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February 6, 2007

Island life

I could get used to this.

I got up very early this morning so I could be out on the dive boat for my first fun dives as a licensed Adventure Diver! Yesterday I finished my Adventure courses and although I'm happy not to have homework, part of me wants to take more courses since its so cheap here. The courses are quite fun. For my peak performance course I got to behave a bit like a trained dolphin, swimming upside down and touching a knife (the handle end) with my nose and swimming through hoops back up then belly up. More difficult than it sound with a tank strapped to your back and weights around your waist). My last course to complete my advanced level was navigation. For this one I had to learn how to use a compass and not get lost!

The visibility underwater isn't so good at the moment. My last dive was a bit like diving in pea soup. My Dive Master (the person who leads the dive) was trying to point out a triggerfish, but all I could see was a shadow. I did see some other beautiful aquatic life though. Angelfish, butterfly fish, moray eel, stingrays, clown fish (Nemo-like fish), and lots of others. If the wind dies down the diving will incredible.

And speaking of Island Life, Australia is the biggest island that is also a continent. (Okay, it was a weak segue, but I needed something.) So I left off in Melbourne... I got to do a couple of trips into the state of Victoria while I was living there. The first was November 25. My friend Jayne and I rented a car and headed north towards the top of the state for a music festival. On the way we stopped in the very pretty town of Bendigo home of a historical Chinese temple and some great murals.

Looking at the below photo its easy to see why Victoria is so prone to fires.

Jayne and I at Earthcore. I'm in my last functioning party dress.

On Dec. 9th myself and a couple of friends got up far too early to do a bus tour of Great Ocean Rd. Its said to be one of the most beautiful drives in Australia and heads west from Melbourne almost halfway to Adelaide.

The main tourist destination for this trip is the 12 Apostles.

I kept hearing how spectacular they are from a helicopter flight, so I bowed to temptation and took the tour.

The 12 Apostles are no longer 12. I think about 6 of the originally named still stand at this point. You can see in this photo where one has fallen.

This is my friend Cindy and I blocking the view.

The last stop on this tour was London Bridge, which as you can see, did fall down.

After spending way too much time sitting on a bus, Cindy and I thought it would be a good idea to sit ourselves on some rides at Luna Park.

Luna Park is a staple tourist attraction for both Sydney and Melbourne. I missed the one in Sydney, but luckily Melbourne's was just a short walk from my flat.

A few more photos from around the different neighbourhoods in Melbourne.

P.S. I've added a couple of photos to the last two entries. Just to keep things pretty.

P.P.S. I didn't make it very clear what the Apostles are. The are the Pinnacles coming out of the ocean. Not the curved shore.

February 4, 2007

Thailand

I couldn't be writing this entry in a better spot. I am sitting in an internet cafe, looking out onto the ocean. I am on a beach on Ko Tao island in Thailand. Kelly and I are here so that Kelly can learn to dive and I can do a few more courses to finish up my Adventure certification. We are staying in a lovely little bungalow, that we luckily got for free as part of Kelly's course package. She is watching a video for the course as I write this. I had second thoughts about my plans to come to Thailand after I heard about the New Years' bombings in Bangkok. I wondered if it would be safe. Since then I have spoken to so many other travellers who have been through Thailand since Christmas (some were even in Bangkok at the time of the bombings) and no one felt unsafe. Sadly we are living in a world where terrorist attacks can happen anywhere at anytime, but allowing fears of what might happen control my decisions seems to me to be no way to live. Of course I'm not going to throw all caution to the wind. I will stay away from the south where most of the unrest seems to be and I will keep track of the news as much as I can.

Its funny how perspective affects us. Another Canadian I spoke to travelling through Thailand mentioned that her family is a bit worried about her too but Brits that are over here say that there families aren't worried at all. When I asked a man last night if his family was worried, he gave me a funny look and asked "Why?" "Because of the bombings over New Year's", I said. (He just came to this island from Bangkok, by the way.) He gave a little chuckle and said, "Oh that! No. I'm in more danger taking the tube in London than travelling here. I guess we are a little more used to terrorism where I'm from." I honestly think I'm in more danger of falling out of the back of a truck (the taxi service on the islands) than getting in the way of a bomb.

I have a bunch of photos cued up to post, but I've run out of time again. I should have more down time on this island, so hopefully I'll be able to get this blog up to date.