AUS: Cairns

Monday (April 18): Evan, Celeste, and I all had seats next to each other on the plane! I slept for the majority of the flight.

Food!!

We landed around 8:30 pm and caught a bus to our hostel. We asked our bus driver what he recommended food-wise, and he said the Night Markets if we weren’t feeling Macca’s (that’s Aussie for McDonald’s). After we checked into our hostel, we decided to check out the Night Markets. It did not disappoint! Pad Thai is the best (that’s what I got).

Colorful trees

After we ate, we decided to roam around the streets to see what was around us. We got halfway through this street when it started raining, so we decided to go back to the hostel.

Speaking of the hostel – Gilligan’s Backpackers – it was really nice for a few reasons. All four of us shared the room together, the room was neat and clean, we had our own bathroom and shower in the room, AND we had a balcony. Not too shabby.

View from our balcony!

Tuesday (April 19): We woke up at 6:45 am so that we could be at the pier for check-in at 7:30. We were all excited to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Heading to the GBR

We had about an hour cruise to get to the snorkel spot, so we enjoyed the view and the sun. Once we were almost there, we were given our snorkel gear and a wetsuit (called a “stinger suit” by the instructors) that protected us from any jellyfish.

Not a mediocre barrier reef

You can SEA (ha) the reef without even going into the water!! So awesome. We went snorkeling for about two hours! I don’t even know how to describe everything I saw. There were heaps of fish and coral, and the cool part was that everything was so colorful. It also didn’t matter where I turned my head underwater because there was always a nice view. My favorite part was just floating in a spot for a while and watching all the fish live their lives. Whether it was them swimming with their pals or munching on some coral (parrotfish), it was an awesome sight to see.

Relaxing in paradise

This photo makes me laugh. Thanks for taking it, Celeste! I guess we were a tad tired from all the snorkeling.

I can’t bereef we snorkeled in this!

It’s like a never-ending wall.. I’ll never get over it. (I also learned that one from a joke book.) We all were fed lunch after snorkeling, and then headed to Michaelmas Cay.

Glass-bottom boat tour!

We saw coral (this is called spaghetti coral), massive clams, and even a sea turtle! It was interesting to learn about everything we were seeing.

Michaelmas Cay aka bird sanctuary

After our boat tour, we were dropped off at this nesting site. It was pretty smelly and loud due to the birds, but still a neat place. There was this small spot sectioned off for humans so that we wouldn’t disturb the birds.

The homies

Man, what a GREAT day.

HUGE fish

As we were leaving Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef to head back to land, one of the instructors tossed some food out for these massive fish. They were so speedy and entertaining to watch.

Sailing through Australia

On the way back, they put up the sail! It was such a nice, relaxing ride back. The four of us ended up playing the game “Contact” (BRO, I remember you teaching me this!!).

Esplanade Lagoon

On our way back to the hostel, we passed by the lagoon. None of us swam in it, I just took a photo because it looked cool. We also came here the night we landed (Monday) when no one was there. It was so peaceful!

Afterwards, we wandered around Cairns until we got decently hungry and agreed on a place: Mexican food!!

Dessert time!

After I finished eating/sharing my nachos (everyone else was done with their food before me), we went to grab some dessert. We went to the exit side of the Night Markets next to all of these other dessert options. I saw this place – the Ice Cloud Dessert Bar – and immediately thought of Costco. It’s Costco’s two best items PUT TOGETHER. Soft serve AND a churro. Why hasn’t Costco thought of this?!?! (Can you tell I miss Costco? Also, I didn’t realize how much I’ve grown accustomed to Costco’s 2% milk and pistachios until I came here.)

After dessert, we headed back to the hostel and played some card games! It was one of those moments where I was just in the zone and didn’t think about or feel like going online or using any technology. It was a really nice feeling. I was also re-introduced to the Spit card game (BRO, you also originally taught me this game)!! Before we all went to bed, I Googled some silly jokes to tell them.

Wednesday (April 20): This was our first full day in Australia where we didn’t plan anything. The only thing I had planned was registration for Chapman classes at 2 pm Australia time (9 pm the previous day in CA). I double checked three times before we left for Australia to make sure I had converted the times correctly. (I had!)

We woke up late, ate brunch across the street from our hostel at a cafe called Candy, and then looked around the nearby shops. One of the stores we went into was a toy store! Evan taught me how to kind of play the ukulele (Thanks Evan! I learned to strum, I guess that kind of counts).

My ride for the day

After I registered for classes (I got all the ones I wanted, yay!), we decided to go to the Cairns Botanical Gardens via bike! The bike ride there was SO fun, I forgot how fun bikes are. I’m glad I was reminded.

Theresa helped me adjust my bike seat to the lowest it could go, but my feet could still barely touch the ground when I needed to stop. At one point, I had said, “I feel like a kangaroo!” because I was hopping on my toes trying to push myself on the bike to get the momentum going. I can only imagine how silly I looked. I laughed a lot (mostly at myself) and I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed that much in a span of an hour than I did on this bike ride.

Rainforest boardwalk

We were surrounded by so many trees, it was almost like we were in a forest or something.

Us with helmets (newest trend)

I don’t remember exactly why we kept our helmets on, but it did help shield us from some of the sporadic rain.

Taylor Swift’s inspiration (probably)

We were almost out of the woods at the time of this photo.

We saw a spider and I was going to take a photo of it, but then I came to the realization that I didn’t really want a picture of a spider on my camera.

Freshwater lake

We heard and saw lots of birds thanks to Theresa!

Resting spot

We walked over to this spot and just took in all the sights and sounds. The botanical gardens made me feel so calm.

Pretty sights

I wish my photos captured nature’s beauty.

On our ride back, it started pouring. A lot. HEAPS, I’d say.

Drenched from head to toe

Compare this to our photo of us in the botanical gardens with our helmets on (if you want).

BATS!!

After we all cleaned up and wore dry clothes, us girls went shopping for some flip flops. On our way to the store, we saw these bats fly by!! I thought they were birds until Theresa got super excited and told us they were bats.

After we bought flip flops, all four of us ate dinner (Celeste and I had Italian, Theresa and Evan had Japanese) and dessert (gelato). We headed back to the hostel, played some more card games until we were tired, and then I read some more jokes to everyone before we went to sleep.

Thursday (April 21): We checked out of our hostel and went back to the airport for our next stop, but not before we ate some breakfast.

Acai bowl!

This acai bowl was nice for two reasons: 1) it was pretty refreshing, and 2) it reminded me of my co-workers back home. The last acai bowl I had before this one was with them. I miss you all!

Cairns, it’s been fun; thank you for letting us swim with Nemo’s friends.

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