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The Joys of Travelling

09 June 2012

In our heads, we romanticize travel.  It's glamorous, adventurous, fun.
It's something we yearn to do, and we often fantasize about it or envy those who are travelling.
But let's face it, travelling isn't always glamorous.
Let me provide you with a few examples.

Example #1:
Our flight from Hamilton Island back to Sydney was almost diverted due to high winds.  However, we managed to successfully land in 70+mph winds after a half hour delay.  Yay!  Upon landing, they announced that the cargo door to access our baggage could not be opened in such high winds.  We would be able to disembark the plane, but would have to wait until the wind died down to get our luggage.

Okay, no worries.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  More than three HOURS later, our baggage finally arrived on the carousel.  During the 3 hour wait, we were told every 10 minutes that we could not leave the airport, because it was a federal offense to leave your luggage.  Fo realz.

High Winds in Sydney {via}
Example #2:
On our train journey home after our 3 hour wait, we noticed that the zipper on our big hard shell suitcase split open, allowing some of our clothing to spill out.  Although I was able to temporarily fix it, it seemed like a terrible idea to press our luck with 11 more flights to go.  Therefore, the next morning we scrambled to the mall to buy a new suitcase before taking off for Bali.

Example #3:
Every international flight I've taken from Australia has been on a nice, long-haul plane.  I mean the kind with more leg room, more recline, individual tv screens, and free meals.  So imagine my surprise when our Virgin Australia flight to Bali {a six and a half hour flight, no less} was on a crappy plane designed for short-hauls.  Let me elaborate:

  • No free food
  • Very little leg room
  • Not much seat recline
  • NO tv screens...anywhere.  No movies, nothing.

For a SIX AND A HALF hour flight.  To put that in perspective, add a half hour and it's the length of a NYC --> Europe flight.  What gives, Virgin?  I didn't realize you were a low budget, craptastic airline.

Example #4:
And lastly, on said flight, the 20-something Aussie bloke sitting next to me graced us with his shart-your-pants gas the entire flight.  At first, I thought it was the little kid in front of us.  However, the more I thought about it, the less plausible that became.  I know how parents are when they smell poop/farts from their kids.  They immediately, without shame, put their nose up to the kid's butt and then ask the kid if he needs to go to the bathroom.  Since this wasn't happening, and I saw a little leg lift action from my neighbor, I can only presume that he was the one crop dusting us.

Although traveling isn't always glamorous,
it's still totally worth it.

Hamilton Island

08 June 2012

Otherwise known as the vacation spot of golf carts, amazing sunsets, and feeding wild animals.
I wish I had something profound to say about this place, but I think you're all familiar with it's key elements.  At it's core, Hamilton Island is just a great place to unwind and enjoy the ocean.

The island is golf-cart only.  This means two things: 1) it's super small, and 2) you have the freedom of transportation, without the stress.

Airport parking

I really needed this stop as the first 5 days of our Big Adventure.  As I said, I was feeling like a crazy stressed out person when we left Sydney.  Had we gone anywhere that required thinking or much activity, I would probably still be feeling that way.  But as it were, the biggest decisions required on Hamilton Island were whether to go to the pool, the ocean, or enjoy the views from our balcony.  And that, my friends, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

I'd keep talking, but the pictures tell the story better than I can.

Misty morning view from our deck

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos that visited us daily

Australian possums that my bff decided to feed {naughty, naughty}

Seriously though, have you ever seen possums this cute!??!

Thanks Hamilton Island!
Next stop: Ubud, Bali

Our Day at the Reef with Fantasea

07 June 2012

We had one of the best days of my life on Hardy Reef with Fantasea.

After weeks of rain, choppy ocean, clouds, and low visibility,
we boarded the boat with full sunshine above our heads, and a condition report promising calm waters.
The amazing thing about Fantasea is that all tickets are fully refundable, and fully transferable. 
We talked to their staff several times in the days leading up to our tour, and they were happy to discuss weather options and swap our tour date if there was a different day with better conditions.

As it turned out, we got amazing, once a year conditions, that resulted in a really special experience at the reef.  I'll get to that in minute.

