Monday, November 19, 2007

Goodbye Australia, Aloha Hawaii

So I made it safe and sound into Honolulu on Wednesday morning and it's been a great 5 days in Hawaii. I'm at the airport right now waiting to board my plane so I thought I would update everyone on what took place these last 5 days.

Day 1 - Wednesday: Arrived into Honolulu around 8:30am and made it through customs alright. I was disappointed that I didn't get a lei when I got off the plane. I took the shuttle to my hotel and just spent the afternoon on the beach. I know, life's rough, huh. pictures

Day 2 - Thursday: I spent the day with the Bike Hawaii company on their bike, hike, snorkel & sail tour package. We did a 2.5 mile hike through the rain forest and then went to the top of one of the mountains and biked it down. After lunch, we went snorkeling out in the bay and took the catamaran back to shore. pictures

Day 3 - Friday: I slept in on Friday morning and I walked to Diamondhead National Park during the morning. It was about a 2 mile walk to the park and then another hour+ walk to the peak and back down. Diamondhead is an old volcanic crater that was left after a volcano erupted thousands and thousands of years ago. After the walk back from Diamondhead, I spent the afternoon on the beach. I caught the sunset from the beach and it was absolutely beautiful. pictures

Day 4 - Saturday: I woke up before dawn to get ready for another day trip that I took. This time the tour included Pearl Harbor, Dole Pineapple Plantation, and the Polynesian Cultural Center, along with some minor stops along the way (the pipeline @ north shore, the _____ lookout point, Dog Chapman's Bail Bonds and a couple of other misc. points). pictures

Day 5 - Sunday: Went to Senor Frogs to watch the Bears game. I met a couple of other people at the bar from the Chicagoland area who are currently living in Honolulu. It was nice to watch a live American sporting event for the first time since early July - even though the Bears played a crappy game.

Day 6 - Monday: This is my last day on the island. :-( The weather was overcast a rainy this morning, so after I checked out I just walked around for a while and ended up at the local mall. I just took it easy today and ended up at the airport around 4pm for my 9 o'clock flight. It's now 7:45pm and I'm just waiting to board the plane.

I fly from Honolulu to Dallas/Fort Worth and then from Dallas/Fort Worth to St. Louis. I should arrive in St. Louis around 11:30am and then about 3 hours later I should be at my parents' house for the week. I'm driving back to Chicago on Saturday and then going to the Bears game on Sunday. Hopefully it won't be too cold this week as I don't have any winter clothes with me. Oh well, I guess that's the burden I have to bear for spending 4+ months in Australia & Hawaii!!

NOTE: not all of the pictures have been uploaded - just Day 1 and part of Day 2. I will try to update the remainder of the pictures on Tuesday when I get back to my parents' place

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fraser Island Recap

Even though the weather wasn't cooperative at all, my three-day experience on Fraser Island was spectacular!! The largest sand island in the world turned out to be breathtaking, with three thousand year old plants & trees, sandblows that look like ocean waves and the peacefulness of being in nature.

There was only seven of us on the tour - myself, a Hungarian couple, and a family from Russia via Singapore - so we were able to travel Fraser Island in a Toyota Forerunner instead of a large bus and I was able to ride shotgun the entire time.

Day 1: We didn't arrive at Rainbow Beach until 1pm, so we had lunch and then afterwards we headed over to Fraser. We drove along 75 mile beach first and then went and checked into our "resort." We left Eurong about 3pm and headed to Wabby Lake. Wabby use to be a river until
the sands of the Hammersone Sandblow cut it off and turned it into a lake. It's estimated that the lake will be filled in with sand in another 50years. The Tuesday night dinner was Mexican food, which actually turned out to be decent. After dinner I spent the remainder of the night at the resort bar making friends with other travellers. Day 1 pictures. Here's a video of us heading to the ferry.

Day 2: The weather on Day 2 started out very nicely so it was decided to head to Lake Birrabeen to take advantage of the weather. On the way to the lake, we spent a couple of hours at the rainforest. We had lunch at Lake Birrabeen and then spent the remainder of the afternoon at the lake (until it started raining on us again). That night I met a couple of Canadian girls from Vancouver - Heather & Jen - who were really nice. So I spent the remainder of the night hanging out with them and making it to the semi-finals of the pool tournament. Day 2 pictures.

Day 3: I woke up on Thursday morning to rain and it didn't stop all day. Since the weather was crap, we were limited on what we were able to do. We went and saw the SS Maheno, an old luxury liner that shipwrecked on Fraser Island back in the 1930s; the Pinnacle Rocks, which are a multi-colored rock formation; and Ely Creek. Day 3 pictures. We headed back to Rainbow Beach for lunch around 1pm, which is when I found out that my tour up to Town 1770 & the Barrier Reef had been cancelled. I was/am completely disappointed, but I had my money refunded to me and the tour company put me up in Rainbow Island for another night. So along with spending Thursday night at Dingo's Backpackers, I also spent Friday night.

