Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef

The day after our Rainforest Tour in Cairns, we boarded the Spirit of Freedom live aboard boat for a four day scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef. It was the most insane experience; we did eleven dives in only two and a half days.Each dive was between30-60 minutes long.It was physically taxing. We literally ate and dove throughout the entire day with short breaks in between, so by the time our last dive and dinner was over, we could hardly keep our eyes open. So from wake up call at 6:30am to around 5pm (except for the night we did a night dive) we were going-going-going. Since we were already doing so many dives, and our whole point of this part of the trip was to dive the Reef, Kev and I also decided that we might as well get our advanced open water diving certification. So, yay!, Kev and I are now certified advanced open water divers.

Diving the Great Barrier Reef was the coolest experience ever. I saw neon colored coral, cod, jelly fish, whitetip reef sharks, a sea turtle, and amazing fish of all different colors. Do you remember reading The Rainbow Fish when you were younger? Well, when I was a child, it was one of my favorite books. I remember thinking how pretty and colorful the fish in the book were and how I wished all fish were that pretty. Well, the fish on the Great Barrier Reef are just as vibrant. What’s cool too is that from far away (especially during low visibility underwater) the coral can look dull and colorless and it often looks like there aren’t even any fish around. It isn’t until you get closer and really look closely that you can see some of the coolest things including small, multi-colored fish, neon colored fish, clams, eels or sea snakes hiding in crevices, etc.

My goal of our dive trip was to see a sea turtle. Several other divers in different dive groups saw some throughout the dives and I was so bummed that I missed them. I was beyond ecstatic when I finally saw one on the very last dive on our last dive day. It came out of nowhere and swam right by me. Even though we were exhausted and ready for a break after eleven dives, the dive trip was an unbelievable experience and my body missed being under water after I had a full day to rest. I already can’t wait until my next dive trip.

Since you need to wait at least 18-24 hours until you can fly after your last dive, on our last day with Spirit of Freedom we explored Lizard Island where we learned the story of Mary Watson. We then hiked a large hill for a gorgeous view followed by a little lunch on the beach. From Lizard Island we boarded a small plane and flew back to Cairns, and from Cairns Kevin and I flew back to Sydney where we spent our last two days in Australia before flying home.

Below are some of my favorite videos I took on my GoPro during my dives:


Cairns, Australia Rainforest Tour

We got into Australia on Saturday afternoon after leaving the States on Thursday evening. After relaxing and walking around Cairns a little bit, we decided that the best way to make the most with our remaining day in Cairns would be to book an excursion. We ended up going with the Wait-a-While Rainforest Spotlighting Tour because I wanted to see some Australian animals in their natural habitats as opposed to going to a zoo to hold a koala (as tempting and adorable as that would have been). There were only two others on our tour besides me, Kevin, and the tour guide which was pretty awesome.

The tour didn’t start until around 1pm because 80% of animals in Australia are nocturnal or more active at night.We saw a lot of cool things:two different kinds of kangaroos–one land, one tree kangaroo, lizards, a cane toad that can make you high if you lick it, fox bats, tons of cool trees and plants, glowing mushrooms (total Avatar-like stuff), and we searched for the elusive platypus in the river. I learned a lot of cool things about the animals too. One cool thing I learned about the kangaroo is that the Joey stays in their pouch for about 9 months. The female can still get pregnant during that time but she can actually pause the pregnancy/development of the fetus until the Joey is old enough. How crazy!

Searching for the platypus was one of my favorite things. We walked down the river with our eyes fixed on the river. Did you know that a platypus is only about the size of a large rat? I thought they were much larger. They also have to breath air every 45 seconds, so even though the river was murky with all the rainfall, we tried finding them by looking on the surface for bubbles. Just when we were about to give up and there were only minutes left of daylight, I spotted not one but two. We all ran down the river slipping and sliding on the muddy trail to follow the little guys for a while longer. Even though I destroyed my shoes, it was totally worth it. I now understand why they call platypi elusive little creatures. My second favorite part of the trip was the night tour portion. You can’t see a thing in the rainforest other than the stars over the tall branchy trees. Our guide had a special light on that catches the glare of animals eyes. That way he was able to shine his spotlight and show us some animals like different kinds of opossums. During the night tour we also saw some glow in the dark mushrooms. We got to see where James Cameron got the inspiration for the film Avatar.

Besides the animals, the plants and trees were unlike anything I’ve seen…probably because I’ve never been in a rainforest, but still. The Wait-a-While Tour company we went with is actually named after a vine that is covered in prickles that can wrap around things and makes it difficult to get out, and we saw a few of those throughout the day. We also saw some really thick vines like the ones Tarzan swings from in the movie. I thought the coolest tree was the Curtain Fig Tree. The figsgerminate on top of another tree and try to grow roots into the ground. The fig then grows vigorously and eventually kills the host tree. Its curtain of aerial roots drops around 49feet to the ground!

Kev and I had a great time on the tour and got to see almost all of the animals the guide told us we might see. Onething that we couldn’t control was the rain. We didn’t care about getting a little wet, what we weren’t anticipating were the little leaches that would cling to our ankles during our afternoon hike through the rainforest. I guess it was only a small price to pay for an amazingly fun day.]]>

A Day in Queens

Earlier this month some of my co-workers and I went to Flushing Queens for the day. It was actually really quick and easy to get there. I just took the LIRR to Flushing from Penn Station, and it only took 20 minutes.
We all met up at KPOP for gel manicures with fun designs. Surprisingly, it was my first time getting a gel manicure, ever! The options were endless and the hardest part of our day was picking out which designs to get. It was a lot of fun getting our nails done together.
After spending like three hours getting our nails done, we had lunch at the food court in the New World Mall. There are dozens of different food stalls with a wide range of food including Malaysian, Thai, Viet-namese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Because there were so many options, we all went to different stalls and bought something different so we could share and try as much as possible. We had everything from noodles, to dumplings and spring rolls, to a spicy mixed veggie dish. Everything was super good. It was also really neat being able to watch some of the vendors make the noodles from scratch right in front of you.

After lunch we walked to Prince Tea House. The place is super cute and decorated nicely. It’s like an adult version of Alice’s Tea Cup in Manhattan. They use cute china and have a wide variety of teas and cakes. Even though we were already full from lunch, we couldn’t resist getting a few things to share. We tried the green tea mille crepe, a waffle with nutella, fruit, and ice cream, a carmel pot black tea which looks like a little potted plant with cookie crumble as the dirt and lavender tea. Everything was delicious.

With our stomachs full, we all headed to our respective trains to head back home. It was a really fun day out in Queens. I rarely travel to other boroughs, so it was cool to hang out in a new area. My company wasn’t bad either 😉