Saturday, September 09, 2006

9 - September 2006

Bloggers' note: Loyal readers (we know you're out there...), we love your comments, as they remind us of home and everyone we love and miss. Please don't be shy--keep 'em coming!

This morning we returned to Uluru to see more of the Cultural Center (it really is a magnificent and very moving place), pick up a souvenir for myself (a piti, an Aboriginal wooden bowl used by tribal women as a carrying vessel for food, water, and even babies), take the Liru walk, and explore the base of the rock at our leisure. Along the way, our shuttle had to slow down for wild camels crossing the road! We weren't very quick on the camera draw, but there were quite a few.

I'm not sure how many times we can marvel at how clustered Australians are to the coastal regions. The vast emptiness of the interior of the country just astounds us. Our flight to Cairns was 2-1/2 hours long (Mike learned Sudoku from another passenger, and he's hooked!), and it wasn't until the last 20 minutes or fewer that we started to see crops (many of them round), waterways, occasional buildings, and, finally, dense communities between the hilly areas. And then, of course, we hit water and had arrived!

It's clear that we've landed in Tropical North Queensland--this place is amazingly lush. (We were surprised by how fertile the Australian desert was...we laugh now that we thought that stuff was even remotely green!)

Tonight we and our still sandy red shoes are staying at the Shangri-La Hotel in Cairns (thank you to Sonya's mother-in-law for the superb accommodation recommendation!). For whatever reason (and we're certainly not complaining), we were upgraded to one of their top-of-the-line Horizon Suites on a secluded floor (including private check-in) with it's own lounge (in which we had complimentary cocktails and canapes this evening and where we'll get a free full breakfast in the morning). Our suite features a big balcony (with sliding glass doors that open completely onto it) overlooking the marina and the gorgeous mountains across from it. (It's bustling on the pier just below--this is definitely a party town.) We will hate to leave tomorrow (and we'll probably stay until the noon checkout just because we can!).

--Caesar salads always come with bacon here (the real anchovies I love, but the bacon I could do without for sure). And club sandwiches come standard with cucumbers...and, quite often, a fried egg, too.

--Australians really, really like Pringles. It's the main snack at every hotel mini-bar (the little 3-inch cans cost up to $16 AUD!), the stores stock every imaginable flavor, and we see Australians eating them everywhere we look! (Say, if fries are known as chips here, what are chips?)

--Australians aren't at all familiar with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, however; at the airport, a group of security ladies got a good giggle over ours. They were fascinated by our package as they passed it around, one by one, with confused looks on their faces. We explained that they are cheesy crackers. They had assumed we were carrying fish food!

--The predominant roofing material we've seen throughout most of Australia is tin.

--Australians carry lots and lots of coins (they seem averse to small bills), and yet they don't have pennies (let's see: there's $2, $1, 50-cent, 20-cent, 10-cent, and 5-cent coins--all quite pretty, I might add). They always charge a tidy sum (they literally round items like weighed produce to a nice, neat figure), but it's rather unwieldy to carry all that clinking money. They don't add sales tax to purchases, and they don't expect tips (we like!).

--At the risk of sounding obsessed with Australian toileting, I have to say that Aussies musn't be tender-bottomed. The toilet paper has been notably crisp and rough at even the classiest of hotels we've visited. Where's the Charmin Ultra?!

--Mike was wearing his (Denver) Broncos shirt at the airport, and a guy came up to congratulate him on a recent game--turns out Mike was mistaken for one of the Brisbane Broncos National Rugby League players! Tonight, we flipped on the television and caught a game (whoa, it's a brutal sport!) and it all became clear: with those beefy legs of his, Mike would fit right in.


Sonya said...

For your tender bottoms...try "Sorbent". I've known local travellers to tuck it into their fact some people have been known to strap a roll to the outside of their luggage as a statement to the obvious lack of consideration at hotels....

No names mentioned, of course. :-O

10:20 AM  
Sonya said...

Ahh yes, but those vending machines don't continually spit out the $1 & $2 coins, do they?

They did away with the 1c when I was a kid -- we were so happy! That's when they started rounding everything to the nearest 5c...and then people had a million 5c coins. Go figure. :p

10:30 AM  
Dina said...

Alisa, I was thinking exactly what your mom posted - you really need to print out all these pages and at the very least, have a nice book made for you guys to save. Your descriptions are just so great to read and I love the photos too!!

You are doing and seeing so much, it really is the trip of a lifetime!! Although that hotel you are staying in now sounds like it would be a vacation in itself - I think I'd love it!!

Can't wait for the next report!!


11:56 AM  
reednose said...

As I was cleaning the bathroom sink yesterday, I was wondering if you're missing such mundane tasks yet? You two are having quite the worldwind experience and I am so glad you're experiencing it while you are able to go go go! Too many people wait for so long to venture out and experience the world.
Alisa, how is the baby feeling these days? Are you growing by the day at this point? I'm impressed with your ability to try cultural foods- I fear I'd not be as adventurous. Take good care! Connie

5:42 PM  
Corderos said...

Glad you are having so much fun.

12:11 PM  
Kimbocita said...

Man, could you guys be doing it any better?!? Love the camel ride (especially Mike's hat), aboriginal show, outback pictures.

The Bronco comment is funny --- too bad the Denver Broncos looked so pitiful on Sunday, losing to the Rams 18-10. They had 5 turnovers!

Sadie told me that I'm a good Mom. Sawyer said Brook & I we're never going to have kids. Your kids are seriously the greatest.

Lots of love - Kim

3:09 PM  

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