As much as I wanted to go to 1770, I had a good time on Friday - with surfing in the morning and kayaking in the afternoon and then heading to the Carlo Sandblow in the early evening. I met some really cool people at Dingo's on Friday night so it wasn't completely a lost situation.

I leave for Hawaii on Wednesday afternoon and arrive in Honolulu on Wednesday afternoon. I'll post something when I arrive to let everyone know that I made it to Hawaii alright.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Rainbow Beach - update 2

I'm back in Brisbane after spending the last several days at Fraser Island/Rainbow Beach. I went kayaking with the dolphins yesterday afternoon, but didn't see any dolphins. It was still a very relaxing and peaceful experience ... sitting in a kayak in the Pacific Ocean just riding the waves of the ocean. After heading back to the hostel, I met a couple of my new bunch mates - Petra & Sana - from Sweden. I chatted with them for a while before I headed out to the Carlo Sandblow. For the first time since I left Brisbane, I actually had an early night. My bus left Rainbow at 7:40 and about 5hrs later I was back in Brizzy.

I've got a couple of days off in Brisbane before I leave for Hawaii. I'll keep you updated if I do anything interesting.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rainbow beach - update 1

Just finished my surf lessons on Rainbow Beach. The weather actually cleared up and it was a perfect morning to surf. The waves were the right size to relearn how to surf and as the morning went along, the waves got bigger & bigger. This time around I actually was able to catch my own waves!! By the time I get done surfing in Hawaii I'll be a pro at it! Gonna be kayaking with dolphins in about 30minutes ... will let you know how that goes.

Staying at the hostel is an absolute blast. Granted, I'm several years older than most of the kids here. It's amazing the amount of people you meet from other countries of the world ... Sweden, England, Canada, Ireland, France, Iran, etc. I've actually befriended a couple of girls from Canada that I met on Fraser a couple of nights ago and we met up again last night. They're staying at the hostel right next to mine.

Fraser Island - quick update

Just finished up my 3day/2night Fraser Island adventure. Other than the fact that it rained some part of all three days, it was a great time. I'm at the hostel right now for the night and will possibly be here for a second night on Friday. Here's the reason. I was suppose to go from Fraser to the Barrier Reef on Friday, but a large group of people cancelled at the last moment, leaving the overall group number to 1 - me. Since the travel company can't do an adventure of one, they had to cancel my trip to the Barrier Reef. :-( So they're putting me up for another night here in Rainbow Beach and I catch the bus back to Brisbane on Saturday morning. Hopefully I'll be able to kayak with some dolphins tomorrow and do some more surfing. I'll update my blog more once I get back to Brisbane with details of the trip and all the pictures I took.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

US Guys

Here is a picture of us from the States who have worked on the project (Oranit is not in the picture, but has been replaced by Brett).
(L-R): Brian (Austin), Me, Lorenzo (Chicago), Joe (Chicago),
Aaron (Seattle), Brett (New Zealand), Jeff (Boston)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cowabunga Dude

I went down to the Gold Coast over the weekend with Jeff, Joe & Bianca to learn how to surf on Saturday. I couldn't have asked for better weather as it hovered around 30 all weekend! We left after work on Friday night and headed to Surfers Paradise to the apartment we rented for the weekend. Jeff and I stayed out 'till past 4am on Friday and woke up about 3 hours later to head to our surfing lessons. We were paying the price for it the entire car ride down to Coolangatta - even though it was only a 30 minute commute, it felt much longer.

We had some land based instructions (proper feet position, how to balance yourself, how to jump on the board, etc) for about a half hour before we headed to the ocean to catch some waves. Joe & Jeff stood up on their third try, but it took me a couple extra waves to finally stand up. Once I did though, I had no problems after that. To start out, our instructor pushed us onto the waves so we could learn how to properly stand up. After that, we tried to catch our own waves, which proved to be difficult. Overall, it was an absolute blast learning to surf. We spent the remainder of the Saturday day at the beach catching some rays. We were all pretty exhausted after we got back to our rooms, so Saturday night was pretty uneventful.

On Sunday we headed back to the beach for a couple of hours. The three of us guys made the mistake of not applying any sunscreen and now we're all pretty red. I actually have proof that we stood up via pictures & videos.

This is my last week of work before I head out for two weeks of holiday before heading back to Illinois, so my post will probably be pretty erratic (not that they're consistent now) from here on out. My itinerary is to spend 6 days at Fraser Island and the southern tip of the Barrier Reef (at Lady Musgrave Island) and then back to Brisbane for two days before I head to Hawaii for five days. I should be able to post some pictures once I get back from the reef.