The moment we stepped aboard the Fantasea boat, I knew it was going to be great.  The customer to staff ratio was about 5:1, and all the staff were super friendly and attentive.  They spent the two hour boat ride educating us on the reef, orienting us to the pontoon and where to snorkel, and going through trainings for scuba divers.

Thankfully, the water was calm, providing a fairly smooth ride out to the reef.  I took Travacalm and ginger tablets before we took off as a precautionary measure.

So basically I didn't have to use the barf bag...thank God!

Once we stepped aboard Fantasea's pontoon, the largest on the Great Barrier Reef, we changed into swim suits, put on colorful stinger suits, grabbed our gear, and away we went.

Superhero Seaman in his Stinger suit
Very cold after too much time in the water...and clearly I wore my mask too tight!
BFF representin'
  I was absolutely blown away by the reef.  The bright sunshine and good visibility allowed us to see the colors of the coral and fish in full vibrancy.  Everywhere I looked, coral, fish, and sea life danced across my eyes, fighting for my attention.  The magnitude of the reef is simply awe inspiring.  In fact, if you combined 70 million football fields, it still wouldn't be as large as the Great Barrier Reef.  The fish were not afraid of us, so you could peacefully drift, letting the current carry you so close to the fish and coral that you could reach out and touch them {but we didn't, because that's a big no-no.}

The buoys and ropes help you to navigate the Reef

The pictures don't even come close to doing it justice, but I'm so glad I took them anyway.

This bad boy was humongous, easily 4ft wide and 3ft tall!
Giant clam
Parrot fish

To top off the day, as we were leaving the reef, the boat was moving very slowly.  The captain announced that the super low tide resulted in a very special phenomenon, only seen about once per year.  You see, Hardy Reef is circular in shape, so it forms a lagoon.  The tide was lower inside the lagoon than in the rest of the ocean, which created a reef waterfall, where water from the ocean rushed over the reef and into the lagoon.

Remember, this is in the middle of the ocean, almost 50 nautical miles from shore!

completely unedited, all photos copyright of Emmy June

Fantasea, you blew away my expectations.  
Thank you so much for an amazing time on the Great Barrier Reef.

Fantasea offered me discounted tickets in exchange for this review.  
As always, the views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Fun Fact: Skunks

04 June 2012

My first job out of college had me working at a ranch in California,
training Arabian horses.
Within six months of working there,
I got my bff from Michigan a job at the ranch and she moved cross-country.

One day, we noticed a mare acting really weird in her stall.
Upon closer inspection, we saw that there was a baby skunk harassing her.
He would run up to her, do a 180, and lift his tail like he was going to spray.
In turn, the mare was putting her ears back,
and kicking at him.

We laughed and laughed,
and watched the scene unfold for quite some time,
until it was pretty clear that the mare was going to win this battle,
and the poor baby skunk would likely get crushed.

Since he hadn't successfully sprayed the mare,
we assumed that he was too little to spray.
We rescued him, and named him Einstein, aka Skunkers.

My best friend and I got a cage for him, and started researching skunks' diets.
We lifted up his tail, many times, to try and determine "his" gender.
Within a few days, we took him to the vet to get his vaccinations.

We asked the vet, "is he a boy or a girl?"
The vet replied, "I'll tell you next week when we remove the stink glands.
I don't want to get sprayed."
Us: "He doesn't spray, he's too young."
Vet: "No he's not.  He can definitely spray."

Apparently us lifting his tail and closely inspecting the butthole region
had not been aggravating enough to make him spray us.
Clearly, we dodged a bullet.

Skunkers followed us around the house like a little duckling.
He was always one step behind.

Sadly, the day before his vet appointment for stink gland removal,
{surely there was a more technical term},
he disappeared.  We searched and searched for hours,
and could only conclude that he followed my best friend out of the house
without her knowing it.
Our hope is that Skunkers is living a long life in the wild,
now that he's vaccinated against all common diseases.

This blog post is part of the "Fun Facts About Emmy June" series, designed to keep you entertained and following along, while I'm gallivanting around the globe for two months.

Spiritual Sunday

03 June 2012

"Live each present moment completely and the future will take care of itself.  
Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each instant.  Practice the presence of peace.  
The more you do that, the more you will feel the presence of that power in your life."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
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