(no subject)

Just to let you all know, I arrived safely back in the UK yesterday afternoon.

I have had a good night's sleep, but I'm still tired, and my brain is not functioning well enough for me to write a proper update right now. One will follow soon, as will photos from my U2 concert onwards.

So, the trip's done... I'll have a think about what to do with this lj and let you know. It seems sad to just end it, but my every day life won't make for such interesting entries, and I am no longer an Oz Rose... Any suggestions welcome.


Goodbye Cairns. Goodbye, Australia.

So.  My last night in Australia.

This update was going to be full of photos - the last batch, running through from Melbourne up to today - but they are refusing to allow themselves to be uploaded.  They shall have to be put up when I am back in the UK.

I am very tired, so this may not be a full update. 

My plane is at just past midday tomorrow, and the hostel have said they can arrange a shuttle for me, but I don't know if they mean free or not.  It should only be about $10, anyway.  STA finally got in touch with me, after having sent me an e-mail with a dud attachment that was supposed to be my confirmation and details, I sent at least 4 e-mails before hearing back from them that they have sent a paper ticket to the Qantas desk at Cairns airport for me.  I badgered them some more and eventually found out that they have booked a hotel room for me, free of charge, in Tokyo.  Which is good to know.  So, there we go.  I get up tomorrow morning 8 or 9am, pack up, get the shuttle, then a plane to Tokyo, have a night there, then another plane back to the UK, where I arrive mid-afternoon Friday.  Then Saturday it's up to Aber. 

It will be good to be home, but I feel sad at leaving Cairns.  I really love it here, and wish I could have had longer here.  Can't be helped, though.  There was no way I could have known, and I wouldn't have even made it here for months yet. if at all, if I hadn't decided to come home early.  

I didn't do much on Sunday, lazed around the hostel, read Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, then headed down and explored the Night Markets that evening.  They aren't large, and they're very tourist, but it was nice enough to have a wander through.  I also discovered the Lagoon - a free open air swimming pool on the promenade.  It was quite beautiful, all lit up under the night sky, empty but for a group of children splashing around.

Monday, I went with Turtle Tours.  It promised rainforest, waterfalls, beaches, lakes... all for $29.  All the others I'd seen were $99 minimum, so i figured it was worth a try.  It really was.  I was the first person Mike (the tour guide) picked up in the morning, so I got the front seat on the coach, and we chatted away quite merrily as he went around and picked up the others.  There were two middle aged women from Melbourne, and originally somewhere else in Europe, although I forget where, a swiss couple in their mid-twenties, four dutch girls in their early to mid twenties, and a mid-twenties Czech guy.  Everyone was quite friendly, although the couple kept to themselves rather. 

We headed up to a look-out over Cairns for a few photos, and lots of information about the town and its history, and then pushed on to the Crystal Cascades.  We were warned to look out for March Flies (aka horse flies) and heart-shaped leaves... the March Flies you have to really smack hard if you see them - apparently you have about 10 seconds before they bite - and then stamp on them or throw them in water, because they're nigh on indestructible and keep coming back.  The heart-shaped leaves... Dead Man's Itch, it's called in my Rough Guide.  If you get stung by them, the rash and pain continues for up to 6 months, apparently.  The best way to ease it is to use gaffer tape or wax to pull some of it out, but even that won't get all of it.  Nasty stuff.  We walked up, with identifications of various vegetation and wildlife from our guide, until we reached the waterfalls at the top.  We took a few photos and then headed back until we reached a particular spot in the river.  The rocks were situated such that a little rapids formed, and it was here that we were going to swim.  Everyone stood around looking chicken, so i stripped down to my bikini and waded in first.  The water was absolutely wonderful.  It was just cool enough to be refreshing, without being so cold I was flinching or having trouble getting in.  Not everyone agreed with me - the poor Czech lad was absolutely frozen.  We swam around a little and then headed up to the rapids.  They formed a little slide, so you slid into the water just underneath a little fall, and lie back, and get rushed down through the rocks and deposited at the bottom.  Lots of fun! I went around several times...

After this we towelled off, and headed back to the minibus.  It was so hot that most people just wore their bikinis and a towel, and I followed our guide's lead and went barefoot from then on, rather than bothering with pulling my DMs on and off.

