Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Australia - The Daintrees ( Part 8 )

Cairns to daintrees

I woke up at 6:50am to catch my shuttle up to the daintrees. The recommendation to go to the daintree was made to me by my coworker V who's been diving to the GBR before as well and told me that it was a must see.

The tour books also recommended it highly as well.

So I booked myself a tour even though I kind of wanted to stay in Cairns. Cairns was kinda cool even though its completely touristy. Actually, even though I've been holidaying for the last two weeks, I haven't seen any touristy spots so perhaps it was a relief for me to see one. :)

Anyhow I had two days to kill before my diving trip, so I decided to visit the daintrees. The daintrees was a rain forest system that's supposed to be the oldest in the world, but all the brochures recommending it made it seem more like an amusement park than anything else.

The pickup was right outside the hotel at 7:40 and I was waiting with another bloke from England.

We were picked up promptly and I found myself in the backrow of a 24 man bus. This made me more glad my kakadu tour was only a 9 man tour. This group was also far less lively but perhaps given the time, it made sense that everyone was trying to recover from the night before. :)

I decided that I wanted to do a kayak tour as well as the night walk during my time at the daintrees. As I didn't prebook these tours, I had to wait until I arrived at the hostel I was staying at to book my activities.

We then set off on the way up to the daintrees along what is supposed to be a beautiful stretch of beach laven road.

Well, the results weren't quite what I expected. :)

The stretch of road up to the daintrees, while pretty and laden with a few beach views, is for the most part, flat and boring.

The views are pretty, but its for less than an hour and it never gets very high. Compared to something like highway 1 off the california coast where it extends for over 400 miles of coastland, and this is pretty much a letdown.

And the mosquitoes. We had a pitstop at one place for toilets and snacks and the bus driver basically told everyone to put on bug spray, or buy some. :/

Having been bitten badly already in Darwin, I wasn't going to take the chance and decided to buy the local brand of bug spray. As it didn't have DEET, I was wary about how well it would work.

I sprayed it on nonetheless and hope it'd work.

The next stop was for a riverboat cruise. This was the cruise to cross the Daintree river (normally not crossable unless you're on a cable ferry).... but they did more than just ferry us across the river. They explained a bit about the local ecology as well as try to find crocodiles. Total time spent on the ferry was about an hour, of which 30 minutes of it was spent sleeping by me. The crocodiles was fairly unremarkable as all they did was sleep on the banks, and most of them were quite small. Of course, I had the jumping croc cruise from Kakadu to remember, so I mostly just ignored the crocs and wished they did more mangroves cruising.

At one point, the ferry operator asked for a show of hands on who wished to look at crocs versus mangroves, and i believe I was the only one asking for Mangroves. =) Needless to say, I spent the time after that sleeping.

After the ferry, we were back on the bus, and I spent the rest of the time sleeping. We had a short stop at a boardwalk walk through the rainforest, but I felt that the walk was incredibly rushed. We didn't stop to look at anything, and I'd liked at least 30 more minutes than the 10 minutes or so that it took for the guide to blow through the tour. Advise to those who wish to do the Daintrees, forget the tours, rent your own car!

We arrived quickly at PK Hostels, a self declared "Jungle paradise", although I had a hard time seeing what was so parasidic about the place. =) It was your average hostels with a few private rooms, a kitchen, a few shower stalls, and a small pool.

I settled in quickly and went off to buy some food, seeing as how nothing on the menu pleased me.

It was during the cooking of my lunch that my next pleasant Australian surprise came around, and that was the visitation of a gigantic lizard. =) This lizard crawled around the kitchen, looking for food, and just sunning itself on a sunny patch when it was bored of tramping through the garbage bins. Surprisingly agile, it jumped on the garbage bin a couple of times thinking perhaps it was food. I have yet to identify the species of lizard, and it terrorized a few other kitchen folks, but I thought it was a great addition to my Australia Expereince.

I then spent the rest of the day in the pool, visiting the rather flat ocean (made unswimmable currently because of Jelly fishes), and surfing the internet.

I had just posted my last blog entry "I'm sorry i summited Uluru" when a "hey Sy! What are you doing here" greeting reached me. I turned around and was surprised to see a friend of my coworker at the Internet Center.

After a few quick enquiries and greetings, I realized my luck must have turned dramatically because my coworker has a working blackberry charger! =) So my fears of not being able to wake up early enough during my flight back from Cairns was no longer a problem. Even better, they had a car, and would be happy to taxi me back to Cairns after my kayaking trip tomorrow. They had just finished their own dives and was currently here for their night Jungle walk. I had thought about joining it, but apparently it was very full. =\

But all the same, my luck had changed, and i was the happier for it. =) Plans were made to meet up with them tomorrow.

Later on in the evening, more happy coincidences occured as I met Corin and Sven from my Kakadu trip. We had quite a bit of a happy reunion and lots of talk were made about how our times were passed since we last saw one another.

I retired very happily that night, meeting new people, meeting old friends, seeing new sights, that's what travelling is mostly about to me!
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