the thing in my hands and pet it
- Swam IN a school of fish, there were a million yellow tail fusiliers (which are blue fish w/ a yellow tail) and I just went in the middle of them and swam in their school with them!!
- Saw 2 reef sharks (4 or 5 feet) and chased one
- Pet a couple sea turtles and swam with them
- Put my hand inside a GIANT clam (like 4 or 5 feet big) and it closed on my hand! Their muscles are sooo huge that they can't close all the way so my hand was squished between its muscels and it is sooo soft, its like velvet

AND -- I KISSED A FISH!!! There is this huge fish (4 feet) named Wally and he's so friendly, he's like a dog. If you put your hand in the air he will come to you and put his nose into your hand to actually push you through the water!! And, he loves to be petted and he's so soft, it was absolutely crazy. I took out my regulator while I was diving and kissed him on his HUGE FAT BLUE LIPS! It was awesome! -This is someone else's picture, but i just wanted u to see what he looks like and how huge he is! -

I saw so many amazing fish. They were all kinds of crazy colors that I never really thought existed naturally, it was breath taking. All in all, the trip was amazing. There was a nice small group of us on the boat, it holds 60 people and there were only 15 of us, so we all got special attention and became pretty good friends. [Commenting now 5 years later, I am still in contact with a girl named Stav,from Israel, who I met on this trip!]

I have to say that I am a lucky, lucky person to have done my first SCUBA dive ever in the Great Barrier Reef! My only regret is that I didn’t get certified before I went, because then I would have been able to go on a night dive, which sounded really cool. But the instructors were really lax and let us do almost everything the certified divers could do, so I really didn't feel like I was missing out at all.

Australia was awesome!

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