Next stop was Lake Placid.  We stopped for lunch and magic tricks, and then headed down to the lake.  Mike collected our cameras and then got us to jump off the rocks into the water with arms and legs spread, and preferably grinning like a loon, as he got photos for all of us in mid-air.  Once again, everyone was chicken, so i was first in.  After that was the dive bombing contest... I am proud to say I was pronounced the best, next to Mike.  But he does it every day, so he doesn't really count... ;)

After that we just swam a little bit in the water.  It was even warmer than the last place, and it was like being in a bath, really.  After a while, Mike came to the rock, and called a few of us over.  He then pulled out the chips and bread crusts he'd saved at lunch, claiming they were for the ducks, and began throwing them at us.  We were a little confused, but realization quickly dawned, as we became surrounded by a feeding frenzy of fish.  I can't remember what he said they were, but they were about a foot long, and there were hundreds of them, going absolutely crazy.  They butted into us, and even nipped at us a little bit.  One girl freaked out and swam right out to shore, making a lot of noise.  I gave Mike the finger, and then climbed out, and the Czech guy followed.  A few of us then sat at the water's edge feeding the fish - they would jump up into really shallow puddles on the rocks just to grab them.  It was just heaving with darting fish-bodies everywhere.  It was a mean trick, but kind of funny, and certainly a new experience... I'd never been in the middle of a feeding frenzy of fish before :P

We then headed, of all places, a golf course.  There's one of those little private estate type places, with gates and key codes and stuff to get in, run some Japanese, that used to be very exclusive, and has a gorgeous landscaped golf course.  However, prices dropped, and now it's not so exclusive, but it still looks it.  We still had to get dressed into clothes again, rather than just bikinis and towels.  On the way in was a beautiful white Yamah baby grand, and I couldn't help looking longingly at it.  When we headed back out, I paused to have a look at it, and Mike told me to go ahead and play on it.  So I sat me down, and opened the lid, and asked if there were any requests, only to look up and find the entire group standing around looking at me, waiting for a performance.  No pressure, or anything... I played a few bars of Elton John's 'Your Song', enough to discover that it really was a lovely piano... and then closed the lid, embarrassed by all the attention, and we left again.  Apparently Mike can always tell the piano players on the tour, because they always turn to look at the piano when they walk in, when no one else even notices it.  

We then headed out to an exclusive 5 star resort to see the beach voted the best in Australia or something.  It wasn't very impressive.  But we also got to head out along a pier and meet a salty old fisherman and chat to him for a bit, which was kind of interesting.  

After that we saw another beach, and then got dropped off back at our hostels.

It doesn't sound like much, but it was a great day.  Mike's patter was really interesting, I haven't the time or memory to tell you half the stuff he told us, but there was some fascinating stuff in there, and I had a good time chatting to him and the Czech lad all day.  There was a really nice atmosphere, everyone was really friendly, and it was just like a day out with friends. 

There are lots of photos, which will be posted some time soon, I promise.

That evening I headed to the lagoon and went swimming for a while, in the moonlight, which was lovely.  It is quite strange swimming under the night sky. 

Today I finished up my souvenir shopping, and headed out to the Botanic Gardens and some rainforest.  Not very much to say about that, really, except that it was nice.  Sorry, I am rather tired, now.

I could muse on about my feelings on coming to the end of my trip, but I am exhausted, and I have so many thoughts I could muse on them for page after page and never reach an end...

As a short version: I am sad that I am leaving Cairns, I have fallen in love with the place. But I still think my decision to come home was the right one, under the circumstances, and I am looking forward to getting back, even thought I don't want to leave here.

I do hope I can come back to Cairns again some day, whether only for a week or two's holiday, or maybe a few months, teaching English or something (they have some TEFL schools here, and are apparently always looking for teachers...).  It is a wonderful place, and I should be sad to never see it again.  It has been everything I hoped Australia would be, and has had everything that Sydney and Melbourne were lacking.  

Right.  The cafe is closing.

Next update will probably be Tokyo or UK...
rose bw

(no subject)

Apologies for the lack of updates of late. I shall fill you in on Melbourne when I get to Cairns.

I am currently in Brisbane airport, with most of an hour to kill before the second half of my flight departs for Cairns. The first half went amazingly quickly. Flying is wonderful. It still felt magical the second time around.

This time instead of boarding via a tunnel, we got to walk across the tarmac and up steps and in through the door. I paused on the threshold, to look down over my imaginary sunglasses at my imaginary fans...

See you up the top end, y'all...
rose bw

I'm coming home

I've booked a flight for the 29th November from Cairns.

(I've also booked a flight to Cairns, and sent a booking enquiry for scuba diving on the reef)


I'm coming home!