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October 2nd, 2000 · No Comments

Cairns Layover

Day 276

Cairns is known as a scuba diving destination for divers from all over the world. Located an hour’s boat ride from the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns makes it’s living offering water sports to tourists. It is a great town to visit, but believe it or not, it does not have a beach! If you want to scuba or snorkel, you must get on one of the many charter vessels and travel out to the reef.

I knew I wanted to see the reef. As a former certified scuba diver I was dying to gear up and dive, but doctor’s orders are “no more diving” since my ear surgery. What a bummer! Here I am in the most sought after scuba location in the world and all I can do is snorkel. Oh well, I could be at home shoveling snow or cleaning the toilet bowl.

Len Beil, one of the Odyssey riders put together a tour for us, getting a discount from the normal fare. It was a nice group of about 20 who joined the boat with about 100 or so others. It was a huge vessel, designed to transport as many bodies to the reef as possible. The interior of the boat had nice high back chairs lining both sides and the middle. There was a bar offering beverages and for free for everyone there was tea and cookies.

P0003811 The trip out took an hour and a half. We stopped at Green Island to let off a bunch of folks who would be spending the day on land, using the white sand beaches to relax and play. We stayed on and after awhile docked beside a huge pontoon, which would be our location for the day. On the pontoon we found all the equipment needed to snorkel or dive. After the dive we would be welcomed to a lovely buffet lunch with all we could eat.

The ride out was rather bumpy, I preferred to sit outside in the fresh air napping and reading. I ventured inside a couple of times and felt sea sick immediately. The boat seemed to be going so fast and bumpy, it just didn’t agree with my stomach.

One thing I didn’t mention, because I still haven’t told Larry, is I had a little accident this morning. I got up sleepy to use the toilet. When I went to flush, I stepped back to see where the flusher was, while doing so I hit the raised portion of the shower (a very stupid design) and lost my balance, falling backwards into the shower stall, landing on my butt, but bumping my head very hard on the tile wall. It hurt. I saw birds, stars and those little whirly things, but I didn’t black out. My roommate never heard me groan in pain so it’s a good thing! She was fast asleep still.

I got up and crawled back into bed. My head hurt, but I wasn’t sure if I had a concussion. My head worried me but I figured I was OK since I was able to get up and walk. I certainly was unsure if I should go snorkeling, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. When Bobbie woke up I told her what had happened, she suggested I take some aspirin to reduce the swelling. So that’s why I was a little sea sick on the boat. Guess you could say today would not be a “high energy” day for me either.

I felt better once the big boat docked to the pontoon. The pontoon was a huge beast and it seemed to be better grounded than the big boat. At least it didn’t have the sway to make me nauseas.

P0003813 Al Young had come up to me and asked it I would snorkel with her, since she couldn’t swim and was scared. I told her my head hurt, but I thought I was OK and would be glad to help her. As it turned out, I enjoyed having someone to help and “talk” through the snorkel experience. She took to it like a fish to water. She was an easy student. We stayed in the water until we were as wrinkled as prunes and starving. It was a great day!

There is so much to see on the reef. You actually don’t even have to move, once you get over the coral, you can just float there looking down at the various ocean life. The more you look the more you see, it is so amazing. I saw two huge sea turtles and a little shark about a meter in length. The fish and coral are so colorful, there are more varieties than I could ever remember or identify.

My favorite was a huge green fish that was as big as a man. He was a real lover too, coming up to the scuba divers below me, letting them pet him. He kept coming back for more, just like a house pet. He enjoyed all the attention.

P0003824 I was glad I took the time to come out here, even if it was just to snorkel. I will always remember this experience and look forward to the time when I can do it again. It was a great day.

After dinner we had a meeting, Tim announced that we are having problems getting into Japan. It is a long, involved explanation, but bottom line is, we changed airlines and because of the new airlines we need a new landing permit for Kyoto. This permit was supposed to be in 30 days prior to landing. We are supposed to land tomorrow, instead we will be staying in Cairns for at least another 24 hours.

Rumors start to fly immediately and the intrigue continues. Back in Belfast, Tim had cut Japan out of the schedule giving us 10 days in Cairns. He was approached by nearly 100% of the riders who felt that Japan was the impetuous for signing up for the trip. By him changing the schedule, he was using “bait and switch” to get us signed up. Well now, here we are in Cairns thinking we are going to Japan and now on the eve of departure we aren’t. Time will tell if this in an honest mistake. Lord knows we all make them, but after 5 years of planning, how much more can go wrong?

The meeting went smooth. Tim knows many people are very angry with him for his lack of planning, leadership and the way certain things are handled. The list goes on and on. He seems to be trying to change things, but for some his attention is too late, he should have been more attentive 8 months ago.

Cairns ~ Unanticipated Layover

Day 277

My roommates have now informed me I must wear a helmet at all times for safety purposes. They believe I am a menace to myself. If I can get through today without falling, they will reconsider. So, I guess I will be sitting in a chair poolside today. I’ve earned it.

It’s a lazy day for me, time to catch up on the website and take a nap.

At dinner, it was still unclear as to when and if we are going to Japan. We are still having trouble getting permission to land. There has been talk of us just getting on the plane and flying to Kuala Lumpur and waiting there for clearance. Tim said he didn’t like that option because it just uses up more air time. No kidding! Looking at the map, it takes us in a different direction than our goal.

At 8:30 Bobbie and I give up and go to a movie. We figure by the time the movie is over, we will know if we are going or staying tomorrow. In the mean time it’s not much fun hanging around listening to all the rumors and rumbling.

The movie was “High Fidelity” a light humorous and entertaining tale that kept us laughing form start to finish. Just what we needed. Back at camp we found a note taped to the hotel window regarding tomorrow’s schedule. It is a “go!” We are flying to Kuala Lumpur, deplaning then boarding two separate commercial airliners for Kyoto, Japan.

There are two things for me to worry about now, first the flights will end up taking over 24 hours total time until we reach our destination. Yuck! I will have to deal with that as it comes. Thankfully, we arrive in the morning, than have a layover day to recuperate before we are bused to our next destination to catch up with the riding schedule.

Second, we are limited to 35 kilos of luggage. Even after monthly mail outs to home, my bags continue to weigh a ton! I don’t know how much they weigh, but I know I’m not going to make that weight. I really need Larry here so I can use his portion!

Cairns to Kuala Lumpur to Kyoto

Day 278

“My bags are packed I’m ready to go, I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…” runs through my mind. Asia here I come! It was hard to sleep last night, I was too rested and not the least bit tired. I didn’t want to wake my roommates so I just laid in bed, waiting for morning or sleep which ever came first. Sleep came finally a hard, sound sleep that was abruptly disturbed by the rustling of bags being packed. It was time to move.

On the way to the airport, Bob W. offered to help with my “over weight” problem. He and two others had air shipped their bikes and camping gear to Auckland, New Zealand. They were planning to take a private tour through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia while we cycled. Since he had no significant luggage he was going to help me. Cool! My stuff weighed in at 45.6 kilos! 10.6 kilos over the limit. (25 pounds!)

Overweight, it’s the story of my life!

Tags: Australia